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Trick and Treat
by Roy Gray
The colours of the ghosts flickered and throbbed in sequence with the disco
lighting as they
danced to the music's banshee wail. Reflections, twinkling off glassware and bar
through intervening ghosts making it easy to see the lack of live dancers among
the images filling the
dancefloor. At first Rick thought the club was full but close up the illusion
faltered. Mike's rapid
return from the bar was another giveaway.
"That's yours, Stood'nt, a pint of shandy," he shouted over the din.
"Right, thanks." Rick took the glass, careful to avoid disturbing the five
lagers on the tray.
"You needn't 've got a pint. A glass would have done." His mild grumble found a
rare moment of
"Get it down, you lad. It'll do you good." Griff slapped his back, catching
him in mid-swallow.
Jeff and Kevin laughed. "Stood'nt, get drunk and throw up, fine. Throw up
and get drunk? It's
not natural!" But Jeff helped by holding the glass, his voice just audible over
Rick wiped himself. 'Student' would be OK, somehow 'Stood'nt' seemed much
more mocking. Their
heavy emphasis on the first syllable and the cod Scottish accent made it so
annoying. Retrieving his
glass, he returned to watching for glimpses of thigh, cleavage and exotic
underwear amid the illusory
Steve nudged him. "Look at that lot," he pointed to a group of youths at the
bar, "they may be
well oiled but they must have sussed out the graphics. Watch that big one in
"Sorry?" Rick cupped his left ear at Steve.
Steve merely pointed again at the youths.
Rick saw a tall lad wearing an FM 'T' shirt which looked red when the lights
flared to white. The
words emblazoned on the front, 'Healthy', 'Wealthy &' and 'Worthless' were all
visible when the lights
were white, or yellow, and sometimes in the glow from nearby ghosts. Otherwise
they flashed into
individual readability according to the illumination. The youth, who had moved
gracefully onto the
dance floor, was now taking great care to adjust his position.
Moments later a shapely feminine ghost backed into him and stopped to wriggle
her hips at her
phantom partner. Worthless had chosen his spot well and timed his movements
perfectly. Rick heard
hoots of drunken laughter from the bar at his precise pelvic thrusts and
lascivious fondling while the
ghost shimmied and bobbed with the beat. Finishing his mime with a feigned
orgasm he closed his eyes
and staggered back, eyes raised, lips pursed and fists clenched in fake ecstasy,
as the dance
separated them. Then he spoiled the performance by stepping through several
Another youth, with a ribbon in his hair, tried a similar trick, mincing into
position with much
exaggerated pouting and primping at his audience who whistled and cheered his
mockery. His attempted
docking with his insubstantial male target was completely mistimed and greeted by
derisory jeers. Rick
watched him wander towards the projectors and reach up trying to obscure them
with his hands. He
turned back to Steve, "The one with the ribbon doesn't have a clue, does he?"
"Sorry?" Steve shouted back, cupping his ear, "What's he doing? I couldn't
"I said he hasn't got a clue because he's trying to make parts of the ghosts
disappear by putting
his hands in the way."
Steve looked puzzled. "You mean the lasers will damage his eyes, do you?"
"No." Rick wondered if it was worth trying to talk over the din. The
shouting already promised to
leave him with a raw throat. "You can't interrupt a part of the beam and expect
to blank out a
particular spot in the image."
Rick sighed to himself. "The graphics is a hologram. The information that
generates it is spread
over the whole wavefront. That means...." Suddenly he realised Steve was smiling
at the others and
they were all smiling back.
"Bastards!" he mouthed silently in mock viciousness. Their smiles turned to
"Sorry," said Steve, still grinning, "But I couldn't resist that one. Don't
take it to heart,
you'll get used to us before you go back."
Rick raised his glass and drank to avoid replying immediately. The three
months 'work experience'
before he returned to university couldn't pass quickly enough. Someone tapped
"Come on. We'll find a quiet corner before the place fills up." Kevin said.
Carrying their drinks they threaded their way between the tables in the
darkness beyond the dance
floor. Kevin dragged a chair from a nearby table.
"Hey Kev, fetch another table up while you're at it. There'll be no room for
all the drinks."
"He means there'll be no room for the empties." Kevin sighed, turning back.
"Forget it Kev, they're all fixed down." Jeff demonstrated, pushing in vain
at the table.
The laughter was partly drowned by the music and partly by the scraping and
banging as chairs were
shuffled around. "It's not much quieter here." Kevin ignored the merriment.
"It's a classy joint really." Rick answered.
"Yeah, very now state."
"There's nothing like this in Durham, man."
"Well you're deep in the Prosperity Belt here." Kevin laughed cynically.
Griff banged his empty glass on the table and stood up. "Refill time. Same
again then? Five
pints and a shandy for Stood'nt?" He looked at Rick expectantly.
Rick studied his half full glass. "I've got plenty left, thanks. Leave me
out this round."
