I’ve been looking very evil lately. My mirror’s reflection is an essay in despair and fear of the unknown. The heart scarab attached to my chest glows slightly and with each pulse of my own heart I can feel it reaching into me with its silicone tendrils. Now that I know what it truly is, an alien conscience feeding on the iron in my blood, I cannot enjoy the change it has made in my life, nor can I harness its power again. I don’t know what to do now.
When I moved to New Jet City from the provinces I was far from innocent. I wanted to be a good boy, because that is who my parents thought they raised, but deep in my mind and my heart there were thoughts and feelings that reveled against everything I’d been raised to believe. My parents were immigrants and I was conceived as a last ditch effort to bring something from the old world to this new wild frontier. I was a depository of all their hopes and aspirations for the future, but I would have none of that.
My father once told me how a month before they left Terra Firma, he had left my two older brothers in the care of my grandfather and taken my mother out on the town in a last ditch effort to enjoy the best of that world. He’d taken her shopping first and purchased several evening gowns so that she’d look fabulous when he took her to the best restaurants and nightclubs Terra had to offer. They both knew that the new life they’d chosen for themselves as immigrants to an alien world was going to be much different. He wanted her to have in the new world quintessential memories of her home world.
It worked because as I was growing up when live was adverse, Mum would sigh, get this faraway look in her eyes and then tell us kids about what an oyster was or how dining in an ancient Greek temple in Athens felt or what the sounds of a jazz band at midnight in the penthouse of the tallest skyscraper in New York sounded like. Mum would then work like a fiend and get us all to pitch into what ever it was we were doing at the time.
I'm a Wombie. I came from my mother's womb. Perhaps that's why I feel so evil. The Clonies came from the Laboratories. You can see their embryos germinating there. I remember the first field trip I went on when I was in primary school was to the Laboratories. They were white and sterile. I thought the place was like a temple because there was a hush everywhere, even in the nurseries. Not like where I grew up in the plantations. Plantation children were often from off planet and we were always a loud rowdy bunch compared to the Clonies. You'd think there might be rivalries between two unrelated groups of children like this, but we always found the Clonies somewhat passionless and single minded.
I suppose I am guilty, because I’ve rejected the hard life my parents chose and struggled to exist and live in this crazy city. But that guilt just pushes me more to be true to my own convictions and beliefs. So, now I’m finding myself the host to this bug feeding on my dreams.
I remember the first week of moving to New Jet City as if it were yesterday. I’d flown in because I had supposed my new life here would be glamorous and easy. Flying was an extravagance I’d only indulged in once before and looking down on the mountains and forests of glass brush gave me a sense of control over my life and my destiny. My whole reason for leaving Rocky Point and my family was to claim my life for myself, to strip myself free from the relationships and entanglements of my relatives and carve a totally new life.
I was to be sophisticated and worldly. None of this pious living I’d been raised with. New Jet City was my key to a new future.
I immediately checked myself into a hostel where I didn’t have to ID myself. Having lived in the provinces within a religious community that eschewed government intervention I wasn’t a registered citizen and I would be redirected to a suitable “off-worlder” hotel that would have cost me all of the money I’d been able to save up for my relocation. Registration would get me access to housing, community assistance, health clinics and the lot but where I came from everyone helped each other out without the rigmarole of Identification. I did have a community pass from Rocky Point which usually gave me access to public transportation and through most public gateways, but it didn’t work as Identification because it only indicated my place of origin, not who I was or what was my governmental affiliation.
Nathan Kibler [12:14 PM]
The hostel was on the edge of the older part of the city. Two centuries before New Jet City had been 500 hundred feet lower and at sea level on the edge of the Glassene Sea. The old part of town retained a strange ramshackle quality of an old wharf town with cobbled streets and half-timbered style buildings. The streets cobbling and the timbering designs on the buildings were entirely fictitious though being worked into the steel reinforced plastercine building compound most buildings and street were still made from.
