It was her identification number, her only designation; the number she'd memorized and used since her youth. It was the only thing she'd ever considered her own, forever. Her blank face watched her fingers as she pressed each key, slowly lifting her finger, feeling the thin, comfortable air as her flesh glided upward.
She had always felt those things. She had always focused every sense she could on the many things that she did throughout the day, every day. Even something as simple as entering a number on a keypad was something she took the time to feel. Not just feel by sensing the keys as she pressed them, but to feel the air around her and watch every move around her, no matter how small or menial. Life was something of a dark force to her. She could only see the dark. As though she was forever exiled to a universe without light, she isolated herself, confided in the darkness to be her warm, and only, embrace. Not that she was the only one. Her entire race enjoyed their solidarity. They enjoyed it so much, in fact, that they knew not the definition of a friend or acquaintance. They were a race of individualists. Their society prospered on individual growth and solitude. They preferred to stay as far away from each other as possible.
Despite this lack of social contact, she still was different from most of her people. It wasn't exactly that they were socially ignorant; they simply preferred anti-social behavior to gatherings and conversations. They could smile, talk, and even interact, they just chose not to.
Had she been born into a society opposite of this, however, she'd still be the way she was. The shadow that loomed over her secret world left her a broken, closed, and melodramatic being. Her neurotic mind saw only the evil in things, highlighted by the darkness. She knew no one. She spoke to no one. All of that, she chose. All of that, she enjoyed and even relished in. She wanted nothing more than to be alone and expose the universe for the sick, demented place that she saw it as. .In fact, that was what she'd dedicated her life to, exposing the darkness of the universe.
In her bag now that she hung around her shoulder, she carried with her the next exposition for her personal channel over their public entertainment network, otherwise known as PEN. PEN was a free entertainment network, owned and run by the entertainers, and the entertainers were anyone who wanted a channel. They couldn't force anyone to watch nor own it, of course. Everyone who did own their own channel, however, was responsible for their own advertisement and sponsoring. Some people bought spots in the daily holographic projections over and through the city while others used the global computer network to transmit commercials through private computer systems. She did none of that. She simply bought her channel, went on whenever she had the material, and waited for fate to lead her viewers. She did it not for the fame, but the reaction. She couldn't do it for the fame actually. Due to the nature of most of the material, she couldn't allow her identity to be known for potential criminal charges. Therefore, every time she did a program, she masked herself fittingly in the darkness. All the viewers would ever see of her was her silhouette.
She did her best to expose everyone and everything. Sometimes it was the media. Sometimes it was the government itself. Sometimes it was just random people doing horrible things. Most of the time, she recorded it all and displayed it continuously on her channel. If she weren't on air herself, she'd play her material relentlessly while she was gone. She took pleasure in showing people the evils of their own world. What she enjoyed most, however, was the most graphic of content; a good murder or at least an attempted homicide was the best she could hope for. She'd leave out no detail. If she was really lucky, the murderer would leave the body where it was, and when they left she could move about the body as close as she wanted, focusing on the most horrific parts and replaying them back and forth on her network. She would expose the indignation of the rancorous world that smothered her every second of her life.
People about her scuttled in like packs of wild animals and took their seats, separately, their eyes down on the floor. They couldn't even look at each other. They saw no reason for it. What was sad, was that there really wasn't. It was the simple truth, the pure fact they'd placed upon their world. They had no voice, they had no friends, and they had no want. They were happy. A lot of them, however, she couldn't see their eyes. Most of them bore masks, faceless masks of silver and black. They wore them perhaps as a sign of particular anti-social nature, to keep others as far away from them as possible. Or maybe it was simply what they preferred, to hide their placid faces that they knew not what to do with.
