Poetry-Thing Thursday: Made “For You”

You play a good game.
Most would surely miss it.
But there’s no denying,
the heat on the air,
or slight stutter of breath;
that quiet calling,
the closer we get.

You can try to deny it,
fool even yourself,
but I know the truth.
Know it as you do too;
that heat and that lust,
that animal want,
that searching for pleasure,
that you and I share.

It is passion confined,
compressed to singularity,
and no matter our senses,
it will always endure.

We can fight it forever,
die with it alight.
Stay separate to douse it,
but it’s stronger than might.

Last of all,
we could feed it.
Unleash its full force,
on one another,
hope to survive–
to hell with our senses
and the consequences.

No matter our choice,
little may change,
whether we like it or not,
our “I,”
is made,
“for you.”

Short Story: Love or Not

Taryn was young, lean, and more or less healthy– if eternally under-the-weather looking.

Strawberry-blonde flax crept from her head. The strands formed great sheets of otherwise-silk whose ends were too frayed to allow proper naming. Her clothing was perpetually clearance-rack, tattered edges, and at least one-two sizes too big in one placed or the other. Nonetheless she was happy.

She loved life. She loved living.

And she loved the smell of opium. Mostly, its flowery hints blooming on her tongue between lung-smothering bellows of robust smoke. Real opium was hard to find nowadays. Even harder when the bi-annual shipments to pharma-corps vacuumed up the poppy harvests like whores on-the-clock. Everyone felt it those times; street dealers, their suppliers, their supplier’s suppliers. Everyone.

Even the large corps like Bonne Nuit and Neuro-Kinetics needing stuff for their own, meager manufacturing for inhouse aug-testers were left with only scraps. No help for the poor bastards with neural-shock from malfunctioning augs during those dry times either. They were as likely to off themselves then as the addicts drying out in gutters.

Users and abusers weren’t the only people hurting during those times of year.

Taryn personally recalled hearing the feelers from Megacorps like Cameron and Byrne for any and every hint of true Opium from the shadows. It was obvious in the rumors of double price for already-astronomical street values.

No user or abuser had that kind of cash. Corps wanted hard stuff. Real stuff. What Uncle Emile and his Bonne Nuit ilk cooked up in synth labs just wasn’t pure enough.

Taryn had taken one, deep whiff and agreed; Opium had started thousand year wars for a reason. Funny to think it could do it again if it tried.

She relaxed like some ancient rebel under dim light, to smoke it now. New. Sweet. Fresh. Sprinkled a gram of grass that those ancient rebels never could have dreamed would exist. She inhaled far deeper than few else could.

Dry times meant an end to the extremely sluggish downers that kept her mind limber. She was too high-strung, anxious otherwise. Always had been, really. To a point, sometimes, of unintentional self-harm.

Only past a certain age had she learned the usefulness of street drugs in treating that. Doctors all insisted her condition was normal adolescent angst.

Until a shadow-dweller took her to his street-doc.

Even as she kicked back in the dingy apartment, she remembered the visit. As if it’d just happened. Burning opium buried a damp mildew that clawed through the darkness. Its filth was held at bay by her leather clothing, but she barely recalled it later.

She was focused at her nostrils. That was how she remembered it. How she wanted to. That first hint of flowering sweetness.

Spot looked the typical shadow-type; half-balls, half-brains and utterly average save his personal history and grotesqueness. He’d gotten his nickname from a massive burn along one half his face. It left him eternally looking like he’d lost a fight to a waffle-iron. Nobody would have laughed about it. He was more a mental image of Harvey Dent than any actor could hope to achieve.

Ironically, that scar was earned as a result of someone else’s two-facedness.

Spot had been married once. Technically still was. He’d even been by a corp-suit. Not an exec, but high-up. He had all the nice things a suit had, too: big penthouse condo. Super-cars in the garage.Drivers and limos, and more money than even the catholic church managed at its height.

Anything he didn’t have, he had access to. Even Opium. Any time of year.

Then, one day, Spot arrived to find his best friend drilling his trophy wife on his kitchen table. The fight that ensued ended with the guy dead and Spot looking freshly-cooked. The guy stupid enough to be drilling the wife did so while she was cooking Spot’s dinner.

Consequently, Spot was stupid enough to lose the upper hand and have his face held to a burner.

Spot’s former-friend didn’t last long after that.

