Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 5

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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 now has two men in her life, sort of. She enjoyed some time with Robert, the foot freak who’s less freak and more friend. A new friend and also her first real kiss. And Adam, her friend from when she was Patryk—which was just that morning—has apologised to her, for leaving her all alone: at least until Angie sought her out and took her to the woman's doctor. He said it was shock, and she can understand that. She’s literally never heard of someone like her before. She’s a bit shocked too.

Everything was getting back on track, settling in, when One, the mysterious man who set her on this path, a satisfying if eventful one, called her, just after she and Adam reconciled. And it’s a private call? Which caused her conn to scream with noise. She has no choice but to answer. But what does he want? What more can he unleash on the very new woman, Allison?


Allison’s cheeks puffed out with air then she blew an exhalation through her lips. The door closed behind her as her conn continued to screech. She had to answer, even just to shut it up. This was One, the man—whoever he was—who started her down her path to womanhood; legally, medically, and in her own mind, earlier that day.

She pressed the accept button, held her conn to her ear and closed her eyes tight. “Yes?” she said.

“How are we doing?” One asked, bright and cheerful.

“What?” Allison said, stunned, shaking her head with her eyes still closed. “How are we doing?!”

“Are you sitting down? Is there a seat nearby? Take a load off, fill me in on what you’ve been up to!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Allison asked, eyes now wide.

“Come on, I want all the gossip,” One said. “Sit down, rest your feet, fill me in.”

Allison rubbed her forehead with her free hand. “What is happening? What is—”

“I don’t know!” One said, excitedly. “Sit down! Tell me what’s happening! I might be able to help. All the details. I’m doing nothing right now. Tell me about your day!”

Allison rubbed her hand even harder against her forehead then threw her arm to the air before looking for the couch. She sat herself down and forced herself to sit back into the seat. To try to relax. “Well... I guess I’m a woman now...” Allison said.

“Are you happy with it?” One asked.

“Yes!!” Allison said, annoyed.

“Good! I knew you would be. Those brown smokes are heavy and you had one of the best reactions I’ve ever dealt with. You were a pleasure to deal with. I enjoyed myself.”

“How did you do it? How am I a woman?”

“I thought you’d tell me,” One said, no longer really telling her something he was certain of.

“I mean the first message, from The Governor’s Office, welcoming me to the station. I’ve never seen anyone hack like that. An entirely new, official ID. And the court? Did they believe it?”

One laughed. “Hack? Not at all. I have a friend in the office. Nice woman, she has trouble sleeping, well, trouble getting good sleep, or waking up properly, no-one is certain on what it exactly is, and I help her with that. She said if I ever needed help with anything just let her know. It was easy, I just said I found a mistake with an ID. It wasn’t a big deal. Then the court saw sense when they looked at you, I assume.”

“Not a big deal? You called in a favour, just like that?”

“No. No favour. Friends help each other. I was helping her, really, and the station. I found a mistake. How are your friends, Allison? I presume you’ve told a few people, or they contacted you?”

“They’re good with me, I suppose,” Allison said, cautiously. “At least now, I think. They’re with me. Well... Outside the door.”

“OK, that’s nice to hear. Everyone’s over the shock.” Allison nodded to herself wondering if she was over the shock with Adam. “I’ve left something in your apartment for you. I need you to get to work. It’s a backpack. Filled with tins of those rollies, basic supplies. There’s two tins with the name Des on them. One is for you, the other is for him. Just go to his apartment, his location is on your conn now. Deliver the rollies, he’ll probably want to chat for a while, smoke with him. Enjoy it, nothing to worry about. If you go in the next ninety minutes you should have your evening to yourself and your friends. How many friends are there with you?”

Allison looked towards the door as if she could see through it. “Two? Three?”

“Those are different numbers, Allison.”

“Two old friends. One new friend. I kissed him,” she said, the final words ones she couldn’t keep inside herself.