She took her seat as well. She slumped down next to a window, sliding down the leather until her knees that lay rest against the back of the seat in front of her stopped her. Her jet-black hair, like long, narrow leaves from a palm tree, masked her angel-white face, and she snorted in attempting to find a comfortable composure as the train's engines came online and began to move. The tall, dark buildings outside against the pale green sky, still, suddenly began to move. The colorful array of lights slowly began to blur. In the sky overhead, holographic texts streamed by, commercials and advertisements. The soft vibration in the floor, so strong that it almost numbed her body. It seemed to echo through her body, ringing through her head like a thought or a dream. Her attention was glued to the bright river outside the train, the lights and holographs reflecting off her milky, white eyes. The train was cold, the air thin. There was a high-pitched screech, though small, that ran unnoticeably through the whole train, disturbed only by the sudden movements of the people it carried.
The train traveled for ten minutes before she got off, taking her over a hundred miles from where she'd gotten on. She walked off, across the narrow, metal bridge to the platform sitting high in the sky, among the crowd of strangers, and out of the belly of the faceless snake. She strolled nonchalantly, her one piece, leather suit squeaking as her shoulders rotated and her joints went back and forth, her padded feat devoid of the sound of footsteps. Her eyes lay straight ahead. Not a sound caught her attention; not a movement disturbed her. No voice was heard; no recognition was found. As she reached the exit from the station, she tapped in her identification number once again in one of the many keypads lined along the railings toward the exits.
She exited into a long corridor. She found an elevator and followed about another twenty people onto it. She patiently waited as the elevator stopped fourteen times going down before reaching her stop. She entered into yet another corridor, brightly lit, carpeted floors, and comfortably silent to each person who walked throughout the labyrinthine building. She finally stepped into another elevator, one that moved in four different directions, not one of them up nor down. She stepped in with about another twenty people. They went from left, to forward, and from forward to right. Seven stops went by until hers came. She got off, walked about five minutes through endless corridors and finally reached her apartment-or rather her designated chambers. She'd lived there her entire seventeen years of life. It was her apartment. She paid no rent, she paid no bills, and she worked only when necessary. Since the only thing they had to pay for on her world was anything recreational, she didn't have to pay for much. The few recreational activities she had were either unconventional or didn't require material objects.
Her apartment was superfluous with cluttered debris scattered about the floor, desks, and counters. Papers lay about everywhere, crumpled and torn. On one desk and in a corner, were stacks of microchips and dissected computers and other devices. During her free time, purely as a hobby, she found a nice piece of advanced technology and took it apart piece by piece. She'd done it out of curiosity the first time, but what kept her doing it now? Pure boredom? She didn't know. She didn't care either.
She switched on a light, found one of the cleaner desks in the room, and took out various devices from her bag and pouches on her suit and set them down, simply to rid herself of the discomfort of a large, hard object pressing against her body. She let out a sort of chortle or howl as she had about enough of the warmth she'd stepped into and activated her air cooler system to combat it. She kept her bag with her. She walked into another room, much cleaner. There was a desk upon which sat multiple computers and devices. It was her stage room for her channel. She switched on a screen on the wall. It came to life with a graphically shot image of a person lying split open on a sidewalk, having just fallen from a building. She'd taken the shot two days before and left it playing back and forth since she'd gone off air. For a moment, she got trapped in the image. Her eyes had locked on the blue pool the lifeless body lay in, brown and darkening.
Pulling her eyes from the screen, she turned behind her and turned on a light that sat on a table directly behind the seat she took just after. On the wall opposite the one the screen was integrated into hung multiple masks of different feature, some golden, some silver, and most of them black. She took a black one, geometrically shaped and almost pyramid-like in structure. She put it over her face and then reached into her bag and pulled from it a small, reflective disk, which she then put into her disk player that she used to display the images she recorded.
She made sure everything was ready, set up the camera directly in front of her, deactivated the image of the person who'd fallen from the building, and went on air.