"Oh no. Can't 'ave that can we lads? I'll get you a half just to fill up
with then." He turned
towards the bright lights of the bar.
They watched his progress from a vague shape in the gloom to a silhouette
looming against the
hurricane of light that was the dance floor and then the technicolour mosaic of
his back as he
ploughed through the images, inexorable as a tank in a riot.
"That's what you might call the direct route, isn't it?" Steve broke into
their short silence.
"Yeah. Go to the bar, go directly to the bar, do not pass out, do not
collect any empties on the
way." Kevin picked up the empty glasses and transferred them to a nearby table.
"Might as well have
"Forget it Kev." Mike said, "There's a taker here. You'll spoil Griff's
"No sign yet, maybe they've forgotten it. Trade's still slow. They'll
remember when they run out
of glasses, won't they?" Steve said, struggling to remove his jacket while
"Talking of robots, I saw the dolls round the back of the bar when I was
gettin' the drinks.
They'll be out soon." Mike reached across and pulled at the jacket.
"Thanks." Steve twisted round to hang it over the back of the chair. "Perhaps
we can introduce
Stood'nt to the dolls." He smirked. "That's if they get past that mob at the
The others laughed, apart from Rick. "No thanks!" he blurted, "I'm not that
glanced at his companions worried that their evening's entertainment was planned
at his expense. The
light was too poor for him to make out their expressions without staring. For a
moment his gaze was
held by the gleam of the highlights reflected in Jeff's spectacles. He knew he
had said the wrong
thing and wondered if anyone had noticed.
"Ah, come on, Stood'nt. " Steve's laugh was breathy and forced, rather like
character's. "'Fun without Fear' and all that. Remember?"
Everyone laughed at this reference to the Cybasecs ad campaign.
"What's so funny?" Griff returned burdened with drinks.
"Oh we were just reminding Stood'nt that he can't catch nothing nasty off a
doll." Jeff unloaded
the tray as he spoke.
"He's missin' a bit of the old home cooking and he just told us he's
desperate. We said we'd to
introduce him to a doll." Mike leered with a suggestive jerk of his fist.
Damn, Rick thought. They wouldn't let him forget that little slip.
"Male or fem? Or should I say thing?" Griff stopped to resume drinking.
"Definitely a femdoll." Steve answered Griff's rhetorical question. "He can
hardly keep his eyes
off Sylvia when he comes in our lab, can he?"
"Is that so?" Griff looked at Rick. "This could be your lucky night ... you
can try an Electrik
Su. She's magnetically attractive." He grinned at his joke.
Rick smiled, hoping to deflect their mood. "Funny," he glanced down, "I
don't seem to have a
strong north seeking pole at the moment." Weak but quick, he thought.
Kevin chuckled and Griff smiled. The gloom and noise made it difficult for
Rick to gauge the
"Hey! What do you call a bloke who gets his leg over with a doll and doesn't
pay?" Mike asked.
Kevin looked up. "Dunno ... a teste pilot?"
"Nah!" Griff missed the pun. "How about a eunuch, or, even better, a new
"A hacker, or even a hackist?" Rick called.
Mike laughed, "That's better than the original, which was ... Da Da! Heart
"Excuse me, was that supposed to amuse us?" Griff curled his lip looking at
definitely improved that. Mind you with my credcard he should have no worries on
that score," he
sniggered, "should he?"
Rick wondered how to respond. Maybe it was a mistake to have accepted their
invitation to a night
out. 'A drink with the lads' had seemed politic, but even here their jokes and
tricks were mainly at
his expense, just as they were at the lab. He was determined not to get drunk.
"Hey Griff! Taker 's coming."
A small wheeled robot was inspecting the tables for empties. Rick watched it
clear the only
occupied table nearby. It scuttled around carefully sighting glasses through the
gaps between the
drinkers. Then, with unerring accuracy, its single arm reached out and collected
each empty glass.
Finally it vacuumed the ash tray. His companions were equally entranced watching
the arm repeat its
sequence of unfold, grip, refold, stow with each glass. Strangely the two couples
at the nearby table
seemed to ignore it. Their only reaction was a barely perceptible sway away from
the arm stretching
"Hey! It looks different to last time. Is it a new model?" Mike looked at
Griff's reply was to raise his right hand and circle his nose with thumb and
sustained the pose for five seconds before twisting back to watch the taker.
"The sign of the encircled nose." Kevin turned to Rick. "Do they do that in
"'Course they do. Why did I ask?"
Jeff and Steve had been talking, but not loud enough for Rick to hear over
a Moover 127 so it is a different model. Well spotted, Bruce."
Mike stood and bowed several times.
A moment of relative silence enabled them to hear Jeff continue. "... and
they've got a set of
Moover 128s on the warehouse system. They use them for order picking, linked
direct to MRP46 and ..."
Griff interrupted. "Excuse me." Feigning a massively injured tone he pushed
his chair back and
stood. "Excuse me," he repeated loudly, then continued in a bitter voice, "have
we been here an hour?
