Short Story: The Purist’s Sins

They sat, entwined, like wound yarn. The brunette’s hand stroked the ginger-girl’s head. A warm aura emitted from them, infected their bench with its glow and heat. Cold autumn didn’t exist within their bubble of love. Anyone looking on would’ve seen, as if removed from time with them, a world zipping and flickering past like film on fast-forward.

But no-one was looking, or rather, one person was, a man and not a man; a monstrous creature in the deceptive form of a human. The creature watching wasn’t seeing what anyone else would, or should. Instead, of two angelic figures, he saw only demons. Their pale skin, concealed beneath pre-winter clothing, told they feared of exposing it for its devilish origins. He watched, seething while somewhere in him, the most vile philosophies resonated with equally demented notions of so-called “proper” human behavior.

Mother had always been very strict about behavior. Father too. She only got stricter when Father died and was no longer the disciplinarian. She took on the dual role. Between it, the insurance money, and his own inheritance, the Purist had more than enough incentives to listen to Mother and emulate her “rightness.”

The Purist wasn’t his name, of course, but that’s what they’d taken to calling him. His name wasn’t important anymore. He’d taken to the persona fully. No-one knew what either looked like, but he preferred The Purist to his “true” self. He was a righteous being; an idea. A symbol. A paragon.

Mother had always been strict: righteousness was God’s way of separating phonies from pious. The only way to distinguish oneself was to become one or the other in extremity.

He still remembered his first taste of righteousness as the Purist, remembered testifying. He remembered the pride, the joy, the closeness to “God.” He especially remembered the taste of satisfaction. That taste was like chasing a dragon nowadays, but he’d become contented by his inner knowledge. The future was his satisfaction. The eternal reward his overall plan. It would be a long road, but he would reach its end, one purified heathen at a time.

The two women’s lips were meeting again. Passion palpitated between them, rippled through the aura. The Purist felt it like an atom bomb’s shock-waves.

The slight tickle of arousal so denied within in convinced himself of his hatred. Could he have even examined anything sanely, he still wouldn’t have been sure of its origins. Whether from taboo, or long-bred repression, he wasn’t sure. Mother had always been very clear; love was not something shown. Father taught her love was silent. Grandmother agreed. Grandfather taught her to.

From the outside, people called them cold, but as he’d been taught, God saw all. Pride was a sin. Excessive love was as akin to pride as anything. Wrath was preferable. Wrath sought to correct the imbalance. That was his family’s philosophy and he adhered to it.

That, and the idea that a “proper” society was the responsibility of all.

The two women parted from the bench, with an obvious pang of longing. It rippled through the aura that then shattered from their separation. It was his time now. The Purist was ready. He could never make a move when that aura existed. It repelled him like a shield. Literal or not didn’t matter. Not in the end. He got what he wanted once the shield failed…

And they got what they deserved.

The ginger girl was the better target; smaller. Weaker. He liked the thrill of the hunt more than the kill nowadays. The satisfaction, dragon-like as it was, wasn’t enough to justify the fight of larger adversaries. He was getting older. Mother had been gone decades now. His righteous fervor could only last another few years before the sloppiness of age set in.

He’d left a trail across the country of bodies riddled with biblical references and markings; pamphlets about the sin of homosexuality. There was more, but that was just what the media had picked up on. Had been allowed to know. So many other little bits of connecting information about the victims was withheld even he’d had trouble remembering it.

Most creatures of his kind– serial killers, he’d learned through various associations with himself– were the type to track those things. They made self-shrines in their hideaways and homes. Pride. They struck where they’d be most noticed. Greed. Gluttony. They struck in passion, for belonging. Lust. Envy. Most of all, they stopped or were caught from lacking commitment, for laziness. Sloth.

But The Purist struck with a vision. His own wrath was long soothed. The victims knew no better. Just like Ginger. She would get what was coming, like all the others. He’d strangle then carve her. Quietly. That was his way. The markings would be a sign at the gates of heaven and hell that her sins were recognized.

Hers, and all the others. Someone had seen the harsh truth, done their best to save what was left of their so-called immortal souls. Though he doubted such creatures had any.

It was perfect, as if Ginger knew. She led him straight through the park. The brunette was long gone, he could take his time. He let her get distance enough to enjoy the scenery. Chicago was a place where anyone could seem lost but remain a target, especially with such flamboyant hair. It was hard to hide no matter the crowd. Hardest in the lone alley she entered to cut through.

That was his time. He closed the distance as she aimed for it, and struck.

