Emilio lay on his back. His captor was on top of him, pushing him down, her rhythmic motion building to a crescendo. He didn’t want to look at her, wanted to close his eyes and imagine the love of his life instead. Doing so would result in more lashes, though, so he looked into her eyes like she wanted.
“Don’t slow down. Give it to me, you swine!” she commanded. Her pace quickened. Her nails dug into his flesh as her body tensed. “I swear, if you finish before I’m ready…”
“Never,” Emilio replied.
His thighs hurt. His legs hurt. Really all of his pelvic area was sore from weeks of this. Every night like clockwork he appeared at her chamber door and every morning he would rise before she woke and wash up for the day’s labor.
He felt himself softening up. He tried to think of his love. Tried to think of their nights together in the jungle before he came to this forsaken island.
“That’s it. Yes. Yes yes. Faster, pig! Faster faster faster. Hah… Uh….. Na!” she howled.
Emilio felt a bit of his soul leave him. He felt like he was dead while she seemed to explode with youthful energy. She shook for a moment, letting his lifeforce settle in her. Then she sidled off of him and let the sweat roll off her chest and neck, savoring every sensation.
“Incredible,” she said, panting. “Near a month and you’ve yet to let me down.”
“I aim to please, doctor,” Emilio replied flatly.
“I told you to call me Callie.”
“You’re like a machine in bed, that doesn’t mean you have to talk like one,” she said. Emilio said nothing. She wasn’t a fan of backtalk and he didn’t feel like a lashing tonight. ‘One lashing’s enough!’ he’d have said to Xiao if he was telling the story. Xiao would have smiled but pretended not to.
After a minute, she left him in the sweat soaked sheets to wash up. Her dark hair clung to her glistening back. It reminded him of his love and he hated it. He rolled on his side, ready to let sleep take him. It never came. He wandered in his mind’s many halls and corridors. Memories flashed between pillars made of thought. Dark imaginings threatened and mocked him, calling to him from broken windows and rotted cellar doors. Winding stairs led up and down the years.
When he was young, he would often go to his Happy Place. It was a spot, he imagined, that waited beyond a wooden fence. A loose board hid the entrance, which he could easily push aside. It was a small space, but comfortable. There he could wrap himself in warm thoughts, where nothing bad could reach him. There was no happy place now. He was too big and too old to go there. Now he was cursed to roam this desolate place naked, raw and full of doubt.
A journey that had lasted years had taken him here to this lonely island. Someone asked him once if he believed in fate or destiny, or if he thought the universe was a random series of events with no order or reason or higher meaning. He’d lived long enough to see that both were true; that the universe was uncaring and unthinking, oblivious to the lives and suffering of untold trillions. And yet… he’d felt the guidance of an unseen hand in his life, navigating the turbulent waters of random chance, pushing him toward something inescapable. Inevitable. He’d seen the same hand at work in the lives of countless others as well.
He’d first felt the grip of this phantom helmsman a long time ago. Back in the lab where it all started.
* * *
Emilio stepped into the elevator and waited. The doors shut and his floor was selected based on his user history. On the walls, news items flashed into existence, momentarily waiting to be selected, only to disappear again into the aether.
Universe is ten times older than previously thought, Scientists say.
Fusion, A.I. and Interstellar Travel are only years away! How to prepare for the new world.
Nu Body Replacement recipients happier and better paid on average, study shows.
Support for Penis Enhancement Bot for President continues its steady rise.
He paid the news no mind, instead trying to get a better view of the new tat on his left tricep. It was supposed to be a tiger slaying a dragon, but the guy doing it had been almost as drunk as him so it ended up looking more like a cat playing with a scarf. He exited the elevator and entered his loft/lab. His work partner Xiao Sha waited, tapping away on a tablet.
“You’re late,” he said.
“Traffic,” Emilio replied. Xiao shook his head. Emilio hadn’t driven anywhere in months, they both knew that.
“Don’t blow me off. Not today. This is too important,” Xiao said.
“Uh huh. How’s the Sex treating you?” Emilio asked, tossing his bag on a bean bag chair.
“For the last time, the SX38V-B doesn’t need a nickname. Especially not that one.”
“Well, considering what we’re doing to the universe every time we use that thing, I’d say it’s appropriate.”
“Not even remotely. And for God’s sake pull your pants up. We have a guest.”