She sat up straight, folded her arms over the desk and took in a deep breath. Above her on the wall to her left was the screen, now displaying her silhouette as she sat there. Suddenly, like a crack of thunder, her deep, quiet voice spoke. Her first words were a formality. "It is that I apologize for disturbing your peace." A pause. "It is that I come to you to allow your viewing of something you have likely already something else that you have not. It is that I expect you have all been made aware of the indignation of Ship 5579-the attack on them from our universal enemies, the taldiya. What you did not see, was the attack on the crew itself, and it is that which I bring you this day. It is that I successfully infiltrated and stole this material from Base 147 in City 13 earlier today under suspicion that there was much they were hiding from us. It is that I confirmed this suspicion." She reached toward her disk player. "I show you this material, now."
She activated the player and looked to the screen to the right of the camera before her that now displayed the same image the one in the wall did. Instead of her, however, it was footage from the onboard computer of a starship designated 5579 that was recently attacked and destroyed by an extraterrestrial enemy of her people called the taldiya. The night before, she'd been watching the public news channel on which they'd announced the attack. They had only shown footage that the taldiya had taken of the attack and destruction of the ship itself and had mentioned that there was other footage taken that the military had withheld from the public due to its graphic content-which is exactly why she felt she had to get a hold of it.
Her eyes laid gaze upon the screen. Images went by like memories. Images of innocent crewmembers running through corridors as their alien attackers, large, reptilian creatures, chased them down and slaughtered them. There were beatings, pointless torture, dismembering, all of which ended in death. A lot of the crew had been rounded up and stuffed in an airlock only to have their enemies depressurize the room until they ran out of oxygen and suffocated. The footage she played showed all of that. As the images went by, reflecting off the visor on her mask as she stared eerily bemused at the screen, her mind fell into a deep well of darkness from which she knew there was no escape. Her heart writhed, her stomach twisted, and all she could do was sit there, perfectly still and forever lost.
When the footage finally came to an end, she put herself back on air. There was a long period of silence in which she only sat there. As if her own self had been slaughtered in that attack, she found no reality in which to exist. Very slowly, and in a low, practically inaudible voice, she spoke, "It is that I leave you with no words I can speak." Then the formality. "It is again that I apologize for disturbing your peace."
She reached across the table and activated the recorder again and set it on repeat. She would play that footage now over and over until she found something new. She sat there for a while, watching the footage about three times over before finally getting up and leaving the room. She had switched masks with one of two golden ones. Over her suit, she put on a thick, black shell that spiraled around her body like a coiled snake. She stepped through a door that led onto a balcony outside. She walked all the way to the railing and looked out over the city. The black night had finally set in with its totality. The stars overhead sang silently into the night. Past the buildings of the city before her, through all of the air traffic and screeching of trains and vessels going by below and above her, she could see the snow-capped mountains in the far distance almost fifty miles back. The cold wind blew hard against her body though she managed to stand her ground.
In a far off corner to her right, she heard a heavy breathing break the sophisticated tranquility. That entire side of the balcony was covered in shadows, too dark to see anything. However, movement was something she could detect from it. A slight smile creased her face momentarily, and she let out a whistle and a few quick clicks of her tongue. Without taking her eyes from the corner, she unlatched the railing and it swung open. From out of the shadows slowly crept a large something covered with a black, satin sheet. As the sheet pulled backward, a long, silver beak was unmasked and finally a feathered face of a giant bird she'd named Hellion.
It's black, feathered body stepped completely out of the shadows up to her, and it stood up straight at a height of nine feet, which was only a foot over her. Around its neck was a black leather rein that she grabbed hold of as she climbed up on the beast's back. She slipped her feet into their place on the vest around its back and strapped them there. She stood up, still holding the rein, and made a few more specific clicks with her tongue and a whistle. Swiftly, Hellion took off like a bullet from the balcony into the sky. Knees bent, she held on tightly to the rein as Hellion flew higher. As soon as he reached a height well above all of the buildings in the city and most of the traffic, she gestured for him to slow and begin a fast glide forward. As he did, she stood up straight on him and enjoyed the ride. She looked above her into the starry sky, entranced in its darkness. When she looked back ahead of her, she knew the time was right then. Slowly, she slid her mask off her face and allowed the cold air to blow against her skin.
