Know what I haven’t done in a long time? A flash fiction challenge. And Chuck Wendig offered up a subgenre mashup this week, wherein we randomly pick two subgenres from a list of twenty and mash them together like peanut butter and jelly.
I used a random number generator and ended up with dystopia and … erotica.
Content warning: This won’t be going all-out erotica because I don’t write that, but it will be more “adult” than my standard short story offering. So maybe don’t read it if you’re not into that kind of thing.
Standing in the darkening gym, I bounce the ball twice and set up for the shot. Free throw. Piece of cake.
Or it would be, it I weren’t wearing a damn space suit. I adjust inside it, trying to loosen up as much as I can. But it can offer only so much give.
I shoot and miss the hoop by a foot. “Damn.” Shaking my head, I retrieve the ball and bounce it as I walk back to the free throw line. At least I can do that wearing these bulky gloves. It only took two months.
I was supposed to be a hero. Donovan Price Makes History, the headlines would have said. And I should have. I was the first human to attempt – and survive – intergalactic hyper-sleep for fifty years. That meant humans could travel into deep space and explore new solar systems. I hadn’t aged. The ship’s systems had functioned perfectly. I woke at the exact time I was supposed to, when I was just outside the moon’s orbit.
I shoot. Another miss.
That’s when I knew something was wrong. No contact from Earth. Not even static.
I didn’t know why until my ship flew over the land and what was left of the cities I once knew.
This time I bounce the ball from hand to hand. At least I don’t have to chase it in the suit this way.
She’s standing at the edge of the court, wearing a short denim skirt and a purple, form-fitting V-neck over her flawless brown skin.
I swallow, then return my attention to the ball. “I told you to stop coming around here.”
“Come on. Am I really so bad to have around?”
“You aren’t real.”
“Are you so sure?” She saunters to me, exaggerating the natural hip sway that women have used to taunt men since the dawn of time.
I keep my voice steady, pretending she hasn’t affected me. “Yeah. Everyone’s dead. Didn’t you get the memo?”
She laughs flirtatiously and runs her finger down the front of my mask. “You know, if you take this silly suit off, we can have a little fun.”
“And I could experience a little face melting action. No thanks.”
She shrugs. “Sounds like fun to me.”
I drop the ball, letting it bounce to the gym’s wall. Without acknowledging the hallucination further, I grab my Geiger counter and leave.
It seems silly to continue taking readings after so many months, but since she started showing up, I figure there’s something in the air that’s messing with my head. Or my hormones.
I haven’t been with a woman in fifty years, after all.
Everything about her feels real. Her voice, her mannerisms, even the way she laughs. Pity she only shows up when I’m in town, where I have to wear the suit. Getting turned on in the thing is decidedly inconvenient.
As I expect, radiation levels drop as I near my cave. I haven’t yet figured out if leaving the suit a mile from the cave will keep me alive, but it’s worked so far. The Geiger counter registers radiation on the suit, but I can’t live in the thing all the time. Maybe I’ll get cancer one day. It’s not like anyone will be around to care.
If it weren’t for my need to explore, to do something normal, I wouldn’t leave the cave.
And she might never show up.
“Come on, where are you?” I pace between the cave walls and work on building a fire. My mind is still on her gentle voice and sexy gait.
I know she’s a product of my imagination, but I have to say, my imagination did a damn fine job.
The night leaves me frustrated, and the next morning I retrieve my suit – I’ve never done that so soon after an outing before, and the readings around it are nearly as high as they were yesterday. But I don’t care. Hallucination or not, she’s the closest thing I have to human contact.
The gym is nearly as I left it, though the sun is shining through the east windows this time. I shoot hoops, waiting.
She doesn’t always appear. In fact, more often than not, she doesn’t. I try not to be disappointed.
I shake my head. Am I really wishing for an hallucination? A sign that I’m losing my mind?
Just a few more shots, and I’ll leave.
After the second shot, her voice sounds from behind me. “Bet you were wondering if I’d show up.”
I smile in spite of my effort not to and turn around against my better judgment.
She’s wearing a red bikini today, showing nearly every inch of her skin.
I chant to myself as I make my way to her. “She’s not real, she’s not real, she’s not real…”
She smiles and eyes me up and down, then licks her lips.
My body thinks she’s real. I close my eyes and take a long breath in an attempt to slow my heart. The rest – well, not much I can do about that.
Wrapping her arms around my neck, she stares into my eyes. “It’s awfully hard to have a good time with this suit in the way.”
“I know, but if I take it off, I’ll die.” I pout dramatically, trying to ignore the blood rush below the equator.
“Come on. Lie down.” She holds my arms, pulling me to the ground.
I don’t resist. This is why I came here, right?
She runs her hands up and down my suit, stopping and concentrating on the most sensitive areas. My mind spins, and everything within me wants to get this damn suit off of me. To touch her. Kiss her. Losing it in the suit isn’t what I had in mind.
So what did I have in mind?
She answers as if I were talking to her. “Yes, you can. It will be fine.” She rubs her hand against me. “I can’t take it off. You have to.”
I know that. She’s not real. She can only operate inside my head.
I reach for the helmet release.
“Come on, baby. Take it off.” She increases the pressure.
I moan, then pull on the first release. Pull the other one, and the suit won’t protect me from the radiation.
The way she’s working things, the suit will be irrelevant with little warning. If I want her, I have to act now.
Besides, the Geiger counter is old. It’s probably inaccurate.
I pull the other release and lift the helmet, freeing myself from it.
She grinds against me, brings her lips to mine, and breathes fire into my lungs.
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