Straight and True, My Arrow Fly
by Tony Noland
On a king-size bed in a discreet motel, a man and a woman regard each other ecstatically and embrace. She runs her fingers through his curly brown hair, bright red fingernails scraping deliciously along his scalp. He cups her breasts through her blouse, feeling her arousal demonstrate itself in the hardening of her nipples. They do not rush to strip themselves naked - there is plenty of time, and the anticipation is delirious. Mouths and fingers explore and caress, soft breath plays on warm skin.
They are so entwined in each other, they fail to notice the opening of their door and the slender man who slips through. He has sleek hair and green eyes; the silvery moonlight glints off the barbed steel tip of the weapon he has pointed at the bed. He gently closes the door behind him with his foot. It makes a solid "click", and the man and woman on the bed jump at the sound, recoiling so violently the headboard bangs against the wall. She turns on the light and screams when she sees that the intruder is armed. The man shouts and moves fast to get out of bed.
He is coming around, low and ready for a tackle when he realizes the slender man has drawn back the bowstring of his enormous compound bow, drawn it back tight. The long, razor-tipped arrow is pointed straight at the woman. For a moment, no one moves. Then, in a voice that is arresting, almost hypnotic in its round, measured tones, the intruder speaks.
"This arrow will kill her instantly, Neil, so sit down." Neil hesitates, then sits on the edge of the bed. The man continues, "Jessica, I'm here on behalf of your husband."
Jessica stifles another scream. Neil gets on his knees, moves in front of Jessica to protect her with his body.
"He hired a hit man?" Neil says. "What the hell for? He could have just said something and... and we could have had it out. There's no reason to kill her." Neil is pale, the sweat of fear driving away the lingering sweat of passion. Still, he does not move from between the arrow tip and his lover.
"I'm also here on behalf of your wife, Neil, and I'm not here to kill either of you." The intruder relaxes the bowstring, but leaves his fingers on the arrow shaft, ready to fire.
"Then..." Jessica is finding it difficult to speak. "What do you... I mean, what are you here to do? What do you want?"
"My name is Eros. I'm the god of love, and I'm here to end -" he waves at them in the bed, "- this."
The two of them stare at him. Even as their questions and objections rise up, doubt does not. No one can fail to believe when faced with a god who has revealed himself.
Jessica says, "The god of love? You mean... like Cupid?" Eros nods, the tip of the arrow waving up and down. "But we're already in love," she says, "You don't need to shoot us with some kind of magic arrow!" Jessica clutches Neil from behind, her arms tight across his shoulders and chest.
Eros grimaces and shakes his head. "This isn't love; it's a mockery of it. You're lusting so heavily for each other that you've convinced yourselves that it's love. Home and hearth and filial loyalty - that's the wellspring of real love. Both of you want to get love the easy way, without investing time and energy into your relationships." He shakes his head again. "That's not how it works. Love is a garden that takes constant tending, and you've turned your back on it. No, Jessica, I'm going to put a stop to this and send you both back to your homes and spouses, where your true loves lie dormant."
He raises the bow and draws the string.
Neil is frantic, says "Hey, you said that arrow would kill her!"
"So it would," says Eros. He runs his fingers over the arrow fletching. The feathers turn from blood red to bright golden yellow to dull gray.
"So... the gold ones make you fall in love?" Jessica asks. "Then can't you -"
"But... the tip didn't change," she says, eyes fixed on the jagged metal tip. "The colors changed, but the tip didn't! Why not?"
"Love hurts, Jessica. Coming and going." Faster than either of them can react, Eros shoots Neil in the chest, the barbed tip plunging deep into his heart, the shaft quivering with the impact. Before Jessica has time to scream, a second arrow finds her. They both collapse on the bed, phantom wounds closing over, twin shafts of silvery light dissolving over their unconscious bodies. Eros stands for a moment, looking at his victims. He sighs, opens the door, and walks out, closing it softly behind him.
On a king-size bed in a discreet motel, a man and a woman regard each other guiltily and separate.
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