Harleigh Rose was in one of her moods, so we went on the Titanic to try and cheer her up.
Whiskey Tits came along. Whiskey Tits was Harleigh’s sub. She’d pissed Harleigh off in some way and agreed to work off the slight by being Harleigh’s ugly slave for a certain amount of time. I didn’t know the story and frankly didn’t care.
When we phased into the Grand Entrance, I was stunned at the sight of the legendary ship. I’m Filipino and the Titanic doesn’t have quite the same historic impact in my neck of the woods that it has in the West but goddamn that ship was lux. The three of us looked laughably out of place with Harleigh in her golden corset, me in my white tuxedo, and Whiskey in her brashly tacky peasant wear.
“Come on,” said Harleigh. “I got us first class, obviously.”
Their suite was three rooms — a living room, a bedroom and a study.
The walls were handsome wood paneling. There were baroque light fixtures and red tapestries hanging from the wood panels. The carpet was red and gold. There was a tea table with chairs in the center of the living room, and a large bed with fluffy white pillows in the bedroom. There were fat red easy chairs with footstools in both rooms.
“We got a balcony, too,” said Harleigh. “My own personal touch.”
She opened golden-framed doors off the living room and let the cold Atlantic breeze in. She inhaled deeply, gave a satisfied sigh and stepped outside. The ship was already at sea, blue ocean surrounding them under friendly blue skies and friendly white clouds.
I took a moment to formally introduce myself to Whiskey.
“By the way, Sir Rodrigo, at your service,” I said to her, bowing.
“Whiskey Tits, for your consideration,” she said, curtsying and seeming flattered and surprised at my formal introduction.
“Yeah, I know your name. Where’d you get it?”
“It’s cause she’s a sloppy drunk,” said Harleigh, coming back inside and shutting the balcony doors.
Harleigh suggested we go to the “a La Carte” Restaurant and get food.
“There’s two exclusive first class dining areas,” she told us as we walked along the narrow halls. “The a La Carte, which everyone calls the Ritz, and the dining saloon. No one important uses the dining saloon.”
Harleigh gasped when we got to the Ritz. For a second I thought it was because of how dope the place was, but then I saw she was fixated on the buffet area at the front of the restaurant.
“Sir Godfrey the Girth,” I heard her whisper.
She walked right over to a handsome black Suitor next to the buffet, without a word to me or Whiskey. The Suitor’s lapel glittered with silver, gold and platinum X’s. There was a Triton talking with him, and the two of them regarded Harleigh’s approach with barely concealed derision.
“Harleigh’s got a serious hard-on for Sir Godfrey,” Whiskey told me. “We can get a table while she entertains herself.”
“Not very nice, is she?” I said.
“No,” said Whiskey.
“She’s just being a little pissy girl,” I told her. “She’ll snap out of it.”
“If you say so.”
Whiskey was a horror to look at. She was grossly overweight, with splotches of acne and skin infections on her face. She wore large thick glasses, comically unattractive, and her hair was lifeless and dry and chopped into a half-long, half-short monstrosity. She wore what appeared to be a combination of a handmaiden’s cloak and a clown suit — brown and black rags that hung loose on her doughy frame. She wore clogs. Actual, wooden clogs.
I watched Harleigh hugged Sir Godfrey tightly (he gave her a tentative series of taps on the shoulder in return) and started chatting with him and his Triton friend, a huge smile on her face. She laughed loudly at his jokes and reached out and touched him on the arm every now and then.
I never got jealous of that type of shit. Girls are girls. I knew she’d be back.
Whiskey and I sat down at a table by a large alcove filled with what I first thought was a window but what turned out to be a large mirror. I saw my reflection and looked away. I still wasn’t used to seeing the Maya-enhanced attractive version of myself in this immaculate white suit. It was almost like looking in the mirror while tripping on acid.
The Ritz was large, and an orchestra played elegant string music on a raised platform at the other end of the room. There were the sounds of dishes and silverware and glasses clinking and tinkling, and a polite clutter of voices. Most tables only had two people sitting at them.
Pink roses and daises were set out on their table. The tablecloth was grey, and the napkins and china were as white as my suit. The plush chairs me and Whiskey sat in were adored with a pink rose pattern.
“Um, so when did you immerse,” Whiskey asked me, brushing a lock of limp hair back from her greasy, pimple-ridden forehead.