“Oh, yes! Come on!! That’s the best bit of gossip I’ve heard all day. First kiss? Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah, my first... And yeah...” Allison said, feeling warmer, smiling, then forcing herself to stop. She didn’t even really know who One was.

“OK, bring your two old friends with you to your apartment. If they’re the first with you now they’re the ones you can talk to about your new job. Please try not to talk to other people about it. Or smoke what I say you can smoke outside the three of you. Yes, the three of you can smoke among yourselves, we don’t want you getting isolated again. And smoke with the clients what I say is for your clients. Only smoke in your apartment, or where voters tell you you can. Those are rules. If you slip up and tell other people about your job just ignore it after letting me know. People make mistakes, it’s not the end of the station.”

Allison wasn’t feeling drunk before, but somehow, now, she felt more sober than her previous quite sober feeling. “Is this illegal?” Allison asked.

“No. There’s a message on your conn from The Governor’s Office approving all this. Not even from me talking to a friend, it’s an official job, just not a common one. You’ll have the accesses you need as you need them. It’s all above board, we just don’t talk about it unless it’s necessary, either with citizens or voters. You happy?”

“About what?” Allison asked.

“You’re a woman, does that make you happy?”


“You’re working a new job, how about that?”

“I suppose,” Allison said.

“You kissed a man, does that make you happy?” One asked, and Allison could hear the smile he was wearing.

“You really are a fucking gossip aren’t you, One?”

“The best at it!” He laughed a big roaring belly laugh, then turned serious again. “Anything you’re not happy about?”

“My phone was screaming at me when you called me, can you stop that? Or stop calling me? Send a fucking message!” Allison said, somehow hearing a distant scream in her mind.

One laughed again, and Allison knew he really did thrive on this stuff. He was far more familiar and open than a few hours ago. A few hours ago when it was all serious business. “Talk to Des about that. He’ll fix it. He’s a smart man. Now go on, explain all this to your friends after saying goodbye to your boyfriend. Enjoy yourself, it’s a fun job. Tough at times but rewarding.”

Allison paused for a moment then said, “OK,” at which point One ended the call, and it was only then Allison realised she wanted to point out Robert wasn’t her fucking boyfriend!

Allison forced herself to calm down. It wasn’t a big deal. He was just being a bitch; an annoying bitch who was trying to poke at her. He wanted to rile her up and get her feisty, and then he’d laugh. Then she realised she’d never thought of a man as a bitch before, but she’d definitely heard women referring to men as just such a thing.

Without even realising she found herself looking at her conn, and the message from The Governor’s Office. Not even a message, an official communication like her earlier one, with the security approval. It basically said anything she did for One, or within the spirit of One’s instructions was entirely above board. She shook her head. She’d never heard of ‘the spirit’ of something being considered. Something either was or wasn’t. That was what the court was for. But it was official, almost certainly. No-one had ever hacked this system, as far as she knew. But then she hadn’t been a woman yesterday, and didn’t even think it possible.

Allison chased the doubt from her mind and walked back out to her gang, after two steps remembering she really did not know how to wear heels. She didn’t really care though. She’d manage and they looked amazing.

“Thanks, Robert,” Allison said. “I have to go. I’ll message you tomorrow... If you want my ID?” She smiled, holding out her conn, feeling small, and feeling something else but she wasn’t quite sure what that feeling was.

Robert smiled back and handed her her purse, then they confirmed the ID exchange. “I’m looking forward to it. I had an amazing time with you. We can just go for a walk. I’ll buy you lunch and if you’re up to it we’ll try you on stairs.”

Allison smiled again and put her conn in her purse, slinging it over her shoulder; her first purse. She reached out and touched Robert’s hand before clumsily turning and taking a few steps towards Angie and Adam. “You two need to come with me,” she said with a low voice. “I have to fill you in on some things that happened.”

Angie and Adam exchanged a look as Allison walked through the store’s doors, calling out as she did her thanks to Rowan, who smiled warmly at her and waved.