Have we had two pints here? Have we had four pints in The Kings Arms before
that -- Stood'nt
excepted of course." Fiercely he turned to Jeff. "So why the fuck are we talking
Jeff's response was simple. "It's right behind you. You'll miss it if
you're not careful."
Griff subsided and looked round as he sat. The taker had speedily rounded up
the glasses on the
next table and was now rolling their way. Rick poured his new drink into the old
pint glass to leave
the taker something to collect, he had never seen one close up before. Most of
the others did
likewise but Griff's glass was half full.
"Bit of fun here I think." Griff announced. He shuffled from side to side,
trying to frustrate
its attempts to scan the table, and moved a few of the empties around.
Kevin, who had a reasonably full pint, grabbed it with his right hand and
tucked it protectively
against his heart. "Ah! You don't catch me that way." He turned to Rick. "You
watch. There'll be
Rick shuffled his chair back slightly, just in case.
The talking stopped as the taker worked its way round the table. It was a
quiet worker, the five
second interval warning tone and the dull flash of its red lights were an
unobtrusive contribution to
the disco background. There was a muffled chinking from its burden of empties, or
was it coins? Rick
noticed a Salvation Army collection can taped to one side. He struggled to find
a coin in his pocket
and dropped it in the slot. Then he watched the arm extend past, grasp his half
full glass, move it
to one side, disengage, continue its extension, pick up the empty glass and
withdraw. The precision
of the operation was its fascination.
Jeff's coin rattled into the tin. "Like a Swiss watch, isn't it?."
"Watch this, then." said Griff, savagely, as the arm reached past him. His
face showed his
concentration as he followed the movements and the instant the empty glass left
the table he pounced.
Mike jumped back in alarm, obviously worried about the fall-out, as Griff
refilled the moving glass
from his own drink. The taker stopped dead, the arm still half extended. Then
its lights flashed to
intense fog lamp red and the warning tone shot up to the hundred decibel SOS
level. The combination
was excruciatingly annoying, close up, and, by the way all heads turned towards
them, more than just a
"Shut that bloody thing off!" Griff shouted between the pulses, but Jeff had
recovered quickly and
was already in action.
He was laughing as he keyed the reset, lifted the offending glass from the
slack grip of the now
quiescent taker and again pressed the reset, all in one smooth move. The machine
came to life,
withdrew its arm and scuttled round the table taking more sights and continued on
"Christ! You can't take him anywhere, can you?" Kevin's resigned glance up
to the heavens showed
he expected no response.
"Piss off," Griff mouthed.
"So sorry. We forgot to warn you." Jeff said, struggling not to laugh.
"Piss off." Griff stayed in lip reader mode.
"'Tis the truth, to be sure." Mike chimed in, not trying to stop grinning,
"We would have told you
if we knew what you were goin' to do. Wouldn't we?" He turned to the others for
"Bastards!" again without sound.
"Oh oh." Kevin butted into the mirth. "Gestapo's coming."
A tall man in a dark suit was approaching. He dodged the occasional real
dancer but waded
straight through the graphics on his way. For a moment his dark frame, backlit
by the glare from the
bar and disco, cast a menacing shadow as he threaded the maze of tables. Rick's
eyes readjusted to
the dark and he could see that the man was smiling.
The bouncer looked at Griff as he spoke. "I might have known. Pity I wasn't
on frisk duty for
you." He had a loud voice. "Hi Mike, Jeff." he nodded. "What's he done this
Griff spoke out first. He managed to add an air of puzzlement to his tone.
"The Queer Robot." Jeff and Mike shouted in unison. Everyone laughed at this
reference to Sir
Jasper Carrot's famed sketch.
"I'm sure we ordered Electrik Su," Griff continued before anyone could start
the first line.
The others smiled but Jeff turned to Rick and Kevin. "Pete's from Warehouse
Four but he
moonlights as security here. He was at school with Griff."
Pete was also speaking "... and if you must fiddle with something, self abuse
is your best ...."
He put his hand to his ear, and stopped talking, his attention distracted for an
instant. Then he
turned his lapel over and spoke into a small microphone attached there. "On my
way." He turned away
tugging at something in his pocket."
"Trouble." he called back to them. "See you around."
"Getting the filters out early tonight." said Griff. "Must be that lot we
saw by the bar. They
were well tanked when I got the last round in."
Pete moved back to the bright lights as Griff spoke. Rick noticed he was
pulling something over
his head on his way, presumably a pair of goggles. Definitely sodium filters.
Confirmation was the
sudden sallow illumination from an intense graphics fog, late sunlight on a
crusted windscreen, cast
over the bar and disco. The shocking silence as the music stopped and white
safety lights killed the
gloom made the wan light almost welcome.
