The Secret Life of Alicia Darling

As raindrops drag on her window, Alicia imagines herself as a superhero navigating the gritty streets of the Fringe, accompanied by an ancient gargoyle. Her fantasies blur the lines between reality and imagination, revealing her inner conflict between the luxurious life with her husband and her yearning for freedom and excitement.

DangerGirl
By DangerGirl Episode 1: The Secret Life of Alicia Darling
26 Min Read
The Secret Life of Alicia Darling Image courtesy of DangerGirlx.
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The rain brushes across my window, making the Core wave and melt into yellowed lights and buildings that sway with the rolling beads of water. I follow two racing raindrops with my finger, betting on the winner. I can practically hear the other droplets cheering for the underdog as it starts to slow.

The Core and the Fringe

“Go, go…You can make it. One more push,” I urge on my chosen drop as it stretches further down the glass. I squat with it, resting my shoulder against the chilly window pane until I tap the bottom sill. Jumping up, I grin. “I knew you’d win! Now you can rest and savor the victory, just don’t let…”

Before I can tell it to move so the losing competitor doesn’t conjoin with the winner, they collide. I’m not sure if the sound of a car crash is imagined or if it’s the fringe, but it ripples through my bones either way.

I run my fingers over the window as my robe flutters behind me, a cape catching a dry wind. Perhaps I could be the superhero that the Fringe needs. Even now, I can see how the roofs, signage, and eves come together to create a path.

Pushing open a window that overlooks the tiled roof, I step out, using my bare feet to grip the shingles. I won’t fall as a heroine. I simply slide until I get down to where our building connects to another. Prancing across it with my pink gauzy cape behind me, carrying the breeze and allowing me to jump farther. I dance and twist in the night, moving from building to building with ease while spreading my wings to aid in every jump until I pause next to a gargoyle in the Fringe.

My fingers trace the gargoyle’s face and I flick my short brown hair to the side. “It’s time for us to work! We’ve rested for too long and too much needs to be done!”

He’s an ancient beast that needs the right touch to be inspired to move. I’ll happily wake him into this world of chaos and bloodshed. It may take bloodshed to end bloodshed, but if those below are distracted by the stone beasts I raise, they’ll spare one another. It’s a way for angels to return, angels that have been hardened by new beliefs and endless wars.

The Man from the Core

Someone starts yelling and the gargoyle’s head turns, stone crackling and scraping as we both look over to find the terror splitting the night. Despite my white lingerie and pink cape blowing in the breeze, I have no intention of letting anyone come to harm.

Freeing my tattered wings with achy cracks, the gargoyle and I share a wicked grin. No words are needed when a knowing anticipation speaks for us. Those that would harm others need a taste of their own bite.

We take to the night sky, plunging through the flickering neon lights that reflect off the windows until we may as well be in a city of stained glass, glass I rip open with my long nails so it glitters around us, catching lights, faces, and my own tainted reflection in the glass. No longer a housewife in a gilded cage, kept safe with boredom, but an avenging Valkyrie.

My cape is softened shadows, wrapping around my pet and me to hide us from those that need a stab of reality, one they’ll remember before they’re dragged to a hell that’s dirtier than the Fringe.

Gliding down on the back of the gargoyle, I behead the man trying to mug another, listening to the gargoyle declare his victory with a crack of bone between teeth. The gargoyle turns and pounces on another while I help the shivering, shaking man up. He slips and blood appears on my hands.

“Please, take me somewhere beautiful. Take me to the Core!” the man begs in low wheezes.

Please, take me somewhere beautiful.
Take me to the Core!

His last breath is visible as I cup his face. His eyes fade, his knuckles drop to the ground and as I carry him to his destination, his fingers leave a trail in the puddles. They can’t spread where he’s touched the asphalt, leaving his ghost through the city. Dolls watch from the side, their eyes glinting with boredom in the night, sharper than the neon they worship.

“You’ll protect those on this road and taste your vengeance,” I swear while holding my head high. No one in Danger City can cry.