Allison walked on and Angie and Adam caught up. “Take her arm, you idiot,” Angie said.

Adam put his arm through Allison’s and she felt a little more stable. “Thanks,” she said. And she didn’t say any more, simply led them to the elevators, and when she asked for the floor Angie and Adam looked confused, but still didn’t say anything. Then she led them to her apartment, swiping her way in.

“This is new,” Adam said.

“What isn’t?” Allison said. She walked to the delivery room near the hallway side of the apartment. Swiping in to that, larger than normal, she found a couple more chairs, comfortable ones, and a backpack. It was made of canvas and in a rainbow pattern, like her conn. She picked it up and went back into the living room. “There’s some extra chairs in there, Adam. I can’t really carry them in these shoes. Could you bring them in?”

Then they were all sitting down, Allison and Angie on the blue two-person couch, Adam in one of the armchairs, the low table in the middle. Allison explained everything she knew. “I don’t know anything other than that...” she finally said, finishing up.

“I don’t even know what to say about this,” Angie said.

“Yeah, your point about this station being mysteries and lies seems real now,” Allison said. “Really real.” Her conn beeped, a normal-message beep. “Please let this be boring. Please just let it be some guy I knew asking me ‘What the fuck is up with the Allison shit?’”

She read through the message, then, with Angie and Adam watching her, tapped some confirmations into her conn. Both their conns beeped too, a slightly different beep, that none of them had heard before.

“What’s this?” Angie asked.

“A group chat? I think?” Allison said. “One messaged me to say I should set you up with it, if all three of us need to talk. I don’t know why we wouldn’t just meet up in that case. He thinks it’s necessary.”

Angie and Allison’s conns beeped again. “Yeah, I got it,” Allison said.

“Thanks for saying, ‘Hello,’ Adam. In the ‘Group Chat’ is it, Allison?” Angie said, looking up from her conn. Allison nodded confirmation.

“This is weird. All of this is so weird,” Adam said. “I don’t know if I want to smoke any of that stuff with you if this is the result. What if I turn into a plant?” They all laughed, and Allison felt some relief for the first time since she left Rowan’s shoe store.

“Well, I have to see my voter. Get my ‘job’ done. We can meet up again later, if our brains haven’t melted, and if I have any more answers I’ll tell you,” Allison said. She stood, and slung the backpack onto her back.

“Can I stay and look at your clothes?” Angie asked.

“Will we be able to get off this level?” Adam asked. “Without Allison, I mean. This is a secure level, and we didn’t break in, so we might not be able to break out.”

Allison took the backpack off again, sat down and laid it on her lap, then messaged One on the channel she received his message about the group chat on. “I’ll find out. And I should probably...” She began to look into the backpack, which unzipped all the way to the bottom on both sides. Inside were divisions containing tin after, in different sizes. And lighters in a section at the top. The tins with Des’s name on them were in the uppermost vertical level.

Closing up the backpack she received another message. “One says you two can access this level freely and I can grant and remove entrance to my apartment as I please, no approval from security needed. And I have access to a quite a few apartments on this level. Said I’m free to scavenge them for anything I need.”

Adam took a deep breath through his nose. “If you survive this ‘job’ with the Des guy I want to see that message from The Governor’s Office. This is insanity.”

“Yeah, of course. I’ll message both of you when I’m done,” Allison said.

“You can message the group chat,” Angie said, with a scoff.

“Yeah, of course,” Allison said. “And stay as long as you like. If you find any clothes that fit or shoes that fit feel free try to try them on and take them, Angie. The same for you, Adam.”

They all laughed, all feeling like they needed a drink. “I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point,” Adam said. “Not a fucking thing!”

Then Allison was getting out of an elevator, not even thirty metres from Des’s apartment.

The voters' hallway was nicer than citizens' hallway. Not as nice as the hospital level, just more plush. It was still low-ish lighting but it was details like the lights not flickering, it being cleaner and the carpet seeming thicker. The air almost seemed perfumed as well, as though there was a just perceptible scent to it.