Shouts, laughter and the buzz of conversation came from around the room but
other less welcome
sounds emanated from the haze: angry shouting, the clatter of bouncing glasses,
rushing feet and
feminine squeals. Everyone was looking towards the action but the fog made it
impossible to see the
details and nothing overspilled into the normal lighting. Within seconds silence
returned. Then the
graphics switched back and the lighting returned to normal, accompanied by cheers
from the darkness
and jeers from around the bar. The ghostly dancers reappeared in mid-twirl.
insistent beat signalled the all clear.
The only sign of the action was the taker vacuuming the floor by the bar and,
just visible by the
exit, two of the security men tidying themselves and removing their goggles.
"It's too efficient,
that graphics fog. Makes it far too easy for the ones who can see." Kevin said,
"He's not happy unless he sees the blood, is he?" Steve joked. "You're still
pining for your days
as a lager lout aren't you?"
Kevin grinned back. "Yeah. Those were the days.."
Jeff interrupted. "Yes. Those were the days when men were boys, glasses
were really glass and
bottles shattered into nasty jagged fragments when you smashed them in someone's
face. Is that right,
"Ah shut up. If there's a bit of excitement I just want to see it. The
place is pretty dead
otherwise." Kevin scanned the entire room as if to confirm his last statement.
"Oh stop whingeing. It'll get crowded soon enough. We're a bit early,
that's all. We don't want
Stood'nt here to miss the excitement do we?" Griff nodded at Rick then turned
back and continued
speaking. "Besides which we got a good spot away from the racket and well placed
"What talent? Show me." Jeff demanded, drumming his fingers on the table in
time to the beat.
"Someone get another bloody round in." Griff banged an empty glass down close
enough to Jeff's
fingers to make him flinch.
"OK. I can take a hint. Same again everyone?"
Rick nodded assent still uneasy. What 'excitements' had Griff in store for
him? At least the
place is filling up he thought watching a crowd come in and beat Jeff to the bar.
Perhaps he could
get away from whatever they had planned by joining in the dancing. Well ... once
there was some real
dancing to join in. Ghosts still seemed to outnumber people twenty to one. He
watched the new
arrivals absently as Griff and Steve lamented Jeff's slow progress at the bar.
Bare arms were the fashion at the moment, making it difficult for women to
scrammers. Rick was mildly amused by the fact that so many had decorative
versions dangling from
their wrists. He turned to Kevin, "Costume jewelry scrammers. Whatever next?"
Mike obviously overheard, despite the music. "As long as they work, who
cares? I got one for my
daughter. It was the only way to get her to carry one." He paused and for a
moment the tip of his
cigarette flared bright red in the shadows. "Mind you," he exhaled, the smoke a
pale blur around his
head, "I doubt you'd hear one from over there."
"We'd smell the thing but you've no chance." Griff broke in. "Put that
bugger out. You'll poison
Steve and Kevin coughed ostentatiously.
"Oh. Stop moanin'. It's the first I've had here. You should be grateful.
Normally I'd have had
three or four by now." Mike waved the offending cigarette and tapped the
accumulated ash onto the
floor. Then he continued to puff away happily, tapping his feet in time to the
"Look at that poser over there." Kevin tapped Rick's arm and pointed to a man
going past with a
tray of drinks.
Tall, perhaps in his early thirties, with an FM 'T' shirt. In the flickering
dim light Rick could
just make out the words 'Ancient, Mortgaged & Married.' It seemed a witty riposte
to the many variants
on 'Young, Free & Single' which were a fashion of the moment.
"No wait 'til he turns round." Kevin saw his puzzlement. "Read the back as
Rick read 'Still Hopeful' as he passed.
"I see what you mean." Rick grinned, "but maybe we should give him the
benefit of the doubt."
"Not with him, you can't." Kevin responded.
"Why? Do you know him?"
"Yeah. He used to work at our place. He was one of the frilly cuffed
brigade. You know? One of
the marketing guys." Kevin explained. "We always call them 'the frilly cuffs'
just like we call all
"Don't tell me -- you had an old Scottish supervisor who started it." Rick
was resigned to hearing
another interminable tale about the mythical Bob MacSomething who was a constant
source of mirth for
"Something like that." said Kevin. "Frilly there's wife found he was having
a bit on the side so
she got back at him through his portable. She virussed it; altered data, mucked
up files and even
ruined his backups." He paused to sip at his drink. "He was lost, couldn't do
anything useful for
weeks. Wrecked his career. He's in training section now."
Rick spoke without thinking. "How do frilly cuffs come into it?"
"Oh. We had this old Scottish supervisor called Bob McNeill and ..."
Rick groaned inwardly. Why had he asked? How could he change the subject?
"... and this bod from marketing came to ..."
"Look at that!" Rick nudged Kevin and nodded at a shapely young Black woman
with her back towards
them. She was bending slightly to deposit a tray of drinks on a nearby table.
"Must be laced from
the inside to cling like that." He joked referring to the tension in her white
"Yeah." Kevin inhaled and squinted his eyes in the gloom as he peered round
at her. "Ooh you can
almost see the impression of each pubic hair, can't you." He stared while groping
for his glass. "I
don't think my imagination can cope."
