Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 4

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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.

Allison is a woman now, definitely legally, the court has ruled on that. And she’s been to see a woman’s doctor. An actually qualified, voter doctor, with all the education and training, who injected Allison with medication she could never have thought even existed; it’ll turn her into a woman. Or at least give her the physical appearance of a woman, within a few months. A second puberty. Then the doctor ‘prescribed’ Allison and her friend Angie a nice meal in a really lovely restaurant on the hospital level. This, according to Angie, is why everyone loves Doctor Grace.

The only other thing left on Allison’s agenda, which was written by Angie, is to get shoes. She can’t keep walking around barefoot and she can’t stand wearing boots in the lace-less female style; every time she stumbles from loose boots a man runs to her rescue. So shoes it is. And shoes are easy, right? There’s no surprises with shoes? Surely..?


Allison and Angie were almost all the way through their meals when Angie poured them both a last half glass of the red wine. Allison didn’t know if it was the food, or the wine, or simply being with Angie that stopped the dizziness. It could have just been the passing of time.

Whatever Doctor Grace had injected Allison with she knew it was working; the dizziness told her that, something the doctor did warn her about. What she was feeling wasn’t just medication though. She’d never felt like she did in that moment. She was simply happier, now that she was a woman. She was dressed as a woman, she was eating with her female friend with no man/woman weirdness between them, she’d been injected with something that would do a pretty damn good job of making her appear like a woman, legally she was a woman, but mostly it all just made sense. Or at least it felt that way.

How it made sense Allison didn’t quite understand.

“Do you want to cuddle?” Angie asked.

Allison’s mouth twisted as her thinking of why this all made sense was interrupted. “I think so. It’d be nice,” she said.

“With a man?” Angie asked.

“I’ve never thought about men like that, but now, yes, actually. I don’t know why. It’d be nice, I think. I guess if I’m a woman isn’t that what women do? There’s a lot of things I don’t know at the minute.”

Angie put her last slice of pizza back on her plate. “When you were you, before... Did a man ever ask you to help with something in their apartment?”

“Yeah, of course. Loads of times,” Allison said.

“Did you?”

“I said it’d be no problem. I’d be happy to apply for the permits to go into their apartment but they usually just said there was no rush, or it could wait. Why?”

Angie dabbed at her mouth with the cloth napkin. “Why did you give women beer?” Angie asked.

“It didn’t seem fair they couldn’t have it. And I like women.”

“Like now?”

“Yeah, but this is easier. I feel happier.” The conversation went quiet for a couple of minutes, Allison just thinking, Angie eating.

“Can I taste your pasta?” Angie asked, her pizza finished, with her unused fork already reaching towards Allison’s plate and twirling some of the remaining carbonara up. She rested the pasta laden fork on her own plate then ground far too much black pepper on top of it before stuffing it into her mouth. “This is fucking delicious!” She made noises of pleasure before reaching over towards Allison’s plate, again, so Allison lifted it, moved the vase with the flower out of the way and placed the remaining pasta and the plate in the centre of the table. “You won’t regret this.” Angie’s forked twisted up pasta again.

“No, I’m full. You might regret it, though,” Allison said.

“I mean what you’re doing. What you’ve done. Being a woman. There’s times you’ll hate it but in times like this, the good moments? You’re fucking thriving! It’s beautiful,” Angie said, mouth full.

Allison furrowed her brow to hold back what felt like the start of tears. She’d never really cried and didn’t feel like she would now, she just wanted to acknowledge the intensity of what she was going through with a physical action. “I...”

“I have never seen you like this. We’ve met up a few times and it was easy, a little strange, but mostly easy. Just reading your encyclopedia, and laughing. But this? I’ve never met a woman like you. And I don’t mean your particular situation, I mean what we’re doing.”

“We’re not just eating, really, are we?” Allison said.

“No!” Angie said, with excitement. “I’m not at all attracted to women. I’ve tried a few things with them and—”

“What!? Tried what with them?”

Angie laughed as she shovelled the last of Allison’s pasta into her mouth. When she finished chewing she looked at Allison as she swallowed. “Those men asking for help in their apartment? Well, they wanted to be with you like men and women are with each other, but with two men. And women do it with women too. And people do it in groups. And, and...”

“That’s illegal!”