I told her all about myself, doing it quickly.
“Wow, you waited a whole six months before you immersed even though you were allowed to.”
“But what did you do?”
“I mean, I put my affairs in order as best I could, ” I told her. “Buried my wife, buried my mom. I helped out a bunch of other people that needed it. Did a lot of interfacing with droids and drones, just getting stuff set in order. I didn’t get the Waste for whatever reason, so I was in high demand. Then I got a job right off when I immersed.”
“Where’d you work?”
“Same place as everyone else who wants a job — Dismantler factory.”
“How long did you work for?”
“Almost a year.”
“Wow. And you didn’t mind it? I could never work again.”
“No, not at all. I mean, it was boring, but it was better than sitting around in my Residency and thinking or whatever. I didn’t want to blow my BIC. Still had a scarcity mindset, you know?”
“Why didn’t you, you know, go out and do stuff and meet people?”
Over at the buffet, Harleigh brayed overly enthusiastic laughter at one of Sir Godfrey’s jokes. Heads turned. Harleigh held a half-eaten peach in her hand, sinking her teeth into it suggestively and giving Sir Godfrey fuck-me eyes. Sir Godfrey shot the Triton a raised eyebrow and kept talking.
“I mean, I did a few things,” I said. “I read a lot, I watched all my favorite TV series and movies. I put a vegetable garden outside my back door. I exercised a lot. I just, you know, did a bunch of stuff that reminded me of when I was younger.”
“Did you actually watch the movies, or did you just download them?”
I grinned at her.
“I lasted about two days actually watching and reading before I started just downloading them.”
Whiskey isn’t kidding, downloading stuff is way better than watching it. A few seconds and it’s like you sat through the whole book/movie/show/whatever and you can remember every little detail. It’s addicting.
Whiskey smiled at me, the acne on her face violently pink and uncomfortable looking. Her teeth were crooked and grey.
“I started downloading stuff instead of just reading or watching as soon as I immersed,” she said. “It’s impossible to avoid it. Did you visit anywhere?”
“I did,” said Padd. “A couple places. Saw the world. Not many fictional places. I watched Rajah Humabon and Magellan meet and all that shit. Just watched a bunch of history-related stuff with my home country. And I went and saw the U.S. and Japan and Shanghai and Antarctic and a bunch of other places I wanted to see.”
“Where’d you go that was fictional?”
“A couple places. But my favorite was when I went to Springfield.”
“The Simpsons’ Springfield?”
“Yeah. I’d watched all my favorite Simpsons seasons the second day, and so that night I just left after the last episode was over, phased to Springfield. I walked around at night. I didn’t see the Simpsons or any of the characters. I didn’t even see Evergreen Terrace. I just walked around downtown. But then I was in front of the Android’s Dungeon — the comic shop — and I saw my reflection in the window and got freaked out, so I left. I could smell the tire yard, though, and I saw the nuclear power plant’s cooling towers. And I saw Moe’s and the school and Krusty Burger and a couple other places.”
“But you didn’t talk to anyone? And you chose to go at night?”
“Yeah, it was actually really beautiful at night, with everyone asleep. Really quiet.”
“But why didn’t you ever talk to anyone?”
I shrugged again.
“I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to ruin my perception of the characters. It never goes the way you want it to.”
“We should talk about you. I think you just asked me more questions than anyone has in years.”
“I think you’re interesting,” she said.
I glanced over at Harleigh and saw the Triton give an ostentatious yawn as Cali told Sir Godfrey some story. That girl is a goddess but Jesus she is getting on my nerves today.
“So, I have to ask — why’s your name Whiskey Tits?”
Whiskey laughed softly and a little sadly.
“It’s from this one time when I went to do a shot of whiskey and spilled it all over myself.”
“Ohhhh, okay. THought it might be more interesting than that.”
“Nope. I just spilled on myself and Harleigh never let it go.”
“What are the terms? Of the Sub Contract?”
Whiskey held up a hand — I noticed her nails were dirty and long — and ticked off the terms of her submission.
“Well, I forgot my real name, cause Harleigh gets to pick my name, and I have to look like this,” she spread her hands over her face and body, grimacing. “She chooses my wardrobe. I can’t sing or dance anymore. I have my jewels taken away. And only Harleigh can touch my clit. Not that anyone would want to when I look like this. And I basically have to do whatever she says. I’m her slave, basically. And, of course, I have to prism with her and watch her have all the fun I can’t be having. Which is why I’m here right now.”