Everything surrounding the old part of town had been built within the past century and reflected the new building styles imported from Terra Firma. They were big blocky and to my mind ugly, without any decoration or design aesthetic. I wanted to live in the heart of the city and imagined myself avoiding anything that wasn’t “authentic” clonie style.
The clonie style that I so coveted seemed odd to have developed from a people who were otherwise single-minded and to the leaders of my home community in Rocky Point “soulless”. Clonies were essentially human, coming from breeding stock DNA from the first colonists to the Alpha Centauri system four hundred years before, but they lacked so much of what I recognized in the immigrant population which I came from, originality. It was as if the three hundred years of isolation from Terra Firma sapped all the originality from the indigenous population.
That isolation was of course broken by the advent of Warp web and Warp weft, travel between solar systems was reduced to weeks rather than by years. Not only did it allow free flow of information, but commerce between solar systems became viable and commonplace. New frontiers were opened and AC2, my new home planet was the doorway between Terra Firma and the rest of the Universe.
So that first day of being in New Jet City I decided on many things for my new life, one being that I’d never stray far from the old city. My first few forays to the city had already lead me to several favorite haunts and here I was able to reacquaint myself to them. The first place I headed to was a divvy old bar that served cheap meals in the old Terra Firma manner, none of this manufactured protein shite for me. Growing up on a greenhouse plantation, I’d never had to partake of manufactured foods and had been raised to understand the building blocks of nutrition as a way of life. This was more difficult to do in the inner city but if one knew where to go, it was possible to continue in the same vein without much trouble. Greenhouse food although rare and sometimes difficult to obtain, nevertheless was a reality in New Jet City.
The bar was called the New Frontier Room and had the flavor of an older era saloon on Terra Firma. The floors were often strewn with greenhouse bulrushes and glass brush fronds, hiding the debris of several decades of broken and cast off silicone. If one kept an eye out, an old acquaintance had once pointed out, you could find old working microchips, cast off years before but never properly removed from the premises. I never knew if the proprietors just didn’t care to sweep the place out, but like much of New Jet City, years of cast off silicone was treated like so much sand and dust, superfluous annoyances that would just return if they were ever removed. It was as if the cast off chips and circuits of the older machines were mobile and sentient, crawling back to their places of origin like iron filings do to magnetic field.
You always kept your boot shields turned on so that stepping on a glass shard wouldn’t pierce your boot soles. A fine fibrous dust accumulated on everything making it imperative to keep breathing shields in place as well. I always ingested plenty of silicone there no matter what precautions I took to prevent it. Jake, the proprietor had a nasty case of asthma as a result of this dust, but never did anything about the debris, instead having his lungs regrown every few years.
The food was always excellent, though, despite the dust. Mushrooms sautéed in butter sauce, made with real butter. Greenhouse Brown Rice, steamed in distilled water. And barley sugar cakes for dessert if you had a sweet tooth. That was the gist of my first meal in New Jet City. I sat at the bar that gleamed from the silicate lubricants that were used to keep the dust down. The heat from the kitchen billowed out of the window behind the prep counter and I watched as the occasional patron sauntered in for a cuppa stimulants.
“Two credits,” the waiter behind the counter barked at me when I was done with my meal. I knew that I’d have to barter with him until I’d become a regular. Outworlders were always charged for anything they consumed. Onworlders were usually accorded carte blanche unless they were strangers or couldn’t prove their allegiances to any government body. I flashed him my province ID and asked, “This ain’t no good here? My family grew the rice you’re serving here.”
He looked at me askance and fingered the white piece of plastic that hung from a chain connected to my collar so I wouldn’t loose it or have it stolen from my person. Theft was rare in a free socialist society like you found on AC2, but with the advent of intergalactic commerce, Identification was a prime source of income for a lot of petty thieves and forgers.
He smiled at me and asked, “What’s your name, son? I know some people in Rocky Point you might know.”
“Eon, sir. Eon Kuper. Would you know the Asterbuccellas? They run the community granary in Rocky Point.”
“Why, yes. Yes, I do business with them and anyone from Rocky Point is welcome in my bar.”
So, that’s how I first became a regular at The New Frontier Room.