In a flash of speed and strength that could’ve made Mother proud, he was on Ginger. He threw her into an indented bit of building, large enough for a pair of dumpsters. His hands grasped her throat. They clamped down.

Ginger was ready. Had been ready.

A stun gun bit his testicles. Electricity surged up through his groin, loosed his bladder and bowels. He fell back screaming, shaking. Hatred surged through him. Wrath. The small spark he recognized; the hatred for himself he’d never been rid of. It was gone just as fast.

Ginger was near. The brunette too. Stun gun clicking. His body writhed in deserved agony. He spasmed, screaming, too near unconsciousness to know. The world turned black.

Ginger, real name Special Agent Angela Dunne, and the brunette, Skyler Rhein, cuffed the unconscious bastard. The partners in more than law swallowed bile above the so-called Purist. Some purist; covered in shit and piss whose smell tainted their UC-car for weeks. The pair were specifically chosen for their relationship, the dual cause of justice and law.

The FBI’s Anti-Hate-Crime Task Force had been on his trail for months. They’d caught a break in Madison after deducing his next likely target was Chicago. Their hunches were confirmed when he’d hit the city. The first victim there was the last. Enough for agency psychologists to finally find the pattern; gay-rights activists leading otherwise quiet lives.

Most victims were the type to otherwise be seen as perfect human beings. Paragons of the species. Most of all, they looked it. Innocence. That was important. He chose them based mostly on that alone, aware of it or not. They had it all; the looks, background, naivete, their only flaw was the so-called sin of their orientation.

Rhein and Dunne personally shoved the Purist into the UC car while acadre of CPD cars escorted them with lights blaring in triumph. They arrived, then personally shoved his shit-reeking form into a cell to await processing. By then, he was awake.

To add insult to injury, in his last moments, Rhein passionately and deep kissed Dunne. Something inside The Purist– real-name Herman Sanford– shattered. It was, only a dying part of him knew, the effect of that all-powerful repulsive aura. The true revelation and expiration of his only, and real sin; self-hatred.

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.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: On the Prow

I nearly fell upon
my knees,
oh please,
don’t tell me the seas,
have memories,
of all of the fallacies,
that men and machines believe or breathe.

I couldn’t tell about,
the time,
or crime,
that lead me to climb,
a ladder of slime,
atop a bell whose chime,
certainly leave you a mime.

If I had known,
the song,
a gong,
from my heart would wrong,
the messer of prongs,
dislodge and assert them inside of your bong,
or perhaps wetten a sect of your thong.

Were I to say,
The word,
I’d heard,
No more than a third,
of the mourning bird,
would flock with a herd,
of cattle-men ready to hone the absurd.

So do I,
sit here right now
with unbidden bow,
out on the prow,
of bright-white ship but how,
could they, I wow,
in wake of a filth and greed-laden sow?

Short Story: A Cataclysmic Event

Lightning snaked across a black sky. Thunder cracked nearby, rumbling asphalt and concrete. The highway was abandoned– not from the late hour, but rather from the cataclysm most were still coming to grips with. Bethany and Robert were two of those few whom recognized at least some part of the cataclysm’s effects. They wandered along the highway, terrified and lost for action otherwise.

Rain was ready to unleash hell on them, fueled by the flashes back-lighting Beth’s, plump, pale cheeks. Her black hair made her seem all the more ghostly given darkness. Rob didn’t have to see her face to know all color was gone from it. They’d been humping in the back of his late-90’s station-wagon when it happened. Pumping across folded down seats in the woods off the highway kept them free from the angry intrusions of their respective parents.

Until the flash came, the only worries they’d had were whether or not Rob would pull out fast enough. Or if Beth would be part of the point-ex-ex percent whose birth-control failed. Then, the flash; like a giant m-80 that turned night to day. It was so bright it nearly blew Beth off Rob– and him inside her. They panicked, their first instincts of police intrusion. The flash died out a second later though– far too short for a copper’s flashlight.

They panted terror and pleasure, their nerves settling into shakes as they rolled apart at the ruined mood. Beth worked her panties back up her skirt while Rob wormed back into his pants. For a long while they sat, silent and catching their breath on the open tail-gate and sour from their ruined masterplan. When they finally parted for either side of the car’s front, slid into the darkness inside, Rob’s key turned to start the engine.

Nothing happened.

His heart pounded, stomach limboed up into his throat. He turned it again. Nothing. Not even a click. His horrified gaze fixed on the dashboard through the darkness. He suddenly understood irrational panic better. At least this was rational…

“What? What is it?”