“Holy crap. That’s harsh. What did you do to get the submission?”
“That’s another thing. I can’t remember. And even if I did, she’d get really pissed if she heard us even talking about it.”
“Nah, me and her go way back,” I said.
“She never used to be this way.” Whiskey said, watching Harliegh like a dog would watch an abusive owner. “How long have you two had Alliance?”
“She’s the only one I’ve bothered getting it with,” I said. “We’ve been Allied two cycles now. I hang out in the Palace a lot, but I don’t phase with many other girls. I got the one I need.”
“Are you going to get Allegiance?”
“That’s on her, I can’t ask her that. How’d you meet her?”
“I met her at Pre-Coronation. Eva was in our class, too. Harleigh was always a brat, but it wasn’t until she got famous that she started going insane like this. And now that I look like a monster, it’s even worse. I’m the only ugly person she ever sees.”
“You don’t look that bad.”
“You’re nice,” said Whiskey, smiling at me again. “But that’s Obligation.”
“Oh, Obligation,” I said. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ve stepped into Obligation a few times. Didn’t really know what it was at first.”
“Oh, not too much, I hope,” said Whiskey. “But don’t worry, I can’t mark you down for it because I’m not a real Anodyne right now.”
“No, as far as I know I’ve never been ‘marked down’ for Obligation.”
“Well, good thing — if you go over your Obligation quota then you can be subject to expulsion.”
“Yeah, you know, they throw you out of the Palace for the day or however long.”
“But how do I know what my Obligation quota is?”
“Everyone’s got the same one,” said Whiskey. “It’s on the app.”
“The Obligation app,” said Whiskey. “You don’t have one?”
“No, I’ve never even heard of it.”
I flicked out my Tag. This was new information indeed. I’d been a Palace member for a long-ass time.
“I have to get this app,” I said.
“They should’ve told you about it at Orientation,” said Whiskey.
“There was a lot of information thrown at me at Orientation.”
I trailed off, found the Obligation in the app store- its icon was a giant O with a white feather inside it. I downloaded it, opened it. All my information was already there.
I clicked a link that said, “Affronts.”
The list was nearly full. Of fucking course. Harleigh herself had dinged me twelve times already. I play it alpha around her. I have no fucking clue what I could’ve done that would’ve qualified Obligation. Fucking hell.
I was one strike away from Mod discipline. Great. Now I was hurt and suddenly stressed out.
“Yeah,” said Whiskey, taking a sip of water. “I mean, if you’d known about it, it’d have been easier to avoid. It’s supposed to help you learn to be more of a gentleman.”
I stared at my screen. This was a shock.
“Fuck,” I said.
A shadow fell over the table.
Harleigh was back, hands on her hips and looking pissed off.
“I’ve decided I hate it here,” she said, scowling.
“What about Sir Godfrey?” asked Whiskey. She pointed to the bar. Sir Godfrey and the Triton were gone.
“He wants to, ‘Hang out with old friends,’” said Harleigh, rolling her eyes. “I’m like, that sounds familiar. Fine. Go get a sad BJ in the back of a pick-up truck. Faggot.”
She noticed me staring at my Tag.
“What’s your problem?”
“I just told him about the Obligation app,” said Whiskey. “He’s got a higher count than he thought. Only one more and he’s subject to Mod expulsion.”
“Thanks for telling her that,” I snapped at Whiskey.
I glared at Harleigh.
“I’ve been a good Suitor to you. What the fuck could I possibly have done to get Obligation around you? And you don’t even tell me about it? What else aren’t you telling me?”
“Hey, I’m not your fucking wife,” Harliegh snapped. “I don’t owe you an explanation every time you say something stupid or lame. Just cause we’re Allied doesn’t mean jack shit. I prism with you.”
I shook my head and closed my Tag. Nothing to do about it now.
Fucking women, man.
“I need to get out of here,” said Harleigh. She flipped out her Tag.
Whiskey looked at her, spoke carefully.
“But we haven’t eaten yet,” she said.
“I’m not hungry.”
She thumbed her Tag furiously, writing an angry status to her Socials, no doubt.
“Do you want to just go back to the room?” I asked.
“Yeah, let’s just fucking do that,” Harleigh said after a second. She closed her fist tightly.
