Brain Dead Peep Star Dreams
by Lance Dean
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
I shivered awake into the maybe morning. Tsantsi being semi-transparent, the rays of the star dubbed Raskolnikov shone clear through the planet. It was always light, regardless of the hour.
The only indigenous life was a tenacious mold that grew in and around the stones and cast the sunshine into a garish glow that turned everything a dull chartreuse.
I lifted my head. It rang with pain and that slow, sucking wub-wub-wub throb of an endo hangover. Worse than usual. Easy to see why. There was a spike hole over my liver.
I needed a new nest. Someone had found my hidey-hole and piggybacked me after I passed out. I spiked my thymus through my throat. They had milked my liver. On top of that assault and insult, they stole my spike.
Used to be, when someone milked me, their fetish fetched me buckets of duckets. Now every guttersnipe was a parasite, and everyone fed off each other.
The streets of Tsantsi City were paved with diamonds, a once upon a time storybook notion that was considerably more harsh as a literal reality. I would know; I came up rough here. These were the hardest streets in the universe.
Diamonds paved the roads here, because diamonds were as common and as valuable as dirt.
I pulled myself upright and flexed my wigglies to work out the spasms and shakes. The shivers I shed had nothing to do with cold. They turned to shudders, then wracking sobs as last night’s events trickled unbidden from my memory.
Tears wouldn’t come. I didn’t have enough fluid in me. My throat constricted. Tacky from dehydration, the walls of my esophagus pasted themselves together and choked off my breath.
Swiveling my head around to make sure I was alone, I bent and sipped diamond-dusted mud from the gutter. There were severe penalties for drinking unsanctioned water, and I’m not talking about the little swimmies that make you sick.
Pancorp controlled water sales, and drinking any water they didn’t sell impinged on their market rights. If it rained on this rock, and you tipped your head back to catch some in your mouth, you faced forced labor incarceration.
The sludge sliced my throat on the way down. It would cut all the way through but, lucky me, no one saw. I could breathe again.
Concentrating on breathing, I pushed away the memories of last night. It wasn’t easy, but I’d had considerable practice at ignoring unpleasant realities.
I used to have good survival instincts, but without a chance at a bright future, I had to numb them out. When you were never safe, recognition of the danger destroyed your heart from stress. Unplugging was a survival mechanism.
My tunic and underwear were torn, so I put them right. Smoothed the cloth. Held the ripped edges together. Gently rubbed the fabric as it weaved itself back again. I looked around for additional tatters and added them to my outfit.
Once my clothes were whole, I pinched the material, activating self-cleaning. A shimmer spread across it, momentarily turning it transparent. The stains broke down to a fine powder and fell through the fabric.
I brushed the dust off my skin. My outfit looked good as new. It was top of the line once, though the hemline had receded as I lost pieces.
As I rubbed the cloth between my fingers, it cycled through colors until it was dull gray. Most of the time, I tried to keep a low profile.
Clothes fixed, I worked on myself. My hair was greasy. It would be better tied back, but I needed it for camouflage.
I always presented a specific angle for prospectives. That was standard Pancorp sex work training. I parted my hair to cover my right eye, which was asymmetrical. It was in front of my ear, below my cheek.
I combed my hair with my fingers. Then trussed up my show leg. I tied it under my shift to keep it clean when I was on the move. It was boneless down to the ankle and dragged if I didn’t secure it.
As I tightened the flesh bundle, I heard the brittle scrape of quarry boots, coming closer.
I struck my tricking pose and unfurled my show leg. The dainty foot wore a useless shoe. The other four legs were bare, scraped raw, veined with billions of hairline scratches. Dust-fine shards of diamond sliced me with every breath and cut into my eyes on every blink.
The workers were close, just around the corner. I rubbed my dress to a scarlet that screamed sex.
Gender didn’t matter, I had something for everyone. Four tits, two cocks, three vaginas, four assholes and a mouth. Cheerily they encountered me with hardened joy. Now serving party of ten, no waiting.
* * *
After Tsantsi was discovered, Pancorp built worker dormitories and the massive quarry, where boulders were processed for export.
Tsantsi City was the shanty that sprang up around the quarry. It was the lone city on the planet and had been a boom town for over two centuries, long enough to tank the interplanetary diamond trade. Been in a slow slide into stagnation ever since.
The value of cosmetic gems plummeted to practically nil, but raw stones retained some value as industrial cutters and abrasives. Pancorp kept the quarry going with a skeleton crew, pumping out three tons of raw stones daily.
The rest of us were stuck with them, slowly shriveling into skeletons ourselves.
You used to be able to get anything in Tsantsi City. I was one of those things; I can tell you firsthand. The things they came for were more than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Certainly beyond anything I could have thought of, and I’ve had fugueware hardwired into me since I was twelve, and I’ve imagined some sick shite.
The first trick of the morning left a sour taste but not as bitter as the final one last night. I counted my lucre, barely filthy enough for a snack, and me with the rumbling tummy grumblies.
My problems were bigger than that. I had to get off this world and go elsewhere, as far as my coin would stretch. This would barely stretch to the closest vending machine.
Shambling through the old market, I remembered when stalls were full, food plentiful. Pancorp scaled back the hydrofarms and food shipments along with their workforce. The freight ships, which delivered supplies and hauled away diamond, came less and less often.
Everything they brought went to the very top. What slipped through their fingers was wolfed down by the jackals closest to the trough.
Other than the last work crew, everyone with enough filthy had already fled this rock. Those that stayed couldn’t afford to leave.
The local resources drained away so rapidly that working towards escape became impossible. All you could do was work towards survival and fall a bit short of that.
Rampant starvation led to immodest Swiftian proposals, with solutions that tended toward neighborhood barbecues of slow-running long-pork. Luckily, I was never invited to these festivities. You never knew if you were a guest or the main course.
I heard some scribble-scrabbles, swiveled my noggin, and creaking out of a crate came a voice. “’Zat you, Tap?”
* * *
Copyright © 2018 by Lance Dean