Allison Zero - Book 1 - Part 11

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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. Faint pink text with the words ‘Allison Zero’ are centred on the window to the star field.

Allison and Angie were having lunch when Allison revealed she wanted her ears pierced. Angie knew the perfect place for it, and it was also the perfect place to fix Allison up with makeup, but neither counted on finding two women who treated Angie and Allison just like Angie and Allison treated everyone else; they were fun head-wreckers.

Now Allison needs quiet. And to rest. And more. But with the pace of the past few days, with all she’s discovering, all the secrets revealed on the deep space station, she doesn’t know how to achieve any of that. And she doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t find it.

Sandra had dragged Angie into the chair before the mirror and was working on her, declaring her makeup to be a disgrace due to Angie having had an excess of fun. Sandy had already departed for a few moments to find some things from around the store and Allison was busy on her conn sending a message to the man who’d gotten her into all this.

Allison keyed in a few variations of what was bothering her, a few different explanations, then deleted them all. Not one of them seemed right. They didn’t do justice to what she was feeling.

Sandra was just finishing Angie’s touch-ups when Allison hit on the message. The exact one she needed to send. “This all needs to slow down.”

It went out to One just in time for Allison to look up at Angie, now standing, with Sandra smiling at them both, and saying, “I’ll run out for a few more bits and pieces and then we’ll settle up.”

Angie sat next to Allison on the couch, giving up on examining herself in the mirror. “What’s up?” she asked. “Tired?”

“I don’t know. This seems too much,” Allison said.

“Yeah, they’re crazy! Non-stop! A few people recommended here to me but I’d never been before. I’ve never needed this experience but it’s so worth it, even if we do deserve some quiet time after.”

Angie obviously didn’t get what Allison meant so Allison just said, “Yep...”

Allison was taking deep breaths as the ludicrous music announcing a call from One came from her conn. She didn’t know how to say what she was going to say in front of Angie. Like it’d somehow be a betrayal of all that Angie had done, and was doing for her. That she’d be letting her down.

Allison closed her eyes as she answered. “Angie’s here, One,” Allison said.

“How are you, Angie?” One asked.

“Better having heard your cheery tones,” Angie said.

“And she’s had a lot to drink,” Allison said.

“I don’t feel too bad, though. Just like I’ve had one or two normal drinks. Certainly not an entire bottle of wine.”

“Bottle and a half,” Allison said.

“OK! What’s up, Allison? What needs to slow down? Are your changes happening too quickly?” One asked.

Allison sighed as she saw Angie looking at her, Angie quickly hiding her shock and instead showing real concern. “It’s not me, One,” Allison said. “I’m fine. It’s the station. There’s just so much I didn’t know! So much I didn’t think even existed. And all that in a few days? My mind is racing.”

“Calming smoke?” One said.

“Not right for it,” Allison said, knowing that was the truth.

Allison heard a sucking sound then One said, “I didn’t think so. There is a smoke for it, but... Go to Jenny’s and see if she has anything to say about it. I’ll let her know you’re on your way with Angie. And message Adam as well. I’m sure he’ll join you as soon as he can.”

Allison nodded. “Is that what smokes are. To help people struggling. To provide relief?”

One laughed. “That’s what everything is. Keep that in mind. I don’t think you need any, not now. Can it help? Yes. What you really need is some peace. Give me some time to think and I’ll come up with something. OK?”

“Sure,” Allison said.

“You are allowed to slow down. That’s always allowed.”

“Thanks, One,” Allison said, not feeling that much better.

As the call ended Angie placed her hand around Allison’s wrist and held it for a few seconds, then told her she’d message Adam to meet them in Jenny’s as soon as he could.

They were sitting in silence, not for very long, when Sandra and Sandy arrived back. “What’s wrong, ladies?” Sandy asked.

“Allison’s a bit tired. Long day. Busy day.”

“Sorry,” Sandy said. “Normally people don’t have to deal with both of us.”

