Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 7

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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’s first day as Allison involved a discovery about herself—Allison suddenly becoming a former ‘himself’—along with new medication helping Allison in being that new ‘herself.’ And a new job; one she’d never heard of before. It ended with her falling asleep next to her friend Angie. The same Angie who became Allison’s first personal client in her new employment, after Allison found her a tobacco that improves taste; suiting Angie’s desires perfectly. Now Angie fears it’s time for the favours and friendship to trade host again; Angie having spotted Allison is sleeping through a deep pain.

Allison’s pain could be down to the tobacco but Angie fears it’s down to the effect of the feminising medication. Could this change in Allison—through medical science—be something Allison’s body can’t handle? Is it something her body is rejecting? No-one Angie knows has even heard of such changes being possible. Has medicine gone too far?


Angie had left Allison’s apartment on the secure floor, and been back to her own apartment to get dressed in fresh clothes, and to shower. She’d also picked up some medications in case Allison needed them. She had bottles of water, one of the few things allowed in legitimately provided apartments, for the buckets Allison had sweated out. She hoped it was simply a hangover, but was equally was certain it wasn’t. She knew it was worse. And she feared something disastrous for the woman Allison wanted to be.

After hours of pacing, sitting, examining the clothes Allison inherited, hunting for more, finding the bathroom had actual water in the shower as well as the bath—albeit one with no water—sitting again, and standing again, and repeating that forty, fifty, sixty times, and trying to read, and slowly sipping water it reached late enough in the morning it was time to wake the new woman in pain. It was Dr. Grace’s instructions and that’s what Angie was there for.

She held onto Allison’s shoulder, through the tangle of the duvet around her, and shook her. Gently at first, then harder. Just as she was worried she wouldn’t be able to wake Allison Allison let out a loud groan, with some mumbled words behind it.

“Come on, Allison,” Angie said. “You need to wake. I need to check you. Are you OK?”

Allison made another groan and this time muttered something on the borders of intelligible.

“Please, Allison. Wake up for me!” Angie said, a slight hint of desperation in her voice.

Allison scrunched up her face and said, “I feel awful.” At least she said it ‘just-about.’ Then she groaned again. “Awful!” she said, slowly forcing herself upright, rubbing at her eyes then down her body, and placing her feet on the carpeted floor.

Angie sat next to her and handed her a bottle of water. Allison opened it and drank it back as quickly as she could manage. “It’s not a hangover...” Allison said, feeling like she could cry, or wail.

“Explain it to me,” Angie said.

Allison rubbed the inside of both wrists against her chest feeling some relief with the pressure. “I need to message Dr. Grace,” she said.

Angie stood and picked up Allison’s conn, handing it over. Allison messaged Dr. Grace as much as she could. “There’s something wrong. The medicine... I need to talk to you.” Although she wasn’t certain quite how she spelled everything. Then she tried to stand.

Angie helped and when Allison was fully standing Angie saw the navy, cotton nightdress Allison wore, with straps down, off her shoulders, was completely soaked through.

“You need to take that off. It’s like you just got out of a pool.” Angie already had some towels on the floor and bent to pick them up, handing them to Allison, who tiredly, and with moans, let the nightdress drop off her. She began to dry herself.

Angie immediately noticed the area around Allison’s nipples was slightly puffy.

Angie left Allison to dry and took the double duvet off the bed, turning it over, hanging it over the side she’d slept on, and onto the floor to hopefully air out. Looking at the side Allison slept on the bed was verging on sodden.

Allison’s conn began to ring. Allison picked it up, answering, and heard Dr. Grace’s voice fill the room. “What’s wrong, Allison?” she asked. “Explain it to me.” There wasn’t a hint of annoyance to her tone at such a sudden message from Allison, or the need to miss out on another day of her weekend.

“The medication you gave me...” Allison said, as she reached for another bottle of water, opening it. “It’s the areas, you know, that you said. The main ones. It’s not a little pain, it’s a lot. A whole lot.”

Allison took a drink of the fresh bottle of water.

“What about your bones?” Dr. Grace said. “Any pain there?”

“No,” Allison said. She let out another moan of pain.

“Think about it, really go over your body. Anywhere; legs, arms, chest, torso, toes, even fingers. Anywhere..? Is the main pain masking any pain in your bones?”