She stood outside the apartment that was supposed to be Des’s, according to her conn, and drew a deep breath. Then she waited. And kept waiting. She’d literally never been on a voter’s level let alone in one of their apartments. She assumed it was the same swipe to announce herself but this was, well, immense. She couldn’t believe where her day had taken her, and as she thought that her wrist reached out and swiped.

After a twenty or so seconds the door opened. A man in his sixties, with bare feet and an old pair of worn, comfortable denim jeans along with a plain turquoise t-shirt stood there. “Come in, Allison,” he said. “How’s One?”

This was obviously more normal to him than it was to her, and if it wasn’t he certainly wasn’t showing it. Allison realised her teeth were clenched and relaxed her jaw, and when the pressure eased after a few seconds she spoke the truth. “I really don’t know how he is, apart from having fun. He was laughing about me kissing a boy.”

The man laughed at hearing about One’s laughing, she hoped, and suddenly everything seemed fine. “He’s doing well then. Now, please, come in! I am Des, by the way. You did find the right apartment.” Allison looked around, it was a normal apartment. A little fancier than the few fancier citizen’s apartments she’d been in, but not ridiculously so. There was art on the wall, real art, again. The carpet would fit in a citizen’s apartment, so would the furniture. The walls were painted dark like almost all citizens’ apartments. There was maybe a little more furniture, but she could imagine an older citizen having an apartment like this, if they saved their credits and wanted it. “Do you want a drink?”

“Sure,” Allison said. “Thanks.” Des led her out through an archway. The room inside it was what appeared to be a kitchen. “This is a—”

“Yeah, voters can have kitchens if they want. Some do, some don’t. Most don’t, unless they have a family, or are little older. My friends are all extremely busy so I rarely go out for dinner, I don’t want to sit on my own eating. That’s a ‘me’ issue. Will you have a beer? I don’t think you’d have seen one like this. I’m guessing you’re open to new things given you’re working for One.”

Allison thought about it, she didn’t really do much, ever, before today, but new things were turning out great. “Yeah, I’d love to.”

Des began to pour what looked like a brownish, ruby beer into a glass, not filling it before setting it down, then he poured another one. “This isn’t normal for voters, I had to work very hard to get my own beer tap in here. Lots of favours. And stupid, stupid paperwork. It was ridiculous.” Then he took a bottle of what appeared to be whiskey off a shelf, along with two shot glasses. After pouring them he handed a whiskey to Allison, they clinked glasses and knocked them back. “Get the heart racing!”

“It sure did,” Allison said. It was awful whiskey. Not that it tasted bad, it just seemed stronger than usual, more powerful.

“How was your heart before that? Pounding? Nervous?”

Allison rolled her head on her neck, still feeling the whiskey. “No. I was outside your door. I stood there for a bit, building courage. But as soon as I saw you it was fine.” Allison blinked, thinking the last of the whiskey burn was just about going away. “Well, when I told you I kissed a boy. And you laughed. I can’t believe I’m calling him a boy! What’s wrong with me?”

“Oh, fuck! I didn’t think we’d be back on the whiskey before we’d begun to smoke. You’re one of the best runners I’ve had in ages,” Des said, laughing again, as he poured more beer into the glasses with the beer already in there that had now turned black.

They were sitting down within a few moments, Allison with her beer before her, along with a new tumbler of whiskey, the same for Des, and a new bottle of whiskey between the two of them, Allison’s bag of tobacco tins next to her. “Do you want your smokes?” Allison asked.

“No, it can wait. What do you think of the beer?”

“It’s nice, totally different. I don’t know if I could drink it all night. I can’t quite describe what it is but I like it. I wouldn’t even know it was beer if I just saw it.”

Des nodded. “Yeah, it went out of style with citizens years back. Few people remember it. Occasionally a bar with older men will request a few barrels and get approval. They enjoy it, then go back to what you have now. The current one you have available is a stayer, always has been. Now, this boy thing?”