As I strut down the street, my robe fluttering behind me to reveal my long legs, my heels stabbing the earth, other shadows merge. They lick at buildings, pulling strength from the concrete and metal until they’re a writhing mass of thieves, rapists, and monsters starving for screams and violence.

They growl and pulse under the streetlights, always too many to kill, as if the thought of them summons them into existence. Every bedtime story children are told – about avoiding the streets at night so shadows don’t drag them to secluded places – conjures another monster that does exactly that. Instead of preventing and protecting, the parents allow their children’s nightmares to run rampant on the streets with unchecked audacity.

That’s why the Core is safe. The Core is lit, the Core has eyes, the core has boredom.

Conversations in the Dark

The man in my arm fizzles away under the golden glow of safety and my sword melts in my fingers, spreading along the veins in my arm until I’m a work of art and nothing more, taking the place of a gargoyle in this city, watching from a window since I can’t turn back. The Fringe isn’t mine to save. I can’t even save the children.

The Fringe isn’t mine to save.  
I can’t even save the children.

Alicia Darling

Blinking a few times, I realize I’m staring at my own window, my hand spread over the glass like I can catch even that water. Like I used to in buckets rigged between construction projects when I was someone made by the Fringe, lapping up what I could get, climbing high to escape the traps, the people – the problems below until I believed I could touch the stars.

Turning my head from the city scape, I look at my gold heels. My husband was that star and gives me everything that glitters. My mother convinced me he was sparkling with every wink, that the gems and gold on him were pure star dust that I’d get to dress myself in if I was a good girl.

He’s never wanted me to be good. He introduced me to his parents as “Charity from the Fringe”. I wasn’t loved because of my daydreams, because of my love of possibility, only because I was supposed to be gritty and impossible to tame – a panther among the suits.

My husband brags about his ability to domesticate me, how strong his locks are to keep me here, his ability to see through my grime and sharp edges to the perfect housewife to warm his bed and fill his apartment as if I’m a luxury and not a woman.

“I should have embraced the Fringe,” I whisper, touching the window.

There would be no weight on my finger that feels more like a collar with a leash. My friends are chosen for me; they appreciate my ‘charm,’ meaning my stories of a world they’ve never known. I tell them about looking to gargoyles for help when my brother was killed in front of me, collecting rainwater to have some to boil for food, and dancing under the dripping ceiling of my home. I recount trying to keep the candles burning so no one would see an unlit home and claim it for themselves.

I’m a taste of a world they’ll never experience, the parts of the city they’ll never walk in, but I’m a small bite of it – the part of food that’s been scraped free of mold and is palatable.

Standing slowly, I kick my heels off, then my robe, dropping it around the heels like my shoes need to be protected from dust or the mural on the ceiling suddenly crashing to the floor.

Laying back on the red-sheeted bed I sometimes share with the man I married, I stretch my legs out, writhe like I can seduce the lingering scent of his cologne and bring back the man who wanted to see where I hid while he escaped the Core with me as his personal guide.

Where is the man who laughed freely, who told me he wanted to have all the bite and grit of the Fringe under the polish of the Core, that he would learn from me and I could learn from him, that we’d be partners?

He isn’t in this room, stroking my thighs and making promises between my legs of how thoroughly he’d love me, worship me, take care of me. As if I was the goddess he’d kill for, protect, bind himself to.

Perhaps he needs to remember I taste like gunpowder and coffee’s bitterness sometimes enhanced by the strawberries he’d bring me.

I close my eyes and stretch one arm above my head. A ghost of his perfume and words approaches me, airy fingers stroking along my thighs as he rests on one knee between my legs.

“My pretty wife. I knew you had more to you than daydreams. Look at you, beautiful and deserving sacrifice while laying across my bed,” he says, his words distorted, as if pulled from recordings and put together.

“You need more than clothes and jewels and views that remind you of home,” he says as his nose drags along my cleavage and up my neck to my ear. “Should I bathe you in stories of my own, the love I can only whisper before I leave you, or the runoff of the hell hole I pulled you from?”