Allison closed her eyes and held the towel to her chest, mentally cataloguing areas of her body, moving her arms a little as her mind swept across herself. “No. I’m fairly sure, but my chest really hurts, my breasts, I guess, but not my nipples. I don’t know if I could feel pain in my sternum. There’s none in ribs or anything like that, or anywhere not where you mentioned yesterday. Definitely, I’m sure...”

“Have you taken any medication?”

“She’s just had water,” Angie said. “I have the two standard medications you said to get but I haven’t given her any.”

Allison turned to look at Angie, who was looking back at her.

“Sweating?” Dr. Grace asked.

“She won’t be able to sleep in her bed tonight, not without a fresh duvet. The mattress won’t dry. But it’s a double, so one of us can sleep on the dry side the other can sleep in the single.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll sort that,” Dr. Grace said. “Allison, can you look at yourself in a mirror. Completely naked. Tell me if you see any difference.”

Allison nodded her confirmation and walked with her conn to her single-bed bedroom.

“We’re going to the room with the mirror,” Angie said, knowing Dr. Grace couldn’t see Allison’s nod.

Allison laid her conn down on the single bed and looked at her reflection. “I don’t know...”

“A good look, really look. Everywhere! It’s important.”

Allison slowly slid down her underwear and let it drop to the floor, seeing a male body in the mirror. Sure, it was a body with no hair apart from on her head, which was in a female style, along with her eyebrows, but it was undoubtedly a male body. It didn’t reflect her experience of the day prior at all.

Not only did she feel pain in that moment, but a pain that emphasised her hurt; an emotional hurt.

“I don’t look right,” Allison said. “My body is wrong. I don’t want to look at it.”

“Angie?” Dr. Grace said.

Angie looked over Allison’s shoulder and into the mirror. “I’ve already noticed her nipples are a little puffy. A couple of months into puberty, maybe. Maybe a little longer? Her stomach is more feminine, the placement of fat. Her penis looks, well, sad. Like it’s given up on life.”

“Good...” Allison said, lowly.

“What was that?” Dr. Grace asked, as Angie put her arm around Allison.

“That’s all, Dr. Grace,” Angie said.

“Are you certain about the bones? And how do you feel about temperature? How’s your sweating?”

“Since I got out of bed it’s been fine, since I dried off. My bones are really OK, I think. It’s just elsewhere.”

“Give me a second...” Dr. Grace said. They all paused for a few moments while Angie pulled the naked Allison tighter into her. “OK. Angie, I’ll message you about the pain, you watch her and keep me up to date. Explain the two medications after the shower. I’ll send some other medicines to a pharmacy, for sleep, for tonight, don’t worry about that. Up to three of the freely available ones every two hours. I’d prefer one of the special friends every four hours, three can be managed, maybe four if really needed but you can imagine what that’d be like if you gave it to a teenager, Angie, can’t you!” Dr. Grace was quite stern and exaggerated when she said that, and Angie laughed. Allison didn’t know what the laugh was for, or why Dr. Grace laughed too.

“Let me do some calculations. Allison, have a shower, you’ll feel better. I checked and I don’t need to approve water. Lucky you! I’ll call again in thirty minutes with what I figure out... Angie, three plus one right now, another plus one after the shower if necessary. As long as you need in the shower Allison! I’ll call back if you’re still in there.

“It’s almost certainly what you’re thinking. The medication is working possibly too well with you. It’s not dangerous. Just painful, at least until the pain medications kick in. Take both. And the heat of the water will help.”

“OK...” Allison said. “I have really nothing to worry about?”

“Message me if you get pains in your skeleton, anywhere,” Dr. Grace said. “And enjoy your shower. Three plus one, Angie.” Then she ended the call.

“Do you I really look more feminine?” Allison asked.

“Yeah...” Angie said. “It’s why you’re in so much pain. It shouldn’t happen this fast, it seems. It was bad enough for me as a teen and I didn’t even have it that difficult. Just the odd few days. Give me a second...”

Angie stood and walked into the living room as Allison sat on the single bad and pulled the duvet around her front. Not so much to hide herself from Angie, more to hide herself from herself.

Angie was back in, with another bottle of water, and some medication dispensers. She clicked three pills out to Allison from one vial, a blue one, and another one from a red dispenser. “Take these. They’ll help. Give it a few minutes then shower.”