“You gave me beer! That’s illegal!”

“That’s a stupid law!” Allison said.

“Yes, and so are lots of them. Men care about the beer thing because they feel it gives them power. Something just for them. You didn’t, for reasons that are obvious now. If there was someone else like you and the court didn’t approve, for whatever reason, how would you feel?”

“Yeah, OK...”

“This whole station is lies, and mysteries, and no-one understands why. We do our best figuring it out and just try to enjoy ourselves along the way. I don’t think anyone actually understands all of it. Not even the voters. It just goes on and on. And we all play along because mostly it’s worth it... I wish there was more pasta,” Angie said, staring at Allison’s plate as though she was about to drag her finger through the traces of sauce left over and stick it in her mouth.

“What now?” Allison asked.

“We get you shoes.”

“No, I mean in general. What now in general?”

“Yeah, we get you shoes. In general.”

Allison’s conn beeped with a sound she’d never heard before, as the watch on her wrist vibrated and beeped at the same time. “You should check that,” Angie said. “Voter message.”

“Voter message? I’ve never had—”

“Just check it!” Angie said, her stare boring holes through Allison.

Allison looked at her conn. There was a message from Doctor Grace. “You might not realise but you’re entitled to wear white. Now get out of the restaurant.”

Allison showed her conn, with the message, to Angie. “I don’t get it.”

Angie chuckled. “I guess that makes sense,” she said. “Have you had vaginal sex?”

“Yes,” Allison said. “Of course. Once, anyway.”

“With your own vagina?” Angie said, now laughing properly, and repeatedly, with snorts.

“I don’t have a va... NO! That’s not right. That’s not fair! I’m not wearing white!”

Angie shrugged and said, “Now I know what shoes to get you. You said there was quite a bit of denim in that blessing of an apartment you inherited? I’m going to make you look like such a twenty year old, and we’re going to get you white stockings. And you’re going to send the men wild! You said you wanted to try cuddling. Now, let’s go. Doctor’s orders.”

Angie stood as Allison reached for her boots, hoping her dizziness wouldn’t come back. Then Allison stood too, with Angie taking her hand again, and they began to make their way to the floor Angie said had a store with the exact pair of shoes Allison needed.

After a few minutes they were walking the promenade on the level Angie brought them to. It was a complete contrast to the hospital floor. The hospital floor decorated in a way Allison didn’t even know was possible.

The floor with the shoe store was a lot darker, typical of citizen floors, with lights flickering irregularly every so often. There was no art hanging up, just advertisements, and the air was somehow heavier. The carpet was worn, and stained, with Allison wearing no shoes, but she still felt it preferable to having men lunge to rescue her every time she stumbled in her boots with no laces.

Allison was holding Angie’s hand but there were still a few men who seemed like they were in two minds about approaching them. Allison knew someone eventually would, and after a minute someone did.

“Pedicure for a footjob,” the man said, straight out. He was well dressed but not particularly handsome, and he was wearing a cologne Allison sort of knew and remembered quite liking. She looked him up and down. Then thought thoughts she couldn’t really recognise.

“No!” Angie said, straight out. “Unless my friend has an interest.”

“I’m not talking to you,” the man said to Angie, sternly, and with a glare.

“We have plans,” Allison said, thoughts abandoning her.

“Manicure and pedicure, for both of you. And I watch. But I only want a footjob from you, beautiful. Your feet are perfect. I bet they’ve never had the pleasure of a cock like mine between them. Between the arches of your feet...”

“No!” Allison said.

“Fuck you. You’re showing me your toes. It's deliberate! You’re driving me crazy. I know women like you, and normally wouldn’t go for it but I fucking love your toes. They’re perfect. Just let me cum on them. Same deal for both of you. Pedicure and manicure for you and your friend, she’ll appreciate you, she doesn’t have to do anything and I cum on those delicious toes of yours. Then I watch to make sure you put your shoes on after without cleaning my seed off. Your toes in your shoes with me all over them. To remember me by. Final offer. Please!”

“Fuck you!” Angie said. “Fuck off, we’re not interested!”

“You two are cunts. Put some fucking shoes on if you’re not interested! Stupid bitches! Fucking hags. Your feet aren’t even that nice, you slut. I’d have finger-fucked for you for a few minutes if you asked nicely.”