Word count: 1,841 of 50,000
Nathan Kibler [8:02 PM]
I hung out there for the rest of the evening and eventually drug myself home, a little tipsy from beer they made there at the restaurant. I think by that point in time I was convinced that they did everything right there at the bar, milk cows for the butter, grow the mushrooms under the counter, pluck eggs from under chickens. It seemed as close to home as I could imagine in this city.
The next day I started looking for a new place to stay, reading up all the bulletins I could find that suggested places to live that didn’t require ID. This wasn’t easy since if you were going to be a legitimate apartment manager within the city limits, you pretty much had to have every resident registered or you wouldn’t get your entire allotment of resources. Every dwelling was given a zoning that would determine resources available, but unless you had registered tenants, you wouldn’t necessarily be given all the resources allowed by the total number of dwellings occupied.
I was about to despair that I wouldn’t be able to obtain a personal dwelling without some complete form of identification, when I met Luke. Before I’d left Rocky Point a school chum had pulled me aside and given me his brother’s address in the city. Naturally I was intrigued that this friend had an older brother living in New Jet City. So I was determined to look him up.
We made a date for stimulants at a Café named the Pearly Necklace. I’d never hear of it before, so I thought the whole adventure was quite romantic: two strangers meeting at a strange café for stimulants. The place wasn’t hard to find being down the street from the hostel on Good Times.
It was quite pretty from the street, with tall windows wreathed with dark, heavy velvet curtains. Inside there was faux wood paneling and lace table cloths. I recognized Luke almost immediately from the snap shot of himself that he’d sent me with his reply.
Word count: 2,177
Nathan Kibler [3:07 AM]
Before I could enter the cafe, he stood and walked toward me. He met me right outside the door and greeted me with a smile and a handshake.
"Hi, you must be Eon. I'm Luke." He was at least six foot four and lanky. I was immediately struck by his eyes which were a pale blue, almost grey. When he smiled dimples appeared in the five o'clock shadow that dusted his cheeks. There was a sharpness to his features that I found immediately engaging. It was hard to look away when I was locked in his gaze and holding his warm hand.
"Yes, it is so good to meet you. Your brother said many good things about you." He was dressed simply in a striped peasant shirt and dungarees. He wore open toed sandals with bare feet. Over the peasant shirt he wore a reddish-rust cabled sweater with a thread-bare spot on the neck and shoulder.
After a second of shaking his hand I realized I was still holding it and let go. There was an odd moment when I realized he was also still holding my hand and I'd been the one to release first. He self-consciously blushed as he lowered his hand to his side, then raised his hand nervously to pull his earlobe absentmindedly. When he spoke next I sensed a hesitancy and an uncomfortable air with the words, but he spoke forthright.
"I'm really sorry to do this to you, Eon, but I can't meet with you right now. I have forgotten an appointment I made several weeks ago, and have to attend to presently. I really wish I could take the time now to meet you and get to know you better, but this may be the only time I can make this other appointment. I hope you can understand and will agree to meet with me later, perhaps in a few days."
His speech took me aback, but his manner and voice seemed so earnest that I couldn't help but to give my assent.
Nathan Kibler [12:46 PM]
He agreed to contact me and schedule another meeting in a few days. As he walked away from me a wealth of emotions welled up in my chest. What if I never saw him again? What was the hand holding thing about? How did I feel about all this?
The next couple of days I threw myself into finding a place to live that wasn't a hostel. I was also wondering what I'd do as an occupation. I could go the regular route and frequent warpnet bullentin boards that listed housing options, but I wanted to have some say in where I lived so I walked the streets of the city familiarizing myself with the quirks of each one. Good Times worked its way downhill and ended at the old wharf market where free traders of every kind came. I wanted to live near enough to Good Times that I would have access to that old par of town. This meant finding a room in an older building which wouldn't necessarily be offered on warpnet.
The day after the meeting with Luke I headed out with my satch slung over my shoulder and decided to explore the part of town between where the hostel was on Good Times and beyond to the newer part of town, which I estimated to be an area of at least ten to twenty block long and wide. This was away from Sturnum Hill which limited and defined the old downtown area. Sturnum rose several hundred feet behind the wharf market and limited the area between the Glassene river and Good times which angled away from both. I figured I'd find a room with a decent view better on this side of town.