Allison swallowed back the medications, hoping they would help, then finished off the rest of her water. She began to rub her legs together, squashing her inner thighs onto her groin, and rubbing her arms against her chest.

“If you need to massage yourself don’t mind about me, I’ll go to another room if you want privacy. And you’ll be in the shower, soon. All by yourself.”

Allison rubbed her wrists against what she figured she’d have to start thinking of as breasts, as she said to Angie, “It’s OK. I saw you smoking, and Adam, I guess we’re really all in this together. You and me, me and you... Us and Adam.”

Angie rubbed Allison’s shoulder. “Yeah, we are. I’ve never had a friend like you.”

After a few minutes Allison was in the shower; for a long time; through one of Dr. Grace’s calls, Allison assumed. Eventually, she knew, she had to get out.

She was already dry, from the dryer in the shower, and Angie had readied a light robe for her, to cover her.

“How was it?” Angie asked.

Allison looked a little panicked.

“Did you enjoy it?” Angie asked.

Allison knew exactly what Angie was getting at.

“Are you in pain?”

“No...” Allison said, timidly.

“How many times?” Angie asked, laughing.

Allison held three fingers up. Angie was throwing her head back in uproar.

“Without a break,” Allison whined. “I could just keep going! I had to stop because I was exhausted!”

“You’re not a twenty year old unleashed on the world, you’re a teenager! We’ll have to keep you away from men! FROM ONE LEG SPREADER! OH WOW!!” Angie shrieked.

“Leg spreader!?” Allison said, eyes nearly falling out of her head. “What did you give to me? You and that doctor!!”

Angie broke out laughing, again. “Nothing you haven’t had before. They just work slightly differently on women. Upsides and downsides.”

“How did you..?”

Angie looked peaceful. “They really are the same as before, the blue ones help with pain. The red ones intensify their effects, target them. They work in combination. The red ones, though, for women, can make you a little, well... Horny?” Angie laughed. “You though! Three times!? Without interruption! From one! No wonder you spent so long in there! How was it?”

“I could do it all over again!” Allison said, with a sigh. And some fear at herself. What she was suddenly capable of! “If my arms weren’t so tired!”

“Most women just take one if they want to enjoy a few hours of perving at men when they’re bored. Three times!?! I’ll have to stay close to you! It’s so good you can’t get pregnant! Three times!!!”

Allison’s conn began to ring. Angie still kept laughing all while Allison answered. “Is Angie laughing for a reason, Allison?”

“You know full well why,” Allison said, grumpily.

“Did you enjoy it? Do you feel better?” Dr. Grace asked.

“Yes, and yes,” Allison said, feeling small.

“Were you erect?” Dr. Grace asked.

“Sort of, but not completely.”

“Fluids?”

“A little... With the first one...” Allison said.

“How many times?” Dr Grace asked, fully forcing every bit of embarrassment out of Allison.

“Is all this relevant?” Allison snapped.

“Yes, it is! I’m not trying to make you feel ashamed. Worse is to come, Angie can tell you what I’ve had to do with her.”

“Three times...” Allison said, cringing. “Without stopping.”

Dr. Grace let out a ‘hmm’ and said, “That’s about what I expected, at least according to the records. As you might have figured out your feminising injection is working quite quickly. As long as the medication for your bone structure doesn’t cause pain you’ll be fine. I’ll make an appointment for you for Thursday, to see me. The pain should have significantly reduced from its peak then.”

“What do you mean from ‘its peak?’” Allison asked, knowing, now, this wasn’t the worst of it.

“Tomorrow will probably be worse, at least when you wake. If you feel little pain now then three plus two should work, or three plus three. Angie, watch her tomorrow, as well. You’re with her for another week. I saw your apartment has a bath, which makes sense for the floor it’s on, but I’m having difficulty approving water for tomorrow. It’ll help more than a shower when you need it most. I have my supervisor working on it. He says it’ll be approved by this evening, it’s just paperwork. Is it a big bath?”

“Friend sized,” Angie said, excitedly.

“What?” Allison asked.

“For fun with friends, usually male friends, but if Dr. Grace doesn’t object I have a bathing suit. Unless you want to take some leg spreaders and get frisky with me, Allison. I’ve never tried it with a woman in a bath,” Angie said, making squeezing motions at Allison.

