"What can you really do? You're just a woman," Steven West said worriedly. His facial expressions matched his response, "No offense intended, Stel'." He stared out the picture window of his spacious office, in one of the many high-rise office buildings in downtown Detroit. The short, heavyset man with the receding hairline was well dressed. The fifty-year-old was the vice-president of Godly Enterprise, which was a company that specialized in all means of global shipping.
Stella stopped and glanced over her shoulder, "No offense taken, Steven. When we lack the correct knowledge of something, we always draw the wrong conclusion. My spirit makes me more than a woman and my abilities make me the only person needed." Thirty-year-old Stella Godly said she was tall, dark, and drop-dead gorgeous. She wore her dread-locked hair in a stylish crown shape. Without question, she looked like the queen she thought herself to be. A designer dress concealed her six-foot, hundred and seventy-pound frame, and high heels were on her feet, both displaying she was a woman of impeccable taste. She was the president of Godly Enterprise, which she founded when she was only twenty years old. So, not only was she beautiful, but she was highly intelligent as well.
Steven turned away from the window and now faced Stella's back. "I know you're good Stel', hell, freaking phenomenal actually. But up to this point, you've only dealt with the minor portions of this major problem. Stratosphere is a force to be reckoned with."
Stella turned to face Steven, "Granted Steven, but I've defeated every aspect of said portion. So, with this being the case, doing likewise pertaining to the force to be reckoned with...isn't an impossible task at all."
"I absolutely love your way of thinking, Stel' and for all our sakes, I pray you do defeat him."
"You and I both, Steven." Stella turned back towards the door, turned the knob, and then walked out on her way to do what she did best.
Stella knew her mission, just like she knew it would not be an easy one. Hell, none of her missions have ever been easy, but none were as intense as the one she was about to take on. She thought to herself, 'as long as I never doubt in what I was enlightened to understand, it won't be as hard as it could be.' She was enlightened by one of the best, to be the best. Fear was something she had long since cleansed her mind of, thanks to the said enlightenment, which also established within her unwavering confidence.
"I'm more than a woman," Stella said aloud, and as she now stood before the elevators,
"I'm also a weapon. One that's capable of destroying anything that gets in my way. What can I do, Steven? Well, you and everyone else are about to find out," she chuckled as she entered the elevator, focused and absolutely ready to deal with whatever may come.
Stella has always had an infatuation with wanting to know and understand. Her curiosity was never satisfied. This obsession led her to graduate from the prestigious Morehouse College at seventeen, an accomplishment that impressed everyone, except for her, that is. She understood her level of intellect, but what she didn't know was all else there was to know and understand. She understood that no amount of time could ever allow her to know and understand everything, but with the time she had, she was determined to gain as much wisdom as she could. On her sixteenth birthday, her journey would take on a whole new meaning. It was at this time that her need to know and understand would be taken to the level of utter astonishment.
During her elaborate sweet sixteen birthday party, which was made possible thanks to her loving parents, Stella met Wizard Worldy. Wizard was a tall, dark, and handsome man with long dreadlocks and a well-groomed full beard. Forty-one-year-old Wizard introduced himself to Stella, who was instantly attracted to him. But it wasn't a sexual attraction, it was one of a need to know nature. She literally felt that he had so much to teach her, although this was her first time seeing him. Before Wizard left, he gave Stella a platinum chain and charm, as well as his cellphone number. The charm on the chain was that of a heart-shaped locket. Engraved on the inside of said charm were the words, "More Than A Woman."
With her curiosity in overdrive all that night, the next day Stella quickly called Wizard. They mutually agreed to meet at a popular coffee shop in downtown Detroit and it was here that she realized things she never imagined. The more the handsome mystery man spoke, the more she wanted to hear him speak. There was never any doubt in Stella's mind that she was special, but she did not know she was as special as Wizard was proclaiming. What truly blew her mind was when he told her she was born to save the world, not a person or people in the world, but the entire world itself.
