Mouth of the Muse

Mouth of the Muse

Book 3 of the Dark Photography Folio

Written under my pen name SWINN DANIELS.


They could see the sign slowly rotating in the distance, high in the air. They continued walking across the Playa, neither really aware they were now holding hands again. Persephone marveled at the sheer size and diversity of Burning Man. Even were I here a month, I do not think I could take in even a tenth. That time-out-of-mind feeling special to Burning Man was like nothing she had ever experienced. The simple freedom to be whoever you wanted to be, with no judgment, no pressure, cleaning up after yourself as natural as breathing, it was all so refreshing, so startling and it was something that called to her very soul. So many like-minded people interacting frictionlessly – this was the way the mechanism of the world was actually meant to work.

She was appreciating Saxon more with every moment. He was very good company. He had a real sense of timing around a woman, when to speak but more importantly, when to remain silent. He also had a deliciously wicked sense of humor. She could hardly wait to bed him and she knew he was just as attracted to her. A small part of her felt bad about how this might affect Juliette but truly, it was just that. A small part. Persephone lived in the Now.

They finally arrived and as if by some unspoken agreement, stopped before the Dome at a distance such that it filled their entire field of view. They drank in the spectacle of what was before them.

The rotating THUNDERDOME sign sat atop a thirty foot tall geodesic hemisphere made of tubular steel lattice. They could not see what was going on inside because the entire structure was covered in bodies – people – all types, all sizes, very much a demographic cross-section of Burning Man itself. Nearly all of them were wasted out of their minds, clutching bottles, pipes and spliffs, screaming and yelling like it was the last day before the comet hit.

Saxon looked at Persephone, the edge light from the THUNDERDOME sign carving his features from the night.

“This, you are really going to enjoy,” he said.

He turned to go.


She pulled him into a kiss.

She had longed to do this again since she’d first felt his lips on hers. He kissed her back, deep and hungry, each now running their hands over the other’s body, delighting, lingering, caressing, before finally breaking. They looked into each other’s eyes and said nothing. Then, as if by some unspoken signal, they ran like children up to the Dome. They began to climb, easily maneuvering past the bodies of the various Burner-intoxicants clinging to the steel. They’d made it two thirds of the way up when Saxon halted. He clambered over to where she was and pointed down.

Inside the Dome, two tech-bros faced each other, both shirtless, both out of shape. Each appeared attached to some sort of harness and held what looked like a heavily padded baseball bat. Between them stood a girl in a black PVC corset, fishnet stockings and a dark leather duster. She had long tangled auburn hair and carried an ornate staff.

The crowd clinging to the Dome suddenly grew quiet.

“You know the rules!” the Mistress of the Dome shouted. “We say fight, you FIGHT! Two of them enter, only one leaves! Two of them enter, only one leaves!”

The crowd eagerly picked up the chant.



Several PVC and leather-clad boys and girls – the Desert Rats – emerged from the shadows and pulled the two tech-bros apart. They dragged them to the perimeter of the Dome and lifted them, Persephone finally understanding the harnesses were attached to bungee cords so the two combatants could spring and bounce all over the interior of the Dome.

She grinned at Saxon and put her arm around him for a heartfelt squeeze.

The Mistress of the Dome then swept her staff down and the two combatants were released. They slammed together like a fat whore’s thighs and started flailing away at each other, no technique, no power, just a lot of sweating and grunting. The contest, if it could be called that, quickly ended as both tech-bros were too gassed to continue past the first mêlée. Perhaps micro-dosing had not been such a good idea. Boos and garbage rained down, followed by some errant driblets of urine. The crowd was not pleased.

The Mistress returned to the center.

“That was a fucking DISGRACE! This is THUNDER DOME you shriveled scrotes! Not OLD FOLKS HOME! Get them out of here!”