As I walked I noted quirks of the architecture. Pediments ornate and foriegn to my eyes vied for space above the street. Along Good Times several brightly painted buildings featured notable terraces half-way up their fronts. They were deserted although it was obvious from their narrowness and lack of furniture that they served a purpose other than giving residents a view of the street.
Nathan Kibler [2:08 PM]
I wondered what that purpose might be, although at the time I had no idea.
As I walked away from Good Times Avenue I noted the buildings took on a plainer residential box-like aspect, with fewer adornments. At every intersection there were distribution depots for basic necessities, but in-between converted boutiques featuring off-world goods and designs dotted the streets. I wondered if I might apply for an occupation at one of these shops, but the thought of credit commerce, a school subject my parents never approved of and I never did understand well, scared me. I thought I might find a job working at a cafe, although most service jobs had been replaced by robotic assistants. That wasn't the case at the New Frontier Room and at that thought I decided I would visit and perhaps do some drawing with my satchel.
The New Frontier Room wasn't very far away from where I was, so I walked there quickly. Victor, the waiter who'd talked to me before greeted me from behind the bar and asked what I might like today. I asked for a cup of tea and a biscuit, which he brought right over.
"You some kind of artist, then?" he asked noting that I'd opened my satchel and was sketching the view of the street out the front window of the bar.
"I like to draw, yes," I answered continuing to draw for a bit before pouring my tea and taking a bite of biscuit. I set my satchel down on the table so Victor could examine it better as he was hovering watching me work.
"Say," said Victor, pointing to the drawing, "you're pretty good. Would you ever consider making signs for my bar?"
I looked up suddenly. I didn't expect to find an occupation so quickly.
"Yes," I stammered, "yes, I could do that."
Victor smiled at me. "I couldn't pay you much, just a couple of credits per sign, but I really like your style and think it would enhance the look of our bar."
Nathan Kibler [1:53 PM]
Luke contacted me a few days later and made another appointment for the following week. I was more than overjoyed and I nearly couldn’t contain my excitement. In fact, those three days of waiting were very disappointing and by the second day I’d found I couldn’t leave my rented room. I’d spent the whole of that last day sitting in bed with my satchel opened vainly searching through classifieds and obituaries looking for someplace to live.
So many of the ads for apartments not requiring Identification were asking for either indentured contracts or supplemental installment of credits. I didn’t want to give up my freedom nor did I want to spend the little credit that I’d saved up from working on the plantation. I needed a residence that didn’t require anything more than my occupation which was seeming less likely the more I searched. Eventually I just sat and stared out the dirty window at the street below.
I argued with myself that I could be doing lots of other things with my time during this waiting period but my body and my mood won out. Here I was in a strange city with no friends but a few contacts. I’d been here a week and although I might have an occupation creating signs for the New Frontier Room I was spending my nest egg of credits faster by staying at this hostel. It wasn’t like other hostels I’d been to in my youth. The lobby was small with only a desk and some off-world vending robots. Most movement was through this lobby to the lifts, although down a small side door one could walk to the stairwell and walk the three flights up to my room.
The room was equipped with a warpnet communicator, but no view screen was attached to access info. There were only two other pieces of furniture in the room, a futon where I’d spread my sleeping sheath and an old ornate wardrobe that featured beveled glass mirrors on the outside doors so that I could see the single window opposite whenever I dressed. I only carried a small bag of clothes besides my satchel which was fully self contained electronics.
These were my sole possessions at that time and although I could always find what I wanted if I strolled through the flea markets and antiques streets, it occurred to me that since I didn’t have a residence of my own, I had little desire to acquire any other worldly goods. Yet I felt empty handed, like there was something missing from my life.