She lied in complete darkness. In that darkness, she lied in glee. It was almost bliss. It wasn't just that she rubbed her hands along her naked body, but the darkness made it all the more pleasing. What she hadn't expected was to feel that sudden jolt as her fingers caressed her abdomen. She gasped and suddenly she felt a hand touch her leg. Ever so slowly, that hand reached further up, another one grasping her other leg as it did. Her breathing became heavier, she started to growl, and she felt as though she might choke on her own saliva.
Soon, the hands reached her torso, stroking ever gently, and then reaching further up to her stomach. Tears welled up in her eyes; her face scrunched ready to cry. "No," she mumbled desperately. She would say it again, and again, but the hands would persist. As they stopped, the force they applied against her body began to increase until she hurt. As if from no where, she felt a cold blade next to the hand. It gently turned against her so the edge was painfully against her skin. The force came, she screamed.
As her eyes opened and her arms flailed above her, she got up as far as she could without banging her head against the top of her pod. Anxiously, she opened her pod into the light, the darkness suddenly gone, fleeting. The tears were there, her breath was heavy, but there were no hands, and there was no blade. There was only her quivering, empty mass. She calmed, her breath returning to normal as she realized it only been her mind again torturing her. The memories, like coming through a door from the farthest reaches of her mind, began to pour out, and she quickly forced them back in. She shut her eyes again and had her mind drift in the darkness within her.
Her mind cleared, she got up and put her robes back on. Forgetting the memories, forgetting the hands, she sat there still disturbed and disoriented. Constantly her eyes drove into one spot, bemusing her. Her thoughts were still under little control. Like a raging sea, they thrashed and beat at themselves. She looked down at the thin, transparent garments she'd put over her body. She felt along her stomach again. She felt a muscle protrude and stretch. She twitched. Another muscle twisted and another turned. She gasped again, lightly.
She'd just entered her mating cycle.
She crawled from her pod when morning came. She cleaned the blood from her lips, scrubbed it from her pod, and put on some thicker robes, a cloak, and hood. She fed Hellion and then herself. She sat at her main computer in her living area before leaving and sent a message to the Mating Guild along with her identification code. She took a black mask from a wall in her living area, put it on, pulled her hood over her head, and left.
She took an elevator to the very bottom of the building and exited onto the dark, dreary street corners below the city. She took a deep breath of the thick air. Pleasing as the thick air was, the elevated temperature neutralized the comfort.
Vehicles hadn't traversed those streets in nearly a hundred years. The roads were torn, cracked, and large portions of it had fallen through to the long-abandoned dwellings below the surface. A hazy, hot mist rose from the holes. The sidewalks were burnt and decomposing trash lay everywhere, blended with the decomposing corpses of people long dead.
She'd taken a moment to scan the area around her. Down either ends of the street, one could look on forever, all the way to the mountains beyond and the ocean opposite of that. One figure, masked and dressed entirely in black robes, had just taken notice of her appearance from the building, had let out a slight screech, and scurried off quickly. The most disturbed people walked those streets, seeking a corner farther from the rest. Paranoia ruled their thoughts, afraid of everyone, ready to kill out of demented rage.
She had already covered their story via her channel. Some, very few, were leftovers from the invasion of the Fabricators. Their thoughts trapped in the past, the scars on their faces reminiscent of the attacks. They'd been driven mad and had never again obtained sanity. Others were descendents from the leftovers. And the others had gone down there seeking individual freedom. They didn't only wish not to speak to anyone, but they wished not to see anyone as well. It was a mental disorder common to her people. Those who couldn't even take being amongst other people went down there and scrounged like animals. It was either that or suicide. Many of them did in fact commit to suicide.
Sometimes she wondered why the others didn't.