Allison laughed, and actually felt some of the pressure lift, at least for a moment.

“I assume if you don’t know some already you’ll have discovered them by the weekend, places that are happy to serve you, you’re moving faster than most and figuring things out long before most women unearth this stuff. If you want a quiet drink somewhere just let us know, we’re happy to share a few of the bars we know. And that’s whenever you want. Just call back in. And call back in no matter what!” Sandy said.

“We’ll let you know how the makeup is going, quick tips, once we can inspect your efforts. And you can tell us what’s happening in your world. I’ve messaged the doctor supervising the more medical side of the store. He’s pulling a few things together, approvals and the like, and preparing the materials, but you should get a message within a few days about some help with your makeup. I’m certain it’ll be fine,” Sandra said.

Allison nodded, feeling the tiredness hit her now her mind had calmed, or at least that people were thinking about her. “Whatever this costs it won’t be enough for your help.”

Sandy turned her head to Sandra, tilted it in an incline with a look neither Allison nor Angie could decrypt, then Sandy turned back to face the two sitting on the couch.

“Sometimes it’s just work for us. But you don’t work to do work. You work for the afternoon we’ve had, where you can share what you know, help people who need it — the people who accept your help — while you all have fun and enjoy each other,” Sandy said. “That’s why we do what we do, or else we’d be happy living on our stipend. Many do. And they live perfectly content lives.”

Allison nodded again. This seemed to be it. You were supposed to find what was right for you then things opened up. Or your path became clear. Except she didn’t know these pathways even existed a few days ago, or could even exist. And she wondered how many other people didn’t know.

“OK...” Allison said, accepting it all, but not really. “How much?” She lifted herself up in the couch ready to woman up again.

“Are you going to let us decide?” Sandra asked.

“Whatever you think is right. I already said I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. This was... I don’t know? Weird, but also normal.”

Sandra held the business conn down for Allison’s approval.

“That’s nowhere near enough!”

“You said we could decide,” Sandy said. “This is what we think is right. We’re both happy with that number if you promise to show us your progress with your make up, listen to our advice, and do and buy what we suggest.”

Allison tapped her wrist against the business conn. The amount of money was so little it didn’t even need confirmation as a substantial transaction on her full conn.

“Now what?” Allison asked, to no-one in particular.

“You’re free, I guess. We can’t terrorise you any more. What would you normally do?” Sandy said.

Allison shook her head. She had no clue what she’d normally do. All she could do was follow One’s advice and go to Jenny’s. Nothing else occurred to her.

Twenty tired minutes later, twenty minutes of pushing down thoughts that seemed to be invading again, she and Angie were walking into Jenny’s, Yes greeting them happily, and quietly, at the closed door then guiding them inside, past the curtain that hung just behind the entrance, while politely stepping back for them to make their appearance.

Jenny’s was quiet. No-one was behind the bar and there were only two groups of people; two people in each group, each sitting opposite their friend with a small table between them, smokes in their hands while they relaxed in the pale, worn, corduroy armchairs. The lights were low, as if a natural light had somehow illuminated the bar where necessary, not a station light, and the air seemed dry. Adam was, however, sitting on a couch with drinks in front of him, waiting for both Allison and Angie.

Seeing them both Adam stood, and smiled, then waved. Then caught himself waving and quickly dropped his hand.

Walking to Adam’s table Allison felt her feet almost slide across the floor, her body getting heavier and losing the ability to lift her knees. Her long denim skirt seemed closer to her, or less flexible; constricting; as though she had to fight it to bring her leg forward. She could hear the noise of herself moving; her stockings rubbing together, alarmingly loudly in the quiet of Jenny’s. Her arms brushed against her sides, the fabric almost shouting at her with the resistance from it sweeping against itself.

As she stood in front of Adam she didn’t even know if she was looking at him. Or if she had her eyes open as she walked towards him. She hadn’t understood anything but a roar. She simply ended up in front of him.