I can’t move. He’s shackled me to the bed with memories of the agreements and promises he’s broken.

“You worship someone else now.” I answer, opening my eyes to stare through his hazy image. “Or you’d be here.”

“So greedy, as if my spirit isn’t enough. You always want more than you deserve. I pulled you from the Fringe. Do you want me to throw you back, little fish?” He asks as his hand moves to my throat, tightening until his hand is a collar, heavy, metal, choking.

“You weren’t the first one I baited, just the only one that bit.”

My jaw stretches wide, revealing a mouth of teeth like fishhooks. I bury my metal bite into his hand until he screams and bursts, every glittery bit of his essence running in a different direction, but I bite until I can taste the stars he promised me, until he’s forced to uphold one word – the only word that ever mattered to me when I welcomed him to slide his rings on my fingers.

Happiness.

I exhale the breath I’ve been holding and blink a few times as my back arches.

“Look at you, all ready for me,”  the real version of my husband quietly says.

I roll slightly and look at him as he takes off his cufflinks, a way to shed his wealthy veneer. He tosses his blazer and tie to the floor. My eyes focus on his tie, curling in on itself like a snake. If I move wrong, it will slither to me, dig it’s venomous fangs into my throat and spread madness through me until I claw at windows and drink enough gin to enjoy my fishbowl and call my husband loving despite his short overnight visits.

“Alicia?”   he questions as he lays next to me.

His shirt isn’t whispering secrets about where he’s been today. There are no lipstick marks like the other wives talk about. No new scent clings to his skin to tell me of his indiscretions. My husband is either more clever than the old men my ‘friends’ have married or he’s not cheating on me.

“Do you regret marrying me?” I ask softly.

His brow furrows, but there’s something dark in his gaze – a warning I won’t obey this time. I gently touch his face just like I did when we met. “You have less stardust in you than you used to.”

“Sweetheart, that was cute when we were kids, but we’re not kids anymore. Obligations exist. If I was here all day and all night, you’d have less to enjoy,”   he says.

“I’d have you and your stories,” I argue.

“Stories don’t make money. They don’t give us our wonderful food or – dress you so, perfectly,”   he says, kissing my cheek softly.   “You are perfect, Alicia.”

I watch him for a long moment, searching for cracks that glow in his words, the kind that open up to his lies, reveal him as the beast he is, horns curling around his head, dipped in gold despite the fact they’re cracked and bleeding. My husband tips my chin up as he appraises me. I am art that he purchased, living art that he can talk to and fuck….. as he pleases. Art he brags about when near his friends.

“What stories do you have for me today?” I ask softly.

“That’s my question for you….. What did you do today…..? Where did you go…..?”   He asks as he lays next to me.   “My sweet little wife, always exploring.”

“I flew with gargoyles,” I murmur.

He smiles, but it’s not a smile. It’s the kind of look a person gives a child that they’re worried about. It’s the same look that I’ve seen mothers give their children when they do something horrible.

Dreams and Reality

I imagined that Claudia, a ‘friend’ better than most, looked at her son like that because of his dirty hands. I was a fly on the wall, a fly that saw his missing cat wasn’t missing. It was trapped in his closet, living off the bare minimum. The bare minimum makes rational things mad. The cat was skeletal, with eyes that were too big, ears that seemed chewed because the bare minimum isn’t enough after having excess.

Excess makes people fat, makes them complacent and slow. It makes them want more because their hoards of gold have to get bigger to support their dragon bodies. The more a dragon consumes, the more it needs evidence that it isn’t empty. A full belly isn’t as good as rubies on their fingers. A comfortable bed nothing compared to safes filled with deeds. The evidence of their power and wealth is worth more than the money itself.

My own dragon curls his claws around my hand and slips his tail around my thigh, pulling me closer to him as he steadily drags my lingerie from my body. He bought it, he’s allowed to remove it. Some call it equivalent exchange and my dragon has such pretty blue eyes, why would I want to resist him?