Dr. Grace laughed. “I assume you’ve discovered massage helps with the pain. I’m not advising against it, at least medically, anyone’s hands are as good as your own. So yes, if it has bubbles even better, get some candles. Hop in the tub with Angie. Neither of you can get pregnant, and neither of you can make anyone pregnant. I can’t believe you’re getting me talking about this, Angie, you’re unbelievable.”

“Could we get a bottle—” Angie began, but was quickly cut off by Dr. Grace.

“Will you stop doing that? I’m the doctor! If you walk, and I will check tomorrow, I’ll approve a bottle of wine for the apartment for the evening. You have to walk, regularly, it’ll help. Especially because I’m giving you full dining privileges, both of you. Use them, and walk. Don’t spend the day in bars and restaurants ogling people or having fun. It’s medically necessary for Allison to eat well and I need you watching her, Angie. And making sure she does everything she’s supposed to...”

Allison was confused by this. She’d never heard of ‘full dining privileges.’ “What does that mean?” she asked Dr. Grace. “Dining privileges?”

“You can eat and drink like a man, no need to convince anyone to buy you anything. You could spend the entire day going from place to place having whatever full meal you wanted, if you wanted. Don’t do that but do eat, whatever you can manage. You need the energy, Allison! You’ll be burning through it, and I’d imagine if you don’t eat in the next ninety minutes or so you’ll begin to feel pain again, rather than in about three hours. Angie doesn’t need the food, but I’m not going to force her to watch you dining out, am I?”

Angie snort-laughed. “This is why you’re the best, Dr. Grace!”

Allison sat down on the bed, crossing her legs with one slipping out from between her belted robe. “So what do I have to do? Exactly.”

“Eat, rest, walk. That’s all you have to do until you see me on Thursday. Angie can fill you in better on how to fill your day doing that. The pain will be worse tomorrow, three plus two. Three every two hours and two ‘pluses’ every four hours, if needed. By tomorrow evening—I’d imagine—you’ll be smaller in some areas and larger in others. Tuesday morning at the latest. You’ll not have erections any more but I don’t think you’ll mind. I’ll send you some toys. They’re waterproof... All this is reversible, if you really come to hate it. I don’t think you will. Allow yourself to enjoy this, it’s special.”

Angie wasn’t laughing at any of this, simply rubbing Allison’s shoulder. “I’m taking her to a library today.”

“That’s a good place to rest, a good book might get your mind off things. Eat, walk, rest. Mix it all up. Reading a book is a good way to relax. You can drink, but don’t go crazy. When I say rest the more relaxed you are about everything the better you’ll do, at least mentally. You have nothing to worry about. The relaxed bit will help with being a teenager; a teenager hormonally and what it’ll do to you mentally,” Dr. Grace said.

“Oh, no!” Angie said.

“Sorry, Angie. How was Allison’s moods before yesterday? Before the court ruling, and all of what happened?”

“Better than most,” Angie said. “Not crazy like a man. Which makes sense, now.”

“She could be fine then. Some deal with the mental aspect of puberty with few enough issues. And she’s older, and maybe a little wiser..?”

“What about smoking, Dr. Grace?” Allison asked.

“I didn’t know citizens could smoke,” Dr. Grace said. “Cigars or cigarettes?”

“Yeah...” Allison said, realising she might not be able to reveal what she did with tobacco to Dr. Grace. “Both, either? It’s not well known but there are a few places. I guess it’s part of everything since yesterday.”

“OK... It shouldn’t be an issue. Tobacco hasn’t been an issue in a long, long time. Certainly in nothing I’ve read about it. Just eat, walk, rest, and relax. Get shoes for walking if you have to, please don’t break an ankle.”

“We know just the store, Dr. Grace! And with Allison discovering some new things about herself with the spreaders it’ll be easy to convince a man to buy her something. Especially on that level.”

“Fuck off!” Allison said.

“OK, you’re back to normal then... As normal as can be. Angie, keep me updated. Allison, walk, rest, eat. Please! And eat first. Within the next hour and a half. Whatever you feel like. And if your bones begin to hurt you message! Straight away. If your bones begin to hurt you immediately message me! I will decide what happens then.” With a final warning another talk with Doctor Grace was over.