Angie began to walk faster and so did Allison while the man seemed to slow down, the man calling out about letting Allison pick the colours as the two of them left him behind. Allison knew he was watching her walk away though, cursing her. “Are all men like that?” she asked.

“The fuckers are. Some women like it. The directness. They’re the sluts, which is fine for them. But no. Not all. We’ll find you a nice man. You might even find you a nice man yourself. Don’t assume... And if you think you might like to try things with a woman, as a woman, I know a few of those as well,” Angie said, half turned to Allison, face full of sympathy, or pity, maybe sorrow.

Allison took a breath, trying to collect her thoughts. “He wasn’t even weird, or creepy. It was just annoying. He was so fucking annoying! I hate him! Fuck him!”

“Yeah...” Angie said, with a tired sigh.

“Old me found those guys creepy. I knew them. I don’t know... I felt like I had to protect women, or intervene, that women were afraid, for some of them at least.. That guy was just a dick. It was easy to say no to him. To tell him fuck off.”

Angie squeezed Allison’s hand. “That’s why a lot of women liked you. You were really good at knowing when to tell a guy to get away from them. When it was really needed. A few even believed you’d smack the guy if he didn’t.”

“I didn’t know when to do it. I worried about when,” Allison said, squeezing Angie’s hand back, as they walked, unaware of more men prowling around them. “But I just did what was natural. I don’t think I ever felt like I had to get physical with someone. I don’t know if I actually would. That’s fuck-up-your-life stuff.”

“Fuck-up-your-life like what you’ve done today isn’t?” Angie said, laughing. “Really though, if a man is ever hurting you you know what to do?” Her tone changed from joking to gravely serious.

“Yeah. I guess. I know...” Allison said. “Tell him. Loudly. Repeatedly. I don’t know if I could. I mean, not with what I am. I’m not really—”

“If a man hurts you you tell them. It’s serious, really serious. I’ve never seen it. I know a few people who have and they don’t talk about it. Rules, or something. They say it’s not something you want to do lightly, but if he’s hurting you you tell him, loudly, and repeatedly. You’re a woman and no man should ever hurt a woman.” Angie paused. “I really don’t know. I’ve only had people talk about it after a few drinks, and when they’re upset. And no matter how drunk we get they don’t say more. But you do it if you have to! They say nothing bad has ever happened to a woman after.”

“I’ve never heard men talk about it,” Allison said. “Except saying you don’t hurt women. You just don’t...”

Angie and Allison walked for about thirty seconds in silence, in their thoughts, until a man stepped in front of them, stopping them.

The man wasn’t dressed very well, certainly not stylishly. They were new-ish but basic clothes. They weren’t stained but they were wrinkled, like he didn’t put them away after he got them from the laundry, just threw them in pile. His hair was a little messy, but was clean, and combed, recently washed, with water. He had no obvious muscles but still gave the impression of strength, in a kind of barrelled way, mostly, though, both Angie and Allison noticed that the skin of his they could see had stains or dirt on it. “Don’t assume,” Angie said, quietly.

“The floor is filthy,” the man said.

“And you noticed me walking without shoes on? You noticed my feet?” Allison said.

“So did they,” he said, pointing to some men hanging back a little in the slightly darker areas. Allison groaned. “I’m guessing your going to buy shoes? A lot of shoe stores on this level.” He nodded towards the boots Allison carried in her hand.

“Genius!” Angie said.

“I like feet, and shoes. And feet in shoes,” the man said, with a smile. “The floor is filthy, but there’s also some broken stuff on it, in some places. You could cut yourself.”

“And you’re offering to carry my friend!?” Angie said, laughing with bewilderment.

The man laughed too, like either his plan was obvious or he’d been figured out, and for some reason Allison laughed at his and Angie’s laugh. It was so ridiculous. And he was so upfront about it, without being weird. “Not carry, no. A piggyback?” he said. Allison thought he did have a sweet smile.

“What do you want in return?” Angie asked. Allison wondered if this was original because she’d certainly never heard of a guy trying something like this. She’d never heard of this ‘tactic’ when men talked.