“Can’t wait to watch this bitch sink,” said Harleigh as we walked into the suite and shut the door behind them. “They say it’s one of the most life- affirming things to see in the Maya. It’s like, whoa, history, you know?”
“Right,” I said. I was totally disillusioned. Harleigh may have been beautiful, but I was starting to realize she was one of the most personably unpleasant people I had ever met in any of my lives. My dick-haze was clearing.
“No, it is really cool,” Whiskey said to me. “Seeing it as it happened in real life… They got a lot of stuff wrong in the movies and stuff.”
“Well, you don’t see it break up, for one,” said Harleigh. “You see the front end go under and then it actually bobs back up for a couple of minutes, makes the ship look like a, I don’t know, like a sausage with both ends sticking out of the water for a few minutes.”
“And when it hits the iceberg, it actually went up onto the iceberg, just for a couple of seconds. It doesn’t just scrape it, it fucking, like, nails it, like a car bouncing up onto a curb.”
“And the whole thing, I mean all this,” Whiskey motioned around us. “You just feel it shudder and groan. It’s like a mortally wounded animal or something.”
“But none of that is the best part,” said Harleigh. “The part that just, will stick with you, for-ever, is the sound of all the people freezing to death in the water after the ship’s gone. It sounds like a baseball stadium after a home run.”
“It’s the sound of life and death itself,” said Whiskey. “Everyone sounds really surprised, like they can’t believe this is happening to them.”
“Yeah,” said Harleigh. “You’re just sitting in the lifeboats, waiting for everyone to stop yelling. It only takes like half an hour. The last guy is just yelling, ‘My God, My God’ over and over, and then it’s fucking quiet.”
Whiskey looked sad and somber as she said this, Harleigh looked excited.
“It’s the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear.”
“I never knew that,” I said.
“I bet you didn’t,” said Harleigh, smiling that shark smile at me. “It’s some real shit. Makes me horny, to be honest.”
I wasn’t in the mood anymore, but I knew what was coming.
Harleigh twisted off her throat jewel and let her divine nakedness light up the room. To my surprise, she held a finger to Whiskey’s throat and a moment later the acne-encrusted hambeast was replaced with a surprisingly cute white-girl-next-door with brown hair and bangs dressed in a purple corset. The comically sized glasses were the only thing left of Whiskey Tits.
“You know what would be nice right now,” said Harleigh. “A massage. Let’s all give each other a massage.”
We set up a train — Harleigh gave me a massage and I gave Whiskey a massage. Harleigh conjured lotion and we all rubbed it on each other’s shoulders and backs. Then we switched.
“Isn’t mommy being nice to you right now,” Harleigh said to Whiskey. “Isn’t this fun for you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Whiskey in her small sub voice.
This went on for a bit and then Harleigh announced, “I’m so nice, I’m going to get us a drink,” and without another word she jumped up and was out of the room.
I started rubbing Whiskey’s shoulders.
“That feels good,” she said, turning around to smile at me.
I smiled back. She was a cutie.
“What are you Coronated as now?”
“I’m Golden. Or I would be.”
“And you can’t remember your Anodyne name?”
Whiskey shook her head sadly.
I got a really bad idea right then. I shouldn’t have done it, but I was pissed off and I wanted to piss of Harleigh, so I just did it without thinking.
“Well, there’s something I want to say,” I said. “Something that will make you feel better.”
“What’s that?” said Whiskey, blinking at me with her pretty brown eyes.
I leaned down and whispered into her ear, “You’re hotter than her.”
Whiskey blushed and looked down. Fuck, it was adorable. White girls, man.
“Say it again,” she whispered.
“You’re hotter than her.”
In truth, Whiskey’s unnamed Anodyne self was a bit hotter than Harleigh. Or maybe that was just my current mood at the time.
I felt myself thickening. Whiskey turned around, faced me. I kissed her nose. Whiskey’s gentle fingers found the head of my cock, caressed it.
“Say it again,” said Whiskey.
“You’re hotter than her.” I felt myself lifting my hand, putting it between her legs, inside her. The fever rose. Automatic reactions were taking over.
Whiskey sucked in her breath, exhaled softly.
I felt myself searching for her hot little rosebud, felt my fingertip find it, felt my finger rolling it about.
“You’re hotter than her,” I said again.
Whiskey moaned harder, thrust her hips into mine. She stroked my cock harder.