The following week, young Stella began understanding what she did not know she already knew. Wizard informed her we're all born with the knowledge within us. We just need it to be activated via experience. He would tell her that experience is the key to understanding, which she agreed with, thanks to her level of understanding up to that point. He told her we possess the ability to control things on the Earth, seeing that we, like them, are of the Earth. This part she found hard to believe until he moved a table and chair using nothing but his mind. He told her that if it's of the Earth, the Earth can manipulate it. The Earth provided us with a means to produce and to be productive. This is its sole purpose. What we produce from the Earth is because of the Spirit, logic, and reason. We are in control of all we produce, so all we produce is controlled by us, and can be controlled by others as well. When we're in our right frame of mind, our mind can totally control all things produced on this Earth. He told her that mind reading was made possible because of a lack of focus. When we lose focus, our thinking is no longer safeguarded. At this moment, those who are focused can literally see what we're thinking as if they were hearing it being said. On this day, Stella was officially obsessed with Wizard.
At eighteen, Stella was bad, but in a good way. She was a diligent student and Wizard, was a well-enlightened teacher. He reintroduced her to herself. She now understood the power outside of her was also the same power within her. It was the perfect unison of mind and Spirit that left her doing things she imagined no one doing, let alone herself. She was also enlightened on various means of hand-to-hand combat, which was something she rarely needed to use, but when she had, she ensured her adversaries would never forget the experience.
Stella's early missions involved battling and beating the countless underlings of Stratosphere Goodman, who was just as enlightened as she was, if not more so. But the difference between the two was their destines. Hers was to save the world, while he was out to have it, and everything on it, at his mercy. Though the two have never met, they knew of one another well. They were connected in more ways than one and the said connection would eventually lead to an inevitable encounter, one in which an irrefutable understanding would be established.
Stella was driving down a very energetic Woodward Avenue in her 2019 black and chrome Hummer. She had the smooth sounds of "I Can't Stop Loving You," by Kem playing at a moderate tone. She simply loved his voice. His music was what she always listened to before every mission. Her cellphone vibrated atop the passenger seat. She reached over with her right hand and touched the large touch screen. Seconds later, Kem's smooth voice was replaced by Wizard's equally admired one.
"Hey, Stel'," Wizard said smoothly.
"Hey, Wiz'," the excitement in Stella's voice was undeniable. She absolutely loved Wizard, but in a big brother kind of way. "How are you?"
"No concerns you're not already aware of."
"Speaking of which, is everything set up?"
Yes, everything's ago."
"So, do you really trust Stratosphere to be a man of his word?"
"I do, Stel'. Because although he doesn't care for me, he absolutely loves and respects his mother. He gave her his word that he would behave for now and to the best of my knowledge...his word has always been solid where she's concerned."
"How did we get to this point, Wiz'? You helping me to defeat your son."
"It's fate, Stel'. I and Nature did what we shouldn't have, we fell in love. We both had missions to accomplish. Hers to enlighten me and mine...to enlighten you. The goal was to have you become the savior you were born to be, but during the process of my enlightenment, I and Nature made love. The consequence was a son who would never love me and who Nature would be forced to enlighten on how to defeat you. We understood that a dominant force was coming, but what we didn't know is that we'd be the producers of the said force. If I attempted to build a bond with him, I would have died. If Nature refused to enlighten him, she would have died. My absence made his heart grow cold. His hatred for me is the primary reason for his rage against the world."
"Wow. Every time I hear that story, it just breaks my heart. I truly feel bad for you and Nature. It's like the Universe is so unfair," Stella said sadly.
"The Universe had nothing to do with it, Stel'. It gave us our assignments, and we went against them. Now, we must be held accountable for our actions."
"I hear you Wiz', but I still say it's unfair. I don't want to possibly have to murder your son."
"I would feel bad about that to Stel', but I'm partially responsible for the damage he has caused. I feel terrible for the lives that were lost because of Stratosphere, lives that would still be amongst the living if it wasn't for what I and Nature did. So, if he must die to ensure that others will live, so be it."