Allison found herself lying back on the single bed, simply breathing, as she heard Angie leave. She finally had some peace as she counted inhale and exhale, then just let herself feel the breaths. It was almost like she’d had one of the calming smokes. Or maybe it was that her pain had left her. Or maybe it was being told she was OK, and not dying? Or all this wouldn’t have to stop...

Then she thought about the pain, and where it was focused. As she did she thought of Robert. She quickly stopped thinking about Robert realising the effect it was having on her. She tried to think of less handsome, friendly, extremely fucking hot and sexy things she wanted. For some reason her mind went to Adam, who was just goofy.

She laughed; a small, low chuckle, just for herself. He really was a weirdo and she realised that was why she liked him. Why she’d always liked him. He’d give her crap when she’d do the weird stuff as Patryk, the whole treating women like people thing, but it wasn’t actually a big deal. It wasn’t aggro. It was just, Allison thought on it, it was teasing, really. Other guys thought Patryk was a fuck up. Adam accepted her, and after a shock, yesterday, accepted her again. Then when she saw him smoking she saw how pure he was. How willing he was to embrace things...

Allison sat up in the bed again, thoughts of a sexy Robert far from her mind, and picked up her conn. Where there was actually a message from Robert! “You’ll never believe what happened to me. I’ll meet you later today. You will want to hear this! It has to be because of you. There’s no other explanation.”

She shook her head, having no idea what he was talking about but she knew he wanted to go for a walk with her. He told her that yesterday. To see if she could manage stairs in her new heels. Which she thought about. She wanted to look nice for him.

“Angie... What do I wear today? I’ve never—”

“Already picked out for you, sexy!” Angie called back.

Allison stood and went into her dressing room, wondering how bad the pain would be as she moved about, as clothes pressed on her as she moved about.

A pair of what looked like men’s work dungarees but as a dress that’d come to the top of her knees was hanging up, along with a white skin tight, long sleeved top. There were also a few bras laid out, in various styles and colours. They were the same size as the pair One had found for her so Allison figured the access she’d granted to Angie for her apartment allowed her to go scavenging in the other apartments. Then she realised how early she must have woken Angie. She had vague memories of rolling around and groaning while half awake. Dreams she couldn’t quite clutch onto... Angie could have spent hours worrying about her!

Allison got dressed, again chasing thoughts of what she’d do to Robert out of her mind as she put on her lingerie. Not that she wanted to chase the thoughts from her mind, or him, she had to. She couldn’t spend every moment of her life lusting after him. If that’s what it was... Again she forced those thoughts from her mind.

Then she was dressed, fully, and walking into the double bedroom where Angie was stripping the bed. “Maybe it’ll dry out faster?” Angie said.

“We’ll figure something out,” Allison said. She put on her shoes, and felt good now she was back to a mostly female appearance, the pain still there, just about, but it was more a reminder that everything she was going through had a purpose. Making her who she was supposed to be. And her bones definitely didn’t hurt. “How do I look?”

“A button!” Angie said. Allison didn’t know what Angie was saying. “‘As cute as,’ you doofus!”

“Oh! Thank you! Not sure I believe you, though.”

“Believe what you want!”

Allison sat down on the chair Angie had dragged into the room while she slept, and sipped at another bottle of water. She knew she had to tell One she couldn’t, or shouldn’t, work for the next few days. And that she had a medical question about the tobacco she was smoking. And that she’d already, sort of, let tobacco slip to someone. She had the message typed up and sent.

Angie had the cover off the duvet, and the sheets off the bed, just as the hilarious sound of One’s call was coming to Allison’s conn. It was a public call, again. “Don’t worry about anything,” One said, as soon as Allison answered.

“Angie is here with me, she can hear you.”

“Hello, Angie! How was your smoke?”

“I liked the second one more, One. It’s weird hearing your voice. I thought you’d be really mysterious or something.”

“How do I sound?” One asked.

“Normal. Cheerful,” Angie said.

“Thank you, Angie. So do you. You preferred the tasting smoke? Have you had anything to eat or drink today?”

“Just water. It tastes kind of boring, more than usual. I am hungry though”

“Have some chilled water when you can, before eating, you might get something more from it. No ice if possible—cold from a fridge—in a glass bottle. The bottle gently, and patiently, poured into a glass would be best. No straw. Let Allison know when your taste returns to normal, if you don’t mind.