The Desert Rats quickly sprang to the fore and stripped the two tech-bros of their harnesses. They were then shoved towards the exit and summarily ejected. When one of them protested, he was helped along by a swift kick in the ass that raised a satisfying cloud of playa dust from the seat of his overpriced camo. The crowd cheered.

“NO MORE LOSERS! The next performance like that is going to see a beating you won’t soon recover from! NOW, are there any REAL men out there? Any REAL women?”

“I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE!” Persephone yelled at the top of her lungs.


Saxon looked at Persephone, a question in his eyes.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be alright.”

“But you don’t know who you’re going to be up against.”

“It doesn’t matter.” She smiled as a shark might. “After I win, I challenge you!”

“You’re on!”

They quickly clambered down and made their way to the entrance.

“Make way! Make way!” the Mistress shouted, “Get the fuck out of the way! Let him through, ya scurvy buggers!”

Persephone made her way into the Dome. Two Desert Rats held up crossed spears, barring Saxon from following her.

The Mistress pointed her staff at him. “You’re next!”

Persephone stepped forward. Up close, the Mistress was considerably younger than she had first appeared from up top. But what she lacked in years she more than made up for with force of personality. She circled the other girl, tapping Persephone’s wings with her staff.

“Those’ll have to go. But don’t worry. I’ll keep’em safe.”

Persephone took off the wings and handed them to another of the THUNDERDOME crew, who appeared with the silent ubiquity of a ball boy at a tennis match.

“Don’t steal’em,” the Mistress admonished. “Strap her in!”

“Wait!” Persephone bent and began taking off her shoes, the better to feel the packed desert earth between her toes.

“You sure?” asked the Mistress.

“I’m sure. Who am I fighting?”

The Mistress pointed her staff. “Marrow.”

Across the Dome, a youth was already in harness. He was shave-headed and wiry, all tendon and mean, dressed in PVC pants with eyeliner and filed teeth.

“He doesn’t look very friendly.”

“He isn’t. But don’t worry, I won’t let him hurt you too badly.”

Persephone smiled at her sweetly. “A wager?”

“What you got in mind?”

“Your coat.”

“Against what?”

“A kiss.”

The Mistress’ eyes widened. “You’re on!” She handed Persephone a weapon. “Be careful. There’s hardly any padding on it. You can easily get a bone broken.”

“Or break one.”

The Mistress stepped back. “We have PERSEPHONE! A newcomer! Hot! Versus MARROW! A veteran! Undefeated in the Dome! Two of them enter! Only one leaves! TWO OF THEM ENTER, ONLY ONE LEAVES!”

She began pounding the earth with her staff.


The crowd was now shouting the refrain in unison.

Suddenly, the Mistress held up her staff. Silence reigned. Then she dropped it.

“FIGHT!” she screamed.

The two combatants flew together. They crashed into each other, Marrow trying for a poke, then a head butt, finally landing a viscous kick that Persephone barely managed to turn before he jumped away, spun in his harness, then slammed into the Dome back first, clinging effortlessly as a spider, one hand and two feet hooked over the steel bars.

He has done this before! Many times!

Marrow waved her forward with his bat. Now we shall see what we shall see. Persephone began running, flipping and bouncing, testing the limits of flight, cage and harness, memories of the Pit coming back full force. Case should be here for this! Her senses became heightened so that she could smell the blood and sweat of the hundreds who had come before, the clinging crowd a protean mass now screaming for the red.

Suddenly Marrow launched himself, expertly timing it so he would meet her just as she pushed herself off the cage. He swung hard but she’d already launched into a flip, ending up behind him where she used her body’s momentum to amplify her strike. Her bat hit him upside the head nicely, with that special sound of wood on bone.