She went down there often when looking for something new to show on her channel. The leftovers no longer held her attention. However, due to the streets' abandoned and unpleasant nature, it was often the setting of many criminal activities and hideouts. There were dozens of heavily sought- after refugees who hid amongst the lower city. In the past, she'd exposed seven of them, six of which were actually caught within days of the airing. Had any of the people they worked for, or the people that had worked for them, known who she was, she'd certainly have been dead within hours. Her work was dangerous. She almost got a thrill from it.
She scoured the streets for hours. She'd had to kill one individual out of self-defense, a crazed leftover she'd assumed-likely with only a few weeks of life left to them, if that. He'd charged at her from a garbage pile with a large, sharpened stick. She'd had pull her pistol from her side, an antique utilizing actual bullets instead of the more advance plasma pistols of her day. She preferred the bullets. There was more pain.
It hadn't been the first time she'd had to kill someone while down there. She'd probably killed a few dozen in fact. Most of them hid from her, terrified. A few of them spied on her with curiosity. She ignored them. It hadn't been easy at first. She found it all quite disturbing, but with time it became easier.
The streets were always dark. Though the sun was up, the buildings that surrounded the streets blocked out the sun most of the it was directly overhead. That time had come and gone, however. She hadn't found much of anything new to use on her channel.
She looked at her arm to see the time displayed on a device around her wrist.
78:4. There was about an hour left to the day. She'd have to head back soon. As far as she was now, she'd have to take about a two-minute trip on the train to get back to her building in time God! She'd forgotten.
She quickly found the nearest entrance to a building. As she started toward it, though, a sound far behind her caught her attention. She looked back and saw something gleaming from an alley. She walked cautiously toward it and saw that some sort of garage on the side of one of the buildings had been opened. It was an old warehouse, as she could tell from what she could read from the torn, burnt sign on the front. She heard some rustling and then voices. Odd, to hear voices. It was almost alien. She had an idea that it was some sort of criminal activity. Not wanting to end up caught, she pulled out a device from her bag called a transdimensional converter. She activated it and suddenly began to phase in and out of space-time. To her, it was as though nothing had happened, but to everyone outside, she'd turned invisible.
Obviously not the type of advice just anyone could buy, she'd stolen it from a military research facility she'd managed to infiltrate once-the show she'd aired afterward had been the cause of the breakdown of military secrecy. After she exposed their top-secret research on the dimension from which the Fabricators had come, the people began to get a little curious as to what else the government had been hiding. To put it quite technically, she'd started a bit of a revolution. She'd never admit it though. Helping people wasn't something she much enjoyed. She'd rather disappoint or depress them. Why? .Why not?
With that, she walked straight through the wall of the building to the inside. There was a group of people actually. Most of them were huddled underneath a light that hung from the ceiling. The building was full of dust, and the air was so arid she practically gagged on it. A smell reached her senses and she instantly realized what they were huddled around. It was bodies. She walked up behind one of the people to see the bodies. There were three. Two she hadn't recognized, but as soon as she saw the other, she knew she'd just stumbled upon something huge.
Lying on top of two of the bloody corpses, was the corpse of the President's Chief of Defense. She'd heard about his disappearance on the news channel a few days before. She'd never have expected to find him there, dead. Immediately, she pulled out her recorder to get this all for her show. It would be perfect for the next airing. However, eager as she was, she fumbled the recorder as she pulled it out. She'd managed to catch it, but when the person in front of her suddenly turned around and bumped into her, she fell to the ground and the recorder went flying out of her hands, shifting back into normal space-time and hitting the ground just as it became visible to everyone in the room. She'd gasped in horror as everyone in the room heard the crash and looked in her direction to discover the recorder, and the presence of someone else in the room. Each one of them drew a plasma pistol. The one who bumped into her had looked to the floor, expecting something to have been there after he'd hit it. Seeing the recorder, he'd realized suddenly that someone was using a converter. His first suspicion was a spy from the government.
Prepared for such a situation, he pulled out a device from his coat. Somehow the device was able to distort her converter and she phased back into normal space-time.
"There!" he shouted, pointing at her.