She looked into his eyes, almost pleading. Really it was asking for mercy.

“Wow! You’re beautiful!” Adam said.

Allison’s head nodded very slow, tiny movements taking the words in. “‘Wow’ and ‘I’m beautiful’ and..?”

“And?” Adam said.

Allison’s chin rested towards her chest and she could feel herself gather up beneath it. “And I’m hot. Or I’m sexy. Do you think I’m sexy?” she said. “And hot?”

“No,” Adam said, confused.

“I’m not hot and sexy,” Allison said. Then she gulped air through her mouth, blowing her breath out violently after, repeating the cycle a second time, and a third.

Adam grasped her shoulders, firmly, holding her steady, and for some reason it occurred to Allison he was taller than her. She’d never thought of that before. Before he’d simply been Adam. She’d never paid attention to his height. But now he was taller than her, in a way she noticed. He was a man who was taller than her. And he’d grabbed her around her shoulders.

“What’s wrong?” Adam asked, insisting.

“I...” Allison said, but couldn’t continue.

Adam pulled Allison into a tight hug and she rested her head on his shoulder closing her eyes. “Angie? What happened?” Adam said.

“I don’t know,” Angie said.

Allison drained in the air around in more gulps, this time as though she was a sinkhole at the bottom of a flooding and dark ocean cavern.

Adam turned Allison around in her standing spot then forced her to sit, deep into the couch. He picked up one of the large bottles of the strong, black beers from the table. One of the ones Des had given to Allison to get her past the door to Jenny’s bar the first time.

Adam stood above Allison as he handed it to her. She took the beer from him and held it to her lips, glugging back as much as she could manage, then a second time. When she couldn’t take any more of the third go-round she wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her long white top, the one with the large heart on the chest, leaving a streak of liquid from her lips on the cuff. She laughed when she saw her makeup had left no stain.

“I just need quiet,” Allison said. “And people around me. But quiet.”

Angie sat on the couch opposite, then Adam sat next to Allison and tried to put his arm around her, to drag her into his grip again. Allison shrugged his reach off her with annoyance and took another swig of the bottle, trying to finish it.

“Allison?” Adam said.

“Allison, honey?” Angie said.

“Just let me drink,” Allison said, swallowing whatever was rising up in her throat. She felt out of breath and knew a drink would eventually fix something, at least temporarily.

She leaned forward out of the seat, being sure in her eagerness she didn’t actually fall out, but coming close to it.

She grabbed a second bottle and took yet another swig of beer.

Adam reached out to put his hand on her thigh, turning to her, but with her free, now non-beer hand, the first bottle having been finished, Allison swiped Adam’s reach away.

“Allison? Please, Allison,” Angie said, with Allison drinking even more.

Allison’s eyes were closed. They stayed closed, and she drank. And finally things were going quiet for her.

When she opened them she realised why. Sue was standing above her, looking fierce. “Conn?” she said, holding out a blue business conn from the bar.

She placed two bottles down on the table, spirits. “They’re anise. A lot of cultures had it. We’ve lost track of the origins, but it’s old. This a strong one.” She nodded towards three glasses on the table.

Allison had no hesitation in paying for the booze.

“First you smoke one of these,” Sue said. She handed Allison a smoke.

“I don’t want to smoke!” Allison said.

“Smoke it,” Sue said. Then she said “Smoke it!” again, sternly, seeing the defiance on Allison’s face.

“That’s what got me into this mess. I just want to drink.”

“I’ll take the booze away if you don’t smoke.”

“I paid for them already.”

Angie and Adam were casting glances at each other while Allison and Sue fired their words back and forth. Small, petty, insisting words.

“I don’t care. I’ll take them back,” Sue said.

“I’ll complain to Jenny!”

“Then Jenny will bar you. Smoke it!” Sue lit the lighter. “I’ll bar you now if you don’t smoke it! I’ll drag you out of here by the ear and you’ll be lying squealing on the ground outside until security call a medic for you.”