That was the end of it. The eventual repercussions, perfectly in-line with what one expected of corps, swept the murder under the rug and ostracized him from his former-world. Because of his ugliness, they disowned him socially.

He burned through what remained of his accounts and and took to the shadows. He’d been screwing the corps every chance he could get. And Taryn, too. Incidentally, he’d never said what happened to trophy-wife. Taryn didn’t much care anyhow, but knew not to ask.

All the same, Spot was good to her.

Since the day he’d taken her to his weird-ass street-doc, they’d been working together a while. They’d been screwing only a little less. It wasn’t love. Just sex. Neither really believed in love, anyhow.

But both believed in orgasms.

The one nice thing about their partnership, for lack of terminology, was the mutual benefits they afforded one another. Ones other people simply couldn’t provide. Sex wasn’t even one. Anything with genitals could fuck.

Sometimes, even without.

What was most important was their link, one they’d decided was the same between confidants, but stronger. She could look at him, ignore his scars, listen like a human being. No staring. No judgment. He could let his guard down.

And she, too.

Neither were squeamish. Utterly lacking any ability to be physically disgusted– for her, another effect of her conditions. Because of it, he enjoyed hints of normality.

She, on the other hand, enjoyed his presence. The Jaded, corp-life rebellion. The simple, delicious irony in his new roguishness. His gun-for-hire ways perfectly complimenting her invisible thief’s skills.

In a world full of boring, typically average people Spot had connections, stories, motive. He had plans. He was human. He knew big-time players too. From his status and previous employment. More than that he– and her through him– had full access to resources most only dreamed of.

They were a hell of a pair. Brought together by what they’d learned at the Street-doc: Taryn wouldn’t live as long a life. She had, at most, twenty years before her heart gave out.

For anyone under thirty, that seemed unfair.

How could it’ve been missed? How was the street-doc sure? It was, he said, a difficult disease to diagnose, both due to obscurity and being commonly mistaken for arrhythmia. He knew it though, had seen it.

The disease– whatever it was the Doc called it, had a long and irritatingly difficult-to-pronounce name. She never bothered trying to learn it. Spot might’ve known it, but like the trophy-wife thing, just never bothered bringing it up. It served as equally little purpose to either of them.

Taryn left, utterly overwhelmed. Unaffected by everything in life until then, she and Spot returned to the apartment only for the tables to turn completely.

Suddenly,Spot was listening, making her feel human. Then, something altogether new. It manifested something more until the pair found themselves drenched in tears, faces wet and choked for air like small, sobbing children. She, for her lost time; he, for fear of being without her.

Neither recalled much afterward, more an effect of the Opium they’d taken to. They still worked, kept themselves clear-headed thieving and gunning, but all bets were off after punching out.

Most time was spent working, fucking, and getting high. Or, when the Opium was light two or three weeks in purgatorial boredom before intervening normality where new memories were formed in various ways.

Problem was, of course, once the next phase of smoking came about they dissolved again.

Didn’t matter, Taryn felt; she lived for the moment, never guaranteed the next. Besides the drugs kept her from spazzing out more often than not.

She took another hit, heart skipping its arrhythmic beat as if reminding of her dwindling time. Life wasn’t shit, but it wasn’t roses. It was a flowery hint of something wafting on smoky, mildew-damp air; as fitting a metaphor as anything.

He submerged himself in smoke, carrying a brown-bag of groceries in from the door. Simple day-time stuff. Just bare essentials. Neither had a taste for much else.A strange normality from a dysfunctionally average life.

That strange semblance of normality culminated when she found her, upright, naked on the sofa. Her feet flat on the floor. His face pressed her groin; scarred and smooth sides brushed her inner-thighs in a similarly dysfunctional mirage of feeling and rightness.

It was the same sort of duality, she decided, that their lives were filled with. The slow death and fast life. Their coldness fostering peculiar warmth between. Their love that wasn’t love.

But because it was more, something stronger.

All of it was their lives. For good or ill. Through thick and thin. And she never wanted it to end, and thus knew it must. Eventually.

She locked her ankles behind his head. Folded scar-tissue pressed one thigh; warm stubble the other. She thrust against him. She decided then that twenty years or less; twenty years or more, and love or not, life was for living.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Frail

Goodnight.
Dead light.
Out of sight.
Born in terrible fright.

Sleep,
to keep,
or to weep,
no matter its creep.

Undue,
life through.
the wrecking crew,
a heart forever blue.

Wheezy.
Pretext greasy.
It’s so cheesy
swingin’ in a treesy.

Protoplasm.
An orgasm.
For a chasm,
and they who has’m.

Throbbing.
Wet, sobbing.
Kneeling, head bobbing.
Swallowed it for swabbing.

Distaste.
A waste,
of true haste,
and milk-white waist.

Feel.
It’s real.
how to deal,
with iron and steel?

Legs,
locked, begs,
for the dregs
to fertilize her eggs.

Nail,
and rail,
hoisting the sail,
to follow smoke-trail,
where two become one, frail.

Short Story: Cheap Imitations

She slid atop him with a sensual straddle; soft, warm, and curved in all the right places. Milk-white skin was veined hypnotically along her breasts, clavicle, and neck. Flowing, ebony hair and sapphire eyes completed her with color only matched or surpassed by pert nipples, slick labia, and jet-black nail-polish. Her black-tipped fingers slid along her navel to part herself for him. Passion surged upward from his groin. He plunged into her warm wetness with an upward thrust that forced her to cry out without will.

The cry was followed by another, then another. She rode him as a stallion. Likewise, she was his Goddess. All the passionate fury, omnipotence, and power he could convey surged through his hips. Mere moments passed before he felt neared the edge of bliss. She was beside him, body twitching, shuddering, vibrating with groans and cries.

An alarm began shrieking. The moment was suddenly ripped away. He was torn back to reality to a sound of thumping metal. His erection went flaccid in an instant. Her body flickered, frozen in place from its paused playback. He growled, ripped off his V-R glasses and their Neuro-stim prods at his temples. He launched himself from the ratty couch and across the dim apartment.

A lone, fluorescent fixture in the kitchenette behind lit the place. His feet punted trash lining the floor, his steps gaping as he readjusted himself in his pants. The door’s LCD panel rang with the incessant, intrusive sound that had stolen his paradise. An infuriated arm jabbed a thumb at the panel: It flared on to a hooded figure outside, just beyond the door, its face and profile too obscure to provide any clue to its identity.

He resigned himself to believing it was human, or at least something resembling it– no one was really human anymore. Not these days. Too many bionic parts; digital implants, neural upgrades– other rubbish that kept them from actually being human anymore. The species had entered its “post” phase, where evolution was as outdated and outpaced as a century and a half old IBM computer.

He sighed, unlocked the door with a thumb-print. It slid open to the shadowy figure that immediately pushed into his home. A pale-white hand with black nail-polish revealed itself. He should’ve figured it was her– only the real version had the bad timing enough to interrupt him pumping the virtual one.

Casey threw her off hood. As before, pale-white skin was accented by sapphire eyes and jet-black hair. Rather than flowing though, it was short, cropped below the ears. He’d always liked her more with long hair, had kept the V-R image of her that way. Still, if she’d have known the perversions her V-R form had been subjected to, she probably would’ve cut off and bronzed his cock and balls as mantle-piece.

The thing that gave him pause wasn’t her luscious body, nor the tight leather and cotton managing to barely wrap itself around her taught torso and legs. Instead, it was the terror that had widened her eyes and sharpened her brows. She stepped in, spun ’round, dropped her hood to reveal a face more afraid and dread-filled than should be possible in a thousand lifetimes.

“Casey? What the hell’re you doing here?” He asked, shutting the door. “I thought you never wanted to see me again?”

She rubbernecked the apartment, “Jason, I’m in trouble.”

He hesitated, then took a pair of steps as she paced small circles, craning her neck this way and that. It was as if she sought some explanation from the chaos and madness around her, but found only the ankle-deep trash and couch haphazardly shoved behind the V-R recliner. On a normal day, she’d have been disgusted by the cesspit. Jason had never been less than a complete slob, but this was far and away worse than anything she’d seen of him. Then again, it was far from a normal day, and trash was the least of her worries.

“I met a guy.”

Jason rolled his eyes, threw his head back, “Casey, I don’t have time for–”

“No, this is different. This isn’t–”

He threw a flat hand sideways to cut her off, “God damn it! Casey, you can’t come running back here every-time you find some new dead-beat you wanna leech off me with. I told you before, in or out there’s no–”

“Jason!” She shouted, trembling and verging on tears. “Please. Listen to me.

He huffed, went silent. She reached into a rear-pocket of her leather pants, produced a thick wallet. He wasn’t even sure how it had fit there when the pants were so tight and her ass so round. All the same, she began to turn it over in her hands.

“I met this guy. He seemed cool enough Y-you know, hanging out, partying–”

“Getting high and boozing through other people’s money, you mean.”

She shrank a little, “Yeah. Yeah that sort’a thing. Anyway, we hang out for a while, a few weeks, getting to know each other. Last night, he took me back to his place. He put on some music, mixed us some drinks… I thought everything was going well. Next thing I know, he’s hovering over me, stripping me naked while the room’s spinning around my drugged head.” He eyed her carefully, intensely focused on her hand as it extended out toward him. “I managed to hit him with a lamp. I… I think I might’ve killed him.” He took the wallet. “I found that while I was looking for a phone to call for help. After that I just… ran.”

He opened the wallet, somehow knowing what he was going to find before finding it. It was one of those intuition moments people used to verify the authenticity of precognition. Jason didn’t believe in that bullshit, but it didn’t matter. The wallet in his hand told him everything they knew was about to come to a screeching halt. The badge inside it wasn’t all that different from any other badge. The letters stenciled on it though, were something out of a nightmare. “CyCIA,” for Cyber Crimes Investigative Agency.

There was no way to avoid it now. If Casey had really killed one of their agents, it was going to be impossible to keep her out of jail. More than likely, while investigating her, they’d learn about his history too. Before long, both of them would be someone’s cell-mate in a jail so foul it made Turkish prison seem like the Ritz.

Cyber crimes had become something of a felony mixed with a cardinal sin. So much of the world relied on the net and tech that any digital tampering or hacking was worse than flashing your junk at kids on a street corner. The fact that it carried a heavier sentence, too, just showed how skewed things were against cyber-criminals. The only thing that kept them safe, was that CyCIA (sy-see-uh) was such a small entity, and their work aimed toward larger, more important matters, that they couldn’t afford to focus on small timers just trying to eke out a living.

If there was anything Jason and Casey were, it was small time. They’d managed to stay that way by avoiding CyCIA’s radar. Now that one of their agents was dead, they’d find out all the dirty little secrets the pair had hoped to contain. More than likely, it would end in a prison term– one of those long hauls in a place where hell is a more pleasant descriptor than reality. Those kinds of places were a dime a dozen for cyber crims.

He threw the wallet sideways, rushed past, and pulled her along toward his bedroom. They waded through the chaos, and he dug out as much clothing, weaponry, tech, and money as he could find in the closet, and tossed it all in a duffel bag. He drug Casey to door, reached it in a breath. Jason’s hand moved for the touchscreen–

A heavy hand thudded the door, “CyCIA, open up!”

Jason froze. Casey swallowed hard. They exchanged a look; they were fucked. Royally. Even if they managed to get past, they’d be running the rest of their lives. They’d need new identities, even before thinking of disappearing. Then they’d need time, money, contacts, connections, and a more permanent solution. None of that could be had with CyCIA on their tail.

Casey squeezed Jason’s hand. The pounding sounded again. The voice shouted, commanding them to come out. Jason’s stomach acid burned the edge of his esophagus. His heart raced. He couldn’t give her up. Not without a fight. He needed to try– if not for himself, then for her. He’d always loved her. Even if he was a pervert, a freak, a fool for loving her, he did. Anything was better than outright giving her up. He done it once before, and had always regretted it.

In a flash he was armed and firing a handful of rounds through his front door. He heard the CyCIA Agent go down. There was no going back. If they caught him, he’d tell them it was he alone, that he’d drug Casey along against her will. He couldn’t just let her go without a fight.

He thumbed the door and it slid open, “C’mon.”

He drug her their steps careful to avoid the blood. “Where’re are we going to go?”

He didn’t know, didn’t care. He had her, that was what mattered. Everything else was improv, played by ear. He’d lost her once, wasn’t going to do it again. He steeled himself, led the way to the elevator.

“Doesn’t matter.”

He pulled her in and hit the lobby button. The doors shut, and launched them down. Where they were to go after was as much a question as everything else. At least he had her and not just a cheap, V-R imitation anymore. Maybe that was the whole point; the universe was throwing him a bone, letting him have her in exchange for being on the run. It was a nice thought. He wasn’t sure he believed it. The elevator doors opened on the lobby and the pair fled into the night, together.