"So, where's the meeting?"
"His warehouse, on Gratiot Avenue. He's waiting there for you now."
"Alright. I'll see you shortly after I'm done with the meeting. Hopefully, I'll be delivering great news."
"Hopefully," Wizard said. His tone didn't sound hopeful. He discontinued their call.
It was hard for Stella not to have noticed the despair in Wizard's voice. She knew he loved his son, just as much as he despised his ways, ways that directly resulted from his parents' disobedience to the Universe. They had two missions to produce one result, but in fulfilling it fell in love with one another. The said love became bigger than the overall aim and this was simply unacceptable behavior. They had to be made to utterly regret such a decision, so a child would be born that would not only tear them apart but would wreak havoc everywhere he appeared via his mother's enlightenment. Though it seemed unfair to Stella, to Wizard and Nature it was what they deserved. They knew that what they were thinking of doing was wrong and that the thought should have remained in their heads. But they willingly acted upon it and now, they were paying the price for having done so.
Stella made it to Stratosphere's warehouse and parked her Hummer next to his white and gold 2019 S560 Maybach. She got out of her vehicle and walked towards the door of the warehouse. She felt his presence like she knew he felt hers. Once she got close to the door in question, it opened. She strutted through it like she owned the place. Though this would be her first time meeting the man that was responsible for so much death and destruction, she possessed absolutely no fear in doing so. She felt he was no more powerful than she was. In fact, she believed that being a woman gave her a slight advantage. This was the woman within cheering her on.
"Well, well, well. We meet at last, Miss. Godly," Thirty-five-year-old Stratosphere Goodman said cheerfully. The tall, dark, and handsome man stood in the walkway of the well-stocked warehouse, impeccably dressed, and equally well-groomed.
Stella stopped about twenty feet in front of him. "Stratosphere," she said with a lot of attitude in her tone. She stood with her hands on her hips and had an expression on her beautiful face that displayed she was nothing to toy with.
"My, my. The photos I've seen of you pale compared to what I'm seeing in the flesh. Very impressive. Very impressive indeed."
"Thanks," Stella said nonchalantly, "Anyway. Is there any chance of us walking away from here with a solution that doesn't involve us trying to kill one another in the not-so-distant future?"
"Anything's possible, Miss. Godly. I see my father has enlightened you well. I can't read your thoughts. Focused I see."
"Forever focused. I can say the same for your mother because I'm drawing a blank as well. Can we discuss peaceful resolutions now?"
"Alright, alright. Here's one off the top of my head. Marry me."
"Marry you?' Stella said in a bewildered manner, "Why in the hell would I even consider something so unthinkable?"
"I figure you'd rather be alive than dead, and as my wife, you'd surely live. But if you persist on being my adversary, Miss. Godly. You will die."
"Well, Stratosphere, we're all entitled to our opinions. But until proven to contain logic and reason, for me, that's all they are, opinions. I believe I'm going to live a long and prosperous life and that's not an opinion, but a fact. We've met. We've talked. And now I'm leaving. That is if you have no more reasonable peaceful resolutions. "
"I don't, Miss. Godly. You know the only reason you're leaving here without a fight is that I promised my mother I wouldn't, right?"
"I was informed."
"Until we meet again, Miss. Godly, enjoy what time you have left. Because the next time I see, it'll be the last time in life, mark my words." Stratosphere displayed a sinister smile.
"Until we meet again, Stratosphere," Stella revealed a spectacular smile, turned, and walked off just as she walked in, with a lot of attitude.
Stratosphere watched her until she was gone from his sight. "Such a waste. We would have made such a great couple," he chuckled. "Damn! She's delicious looking."
Stella and Wizard were in the living room of her apartment, which was on the west side of Detroit. She informed him of her conversation with Stratosphere and he found the marriage proposal part of it to be very interesting.
