12 Spots to Moan :: Fertility; Rights

As it’s Valentines Day, I felt that there should be some love-related tomfoolery to celebrate. Therefore, here’s a VERY NSFW Short story, which will form part of my 12 Spots to Moan short story collection.

Have a Nice Day, and always remember to love yourself.

Fertility; Rights

Their divorce had been messy and hugely unsatisfying, effective reflection of a wasted life together. Christine had no qualms allowing Russell both house and car, wasn’t concerned that the deal skewed so far in his favour. She’d never cared for the material: that last straw between them had been net worth mattered more than shared experience. The money quietly funnelled away to accounts in her maiden name when his indiscretion became apparent years before amazingly never came up in proceedings: her skill playing Stock Market Futures meant departing husband provided a present that was more than secure. At thirty-eight, there was still a chance at another life, but right now she wasn’t interested.

Christine Frances wanted to travel far more than pretending to be happy with somebody else.

Her tiny scarlet hire car had made a slow crawl across Europe during the last three months, finally depositing the woman in Italy. Of all the places visited, this was the one which felt most comfortable: the French obsessed about her accent, the Swiss over her single status. Nobody in Italy had seemed to care at all about anything except accentuating happiness and comfort, especially in her current pension. In fact, since arriving ten days earlier at the red brick complex she’d been treated as something akin to royalty. There is no desire to complain either: with full board paid until end of the month, this beautiful and largely unspoilt area is hers to explore at leisure.

The Pertosa Caves are blessed relief from the heat of the Italian summer, drought in the area becoming something of a concern for local landowners. This guide-book is in awful English but Christine can grasp the gist, as place heaves with schoolchildren and pilgrims coming to offer their prayers to a particularly worn and battered statue of some long-forgotten patron saint. Christine however is more concerned with the state of her own body; the contraceptive coil she had fitted to regulate menstruation before departure had effectively stopped all bleeding. For a while she’d not been concerned, because it made life considerably simpler, but now…

The sensations had begun the night she’d arrived, after the voluptuous middle-aged landlady had served an amazing dinner of fresh pasta with a brilliantly rich fruit dessert. After months of no sexual desire at all, body had painfully reminded her that she was able not only to feel arousal, but was often in its thrall until satisfied. She’d ended up masturbating in the shower at 2am so there was chance of sleep, and the simplest things had become steadily more arousing as time had gone on. Before there would be a couple of nights a month where ardour would rise then fall, but not now. For the last week, all she had been able to think about is sex.

That thought suddenly draws her eye to a part of the cave’s natural construction behind the statue, seemingly unnoticed by anyone else.

She stares with increasing amazement at a particular stalactite, suddenly illuminated in a shaft of sunlight from an opening above. It is thick and long, jutting almost contentiously out of the soft, worn rock, damp and moist. There’s an undoubted head to the formation too, slightly larger and fatter than the shaft, and just staring at the thing is making Christine uncomfortable, flustered. Nobody else seems to even register its presence but it is all the woman sees or wants, because the urge to fuck herself against it is now overwhelming and desperate. The arousal hits lower body instantly, dampness spreading as a flood, breasts hard and irritable beneath the flimsiness of her cotton top.

Noise from the assorted throngs is silenced, and all that matters is the stone: she can imagine it, penetrating hot flesh, cooling the desire within. It almost calls to her, a song of need and satisfaction, suggesting the impossible could become real, brilliant. Go home and eat, then take an evening stroll. The cave entrance closes just before sundown. Return here and satisfy yourself, give your pleasure to the Earth, and it will reward you in return. The woman stands, whole body aroused, as world blithely continues its existence around her.

She has never imagined anything so wanton in her life and now this was all that mattered.

It is hard to look casual, slipping in with the last round of pilgrims and nuns, dressed as conservatively as she can manage. Christine’s underwear is loose, easy to remove and she’s stolen a small bottle of olive oil from her pension’s dinner table, because lubrication is likely to be a problem. It’s at times like this that she wishes her breasts were bigger, that she’d love more flesh beneath her own hands to manipulate, the same with her arse. Mostly she was too thin, and maybe it was time to stop punishing body for the sins a loveless marriage had intensified.