Allison growled at Sue. This was what it always fucking was. People fucking with her. People messing her up. People playing tricks and having secrets and nothing, NOTHING! being clear.

She almost crushed the end of the rollie as she inhaled to catch the tip into its burning state.

She felt nothing. She inhaled again, angrily. To prove to Sue she was doing exactly as every asshole demanded of her. Then she felt honey in her chest.

The world slowed.

While the world slowed thoughts flashed, almost as if real, in front of Allison. First was how did she express her sorrow to Sue; no apology could express it well enough. Somehow, after what felt like an entire library’s worth of reading, an entire library just to learn the directions to every other library in existence, with no time passing, Allison realised no apologies were expected. It was why Sue was so was insistent.

Allison bent over on the couch and laid the rollie in the ashtray, then she looked up at Sue and simply said, “Thank you.” Meaning it with her entire heart. With something greater than her heart.

“Tell me how you feel, please, Allison,” Sue said. “One has never given anyone anything like that. He wouldn’t even know what it is. He couldn’t recognise it if he smoked it a thousand times.”

Allison shook her head, refusing to answer Sue, then stretched her arm out.

Sue lifted her forearm six inches or so and bent her wrist so Allison could take Sue’s hand into her own. Their touch was so soft silk would feel like sandpaper in comparison. So firm and sure it rivalled the instant before the birth of the universe; confused, but absolute in its confidence.

“OK,” Sue said. She smiled. “Would Adam or Angie be able to handle it? They have their entire lives if not now.”

Allison thought for a few seconds. “Both of them,” she said. “And now.”

“Who do you want to take?” Sue asked.

“Adam,” Allison said.

“Come on, Angie. Bring a bottle,” Sue said, as she placed the lighter and a brass tin of smokes on the table in front of Allison.

Allison leaned forward and opened the other bottle of spirits, pouring both her and Adam a small measure. Then she opened the tin of smokes and took one out, rotating it in her hand to give to Adam.

“Do I really need to?” Adam asked.

“Not if you don’t want to,” Allison said.


“You’ll like it. It’s not like the one you had last time, here. I think you’ll get a lot from it. I know I will. It won’t hit you hard.”

Adam took the smoke from Allison and put it between his lips. He lit it and inhaled, then exhaled peacefully. He nodded, but Allison couldn’t tell anything from any change in his demeanour or any change in face. He took another drag on the smoke and then placed his left hand — rollie free — on Allison’s shoulder.

“What do you need?” Allison asked.

“You,” Adam said.

He gently pulled Allison back into his arm, to rest into his shoulder, and she offered no resistance. She accepted it, welcomingly. He took another inhale then handed the smoke to Allison. She took one drag, held it for a few seconds before taking another, then passed the smoke back to Adam.

“Is this what you need?” Adam asked.

“Sort of. Not really,” Allison said.

“No?” Adam said.

“No. It’s nice. It’s not what I need. It’s helping, a little. It’s not what I need, though.” She tried to think of what she did need.

“Talk to me. Tell me.”

“I need things to slow down,” Allison said. What she and Adam had now was adjacent to slow, but it wasn’t steady. There was potential to it. And possibility.

Adam handed Allison the smoke again, after taking a small puff, and she took a deeper inhale than him. He lifted his hand on Allison’s shoulder and rubbed it down the side of her head, with strength, but delicacy, just the once. Just to let her know he was there.

“I don’t know in what way,” Allison said, thinking about what kind of slowness she needed.

“How do you feel about you?”

“I don’t know who I am,” Allison said.

Adam chuckled. “You know exactly who you are. For the past few days, anyway.”

“Imagine us doing this a few weeks ago... Me dressed like this. Me not officially a woman. No makeup. No court ruling. Smoking, even! You holding me. We’d be thrown out an airlock by a mob. That’s why I mean I don’t know who I am.”

