Blockchain Nation

copyright 2020 by Arnold Snyder

one

“Honey, I keep losing track of which universe we’re in.”

“Scientists makes the rules,” she said. “How can you forget that? You’ve been here for two weeks now.”

Actually, I knew what universe we were in but I liked teasing Alyssa. Every time some stupid new regulation would be announced, I’d act like it couldn’t possibly be Scientists making the rules. Alyssa and I were universe hoppers and had been since the parallel doors started opening ten years earlier. The first thing you had to find out when you entered a different universe was who’s making the rules?

Alyssa had been in this universe for a few years before I got here. Or at least, before my current parallel self got here. You couldn’t really hop universes together. Parallel doors only opened for one person at a time and you had no control over when one would open for you.

Nobody had been prepared for living in parallel universes, including us. We were still playing it by ear like everyone else. Sure, physicists had discussed the phenomenon and written papers about it. But it was science fiction even to them.

Now the Scientists were trying to explain what had happened, but no one could understand them. One thing was certain; it started right after the seventy-two hours of darkness that ended the Big War, the first war ever fought with blockchain bombs, or CEDs, crypto-concussion explosive devices. Not that I understand the explanations, but they say the bombs caused a sharding of the genesis block, which stabbed the hard forks into the soft forks, making a cryptographic hash of the merkle tree, causing a decentralizing of the on-chain governance. Or, at least, that’s the explanation I had to memorize for a pop quiz when I was in the universe where teachers made the rules. It sounded logical but what could anyone do about it?

I admit it was pretty cool that any time things got really bad you could look for a parallel door to open and walk right out of your life and into another version of yourself with a whole new set of circumstances. One of the weirdest things was that you also walked into a whole new set of memories from whatever universe you walked into. According to what Scientists conjectured, your parallel selves had been living in all of their universes simultaneously, so when you moved from one to another, you acquired the memories that your parallel self had in that universe. Does this make sense? No. Of course not. All I knew was that two weeks ago I stepped into this universe where Scientists make the rules, though I had memories of being in this universe for as far back as I could remember.

I often argued with Alyssa, mostly about whether I should stay put or take a chance and move on to another world. I didn’t care much for this world. I really didn’t think Scientists were all that smart—not based on some of the laws they passed. These arguments with Alyssa always had an element of danger to them, as no one got divorced any more. One party or the other would just silently slip into a parallel universe and that would be that. Going through a parallel door was always a big decision because there was no turning back and you never knew what you’d walk into. You knew it would be different, though it could be a lot worse and often was a lot worse. There was always a compelling reason why your parallel decided to split from the universe you were entering. So right now, with everything more or less cool here, I wasn’t going anywhere.

“Did you see the Chronicle’s headline this morning?” I held up my bucket so Alyssa could see it as I read it aloud: “Scientists discover that women are sex objects? Did you see this? It’s now official. Women are sex objects.”

A “bucket” was a BUC-360, the latest version of the Blockchain Universal Card, essentially a computer, telephone, entertainment center, storage file for personal records, medical records, educational records, employment history, legal status, licenses, communication logs and most importantly, a wallet. There were no banks anymore and no cash money, just digital funds in your bucket.

We were in the back seat of our Chevy Corvaliant, popularly known as a Corvy, drinking coffee on our way to church.

“Yes, I heard it on the news earlier today,” Alyssa said. “It’s in our DNA. And you have the speed set too high.” Alyssa always accepted whatever Science had determined to be fact. Of course, it’s hard to argue with DNA.

“The Scientists could be wrong,” I said.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “It was a joint study at Harvard, Cambridge and the University of Tokyo. It’s not just an opinion. It’s pretty much a certainty.” The tires squealed as we turned a corner. “And please, Wally, would you turn down the speed a notch?”

Like all cars, the Corvy was self-driving, and every Sunday morning it drove us to church. I always set the speed on MAX, which Alyssa always complained about. MAX just meant that the car would drive at the maximum speed it determined to be safe. According to Science, the Corvy was a lot better at determining safe speed than a person. I liked the fact that sometimes it was safe to squeal around corners. She didn’t. But I’d learned long ago not to come back with Science says the car knows better than you. In this universe, I had been having this argument with Alyssa for years, not just two weeks.

Alyssa and I have been married for twelve years, which is to say we had two years of marriage before the first parallel doors opened. We often discussed what we liked and disliked about the different universes we’d visited. One of Alyssa’s parallel selves had been my partner in my prior universe where businessmen made the rules. I lasted four years in that universe, totally regretting that I’d ever left the universe where artists made the rules. That was my favorite and the one I was hoping to return to someday.

I definitely liked the Scientists’ rules more than the businessmen’s, but I wasn’t so sure about all of it. I didn’t really trust Science. For example, it was a violation of the law to not capitalize the word Science in writing. People had freedom of speech and could express opinions on anything, but disrespecting Science in any way was a felony. That just rubbed me the wrong way.

Usually, with Alyssa, I argued against Science; and whenever I did, I would end up eating my words. Something would happen and I’d be standing there with egg on my face. I might have gotten away with some anti-Science sentiments in the past, but not recently, not since the Sovereign Brain was put in charge of the world.

But I loved starting arguments with Alyssa in the morning. It always seemed to jumpstart the day when I could tell her I thought Science had made a mistake. It felt good to bounce my dissatisfaction off of her, my disbelief in everything we were told.