Tonight she would wait until a full moon lit the cave and then indulge desire: she’d bought a sleeping bag to accommodate sleep until the complex opened, when she’d slip out unnoticed. Christine’s body is already vibrating with anticipation, thrill of deviancy and impropriety combined. She waits until the gates can be heard being locked, lights turned off, making anticipation and arousal all the greater. With torch light from her mobile phone as guide, slowly the metal railings that keep visitors from the cave area are negotiated. Moving carefully down onto slippery stone floor, the small alcove where stalactite juts upwards is all that matters.

She is concerned that there’s insufficient space to fit, that ground beneath knees will be harsh and unyielding, but the base of the area is soft, springy and slightly damp. Stripping naked, Christine prepares to position herself, massive head of the rock inches from her already soaking wet opening. The oil seems like an afterthought but its use is more stimulation, moving and pouring it onto the top of the stone where she rubs first hand then crotch, feeling consistency of nature under shaking body. The surface is almost warm to touch, smooth hardness that now needs to be felt inside as well as out, and so she positions herself to begin.

Flesh and stone contact, settle: with first movement body expands without aid. This is far larger than anything she’d ever accommodated, including her ex-husband’s fist. Expecting both pain and resistance as a result, neither are forthcoming: pushing against the stone, her body swallows the head whole in one motion, leaving Christine gasping with amazement.

She is frozen, rock solid: part of this whole is no longer enough.

Body shudders at realisation, that as she moves down it will fill upwards, unyielding and permanent, and so body begins to shift, crotch moving closer to dampness beneath. Each tiny shift makes breasts harden further, increases already frantic heart-rate and finally, amazingly pubic hair and labia collide with soft, springy moss. Christine is shaking uncontrollably, unable to contain the pleasure simply gained by filling herself and has to struggle to remain upright as a result. Clitoris screams to be stimulated, urging completion of an orgasm already in progress, yet hands go to breasts instead, oil on flesh that is oddly pliant, strangely liquid under smooth fingers. As she massages it is as if the flesh expands beneath her touch, swelling and hardening as she twists nipples, increasing pleasure at the point that cunt hits moss.

Then floor shifts beneath, faintest of upward thrusts.

Christine’s not sure if she’s hallucinating due to pleasure overload or that perhaps there’s an earthquake in progress, but the movement is unmistakeable now, stalactite rising and falling as her body remains frozen, intractable. Breasts that barely existed have grown to grapefruit sized, heavy balls of flesh she refuses to release because the pleasure they’re sending to her lower body will not be interrupted, regardless of the increasingly surreal nature of this situation. Closing eyes she gives herself completely to pleasure and there is sudden pressure on her clit, unmistakeable, repetitive massage and it doesn’t matter how, just that this never stops, because she is so close now to a series of orgasms that threaten to rend body asunder.

Touches appear everywhere, kisses on arse and stomach, caresses behind her ears, backs of knees. Every sensitive spot is stimulated simultaneously and the thrusts are now fast, urgently pushing the point inside that blossoms with the same sensations outside, connected to breasts and the back of her neck. She begins to gasp, not caring about being discovered, pleasure needing to be vocalised. Still there is no apex to the sensation, simply building intensity that is become maddening, almost blinding. Are her eyes open or closed? She looks down and a hand is reaching up, another rising from the warmth of the cave floor, grasping willing hips as she begins to ascend, other hands holding legs in place as the thrusts within her become frantic, blurring to a speed that should split her open but only serve to further intensify this pleasure.

Christine’s breasts have increased to watermelon size, hardened balls that bounce without pain, only intense sensation from their massive nippled tops to connection at her crotch. She expands too at hips, earth’s mossy hands on swelling expanses, becoming a goddess, Botticelli swells and falls. No fat or waste, simply muscle and skin, warming as the red blush of orgasm spreads from chest to stomach. The reinvented body finally explodes, screams of pleasure multiple and unbridled, echoing around the cave walls as release floods everything in a massive wall of water.

Her orgasm, spark of primal awakening, is truly enough to move Earth itself.

Christine is suddenly conscious, in the low wooden cot at her pension, to surprise at her location. Lying inert, the passion of an almost endless orgasm still resonates through flesh and bone, yet here she is in her own bed. After dinner, when she’d come up to the room to collect backpack with sleeping bag, had she simply fallen asleep and dreamed the entire experience? Feeling down to her crotch there is no wetness, but strangeness to being which causes sudden alarm, enough to move body from lying to sitting. Looking down, with mounting amazement, her torso is not as it was.