It took him a moment to muster his courage. His mind was ablaze with the millions of ways both of their father’s would kill him once they found out where they’d been. That was, of course, after the public derision and castration.

He choked on hard saliva, “It’s dead.”

Beth’s eyes became late-50’s UFOs, “What? What’re you talking about? How?”

He shouted in panic.“I don’t know! It’s dead! I don’t know!”

“Did you leave it on?”

Frustration ground a roar from the back of his throat. He was irritated. His balls were blue, and now, destined to be cut off and stitched back on to his forehead only to be cut off again.

He slammed a hand against the steering wheel. “Stupid piece’a shit!”

Beth’s face turned green usual. “W-we have to do something. Find someone to jump it.”

His breath fluttered the last vestiges of hope, both for his rust bucket and his favorite, dangly bits. He kicked his door open with a squawk of metal. Beth was out behind him, stuck close for fear of being lost in the unimaginably-deep darkness. Even the city’s usual glow was gone– the first signs of something amiss.

But Rob was focused on the empty highway. Its usual vacancy seemed gone, different. The area generally came with fairly sparse traffic, but now, not a single car came nor went. Not even the few expected of waning evenings hours. Not one head-light or hi-beam cut the darkness.

Thunder rumbled again in the distance. Beth inched over. “Rob.” She clung to his arm. “Rob, we need to go before the rain hits.”

His mind was focused where the city’s glow should be. “No cars. No lights at all. And the car won’t start.”

“We need to go back and wait out the storm,” Beth urged, tugging at his hand.

He stood firm, “No, we can’t.”

“We have to. We’ll find help once the storm’s over.”

Rob was certain something had happened; not what, but its effects were obvious. “There’s no-one on the road, Beth. No cars. No lights in town.”

She followed his gaze to the glow’s dark place, “What happened to ’em?”

He wasn’t sure, but he sensed the flash was responsible. Whatever it was, it must’ve killed power to everything. That thought alone was enough to prompt him to take Beth’s hand and walk with her along the small access road. The lightning began, carried on as they inched onto the highway against their better instincts. The trek forward was empty only a few minutes. Then as if from nowhere, a vacant car appeared, mid-lane change and abandoned in the center of the road. Thunder rumbled again, deafening them. They fled for the car as the downpour began.

It was daylight when they finally emerged from the backseat of the strange car. They continued toward town, Rob’s fear for his “boys” only overshadowed by the alien displacement of his now-silent world. More empty cars appeared here and there, abandoned as before. They grew denser and more numerous as the city’s limits came and went. The streets and shop-fronts were devoid of humans, but their presence was felt in what they’d left behind.

Beth’s house was the closer of the two, as certain a place of genital execution as his own. They headed over, encountering the first signs of humanity– a welcome relief from the xenotian terror the empty city had imparted. A man fiddled about in his open garage, a simple sign that they were not, in fact, the last two humans left alive. It put Beth at-ease, propelled her along the twists and turns toward home.

The nearer home came, the more Beth was forced to drag Rob. His uneasiness doubled at his impending, albeit rightly due castration. With that uneasiness, came more people, most as confused and aimless as them. Some were altogether hysterical from the worlds’ forced stop from electricity’s absence. Rob sympathized; his world would stop soon too, or at least a small part of it would– though Rob had always been of the mind that big things came in small packages.

They found Beth’s parents standing worriedly outside. They rushed up to her as she appeared, hugging and kissing her with paternal relief. Rob swallowed hard, his hands unconsciously crossing to cover himself. They paid him no mind as he shuffled awkwardly to her side to await his scrotal death-sentence.

Her father began questioning them, his mind too dulled by the goings-on to notice their obviously guilty faces. Rob was equally dazed. Sweat beaded on his brow. He barely breathed, awaiting the ninjitsu strike that would severe his sperm-pipes and sunder his sausage from his body..

Before her father could turn his eyes to him, Beth threw herself on the proverbial scalpel for Rob’s testicular cause. With a muster of fearful tears, she lied and begged forgiveness ands understanding.

“We were on the highway driving, and the car went dead, and we pushed it into a log but then we freaked and on our way back the storm came, and we hid in a random car and–”

The run-on sentence continued for two full minutes. Rob’s brain struggle to transfer focus, but caught on to Beth’s angle. He retained his stupor with purpose, merely nodding along. It wasn’t difficult to keep her parents suspicions away given the enormity of what had occurred. Before long, they’d even admitted gladness that the couple waited out the storm– despite the obvious fears they’d cause.