The Corvy lightly squealed around another corner and I quickly turned down the speed.

“Thank you,” Alyssa said with a note of exasperation.

“Larry said a group of attorneys in California are going to fight it,” I said.

“Fight what?”

“The women are sex objects thing.”

“It’s a lost cause, Wally. Lawyers will make a lot of money fighting for a lost cause. So what else is new? The research has already been submitted to the IBA.”

The IBA was the International Brilliance Authority, otherwise known as the Sovereign Brain. All of human society was now under the rule of the IBA, at least in this universe, ever since Science had determined that it was impossible for the Brain to make a mistake.

“But aren’t a lot of women going to dispute the findings?” I said, still trying to pick a fight.

“Oh, Wally, what’s the use? I’m sure some women will reject it, some of the dummies. But honestly, I’ve known it all my life.” She picked up the coffee pot and hovered it over my cup. “More?”

“Half a cup,” I said.

Science rules. That’s how it was presented to us. It was a big campaign. Worldwide. There were unending public discussions. All the TV talking heads and radio pundits got into it big time. “We can’t turn back now,” they all said. That became the next slogan. Science rules and we can’t turn back.

But half the world’s population had perished in the Big War and a lot of people blamed Science. You would think emerging from three days of darkness would be a time of celebration and high spirits. But the stench of four trillion rotting corpses didn’t do much to kindle jubilation. The incineration process alone took months and required everyone to dig in and do their share of the dirty work.

Did people bond during that time? In a way, but not in a way anyone ever wanted to think about. Sure, there were parties when the smoke cleared. But nobody ever mentions that time anymore other than the nebulous authorities that started appearing as soon as communication systems were restored. And they only put a positive spin on the whole thing.

There was talk, always in hushed tones, that the whole purpose of the blockchain bombs was the thinning of the herd, so to speak. We were told that the cryptocasualties, as they were euphemistically referred to, were a boon to those of us who survived. The world’s natural resources would sustain us for centuries longer. This newfound wealth of the human race was something to be thankful for. We were all rich, all of us, not just a relative handful of billionaires, the way it was before. Or at least, that’s what the IBA told us. So why did so many of us survivors think the IBA was the same relative handful of billionaires? And who were we to even speculate on such matters? Our inadequate human pea brains couldn’t argue with the International Brilliance Authority.

“I’m still trying to digest that study of men they completed last month at MIT and Oxford,” Alyssa said. “They’ve proven that men use women for sex, but they don’t really like them.”

“Hey, Lissie, I could’ve told you that.”

“But it says men lie. All men. All the time. And the IBA ruling agreed with the Scientists. It’s the law now.”

“That’s why we’re good at business.”

“But you tell the truth sometimes, don’t you?”

“Sure. When it’s more convenient than lying, but that’s not all that often. You knew that anyway, didn’t you? In your heart?”

“I guess so, but sometimes I just wish Science would take a break and stop discovering everything that’s common knowledge.”

“Is this going to change things?” I said.  “I mean, between us?”

“No, silly. You’re worried about nothing. You’ve always treated me like a sex object. So, what’s the big deal? Nothing changes. Don’t you pretty much see all women as sex objects?”

“Well, attractive women. But I mean the men are liars thing. And the men don’t like women thing. Is that going to affect us?”

“No. I already knew it. Nothing ever changes anything.”

The International Brilliance Authority has now been running everything in this universe for the past eight years. Everything—all governments, all financial markets, all commerce. At first, we hardly noticed that anything was different. Our day-to-day lives had pretty much stayed the same. Science was making the rules but there was no real enforcement of them. Then about five years ago, they told us we were no longer the United States of America; we were now part of the Blockchain Nation, which included not only the former USA, but Canada, Mexico, South America, Japan, and most of Europe. The Big War had been a global event, as had the seventy-two hours of darkness. Russia and the Eastern Bloc countries remained independent, as did China, though Africa and all of the Arab countries were now under Chinese rule. The entire world was living with parallel universes now, with some form of blockchain system running everything everywhere.

So, it wasn’t just the Scientists I mistrusted; I didn’t trust the blockchain system itself. I wanted to know who or what was behind them, assuming it was a them. How did they get to be in charge of every universe? No one elected them. They had no names, no faces. I felt determined to get out of it, like something had to happen. It’s not like I was formulating a plan to beat the system. Formulating is too strong a word. I didn’t have step one of a plan. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Alyssa and I had been together in every universe I’d lived in, but we hadn’t been married in the universe where artists make the rules. In that universe, she was living with a musician who was always on the road and we were having a secret affair, though I don’t think her boyfriend gave a damn. She had been my girlfriend before the guitar player “stole her heart,” as she put it. I kept trying to get her to leave the guy but she had some kind of crazy infatuation with him. I was driving a van for a package delivery company, a boring job since the van was self-driving, but someone had to load and unload the cargo. It was a crappy job and I was broke all the time. That’s what I did in the businessmen’s world too. I was a delivery boy. I’m sure that was part of why Alyssa stayed with the guitar player in the artists’ world. He had shitloads of money, shitloads of drugs, lots of famous friends. One night, as we were arguing, a parallel door opened and I just walked right through it. I’d only been in the universe where artists made the rules for about a year when I left it for the businessmen’s universe, where I got stuck for four years, before I took another parallel exit into the Scientists’ world, where I now found myself married to Alyssa, but still not really satisfied.