Getting up to stare at the naked form in an ancient, patina-stained mirror by hand-carved dresser, Christine Frances is no longer wafer thin with an exposed ribcage. This body now curves with weight; taut, strong muscle plus a light tan. This physical form she had always craved, but had no idea how to achieve. Turning, the sound of laughter in her mind is as amazing as the thunder which echoes throughout the Pertosa Valley. Rain outside, torrential yet calming illuminates the truth… she’d been carried from the cave, returned here by the Earth itself. Bathed and pleasured by something not of this world, her release served as catalyst: explosion that returned not simply life and prosperity to the Valley, but to its ancient, sleeping protector…

This human’s fertility had awoken something very old, far less interested in virgin worship, which craved specific forms of energy to survive. Now She was again awake, coursing through this woman’s body, continued need maintained a level of chemical complexity to both feed from and grow… There was no need to sacrifice this fragile form, but reward it for joy provided… and there were already others. The local women knew these truths via stories and songs, would soon queue to give their offering to the cave.

With each one the Valley would become more fertile.

The ancient statue of the last human Vessel of the Goddess had already been removed from the caves. Christine’s new form would be sculpted and placed in its stead. The First would be to whom prayers were offered, in return She would share the secret of transformation… plus means to maintain its potency. For that, Her followers had already been prepared, feeding Christine special food and awakening within desire long lost. It was time to communicate directly with the new Vessel, securing mental link between Earth and human going forward.

Thank you for trust given back to this land, making whole and full again. In return, your wishes are granted. We ask in return for continued passion and our flesh anointed. All that you require will be provided. As you pleasure us, we will maintain you.

The scarlet-clad landlady stands at Christine’s open door, Hand of the Goddess, ready to help provide the next step forward. In open arms is a warped, ancient wooden box: inside which sits a massive offering, made of living cave stone.


2000 Miles

Today has seen a significant step forward in planning/organisation. I have a short story finished and ready for editing: granted, it was not on the timescales hoped, but I should still be able to have a decently polished final form ready to go for Valentine’s Day. I’ll have an hour to edit novel tonight and get myself back on track for completion. Most importantly of all, this was also done without my domestic life falling apart, and a pulled back muscle.

2000 words will form the short story benchmark going forward, especially as this is to be a contest standard for entry to a number of different Awards. The more practice I get at this, the easier it will become to judge my competence. Right now it is as much about telling a decent story as it is about aesthetics, but with time I feel there may be more esoteric tales to be told using the word count.

For now, I’m just here to commemorate another mark in the sand. Every time I manage progress, it is worth celebrating. Today, I’m particularly pleased with results. If I can get two short stories written a month, I’ll be more than happy with that as long-term progress, as well as finishing my long form manuscripts.


Today is the last push for me to be ready for February’s new Content Onslaught (TM) and, as it stands, things are looking pretty well finished. I won’t get the Short Story archived in one hit as I’d hoped, but it is close enough now for me to not stress about that process happening in a few pieces. The secondary content will follow and be introduced as time goes on, and I have a decent window of opportunity to even take a day off (of sorts) on Friday to organise some domestic stuff.

All in all, the balancing act is beginning to pay off.

There will be a new content appearing tomorrow on various pages too: the January #Narrating 2018 and #Soundtracking2018, plus the first of our short stories will all have their own spaces. It is the necessary evolution of using Twitter as a delivery medium, to place this content in a static space for long-term consumption. It means that stories that I don’t produce in this way but still want to share will have a long-term home, and I hope there will be a lot more of them going forward.


I’ve also reached out to Twitter in the hope of finding someone to prepared to start working with me, perhaps on a reciprocal basis.

I certainly would not have considered this course of action a year ago. I hope it can be the start of steps forward into new spaces and bigger Universes, but until I put myself on the line, I’ll never know.


February Content :: Get It On

After six months of Patreon curation, I’ve begun to grasp that themes are really very useful for focussing the mind. Whether it be a Book of the Month or simply a strand of associative subjects, planning in advance is utterly essential not simply for cohesion. With February marking nine years of Warcraft blogging, I decided to take the easy route for inspiration this time around. This isn’t about romance, however. I’ll leave the hearts and flowers to others, my Month of Lurve is all about the stuff nobody talks about during daylight hours but still counts.