Allison groaned. “I forgot about it, again. It’s going to haunt me forever. Supposedly voters do it, often? To citizens at least. Citizens just don’t say it.”

“Either you’re growing up,” Des said. “Or maybe you’re thinking all sweet and innocent, cute child things.”

“I’m an adult!” Allison protested. She’d turned twenty over four years ago.

“That’s why voters say it to citizens. They want to feel more mature and enlightened,” Des said, taking a drink from the whiskey glass, then from the beer glass, then another smaller sip of whiskey. Then he rolled his eyes, seemingly annoyed.

Allison laughed. “You don’t seem impressed,” she said, with a smile.

“Voters made me fill out paperwork just to get this beer. And it’s every time! I rarely even go through the entire keg before it’s gone sour. Voters are awfully officious people. I’ll take my tin now, if you don’t mind. They’re annoying me, thinking of them.” Allison unzipped her backpack and took our her and Des’s tin, the two with his name on them, handing one of them and a lighter to him.

He opened his tin and took two of the rollies out, offering one to her. “I think I’m supposed to smoke my own,” Allison said.

“I insist, and you’ll offend me if you don’t take it,” he said. Allison nodded, took it and lit it, drawing and inhaling. When she looked up he’d done the same. This time there was actually smoke from it, unlike earlier in the day. “What do you think?” He opened a drawer in the table and pulled out an ashtray, and placed it in the centre of the table.

“That I’m only supposed to smoke in places voters tell me it’s OK to smoke in, and I didn’t check. I don’t know if I lit first or you.”

“I don’t either, does it bother you, though?”

Allison took another drag and watched as she exhaled the smoke. “You know the rare times they turn the cold on? Really cold?” Des nodded, smoking. “It feels like when they approve a floor for fires and fireplaces. And you finally get let in. You try to find a quiet bar with a big fireplace, where there’s peace, and you curl up in an armchair next to the fire drinking a mulled drink and everything is pure comfort. So, yeah, no. That’s how I feel, after this smoke. Lighting it up without checking isn’t important. I don’t think anyone would mind me smoking here even if I’m not supposed to. If I stopped as soon as I remember.”

“Not even the court? If they found out? Smoke is serious. Voters are only allowed smoke in designated places and most citizens have never even seen tobacco.”

Allison rubbed the side of her face and turned her head to the side, as if to get some distance on things. “No. I don’t think it’d matter. I’ve been somehow approved to do this. Along with, well, being me. I don’t think they’d really mind. If they’re in charge of the law they’re not stupid. I’ll be sure to check in the future, I hope.”

Des exhaled some smoke he’d been holding in. “What’s your opinion on One?”

Allison got serious. “He’s an idiot, and sort of quite lovely, and annoying. But mostly a giant gossip!” She’d changed to pissed off, then amused as her sentence went on. She’d even put faux outrage in her words, by the end.

A cackle broke out of Des’s mouth. “You’ve read him perfectly. Except I’ve never found him annoying, what did he do? You’re not annoyed about your new life?” Des asked, looking curious, even concerned.

“When he did some private call thing my conn began to absolutely scream. I nearly threw it at a wall. My day hadn’t exactly been relaxing. Although he did say you could sort it out, now that I think of it.”

He mumbled something into his watch and the most ridiculous music Allison had ever heard in her life began to fill the room. She burst out laughing at the stupidity. “It’s perfect, isn’t it?” Des said.

“It’s horrific, but brilliant. What the fuck is it?” Allison said.

“If you want it to play whenever he calls, no matter the kind of call, sync your conn.”

Allison took her conn from her purse while Des took his from the table, and they both confirmed the sync, with Des fiddling with authorisations. After about a minute the sync ended. “I can’t wait for it to play, especially in public,” Allison said, laughing again remembering whatever it was the music was.

“Give it a minute,” Des said, holding his fingers to his lips to quieten her.