I’d grown up in a farming plantation several thousand kilometers north and east of New Jet City. My parents, when they decided to immigrate to the Alpha Centauri system, had done a fair amount of research into the type of community they wanted to raise their children in and had chosen the Peripans, a splinter group of the Hedonist that broke off during the Cult War II. The Peripans believe in self-sufficiency and environmental harmony, yet I was always disillusioned by the fact that although they’d created this great oasis of terran agriculture in the middle of the wilderness on a distant planet, they never incorporated indigenous flora into their scheme. In fact, every year, before the planting season huge burning parties were formed to torch the glass brush.
It grew everywhere as a weed and insidiously difficult to remove. Each plant was connected underground to another by a root that dived down ten feet before joining up with another root. When the first cult settlers established the plantation several attempts were made to dig up root systems, but that might last five years or so, eventually new shoots would be sent up and new glass bush would cover the whole field. They eventually covered the area with concrete platiscene resin which stopped the weed for a bit longer, but even then the concrete would age and crack and the glass brush would push up between the cracks.
Now they just do a burn every season which puts the glass bush into hibernation until next season. It gives enough time to till the earth, work fertilizers into the ground and plant. But glass bush isn’t the only pest that troubles the plantations.
I grew to hate terran agriculture and the cult. The Cult leaders ideals of self-sufficiency and environmental harmony was hypocritical to the fact that every year they destroyed much of the environment just to plant foreign flora. Of course, I was complicit with my own ideals. I fully acknowledge I consume the food that was grown on the plantation by these methods, but I never understood why no one questioned this practice or tried to come up with a better solution than just burning away what was already there.
Still, while growing up, I put in my hours after schooling for the community, burning away glass plant, operating farming equipment, harvesting the goods and helping my mother put away the bounty of the harvest. My mum was the real force in our family. She fully believed that living off the land and creating your own food, clothing, shelter was the only way to live. I was always surprised how after experiencing the best Terra had to offer she was happy to turn her back on all that and embrace this hard toil life with only a sigh and a hint of nostalgia.
Despite having to work for the good of the plantation every day, we rarely ever wanted for anything. We always had clothing, food and shelter. Schooling was pretty consistent and when I was old enough to attend college I was sent to the University, a regional institution set up by a collective of plantations to increase the level of civilization in the provinces.
Most of the educators there were Clonies and that was really the first time I’d had much interaction with the indigenous people of this planet. Clonies as a race are tall and physically impressive. They usually excel in intellectual pursuits as well and since they made up the larger population on the planet the professions of educators and administrators were almost always dominated by Clonies. What they seemed to lack the most was randomness and irrationality, which was odd exploring this city built on top of one of the original settlements because of all the variation and decoration that made it unique. It occurred to me that at one point Clonies were very much like Wombies and that in the process of natural selection or the results of replication, these qualities had been bred out.
Clonies were also quite strikingly handsome. Their pale complexion and even features were a big contrast to most wombies dusky skin and dark hair. It is hard not to find a Clonie attractive. Although they are largely non-sexual beings, Clonies have always been popular with the Wombie population in the red light district. The clonie children I grew up knowing always seemed fragile and delicate. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned that part of puberty for Clonies, perhaps to make up for lack of sexual development, was a period when they become physically active and usually develop very athletic physiques.
Nathan Kibler [7:49 PM]
I had made a few acquaintances in tertiary school with Clonies but despite my efforts to maintain the friendships I soon lost touch with them. I guess I could count the educators at University as friends. There was one arts instructor who befriended me, but I have to admit I never was comfortable enough around them to socialize outside of the teaching environment. That friendship ended badly and although I got high marks in all my other classes, that was the one class I remember receiving the lowest mark of my entire schooling career.
I have to admit that I deliberately took a bad grade. When the friendship soured I stopped working on the assigned project, instead spent my time doing research into esoteric music icons of the twentieth century. That would have been just fine if I'd been accepted by a music program, but I'd never had and this was more of a distraction from the bad relationship with the instructor.
He was a short man by Clonie standards, so in fact he was barely an inch taller than me. He had sandy colored hair that tended toward tawny colors in the late day. His eyes were almost exactly the color of silver.