But my memories of those universes and all the ones I’d visited prior to those—where lawyers make the rules, and intellectuals make the rules, and teachers, and preachers, and bankers, and politicians, and doctors—they were all fading fast. Your current universe took over most of your memories and only a few remnants of reminiscences from your prior universes could be recalled. The stuff I remembered most strongly from prior worlds was the relationship stuff—my significant other, true friends, true enemies, painful mistakes.

Now, I was a personal injury attorney in private practice, 36, with no kids. Alyssa was a copy editor at the Strait City News, 30, no kids. We got married because we were both oversexed and liked arguing and that had been true in our prior universes, but here it seemed to work. I was crazy about her and I think the feeling was mutual. She was also my type—a freckle-faced redhead, small in stature but strong and athletic. She was into yoga, meditation and had a brown belt in karate. She could kick my ass despite my weight advantage and we both knew it.

Ever since the IBA was given absolute authority over a large portion of the civilized Western World, Scientists have been having a field day telling us what we already knew. Except that now it’s Science, and once something is Science, it’s also the law. Oh, how I longed for the universe where artists made the rules and it was understood that rules were made to be broken. If Alyssa would have left her rock star husband, I would still be there.

As the Corvy pulled up to the curb in front of the Tasty Waffle Cathedral, Alyssa said, “But you’ve told me you like me a hundred times.”

I opened the door. “I know. And it’s the truth. I like you a lot for a girl.”

“What do you mean for a girl?”

I was so good at getting under her skin. “I mean … if you were a guy I probably wouldn’t hang out with you. But you’ve got great tits and I love your ass.”

“That’s not very comforting.”

“Am I supposed to be comforting you? This is why men lie. If I tell the truth, you want to argue about it. But it’s Science, Alyssa. You’re a sex object and I love your ass. I don’t care for you much as a person. That’s the truth. But we were made for each other. So, see, men don’t lie all the time. Just most of the time. So, forgive me if I revert back to lying just to keep the peace.”

I’ve been trying to keep a positive attitude about this whole “Science rules” thing but as soon as I heard there was a group forming to fight it, I started asking around about where the secret meetings were held. Expressing negative opinions about the IBA, which was equivalent to stating you didn’t believe in Science, was criminal heresy. If you had any questions at all about IBA decisions, you’d better keep them to yourself.

“So, tell me what’s different about me than about any guys you hang out with,” she said.

“Okay, Lissie, your nails. I don’t have a single male friend that gives a shit about his nails. Or if he does, he sure never talks about it. You know why? Because guys would think he was nuts.”

“But that’s just because you’re straight,” Alyssa said. “And not just straight, pathetically straight. Do we have time for a quickie before we go in?”

“We’re already going to be late, sweetie. I’ll screw you real good when we get home.”

“But nothing ever happens in the first ten minutes, Wal. Everybody’s just looking for seats and getting their waffles. We’ll be in time for the sermon. I’ll suck your dick. Right here in the car.” She slid off her seat onto the floor and into a submissive kneeling posture with her hands folded as if in prayer. She was begging me.

“You’re just trying to prove Science is right,” I said. “But the Sovereign Brain hasn’t ruled on it yet. So far, it’s just a finding of human Scientists and they are fallible. Until the IBA decision comes down, I refuse to accept you as a sex object.”

“That’s a lie and you know it,” she said.

I pulled the car door closed and unzipped my trousers. She always won every argument.

two

Just as Alyssa was about to put my dick in her mouth, she looked up at me and said, “Wait a minute. It’s the third Sunday of the month. There’s a cocksucking contest tonight at the Lethargy Lounge. Do you want to enter?”

“C’mon, baby, suck my dick!”

“It’s for money.”

“No, you just get a trophy. They have that contest every Sunday, not just the third one of the month. I’ve seen it before. Now suck me off so we’re not late for church.”

“Tonight’s is for cash. They’ve been advertising it on billboards all over town. You must be blind if you haven’t seen them.”

I’d seen the billboards. What I recall seeing is the picture—a female mouth, lips slightly parted, with bright red lipstick and a suggestive droplet of whitish goo dripping from the lower lip. I knew it said Lethargy Lounge but I never read the fine print. I’d seen the contest a few times—like maybe ten or so over the past year. But what girl wants a trophy for winning a blowjob contest?

“How much cash?” I said.

“Five thou for first place.”

“No shit?” I thought about this for a few seconds, then said, “That’s hard to believe. The bar doesn’t fit more than a hundred people and the cover charge is only twenty bucks. So, who’s putting up the money?”

“It’s sponsored by the IBA.”

“Why would the government be sponsoring a blowjob contest?”

“How would I know that, Wally? But we could use that money.”

“Do you mean we enter as a team?”

“No, Wal, you should enter with some other slut. Do you have a bimbo in mind? And do you really want her competing against me?”

“Baby, no one can compete with you when it comes to sucking dick. I was worried you were going to tell me you’d already entered with some other guy.”

“Give me a break, Wally, I don’t give any other guys, professionally or socially, the kind of blowjobs I give you. We are a team. And we are going to get that five K.”

“We do the standard sixty-forty split?”

“I’m not going to violate the law. Scientists determined the split, so that’s that.”

“A lot of men are saying the Scientists rigged it. There’s talk of a lawsuit.”

“Good luck with that one. No one has ever sued the Scientists and won. It’s sixty-forty.”