The Shape We're In.png

Next month’s short story (serialised on Twitter and then reproduced here in complete form) is a cautionary tale based in an ‘alternative’ England where it is men who are considered as both fairer and weaker sex. Ignoring both tradition and dress codes in a show of rebellion, two lovers decide to build a better future for themselves in the most public manner possible… plus there’ll be the regular weekly selection of Micropoetry and Haiku on a number of subjects relevant to relationships in the 21st Century. I also have some other ideas, and if time permits there may be some erotic fiction on offer.

Well, we all know that’s how this works after dinner and a movie, right?


With video and music streams to complement all this, I’m already rather excited about February’s schedule. What this announcement does is confirm that I’ll be working on the longer form of next month’s content starting today, thus maintaining a constant stream of TOP QUALITY GUBBINS from month to month. If this all works out I’ll also make time for the personal projects I wish to complete, and (hopefully) encourage more people to throw cash at me. I’m not gonna lie, this is the long term aim of all the hard work, and hopefully consistency will end up as its own reward.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Take the Long Way Home

There is no Book of the Month for December: instead some other stuff is happening. The main one is my first attempt at using Social media as a storytelling medium.

I am finally going home, to the place where both mind and body are at peace.

I’ve mucked about a bit with Twitter as storytelling (using pictures but not words) but now feel confident enough to push the boundaries. It helps greatly we now have 280 characters to play with, and that images can still be included (but only when necessary.) The temptation was, in the planning stage, to put in images for every day… but on reflection this could take away from the story I want to tell.

The key to whether the project is successful, I suppose, is whether anybody either a) reads it complete or b) retweets the parts. Only time will tell.


In tandem with the prose will be poetry; this will only be available if you’re a Patreon follower. If you’d like to do that, you can find the details here. The plan is to publish this in sections, mirroring events from another point of view to my protagonist’s in The Journey Home. Hopefully things will begin to make more sense as time goes on. Needless to say, I would love any feedback you are prepared to provide, or ideas you might have for short stories/Twitter sequences in the future. Hopefully this will be the start of a regular series of features, using Social media not simply as advertising and chat, but as diversion and entertainment.

A new part of the story will be ‘published’ at 4pm GMT every day from now until Christmas Day on my @InternetofWords Twitter feed. The poetry will be published on Wednesday and Friday, making six parts up to the final instalment on December 22nd.

I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Book of the Month: Seed

This month, I’ve tried to channel Ian McEwan in my own short story, inspired by his work. I hope you enjoy the result.

In my head, you and I are lovers…

There is dust on the picture frame: light dusting of decay, inescapable march of time unhindered. Her smile however remains incandescent, eyes dancing in the pose, all smiles that are about to explode into laughter. This moment was the best, before things began to sour. She didn’t realise the truth, and because of that there was no judgement or condemnation. Instead, this body was light, brilliant and willing to be captured.

Eventually, everything comes to an end. Secondary school biology taught the theory, but only when his father died did the young man grasp the inescapable march of time. There is no way to bring people back: however, you can remember them. The faded photograph of him and dad next to hers is stark contrast: no colour, just memories of that past now long gone. However, this woman would always be bright, spirited: modern photographic techniques means the digital picture is the same vibrancy regardless of light and days.

For her, it was more than that. She hadn’t left him. Somewhere in Central London, this woman remained.

He would find her, and get her back.


The coffee shop’s central heating does nothing to take the edge of a cold, winter day, and Lucy Brandon’s headache isn’t shifting. Rummaging in her handbag for paracetamol, there is too much else on her mind. The elderly couple by the window are about to move, and that’s the seat that’s really needed so that the view down to the High Court is clear and unobstructed. She’d promised Alice to be here for as long as she needed after the verdict, and that was what was going to happen.

The couple have left their copy of the Daily Mail on the table: Lucy’s nausea reappears from a hurried breakfast. On front page is a picture of the man who Alice has stood up in court opposite for the last two days: Andrew Gresham. Serial internet pest, online stalker, professional intimidator. Sitting down, the contents of her opened handbag spill onto the table: half-drunk coffee remains on the table by the toilets, and she is a mess.