“What store are you going to?” the man said, smiling but also serious, somehow. Angie squeezed Allison’s hand again. Allison thought she had some idea of what all these various squeezes could mean. “I mean is it close, or far? That might make a difference, though probably not. I’m a handler. I carry stuff all day. Hence the...” He rubbed one hand against one of the patches in his skin. “Almost like a tattoo, it’ll grow out in a few months. It won’t get you or your outfit dirty.” He smiled at Allison again and she noticed he was looking at her, not her feet, or her boots.

“Rowan’s...” Angie said

“I know Rowan. She’s nice. She does real leather too. Piggyback? I don’t want anything in return. You’ll be my excuse to go into her store and browse around, and imagine women wearing the shoes. It’ll keep me going during the work week. Is that OK?” Allison’s squinted slyly at him, thinking, as Angie squeezed her hand again.

He turned around and crouched so Allison could climb on his back. Allison looked at Angie who had the same kind of smile on her face as when the two of them were having lunch, her cheeks like baubles, and looking delighted. She shrugged and shook her head in defeat as she raised her eyebrows. It was obvious this was not a typical encounter for her. Then she nodded at Allison, encouraging her.

Allison sighed in acceptance, she was a woman she supposed, and the smile disappeared from her face as she spread her knees after moving closer behind the man’s back. “Tell me if I’m too heavy,” she said, nervously, looking at Angie, who was urging her to climb onto him.

“You won’t be,” the man said, as Allison placed herself on his back. “You secure?” Allison wrapped her arms around his shoulders and chest, avoiding hitting him with the boots in her hand, and he stood, as she gripped, as best she could, her knees into him. “My name is Robert.”

“My friend is Angie and my name is Allison,” Allison said, as she was looking at Angie. She was getting a piggyback from a man! Her legs, in stockings, were wrapped around a man! She was so close to him! She could feel him with her body, and she suddenly realised he could feel her. She didn’t know what they were doing but they were doing something.

“Pleased to meet you both,” Robert said. “And welcome to the Good Ship Robert, Allison. Off we go.” When he said ‘Off we go’ he gave a little hop then a small dart forward. Which is how the rest of the trip to Rowan’s store went. Sometimes he’d walk, and they’d chat, laughing, then at random moments he’d bounce and take off into a jumpy run. By the time they arrived to a store with a brightly illuminated ‘Rowan’s’ sign above it they were all in non-stop laughter, Angie barely holding back tears, Allison’s heart pounding with excitement.

“Our destination,” Robert said, as the glass doors opened back and they walked into a decently sized, warmly lit store, with cream tile flooring and shoe after shoe on illuminated displays on the walls. But there was more. There was all manner of female leather goods; purses, belts, leather bracelets and chokers, pouches, there were even displays of non-precious metal jewellery.

Robert backed up to one of the benches and crouched again to let Allison climb off; Allison who had a big smile on her face.

A woman wearing a green striped, cotton a-line dress, with bright red hair and obviously old enough to wear pantihose, considering she was working in a business, said, “That’s a first, Robert.” She was smiling, but also shaking her head in disbelief.

“I’m thinking of becoming a starship, Rowan. Inaugural test flight,” Robert said. “I’ll have to wait for passenger reports before adjustments are made.”

“Smoothest flight this passenger has ever been on,” Allison said. “Also the only flight, but I’d definitely recommend. Five out of five stars. I’ll tell anyone planning on travelling to the solar system.” She was still laughing.

“I have new shoes in, Robert. Feel free to look,” Rowan said, with Robert giving Allison another smile before disappearing around a wall inside the store. “Come on. I assume Miss Boots-in-her-Hands is the one shopping. Step up here.”

Allison stepped off the bench, pulling her skirt back down as she realised the entire promenade probably saw her panties. She just hoped the image kept them entertained that night, then she stood on the pad Rowan indicated, while Rowan held Allison’s arms to keep Allison still.

“What’s Robert’s deal?” Angie asked.

Still holding Allison in place Rowan looked at Angie and said, “He’s lovely. Doesn’t like bitches. He told you he likes shoes and feet?” Angie and Allison both nodded, then Rowan pursed her lips and shrugged. “That’s his deal. He’s good at it. And that’s all he wants, to find shoes for women and help them try them on. He’d do better than me at running this place, if he was allowed. Instead he brings the few women he connects with in here, sometimes other stores if he feels they’d suit her better. There’s nothing weird about him, that I know of. Except he’s shit in bed, apparently. Women get bored of him and the shoes aren’t enough.” She pulled Allison off the pad and looked down at the impression Allison’s feet had made, before dialling something into a manually controlled device she held in her hand. “Go ask the starship for help finding shoes. I think you owe him.”

“Does he need...” Allison pointed at what were obviously her shoe size measurements in Rowan’s hand.

“No. He knows these measurements naturally. He’s been looking at feet for years, then asking me if he’s correct. He always is,” Rowan said. They all heard footsteps then Rowan called out, “Robert, come help your friend find some shoes. It’s obvious she’s not a frequent purchaser of quality footwear and needs your expertise.”

Robert came around the corner, somehow carrying three stacks of boxes. “I went into the store room, picked some out for Allison. I apologise. I know I should ask before I go in there.”

“You’re excited, so we’ll overlook it. This time. Go on,” Rowan said.

Robert walked further into the main area of a store, with Angie and Allison following, to before the biggest wall of shoes then indicated for both of them to sit the bench. “I assumed you’re not too good in heels,” he said. Angie laughed and Allison cringed. “That’s fine, I’ve picked you out some shoes that’ll get you used to them.”

He began to open a few boxes and the shoes all either had a low heel, were in a wedge, or had a chunky heel. There were no flats, and no sandals without a heel. “Do I have to wear heels?” Allison asked.

“Yes!” Allison said, very quickly.

“No,” Robert said. “You’ll feel sexy in them, though. And they’ll make your ass look even better.”

“I noticed your hands were on it when you were carrying me,” Allison said.

“I didn’t want to drop you. Was that a problem?”

“No,” Allison said. “Not really.” When she thought of his hands on her she felt something. Sexual attraction but not being erect, not stimulation, more desire. Longing. A hunger, almost. She lifted and straightened her leg to let Robert slip the shoe on her foot, and as he did she really looked at him. He was a big guy and for some reason that pleased her.

As he was slipping the other shoe on her foot he said, “Your stockings are filthy from that floor, you’ll need new ones to put on before we buy you your shoes.”

“I know where Rowan has them,” Angie said. “You keep trying on shoes.”

As Angie left Allison stood, with a little help from Robert. It was different, but she felt she could manage. She took a few steps, then a few more. It wasn’t too bad. She wouldn’t be as confident as in boots but looking down at the shoes they were nice.

She walked back to Robert when a wave of dizziness hit her. She wavered in her step and put fingers to her forehead, the other arm out, reaching for something.

Robert rushed to her as she could just make out through blurry vision. Then she felt his arm around her shoulder and another taking her elbow. “Are you OK?” he asked.

“New medication,” Allison managed.

“Come sit down,” Robert said, leading her back to the bench.

They both sat and Allison was about to ask if he’d put his arm around her, to keep her steady, when she noticed his arm had never left. She leaned into him and he held her securely. Closing her eyes she thought Doctor Grace was correct. Being held made a difference.

Eventually Allison felt better, and like she could walk again. Whether she could walk in heels was a different matter, but she wanted to find out. “I’m OK, now. I’m certain,” she said to Robert. “We can go back to shoes, if you don’t mind.”

“Are you sure?” Robert asked, looking at her.

“Certain, and play with my feet while you do it.”

“As a ‘thank you’ or because you like it? I don’t want to trade anything. I’m enjoying everything as is. You don’t have to do anything for me.”

“I want you to. I don’t know if I’ll like it but I want to find out,” Allison said. “I think I like you, whatever I feel.”

So they got down to footwear, with Robert stroking her feet as Allison had shoes placed on them. And her standing and trying to strut around. And after thirty or so minutes of laughing and posing they both were sitting again.

“Which do you want?” Robert asked.

“I don’t know, I’ll have to ask Angie,” Allison said. “Where is she?”

“She’s here! And I found you a purse as well, which you need. You can’t keep carrying your conn, setting it down or having me hold it. Your stockings are in here too, enough for the week.”

Rowan was standing next to Angie. “Angie wants Allison to try on a shoe. You know the 21 line, black, wedge, closed toe, elasticated fabric—”

“You’re planning on wearing more denim?” Robert asked Allison.

“How did you know?”