“No one’s ever sued them and lost, either,” I said. “No suit ever comes to a hearing. They’ve got thousands of backlogged cases and a few million scientists adding opinions and new research stats every day.” She knew that was true.

The sixty-forty split law rubbed a lot of men the wrong way. Scientists had discovered a few years back that women did not have the same drive as men. They were less ambitious and didn’t prioritize success or maybe defined success differently or something. Sounded like bullshit to me, but because of the finding, whenever men and women worked together, profits had to be split sixty-forty, with women getting the sixty percent share. Science had proven that women couldn’t help it if they were less ambitious. They were born that way, an immutable law of nature. They didn’t compete as aggressively. So now, men worked longer hours for the same pay. Before the law was passed, men worked longer hours than women, but women only got paid for the hours they worked. Now the law has pretty much equalized the pay. The Sovereign Brain was still working on verifying this finding, but preliminary reports seemed to indicate that once again, the Brain would agree with Science.

“Okay,” I said, “Three K for you and two K for me. Now suck my dick.”

“I’m not going to suck it right now. We’ve got a competition tonight. We have to be ready.”

“So, let’s start practicing already.”

“Perhaps you’ve forgotten the rules devised by the IBA. One of the major judges’ scoring factors is quantity of ejaculate. You can’t waste it now. You’ve got to save it up for tonight.”

What could I say? She was right again. That was definitely one of the scoring factors. “How do you know that?” I said.

“One of the billboards.”

“You know, Lissie, I haven’t cum in so long, I probably have a quart saved up. Don’t you think we could—”

“Only one quart? That may not be enough for first place. Let’s go for two quarts. Don’t you get it, Wally? I don’t want to come in second in a public dick sucking contest. You’ve gotta do your part.”

“What does second place pay?”

“Wally, please, we’re already going to be walking into church late.”

“What do we win if we take second place?”

“Carl Kasell’s voice on our answering machine.”

“Who’s he?”

“How should I know?”

“Oh. How about just like a mini-suck?”

“Wally, I’m not sucking your dick right now for nothing, when I could be sucking it a few hours from now for three thousand bucks.”

It was no use. “Okay, I got it.” I tucked my dick back into my pants.

“You see, Wally, this is a performance piece tonight. We both have to be our very best.”

“I said okay.”

The sound of my zipper going up announced that she’d won again.

“We should discuss our strategy,” she said. “I wonder who we’ll be competing against?”

“Did you hear the public radio discussion,” I said, “about the recent findings that one of the best things that can happen in a woman’s life to give her a feeling of fulfillment is for her to become a slut?”

“That’s not an actual finding yet, Wal. It’s just a discussion of some early test results.”

“Yes, but admit it. You know it’s true. That’s why you’re a slut, isn’t it? Fulfillment?”

“Geez, you ask such personal questions.”

“But that sounds pretty accurate, doesn’t it?

“Okay, I guess you could say I’m looking for fulfillment. Any slut could tell you that. Plus, you know, there’s the bread. Who wants to be broke all the time? Being slutty is a practical way to live.”

“You mean there’s good money in being a slut?”

“Oh, like you never knew that. Look at what we’re doing tonight. We’re entering a blowjob contest and for one blowjob my share could be three thousand bucks. That right there shows the kind of money an amateur slut can make.”

“So, let’s talk strategy,” I said.

“Do you know what the rules are?” she asked.

“I’ve seen the contest a few times. I know you could win it.”

“So, what are the rules?”

“The person giving the head must be naked.”

“I can do that. I look good naked.”

“Yes, you do. And remember to arch your back because redheads have such gorgeous titties and such suckable nipples. I wish it was a titty-sucking contest.”

“Okay, I’ll arch.”

“And when you strip, leave your panties on but down on your thighs, so when you kneel down to blow me, you’ll be kneeling there with your panties pulled down—way sexier than being naked, kind of kinky.”

“Won’t the judges mark me down for not stripping completely?”

“No way. As long as you fully expose your genitals, you’re good. Mind you, I’m telling you what I’ve seen the winners win with. I’m coaching you here. There’s nothing I can teach you about how to give a blowjob. You’ve got that down to an art form.”

“Do I strip while I’m giving you head?”

“The way it works, you get two minutes to strip on stage. The DJ plays exactly two minutes of a song. You get to pick the music, but he cuts it off at two minutes by which time you should have your clothes off. I sit in a chair on the stage and watch.”

“I got the music. Bitter bitter bitter by the Oozing Beagles.”

“Great choice!” And I meant it. “What are you going to wear?” I asked.

“Something sexy. You have to help me pick out an outfit. Don’t you have to get naked too?”

“No. I’m allowed to but it’s not required. I can just drop trou, which is what most guys do. Some guys just unzip and whip it out. Most guys stand up, which is better for the audience because with the guys who stay seated you can hardly see the action. You just see the bobbing head. Those guys never win. How do you think I should do it? Do you have an aesthetic opinion on what might win the contest?”

“You just leave it to me. You stand facing me and I’ll undress you. I’ll pull your boxers down to your mid-thigh level. You spread your feet enough to hold them there. It looks wimpy if they’re down at your ankles. Keep them at mid-thigh so they cover your bony knees. You spread your feet and it will kind of be like bondage. Is there a time limit on the blowjob?”

“Twelve minutes.”