Only moments later, the two were wandering to Rob’s house to repeat the scene. His parents reacted with all the same obliviousness as Beth’s had.

In the end, he and Beth were in agreement; whatever had happened saved them from certain doom. No matter how much it had doomed the world, it wasn’t quite as important their respective selves– and Rob’s dangly bits. It may have taken a cataclysmic event, but they’d weaseled out of paying for their petty, teenage rebellion, prolonging the testicular execution for another day.

Short Story: One of a Kind

Her legs were spread. Feet flat. Knees bent. She lie on her back with her arms out, as if waiting. Rigor mortis had already set in. The blood had left her cheeks and now she was pale, streaked with blue. Her eyes were closed, lips frosted with death’s chafe. Were it not for those damning details, she’d have been mistaken for a sculpture.

Detective “Iron” Ron Beck had seen more than a few beautiful women dead. None were ever so obviously posed. Then again, none had been victims of “The Uptown Lover.” That was what the papers called him, anyhow. It pissed Iron off, made him sick– for a man with a lead-lined gut, that was saying something.

Mostly, it made him sick because the women were all low-esteem types: The first was runner-up in Miss Universe. The second, a first-string replacement for a Prima Ballerina. The Third was an up-and-comer for an “alt-girl” modeling company. She too, was second to the company’s fan-favorite. Iron Ron had no doubts; this girl would prove similar.

All of them had been found like this: in sexual positions, either waiting patiently, presenting, or mid-act. Ron found the latter the worst. The girls’ dead-eyes made their poses morbid. One girl’s eyes had been half open, rolled back, as if mid-orgasm.

The level of obsession required would’ve made Iron’s skin crawl thirty years earlier. Now it was just another detail. He’d seen the most gruesome hack-jobs by latin-gangs, the pavement marks from free-fall suicides. He’d found soured, back-alley drug-deals ended by the most brutal stabbings and shootings. And in all of it, nothing had ever bothered him like this.

It was personal. Too personal. Detachment was a necessity to a murder. Even a murder of passion. The perpetrator saw themselves outside themselves. They watched their actions as if in the body of another. Or they blacked out entirely.

The “Uptown” murders lacked detachment. Attachment was the point. There was a connection here. One so strong it led to the posing. There was no evidence of sexual foul-play either. No necrophilia. No rape. The women all had the slight vaginal tearing common of beautiful, sexually active women. The M-E said they could’ve as easily been caused by by masturbation or tampons.

Forensics had concluded all the deaths were drug-related. All overdoses. The pallor of pooled blood in the extremities confirmed the girls were posed shortly after death. The lack of struggle suggested they’d been drugged unwittingly or willingly. Toxicology confirmed oral ingestion alongside wine. Thus far, the three deaths were officially ODs, death by cardiac or respiratory failure.

But someone caught on in the media. “Uptown Lover” was published. Since then, it’d been riding the headlines. In “Iron” Ron’s mind, they weren’t wrong about the murder. But officially, the girls could just as easily have been coaxed into suicide. In the end, someone they knew well was involved. Someone present. Moments after their deaths, they were posed like sex-dolls, presenting or cumming.

The department psychologists were having a field day. According to them the killer was male, late-30’s, a begrudging desk-jockey, and a closeted homosexual with a fetish for snuff-films. What was more, because of the nature of the overdoses, he likely saw himself as helpful. When the girls confided in him, they opened the door to his manipulation. That allowed him to maneuver them. He had a silver-tongue, they said.

Iron didn’t believe any of it. His gut said not to. Where it went, the rest of him followed. At the moment, it led him from the third body to the OIC: a veteran beat-cop named Matthew Ortega.

Matt had a left-ward lean from a permanent piece of shrapnel in the left side of his back. It was too painful to stand-upright. A junky with a shotgun had tried to waste him from behind at point-blank range. The result was the left-lean and a penchant for having to “sit this one out.”

Ortega didn’t like sitting out. Ever. So he jumped at any chance to help. Right now, Iron needed that.

“Matt, get a me a list of the girl’s closest contacts. All of them. Line them up for questioning and put someone on it. I want the transcripts and vid-footage afterward. Bring ’em to me. ‘Til then, work on getting the same from the other girls.”

Matt obliged by hobbling off toward another blue. Iron left the pop of camera flashes behind, headed home. It wasn’t more than a few hours before he was called back to the station to sift through the evidence Ortega’d procured.