Griff broke in, aware of their interest even though he could not hear their
certainly isn't wearing a spaceman's plug." he boomed, loud enough for the girl
to hear over the
Rick cringed mentally and thought, briefly, about turning away as he watched
the girl turn towards
them. The others were laughing and smiling. He read 'Young, Gifted & Trapped'
on her dark FM 'T'
shirt. The shirt was as well filled as the jeans he thought. Obviously she was
not sure who had made
the comment but it did not take her long to decide.
She stalked over, carrying the empty tray in one hand, and spoke to Griff.
Her teeth gleamed in
the darkness but her smile was not over friendly. "No I'm not, but you should
have one at both ends.
You need it most at the top, just swap it round if you've only got one." She
waved at her companions,
still seated at the other table, as she turned away, to return the tray to the
They watched her go, the white slacks a beacon drawing their gaze into the
darkness. "Now that's
what I call a high fractality index." Kevin commented.
"Is that what you'd call a complex bifurcation Stoodn't?" Griff leered.
"To be sure there's a strange attractor somewhere under there." Mike saved
Rick from answering.
"Nah ... just a fuzzy torus." said Steve, to crude laughter.
They all saw Jeff's double take as his path crossed the girl's on his return.
Steve spoke as Jeff arrived. "You seem very interested in Flash Messages all
of a sudden."
"Bugger the message. Did you see the medium?" Jeff answered, smiling, as he
placed the loaded
tray on the table.
"I think bugger the medium was more on Kev's mind, don't you Stood'nt?" Griff
cut in as he took
"I think he's dead keen to give the medium a massage." Rick took his own
drink. "Thanks Jeff."
"I'll take the tray back." Griff stood. "I need a leak."
"Good idea. I could do with making room for more as well." Steve followed
Griff towards the bar.
Rick watched them for a moment. They met the Black girl as she returned.
Griff must have made
some comment to her because she laughed as they passed.
"Trapped is a real peach and just your age, I should think. You could be
well away there." Kevin
"Huh?" Rick looked blank.
"The dark girl." Kevin nodded towards the nearby group of young women.
"Young, gifted, etcetera.
What a' you waiting for?
"Oh. Yeah she's nice, but it's a bit early yet. Anyway what's she waiting
for?" Rick countered
grinning. "All she needs do is ask. She could be well away here then."
"And here." Kevin laughed. "I think we'll be waiting a long time."
They both picked up their drinks and turned to towards the dancefloor. Real
dancers were taking
over now and the ghosts were fading away. Most of the crowd ignored the few
remaining ghosts and
danced straight through them. They would soon be switched off.
A fair proportion of the light had emanated from the ghosts. Rick wondered
if the system would
compensate, as it had for the sound - which was just as loud as ever despite the
extra bodies, or
gradually let the place get darker. Griff and Steve were returning, guiding a
dark haired woman with a long sweeping skirt towards the table.
She was wearing a very low cut white top which seemed to cling only in places
where it would have
maximum effect, and there was plenty to cling to. It was loose only in those
places where it could
reveal a lot and there was a lot to reveal. That skirt must be slit, Rick
thought noticing it flow
and skirl around her legs as they approached. When they left the direct light it
difficult to see the details of her face, though he had the impression of crimson
lips and long dark
eyelashes. There was something familiar about her but he could not pin it down.
Griff brought her to the table. From this angle Rick could see the skirt was
slit to the waist.
Every movement exposed a wealth of thigh. It was almost hypnotic, a struggle to
look away. The
others were all leering, laughing and shaking their clenched fists with mock
lust. He panicked,
trying to jump up, as recognition dawned and he realised his predicament.
Griff spoke at the exact same moment. "Stood'nt, this is Electrik Su." He
was smirking and nodded
approval at Kevin who had restrained Rick's sudden reaction and pulled him back
down before he had any
chance to escape.
Rick knew he was not dreaming, but it was like a nightmare and a wet dream
rolled into one.
Everything was happening at once, he was blushing, though who would notice in
this light, as he
struggled to avoid Su's embrace, Kevin was shouting something in his ear about
calming down or it
would be Magnetick Dick, the Q. R., not Electrik Su, Su had managed to straddle
him so that she was
sitting facing directly towards him on his lap, she, no it, was so light, in that
position her, no!
no! think it, think robot, thighs were either side of his, slit skirts could be
very functional, her
breasts seemed almost level with his face, he could feel her warm, moist breath
in his eyes, and the
perfume she was even wearing perfume, he could see and hear the others, raucous
laughter, shouts and
cheers surrounded him, cheers? Oh God, Griff was putting a credit card in Su's
back, that's right
dolls had a slot and a keypad just behind the shoulder, he couldn't reach round
to interfere because
of Su's embrace, try to calm down boy, think, think, he looked up at Su's face,
not Su think Robot,
keep calm, she looked so real, so attractive, she blinked and leaned in, all rosy
soft kisses, like a
butterfly flitting over his face and neck, fluttering eyelashes brushing his
cheeks, think of robots,
think metal, how could she look so demure? little white teeth gently nibbled his
ear lobes, hot breath
inflaming his thoughts, think electrical, think stepper motors, a warm tongue
wetly tickling into his
inner ear, moist breathy whispers only he could hear ....