“Those aren’t the shoes you want. I’ll get them but you don’t want them. Sorry, Angie.”

“No problem,” Angie said. “You seem to know shoes better than any woman I’ve met. Pick her something.”

Then he stood and left for the storeroom.

“The stockings are white, aren’t they?” Allison asked Angie.

“You’re a genius!” Angie said. “Telepathic! And go into the room back there and let Robert watch you put them on.”

“No!” Allison said. “No way!” Rowan was laughing. Angie simply smiled.

“You obviously like him. It’s plain to see. Give him a little thrill! It’s fun.”

Allison shook her head and changed the subject. “Is that the purse?” she asked. It was a brown leather satchel style, smaller and obviously a purse, with a shoulder strap. It held its shape but it was still soft. She thought it would look good with denim, and she was willing to bow to wisdom at this point, even if the wisdom was to dress her like a twenty year old. She couldn’t be bothered fighting anything. Well, almost anything. “I like it. I’ll get it.”

“And you won’t have to pay a single credit,” Angie said. Allison scowled at Angie and Rowan laughed again, walking away. Then Robert was back, carrying two boxes.

He knelt before Allison and opened the first box, which were the shoes Angie had picked out. Then he opened the second and took out another shoe. It was dappled black leather, at least Allison thought it was leather. The toe was rounded and the sole wasn’t quite a platform but it wasn’t thin. It had a block heel as high as anything she’d tried on. Most of the top of her foot would be exposed down to just before where her toes began. Allison thought they’d look amazing with the white of white stockings. On her legs, on her feet.

“Oh wow!” Allison said, standing. “Those are the ones I want!”

“You’ll definitely stumble, and might trip, wearing those. They’re beautiful but you’re the one who doesn’t want men rescuing her.”

“Give me my purse, with my fresh stockings,” Allison said, grabbing her purse from Angie and standing. “I’ve learned not all men are bad.” She also grabbed Robert. “I need you to tell me if I snag my stockings after I put them on. If you don’t mind!” Then she lead him towards the room Angie had pointed to.

In there, with Robert sitting on the sofa, holding the box of what Allison hoped would be her new shoes, as the door clicked shut behind her Allison realised who she was. “I need to be honest,” she said, feeling sick.

“I don’t expect anything. Really,” Robert said.

“I’m not quite who I say I am.”

“You’re imitating?” Robert said, smiling.

“Technically, no. I mean legally definitely not.” She held the hem of her skirt and forced herself to lift it. To show the bulge in her panties from her penis. “If you hit me I won’t scream. I promise. I’m sorry. I am,” she said, as she knew Robert could see her dick through the lace of her panties. But Robert was already standing, right on top of her. He grabbed her and before Allison knew it he was kissing her, deeply.

“Am I your first kiss?” he asked, as Alison felt the absence of his tongue in her mouth, wishing she didn’t.

“Yes, and I want another one.”


“Are you playing with me? Are you trying to make me desperate and get on my knees?” Alison said, then her brow furrowed, this time not from emotion. “Because I will. And I’ll enjoy it. And so will you.”

“I know we would, and I think you want to. The whole station is talking about this mysterious Allison and the rumours are multiplying so fast I can’t keep up with them. But you don’t need to be fast. Take your time. If you want to do this again tomorrow message me.”

“You’re not playing with me?” Alison thought for a second. “You’re not angry with me?”

“Angry with a woman who let me pick out shoes for her, stroke her feet, is about to let me her buy the shoes she loves along with stockings and a purse. And who just told me I’m the first man she kissed? And she’s not an idiot twenty year old!” He laughed. “No! I’m not angry. This is my perfect day. You let me give you a piggyback!! You’re amazing!”

Allison’s face turned plain. After a moment she said, “Thank you. I didn’t realise how much I needed this. And you. Do you want my boots?”

“Your boots?” Robert asked, sitting down again.

“No, that’s stupid. They probably smell wrong. They’re boots from when I was—”

“Yes. I want your boots! I’m buying a stand to put them on and won’t get rid of them unless I somehow end up married and my wife forces me to throw them away. And even then I’ll put them in storage. Yes, I want your fucking boots!” And he was standing again. Kissing Allison again.

With her eyes closed, feeling the absence of tongue for a second time, Allison said, “This is my perfect day, too. I think. Certainly the best day of my life.”

