NSFW — mild (but not graphic) sexual content.
The smell was as intoxicating as the music was loud. He had been stripped of his coat at the entrance; managing to keep a hold of his burner phone as he was swept away on a wave of body heat and perfume.
Ladies draped in feathery boas danced on tip-toes atop glossy tables. Bare servers glided about the rooms with silver platters loaded with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, gloves, dams, and jellies.
He glanced behind him. The view of the entrance was now blocked by two sentinels of metal intertwined with chiseled muscle. He ducked his head as they scanned the room. If he didn’t get the call soon, he would never find his team.
His body jerked as something bit the back of his thigh. An androgynous woman in a three-piece suit slid the end of a riding crop across his cheek. She winked at him as she led two leashed men, clad in leather masks and collars.
His grip tightened on the phone, waiting for that familiar triplet buzz as he went deeper into the Den. Stray hands reached out for him as he passed. Topless beauties lavished him with strands of pearls and kisses. Curly haired young men made playful attempts to wrestle him from his path before clinging to someone more willing. He struggled to stay vigilant, losing track of the cybernetic agents.
A flash from his peripheral and suddenly the cyborg was upon him, ramming him through a glass partition where a contortionist performed for an engrossed audience seated under a glass floor. Metal talons sliced into his shoulder as the bony fist smashed into his nose. He lost his grip on the phone and deflected the second punch. He spit into the human eye, using the last acid packet stashed inside his cheek.
The human part whined. He tore out the mech eye, ripping the cables, pop-pop-pop, and punched it into its mouth. The cyborg choked, stumbling backwards as sparks exploded from its eye socket.
Blood beaded on his upper lip as he frantically searched for the phone. He was met by a face surrounded by a tangle of human limbs. She stifled a giggle, shoulders bending as she squeezed herself tighter.
He lunged and she somersaulted away, unfolding and refolding, balancing on one hand, legs wrapped over her shoulders, the phone squeezed between her ankles. Her free hand wrapped behind her neck, middle finger pulling down her eye as she stuck out her tongue.
Dropping to the floor, he swung his leg. She hopped over it one handed.
“Not bad, old man,” she teased. “Catch!” She kicked the phone over his head, the screen shattering on impact.
He scrambled for it as the second cyborg entered the ring. A green light scanned the Contortionist then scanned him, turning red halfway down.
“Freeze,” it aimed its mechanized arm, fist replaced by a cannon. “Hands up.”
He pressed the center button and placed the phone on the floor as he stood. The phone emitted a high pitch screech and the glass tile shattered, sending him into the crowd below. The bodies buffered his fall as he tripped over them, reclaiming his phone, status light flashing red. The audience applauded, cheering as he shoved through them to get to the stairs as the cyborg pursued him.
He slammed through a door, knocking over a bird bath of dried ice and leaping over an orgy of limbs sprawled on the floor. A man was running towards him. He dodged right. The man predicted his move, speeding to intercept him.
He slammed into the mirror, cracking the surface. Falling to his knees, a fresh gush of blood splattered his jeans. Numbness crept through him. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t feel the pastel purple wings unfurl from his back; semi-circles of soft ostrich feathers embracing him.
The green light reflected in the mirror, spreading across the wings. It flickered off. He could feel the floor groan as the cyborg lumbered away.
The wings fell away and he discovered they were attached to the arms of a woman standing behind him in a floral thong and silver tassels. She covered herself with the fans. “You lose your way?” she asked. She took his hand and towed him to a narrow staircase leading to a closet sized room stuffed with a dressing table and loveseat.
“Your phone needs a charge.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a red cable. The click of it penetrating the phone jostled his brain. A government issued cable. Red Cable. His team’s name. She plugged the phone into an outlet.
He settled on the loveseat as she swept the fans in lazy circles, caressing her body then caressing his face. Then she straddled him, hanging the fans over the back of the sofa. He caught her scent, nose brushing her underarm fur. Her skin reminded him of old chocolate; the white of the cocoa butter rising to the surface. She was rocking in his lap and he nuzzled between her breasts, tongue lapping at the sweat.
It tasted the same.
“Loralei.” The name was foreign on his tongue and he gasped as she grinded deeper. He dug his fingers into her fleshy bottom, finding familiar dimples. Fragments of memories rattled in his mind. Lying in the cradle of this woman’s hips, her rolling him over so she was on top.
“I will remember this date forever.” Someone said.
She had laughed, maybe? It was bright. They were outside, maybe? “It’ll make for a good secret password someday.”
The woman with the purple fans kissed his mouth, tugging at his lower lip. And he wanted her so inexplicably even though he had been unaware of her existence these last three days.
He was startled from his reverie.
She pulled back the fans, feathers falling into his lap as the knives sawed through them. She held the blades to his neck. “What’s the password?”
“I don’t know. The phone.”
“You don’t need it.”
“I need to take their last call, please. If I don’t, I’ll never see them again.”
“Who’s them?” she demanded.
Red Cable. Coming together at the drop point. The call would tell him what to do about his team.
He stared through her. “Please, stop. Stop. Don’t!” His lips didn’t move but the screams of a man echoed from him on repeat.
She stabbed him in the throat, dragged the knife free and stabbed again and again. Each time the recording became warped, the voice morphing as it slowed to a halt. His blood ran from red to clear, cheap synthetic fluid.
The door opened behind her as she climbed off the body. The Contortionist slipped in, followed by the Mistress.
“Another sleeper,” the Mistress muttered.
“But he seemed so real,” the Contortionist said.
Loralei filled a capillary with the sleeper’s blood. She slapped it into an autosampler and it whirled as it ran its analysis. Sixty seconds later it spit out a receipt sized print out.
“They’re still using his blood. He’s dangerously anemic now.”
Loralei picked up a circular device and strapped it around her chin before accepting the call.
“Are you at the meeting point?” the voice asked.
“Yes.” The voice morph made her voice deeper.
“Scatter the flowers to the wind.”
She rolled her eyes. “How poetic. This is the third sleeper you’ve sent to us. Let us reiterate that you are to send us the living original.” She hung up.
The Mistress chuckled. “You’re still hoping they’ll do as you say?”
Loralei stared at the slumped sleeper. A stunning copy of the man they were trying to recover. “We have no other choice but to hope.”
I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading.