Borrowed Pleasures (SF microstory April)

Every month I do a story in the SF competition on LinkedIn – this month’s theme was resurrection, and the elements to be included were a glass of wine and silver coins (bit of a genre crossover, to be sure).  This story wasn’t used, in the end, I replaced it with another, but it was darker than my usual and I rather like its understated nastiness. 



Harris paused unseen in the doorway, adjusting to the dim light and unpleasant mix of odours before approaching the old man’s sickbed. The nurse touched the old man’s arm to rouse him, then slipped away, and Turner stirred, rolling his head on the pillow and opening rheumy eyes.

‘Harris.’ His voice was a breathy husk. ‘What news?’

‘All good, sir. The clones should be fully mature in days.’

‘Excellent. Excellent! How many?’

‘Four—better than I hoped.’

‘And the woman? Beautiful?’

‘Early to tell, but yes, I believe she will be. ‘

‘She was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.’ Turner mused, and wheezed a chuckle. ‘Getting her DNA was worth your fees just on its own. You’ll thank me, too. You’ll enjoy her.’

‘Er, I don’t think I should, sir. Not very professional.’

‘My dear chap, you won’t be able to resist. No-one ever could. I shall insist. The other three are all me?’

‘They are, sir. I do need to remind you they will only have an active adult lifespan of months. A year at best; less in view of your plans for them.’

‘That’s longer than the doctors are giving me, and I don’t really care what happens to them afterwards. In view of—as you say—my plans, I doubt I’ll last six months, but I shall die a happy man. You’re still no closer to resurrecting me permanently in them?’

‘Sir, no. I did warn you. When you die, they become inanimate. Presuming they outlast you.’

The old man shrugged. ‘When can you start linking my consciousness to them?’

‘Within the week. Will you start with the woman?’

‘I want to, but I won’t. I’ll start with one of mine. I want to experiment with the degree of sensation before you start linking the next. I ordered four cases of the world’s best wines ready for this. If any of the boys has a particularly healthy liver, link him first.’

‘They’re all perfect and identical copies, sir. Your own liver managed seventy years before it started failing.’

Turner wheezed another chuckle. ‘It got the occasional break while I was getting on with the tiresome interruptions of living. This boy won’t have interruptions, but yes, even with my plans for him, it should last six months. The last pleasure taken from me, the first to be recovered, a simple glass of wine. Have you named the clones in your case notes?’

‘You’ve always referred to the woman as Desiree, so she’s in my notes under that name. The males are just the glutton, the sensualist and the spare.’

‘Well, the glutton hardly needs a name. He won’t be getting out much. My sensualist, though, he can take my nickname. Burner Turner, they called me. Burned through the sheets in over a thousand beds in my time. I tell you, Harris, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. Burner having Desiree, with me experiencing both. Even more than the orgies.’ His raddled old frame shuddered in anticipation.

Harris swallowed, repelled, and was relieved when the nurse returned and sternly ordered him from the room. He returned to his superb lab and paused, as always, in front of Desiree’s pod. Cool, remote, inanimate, she stared back. He had bribed his way into the clinic where the real Desiree flickered toward the close of life, and she had opened her eyes unexpectedly as he drew off the DNA tissue. Glorious eyes, shockingly out of place in the frail parchment of her ancient ruined beauty, the eyes of a woman totally confident of her impact, adored and desired to the point of madness, arrogant and knowing; the only woman to ever reject Turner’s money and power. She had laughed at him, but it would be Turner’s corrupt and depraved soul that directed her clone. Harris reminded himself again that the original Desiree would never know, but a trick of the light seemed to scatter a handful of glinting silver coins over the pod as he turned back to his desk.

Messaging sex rocks

A while back I asked the people on my mailing list to have a look at a rather more sensual story and the feedback was wow, yes, and I should do more. I like writing it, and it seems I’m good at writing it, but problem, I have a quiet life: just me, my computer, and my imaginary friends. How to jumpstart the imagination and expand my experience? Getting out there for real can take ages and carries a serious risk factor. And it turns out there really is a limit to the kind of questions you can ask people (what turns you on, what makes you hot) without setting up potentially embarrassing expectations. Oops.

Except, of course, on dating websites. Been there, done that, for Five Six, but I remembered the many approaches I had primly ignored and blocked while on the website. What if I responded? I signed up on a free website (not looking for quality, just quantity) and was honest about my age and said I was a writer who liked to talk about sex. I put up a photo that was me but also not very like me (in view of the conversations I hoped to be having, I really did not want to be recognized and hailed in public as Gloria*) and waited patiently in a corner of my web and the first juicy fly buzzed by in less than an hour. Increasingly steamy messages whizzed back and forth and it was even quite fun. I did eventually have to block him after two days as he kept wistfully kissing my cyber shoulders, and sending me cyber flowers, because he wasn’t very imaginative and an hour is an hour, time is money, been there, done that, so many men, so little time. Thanks for the memories but time to move on. (And he was fixated on panties, which is a word I happen to hate. Sorry, guy. Knickers or nothing. You are the weakest link, goodbye.)

the fantasy kiss

Free websites are weird. There’s a woman who wants us to exchange photos of our boobs by email. Aye, that’ll be right. One retired bloke keeps messaging that he wants to MARRY ME (stop shouting!) and take me to his villa in Spain where I can WRITE to my heart’s content while he LOOKS AFTER ME. Anyone interested, let me know, he seems loud but genuine. A surprising number of younger blokes are desperate to learn from a mature woman who talks back. Their technique was all swearies and no-one under forty seems able to spell, so between spelling errors and the website’s auto censor (more st*rs than *ctual vow*ls) they were quite hard to read. They are learning, but it is older men who have the imagination and range.