A lovely woman brings the cup over and offers to help tidy up, but Lucy doesn’t need support, simply a chance to regroup and swallow painkillers. If this is the acuteness of anxiety felt just by association, how must Alice be right now? This case has become consumingly high profile: countless cameramen and film crews setting up down the road are testament to the interest this judgement has on a wider stage. After all, everybody’s had a problem with somebody like this in their lives. Only now has the Internet allowed pests the opportunity to target countless women with seeming anonymity.

Her mobile lights up, Mum’s picture instant reassurance, and handbag rearrangement can wait.

‘Hello? Are you at Court yet?’

‘Yes I’m here, they’re not done yet.’

‘They said they’d deliver the verdict at 9.30: it’s 9.45 now, have you seen her?’

‘Not yet, there’s a lot of TV outside, I’ll know when someone comes out.’

‘I’m so pleased you decided to move back home Lu, I was worried having you out there on your own with lunatics like this on the prowl.’

‘Mum, he’s not a lunatic, he’s an idiot. He’s an idiot who thought he could get away with hassling a few women online without consequences.’

These aren’t her words, but Alice’s: braver than she could ever be, able to stand up and be counted. If this had been Lucy in the dock she would have folded, crumpled under the pressure of exposure to all these disparate factors. Of the twins, there was undoubtedly a dominant personality.

‘Your sister will appreciate having you at home too. She may not have said as much, but I know what’s the case. Thank you for doing this for us both.’

There’s movement, suddenly: scramble of people by the Court entrance. Lucy’s about to tell her mother to stop talking but time seems to be slowing, oddly detached in her head, as if the drugs taken aren’t paracetamol but some kind of hallucinogenic. At the entrance to the large, stone building there’s some kind of struggle going on: a flash of bright light that could be a camera, pop that might be a car backfiring and then chaos explodes. A man is running towards her, like his life depends on escaping, and her next move is on instinct.

Turning on the phone’s camera his approach is recorded: there’s no acknowledgement from him of the action, blind determination in the sprint away. She can hear her mother desperate for a response, call still active, but instead all that matters is the body of the young woman lying on the pavement of the east London street, blood slowly running off into the gutter.

From this distance, the twin has no idea if it is her sister or not.


This wall is full of newspaper cuttings: not haphazardly placed as some lesser beings might manage but organised, categorised by date and subject. He’s even managed to group by publication: no mean feat considering the number of column inches the gutter press have devoted to his case. Of course, up until yesterday nobody grasped the mistake that had been made, that the Metropolitan police in all their infinite wisdom had arrested the wrong man. He’d left clues, but as yet nobody could work out their meaning.

They’d arrested a patsy, discussed to death on TV talk shows and radio programmes, who looked like he was most likely to offend. It wasn’t unusual: even the police were swayed by the vanities of modern life. If he looks shabby, smells like he hasn’t bathed in a week, is overweight… yeah, he’s a stalker. This man’s misdemeanours, if the quality press were to be believed, were still considerable, but he’d not killed anyone. There’d just been a passing threat or two, nothing truly serious.

He’d been at court to photograph her sister, proving without doubt he could tell the two apart… and then some moron had pulled a gun on one of the other idiot’s victims. Some jealous lover or imbecile trying to protect his own sorry crimes. Running away on instinct, only now did he realise the stupidity of his mistake. Some girl in a coffee shop had captured it on video, an opportunist with a mobile phone, thinking he was the shooter. Sometimes the unexpected was just that, and now nothing could be done to salvage the situation.

The audacity of his ability should be everywhere, TV filled with professional crime. Not this fat, stupid idiot but the calculated, brilliant operator who’d killed dozens across a decade and continued to evade capture. There was clearly no justice in the world.

From the corner of his eye, staring at the topof -therange gaming computer, there’s a flash of momentary recognition.


Her sister is awake.

Lucy’s hand grasps, pale hands the same colour as the hospital linen. Alice is alive, sitting at her side, wide smile all that is needed to allay fear. Then she stands up, coming over to hug, solid reassurance from the woman who wasn’t afraid of anything.

‘You gave us quite a shock, you know. Doctors aren’t sure yet, but they think you might have pneumonia, Mum’s looking at the X rays with them now.’

‘I thought… I thought it was you he shot. I thought it was you.’