“Twelve minutes? Can you last that long?”

“Sure.”

“Not lately.”

“Hey, look, I can do a fucking hour if I want. Assuming I can even get it up. I never had sex in front of an audience before. I have to pay no attention to the crowd. I have to just watch you. This might take me a minute or two to get hard, because I have to get totally lost in you and what you’re doing with my dick. So, you look up at me, not at the audience. You look me in the eyes and make sure I’m looking right back at you. If I start paying attention to the fact that I’ve got my dick out in front of a hundred strangers, I might freak out. But if I’m watching your eyes and you’re looking right at me with my dick in your mouth, that’s the space I want to be in. Oh, yes, and you don’t have to do the full twelve minutes. That’s just the time limit.”

“Who gets the prize most often? The quickies or the marathon men?”

“It’s best to go slow, stretch it out.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what, baby. There’ll be ten girls passing you their numbers tonight when they see how much fun I have sucking you off. You’re going down my throat to brand new depths, sweetie. There aren’t many guys who get every drop of jism milked out of their dicks and get paid two thousand bucks for it. I love you so much, Wally, I want everyone to know that you’re that guy.”

three

The Tasty Waffle Cathedral was one of the most popular churches in Strait City, built right after Science had discovered that people never actually worshiped God, but everyone, in fact, worshiped food. People were so relieved when the IBA announced this, because most people thought religion would be abolished outright. Now, religion was booming. True, it was mandatory, but people liked it.

So far, Alyssa and I had tried the Chocolate Unity Fellowship, the Abundant Oyster Faith Center, the Barbeque Basilica, and the First Church of the Bacon Chili Cheeseburger. But we kept coming back to the Tasty Waffle. I suspected Alyssa had a crush on Pastor Burnside.

The Reverend Shaquille Burnside was a rotund, baldpated black guy who was only about five-foot-six but he filled a room with his presence. He had a booming voice, an easy laugh and a sparkle in his eye, always flirting with the ladies and talking confidentially with the men.

One of the most intriguing facets of universe hopping is that many of the same characters that make up your human contacts, at least the most important ones, are in every universe you go to. Your living quarters could be different. Your occupation could be different. And the social order was always very different, based as it was on who makes the rules.

I had known Shaquille Burnside in two other universes. In the businessmen’s world, he owned a talent agency that promoted “musicians on the edge,” which also happened to be the name of the agency. He had an eye for talent and was deservedly successful. He introduced me to a lot of music that got me through hard times I was having with Alyssa. In the universe where intellectuals made the rules, he was as close to a best friend—aside from Alyssa—as I’ve ever had. He was teaching art at a junior college where I was a groundskeeper. We smoked weed behind the gym on a daily basis and talked about our theories on parallel worlds. He often had me in stitches with some of the crazy ideas he came up with. We fantasized together that one of these days when things got bad, we’d walk through a parallel door and find ourselves on a lush tropical island where we’d live out our days with no more rules and no more parallel doors, no more Blockchain. “That’s the one I’m waiting for,” he said. “The exit door.” I loved him like a brother in that world.

Alyssa and I got out of the car and walked a half-block to the church. The sign outside the entrance said in bold caps:

TODAY: “SERMON ON THE SHORT STACK”
PASTOR BURNSIDE WELCOMES YOU!

“Doesn’t a short stack refer to pancakes?” I said. “Nobody stacks waffles.”

“Don’t be cynical, Wally. You always have to find fault with everything. Pancakes are just flat waffles.”

We inserted our buckets to pay the fifty-buck cover and went in to find seats at a table near the back. We planned to escape quickly when the service was over. The tables in back were already set. Each place had a plate with a big steaming waffle on it. It was considered poor manners to dig in before the sermon was done. So, we just sat there hoping for a short sermon, staring at our waffles as they were cooling. We scraped a few pats of butter onto them, so it would melt before they cooled.

It was a big room with a high ceiling and table seating for about 300 worshipers. The place was packed and we were lucky to get seats coming in as late as we did. There was a large fountain at the front of the room that looked like a crystal glass cruet pouring heavy amber syrup over a large waffle. It was mesmerizing to watch the thick goo filling each little square then drizzling down into the next and the next. The waffle itself was probably 10 to 12 feet in diameter.

As it turned out, we were right on time. Pastor Burnside stepped up onto the raised platform and approached the lectern in front of the giant waffle fountain, tapped the microphone to test it, then said in his comforting deep baritone, “Good morning, waffle lovers. I know you’re hungry and I can’t wait to start stuffing my own face. So, let’s get the painful part of our service over with quickly.”

“Amen!” came a chorus of voices.

“Let us consider today what a waffle is. Oh, I know you think you know what a waffle is as it sits there on your plate in silence, ready to offer itself for your sustenance. But what is it really? For the answer to that we look to Rombauer, page five-fifty-five, Waffles.” He took out a big hard-cover book that looked shabby from age and overuse and started leafing through it. “Here we are … We see that the ingredients are mostly flour, eggs, and milk. But let’s look deeper than that. What exactly is flour?”

He closed the book dramatically and started pacing the floor in front of the lectern. He grabbed the mic from the stand and held it like a club in his fist as he paced, scanning the crowd, meeting people’s eyes, winking, smiling, nodding.

“Flour is made from the grain or seed of wheat.” His voice was softer now, mellower. “It is the same seed that when planted will burst forth with new life in the field. This wheat seed is comparable to the seed that all men produce in their testicles for the same purpose—to be planted and grow forth with a new life.”