After Allison sat for a bit, wondering what the hell was happening, then hoping she wouldn’t regret it when what she figured what was about to happen did happen, then her conn did erupt into the hilarity Des had programmed it with. They both sat listening and laughing for a few seconds. “Public answer, please?” he said, through laughter. Allison hit the button.

“What’s wrong?” One asked. “Des? Allison? What’s happened? Is Des with you, Allison? Did you leave? Where are you?” Des’s laughter, an outbreak of belly laughs was so uproarious Allison couldn’t control her own laughter, despite One technically being her boss. “Are you two fucking with me?”

“She has you figured out, One. She’s amazing!”

“What are you two goons laughing at?”

“She called you an idiot and a gossip,” Des said, still laughing.

“I am an idiot and a gossip, you are too, Des. What the fuck are you laughing at though? How much has he had to drink, Allison?”

Des waved his hand at Allison to tell her to stay quiet, it was obviously two old friends having fun annoying each other. Or one old friend riling up the other old friend. “Remember the bar, during my stupid phase?”

“Yes...” One said.

“Remember the song I used to play? When some guy was unsuccessfully chasing a woman all over the station and ended up chasing her around our bar?”

“Fuck off!”

“It’s her call for you now. The one from the invention of the computer days. Pure technological revolution. Mayhem. Madness. Societal upheaval. Humanity almost wiped itself out and the amazing idiots were somehow still finding fun.”

Des laughed down the conn. “When you put it that way it sounds like a compliment. And you two seem to be having fun. I can’t believe that song survived thousands and thousands of years. Then you were the person to find it. And now it’s going to play whenever I call Allison!”

“It’s perfect for you, One,” Allison said.

“I’m going to hang up, then think twice every time I want to talk to you!” One said.

Both her and Des said goodbye as One hung up. Then Des’s watch chimed. “Ooh, delivery,” he said, standing, with a bit of a wobble.

Allison watched him walk to his delivery room and come out holding what looked like a sheet of paper. He took a quick look at the cover, reading something over, then glanced at the other three pages. It was really just one large sheet folded over, with type on it. “What’s that?” Allison asked.

“You’re front page news,” Des said.

“What? News? Don’t people just talk? And why me?”

Des shook his head. “People wouldn’t know what to talk about if they weren’t told. Certainly not voters. Like I said, or implied, they’re usually idiots. Anyway, look...” he said, handing Allison the news-sheet.

On the cover, in big print were the words Allison Zero. She read through the article, unsure of the language used. She understood it but didn’t see the point of it, it was like a drunk person trying to make a boring story interesting, but it was her story. It was what happened to her today. It was already interesting, at least to her.

It wasn’t all the details, they couldn’t know them all, but they knew she was a man, although they put that down to an administrative error in a ‘shocking failure of care for a child!’ They knew she’d been to a hospital floor to see a woman’s doctor, they knew about her being reported to the court, of course, and there was praise for the court’s ‘wisdom.’ And there apparently was a book about what she and Robert got up to in the private room in Rowan’s shoe store.

“There’s a book about me?” Allison asked. “Like, one of those old-style made up things?”

“You should ask a female friend about books, but this isn’t that type of book. It’s gambling. People are taking bets on what you and your new boyfriend got up to.”

“He’s not my boyfriend!”

“I know you kissed though. I could make a killing on it. Once someone finds out, words from you, or Robert—that was his name—in public and someone hears you they’ll pay out. It’ll probably be a security report, telling the bookmakers, or the newspaper. And yeah, voters like to gamble. I’ll say it again, they’re morons, they’re always losers in the long term, but if they’re having fun, I suppose...”

Allison went digging in her tin for one of the rollies, really feeling like she needed the cosy, warm fireplace feeling, right that instant. As she took the first drag it helped, but not enough. “You mean voters are watching us, all of us? All the citizens? And talking about what we get up to!?”

Des nodded. “They have very little going on in their lives and are dull and miserable, mostly. Well... Not miserable. I find them miserable because they’re dull. No life to them. Work, work, work. You’d hate it. Most citizens would.”