“Do you want to sit down for a bit?” Robert asked, a look of wonder on his face.

“If I sit, I’ll melt,” Allison admitted, remembering her skirt was still flipped up by her waist, so she forced herself to get on with it. This is who she was.

She unhooked her garters from her stockings, and while Robert watched she put on her white stockings. The sign of her virginity. The sign she hadn’t tried to become a mother, or so men believed. Soon she was ready for her new shoes.

Then she was walking back into the store, having kissed her first man, and holding his hand.

Her blood ran cold. Adam was standing at the front of the store.

Her grip tightened on Robert’s hand, then she turned to him. “Sorry. I need to talk to the man who reported me.”

“I’ll pay for all these,” Robert said.

Allison took her conn from Angie, who was standing looking at Adam, and they both walked to him.

“How did you find me?” Allison asked.

“You know men can track a woman if her ID is in his conn, once they enter a public place.”

Allison shook her head, ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, but she knew Adam had seen it. “I also know unless the woman justifies it you are in serious trouble. And that security are even less willing to justify it. You already have a caution today! Why are you being so stupid!? You left me!”

“Please, just listen to me. I’ll be honest. Completely honest with you.”

“I was honest with you!” Allison said, trying to control her voice but she knew she was raising it. She took a breath. “I didn’t know why I was like that, I still don’t know, but I was being honest with you. This is me. Really me. Not just because the court agrees. And I don’t blame you for reporting me, I blame you for leaving me!”

“I know this is you. I know.” Adam nodded, almost to himself, as if seeking courage. “I walked around for a while, after I left you—I’m sorry—I got a call from someone who said they were a citizen representative. I didn’t know what that meant. Apparently when the court is looking to punish a citizen they have someone argue their case. He said my case was the easiest he ever had...”

Adam looked at Allison but Allison simply kept listening. “He said I was correct to report you, based on what I knew. What everyone knows, or believes they know. He said court decisions aren’t all the court records. He said in my notes, about the report, he wanted it written that I was shocked but I was a good friend to you, Allison. He wanted to note my character is that I would continue to be a good friend, once I got over the shock.”

“So you came to watch me?” Allison asked.

“He said the longer I left it the harder it would be to face you. And that was pretty much that. I kept walking for a bit, and thinking, and I knew he was right. I don’t know what’s happening but I don’t think you do either. You looked to me for help. I didn't. That was wrong. So I decided to track you, and you didn’t turn up for an age. I was getting worried about you. I even went to where you’re squatting. The second you popped up in my tracker on this floor I came as quickly as I could. I was really worried about you.”

Allison began to feel tears in her eyes. Actual, real tears. “You were always my friend, and it seems you were always really Allison. Even when you were someone slightly strange who was friends with women. So why can’t I be a friend to a woman? To you?”

“I don’t know if I’m—”

“And you are a woman. I saw you getting a ride on a man’s back. I saw you trying on shoes, and having fun. I was watching from the middle of the promenade through the doors. I saw you go into a room with a man. Who else could you be doing all that but my female friend Allison. If you’ll still be my friend.” Adam squared his shoulders, setting his hands straight by his sides. Waiting.

Tears were rolling down Allison’s cheeks. “Send your tracker to my conn,” she said, sniffing.

Adam took his black conn from his pocket while Allison held her rainbow one in front of her. The tracking justification was sent to hers. She pressed the confirmation to justify it.

“Thank you,” Adam said.

“I’m sorry, Adam,” Allison said. “I know it was a shock. I couldn’t have expected anything else. I’m sorry too. I’m so sorry I worried you!”

Allison’s conn made an extremely loud, continuous screeching. “What the fuck is that?” Allison roared, smacking a fist against her side, about ready to sit on the floor from exhaustion.

“Private call,” Rowan said.

“Private call? What’s that? From who? Fucking fuck!” Allison nigh on screamed.

“Look at the ID. Don’t ignore it. You hold your conn to your ear to hear.” She showed Allison the general idea with her own rainbow conn. “You can go into the room you just came from for privacy! Go!”

Alison turned around and took a step towards the room she’d kissed Robert in while looking at the ID. It said ‘One.’ The man who started all this.

Her steps quickened.

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