Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 1

Printer-friendly version

A dark metallic hallway on a space station, functional and industrial with signs of advanced technology, with a large hexagonal window with a view of a star field.

On a welcoming station deep in space Patryk, a 24 year old, has shirked all his adult responsibilities. He gets by fine. The station is host to an unequal society, but no-one goes hungry. This suits Patryk as he bumbles through life, keeping himself to himself and going to parties, while resting in whatever temporary accommodation he can secure for a few weeks at a time.

When Patryk’s idiosyncrasies about sleeping at parties comes up again he finds his way to a safe bed, in a room that had obviously been host to criminality. What he discovers there, or more who discovers him, begins Patryk on a path he never even dreamt of. At least he thinks so. Patryk has never remembered his dreams.

---------------

Patryk was twenty minutes away from the party but still ninety minutes, through tubes, corridors and crawl spaces, to where his current residence was. Or at least it would be ninety minutes had he been sober. He walked a hallway, on a just re-opened but not yet public section of the deep-space welcoming outpost, low, near the outer skin, but with no view of the stars. The stars so very far away.

Despite every party in Patryk’s twenties having ample beds nearby, doubles or singles, he hadn’t slept within stumbling distance of a party in years. He was one of the few men who’d sleep in a single, but despite the obvious signal he was giving—or a signal obvious to him—he’d still wake with a woman curled into him, kissing his neck, his ears, stroking his scruffy, long hair, asking him to get her pregnant. Or whatever. Anything. Anything he could dream of. She’d do whatever he wanted. She’d do more than that. She’d amaze him. Show him things, and do things for him, things he’d never thought possible. They were impressed he’d sleep in a single without a woman. And she’d usually have saved a beer to share with him in the morning from the box he’d brought for any women who’d turned up to the party the night before. No man had ever let them drink beer before. They loved him. That’s why he never slept at parties.

Patryk walked the empty corridor. Rats don’t typically physically force doors, even in repair sections. No-one wants an infestation in a soon-to-be-reopened area so rooms are fully locked down before there’s a hint of access from factory workers. Patryk knew this didn’t always hold true, even voters made mistakes, so he tried, with some effort, every door along his way. By his estimate he was on his seventieth now he was far enough away from the party to find a place to rest.

Finally one opened.

Inside was a room, fresh smelling, obviously new air, with a door leading to another room. In the first room was a desk with a computer on top—old, not connected—and stack after stack of wooden drawers like ancient index card holders. Patryk looked in a few and there was tobacco in each. Or at least what he thought was tobacco. He’d never seen tobacco outside of pictures.

Patryk quickly looked in the other room, which contained lab equipment and shelf after shelf of books. This was obviously illegal. Whoever ran their crimes out of here was on the run, possibly had already disappeared, or had been imprisoned. And this was recently, given the fresh smell, once the work being done by the voters found this place. Still, a bed was a bed, even a single bed for a woman, and Patryk was tired.

As he tucked himself in he knew he was safe here if he didn’t stay past the weekend. He quickly began to dream the dreams he never remembered.

“It’s time to wake up,” the voice said. It had said things before, gently, but Patryk had rolled over, shutting the words out. Certain the voice was another of the dreams he wouldn’t remember.

Then Patryk, awake, became aware of where he was. Of a presence. He kept his eyes shut as his mind cleared knowing no security would be this patient. Not with a man. Certainly not committing a misdemeanour. Finally he twisted his feet out of the low, temporary bed and set them on the ground, immediately reaching for his boots. “You want me to leave..?” he said as he stuck his feet into them.

“You found me,” the man said. “And the day before I depart, too.”

“You’re not on the run?” Patryk asked. “Or in danger?”

“Aren’t you worried for yourself? Of what this is?”

“You’re old,” Patryk said.

“Violence? Really?” the man laughed. He had thick hair and a gaunt face. There wasn’t a sight of grey through his black curls, despite his age, slick curls, tight and clinging to his head. Patryk couldn’t remember the last time he saw a man wearing hair like that. No-one had such regular access to a styler to keep it up and to do it manually took far too much time.

The man wore a pair of black slacks, stained, plain black trainers and a cream, battered t-shirt. He had a thin moustache.

“Do you feel safe?” the man asked.

Patryk considered the question for a moment. Did men feel unsafe? Were they asked about their safety? Yes, their feelings, and their thoughts, but men were always safe. Except in the presence of the voters or their agents. And there were extreme situations but this wasn’t one of them. “I do,” Patryk said. “Thank you for asking,” he continued, unsure where this small amount of deference had come from.

“Smoke this,” the man said, handing a Patryk a little stick. “You know how to smoke?”

“Won’t it—”

The man lit his own cigarette, self-rolled, inhaled and exhaled. There was no smoke. Nothing to set off alarms. “Are you a curious person? An open person?” the man asked.

Patryk put the cigarette in his mouth, held the element lighter to its tip and inhaled. As he held the first drag in his lungs he felt nothing. As he exhaled his breath he felt peace. He had no hangover any more. No pain in his head. No sickness in his stomach. No need for more booze.

He closed his eyes slowly and felt the peace again. “You’ll still need to drink water,” the man said, handing Patryk a chilled bottle.