“Amen!” came a solitary female voice.

“Flour, consisting of these ground-up seeds, in its essence, is the sperm of the wheat plant—the jism if you will.”

“Tell it like it is, Pastor!”

He paced, just getting warmed up.

“And what is an egg, and specifically the chicken egg we use when we make waffles? The same chicken egg we buy at the grocery store by the dozen is the embryo of a new little chick, an embryo that the chicken casts off unfertilized much the same way that women do when they have their periods. An egg—an unfertilized embryo—in essence, is the menstrual discharge of a chicken.”

A small male voice, “Amen?”

“And what is milk? Milk is what a cow produces to feed its calf, much the same as the milk produced by human mothers to feed their newborn infants.

“So, to make a waffle, we first take the jism of the wheat plant and smash it up. Then we take the menstrual period of a chicken and beat it into a gooey slimy mess before adding it to the wheat jism. And finally, we squeeze the milk out of a cow’s tits and beat that into our jism and menstruation mixture in order to make a paste we call waffle batter.”

“I wish he’d hurry,” I whispered to Alyssa. “My waffle’s getting cold.”

“But, we’re still not done, are we?” Pastor Burnside went on. “Oh, I know we may add a dash of salt, a bit of cinnamon, perhaps some sugar, but we still have nothing more than batter, a white paste that represents the destroyed hopes and dreams of plants and animals that have already given their lives for us. But we don’t just eat the batter, do we? No, we need a waffle iron, because we will take this batter and pour it over this scorching hot iron surface in order to make that batter sizzle until it turns golden brown, killing once and for all the few still-living cells in that horrible deathly mishmash we call breakfast.”

He had the rapt attention of the worshipers now, everyone hardly breathing.

“Those cells die in utter confusion, don’t they?” he said, “Unable to comprehend how their natural purpose has been so perverted. Why is the semen from the wheat mixed with the menstruation from a chicken, then drowned in the milk from a cow’s tits? Why? They simply want to know why.

“But we’re still not done, are we? No, we need butter and syrup. Butter, of course, is simply the fat we squeeze off the milk we extracted from the cow’s tits. But syrup? What is syrup really? We get syrup by stabbing a maple tree deeply, then we pound a tube into the wound to keep it from healing so we can drain the sap from the tree, that sap being the tree’s lifeblood. Mmmmm … now that’s good eatin’.

“So, as we consume our waffles this morning, let us taste the pain and misery of the once happy and carefree life forms that were cruelly and heartlessly tortured until they died to feed us.” He turned dramatically toward the giant waffle fountain behind him and reverently raised one arm in deference to our deity, then turned back to face us before saying in his deepest baritone, “Alright everyone, dig in!”

“He’s so inspiring,” Alyssa said as I was drizzling tree blood on my wheat cum and chicken period. “Did you see who wrote his sermon?”

“Didn’t he write it himself?” I said, my mouth full already.

“The sermons that are being used in all of the churches are distributed to the pastors so they won’t engage in any false teachings that aren’t authorized,” Alyssa said. “This program just started this week. And like the song says, pass the blood, bud.”

I slid the syrup across the table.

“So, who wrote the sermon?” I said.

“The Blockchain.”

“Really?”

“Yes, they found out the Blockchain can do creative writing exercises. They feed pop culture in and it figures out innovative solutions. Today’s sermon was determined to be the most honest and spiritually-uplifting sermon about waffles ever written.”

“Really? What do you think?”

“I’m not impressed,” she said. “Nobody wants to think about that stuff.”

“Let me clue you in,” I said. “I don’t know what you heard about the Blockchain writing the church sermons, but I guarantee you Burnside wrote that one himself, or at least, he revised it substantially to make it his own. I’ve known him a long time and I know how his mind works. And he’s not above disobeying Blockchain directives.” I lowered my voice. “Let’s rebel against Science, Lissie. I mean really.”

“You know what?” she said, “We can’t talk about that now. We’ve got a contest to get ready for. After church, you’re going to spend all afternoon sucking my titties and licking my pussy. You’re going to make me cum a zillion times without taking your dick out of your pants. Your balls will be so ready to explode tonight, you’ll be like a geyser.”

“But you’ve got to control it,” I said. “One of the other scoring factors is ‘quantity swallowed.’ The winner every time I’ve seen it has been the girl who swallows the most.”

“Oh, thank you for telling me that. How many times have you seen this thing? You never mentioned it before today.”

“I was planning on surprising you with a date there just to watch the show but now we’re actually going to be entering the contest.”

“Is there a list of the rules available?”

“Sure. You can pull it up on your bucket. Just go to Lethargy Lounge’s FAQ page.”

“How many contestants will there be?”

“I’ve seen as many as fifteen and as few as five. But for five thousand bucks, half the city will show up. We better get there early. One rule is the person being blown must have a dick. I know that’s a rule. There’s always some drunk girl who gets up there like she’s going to be blown. A couple months ago, a girl got up there and when the judges tried to disqualify her, she showed them she had a dick. So, they said okay, she’s legal. They determined that her dick was longer than the longest known clit, so it’s a dick. She also had balls.”

“Did she win?”

“I left before the judging.”

Pastor Burnside approached our table. “Glad to see you made it to church this week, Willy and Alyssa. It is required now, you know.”

