"So this Moloch--" Boy said. Jack tried not to stare at the muscle bulging out, her thigh tight and corded. "What the fuck is he?"
Robin was sitting on the bed, a nice hotel bed. This morning there'd been a mint on Jack's pillow. Her eyes were closed, and she was rubbing her temples. When Jack had first come into the room, he had thought that maybe she was in a trance or some shit, until Fanny had appeared with a glass of water and some aspirin. "A demon. Minor Archon. Whatever. A fucking nuisance," Robin said. In her hand was a tarot card, the ten of cups. It probably meant something to someone; Robin was just flipping it back and forth between her fingers.
Fanny, with a pat to Robin's head, absently took the card away from her. "He's not so old," fanny said to Jack, sitting down elegantly. "Big on worship, big on eternal love."
"Another wankin' cult leader?" Jack said.
Robin snorted. "You have no idea."
Boy was pacing. "So," and Jack found himself staring at her calves. They were huge, tight, stretched and everything. "Some fucking demon who likes people to worship him got himself loose into geek central?"
Fanny checked her lipstick in a hand-mirror. "Basically. Thousands of pimply teenage nerds are finding true love via true death." She closed the mirror with a snap. "He's just the kind of godhead to appeal to the unwashed masses, too."
Boy muttered, "I thought that was yoda."
"You have any idea how many generations of people it takes to create a mystic that powerful?" Fanny said. Jack watched the old guy rub the ashes into his skin, into his flesh. There was a quiet hiss, and Jack started seeing. words. on his skin. of his skin. in his skin.
"Centuries, darling," he added, scrubbing at his short cropped hair. Jack always thought he looked weird without the wig. "Centuries of people, and all condensed into one spindly old Indian man."
"Saw a show about'em on the telly," Jack remarked. "Vedas, right?"
"They absorb generations of people into themselves." He turned a little, to face Jack. "Sidestep time and all that messy waiting around, that way."
"We here to talk to'em, or watch'em wash in dead blokes?" Jack said. It was fucking hot out, India along the Ganges in April.
"To their god, actually," Fanny replied. One of the men, sitting on the bank of the river, looked up from his little pile of ashes and squinted at them. Fanny didn't move, just kept watching the process as he rubbed ash on his face, on his chicken legs, so his whole body was grey and caked.
The words were still there, glowing on his forehead, and Jack blinked, looked away, looked back. The words, he knew suddenly, were names. Jack shifted uncomfortably. His scalp was getting sunburned. "There are gods, too?" he asked. "Where do they fall, then? Our side or their side?"
"Gods aren't good or bad," Fanny said sharply. "They just are."
"We came all the way to Italy to go to a bleedin' church?" Jack said, irritated.
Fanny crossed her legs, dangling one spiked heel from a delicate toe. "Not precisely, but close enough." Jack sat, still grumbling. "Patience, darling."
"Patience for what? I thought we had shite to do."
"You're missing the point," Fanny answered him, sharply.
"What is all of this bollocks about then?" he asked, arms folded.
"It's about hope," Fanny replied, mouth a thin angry, painted, line.