"Is that good ... Big boy?"
Think armatures, think carbon brushes, she leaned back again but pulled
him into a closer
embrace having just given him time to see how the loose top was gaping open now,
the dim surroundings
didn't matter, it was lit up from the inside, no need for imagination, think
wear, think lubrication,
no don't think about lubrication, he felt himself responding despite all the
noise, shouting and
giggles, giggles? oh no! all around him, despite all his mental gymnastics she/it
was getting at him,
all her squirming on his lap had allowed her, no it, to settle and sink between
his thighs so his legs
were forced apart, or had someone helped by rocking his chair, he was so
confused, his chin had been
sunk in her cleavage at one time but now their faces were level.
"Use me." she said and leaned forward insinuating her tongue between his
lips, unthinkingly he
responded, a thump on the back, a voice, was it Kev?
"That's it Stood'nt have fun and make Griff pay. You can't go wrong."
Oh Christ, think,
down boy down, think ... its a femdoll, a robot, a slot machine, why had he
responded like that? A
reflex? Think machine, think plastics, it was so feminine, so realistic, her
taste ... think
electronics, think mechanics, think hydraulics no no don't think about
hydraulics, her hand was on his
crotch, he tried to pull her arm away but his companions kept releasing his grip,
he couldn't reach to
stop her, why didn't I wear 'Y Fronts'? She was undoing the zip, two ones are
two, two twos are four,
two fours are eight, two eights sixteen, her hand was inside, keep it small, two
faster get the number bigger, sixtyfour, onetwoeight, he could feel a cold draft
as she exposed him,
how safe are these things? Can she do any damage? Keep on that thought, is it
shrinking? The touch
was soft and sure, OK, OK, twofivesix, fivetwelve, tentwentyfour, she was
speaking, he felt a
delightful and pointed little tug.
"Do you come here often?"
A flash of inspiration. "Only when I'm kneaded."
Someone slapped him on the back again. "Only when 'e's kneaded!" it had to
be Griff, "Good one
What's so funny?
"Keep it up lad."
"Ah ha keep it up, 'e 'asn't got it up yet."
"Oh a real shaft of wit. Hey! 'shaft of wit' Not bad?"
"Yes Mr. Spooner."
"An oscarism, we are quick today. What's he doing now?"
fourtyninetysix, he could feel sweat trickling down his back and running down his
face, Su had
squirmed into intimate contact, he could feel her heat radiating straight into
eightyoneninetytwo, stray thought: has it got IR heaters built in down there?
I'm losing control,
must concentrate on the numbers again, eightyoneninetytwo, sixteenthreeeightfour,
Crimson lips butterflying around his face, breasts squashed into his chest, a
hand guiding him
into a caldera of pleasure, it would be so easy to give in, get it over quickly,
no not with a slot
machine for God's sake, not with an audience, where was I?
The squirming and shuffling melded into an exquisite rocking motion, try to
keep still, don't
respond, the extraneous voices impinged on his concentration.
"I think he's found his strong north seeking pole," Griff said.
"Yes he must be in full point and probe mode by now," said Jeff, "move his
drink as well Kev."
"Good point Steve. Ah ha! Yes definitely a good point Rick."
They were sniggering at some joke, sixtyfour, sixtyfive,
sixtyfivefivethreesix, she was all
over him like an itchy shirt, scratch one spot and the fire burned fiercer
elsewhere, right hand can't
reach under her arm, he tried forcing his right arm between them going over
rather than under Su's
arm, somehow his hand ended up inside her top stuck between his chest and her
breasts, immediately she
began to writhe and pant as though she was taking short sharp breaths, a hot
butterfly alighted on his
ear again, "Squeeze me, Squeeze me," a warm voice murmured, he extricated his
hand but the angle was
awkward now and as it passed her breast, he was distinctly aware of a raised
onethreeoneohseventwo, easier here, twosixtwoonefourfour --
"I bet he feels a right tit."
No mus'n't linger, fivetwofourtwoeighteight, she was nuzzling the nape of
his neck, lips
tracking almost to his shoulder, at least the rocking had stopped, now she was
writhing her hips, it
was almost unbearable, the possibilities for synthetic musculature down there
don't bear thinking
about, it seemed endless, a torrid earthquake of delight, he was well into the
subduction zone now and
knew she was unstoppable, as implacable as plate tectonics, he sensed the long,
grinding like continental plates raising a mountain, they were pressed so close
together, the slight
perfume from her hair flowing across his face, sharp little teeth caressing his
neck, hot breath under
his collar, aching pressure building up, where was I, yes,
twoohninesevenseven, she straightened up and pulled his head down into her bosom
before he could
react, twoohnineseven, he was looking down the illuminated valley, little
pinpricks of light glowing
in the white top, onefivetwo, fouroneninefour, one side of his face was cushioned
in the soft down of
her skin, momentarily he marvelled at the detail resolved by his free eye, the
dark traces, simulating
veins, visible under the skin branching away from the delicate almond stipple
that moated her nipples,
threeohfour, so real, fouroneninefourthreeohfour, so close,
eightthreeeighteightsixoheight, so hot, so
"He's lasting well considering he should have been a bit rusty." "Rusty, ha
ha. He might catch a
nasty dose of rust on 'is can opener if he doesn't hurry up."