“Allison, the smokes will have no physical effect whatsoever, don’t worry about that. You know what they do mentally. That’s why you’re working for me. You’re capable. Now who did you tell about them?”

“My doctor... But it wasn’t quite these smokes, she said cigarettes and cigars, like in movies, I think? Surprised citizens could smoke them.”

“What’s her name?”

“Doctor Grace. I can send her ID to you via message if you want?” Allison said, preparing to forward Dr. Grace’s details to One.

“Perfect. Is there something wrong with you? You said you can’t work for a few days.” Allison only heard concern in his voice.

“Is that an issue?” she asked.

“No. Health comes before even our work, but health is often dependent on our work, to a degree. And that’s dependent on happiness, which operates along with health. Jenny told you about the philosophy section... Something to look into. What’s wrong with you, if you can share? If you want to?”

Allison took a deep breath. It was like he was her father; a father to someone in their twenties; someone who no longer should be in need of a father. “The medication to help with what I realised with you, about me, it’s working faster than the doctor expected. It could be painful. Well... It is already.”

One laughed. “You’ll love it. You’ll be who you’re supposed to be faster. Remember the first smoke you had with me, the very first?”

“The test one?” Allison asked.

“Zero-zeroes. Like the zero smoke but a little bit of a devolution, just the advancements of the zero smoke applied retroactively. That’s the closest we have to the original, lethal tobacco. The zeros are the first modern smoke, the closest in lineage to the old stuff.

“The zero-zeroes a little more powerful than what they had back then but with the dangers removed. It’s like a heightened experience of it. It’s similar to what voters smoke, although they’re smoking more for flavour. We smoke it to see how people react. Your reaction was among the best. It cleared your mind of a hangover, and some other things. It means you react well to tobacco, particularly well. Your mind is primed for it.”

Allison was verging on zoning out by the time One finished his statement, then she realised she was rushing ahead of the things he was saying almost knowing them before he said them. At the least recognising them as he said them. “That makes complete sense, One, but why say it?”

“I’ll have some delivered to you. Try not to share that one, unless I tell you it’s for a client. Angie can try it if she wants, she’s already your personal client. Fastest personal client anyone’s ever heard of, even if a little basic. Adam can have some too, but I don’t think you’ll find out much from him about it.

“Angie, tell Allison when your taste goes back to normal, please. Don’t smoke any of the taste ones again before it goes back to normal. It’s not dangerous but it’ll be something Allison will learn from, which is why you’ll have them for free, for life. And Allison, I’m telling you about the zero-zeroes because they might work well with whatever you’re taking for your pain. Try them if you feel like it, it won’t hurt. I’ll hold off on jobs until you’re ready, OK?”

“Thanks One, that helps.”

“I’ll have them delivered to you today. Take your time, and let me know when you’re back. Message me when you want, about anything, I’ll reply as soon as I’m free, or awake from a nap. It’s more important your realisations from the brown smoke are seen through than anything you do for me. Focus on that for as long as you need.”

“OK. I will,” Allison said. “Thank you.” She meant the thanks a huge amount, so much she hadn’t realised until then how grateful she was to One, for what he’d done for her. For bringing out ‘her,’ who she fully felt she was in that moment. And cared for. For One calmly being the voice of authority, whatever it was he was saying. It was simply reassuring to hear from someone who knew. Who didn't have doubts.

One ended the call, and somehow Allison felt everything was OK.

“I have no idea what he was saying,” Angie said. “Although it all was explained with me listening I don’t understand smoking enough. It’s not... I don’t know?”

“I guess that’s why he picked me. I suppose,” Allison said. “You’ll find something, I’m sure.” She took some more of the water and stood. “We should eat, you must be starving.”

Angie looked at Allison with an accusatory look. “You did build up an appetite in me. Where do you want to go? We can go anywhere!”

“No, you’re the one who’s hungry, really hungry, and you looked after me. You should pick.”

Angie shook her head angrily. “Your the idiot who’s unwell! You’re the idiot who needs to eat, so what will you damn well eat?!”