“It’s Wally,” I said. “And we go to church every week, Pastor. But we go to different ones just for a change of scenery.”

His calling me ‘Willy’ was a private joke, his way of telling me he knew me from way back. When we worked at the junior college, the head groundskeeper could never remember my name, always called me ‘Willy’ and I must’ve answered a thousand times, ‘It’s Wally.’

“Have you tried the new one out on Inner Circle Drive?” Pastor Burnside went on. “The Sacrificial Taco?”

“Ooh, that sounds tempting,” Alyssa said, flashing her flirtiest smile.

“Maybe we’ll try that next week,” I said. It did sound tempting.

But Pastor Burnside only had eyes for Alyssa. He didn’t even hear me. He was now facing her directly and I was looking at the back of his bald head and the frizz behind his ears.

“Did you hear about the blowjob contest at Lethargy Lounge tonight?” he said to her.

“No,” she said, looking him dead in the eye. “Tell me about it.”

“There’s a five-thousand-dollar first prize.”

“Ooh, I’m interested. Tell me more.”

She was giving him the ooh treatment. Leading him on but there was no way she was going to enter the contest with him. She was doing this to entertain me.

“You realize this contest is IBA sanctioned,” Pastor Burnside said. “They are providing both the prize money and the judges.”

“Why are they doing this?” I interjected.

He turned to me with a look that said I wasn’t part of this conversation.

“Yes, why would they do that?” Alyssa backed me up.

Pastor Burnside returned his gaze to her. “According to official reports, the IBA is now recognizing the political importance of blowjobs in the Blockchain Nation. Didn’t you hear the speech last night by the Regional Mouthpiece?”

Technically, no human being ever explained anything. Scientists were allowed to conjecture until they had a mutually agreed upon finding, but even that had to be authorized as valid or invalid by the Sovereign Brain. Occasionally, the IBA would issue a proclamation by using a Mouthpiece—some stooge on the government payroll—that spoke the exact words the IBA authorized.

“You know I have a theory about blowjobs,” Pastor Burnside went on. “I believe they’re the exact opposite of what they’re often portrayed to be.”

“Fascinating,” Alyssa said. “I have a theory about blowjobs, too. But explain what you mean by them being the opposite of whatever. I love men with vision. Do you mind if I continue eating my waffle, Pastor?”

“Oh, please, eat up! Both of you,” then softer, and aimed at Alyssa, “And call me either Fred, or Charlie. I go by both.”

Alyssa stuffed a big hunk of waffle into her mouth, and as soon as she had it chewed into a manageable wad, she said, “Tell me about your theory, Fred.”

He put his hand up and stepped back from the table. “The common wisdom,” he said, “is that the woman on her knees before a man is engaged in an act of submission, with the male hovering above her seen as the dominant participant. But I experience it the opposite way. If we consider the male genitals the most sensitive part of his body and the female mouth the most dangerous part of her body, she is the one in control, she is the threat, the teeth. The male must surrender his highly-sensitive and most vulnerable equipment to the female mouth and trust her totally. And, here’s a secret: if he can’t submit to her totally, he won’t orgasm. His orgasm represents total submission, not dominance.”

Alyssa finally swallowed the waffle. “So, what you’re saying,” she said, “is that if I gave you a blowjob right now, just wrapped my lips around your prick and sucked you into full tumescence, I would be the dominant one and you would be submitting to me? Is that right?”

“That’s exactly it.”

“And, you’re saying,” she continued, “that unless you could totally surrender to me and allow yourself to be physically and emotionally vulnerable to me, you wouldn’t be able to cum? No matter how intensely I sucked your dick, trying to get your balls to give up the goo, you only come when you say uncle, so to speak? Is that right?”

“I’m so happy to have found someone who understands me.”

“Well, I already have a partner for tonight.” She put her hand up on my shoulder. “Wally and me are going to get that five thousand.”

Pastor Burnside smiled warmly at her and for the first time cast a glance at me. “I’m going to have to move along then, because I’ve got to find a partner for this thing. That’s the main reason I do the Sunday service. I’ve won that contest twice, you know. But all I got was trophies. But five thousand smackeroos, there’s no way I’m not in it tonight. Good luck, you guys. You’re going to be competing against me and some lucky parishioner.” And he turned around and disappeared into the crowd quickly.

“Bye, Charlie!” Alyssa called out, waving.

Sometimes, a good friend in one universe just irritates you in another.

“Do you really like that guy?” I said.

“I’m attracted to power. You know that. All women are. And he has power.”

“He’s on a power trip, I’ll grant you that. We’ve got to hear what the Mouthpiece said.”

“I’m on the Lethargy page right now. They’ve got a link to it. Listen …” She held up her BUC-360.

Mellow female voice, speaking slowly, thoughtfully, as if off the cuff:

Fellow citizens of Blockchain Nation, it is both my honor and my duty to address you tonight about the fellatio crisis. Science has recently found that blowjobs are the answer to seventy-three-point-eight percent of the unhappiness in human males. Think of what a pleasant world this would be if our entire male population had almost eighty percent less unhappiness. The data has been fed into the Sovereign Brain and in one of the quickest final decisions the Brain has ever dictated, the Scientists are once more correct.

The Blockchain Nation will soon be hiring blowjob experts, meaning those women and men who have dedicated their lives to performing outstanding blowjobs, the real experts among us who understand licking and sucking and eye-contact and taking it down the throat, and only gagging in aesthetically-pleasing ways.