"You truly believe that will work, Wiz'?" Stella said. She lounged on one end of a leather sectional sofa, while Wizard was on the opposite end.
"If all else fails...it won't hurt to try," Wizard said. He was six foot six and weighed a solid two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle. As always, he was dressed to impress. A man amongst men, his presence commanded attention and his pleasant disposition ensured he received it, as well as the utmost respect. Though he was sixty years old, he didn't look a day over forty-five.
"So, honestly Wiz'. Do you think I can really defeat Stratosphere?"
"I understand you can, Stel'. The question is, do you?"
Stella took her eyes off Wizard and placed them on an enormous picture window. As she stared at the dark star-filled sky, she was pondering the question she was just asked.
High noon. How appropriate. Stratosphere was always one for the dramatics. He had his mother contact his father, who told Stella he wanted to meet her at Hart Plaza, in downtown Detroit. It seemed like any other day, but looks can deceive, and in this case, this was the absolute truth. This was the day that the fate of the world would be determined, in the heart of the Motor City. Either there would be normality of chaos or chaos so out of control that non-violent citizens would be forced to engage in savagery or outright perish because of it.
Countless people were in highrise office buildings that offered a bird's-eye view of Stella and Stratosphere, who stood in the center of Hart Plaza. All the local news outlets were on hand and were recording the event live, so the entire world would soon realize its fate. Wizard and Nature stood side by side in an office that only comprised just them. Both had all kinds of thoughts running through their minds.
"Beloved, I wished it didn't have to be like this," Seventy-year-old Nature Goodman said softly. The tall, sleek, gorgeous African American woman with long dreadlocks was dressed in African-inspired attire.
"You and I both, my love," Wizard said somberly, "But a price must be paid for our actions."
"Agreed. I just wish that it didn't have to be this steep. I don't want to possibly lose our son, although he's a monster."
"Nor do I, Nature. But for me, I lost him the moment you gave birth to him. I was granted permission to see him that first day, as I was granted permission to see him now, with you by my side. He resents me for not being around, even though he understands it wasn't by choice."
"I tried explaining the situation to him, Wiz', but he wasn't trying to hear it. How he feels for you is the primary reason he's so cold-hearted. Our one night of pleasure resulted in a lifetime of pain," Nature cried.
Wizard placed his arm around Nature's neck, and she laid her head on his chest. They, like everyone else, watched as the battle for the fate of the planet began.
Stella was dressed in a black catsuit and matching sneakers. She didn't want to give her opponent an opportunity to snatch her up with ease due to loose-fitting clothing, plus she wanted to move around with precise precision. Stratosphere showed up as if he was about to walk down a runway. This was his way, cocky. He felt he didn't need to dress down for someone he regarded as inferior, regardless of how enlightened she was. Being a woman made him feel as if she could never be his equal.
An hour had passed and all the two gifted ones did was damage a lot of city property, as well as people's transportation. Stratosphere would mentally throw an SUV at Stella, who would mentally wave it away. She would mentally hurl slabs of concrete at him and he would mentally brush them to the side. Back and forth they went, a vehicle here, a portion of a building there. But then...
"I see that we're evenly matched from the mental perspective, Miss Godly. I must say, I'm quite impressed, as well as surprised. I guess we're going to have to settle our differences from the physical standpoint."
"Works for me," Stella said. She ran towards Stratosphere, who did likewise.
The dance began. They both were throwing several strategic punches, which were accompanied by equally impressive kicks, but nothing was hitting its intended marks, thanks to well-timed blocks and ducks. They both displayed that they had been enlightened well. But then Stella caught Stratosphere with a well-timed, powerful right hook to his jaw, which was quickly followed by a left uppercut to his chin and another right hook to his jaw. He fell to the ground, down, but not out. Stella quickly moved in, intending to finish him, but he mentally raised the concrete between them, stopping her momentum momentarily. Stella mentally brushed said concrete to the side, but he was now back on his feet.