He spent hours sorting it, reviewing the vids. That time had afforded him some better idea of the people the victims surrounded themselves with. Most were sycophants, latent sociopaths. Nothing unusual for Los Angeles. In Iron’s opinion, it would’ve been more worrying if there hadn’t been those types. None of them were family. The latest victim didn’t appear to have any on record.

The image he’d formed rivaled that of the psychologists. In all he’d surmised this much: the killer’s gender was indecipherable, but they were prone to comforting self-conscious women, coveted them. Their occupation allowed for it, that much was obvious by how practiced they needed to be. At that, they certainly were skilled. Silver-tongued. Negotiating was important. Manipulation was necessary to their survival, and useful for killing.

As for the aftermath of the murders, there were still questions. The meticulous positions suggested contradictory opinions. Either the killer was a latent homosexual, wishing to be beautiful like their victims. Or, conversely, the killer thought themselves an artist doing the victims justice. Making them unique, special.

Too many questions remained about the bodies. Iron didn’t allow his analysis to rely on them. It wasn’t necessary anyhow. The “why” was less important than the “how” of their closesness.

He was reading the lists of the victims’ connections when the answer hit. He was up and running like an Olympic sprinter, eyeing his watch. It was near the end of the day. Not near enough to miss his chance though.

Before long, Iron burst through the office-door of talent agent Laura Gainer. A half-dozen uniformed officers followed him. Between he and them, Gainer’s assistant was barking promptly. She was expertly ignored. Gainer was up, out of her seat. Either terrified from the intrusion, or with the thought in mind to fight or flee. Iron’s blue-wall wasn’t about to let either happen.

“Laura Gainer,” Iron said, stepping around behind her. “You are under arrest for the murders of–” He repeated the victims’ names, recited Gainer’s Miranda rights. He was magnetizing the wall of blue to him as he forced Gainer through it for a squad car outside.

They passed through her office toward an elevator, got in to ride it down.

“You seduced and killed four women, Ms. Gainer. First befriending them as a talent agent, you used their repeated failures to maneuver them. Would-be contracts were a farce. Their failures mounted. The women became emotional, vulnerable. You took advantage, convinced them to experiment sexually. Expand their appeal. Then, you used the connection to coerce them into overdosing.”

Beck pushed her from the elevator into the lobby. People gawked at the blue-wall and the cuffed woman. As he was speaking, Iron reasoned the rest out.

“Then, immediately following their last breaths, you began posing them in sexual positions. The reason was simple; you were doing them a service, making them unique at last.”

He shoved Gainer into the back of a squad car. Ortega hobbled over. Beck had asked to meet him there at the precise moment.

Ortega handed over a packet of papers, “Everything you asked for.”

“You read it?”

Ortega nodded. “Checks out.”

The blue-wall finally broke apart and the squad cars outside filed away one-by-one.

Beck watched them go, “I never had a doubt.”

Ortega mirrored his gaze, “How’d you figure it out?”

Beck’s eyes narrowed as Gainer’s car shrank into the distance. “Everyone wishes they were one of a kind. Few are.”

Ortega’s gut churned bile. A corner of his eye twitched. “Hell of a way to go.” His words hung in the air, echoing into the rise and fall of the city’s din.

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.

Short story: Hungry

Lily-white skin glowed beneath blue-white LEDs. Chrome and black inflected their tints from fixtures, furniture, appliances. The soft pin of wrists against ceramic tile floor ensured she’d try to resist. She did. With the smallest force manageable. She tested her strength against his, back arching. It wasn’t enough to break the bind. Good. Strong– strong enough, anyway.

Half-shaved, platinum-blonde hair writhed against tile. Nails tensed at his shoulder. His face sank between milk-white breasts streaked green with veins like streams of fallen water. Pink nipples throbbed, hardened atop perfectly round areola: Olympus-Mons duplicates in pink and white on either breast. His face pushed past them at the behest of her slightest touch. Her wrists stayed pinned, slid along slender curves, and the dusting of white-blonde pubic hair. His face sank between warm pink.

Hips bucked. Pelvis twisted: Back. Forth. Back again. The rhythm repeated. The first gasp escaped. It had been trapped too long. In a tower. It’s vengeance was the simple act of existing. The first moan started with a purr. It growled from silence into the back of her throat. Another gasp. It slipped out: soft, light. Her hands tensed. Nails dug deeper. His tongue worked. Her mouth opened, shoulders twitched, hips rocked back. Back. Forth. Repeating. A breath came. Louder. The purring moan crept in. It grew. Shifted. Twisted. A deep groan.