“We’re amusement for them? We’re toys? You need to start explaining things!”

Des’s expression didn’t change, not hugely, maybe became a little more accepting and a little less amused. “It’s about balance,” he said. “What was the last major breakthrough in our history?”

“The jump drive,” Allison said, it was obvious, everyone knew that.

“And how long ago was that?”

“A long, long time ago,” Allison said. Something else everyone knew.

“Yeah. Everything’s found a balance since then. We’ve had time to adapt. We have no real needs apart from to continue to grow. Humanity just keeps growing, and nothing is stopping us. We have no threats. There’s no-one else in the universe, as far as we know. We just exist to exist. And people are mostly content. Citizens mostly content in their way, voters in their own.” Des was saying all this as if it was a matter of simple fact.

“I can’t buy my own drinks any more. I can’t eat the meals I want, where I want. And it’s not just women! Rowan, today, said Robert would be better at running her shoe store than she is, if he was allowed to. Men, citizens at least, can’t work in female stores! Most men don’t ever get enough credits to run a business! How are people ‘content’ with that?”

Des shrugged, not seeming too disturbed by anything Allison had said. “I don’t know. They are though. Over the course of history we’ve gone from the strictest of rules for everyone to the loosest of rules, and everywhere in between. What we have now works for now, for here, for where we are. Do you think men should be allowed work in women’s stores?”

“Why not!?” Allison said, indignant.

“Do you think women should be allowed buy their own drinks, and meals, and own businesses before they’re forty?”

“Yes!” Allison said, not putting any thought into what she was saying, simply reacting on pure instinct, still all indignance.

“Then make it happen,” Des said, as if it was the easiest thing in the world. “You decided you were a woman today, accepted it, perhaps, and now you are. Do you think other changes aren’t possible, if they’re needed, or wanted? We all want people to be happy. And for society to grow, at least in a balanced way. It does happen. Like I said, ask a female friend about books, fiction, to be precise.”

Allison was shaking her head in utter disbelief. “No! The law is the law. And voters decide the law. I’m not a voter. And unless I have two babies who make it into the program I will never be a voter. And given my current circumstances I won’t be having fucking babies!”

“I’ve never voted in my life,” Des said, still seeming unperturbed by what he was talking about. By what he was saying. “Voting doesn’t change things. Laws don’t enforce things. People change things. People enforce things. You said the last great breakthrough was the jump drive. I’m not sure if we ever get one as big as that again. All the changes since have been slow, incremental. Maybe the next real breakthrough is people?”

Allison didn’t realise it but she’d smoked all her rollie, and it hadn’t really helped with making her feel comfortable. She was agitated. And she wanted to message everyone, literally everyone she knew, and call them all fucks.

“When you leave here how many friends will you be meeting up with?” Des asked.

“Two,” Allison said, frowning.

“Tell them to meet you in a bar on C36, Jenny’s, as soon as they can make it. And give me a minute,” Des said, standing, then he walked to the kitchen.

Allison messaged the location to the group chat, floor C36—an old floor—and the name of the bar, saying she was pissed off and wanted to spill the beans on the asshole she met. She got a confirmation back from Angie that they’d be leaving for there in the next few minutes just as Des was walking back in.

Des carried two six packs of beer in big black bottles. “Give one of these to Jenny. She’ll be there, guaranteed. And she’ll recognise them. Talk to her if you want. She might be more help than me at the moment. Tell your friends as little or as much as you want. Try not to spread our conversations further than that unless you’ve considered things and thought on them a while. Whatever you do you know now there’s nothing really wrong anyone can do. Maybe there’ll be a small punishment, or a warning. Or maybe things will change? For good reason, maybe for bad. Who knows? If things change we’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah...” Allison said, standing, with her stuff all packed up and carrying the six packs.

“And Allison?” Des said. Allison looked at him. “I enjoyed this. Sit with it for a while. Talk to your friends, talk to Jenny, talk to One. Talk to people you believe in, and sometimes listen to people you don’t. People are all we have in this universe.”