Xiao motioned to the woman sitting at Emilio’s workbench. She had been working on her laptop, but now her eyes were fixed on Emilio. He pulled his pants up, but only a little.
“Hi. Who is she?” Emilio asked.
“The name’s Katalina Bree. I’m writing a piece on you two,” she said with the faintest hint of an accent. Emilio soaked in her looks. Glasses, blonde hair in a ponytail, shirt unbuttoned just so. Probably a spy.
“I didn’t know people were that interested in our work,” Emilio said.
“It’s the men behind the work that I think people will be drawn to,” she said, smiling, playing with her hair. Yeah, definitely a spy. “You two are rising stars in the field of Hyperspatial Transfomatics.”
“Babe, we’re the only stars in Hyper… in our field,” Emilio said.
“And we’d be happy to sit down with you and tell you all about it as soon as Mr. Valdez and I finish today’s testing,” said Xiao.
“Surely you wouldn’t keep such a pretty woman waiting,” said Emilio.
“The work comes first,” Xiao said.
“Do you say to that to all the ladies?” Emilio asked. Xiao blushed and pushed his round black glasses up his nose.
“Be serious for a moment, would you?” Xiao whispered.
“Should we really be showing her our tech?” Emilio whispered back. “I mean, do you really know who she is? Did you check her creds? Her magazine or blog or wherever she’s from?” Emilio asked.
“Yes. Last week. After she called for an in person interview,” Xiao replied.
“You asked me to look up how hot she was.”
“Oh yeah. Right. Her.”
“Should I come back another time?” Katalina asked.
“No, please stay. This will only take a moment,” said Xiao.
“She could be a spy,” Emilio said in a low voice. “These are billion dollar ideas we’re working with.”
“It’s fine. She’s legit. Besides we need the exposure or no one will be paying attention when it comes time to sell. Now get in the suit,” Xiao said. Emilio looked to Katalina and chuckled.
“Xiao. Always in work mode. He’s not always the serious type, though, I promise. You should see him at Ramadan. Did you know they had Muslims in China?” Emilio asked as Xiao half dragged him to the test chamber.
Xiao pulled the tarp off the frame where the suit hung. It was a full body suit up to the neck. And it was black. Blacker than black, like it ate the natural light around it. A chrome silver helmet with a monocle looking thing attached to it hung from above.
“I’ve recalibrated the scanning module. The data should come back in near real-time now,” said Xiao.
“Great. Now I can find out I’m dead a half second after it happens instead of three seconds.”
“Is what you do dangerous?” Katalina asked.
“Yes, but so is most things we do as humans. Take automobiles or airplanes, for example,” said Xiao.
Emilio dropped into his skinnies, making Xiao uncomfortable. Katalina watched intently, admiring his body art and noting his distinct lack of enhancements. Especially the area most men got enhanced these days.
“Is that what you plan on doing with this revolutionary piece of technology? Using it as a means of conveyance?” Katalina asked.
“It’s one possible use, but right now we’re thinking in terms of science, exploration, and discovery,” said Xiao.
“Give it ten years. They’ll turn it into the new commercial air travel in no time,” said Emilio.
He got in position behind the suit. Xiao signaled the suit to open and Emilio slipped in, first one foot, then the other and then both arms. He grabbed the helmet with scanner attached and snapped it into place. Xiao signaled the suit to close and it did so, compressing until it was skin tight. The helmet lit up and the scanner whirred to life.
“This next part’s important,” Xiao said to Katalina. “The helmet’s neural net will sync up with Emilio’s brain activity. Without it, Emilio could lose all perception of linear time or even relinquish coterminality and be displaced across the 4th dimension.”
“Your mic’s still on,” Emilio said. Xiao cleared his throat.
“The chances of that happening are very slim, though. Very slim.”
“It’s quite becoming on you, Emilio,” Katalina remarked.
“See? I told you I make this look good,” Emilio said to Xiao.
“All signs are good. You ready for this?” Xiao asked.
“I was born ready,” Emilio replied.
Xiao entered a sequence on his tablet and hit execute. The room darkened and even with the hot desert sun shining in from outside it seemed like the day had turned to evening in an instant. A gash in space opened behind/around/on top of Emilio.
“Happy trails,” Xiao said. Emilio disappeared from the universe.