Another slight touch. His body moved automatically. In a moment, he was inside her. He threw his head back. Sucked at the taste of her in his mouth. He pressed against her. A flinch. Resistance faltered. She writhed and twitched. The silken warmth was surpassed only by the ambrosia lingering on his tongue. He was drunk on it. Stupid. She was shuddering, body heaving pleasure.

He managed to open an eye: she was glowing. The lights made her look as he felt. The tile floor stole what it could but couldn’t take enough to remove it. He pumped in rhythm. Her hips guided him. Nothingness enveloped his closed eyes. His strength waned: wanting to cum, incapable of it. On the verge. Ready to. Unable. His breaths shortened. Body shuddered. Part of him wanted to scream joy. Another terror. Something was wrong.

He opened his eyes. Confusion. He was inside her. She was writhing. Cumming. She was warm silk, wet, inviting, making him throb. Beneath was pain. How? It was like surfing waves of euphoria. Cocaine-ecstasy sprays inhaled with each breath. She was glowing. He probably was too.

No. She was glowing. He saw it. It tore his mind apart to look. An eagle-eye view of their sex: She was glowing. He was translucent. Pain pulled at him. Pulled him into her. He screamed. She screamed louder. Hers engulfed his. Darkness ebbed in. His eyes were heavy. His gut light. His head spun. The moans grew. The glow brightened.

She turned bright-white. Shining, like a beacon. It pulsed. Everything glowed. Tints inflected infinitesimally on it: Chrome. Black. Pink– slicked wet or swollen. He began to fade. Little-by-little, he disappeared. His screams were quieter. Hers weren’t. They remained level and loud, piercing the growing emptiness in him. He felt himself disintegrating, swallowed by them. Piece-by-piece, his mind shattered. His body flickered. Flash-bulb strobes emitted from her torso. Streams of light snaked from her mouth, throat, nipples, groin, feeding the glow in her torso.

It strobed. He flickered. Alternating blinks: he was gone. There. Gone. Then, gone for good. She still writhed. Her screams echoed along the walls. The whole kitchen breathed. Out, bowing. In, constricting. In its center, she was a beacon of agonized pleasure. He was gone. Dissolved inside her. It didn’t matter. Her hips thrust. Back arched. One last scream. Body rigid. Tense. It pressed up, out. Something inside the light shifted.

All at once the moment passed. Her body collapsed. Twitches fluttered through limp limbs. The light was gone too, her breath trembling. She inhaled sharply. The room breathed a last time, then settled. Then, nothing. All was still.

She came-to in the middle of the floor. Right where she’d been left. Right where she’d left herself. He was good. Strong. He’d had something of the Nords in him. Good, pure blood. It wasn’t enough. Already the hunger was returning. Soon enough, she’d need another. It was becoming as difficult to maintain her appetite as the deceptions. The bartenders all knew her. They’d all seen her leave with the men. The women before that. Soon enough, she’d have to leave again. Sell her place. Shred her identity. She’d done it before.

The next city would need to be far. She could turn to women again. The cravings would go away for a while. The hunger would be sated. For a while. She’d have to go back to men, eventually. Then, it would return; like always, she’ll have gone through all the women, brought on too much suspicion. She’ll have to resort to men again for a while, until they weren’t enough.

Men were easier: they didn’t think about their comrades disappearing with a beautiful woman then never reappearing again. Even if the woman reappeared, the man didn’t have to. He’d fulfilled his conquest. It was never really them conquering. Not when she was involved. Problem for her was, women were the real source: Love. Innocence. Praying off those was power. Even the other women knew it. But women tracked other women. They worried for them. Cared for them. Chasing the real power meant jumping from city to city, always moving. It was difficult.

Then again, maybe she’d finally set down somewhere for good. Plant roots. Find a way to become obscure enough not to stand out. Somewhere it wasn’t as obvious– where people were as much commodities as anything. Parasite-colonies. That’s what they were, what she needed. Places like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Chicago, Berlin, London. She loved them, but stood out too much.

Trends and fashions would change. One day. She’d become as much a background beauty as any could. Then, she’d make her move. Now, she was too in-style. Too noticeable. It would change. It always had. She’d made it through a thousand years of Human existence. Feeding. Fucking. One in the same for her, for all of them. There were worse ways to go, no doubt. Feeding something like her was an honor by comparison.

At least that’s what she’d convinced herself of. In the end all that mattered was her hunger. Hunger: for flesh. Blood. Heat. Already clawing at her. She pushed up off the floor to redress and head to the bar, hungry.