‘I was inside the lobby when I heard it, thanking my barrister for the thoroughness of her work. It’s easy to see why you might think that at a distance, we looked a lot alike. I was more worried about you though, I’ll be honest, Mum called 999 as soon as you stopped answering her. She’s been thinking you’ve looked unwell for a while… and she was right. Staff found you passed out on the floor: I came here in the ambulance.’

There is something going on outside the curtain that passes for makeshift privacy wherever it is Lucy is lying, and a nurse appears through the gap, with a look of some irritation.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt you but I have a police inspector who’d like to quickly talk to you about the video you took: would that be okay?’

Something is bothering Lucy, at the back of her brain, itch the same as it was when she’d started watching the man, running away. This was not a random stranger she’d managed to capture on her camera phone, anything but. Memory appears, unprompted: the last week of finals, in the bar in Oxford. The quiet guy in her Economics class who’d managed a First class with Honours even before they knew final dissertation results. The loner whose dad had died a year earlier.

The idiot who couldn’t tell her and her sister apart.

Lucy might not possess Alice’s strength, but she knew when she was being stalked. That night, she’d told him in no uncertain terms: there is nothing you can do to impress me. I don’t care what you do, or how clever or organised you are, I am not interested in a relationship. You will never have me, not now or at any point in the future. Go die in a fire.

The female policeman stands with a picture in her hand, graduation photo she remembers being taken. He’d stared at her the entire ceremony, and she’d gone up to him again at the end and told him again. I’m not interested. Leave me alone.

‘Christian Hardwick. I was at college with him. Did he shoot that woman?’

‘That’s what we need to talk about. We’ve been looking for him for some time now.’

Lucy suddenly feels the desire to vomit.


Christian stares at Lucy’s picture with sadness: eventually, all things must come to an end. He’d wanted to kill her the first time he’d seen her: she would have been number three in his series, but was the only woman who ever saw through the veneer, and as a result gained a reprieve. It is ironic therefore that had he killed her then, she would not have been alive to capture his image on video. Now all the careful planning and organisation has been for nothing. She has ruined his final act, the means by which a brilliant run of terror would have been exposed to the World.

The flames begin to consume her digital picture: dad and he have vanished, ash circulating around the ceiling, black marks on perfectly plastered walls that are beginning to blacken and peel. When it became apparent his crime was no longer his own but had been taken by the most brutal of circumstances, it was time to grasp Lucy’s words to heart. She had been the one who had told him to kill himself, all those years ago, and so he will. Nobody will get closure, pain on his actions all the more brutal and raw.

The biggest casualty, in the end, will not be him but her. Photographic memory, incandescent smile. She will remember what was said, and her guilt will be enough.

By exposing him, Lucy condemned herself.

The food on the hospital tray remains uneaten, and she stares into the middle distance, suddenly aware that all eyes in the ward are upon her. At the nurses’ station the staff are in furious conference: they’re already talking about moving her to a private room, that her health is fragile enough without being affected by something this traumatic. She stopped looking at the communal TV five minutes ago, but the female commentator is still discussing the discovery, morbid fascination in detail.

The upper class assassin, they’re calling him. No indicator until now that he’d murdered countless women and men, no sense of the certifiable individual he’d become. The secret room in his Chelsea flat that had been revealed after he killed himself, and several other people. The fire escapes he’d sealed to make sure nobody got out. The care he’d gone to document every murder… oh and the pictures. On one wall of the room, portraits of his victims, and one of a woman police had yet to formally identify.

Lucy’s image is everywhere.

Book of the Month :: Throw 6 to Start

As the second sun goes down, Riz wonders if he’s done the right thing.

This is closer to disaster as he’s ever flown, far too late to start wishing the journey had never been undertaken. With Pleasure Planet Pixel in darkness, there is less than a rotation before the Game he’s attending begins, yet Desi is nowhere to be seen. Next time, if this all goes to plan, they’ll not need to take separate transports and can travel as an item.

That word has a comforting ring.

‘Oh, you weren’t lying, you did miss us: we are truly touched!’