The coarse laughter and crude commentary of his companions were almost a
"I wonder if dolls ever get metal fatigue?"
"No sign of 'im suffering from brittle fracture yet."
The numbers, don't lose track, eight ... three ... eight ... eight ... six
... oh ... eight,
how to hold on, don't lose control, try to keep a straight face, sixteen.., the
continued, no, no,
sixteen ... seven
Her hand and mouth were fluttering around his face again but all her
movements were slowing and
the excitement was subsiding. It stopped and whispered into his ear. "That will
be one hundred and
seventeen Euro 55; including forty seven Euro 2 value added tax."
Don't slump forward, sit up straight, what's she doing now? She was
sitting back but her
hand was at him again, he looked down fearful she was starting again but the slit
skirt was an
effective cover, that was a relief at least. Her grasp was quite definite, was
that warm water he
could feel? It was like waking from a dream. The kind where you dream that you
are urinating and
wake up to find you really are wetting yourself. Oh no I can't be, his
panic subsided as the
warm wet streams turned to jets of warm air, it's got a washing and drying system
fitted in its hands,
the water must be drawn off by tubes in the wrists and arms.
He sat still for a moment his composure steadily returning. The doll's hand
was still under cover
busy restoring him to normality. He noticed that the lights in its clothes were
out. Everyone seemed
to be talking to him at once but he was concentrating on the doll's activities.
He breathed a sigh of
relief as it zipped him up.
As it stood his spirits sank as though the load off his lap weighed double on
his mind. He just
wanted to leave, he couldn't bear to look anyone in the eye. He felt for his
drink, any excuse to
delay interfacing with the world around him. His hand tracked gingerly across
the table behind the
rising doll. Someone pushed a glass into his hand. He clutched it gratefully
and began to drink only
to stop, choking and spluttering, as he realised it was a large whisky rather
than his shandy.
"Do you always throw up when you have a drink?" a voice penetrated Rick's
"Leave 'im be Mike. E's doing alright. Get it down, it'll do you good."
Griff's voice was rueful
as he retrieved his card from the doll's back. "Bloody 'ell! A hundred plus
Earoes. You made a dent
in that, didn't you? Even allowing for inflation! Ha ha! Dent, inflation get
it?" Nobody responded.
"Anyway drink that it'll do you good."
Rick managed to control his throat and continued sipping. He watched the
svelte figure of his
former partner walk back toward the bar. Hair swinging, hips swaying, so
feminine, it was still
difficult to accept it as a machine.
"Cheer up, Rick." Steve walked round and slapped him on the back. "You did
well there. Lasted
longer than your predecessors. Mind you they looked as though they enjoyed the
experience. They did,
didn't they?" he turned to the others for support.
"Rick looked really embarrassed, didn't he?" Mike laughed. "I don't think
I've ever seen anyone
as embarrassed as that.".
"Yes. But did you see the expression on his face when Griff shoved his card
in the slot. You
couldn't believe it, could you?" Jeff turned towards Rick.
Kevin spoke before Rick could reply. "Well ... After the first surprise he
impassive to me. He only lost control the once, that I saw. Mind you he never
looked like he was
enjoying himself, did he?"
Rick's gloom grew as the merriment and humour of his companions continued.
The fact that they
were using his name, at last, made no difference. They are getting worse he
"Impassive! 'E didn't look so impassive when it gave 'im the old clean-down
grinned. "In fact 'e looked like he'd wet 'imself to me." His laugh was
infectious. The others
joined in, even Rick managed to smile. The joke was uncomfortably near the
truth. He could imagine
his own expression at the time.
Rick finished his whisky as the mirth continued. Then he gulped down the
remains of his shandy.
Going for a round of drinks would get him away for a few minutes he decided.
Perhaps they would calm
down in the meantime. He stood up. "Same again everyone?" He raised his voice
to ensure they heard.
"Thought you'ld never ask." Kevin said. "Get Griff a whisky. I think he'll
need a stiff one
after what you've done to his credit card." He grinned at Rick. "You've had a
stiff one. Don't
"OK then four pints of lager, a whisky for Griff and mine?" Everyone nodded.
