A taxi pulled up to the wall and stopped. Two men of indeterminate age came out of it, put a couple of photos in a shrine, lit two candles, and set down another bear near the wall. After standing silently for several minutes, they looked into each other’s eyes and got back into the car. Hannah did everything as Damien told her. As soon as the men left, she dropped the photos into the laptop, and from there she forwarded them to Damien via e-mail. He was already waiting for the pictures and almost instantly replied that she did everything well and correctly, and now she has to show patience and restraint and take pictures of the one who comes to pick up one or both of these candles. Hannah settled back into the unfolded seats by car and, having prepared a camera, waited. A day passed, another…


Three days later, an automobile pulled up and parked beside the concrete wall. The driver opened the door, but did not get out of the car. Although her face was in shadow, it was easy to tell she was sad. There was something about how she turned away from the sun and rested the weight of her hands on the steering wheel, something about her silent composure, that caused Hannah to sigh. The young girl watched the driver lean out of the car and stretch her hand out towards one of the burned-out candles.


Hannah did as Damien told her again, but curiosity got the upper hand. After sending the photos and before going home, she once again carefully examined the pictures. There were no familiar faces. Both men were faceless, as faceless as two men of the same height, dressed in the same suits, identical shirts with identical ties, having the same hairstyle, and identical sunglasses on their noses could be. So was the faceless woman. Her hair was hidden by a tightly knit kerchief, her neck was hidden by a raised collar of her coat, and her face was hidden by huge sunglasses-wheels.


Hannah once again looked at the photographs, and her eyes stopped at the candles. Here, men strengthen candles. Here, they are burning. Here, they’ve gone out. Here, a woman picks up one candle. The second candle remained in place. Something seemed to have pushed Hannah: the girl got out of the car, took the second candle, put it in her reticule, got into the car, and drove home. At home, everything was as usual. She sat down in front of the pier glass, pushed aside the cosmetics, and put her handbag in front of her. What is this mysterious candle? thought Hannah and decided to examine it more closely. She opened her reticule, took out a candle, and put it on the table. The mirror reflected all her actions, but Hannah suddenly noticed that something was wrong. She carefully looked at the reflection and noticed that there was no candle in it. The girl took the candle into her hand—so it was—here is the hand, here are the fingers, but there was no candle. She frightfully pulled back her hand and moved away from the console mirror.


“Damien tried to steal the super candle,” one of the men present quietly uttered this phrase and silence began to reign in the room. The panel on the wall had been replaced by a screen, and everyone saw how Damien came to the safe, pulled out the master keys, and opened it.

“We replaced the super candle with a regular one, but it won’t last long in secret. Damien can do something out of the ordinary. He owns teleportation and reincarnation: it will be hard to fight him.”

“But it would be impossible for him alone to organize the monitoring of the shrine, and to be present at meetings here alone.”

“He had an accomplice: a man or woman.”

“A girl!” corrected one of the women present. “She watched after the shrine when I, reincarnated in two men, made a bookmark and when I, being in my own image, took the super candle.


Damien did everything as usual: he attached the photo, lit the candles, and sat in the chair. Two men were fitting near the candle shrine. Damien began to stare at the photograph as the image on it began to move and spread over the entire area of ​​the mirror. The men put down candles, lit them, got into the car, and drove off. Damien followed the movement of the car. The car stopped outside the hotel, and the men entered the room. They began to undress, and having become naked, they approached each other and began to cuddle tightly. After a moment, their bodies began to merge, and turned into a rather charming middle-aged woman.


Damien attached a second photo, sat in a chair, and began to observe its transformation. The woman took the unburned candle, got into the car, and drove to the cemetery. The man recognized him immediately: it was the city cemetery of Missoula. It was too late. It began to get dark. The woman, slowly looking around, went deep into the cemetery. Besides her, there were no people in the alleys. She slowed her steps and gradually began to dissolve in the air. It seemed to Damien that in a few minutes, only the smell of her perfume was left. The woman herself had disappeared.


Damien again focused on the picture. The image had gone backwards. Here, the woman, backing away, returns to the car. Here, the car in reverse leaves the city. If you appear in the same form from the cemetery, Damien thought, then I will not know who you are. But the car, moving backwards, pulled up to one of the buildings in the Garden City Guest House and stopped. The woman, continuing the reverse movement, entered the house and in a few minutes began to undress. At the same time, her features began to change, her skin on open areas of the body became flabby, and Damien recognized her as Madame Olivia Taylor. Usually, she sat modestly in a corner, listening to others, occasionally inserting words. So what are you, supervisor! a thought flashed through Damien’s head. Now I understand why the council decided to use Hannah Talbot. Olivia needs a woman for reincarnation.


“We cannot eliminate Damien and his accomplice. Although the process of reincarnation is simplified, the number of us is becoming less and less.”