Their hand on his arm sends every hair erect, frisson of desire inevitable and inescapable. Turning, they are still in the complimentary spacesuit, not bothering to change after arrival. Iridescent pearl skin shimmers: brilliant light from the nebula above, ethereal beauty that transcends this solar system plus thousands of others. His devil stands, head slightly tipped, reading every thought without care or permission. In their imagination they’re already entwined in the luxury hotel bed, his fears being sucked from a tired and tense body: the Earthman begins to relax.

Riz knows this last year of stress was worth every moment: the prize is already in sight.

‘You were the one who said our lives were getting predictable, so we did consider making you wait, but thanks to the Slingshot mechanical failure that will be the last transport of the day. We could have taken layover until the morning, but there’s too much to do.’

‘I’m sorry we fought at the Terminal. I… sometimes it’s easy to forget how much you can hear in my head.’

‘You have nothing to worry about, Lover Boy. The day somebody else attracts that primate brain, then we’re the one in trouble. Until then, it’s our job to make sure that your pleasure centres are never left wanting. We are VERY good at that task, and intend to only improve over time.’

They kiss him, mouth tart, alcohol and need both all too obvious. The relationship’s odd-fitting, even now: sometimes motivation gets misplaced in a sea of pheromones and sloth. However, his liberation is close: hatched over the NeuralNet, virtual chat room for those with debts that conventional employment would never pay off. The human who loved being fucked by everybody but eventually was screwed by his own naivety, and the Centuran androgyne with a flair for the overly theatric.

If it all worked out tomorrow, both of them would finally be free.

‘Do you believe in fate?’

They’ve woken tangled together but instead of pre-dawn intercourse it is discussion. Desi will know he has nerves that need to be assuaged: they wrap both mind and body around him, cocoon of reassurance, allowing Riz to awaken far better than would happen with stimulants. The question is taking time for them to process, and only now does he grasp why –

‘You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?’

‘Oh, we grasp the human concept, don’t worry. We have an equivalent, we were just trying to work out a visual metaphor to explain.’

Centuran culture is not about words: as a race of telepaths, verbal language is largely redundant. Instead comprehension is based around imagery, often complex fractal patterns that have evolved directly from the very stuff of the Universe itself. The image Desi places in Riz’s brain however is very human: they’re at the last casino visited, win at which removed all but 5% of their joint financial debt. He stands and throws two dice, but then catches both before they hit the table.

Fate is the development of events outside a person’s control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power. You throw the dice, and it is fate that decides the numbers. For us, fate is that which cannot be affected by our own minds. We can control the dice in flight and precisely dictate the number that falls, but are unable to truly influence the person throwing.

Their voice in his mind is musical, soothing cadences that make their kiss far more potent than any given by his own kind. That’s what attracted him to Desi, he could indulge an almost constant need for stimulation with a being who had evolved simply for that purpose. Their race didn’t procreate in the same messy fashion as bipedal humans, so there was no need to concern himself with the physical and once that had happened… sensation stopped just being about release, biological offering.

Orgasm takes place in a different way: no body cavities, contraception irrelevant. His body and brain are warped, sensation shuddering from fingertips to follicles. The most intense and beautiful experience that Riz has ever felt, on demand, and which never gets old. There’s a small part of his brain that knows they should be at the Game venue, working out the best place for him to sit so they can still covertly communicate, but today he just lets them engulf his primal brain completely.

The sensation is so great, he passes out with the pleasure.

The water is incredibly cold: Riz is immediately awake.

It takes a second to realise an ice bucket was upended over him, he’s naked and tied to a chair, and that Desi is being restrained by a couple of Law Enforcement automatons. Only two things could have caused this sudden downturn in circumstance: random attack or deliberate action. Causality is a subject Riz knows a lot about: studying Freakonomics at NYSU for four years, working at Church built for the worship of Saints Levitt and Dubner. There wasn’t an outcome that couldn’t be tied to another if you were smart enough to play the algorithms…

This Game was one of many that the WolfIsi Group had manipulated for the last decade, without fail. By coming here, he’d guaranteed that his loan company would notice, and do what always happened in situations where they thought a client was about to escape control. As contract was signed not in blood but DNA, his body remained their property until such times as all existing monetary debts were paid in full: before then they could invoke repossession of that material at any time. He had anticipated them striking at the venue, but as they haven’t, that’s not a problem.

He’d also like to be more clothed for this, but no matter.