Turning towards the bar he realised the graphics had changed. The lighting
had a greenish cast
now because the dance floor had been transformed into a lush rainforest. All the
bar and disco
lighting had switched to sunlight yellows and greens to harmonize. He could see
parrots and flying
squirrels apparently just below the treetop canopy. The illusion made it seem
that there was no
ceiling and the low lighting was a result of the dense forest. It would have
been quite pleasant but
for the crowd of dancers, the drinkers and, as he got closer, the piercing throb
of the music.
He joined the throng at the bar, happy to be out of the limelight. The music
seemed less painful
here, curious, he looked around to see how the sound system was designed. He
immediately recognised a
girl behind him, it was 'Trapped' from the next table. He turned back quickly
hoping she had not
noticed. He was sure he had heard her, or one of her friends, giggling during
his ordeal. He didn't
want any eye contact.
There was a tap on his shoulder and he heard a musical feminine voice at his
side. "I thought
they were really rotten to you."
"Pardon." he said twisting back, unsure how to respond.
'Trapped' had jostled her way to his side. She was almost his own height and
very attractive with
dark curly swept up hair and long eyelashes. They made him wince mentally as he
events. His glance took in her reddened lips, dark flashing eyes, white teeth
and genuine sympathetic
expression, as she spoke again.
"I thought your friends were really rotten to set you up like that." she
repeated. "I don't know
how you can speak to them now." She kept up with him as he squeezed nearer to the
A surge, as someone left with a tray of drinks, pushed them together for a
moment. "Sorry," he
said, as his elbow pressed into her arm. He was still confused and at a loss for
She gazed at him, "Are you alright?" Her voice was warm with concern. "I
would be absolutely
seething after something like that."
"It's different for men, they didn't mean any harm. To them it was just a
joke." He attempted a
smile without a great deal of success. "They seem to have done it before and I
guess most of their
victims enjoy the experience." He shrugged his shoulders. It was about the only
gesture he could make
in the general press. "I've survived, I'll be alright thanks." He slipped into
the space, as another
drink laden tray was carried from the bar, and made room as she squeezed in next
The barmen looked very busy. "I think we've a bit of a wait yet." he said
looking at her again.
She had beautiful eyes. "Can I get you a drink as well?".
"Oh no. Thanks. I 'm fetching drinks for my friends. I wouldn't let you
buy all those." she
"Oh don't worry." he replied. "Tell you what I'll introduce myself and then
I'll get the drinks."
he smiled back and glanced along the bar to check his chance of being served.
The nearest barman was
busy with a complex order for some exotic mixtures and would be a while yet. "My
Renshaw, Rick if you like, I'm working at the International Labs in Flocklea for
a few weeks. Now
what can I get you?"
"Everyone calls me Per, which is short for Peerama. I'm not going to let you
buy our drinks," she
replied cheerfully, "but we could dance later, if you like?" She looked at him
"I can't argue with that." he grinned, in surprise and delight. A space
opened on his left and he
moved up, easing the crush. We were probably closer then than we'll ever get
dancing was his rueful
thought. "It's a date." Per's nudge reminded him that the barman was nearly
"Go on." she said, "you were first."
"Four pints of lager, pint of bitter and a double Bells." he called as the
barman returned a card
to the woman next to Per. Ordering himself a half of shandy now might spoil his
image. Why take
risks when things were looking up?
The music made it difficult to talk while they were dancing, especially with
Per's frenetic style
of aerobic stretching movements, distant bumps and grinds and back to back
shunts, so he stopped
trying. Rick enjoyed watching but his mind was still spinning. Why hadn't he
recognised it? Why
hadn't he realised what they were planning? Why hadn't he kept better control?
It was hard to break
the spiral despite the music, the movement and keeping up with Per.
Per danced behind a tree remaining just visible through the trunk. Rick
followed up straight
through the image, avoiding neighbouring dancers, and pretended to trip on a
phantom root to turn
Per's moue of disapproval into a smile. In other circumstances it would have
been an inspirational
smile but his state of mind muted his response. He tried to look cheerful.
Suddenly the lighting changed. Now they were dancing in a moonlit forest.
The music changed to
suit, slowing and even quietening, banishing the fierce edgy dance styles as a
wind scatters the
"Impressive effects." Rick murmured to Per as she moved in close for the
slower dance. Still
breathless, Per did not answer but just clung to him adapting to the slower
tempo. A small bead of
moisture gleamed at her temple and, an even better assurance of humanity, was
that a tiny spot high on
her cheekbone? It seemed entirely natural to lean forward and kiss her forehead.
Never had acne been
"I think it's really romantic." Per said nestling in close. "Don't you?"
They looked around. They could almost be dancing alone in bright moonlight.
Phantom trees formed
small glades so that by restricting their movement couples could imagine
themselves surrounded by
trees with music borne on a midsummer breeze.
He could feel her sliding slowly against him as they swayed in time to the
music. For a moment
her movements reminded him of his trial, but the despair was gone. He smiled,
tightening his embrace,
amused by his own private joke.
One two is two, two twos are four, two fours are eight ....