Nathan Kibler [2:06 PM]
Before I took any instruction from him I'd met him first at a cafe in the village that had sprung up around the University. Being mostly Clonies it wasn't common to see Educators in public. They preferred the company of their own kind and when you did see them in public they often were in a small group. Educators, as a rule, lived fairly secluded lives following scholarly pursuits behind closed doors.
This Clonie was named Wolfgang and frequented this one cafe, saying that he enjoyed encountering students in an environment other than the classroom. I remember he sought me out and started asking me questions about my home plantation. This was the first Clonie who'd ever sought me out for conversation. He was very fit and when I was able to interrupt his barrage of questions I asked him his age. He smiled and told me he was well over seventy, but refused to tell me his real age.
I'd heard that Clonies lived to hyper attenuated ages, but I'd only met children before who always seemed much younger looking than the were. Wolfgang was proof that Clonies aged at a slower rate than most humans. He had few wrinkles and his complexion, despite a lovely golden tan, was supple and smooth. He also had a very low body fat. He looked no older than a man of thirty, a common age among immigrants.
Nathan Kibler [1:50 PM]
Naturally I was flattered by his attention. Why would anyone single me out in a crowd and I was almost convinced that there was genuine interest until another Clonie walked into the café and his attitude changed dramatically. He turned to face his drink at the bar and pretended to ignore me. Then casually he set his satchel on top of mine which I found out later was to transfer his vital statistics and contacts.
His full name was Wolfgang Titus Onegin and his birth place was New Jet City where apparently Clonies and immigrants mingled easier than here in the provinces. I was intrigued and we wrote letters back and forth discussing artistic tastes and culinary favorites. I still felt he was interviewing me.
Soon I discovered I was taking a class from him and stopped writing him. I would see him in class after his lecture and he was always friendly and taking me aside to ask about personal news. He was a junior member of the faculty and the class he was teaching was a survey of artistic merits, starting from the most earliest artifacts of human civilization on terra to modern equivalents of style, fashion and plot.
Eventually he invited me to accompany him to the very same café where we’d first met. I didn’t suspect anything at all being pretty naïve myself at the time. We sat over our drinks chatting about classes and students. Eventually he confessed to me that he was something of an outcast among the faculty because he had radical ideas regarding procreation and pleasure. Clonies had a long tradition of ideals that equated hard work to pleasure. Whole generations of Clonies had worked crystal mines in the southern hemisphere basing their entire life on the pursuit of hard, strenuous labor.
Northern Clonies were more intellectually minded, but they believed much the same, in that work equaled a balanced and satisfied life. These philosophies carried over into the Spartan plantations like the one I’d grown up on. The Hedonists were at one point more of an orgiastic cult but that over time, that worshiping of fertility and fecundity were more applied to agriculture and worship began to focus more on the work that nurtured that prosperity.
Wolfgang believed that life was more oriented to pursuing pleasure than pursuing strenuous work. He believed the sensual arts were lost to Clonies but that the ability to experience pleasure was not bred out of them like I’d always surmised. That was when he smiled at me and started talking about me.
“I’ve noticed you for sometime in my class. There is something very striking about you and the way you move. Besides being a very handsome man, I sense there is something very earthy and base about you. I can tell you I’ve been with some of the best whores on the planet and you remind me of them.”
I didn’t know whether to believe him or to call his bluff, so I remained silent as he went on.
“I believe you know something about sex that I’ve not explored yet and I’d like you to show me what that is. Would you do that for me?”
Now it was time for me to smile. Here I was twenty-one and still a virgin by most standards. I’d never kissed anyone, least of all a Clonie. I masturbated often, but I thought of that as a body function and had never developed any special techniques outside of sometimes using axel grease when I was using farm equipment and found myself alone in a field somewhere, despite its oily greasiness.
“I really don’t know anything about sex, Wolfgang, and would it be right between a student and an educator?”
“Oh, perhaps you’re right,” He knew it was in direct violation of the institutional agreement we all signed when we enrolled. Perhaps he was testing me, or perhaps he’d hoped that my curiosity would win me over. He continued, “I just wanted to know more about you Wombies. You all fascinate me so.”