I have had virtual flings with, gosh, a dozen men? (yes, website bicycle of note) (quiet pride) and some of them are pretty sick men, you know? Yes, Domdaddy, I’m looking at you. How you reached 60 years old without being locked up I have no idea. There’s nothing Gloria* won’t consider but she does draw the line at encouraging anyone to think their desires have any place in a normal world. Slut, yes, but a slut with standards. She has been sent more fervent cyber flowers and had more partners wanting repeats than seems possible, sometimes they are back in hours.

Reading erotica and porn is, of course, tingly, which is why people do it. I struck pay dirt, (hell, the mother lode) with Irish Paddy*, who is 50. He was on the website looking for a sensual partner for intimate encounters, and I messaged him on the off-chance. Paddy* has a lyrical imagination, is a fluent typist, and gets totally involved in the moment. He eventually switched me (as Gloria*) onto ooVoo as the st*rs were getting us down and as George Takei says, oh myyyyy. I am in writer heaven: an appreciative and interactive reader who is not only totally in synch but has suggestions and developments of his own. Talk about tingly. When ooVoo jumps to life, so do I. Who knew research could be such fun?

So that’s the word on messaging sex. Don’t ever start into anything on Skype or elsewhere under your own identity, no matter how harmless the first approach, because there are some sick puppies out there. But oh myyyyyy…

In the meantime, I—oops. There goes ooVoo—must go.

*not really. Names have been changed to protect the louche.

Big Game – the fun alternative for the bleeding heart brigade

Every month I do a story in the SF competition on LinkedIn but this month a Facebook post provoked a second story and I took down the first and replaced it with this one. The theme was resurrection, and the elements to be included were a glass of wine and silver coins (bit of a genre crossover, to be sure).  I am very bad at thinking up names so I borrowed some names from the FB post, but would like to stress that it’s just a bit of light-hearted SF, wishful thinking if you like. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is, well, unavoidable, but the histories and reactions of the characters, that’s purest invention. Just me taking my own potshot at a safe distance from cover, against what is not, unfortunately, an endangered species. 


‘Not just because you’re a hunter, Brad. It’s because you are so very proud about it, so open and honest in the face of the bleeding heart brigade. It makes you the perfect man.’ She smiled at him, her eyes warm and quite definitely admiring. Brad swelled slightly. Pretty women didn’t, it had to be said, look at him with warm admiration very often. And he didn’t think he’d ever been called a perfect man before. He rather liked it.

‘Well, of course I’ll help if I can. Virtual reality, is it?’

‘Oh, much better than virtual. A huge scientific breakthrough means hunters can have a real safari but the animals are resurrected. A kind of a closed loop, secret from the bleeding hearts, and still offering the whole experience.’

‘Like stocking a trout pond?’ Brad offered and she beamed at him, openly impressed by his quick understanding.

‘We’ve approached you as an expert for advice in the marketing. And to ask how popular you think it would be.’

Well, to be honest;’ he hated to disappoint her, but she just wasn’t quite getting it. ‘I’m not sure, if the animal jumped up two minutes later and got on with its day, that there would be the same feeling at all. You said I can say anything to you, right?’

She nodded, smiling, and he shrugged almost shyly.

‘Well, when I was four, I killed my kitten. Hit it on the head with a toy hammer. It’s the strongest memory of my childhood, it was bouncing around its little tinkling ball and I hit it and it was just a scrap of fur and meat. I couldn’t believe it. My mum got me a new kitten that afternoon and I watched it and watched it and then I hit it and the same thing again—just blood and fur and meat. Four years old, and I felt like God.  Now if the kitten had come back to life, shaken itself and gone back to playing with its ball, well, I wouldn’t be God, would I?’

She topped up his glass of wine, her brows puckered in thought. ‘I hadn’t seen it that way. That could be a problem. Would it help if they only had a few lives, and would eventually die?’

‘It might, a bit,’ he daringly patted her knee and swelled again when she smiled sidelong at him and didn’t twitch her knee out of reach. ‘I tell you what, I’d be happy to try the game for you, tell you how convincing it is.’

‘I hoped you’d say that! We’ll make it nine lives, I think—in memory of your kitten. Do you accept the tokens?’ She handed him a few silver coins and he nodded eagerly, huffing with pleasure to see a rhino etched on the first, a leopard on the second.

‘I’ve killed a good few of these in my time! I accept, yes of course. But what;’ he was still squinting, trying to make out the bipedal image on the third in the sudden flood of light, when he realized the light was hot sunshine, that he was naked, that the exciting unique smell of Africa was filling his nostrils, and he was not alone.

‘Our guns, Brad! Where are our guns?’ Stephen grabbed his arm in panic, just as a heavy rifle boomed out and his head disintegrated, blood and meaty chunks of flesh a wet spattering against Brad’s face. He recoiled in horror even as his leg was abruptly knocked heavily and he staggered, numbing shock followed by a wave of excruciating pain before the crack of the rifle had even registered. Matt screamed thinly as he backed away, then turned to run, and Brad hopped frantically after him before a huge thump in his back shoved him to the ground and agony flared.

Through the roaring in his ears, his heaving gulps for air through the pink froth bubbling on his lips and the distant excited cheers, he heard her warm voice. ‘That’s one, Brad. Get well soon. Eight to go.’