Marrow howled and spun around, blood flying from the gash on the back of his head. His eyes found hers and he screamed something indecipherable, then launched himself across the Dome, first one end, then the other, gathering momentum. Gods this one has a hard skull! Persephone crouched in the center of the Dome, doing her best to look helpless. Marrow swooped in, body almost horizontal, waiting, waiting, then he swung but Persephone was ready. She sprang up on her powerful legs, the momentum leaching the power from his swing. Her legs then scissored around his hips, pinning his arms as she hammered down on his head again and again. They tumbled about, this way and that, Persephone checking her blows but making it look good. She finally halted their momentum and released her legs. Marrow staggered about, lightly concussed, woozy as a drunk at closing time, his head and face a flowing scarlet mask.

The Desert Rats rushed up to remove Marrow’s harness. Then Mistress appeared, planted a foot on his ass and propelled him into the dark. She knelt at Persephone’s feet, staff extended on the ground in front of her. Persephone rolled the staff with her foot, flipped it up and caught it. The she touched each of Mistress’ shoulders with the weapon.

“Rise!” she commanded. “What do you have to offer?”

Mistress meekly doffed her coat then stood defiant in her corset. She had a clean musculature and long legs and if truth be told, deserved a reward.

“Come here.” Persephone’s voice was a silken whip. She then grabbed the other girl around the waist and kissed her deeply.

Surprise gave way to lust and Mistress pressed herself against Persephone’s leg. Their tongues dueled for a moment, then Persephone broke off, nipping the other girl’s lip in parting. Mistress stepped back and wiped a hand across her bloody mouth, looking at Persephone as though she were Artemis landed.

“Who the fuck are you?” she said, her voice a throaty murmur.

Saxon had an erection that could break stone. He moved the two spears aside and stepped into the Dome.

“I challenge!” he called out.

He then peeled off his shirt and began walking the perimeter of the Dome, arms raised, exhorting the crowd.

Persephone watched him with admiration. He does have a talent for creating memories!

Clinging to the Dome, high above it all, Floria watched events unfold with such awe she was sure at any moment her heart would burst from her chest. My two heroes! About to fight it out! Could life get any better? She brought her camera to her face, framed the two combatants and took another photo. Then she carefully wiped the lens as Dino had taught her.

In the Dome, Saxon and Persephone had been separated and were now poised, bungees taut as bowstrings.


Then silence. Mistress stood again between the two, staff raised, bare shoulders gleaming in the light.

“FIGHT!” she screamed.

Saxon and Persephone shot towards each other, now arrows, bats extended, bodies graceful as gymnasts. They swooped by each other, the bats like swords intersecting, then off they spun, each to another quadrant. Persephone’s white dress had ridden up, her white panties almost glowing at the juncture of her tanned thighs. So it went, bouncing, spinning, even the Desert Rats who ran the Dome had never seen it used to such effect.

Saxon and Persephone had eyes only for each other, for the bounce and flip, for the springing gravitational madness that was the Dome. Then Saxon swooped in, Persephone going low at the last second. Saxon touched a foot to the ground trying to trip her but Persephone instead swung her leg around and back, sweeping him off his feet. For a second Saxon hung fully upside down and could see Persephone’s inverted swing descending full force. To where it would land between his legs. He couldn’t move, inertially frozen, and braced himself for the nut shot to end all nut shots. At the last second, she checked her blow and lightly touched him there instead. Then she crouched by his upside-down head, one leg fully extended so her lips were beside his ear.

“Wouldn’t want to damage the goods,” she whispered, then kissed him on the cheek.

She stood and helped the Desert Rats right Saxon.

“Winner!” Mistress declared, extending her staff and anointing Persephone on a shoulder. More Desert Rats helped Persephone out of her harness, then one stepped forward and presented her with her wings. She put them back on. Mistress draped her duster over Persephone’s extended arms.

“That was fantastic!” Mistress enthused.

She looked over at Saxon’s chiseled torso. “And you! You’ve done this before, haven’t you.”

“First time.”

Mistress smiled. “Make way! Make way!” she cried, “Let’em out! Next combatants! Step lively now, ya lily-livered worms, step up, I say! Who has a coat for the Mistress?”