Adam held Allison even tighter. “That’s why you know who you are now. Do you feel this is wrong, or is it just a surprise you’re OK with it? That this is better — or more — than you could dream of?”

Allison didn’t say anything in response.

“So what’s moving too fast?” Adam asked. “Do you not like your new earrings?” Allison drew away from Adam and looked at him accusingly, and with annoyance. “Angie told me in her message.” He smiled.

“That bitch! I wanted to see if you’d notice!” Allison said, tilting her head to the side and drawing her hair behind her ear to show off her new piercing; the little, golden, flat stud with green jewel inlaid. It felt incredibly right as she did it. And she knew whatever Adam’s reaction would be it would be perfect. Even if he just smiled at her. Or stroked her head again.

“I love you so much,” Adam said.

“I didn’t expect that! What!?” Allison said, stunned.

“Look at you! You’re the most amazing person on this station. And you’re mine!”

“I’m yours!! Do you want us to!!!” Allison gasped, wide eyed.

“No!” Adam said. “I just know we were meant to be together. Not like a man and woman, not meeting up in bars and or hiring rooms when we’re drunk. You and me are more than that. There’s more to us.”

Allison laid deeper into Adam’s arm and let her body be supported by him. “This is so good. And you’re right. There is more here. Something real, but not boyfriend and girlfriend real. It’s bigger. It’s the same with Angie. With both of you. You looked adorable when I gave you your first smoke, like a happy child. It’s the opposite now. You look full of wisdom; mature and confident. All of us are alright together.”

“There’s more to you, Allison. Whatever’s going on with you it’s deep. It’s magnificent. It’s beautiful—”

“Just like me.”

“Just like you,” Adam said, smiling. “And if you need to rest for a while we can do this. Even if it’s not everything you need.”

Allison felt the honey in her chest again and relaxed into Adam’s hold for a few more minutes, just watching the bar. A few more people came in, and sat. Some took out smokes. Sue was behind the bar and served them drinks all the while Angie rapidly smoked what Sue had given her, multiple smokes, deep in conversation with Sue while Sue was pouring and mixing. Occasionally Angie stood, seemed to realise she’d suddenly stood, then casually lowered herself back to the seat.

Eventually Allison sat forward out of the Adam’s grip. “We need drinks,” she said.

“Yes,” Adam said.

“And I need you to kiss me.”

Adam’s faced drew up into a bitter pucker. “Why? You know me and you aren’t like that. We’re not going that way and aren’t meant to, whatever that means. We both know it. I know we know it.”

Allison shrugged. “I guess it’s just that I can’t have the first man who’s said he needs me—”

“And loves you,” Adam interrupted, seeing where this was going.

“And loves me not be someone I haven’t at least kissed. What kind of person would that make me?” Allison studied Adam’s face, then thought of something. “Although maybe you’re not the first man who’s said he needs me. The weird guy the other day said he needed me. Or at least my feet, I think. He was disgusting. He desperately wanted my feet. Weirdo!”

“Robert? You said you liked him.”

Allison’s body deflated at the thought of Robert, and Adam saw she looked far away. “No...” she said, drawing the word out. “Robert’s nice.”

“Do you want a kiss from me or a kiss from Robert?” Adam asked, laughing.

Allison turned to Adam. “You’re not getting out of this! Come on! On the smacker!”

Allison tried to force the smile from her face as she puckered her lips and stared at Adam.

She waited for Adam’s quick peck when he reached both hands up to hold her face, with the softest of touches, and a soft smile on his face, coming close to her. And not just physically close.

Then they kissed.

As Adam moved away he laughed.

“What?” Allison asked, annoyed.

“Your lips taste like lipstick,” he said. Allison shook her head. “But forget about me, you’ve never looked happier. Did you enjoy that?”

“Oh it is Mr. Confident now!”

“I’ve kissed my fair share of woman.”