“Your eyes remind me of the ocean,” I comment softly.

“Would you like to go?”   He asks while exhaling smoke over my skin, flicking his soft tongue against my jaw in a searing kiss that threatens to brand him on my skin.   “We could go next weekend.”

“Could we?” I ask, though it always plays out the same.

“Of course, Alicia. You know how much I like making you happy. How much I love seeing you smile and knowing the reason why,”   he answers.

My dragon is better than many. I like how he curls his big body around me, the warmth of his wings as he settles on top of me and presses his forehead to mine until my entire world lives in his ocean eyes, the swells of the sea as real as his emotions, the skies clear today. And the heat of the sun lives in his body, the taste of salt and sand on his lips.

He’s the ocean I like to swim in, lose myself in as pleasure teases my nerves and I’m rocked on the rolling waves.

“We can spend all weekend on the beach, watching the clouds move, seeing the waves roll in,”   he rumbles as he fills me with a tease of the ecstasy the beach offers.

I stroke his sides, feel where his wings attach to his back. They’re barely there. I arch for him so my dragon doesn’t have to use his claws. He likes when I moan….. for him, when I tell him how much I believe him in ways that no one else would understand.

“I’ll wear even less there for you and the sun will catch on my rings,” I rasp.

I’ll wear even less there for you and the sun will catch on my rings

“No one will interrupt us… we can be just like this… this close… this right…”   he says before nipping my ear.

“Yes.” I pant.

Every question he feeds me, trading from his tongue to mine is answered with ‘yes’ until my dragon is spent. He rolls off me and changes into the man I married, hiding his claws, big teeth, wings, and fire. He’s sated, satisfied with what he has at the moment, with no need to show how big he really is.

“Sometimes I feel caged without you here,” I admit softly, taking the threat of the dragon returning.

“You’re not a prisoner, Alicia,”   he snorts, rolling onto his back.

“I know. You give me everything,” I say, trying again as I lay my thigh over his bare hip. His hand always strokes my leg. He likes them. I kiss across his neck. “I miss our games, our fun. You’re so successful, I know we can make time for more of those.”

He smiles slightly.   “Remember when we used to run around, trying to avoid anyone seeing us? See how much trouble we could get into before we were caught?”

“Yes,” I hum in his ear, kissing him again.   “When you’d dance with me in the kitchen, then race me to the bed, to the window.”

“Teasing you with the whole city.”

“You’ve put it at my feet, my love…” I purr.

The Succubus and the Dragon

I’m a succubus. He’s trapped in my web and doesn’t know it. He thinks it’s my thigh around him, thinks he’s choosing to lay on a bed, but it’s my own magic creating it all. He’s my favorite snack and I use him however I want. That’s all.

I’m the one in control and the gargoyle, though invisible, is an approving witness to my soft domination. I lick along the shell of my husband’s ear. “Remember how we used to bring my stories to life in the best way?”

“Your stories are the second best part of you,”   he moans.

I blink him back into focus as I straddle his waist, my hands on his chest. “What’s the first part?”

He rolls on top of me and stretches me under him. I’m on the rack and he’ll save me from it even as he stretches me with such a happy smile. There’s no torture, only the sparks of excitement crackling and looking for kindling to catch on. Will they burn me? Burn the rack? Burn my dragon-husband?

“The best part of you is that you agreed to be mine,”   he says, then kisses me hungrily.

The Promise of Stars

There’s no rack, no cage, no clothes, simply me and my husband. He gives me a thorough reminder of how we work best, how he can make me sigh and moan, how he has the power to keep me in this world until he kisses my back and rubs my hips.

“Let’s shower and tell me more about the gargoyle, Alicia. Your stories are the only thing that make the Core feel warm,”   he says.

I take his hand, slipping myself into a familiar leash and following my husband as I tell him about being a Valkyrie and nearly kissing the stars.

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