So that was it, then? Wombies were too stupid to warrant more than a roll in the sack. I felt suddenly irrationally angry and almost wanted to get up right that moment and walk away from the Man.
“I don’t think I’m your man,” I said warily. There was a silence for several moments and although I was staring out the window, when I looked back I realized I was being pensive for little reason. Wolfgang had this huge puppy dog frown on his face that almost won me over for a minute.
“Ah, don’t take it hard, man,” I stated to him, “I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would be more than overjoyed to play with you. I’m just not one of those people.”
Nathan Kibler [9:42 PM]
After that encounter, he sent me several messages that usually started referencing some song lyrics from a twentieth century musician and then ended it with an invitation to hear the song at his apartments. This was also unprecedented and I had no desire to encounter him in a private setting. Although sexuality was not unknown to me, the thought of a sexualized Clonie was almost too much for me to encounter. I suspected that my fear was linked more to a curiosity that I loathed to explore or realize.
Instead of responding to his messages I simply ignored them and went even further and began skipping class. After three weeks of missing lectures and getting notes from a student that lived in my dormitory, I attended class and realized that Wolfgang had employed an assistant to offer the lectures. When I contacted his office I was told he was travelling and wouldn't be back at school for another week at least.
I was immediately suspicious. He was still sending me hand-composed letters requesting my presence while he was away. Although distance travelling never took more than a day, I was curious why he'd be inviting me to his apartment if he weren’t around. I wondered dangerously what might happen if I returned one of his letters. He was attractive and I was flattered that he persisted to write me despite my silence. I also wondered if he'd done this to other students, soliciting them until they relented.
I couldn't help but feel somewhat wrong as I typed him a short query:
I called your office and they told me you were travelling for several weeks. If I were to accept one of your invitations to listen to music, how could you make the appointment?
Eon Kuper, a student
The following week was holiday break. My parents were visiting my cousins in the South hemisphere, so I had nowhere to go. About half the student body was vacationing, the other half remained in the dormitories and studied like I was doing. But I found I couldn’t work on the study guide for Wolfgang’s class. For two evenings I loaded it up on my satchel and then proceeded to look at files on Warpnet.
That evening I was hanging out at the cafe again and within minutes Wolfgang came in and made his way to my table. I smiled and watched him enter, although I noticed that he did not smile and walked nonchalantly as if he didn't really care to be there. I looked him in the eye and nodded my head with a slight increase in my smile to let him know that I held no ill tidings.
When he came by my table he hung his head and looked at me through the flaxen hair that was falling into his blue eyes. He wore a cream colored turtleneck ribbed sweater under a brown faux-suede blazer with a similar colored velveteen pants. I realized that I’d come to the café in the hope that I might get him off my mind, but that he’d instead shown up making me realize that even in the short time I’d gotten to know him, I was already missing his presence.
“Why don’t you sit, down?” I asked thinking I might still have a chance to make friends with him. He just smiled flatly, snorted through his nose and looked away at the people sitting at the bar.
“Can I trust you?” he asked me looking back and lifting a lock of hair up and around his ear.
I was taken aback a little, but I was more concerned that my grade in his class was already suffering because of my encountering him in civilian life. I decided that perhaps it might be safer to take a more defensive attitude, after all, I was the one refusing to communicate with him.
“Why shouldn’t you trust me? I’m your student. Perhaps I should ask you the same question?”
He visibly made a decision, shrugged and collapsed into the booth opposite me. He leaned forward suddenly and looked me directly in the eye with those piercing blue eyes. I suddenly regretted inviting him to sit with me.
“I want your trust,” he conceded, “but perhaps, I don’t deserve it. You are my student and my intentions are perhaps ignoble. But we don’t have to do that; I merely want to befriend you. There is nothing wrong with that is there?”
I was silent and regarded him with pursed lips. Feeling increasingly uncomfortable I grabbed the glass mug where my tea was cooling and sipped a mouthful of hot liquid. The tea was too hot and I regretted taking the sip, but I didn’t want to speak and tell him that I didn’t trust him. I did like him, but there was little I could think to say to him.