"I haven't been knocked down since I was twelve, and I've never seen my blood," Stratosphere said. He was staring at the blood on his hand from his bit tongue. "You'll regret what you just did, Miss Godly." He rubbed his stinging jaw and chin.
"Your blood only lets me know you're not as special as you think yourself to be, Stratosphere," Stella said with confidence.
Stratosphere removed his jacket and tossed it to the ground. He ran up to Stella and began throwing a flurry of punches, which was a distraction from what he really had planned. His offense attack left her no other choice but to be defensive. She'd seen no one move their hands this quickly before. As she was doing her best to avoid being hit in the face by the never-ending punches, she was kicked in the stomach with so much force that she doubled over and was struggling to breathe. Stratosphere then moved in and caught her on the chin with a right uppercut that was so powerful, it literally lifted Stella off her feet. As she laid on her back, dazed but not confused, he walked upon her. She tried to get up, but the blow was a tad bit too much for her to recuperate from that easily.
"Valent effort, Miss Godly. But alas, it's time that I bid you a fond farewell," Stratosphere dropped to his knees, with either on the side of Stella's thighs. As he displayed his sinister smile, he pulled a dagger from the small of his back. Stella was doing her best to will the said dagger out of his hand, but his will to continue holding it was much stronger. "Goodbye, Miss. God..."
"I, I love you, Stratosphere," Stella whispered. She displayed a weak smile afterward.
"You, you love me?" Stratosphere's response was a combination of delight and confusion.
"How, how could this be so? I asked you to marry me yesterday...and you refused."
"I see. You have a lot to learn about women. I was playing hard to get."
"Well, you took it to the extreme, wouldn't you say?" Stratosphere chuckled.
"I'm not your typical woman, sweetie. I play a little harder than most," Stella displayed her spectacular smile outright.
"My God, you're breathtaking."
As Stella gazed into Stratosphere's hazel eyes, she could now read his mind. Seeing that he no longer regarded her as a threat, he let his guard down. He was thinking of how happy they were going to be with the world at their mercy, a force that no other could maintain, let alone stop. His mind flooded with many thoughts he never had pertaining to no other woman. He felt he had found his queen, who, though not evil, would be made to be in due time. Then, without warning, Stella shot her right hand up with so much force that it penetrated his chest. As he screamed in agony, she ripped out his cold, beating heart.
"As I said earlier, Stratosphere. You have a lot to learn about women," Stella said with confidence, "Unlike you, I'm forever focused." Stratosphere's eyes rolled to the back of his head and his lifeless body fell off to the side of her. She slowly rose to her feet and held the heart in her hand high in the air, a grand gesture of her victory.
The night before, Wizard told Stella that Stratosphere liked her, so she should use this to her advantage if the time came for her to do so. He told her to use her feminine charm so that he'd lose focus and once he did, to make him regret the fact that he had done so. He told her she would only have one shot at pulling this off, so ensure that the moment was right. Once again, her wise and beloved teacher's enlightenment paid off.
The news crews and all the onlookers in the office buildings were cheering and applauding Stella's victory. All that is except the parents of the man responsible for the excitement of the others.
Nature was crying uncontrollably for the son she loved unconditionally and, although his ways, broke her heart. Wizard consoled his beloved, who he held tightly. He felt her pain, as well as pain from the cause of it. Though he never had a relationship with his son, he was still his son, and therefore he loved him.
Stratosphere resulted from a moment that his parents always thought wasn't meant to occur, but occurred because nothing happens without a specific reason. He was born to serve as a reminder to not only his parents but the world as well, that what we do will cause a consequence. Some will be favorable, while others will not. With decision-making, logic and reason should be our guiding forces. If it doesn't make logical sense, we should question the reasoning and if the answers disrespect logic, we should disregard it.
This effort is dedicated to the memory of the late-great Aaliyah Dana Haughton, who was raised in Detroit. Gone, but will never be forgotten.
She was most definitely More Than A Woman.