Allison nodded, laden down by gear, and was soon stepping into the elevator taking her away from her first proper encounter with a voter. Where they really did just talk, like people. A different kind, but that’s all it was, wasn’t it? Just talking?

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Allison Zero shows its shape

It's taken a while to get there, to show what I wanted to with Allison Zero. The first two parts were shorter, and the next few were getting a little longer but not too long, I hope: definitely shorter than the Toni With An i parts. I think you should be able to make out the idea behind what's happening in Allison Zero now, if not exactly where the story is going. The general idea of things has been displayed, for some level of accuracy.

There were some early comments in the first two parts about dystopias and gender roles. I said in response to the dystopia comment that I want there to be "reason" to what's happening, even if the culture and society we live in today would disagree with it. Allison Zero is sci-fi. And I said in my blog post looking for sci-fi recommendations, before I started this story, that I was more interested in sci-fi about culture and society rather than technology and aliens. That's the broadest style of Allison Zero.

Allison Zero isn't solely focused on the trans aspect of Allison's life, but it will continue to play a part based on Allison's society. New things will continue to happen, new things will be revealed, but if you read with even a little bit of attention up to this part you should have the gist. It is what it is.

Thanks for sticking with it! :D

Ms Woolly

Even before the drugs…hallucinatory

…in the best ways. Your writing here has a dreamy quality, introducing the absurd calmly, acceptingly.
Even so, the bits and pieces start to fall together. Life on (in?) the station allows a lot of slack, citizens only contribute or work as they wish. My suspicion is that many pre-industrial cultures had some of these elements, especially in places where life was pretty easy (of course, possibly brutal and short, you might end up in a tiger, or falling out of a tree, but many aboriginal peoples spend only a few hours a day in pursuit of survival.)
I'm reminded of Philip K. Dick's work; I mean that as high praise.
Nicely done, carry on <3

Thanks so much

Thanks so much for the comment. It's made me feel very good about what I'm doing. I can't remember if I've read Dick but I know a lot of people who hold him in high regard, so it means a lot to me.

And I use "on" the station like on an ocean/sea-based oil rig or on a ship. It might not be technically correct, or their might be debate about it, or maybe it's correct in some places and different elswhere, it feels right to me. Ifneeds be just treat it as a quirk of the writing, if you'd be so kind. :)

In general I'm trying for a mix of elements and behaviours that would be very familiar to us, while adding in some elements that seem totally foreign, it is the far future, and it might not even be appealing to us. It works for (some?) of the people on the station. There's some thought to it, quite a bit in a few areas, and I have an idea of where I want to get to in this book,* and what I want to deal with, but a lot of the journey along the way is what excites me.

*For Toni With An i readers that's completely different. I'm working away with plotting for that as I write this for the moment. While Toni is probably an easier read, because it's more "real" conversely that makes it a harder "write." As of now I don't predict an end to Toni. It'll just go on, always ticking along.

You've seen his tales, even if you never read PKD

From the wikipedia entry:
“Dick's posthumous influence has been widespread, extending beyond literary circles into Hollywood filmmaking.[12] Popular films based on his works include Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (adapted twice: in 1990 and in 2012), Screamers (1995), Minority Report (2002), A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and Radio Free Albemuth (2010). Beginning in 2015, Amazon Prime Video produced the multi-season television adaptation The Man in the High Castle, based on Dick's 1962 novel; and in 2017 Channel 4 produced the anthology series Electric Dreams, based on various Dick stories.“

Dreamy . . .

Emma Anne Tate's picture

But also, not. It feels like the world is coming into a different kind of focus for Allison. Time, perhaps, for her to wake up.

I loved this: “Talk to people you believe in, and sometimes listen to people you don’t. People are all we have in this universe.” Put it on a billboard.

But understand, that last sentence will earn you some hate from the dog lovers . . . . ;-)