I swallowed the hot liquid down my throat, leaving a numb trail of burnt taste buds and mucus. The afterburner felt acrid and rough like I’d just abraded my throat with a dirty wire brush. I looked down into the tea hoping I’d be inspired to respond to him.
“Wolfgang,” I addressed him. “You put me in a difficult situation. I wish you’d just leave me alone until I finish your class. I wish I could be your friend, but because of the situation we are in, a friendship would be uncomfortable. Sex would be worse. I don’t want to have to deal with the consequences of a choice like that.”
He’d pulled his hands back under the table and was frowning now. There was a flicker of something, perhaps anguish from rejection, and the pit that was developing in my stomach suddenly dropped through the floor. I suddenly flushed with shame and regret, but I felt better in my mind. This feeling will pass and you will be better off with this decision than if you’d relented, I told myself.
Wolfgang was quiet for a minute and then said, “I see.” After thirty seconds he stood and walked back to the counter. I watched him talking with the other patrons for the next hour. I sat sketching on my satchel and before long an acquaintance; a much-appreciated distraction arrived. They sat with me chatting and eventually more people arrived and joined our table.
Nathan Kibler [2:42 PM]
These were an otherwise unrelated group of people who met at regular times to drink and visit. I just happened one night to be invited to join them and successively met them from time to time for drinks. I’d hoped to find some anonymity in this crowd but soon Wolfgang joined the group and eventually sat next to me. I’d had a few drinks in me before I realized his maneuver, then it was too late. He was throwing his arm across the back of my chair possessively and talking into my ear. I was more relaxed now and in my drunkenness my earlier resolve melted away.
By the time his arm moved to my shoulder and his whisperings became entrities to join him at his apartments, I was ready to explore the distance of his interest. How much was he interested in sex with me? What would that entail? I wasn’t even sure I could perform for a clonie, the thought of him touching me was alien and weird, exciting, but weird.
“Okay,” I said to him, “I’ll go home with you, but we’re doing what I want.”
“Sure, sure,” he said, amiably. What could he do, he was getting his way, mostly.
We walked to his apartments, which surprisingly were large and open for a professor. He also had a lot of stuff. Monitors were in nearly every room. His kitchen was a huge laboratory like room with one portion devoted to hydroponics. He offered me the results of his gardening, pears and bananas, all miniaturized for the purpose of growing in such a small space.
I sat at a long counter eating the pears with a spoon while he fussed about in another room. When I was done I walked around the living area looking at all the monitor screens. They mostly featured pictures of him traveling with what looked like large groups of students. Presently he returned to usher me into his sleeping room.
“My bedoir awaits,” he waved me in dramatically. I still felt very odd.
He slept on a big liquid silicone mattress. There was little actual furniture in the room besides a bedside table and the bed itself. The bed also had a white linen canopy hanging from the ceiling and trailing to the beds four corners.
“May I undress you?,” he asked.
“No, thank you.” I insisted. “You may undress, though.” Indicating that he should do it standing in the middle of the bed.
“You want me to get undressed up here? It’s hard to stand on this mattress,” he stated while struggling to stand.
Nathan Kibler [10:13 PM]
"Either do it or I'm leaving here, right now."
I stood with my arms folded regarding him with a critical eye. In fact, I was scared. He could pull my bluff at any time. And if he did, I didn't know what I would do. Still, I figured if I could keep the upper hand, I could keep my clothes on and keep my integrity.
He was swaying as he struggled out of his blazer, trying to keep his balance from succuming to intoxication and the unstable bed. He started to untie the strings of his white cotton shirt. When he'd managed to untie two of the closures I held up a finger and pointed at his pants.
"Take the pants off first."
I was thinking of a boyfriend I used to roll about in the barn with. He always managed to struggle out of his boots and overalls but never managed to remove his shirt. I don't know why I made the connection but something about Wolfgang's apparent eagerness was appealing and reminded me of that time.
Nathan Kibler [2:10 PM]