“If we do not eliminate Damien, he will become uncontrollable, and will do us more harm than good.”

“Obviously, there is a love affair between Damien and Hannah. They did not have sex, but everything goes to this.”

“It is necessary to stop. Having conquered Hannah, Damien will receive an unquestionable accomplice who will carry out all of his commands.”

“But by tying Damien to Hannah, we’ll get the opportunity to manipulate both of them.”

“Well, then we will not undertake anything, but observe them.”


Hannah thought that after the assignment that David had assigned to her, she began to recall him too often. Hannah was a virgin. Sometimes she thought with fear that it would ever happen. But the men did not pay attention to her, or tried to immediately push her into sex. Such men she avoided herself. Being at the Center for Juvenile Offenders taught her not to trust people. But she met Damien on her own initiative. Hannah really wanted to see her mother, and therefore she believed Damien.


After a personal meeting, Damien thought that Hannah was not so plain as she looked in the picture. Of course, the photo was taken in a hurry, from afar, and the photographer did not have the opportunity to choose the right angle and disposition. His task was to cover the figure and face. He coped with this task. Here, Hannah goes to the bus stop, goes up the stairs to the salon. But: talking to a client. I wonder how the photographer managed to take this picture? Miss, freeze, are you being photographed? Damien presented this moment and smiled…


The word “Rejoice!” flickered in red letters on a gold background. Gleams of the LED flame distorted the faces of those present. They seemed to smile, resent, smirk, and wink at each other. In fact, the faces of the people in the room were impenetrable and completely impartial.

“We assigned him around the clock surveillance.”

“He sometimes looks at the photos of Hannah.”

“Is he trying to reincarnate her phantom to anyone?”

“No, he is just viewing her photos.”

“So soon he will want her.”

“This has to be expected.”


Damien closed the curtains and got both super candles. One, which he used, was almost spent. The second, which he stole from the safe of the Supreme Assembly, replacing it with a regular one, retained almost half of its resource. He wondered what the immortals would do when they find out about it. In the event that they would learn, Damien had no doubt. He lit the wick of a new super candle and inhaled the smoke that appeared. A few seconds passed, but nothing happened. Usually, the body took on a magical smell and began to tune, but now nothing happened. Damien convulsively extinguished the wick. From it flowed a new trickle of smoke. Damien inhaled this smoke into own nose, but again nothing happened. Cheated! flashed a thought. They cheated me!!!


The phone call made Hannah pick up the phone.

“What are you doing tomorrow evening?” Hannah recognized Damien’s voice. “We could have dinner together.”

“I’ll only be glad,” Hannah’s heart stay fluttered like a bird caught. “And where?”

“Pink Flamingo”, Damien named one of the city’s best restaurants. “There is a good kitchen, and there are tables for two. If you do not mind, then tomorrow, at seven in the evening.”

“I agree,” the girl replied.


The phone of the owner of the Pink Flamingo cafe rang. The man looked at the screen: a waitress, Susie, was being phoned.

“Yes, honey, I listen to you.” Henry was always affectionate with his mistress.

“I feel bad today,” the woman purred.

“Should I call a doctor for you, honey?” the man asked, alarmed.

“No, darling, I will cope with this discomfort myself.”

“We need to replace you in the cafe,” Henry suggested.

“I already thought about that,” the woman replied. “I asked my sister. She will come instead of me. You will recognize her immediately; we are very similar. But do not try to pester her!”


Olivia lowered the curtains and lit the candles. “You will be under my control!” the thought flashed satisfactorily in her head. Now I need to choose the right clothes for you, and the new waitress will be ready to go. Olivia presented herself in the Pink Flamingo with a tray in her hands and she felt funny, a feeling she typically only felt when journeying through strange or imaginary bodies. Olivia attached a photo of Suzy to the mirror, sat in a chair, and began to carefully observe how the image spread on the glass and turned into a phantom. Finally, the process stopped and the phantom began to undress. Olivia, too, undressed and stood in front of the phantom. Her body began to transform from an old woman’s figure into a young beautiful woman, exactly like that of the phantom.


Damien was sure that they would be given the poison to drink or eat. He took annihilating pills the day before dinner and neutralizing pills immediately before dinner. The food became tasteless and did not cause an appetite, and Damien did not worry that anybody would be poisoned because of him. He was not afraid of poisoning at all—the reincarnators would hardly want to kill someone—they did not want to attract attention. It was worse with Hannah. Damien did not want to tell her what to expect in this restaurant, and he did not want her to lose the taste of the dishes that would be served.


The visitors ordered a bottle of wine, and the waitress followed him to the pantry. Damien waited until she came into the basement and rushed to the bar. The exact same wine in it cost $10 more than the pantry, but it did not bother Damien. He ordered the surprised bartender to open the bottle, grabbed it, and returned to Hannah. The girl watched his actions with curiosity, but she was warned that she should not be surprised and must sit silently.