The WI officer’s uniform is starched to within an inch of rigidity, yet looks like it could disintegrate at any moment, straining across her huge, genetically-enhanced biceps. The woman’s face regards him not with pity but in a way that could almost be respect: the rules of this engagement might yet be about to change. Maybe they’re not here because of potential collateral loss; perhaps someone finally saw through this deception.

‘Mr Monteverdi, I must say it has been some years since we had a client come this close to completing their payments on time. You are to be congratulated on your industry.’

‘Thank you, I took it upon myself as a personal challenge to pay off this loan on time and to the penny.’

‘Which you will do by simply winning a round of the Game tomorrow, which my superiors feel sure you’ll be more than capable of achieving. That however would mean we’re unable to maintain you as collateral, and under the circumstances this will cause us an issue, especially with the amount of money you seem capable of regularly providing.’

Riz had read the old case files on Fully Paid Loans until he could recite them from memory: in three hundred years, only a handful of clients had escaped death by invoking the clause he would now be forced to use. It would all hinge on the Officer not grasping the significance of Desi, something that now needed to be confirmed…

On cue, comes invasion of his mind: their hands cover his eyes, slim fingers caress earlobes. No-one else is aware of the Centauran’s real identity.

‘Under agreement terms I invoke the Double or Nothing clause in my contract. Details of intention to do so are posted in three public forums plus via time-delayed message on SocalTwetwerks.’

The Officer blinks at Riz, clear confusion etched on hardening features, before headset implant prompts understanding. Robot spiders will be crawling the Solar Internet, confirming that the naked bloke in the chair just completely changed the game. He’s forced WolfIsi to allow him a chance to become debt free with one random action, at the discretion of the Officer. They have fifteen Earth minutes to decide what it will be: in the previous cases coin tosses (which were believed to be weighted to the company’s favour) had decided the outcome, but since all forms of physical currencies became redundant at the end of the century and his contract hadn’t been updated to reflect this due to clerical oversight…

Desi is a mask: beautifully smooth skin, pert yet full, heavy breasts that defied gravity, surgically added slit at her groin to make sure no-one ever checked the DNA details too carefully. It was amazing the number of people who didn’t: she just looked like a human with a skin job. That’s what the desk clerk had her registered as, which might yet be useful, depending on the intelligence of the Officer. According to the Citizens Advice Worldnet, races with a human equivalent IQ of 70 or lower made the best Enforcement teams, being able to understand instructions yet not argue with contentious interpretation…

Riz is confident: all bases are covered, regardless of what happens next. He’s about to gamble the loan he took for gender reassignment to completion, and win.

‘They said you might do this. My boss read your file really well. Thanks to you, there’ll be a new amendment to the standard proposal in the New Year. You should be proud you found a loophole that we’re now going to close.’

Respect turns inevitably to condescension: the Officer pulls from her pocket a small recording unit. If it’s on record, they have to play fair. WolfIsi Legal will now be well aware that if they try and bury him, this part of the Universe will know about the fatality very fast, thanks to many and various messages sent to a lot of very important and high profile media outlets.

Riz made sure nothing was left to chance.

‘Thanks to Clause 27b/6 in your contract, we have the right to substitute an alternative form of random action for the Double or Nothing gamble.’

Riz loved games from an early age: in a world where everybody could work out the odds, he’d taken gambling a stage further. That’s why Desi had been sought out, means by which to take probability and bend it to his own ends. The biggest trick was to lose and make it look as if it wasn’t cheating, by warping the Universe itself to his ends.

‘You have to predict the number on these two dice. That’s our offer. I’m waiting.’

Large, long table by the Hotel room door is picked up, almost dropped in front of Riz’s restrained torso. He has fifteen minutes to accept this offer or lose the Double or Nothing get-out completely. In his head, possibilities land: dice will be remotely controlled by one of the Law Enforcement units, so they fall exactly as dictated. The units will have been picked so they cannot be hacked or interfered with. Just like coins before, belief is that any final result completely controlled by the Company is intractable.

Desi is smiling in his head. Not a small and quet but loud and brilliant, promise of so much once this debt is finally paid. They love the simian, unconditionally, because no other human mind they have encountered was so good at predicting all the outcomes, and playing to win.

‘Six. You’re going to roll a six.’

As the dice are thrown from the giant woman’s hand, Riz decides he quite likes being tied to chairs.