“Well add me to the list!” Allison reached for the glasses on table, but moved first to make the small measures into reasonable sized ones, then passed a glass off to Adam before laying back into him, demanding he put his arm around her again. “And if you want a reference for other women I’ll say you’re a damn fine kisser. Very tender.”

“Do you want to do it again?”

“Maybe when I’m desperate,” Allison said.

“Sure thing. You have my contact.”

And Allison laughed.

Then they drank, and Allison filled Adam in on her day of makeup, forcing him to tell her her earrings were perfect for her a few more times. He added they were unique, just like she was.

They drank, slowly, chatting and catching each other up on the minor rubbish of their days once the big stuff had been dealt with, or at least the big stuff that occurred to them. There was no sign of Angie returning but that bothered neither of them. They were happy to sip away and simply enjoy being with each other. Being with each other in the most real way either of them could ever remember.

Another spell of quietness had reached Adam and Allison when a man in a green uniform appeared with Yes walking next to him. The man looked quite serious. Yes brought him to the bar where he began talking with Sue, who looked concerned.

“Do you know what that is?” Allison asked Adam.

“Unfortunately I do,” Adam said. “Physical mail. You know how I deliver things? But just to delivery rooms across the station? Packages and the like? Furniture and that when I started out.”

“Yeah...” Allison said, unsure where he was going with this.

“Physical mail is usually a secure notice. More secure than digital mail to a conn. No-one’s ever heard of the Governor’s office or the court having a communication intercepted, but when they want a guarantee of something being delivered, and an official to say it was delivered, they use the guys in those uniforms. I’ve heard of a few rats getting them, it’s rare. More often it’s official notices to shut businesses. Voters more commonly get them, given whatever it is they do. Maybe Jenny or Sue get them more with what this place is?”

Allison nodded, but still felt concerned. Sue looked extremely worried. Then Allison felt like there was a black hole in her stomach when she saw Sue point to Angie, and the man in the green uniform walk to and hand the mail to Angie.

Angie seemed confused for a few seconds until the man explained something, but then Angie seemed calm. The man walked away talking to Yes as he was lead outside.

“What’s—” Allison began, concerned for Angie, but Angie had stood and was walking towards where Adam and Allison were sitting.

When she came to them she held the mail out for Allison. “This is for you,” she said, seemingly unbothered.

“What?” Allison.

“That’s not normal. He has to deliver it to the person it’s intended for. This is fucking weird,” Adam said.

Allison took the mail. It was an envelope with her ID written on the front, with a pen, and a pre-printed mark in the corner.

Whatever small amount of slowness had recently come to Allison had departed and now her mind was racing again, or maybe her heart. She opened the envelope carefully but still managed to tear it.

Inside was a notice, except it wasn’t a notice.

Finishing it, which took a few minutes, Allison laughed.

“What’s that? What is it?” Adam asked, fright in his voice.

“The man said it’s a letter,” Angie said. “Is this another fucky Allison thing?”

Allison shuffled through the pages again, smiling, and ensured they were in the correct order before slipping them back into the slightly torn envelope.

She poured herself a small measure of the anise spirit and took a sip, then put the letter in her purse before topping up what she had taken with her sip.

“Remember the first guy I had the smoke with? No... The second,” Allison said. “Not One, the client.”

“The guy who sent us here?” Adam asked, still with an edge to his tone.

“That’s him. He explained it all. It’s a letter. A way of slowing down. Writing and talking to people at the same time. But slowly. Not making up stories or writing articles. Just a way to get your thoughts out. And giving the other person time to think about what you said.”

“I’ve never heard of—”

Angie made a big ‘Oh!’ sound, as though something had dawned on her. “I know those. They’re in the old-human books. That’s really smart! Remember when we were made keep a diary, in school, Adam?”

“Yeah...” Adam said.

“It’s like that but you’re sharing a few pages with someone. Writing a few pages for them. And before you had computers, in ancient history — or even instant communication — people would write them to each other. Just telling people what was happening. When crossing oceans was even difficult. When loads of people had to move away, all the time.”