Of course, this is not whiskey, but the process seems to have begun, the waitress thought triumphantly. Tomorrow you will not remember what happened to you. She wiped the bottle with a towel, uncorked it, poured the powder in the bottleneck, and stirred it. A thick, dark, red liquid swallowed the drug and slowly began to flow down into bottle. The waitress thrust a cork in the bottleneck, put the bottle on a tray, and carried it to a couple sitting at a table in the corner. The man said that he would pour the wine himself, and the waitress took the dishes to the kitchen.


Damien’s suspicions were confirmed. The waitress brought an open bottle of wine and he asked the woman to bring food. But as soon as she disappeared behind the wall, he replaced the bottle that the waitress brought. He threw its contents into the urn. When the woman returned with a tray and plates, Damien and Hannah savored the wine, and Damien told her companion a story to which the girl laughed gaily. Damien waved his arms, portraying some situation, and the girl swayed in her chair to the beat of Damien’s movements.


When the waitress moved away from the table and music began to play in the hall, Damien moved closer to Hannah and asked her to pretend to be drunk. The girl was very surprised, but Damien sharply said that there are people in the hall who do not want them to rest normally. From the outside, he was like a drunken soldier who had persuaded his girlfriend to have sex, but in fact both were sober and getting ready to leave the restaurant. Damien took out his phone, and pretending to be drunk, began to randomly push the buttons.


The taxi came quickly. The passengers got into it and drove to the man’s house. The waitress ran out of the cafe, got into her own car, and drove after the taxi. But hurrying to catch up to the escapees, Olivia exceeded the speed limit and got caught by the lens of a video camera monitoring traffic. The police officer cut her off and ordered to stop.


“Your driver’s license, miss!”

“Yes, sir.” She opened her purse and handed her license to the police officer, but with horror, she remembered that on them, she was in the picture in the old image.

“But it’s not you, miss! This is an elderly woman.”

“Really?” Olivia said amazedly and began to look intently at the document.

“Oh, miss!” the policeman remarked as the image in the photo turned from an old woman into a young woman. He was dumbfounded. “Miss, miss, is it possible?”

“Maybe, maybe!” Olivia answered him. “Perhaps not only that.”


Olivia stared at the policeman like a boa on a rabbit. He froze and gradually began to turn into a child. When his body reached the level of a three-year-old child, Olivia snatched the driver’s license from the child’s hand and rushed on. But the taxi with Damien and Hanoi was gone. Olivia indignantly turned back and returned to the cafe. No one noticed her disappearance. Damien looked up from the mirror and said: “Poor Lari! What did you have to go through?” He again began to carefully look in the mirror, and the child again became a policeman. Hannah, dumbfounded by the spectacle, stared at Damien fascinated.


They woke up late in the morning. Severe pain in her lower abdomen reminded Hannah what had happened, but she had not made any complaints or insults to Damien. He lay beside her and, hugging her, smiled. Not believing what was happening, feeling affection for her first man, she touched his hair, ran a finger over his ear, and touched her cheek. The man hugged her, kissed her on the lips and, lightly nibbling her ears, pulled her to him. Hannah thought it was pleasant to do this with Damien, and gave herself to the man again. This time it didn’t hurt so much.


The Grand Council summoned Damien to the meeting. The word “Rejoice!” went out, the panel became a screen, and an image of Hannah and Damien appeared on it. Triumphant Olivia delivered a fiery speech, during which footage of meetings Damien with Hannah appeared on the screen.

“What was sweet?” Olivia asked, gloating, when on the screen Damien and Hannah went into the shower.

“Yes, not sour,” answered Damien.

“Cad?” Olivia got angry. “But was necessary to suffer a little bit, and we could be with you together. I am a young and healthy girl, you are a beautiful and strong male. We would be a great couple.”

“And we will be together anyway,” Damien said. “And we will be a great pair.”


Olivia triumphed. The reincarnation was excellent. Hannah, Hannah, you will bend in a strange old shell among the mentally ill old people, and I will be young and beautiful in your new body. Olivia went to the mirror and made a turn. Beauty! But the next turn caused dizziness and nausea. Olivia rushed to the toilet and vomited. What? Why? She went to the mirror, put down the candles, and began to look intently at the image. A bestial cry pierced her body: before incarnation, Hannah managed to get pregnant, and now, during the birth, Hannah’s consciousness will return to her body, and she, Olivia, will fly into her old body, devoid of magic spells. “Cursed Damien! Now I understand why you said that we will be together, we will be a great couple. You still stayed with Hannah! Rejoice!”


For all installments of “Rejoice!,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1