The man busied himself with drawers, the tobacco that caused no smoke, sniffing at it and mixing it, while Patryk smoked his rollie and drank water.

Eventually the man dragged a seat from behind the desk and sat himself opposite Patryk. Patryk who was feeling pretty fine now. “Do you want to find out who you are?” the man asked.

“What’s your name?” Patryk asked.

“One.”

“One?”

“That’s me.” The man handed Patryk another rollie, this time in brown paper. “This one could cause problems. If you’re frightened. If you don’t want to accept. Or engage. If you don’t want to talk.”

Patryk held the cigarette to his mouth, lit it and inhaled.

The next thing he knew was his fingers burning. The small stub of the smoked rollie just about to cause blisters. “I don’t want it to end,” Patryk said.

“What to end?” One asked.

Patryk dropped the cigarette on the floor and stubbed it out with his boot. “Me. My dreams.”

“What’s your name?” One asked.

“Allison,” Patryk said.

“Do you want to work for me, Allison?” One said.

“What would it involve?” Patryk asked. He’d never worked before, not really, but he knew this wasn’t an offer of typical factory work.

“You deliver things. You talk to people. You live your life, Allison. You are Allison, aren’t you? You are a woman?”

“I can’t...”

“Can’t what?” One asked.

“I can’t get pregnant,” Patryk said.

“Many women can’t,” One said. “Does that stop them living their life? Does that stop them being who they are?”

“I’m not a woman,” Patryk said.

“Think. Really think. What do you believe? Who are you? What are you? Don’t consider impossibilities, or what ifs, or if onlys. Who are you? Who are you in all the dreams you’ve never remembered?”

“Allison,” Patryk said.

“Do you feel high? Drugged?” One asked.

“If it was a powerful drug I wouldn’t know it,” Patryk said.

“But you don’t want it to end. Why should it?”

“It’s impossible,” Patryk said. One shook his head.

One stood and leaned over Patryk, taking his hand. Patryk hadn’t held hands with a man since he was a teenager. Since he was a child. “Come with me, Allison,” One said.

They walked for a few minutes. There was a service elevator too, access being no issue. They came to another corridor, the same as any other but with no ceiling lights on until they were activated by One and Patryk’s movement, One still holding Patryk’s hand like Patryk was his woman. Patryk still felt safe. Safer, even.

“I think this is it,” One said, swiping his wrist against the door. Inside was an apartment, a small living room. One lead Patryk to the bedroom. “She was about your size. Very successful with men, too, who’d stay here. Actual relationships. If you want to continue as a man you can. I’m sure some of them left clothes, better than yours, and you’ll make money with me, spend it how you wish. There’s a double bed off the living room. It’s your choice. Be a man or a woman. Be who you are. There’s no other concern.”

One went to another room leaving Patryk standing, thinking, wondering. Dreaming even. Then he was soon back holding a bathrobe. “You stink. Shower. There should be water in there. And it’s a styler. I can’t have someone working for me looking like a mess. You’ll be travelling the whole station.”

“Water?” Patryk asked. “Are you serious?”

“Find out for yourself. The styler is modern too. Make yourself pretty.” One handed Patryk the bathrobe. Patryk undressed with the robe covering him and walked into the bathroom. His eyes opened wide as he saw there was an actual bath in there. A huge one. Bigger than he’d ever seen.

Patryk walked in disbelief to it and turned the hot water tap, but the lights merely dimmed, indicating it was inactive. Then he walked to the shower cubicle, turning on the shower, fully believing this whole charade would collapse. Instead warm water began to flow from the shower head. He quickly stripped.

For the first time in months Patryk felt water flow over his skin. Through his matted hair. The mixture of chemicals and conditioners making it soft, untangling it. There was no timer on the tiles counting down when the shower would end. He could stay here twenty-four hours a day if he wanted. If this wasn’t a dream he’d forget when he woke up.

There were soaps on the ledge and after a few minutes of simply feeling heat, and cleanliness, Patryk lifted one to smell it. When he did the screens came on around him, cycling through images of styles. They all were of Patryk. A female Patryk. Or at least his hair, his eyebrows.

Patryk watched, fascinated. This couldn’t be possible. He knew technically it was. A man could wear any hair style he wanted—if he felt it would attract a partner—but no man wore a woman’s style. It would be shameful. The commercial stylers in the salons didn’t even offer this. You’d have to pay a barber for a traditional cut if you wanted something like this. And he couldn’t think of a barber who’d agree to it.

Patryk kept watching the images pass before him until he found his hand reaching out, dialling back a few of the generated pictures to the one he wanted to see again. She was beautiful. Patryk was beautiful. It was his brown hair, long, swept and tiered over his ears in waves, shaggy but precise. She had a soft fringe that made her eyes the most seductive things Patryk had ever seen in his life. He reached out and pressed the ‘Confirm Style” button.

“Please lift your arms,” a gentle voice spoke from the top of the cubicle.

Patryk stood stock still. Thirty seconds passed. “Please issue confirmation again,” the voice said.

Patryk pressed the button a second time and lifted his arms. He watched as all the hair on his body dissolved. The styler quickly dried him once it was done.