They all raised their guns to shoot. She rolled to her left and jumped to her feet. They fired, missing her as she ran and jumped toward a window. She crashed through it to the outside of the building, pieces of the glass digging into her flesh. For the moment, she was able to ignore the pain and continue running. The plasma fire followed. As she ran toward the entrance of the building she was going to before she'd heard the garage open, a plasma burst grazed her head. She screamed and fell to the ground. Her mask had fallen off, melted to a point where she could no longer put it on. Even her left cheek was singed. The tears burst from her eyes as the pain came flooding into her body. She screamed again in effect. The plasma fire continued to rain down around her. Remembering her situation, she forced herself up with all the might she had. She'd looked behind her to see how close the murders were. As the four of them stopped to look at her, she realized she'd just signed herself to death. They had seen her face, and they would not forget it.
Instantly, she turned back around and ran as fast as she could. The firing began again. She'd reached the building's entrance before being hit. She ran into empty, dark corridors. She found the nearest elevator and ran into it. She didn't see them again after that. She couldn't know if they'd followed her. But then what difference did that make? Trembling, she fell to the floor against a wall. Slowly, she reached her hand up to touch the burn on her face. At the mere graze of her finger, it burned with searing rage, and she cried with the pain. She was still breathing heavily from the run. As the pain in her cheek settled, very little in fact, the pain from the glass in her body suddenly sunk in. She found a gash on her right shoulder and could see the glass sticking out from it. She tested the pain by moving her arm up, a mistake. She cried out, bringing her arm back down and grabbing it. Her hands were covered with slashes, and her arms had tiny pieces of glass stuck in them. She shut her eyes to try and make her mind drift within the darkness. She was able to calm her breathing. She'd even managed to relax there, but the pain was still unbearable. She'd have to see a doctor.
She winced at that thought. She hated doctors. She hated anything involving her interaction with another person, more than most of her people. Surprisingly, that wasn't the worst thought that had come to her mind, however. She'd left her recorder in the warehouse. She hated herself for loosing her material. She was worried that they'd figure out who she was.
She was terrified to go home.
The metallic hands swarmed about her body, bandaging her arms and healing her face. Through the clutter of black, robot bodies around her, she read from a holograph before her. The scrolling text informed her of her injuries and the necessary applicants for healing each one. The glass sheathed in her flesh had already been removed upon her arrival to the hospital.
She felt horrible, and she assumed she didn't look any better than she felt. Indifference had crept upon her face. Her body drugged to numb the pain, her mind was also drugged to better clear her mind and relax her senses. Relax them, they did, practically to a state of nonexistence. She sat there reading from the hologram with an eerie void seeping from her eyes. It was a look of complete and utter emptiness. A look obtainable only when one is engrossed in darkness and despite the bright lights of the hospital, her world was hazy and obscure. Everything had gone so horribly wrong that day. Now she was sitting in a hospital, and her very life was on the line.
The hologram reached its end. The text stopped and the hologram disappeared. The robots surrounding her finished their job and left. Soon after, an actual person walked in wearing a doctor's mask and uniform. From this doctor came a faceless voice, old and gruff. "Why is it you are like this?" asked the mask.
She looked up into him, suddenly wondering why she looked at all. There was nothing to look at. There were no eyes to look into, no mouth to read from, and the voice was wholly indifferent, predictable yet startling. "It was an accident," she lied.
"The burn," it said, pointing at her face, "it is a plasma burn. You were fired at." It wasn't a question.
Her gaze befell the floor. She almost looked ashamed. She expected to lie again. She planned on lying again. Which is why she surprised herself when the words came from her lips. "It is that I was fired at."
Silence. Unholy, erratic silence. Her mind could only sway back and forth in thought. She no longer had control. The words came out of her, alien and unexpected. Something else had taken control. She wondered what. Was it a side of herself she didn't know existed? Was she really ashamed? Or had reality itself reshaped her to its own needs, to make sure fate succeeded in doing what it had to do?
