What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a coffee shop trades the Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans', which cause a massive ash tree to grow overnight inside the shop. Following this miraculous weekend, Andrew leaves work in the company of a fatally attractive woman who turns out to be a succubus, a demon which steals human life force through sexual contact. Lara and Blackout rescue Andrew, but Lara soon discovers that what they thought was Andrew is a clever doppelganger in league with the succubus.
The pulse of the music, the strobing lights, they all made a mantric bubble for Blackout to shroud himself in. He didn't actually have to even be at the gig, truth be told. He could have walked in, set up a playlist on the laptop and come back in a couple of hours. He knew the security at this club well enough to know they'd watch his stuff. But he needed the tactile feel of vinyl. With records in hand, setting the speeds, getting the mix right, there wasn't any time to think about her. To think about how she hadn't called in days. How he'd sat at Andrew's apartment, making sure he got to the bathroom without passing out, how he'd turned down a gig just to take care of Andrew...and none of it for Andrew. All of it for her.
And no phone call. Once Andrew felt well enough to send him home, there'd been no contact. He'd avoided the coffee shop; he could see where this was all going. She only wanted to be around him when she needed a favor from him.
Well, that was fine, but Blackout wanted to be more than just her errand boy. He knew the drill; he was the dependable guy who had to be there every time the asshole broke her heart. He'd been that enough times. To hell with that. He wouldn't go there again, hope it would grow into something more. He'd keep his distance now. He'd helped her out, and once things had cooled off, he could go by the shop again...to have what he truly believed to be the best coffee experience in the city.
He wondered how much of that had to do with the Tree. And lately, how much of it had to do with her? He couldn't deny that he'd hadn't spent nearly as long at the shop before Andrew had hired Lara.
That was changing. He wasn't going to be the whipped "you're like a brother to me" guy. He had his pride, dammit.
He felt his phone vibrate on his hip, and flipped it open to see that he'd just been sent a text message.
Sorry havnt called. Need your help again.
He flipped open his laptop and clicked on one of his playlists. He waved at one of the security guard and motioned to the door.
In five minutes, he was on his way to the shop.
* * * * * * *
"So what does that mean?" Lara asked Blackout as they ascended the steps of the Old Arts building on the University campus in the early morning. They stopped, standing in front of the imposing wooden entry doors. "That he's got a split personality?"
Blackout stopped and looked at Lara, brow furrowed. Then it dawned on him. "GO-lem," he said, stressing the long vowel. "Not Gollum."
"I thought that didn't seem quite right," Lara said, nodding. "Especially given that comment about how she made him."
"Definitely wins for disgusting origin story," Blackout agreed.
"So why are we here instead of a synagogue?" Lara asked.
"You go to synagogue for Bar Mitzvahs and Hannukah," Blackout replied. "You go to a professor of Jewish folklore if you want to know about a golem."
"You seem to know a fair amount about it yourself," Lara said.
"What, like how to pronounce it?" Blackout grinned. "Everything I know I learned from Dungeons and Dragons. We have no idea if that works in real life."
"It was good enough for the iron shovel idea," Lara said.
"Yeah, but we haven't put that to the test just yet," Blackout replied.
"Emphasis on the yet," Lara said, and Blackout saw a desire in her eyes that made think that in some ways, he would have preferred her coming at him with the shovel to not noticing him.
* * * * * * *
"In Jewish folklore, Adam was the first Golem, until God breathed the divine breath, the ruach into him," the professor said. He was a short, gaunt man with delicate, bird-like features. He lacked the long, wizardly beard Blackout had been imagining. He was obviously glad for the opportunity to talk about his knowledge, that was for certain. Speaking in a hardly audible monologue that nearly faltered into stuttering from time to time, Dr. Cooper expounded on the origins of the golem.
"It's supposedly an automaton made from clay. Ostensibly, the same clay Adam, and by extension the entire human race is made from," Cooper said. "It comes to life through a Hebrew word, inscribed on a piece of paper and placed inside its mouth."
"Or written on its forehead?" Lara cut in.
"Yes!" Cooper said, dancing excitedly at her input. Blackout wondered what it would be like to sit in this guy's classes. "The word is emet, and it ironically means "truth". A false human with the word truth on its forehead. An interesting metaphor for the way some people live their lives."
"How do you destroy a Golem?" Blackout asked.
"Erase the word. Take the paper out of its mouth. That inscription is the source of its power, its life."
"Have you ever heard of any stories where the Golem is an exact copy of a person?" Lara asked. "I mean, with the ability to imitate and replace a human being?"
Dr. Cooper looked perplexed. "Never," he replied. "Golems are characteristically stupid - they can't do anything without a direct command."
They sat a while longer, listening to Cooper complete his mini-lecture on golem, before excusing themselves and making their good-byes. Lara stopped before setting out through the door, and turned to Cooper.
"What about lilitu?" she asked. "Do they ever have anything to do with golem?"
"Oh my," was all he said, and invited them back in.