The response burst out of Allison’s mouth; a desire that inflamed the instant Angie called her an idiot. “A disgusting burger! That makes you hate yourself! Sickening! And you’re tempted to go back for another. Your body craves it and your mind can barely hold your body back from getting a second!”

Angie laughed. “I know just the fucking place!”

Allison laughed as well. And felt fine.

###

Angie linked her arm through Allison’s, and steadied her as they began their walk. Allison’s secure apartment floor sent them via a priority elevator until it hit the first close-by destination call on their way. Two men stepped in and stood behind Angie and Allison. Both could feel the two guys edging up on them but thankfully they reached the floor with the restaurant before the men had the chance to make their move, or get touchy, or worse, breathy.

The burger place was a short walk, less a restaurant but not quite a mess hall. More cheap and cheerful, but fun, where you queued to get your food, and the tables were quick and ready with chairs and tables bolted to the exposed deck. It’d make for easier cleaning.

Angie had already primed Allison on what to get if she wanted disgusting, which was a double cheeseburger with bacon, fries, and a cola, however Angie spent a lot longer staring up at the menu illuminated above the serving area. The man behind the counter stared at her as she was still deciding while being served, then she kept adding things to her order, then specified that not only did she want a cola but also the water, exactly how One described.

The man entered all this into the till then held out the scanner for their payment, doubt obvious on his face that Angie and Allison were actually approved for this, and that he was about to call security to remove them when the till indicated, 'Women attempting to hack dining privileges.' Angie blipped her wrist against the scanner and the man was collected enough not to look disappointed when the confirmation went through.

Angie was nigh on drooling as the order was being prepared. Then Angie and Allison carried their trays, Allison’s holding some of Angie’s food, out of necessity, to a two person table; Angie pointing out it’d make it hard for any male ‘visitors’ they might attract, even if it was cramped with all her food.

Allison unwrapped her burger and immediately took a bite out of it, with no hesitation or dignity, more desire, and raw hunger, while Angie prepared her water with precision, pouring carefully and slowly from the glass bottle into a tilted glass held high before her eyes.

Allison’s teeth sunk into the double burger with thin patties and her bite easily slid through everything. It was like chewing on something entirely melted. It was delicious. Her stomach growled at her in appreciation after she swallowed and she reached out for a fry, ate it, then another, then three in one load. The salt in all this was exactly what she needed, she knew, as she took a big, refreshing sip of her cola through the straw.

“Fuuuck me...” Allison moaned. “I needed that so much!” Then she looked at Angie, who sat, ashen faced. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m afraid to taste the water,” Angie said. “It looks so... Beautiful? There was condensation on the glass, and I wiped it away with the napkin and now it looks so clear.”

Angie stared at her glass of water while Allison stared at Angie. It looked as though she was about to cry.

“Taste the water!” Allison said, taking another bite of her burger, wondering why she felt no lingering effects of the taste smoke.

“I will!” Angie whined, as Allison loaded her mouth with more fries.

“I’m well into my meal and you’re looking at water! Taste it! There’s a reason One said to start with it. Trust him!” Allison realised, in that moment, she should trust One. More than she did already. In a way he was comforting, for her, in her newness. The man who brought her to where she was, happy, albeit in a little pain. And eating a filthy, digusting burger she adored. One was special, and more than she could fathom. One was someone she could, and should, share with people.

Angie picked up the glass and took a sip of the water, no straw. Her eyes closed. Then they opened again like she’d had an encounter with some being from another universe; not focused on anything but seeing entire galaxies.

“Well?” Allison asked.

“It tastes like I’m on a planet. An actual planet! Natural! Like I’ve drunk water straight from a spring! Almost, but not quite... Almost, but I can feel it. Nearly. I nearly feel being on an actual planet!”

Angie put down the glass, shaking her head, and picked up one of the deep fried cheeses with anticipation. Then she put the breadcrumb encrusted, deep fried cheese down and picked up a battered sausage instead. She held it before her mouth, looked down at the cheese again before quickly moving the sausage to her mouth and taking a bite. She chewed.

“It’s good. Really good. This is a good restaurant, but it’s nothing like the water. The water felt like life. This is just the best sausage I’ve had, and I can taste the texture of it, somehow, and identify the bits of black pepper in the batter, almost by location, but the water was something else.”

“The smoke from last night is still working, then?” Allison asked, as Angie picked up a battered, deep fried mushroom and took a massive bite out of it, water from the mushroom squirting and making a squelching sound.