Adam looked confused. “We don’t have oceans? We have elevators. Why wouldn’t you just meet them?”

Allison patted Adam’s knee. “I’ll write you one one day.”

“So everything’s OK?” Adam asked, doubtful.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Angie asked, not knowing the source of Adam’s worry.

“It’s fine, Adam. I’ll respond to him when I can. When I need to. He said there’s no rush. That’s part of the slowing down. Write it physically, take your time. Let it sit with you a while. Do it whenever you need.”

“Yeah! If it’s good writing you might not even need someone else to read it.” Angie poured herself a small glass of the spirit and drank the tiniest bit of it. “If it’s bad writing you might not want someone to read it. Your other bottle is behind the bar. Same as the rest of your beers. But the important thing is I need to ask how you are.”

Allison looked confused, then realised she was worrying people just a few minutes ago, and since she arrived to the bar, at least. “I’m fine, now, I think. The letter helped. It gives me something to... An outlet, I suppose.”

Angie shook her head. “I mean pain, all your new medication.”

“Oh! Yeah! No! No pain since this morning. If there was I didn’t even notice it. Do you think I’ve stopped growing?”

“I’m fairly sure you’ve not,” Angie said. “Anyway, you should call Dr. Grace. Fill her in on your whole, ‘This needs to slow down,’ thing.”

Allison groaned. “Do I need to fill her in or does she want to check up on me because you told her?”

“You’re so smart, Allison!” Angie said, then pointed towards a quiet corner of the room. “Go on!”

A few minutes later Allison was back from her call with Dr. Grace, feeling some reassurance but also a little pressure. “I have an appointment tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. All at midday. Whichever one I need. No later than Thursday, but if I need it earlier it’s there. Just so I know I can go see her.”

“And?” Angie asked.

“And this is all normal and completely expected.”


“And I need to keep up the rest, and movement, and making sure to feed myself. So we should probably go,” Allison said, with a sigh.

“There’s no need for that,” Angie said, looking towards the bar where Sue was appearing with a tray filled with food.

Sue made her way to them and placed down the tray which was filled with chunky chips with a sauce over them, and some without, and salsas, and something that was halfway between a bean stew and soup.

“Thanks, Sue,” Angie said.

“Don’t blame me if the food isn’t its best. We don’t typically keep things warm, but you insisted Allison needed to make a call.”

Sue then handed Angie a smoke, what was obviously going to be a tasting smoke for Angie to really appreciate the food, with Angie mouthing the words “Thank you” in response.

“How did Angie handle your smoke, Sue?” Allison asked.

“Fine. She mostly talked about you. And there was a bit of a rant. Very animated, which I’m sure you saw.”

Allison chuckled to herself. “That’s sweet,” she said, as Angie had taken a drag of the smoke and was stuffing a sauce coated chip in her mouth. “Adam was perfect.”

“You have good friends, Allison. You’re doing well,” Sue said, then she turned and walked away.

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Emma Anne Tate's picture

So much going on here. But this line leapt out at me “you don’t work to do work.”

Seems like a small thing, but it’s not. For almost all of human history, if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. If you were lucky, you lived in a family, or society, that made provision for people who were old or infirm, but the expectation was that everyone who could work, did. What you did, therefore, became an integral part of who you were. It gave your life both structure and purpose.

But what would the world be like, if we could meet all of our needs as a species without the need for most members of the species to actually do anything? If we could all just live off of a stipend if we wanted?

Maybe it would be utopia, with people simply doing things that brought them joy. But maybe it would be darker, with people feeling useless, untethered. Devoid of purpose, and craving something to give their existence a simulacrum of meaning. Your story appears to be exploring some of these issues, and I’m finding it really interesting.

And, of course, Allison is “beautiful” and “hot” and “sexy.” That doesn’t hurt the story, either. ;-)



We all need things, Emma