Patryk left the shower cubicle and stood before the mirror. It was him. A sort of him. A little bit ‘her.’ It was a woman’s cut, he had no sign of a beard, his eyebrows were arched and yes, his eyes were beautiful. He could imagine wanting to gaze into them. He stopped imagining when the thought of a man gazing into them came to his mind.

He put on the bathrobe before he left the bathroom. It felt gentle against his newly smooth skin.

“That suits you,” One said. “You’re a very beautiful woman.”

Patryk smiled. Then he looked around and couldn’t see his clothes. “I’ve put them away. But I’ve picked an outfit I think will suit you.” One indicated at a hanger hanging on the back of a second, slightly open door. “You’ll have to pick your own panties and stockings. I found some bras in another apartment for a ‘small’ woman.”

Patryk walked to the clothes hanging up and took the black bra off the red satin blouse’s shoulder. He rubbed the lace of one of the cups between his fingers. “Can I—” Patryk began.

“Have some privacy? If you insist,” One said. “But if you’re a woman you know your role is to turn men on and then get pregnant. Would you really ask a man to stop watching you dress?”

“That wasn’t what I was going to ask,” Patryk said, as he untied the fabric belt around his waist, dropping the bathrobe to the ground, standing fully naked in front of One.

He put his arms through the bra and shrugged it onto his shoulders, reaching around himself to fasten it. Whichever woman this was from she really had no breasts, it was almost a perfect for Patryk.

“Panties and stockings are in the dressing room,” One said. “There should be plenty of new ones.”

Patryk went into the walk-in dressing room, almost larger than the bedroom, where so many clothes were hung, or folded onto shelves. In one corner was a dressing table, with drawers built into it and on each side of it. Patryk went digging.

There were loads of panties, with labels still attached, obviously unworn, and packet after packet of every kind of stocking.

He was soon looking in the mirror at a sort-of man in sexy lingerie. The thought of a guy watching him came to him again. This time Patryk let it rest, for just a moment.

He walked back to the bedroom. One was sitting in the armchair, legs crossed, reading his conn. He didn’t even look up at Patryk.

Patryk took the denim mini-skirt from the hanger and pulled it up around himself, letting it settle onto his waist. Then he put on the red, satin blouse. He looked in the full length mirror. “I’m dressed like a twenty year old,” he said.

“You pretty much are a twenty year old,” One said. “Not in age, obviously. But you have a lot to learn, like any woman who’s just been unleashed on the world. You should enjoy it. The innocence. The opportunities.”

Patryk turned himself around, tilting and straining his neck to keep watching himself in the mirror. Getting every view of himself as, well, yes, a woman. He looked like a woman. He obviously appeared slightly male, but his hair, and clothes, and legs all said woman.

“Are you happy with yourself?” One asked.

“Yes,” Patryk said.

“What’s your name?” One asked.

“Allison,” Allison said.

One uncrossed his legs in his seat and stretched his arms. “How sure are you, Allison?” One asked.

“I’m certain,” Allison said, still staring at herself in the mirror as she turned and twisted.

Allison’s connection flashed. The illuminated black casing of a man’s conn switching to the swirling rainbow patterns of a woman’s conn. It beeped a moment later.

Allison picked it up. There was something new in her inbox. “Welcome to the station, Allison 3260. We hope you enjoy your life here. Please familiarise yourself with all the regulations for women on board. Onboarding credits have been paid to your account to help you settle in. Further messages will arrive over the coming days.” It had come from The Governor’s office.

Patryk searched the database for his old ID, his real ID. It wasn’t there. There was no Patryk 6112. Patryk was Allison now.

She was Allison 3260.

up
74 users have voted.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos! Click the "Thumbs Up!" button above to leave a Kudos

Comments

Allison

Columbine's picture

Enjoyed the concept. Cannot help feeling that subsequent chapters might be rather dystopian ... with women getting the raw deal that they often get, but time will tell.

Thanks Columbine. This occupied my thoughts

Thanks Columbine. Your comment has occupied my thoughts since I saw it.

I think you're on the right track, from what you've seen so far. There absolutely will be elements of a dystopia to this. Unlike the dystopias I've read in the past I don't think I'll take it in the direction of everything being unjust, or unreasonable. I certainly hope it won't be without thought. I think there will be a balance to this society, however much some think it's wrong. And I include readers in that along with the characters of the story. I don't even know myself. I don't know how much I want to push this in any one direction, completely and finally. I do know how this book ends.

I hope there will be reasons for what happens, however wrong I may be about them as an author. However wrong the space station is about them. It's not meant to be satire or parody. I'm not sure, not yet anyway, if it's even a comment on the world we live in now. It is a story, though.

Excellent start!

Emma Anne Tate's picture

I’ve been itching to read the start of your SciFi tale since I saw it pop up, but the past two days have been crazy! Great beginning, with lots of mystery and suspense. And, as always, first-rate writing!

Emma

Thank you!

Thanks Emma. I've not been too well the past few days, nothing life threatening, so with things maybe looking up a little there should be a part two soon. Maybe a little bit more understanding of what life is like on the station.