Finally, the doctor suddenly turned and stepped out. A few seconds later, another mask entered. This one was the mask of a law enforcement agent. His voice was a little younger and a little softer. It was still just a voice though, with nothing to look at. Quickly, the words materialized. "Who fired at you?"
She looked up again, into another mask, another voice, alien and profound. Without thinking, the truth came from her lips. "There were seven of them, all male. It was in the Undercities. They were not leftovers. It is that they wore good, clean clothes, black uniforms. It is that I suspected them criminals. They had three bodies. Two I did not recognize, the other I did. It is the President's Chief of Defense."
A sense of hesitation came from the agent. "You are positive?"
"Yes," she said simply and finally, staring into the mask, her own face bare, serious, and completely honest. She'd had to accept defeat. She knew now it was all she could do. She had made a mistake. She'd screwed up. Now she was ready to pay her price.
The mask looked down at the pod she sat up in. His eyes peered at a dark blue stain next to her legs. "Have you mated?"
She shook her head no.
"You have ordered?"
"I'll inform them of events," he said. "Scanners will be on you."
He left her then. She'd seen the doctor, spoken to the agent, read from the hologram, and now she had to go home. Now she had to accept what was to become of her future. She was ready. She was prepared. Her mind relaxed, her senses at ease. She was calm, and she would tackle the future with the same might and terror that the past had attacked her with.
The tenacious thoughts crept from the back of her mind, encroaching upon her like hellish imps seeking to spawn utter carnage. Those shallow memories accompanied by insidious pain attacked her as the vanguard of a malevolent army, obliterating the little bit of grace in her midst. She felt as though they were literally clawing their way up her heart and suddenly she couldn't breathe. Darkness began to overtake her. Her vision would fade and then return and it would repeat the process over and over again in a matter of seconds. She felt a tingle within her abdomen that would suddenly surge through her body, hurting her as though something within her was firing spikes that shredded her insides. The force instantly pushed the blood from her hair. The blue sludge began to creep down her forehead, warm and thick, she could smell it already.
She began to tremble violently. Her breath sped up, a slight growl coming from her throat. She was forced forward, placing a hand to her stomach and the other to the door of her apartment. The corridor to either side of her was extensive beyond imagination. It was lucky for her that most people were home at that hour, for the corridor she was in was empty save herself and the slow-streaming holographs along the walls.
As her focus had taken notice of the emptiness around her, the dagger stabbed at her. She squeaked suddenly as she collapsed to the floor, a sudden flash of blue as she opened her eyes and could see the blood from her forehead dripping from her brow in front of her eyes. She saw the floor not inches from her face and that the carpet was stained blue. There was an encompassing pain that ran along her head as though a blanket of electricity was covering her.
The pain throbbed. There was another stab, another squeak. The pain throughout her body followed it as it intensified gradually. She focused on her breathing. Each breath became heavier as she attempted to take control of it. The growl within her throat grew louder and louder until finally she slammed her fist to the door before her and howled out in anger. It was an ear-piercing howl like that of a wild animal alone and dying in the midst of winter. No doubt others in their apartment around her had heard the howl. None would come to her aid or even step out to see her. No one wanted to. Those who heard her either ignored her or drown her out with other noises or thick walls. No one helped anyone. No one cared to.
She dug her claws into the door before her. She left no scratch upon the door, and only the painful ripping of her talons would be of any notice to her beyond the darkness. Her howl came to an end and again she growled with anger. She forced her eyes open and found the bloodstained floor again. The pain in her head had almost complete gone away, the blood on her forehead beginning to dry. She placed her hands to the floor and pushed herself up.
The light cloth she wore around her waist had been stained blue. Seeing it, she was reminded of what awaited her beyond the door. She had contacted the Mating Guild earlier that morning. They always responded hastily. She didn't know what she wanted to do. The nightmares that plagued her had always chosen the worst times to surface.