Angie nodded as she chewed. “Definitely,” she mumbled, mouth full.

After swallowing the mushroom she said, “Last night was different, that was a kind of swirling. Everything interacting, and changing—but also staying the same—this is just detail, I guess. Like seeing dots in the printing off a giant poster up close.”

“Can you still see the picture?” Allison asked, not knowing where the question came from, but understanding what Angie meant.

“YES! SO MUCH! It’s the small detail and still seeing the overall picture at the same time. Seeing both!”

Allison nodded and another thought came to her, thinking back to the tasting smoke the night before. This one she was certain on but she wanted to know if Angie thought similar. “But last night it was the small detail, the overall picture, and also what it meant? The meaning of it all together, with other things?”

Angie was chewing on a chicken sandwich, sauce spilling onto her chin as she nodded emphatically. “That’s it! That’s the difference! You’re so good at this; I know why One picked you! This is the detail and the picture, last night it was how it all interacted with everything! He’s so, so nice. I’m glad he found you. I’m so glad for you,” Angie said, as she dipped a mushroom in garlic sauce.

“Which do you prefer? Which feeling?” Allison asked, hoping Angie would give the answer, or something like it, that she was expecting.

Angie reached for one of Allison’s fries and Allison slapped her hand away. Allison thinking, rather affirmatively, ‘She can get her own damn fries!’

Angie looked disappointed at the lack of fry but still said, “They’re both good feelings. I think they both have their time and place. And I don’t think I really need either of them. I think I’ll just love food, more than I ever believed I could, even if I could never have another of those smokes.”

Allison smiled at hearing what she hoped she’d hear. “That’s great. You have no idea how happy that makes me.”

“And fries would make me even happier, because I somehow completely forgot to order my own. And you won’t share yours!”

She stood and made her way back to the top of the restaurant.

Allison ate and soon Angie was back with one small bag of fries, a napkin supporting the excess spilling out of the top.

“I have no idea how much all this cost me,” Angie said, taking out her conn to check her transactions. “There’s nothing on there, though. Please don’t tell me they charged your balance with my order. Mine was the mountain of food! I’ll transfer it to you.”

Allison checked her balance. When she saw it on her conn nearly fell out of her hands, and it wasn’t from slippery fingers after eating greasy food. “Fuck!” Allison said.

“Oh, no! How bad is it?”

“I haven’t been charged anything. But what I do have is a lot of money.” Allison dug into the transactions and transfers. There was the settling into the station money, from the Governor’s message, as a new arrival, more than she got, or at least Patryk got, when he turned 20. There was also a transaction from One, with the name Des on it. Quite a significant amount; along with a note, ‘Don’t get used to that. That includes a tip from your first session.’

Allison spoke up again. “It’s a lot of money, Angie.”

“How much money?” Angie asked.

“Enough to put a down-payment on a permanent apartment, a good one, and get some furniture. Enough to run my own cart, with a multi-floor license. It’s really a lot. I’m told this is a ‘tip’ and not to get used to it. I don’t even know what I’d do with it.”

Allison really didn’t know what she’d do with that amount of money. A man would at least need to reach his late thirties, if he worked and worked, and saved, and she didn’t know about women, but the way things were explained to her it’d involve quite a few years of frugality while politely ‘convincing’ men to buy her things; which is why men didn’t save.

She set her conn down and stared at what was left of her burger. She had nothing else she could think of doing; she had too much money to contemplate, at least compared to her life before now. She began to finish her food with thoughts of what seemed like absolute riches standing tall in her mind. An incomprehensible amount, at the age of 24, for just being herself.

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Comments

Has medicine gone too far?

Emma Anne Tate's picture

Put me down as a “no!” Don’t we all wish medicine could go so far. :)

Interesting chapter, unspooling a bit more about the society and the characters. Not much drama . . . more quiet development. I like it!

Emma

Medical decisions

Medical decisions should always be followed up with a massive burger. Whether it's a double cheeseburger with bacon, or a bean and apricot burger, with chili, both with fries and a cola, of course, is up to the individual.

This chapter asks a little from the reader, but be sure it made me wish I could go to Burger King. Or eat curry chips, or poutine... Now there's an idea for Angie!