“You’re hotter than her.”
We were pressed against each other, masturbating, and it was the most intimate sex I’d had all week, but then —
I looked up and my blood seemed to evaporate right out of my veins.
Harleigh stood in the doorway, a bottle of booze in one hand and a glass in another.
“Excuse me?” she said again, her eyes blazing. She was glowing gold, furious.
“Uh-oh,” said Whiskey.
“Uh, yes?” I said, trying not to look like I was about to piss myself. All of a sudden the stupidity of my move and all the hard months of tedious socialization I was about to destroy came into horrid focus.
“What did you just say?”
“I said…” My throat seized up. “What I said was…”
Harleigh’s entire body was crackling with golden electricity. It flowed around her like an aura.
“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY TO MY FAT-ASS LITTLE SLAVE?”
“WHAAAAAAT??!” Harleigh screamed, rattling the light fixtures. Golden lightning crackled off her like sunflares.
“…I said she was hotter than you,” I said quietly, feeling like a child. Absolutely humiliating. I never thought I’d be fucking afraid of any woman, let alone Harleigh, but then I’d never seen her truly mad before, either.
“And what else did you do,” said Harleigh, her eyes between Whiskey’s legs. “You’d better admit it right fucking now or I don’t know what I’ll do.”
“I touched her clit.” Iwas sweating now, feeling weak and defenseless and naked. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Whiskey said, crying. “He didn’t mean it! He didn’t mean it at all!”
“SHUT UP! Back to the Theatrium! Get out of my sight!”
Whiskey left in tears, getting up and turning back into her submissive form, flesh blobbing and rippling like a jellyfish as she tore out of the room.
“Just wait til I deal with you,” Harleigh yelled out the door after Whiskey.
She turned to me.
“You just fucked up, flip,” she snarled. “You slant-eyed monkey fuck. And this was going so fucking well, too.”
I should’ve fucking blown up at her. Stood up and asserted dominance.
I didn’t. I pussed the fuck out.
“I’m sorry,” I said meekly. “I’m sorry, I — I didn’t think you’d hear, I was just — I didn’t mean any disrespect. I just, felt sorry for her. And I wanted to make her feel better. “
Harleigh poured herself a drink from the bottle and downed it. Then she poured herself another. She sat on the edge of the bed, crossed her leg.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I should go.”
“Oh, you’re not off the hook yet, flip,” Harleigh said, using a slur she clearly wasn’t familiar with since I wasn’t born in the US. “But I think I know exactly what to do with you. It’ll make me feel better.”
“…I don’t understand.”
But Harleigh just sat there on the bed and looked at me with her mean eyes. She’d always had mean eyes. Was it possible to think with your dong for months on end? Blind yourself to someone’s shitty nature? Apparently it was.
The moment held.
“Just tell me what you want me to do,” I said after a moment.
I went to stand up, fumbling with the blankets.
“I should go. Do you want me to go? You’re hotter than her. Is that what you want to hear? You’re hotter than — “
Harleigh narrowed her eyes at me, smiled thinly.
“Oh, God — Obligation,” she said loudly.
My jaw dropped.
“WHAT?!” I said, anger finally burning through my fear. “You fucking white bitch!”
“Obligation!” Harleigh called through the door, pouring herself another drink. “And aggression!”
There were heavy footsteps from outside in the living room.
Francis — Harleigh’s mod — forced his huge crustacean frame through the door. Splinters flew.
Francis is a lobster fuse. He’s got hardened red skin and eyes on stalks and a mouth that would make a Viking piss himself. And he’s got claws, two massive three-fingered pincher claws the size of watermelons.
I froze, instinctively covered myself.
“Mod Francis,” I said, hands clamped over my shrunken cock. “Your mouth is terrifying and your skin is red, please allow me to explain — “
Francis took two steps across the room and grabbed my by the throat. My windpipe was crushed and I made a gurgling noise. Crushing red pain crashed in.
“You want to taste the waves, eh?” Francis grunted.
On the bed, Harleigh smirked and sipped her drink. She looked like the cover of a PlayBoy.
Francis took me over to the nearest window and shoved me through it. Just like that.
I felt my body crash through the glass, felt it lacerate me in several places, and then I was airborne — flying out over the dark water and the dark skies through the frigid air, before landing in the freezing black water. It was like hitting stone.