She entered her identification code, though. She had no choice. It was either this or she died. If the lust was not quenched, she would be driven to suicide. It was their mating cycle. She dealt with it every three hundred fifty-two days. She remembered the last time as though it had been yesterday. Those days haunted her, tucked away and hidden within her shadow that followed her everywhere. There were times when she thought about not calling the Mating Guild at all, times when she wanted to die. Every now and then she'd find a knife and prepare to slit her throat. She'd place the flat end of the knife to her throat and lick her lips in bliss at the feel of the cold steel against her skin. She did love one thing, and that was the darkness. The darkness was anything forbidden, evil, or dark. Not that suicide was wrong; it was legal on their world.
She handled this day the same way she handled all of her mating days. She entered her apartment, stripping off her garments and rubbing at her body. The rubbing produced pleasure and sexual stimulation. Upon stimulation, her skin secreted hormonal oils that left every inch of her body moist and incredibly smooth. As she walked, the juices from her body dripped from her spindly fingers leaving a trail of delicate life behind her. Her tender body began to cry out for touch. She formulated thoughts of pain and torture in her head.
She stepped lightly, a murderous glint in her eyes. Her face was covered with a wet, gray mask, for the oils had mixed with the dried blood from her forehead and slowly streamed down her elegant face, now dripping from her chin as though she were melting like wax from a candle. Her hair was already drenched over her face. Her talons seemed to extend a bit and a very low growl came up from her throat that broke the dreamy silence. A hiss soon accompanied the growl as she passed through her kitchen and into her living area. There she found him sitting at her couch. He'd been at ease as best as he could without his own pod. The lights had been off, and she left them that way. There was enough light to see him, but not too much so as to annoy her.
His eyes had been closed and his mind and senses mingling about the air like electricity, as it is with all that are at ease. She snarled and grabbed a display pad on a desk next to her and hurled it at him. It struck his chest and he came from ease instantly. Their masochist hearts took hold of them. He lunged at her suddenly, a growl like thunder roaring from him. They slammed into a wall behind her. He had his hand about her throat and another tightly wound her arm. With her free arm she reached up and ripped the clothes from his body. Trembling, she eagerly placed her right cheek to his and painfully nuzzled him. He shoved her back and slashed at her face, leaving bloody claw marks upon her flesh. They were both growling like mad. She clenched her fist and gave him a hard punch in the face that threw him backward. Before he could recover, she took him by his bare shoulders and hurled him to the floor. She collapsed over him and slowly dug her talons into his shoulder. The blood streamed, glorious, out from the gashes and along her fingers. She lapped at it as though it was ambrosia, the blood combining delightfully with his oils. He moaned, not in pain, but in pleasure.
Their bodies slid along each other like butter on glass. Their flesh intermingled. They bled together, their thoughts entangled. Their cries were a blissful opera. This was their archaic heaven. They would bend and fold upon and within the other, taste each other. Their primal instincts were but the masters of this wonderful union.
The pleasure would grow until it was unbearable. It would continue to climb. Her eyes would climb the walls to the ceiling as though seeking out the heavenly stars they had grasped. It shot through her body, an explosion of intense climax. Her screams obliterated all silence and echoed throughout their world as if to say that life would never seem dull again. Still the pleasure would rise, a peaceful agony that became every conscious and subconscious thought she'd ever have. The feelings would only cease when the nightmares would flood her for moments at a time. Her screams of terror flashed through her mind. The pain that dwelled within her would rise and subsequently add to the crude pleasure that burned like fire at her body.
It was not just heaven. It was a heaven with a hell within. It would go on for hours. They would enter a state of ease soon after. He would leave, and she would never see him again. Hours later, exactly on time as they always were, the doctors and agents would arrive to deliver her baby. It would be a blur in her writhing, wet eyes and nothing more. They left. The government would provide care for the baby until several days later when it could support itself. They would give it everything they had given its mother. She would never see that child save an unbeknownst chance stroll by each other in public, never known to be forgotten. That is the way it had been done for hundreds of years. That is the way she had done it all her life.