Fellow citizens, think of your participation in our blowjob contests as not only your civic duty, but your chance at a dream job paying the highest level of salary allowed by law. When you enter our contests, you are also auditioning for our judges who will be awarding both money and careers with the IBA Pleasure Division.

Then, talking at a highly-accelerated speed:

Scientists are now working to discover what triggers female unhappiness, all varieties of LGBTQ unhappiness, unhappiness due to racial problems, ethnicity, disability, nationality, or any other minority unhappiness. Initial results seem to indicate that cunnilingus does not reduce female unhappiness to the same degree that fellatio relieves men. We are working on it, sisters. Men were just a whole lot easier to solve.

Alyssa turned to me. “Let’s go home so you can start eating my pussy.”

“I’m all for it, but I want to suck on your titties first.”

“But, before you do anything, Wal, we’re going to read those rules to make sure we know every one of the judges’ scoring factors. We are going to give them a show tonight like they’ve never seen before.”

“The ultimate blowjob show,” I said, “starring Alyssa.”

“And Wally.”

But she knew as well as I that I was just a prop. I could easily be substituted by any lucky guy and she’d still win.

four

“What do you mean we can’t compete?”

“You’re not qualified. Have you seen the new race rules?”

“Race rules?”

“They just came out today. Caucasian and Asian men are no longer allowed to compete in sex competitions. You know the IBA never explains their reasoning, but I suspect it’s because you just don’t have the dick size.”

“But you haven’t even looked at my dick.”

“I don’t make the laws, buddy, but I am required to enforce them. If you think Science is wrong, find a good lawyer and see if you can get anywhere with that.”

“But I am a lawyer!”

“Seriously? Man, you better start paying attention to the new rules, because only Jews are allowed to be lawyers now. Are you Jewish?”

“You gotta be shittin’ me!”

Alyssa and I were standing just inside the entranceway to Lethargy Lounge, trying to get out of paying the admissions fee because we were going to be competing. The jerk in the cashier’s cage wouldn’t let us through the entry door.

“Look, buddy, if you want to come in and watch the competition, it’s twenty bucks. But you can’t compete. Science rules.”

“Let’s get out of here, babe,” I said. “I’ll take you home and fuck your brains out.” Having spent most of the afternoon sucking and eating Alyssa, I was pissed off. And horny.

Alyssa said. “Wait. I just pulled up the new race rules. I want to see exactly what they say.”

“Step aside please,” the cashier said. “You’re holding up paying customers.”

We moved to the side. There wasn’t much room in the tight space beside the ticket booth. Every time someone paid the cover and opened the door to the lounge, the noise of the crowd inside competed with the sound of the traffic outside contributing to my feeling of claustrophobia.

“I hate this universe,” I said. “I have to find my way back to the one where artists make the rules.”

“Are you kidding? I wish I could stay here forever. Science rocks. Art sucks. Artists are so lazy. Their universe isn’t even parallel. It keeps cutting into other universes.”

“Well, I like that. It keeps life interesting.”

“You don’t think Science discovering the perfect race rules is interesting?”

“Not so far,” I said. “Not if the rules say I can’t practice law or enter blowjob competitions. How many rules are there?”

“It’s about fifty pages. Pretty comprehensive.”

“Give me the gist of it.”

“This could take all night,” she said. “Some of the major things that stick out to me … There are lots of new sports regulations. Only blacks are allowed to play football, basketball, boxing or track and field, or any kind of running.”

“You mean whites aren’t even allowed to play those sports anymore?”

“Only Asians can compete in jiu jitsu and karate. Hispanics can play baseball and soccer. Arabs can play soccer. Jews are forbidden from playing sports. All sports.”

“So, Jews can be lawyers but they can’t play sports? What sports can caucasians play?”

“Whites are pretty much limited to golf, hockey, bowling, polo and curling. There’s a huge list of other occupations that are restricted by race. It looks like white men can’t be professional musicians, singers or dancers anymore. Those are black-only occupations.”

“Whites can’t be singers? Or musicians? What about all the great white guitar players.”

“There are some footnotes to the music and dance section,” Alyssa said. “Whites can sing in classical operas. They can play any instruments in symphony orchestras. And they can play accordions if they limit their repertoire to polkas.”

“Give me a break. No rock’n’roll?”

“Also, if you want to be a computer programmer or work in the tech industry, you’ve got to be Asian. And, the cashier is right: whites can’t be lawyers anymore. Only Jews can be lawyers, bankers, financial analysts, stock or commodity traders or accountants. What are we going to do, Wally? You’re unemployed now and our rent is due in a week and we just got a new car. We can’t live without your income.”

“What kinds of work can whites do?”

“Let’s see … you can be a chef, a doctor—that’s pretty good—a supermarket manager, a truck driver, and almost any kind of clerk, except in a quickie mart or a motel. Only Arabs can clerk in quickie marts and only Indians in motels.”

“This really, really sucks,” I said.

“Now don’t question Science, Wally. You know Science is always right.”

“But I studied my ass off to pass the bar. Now, either I’ve got to go to culinary school or find a job as a supermarket manager.”

“But you can be a doctor.”

“I can’t start medical school now. How the hell would we even pay for it? Law school was bad enough and I’ll be paying off that loan for years. What a waste!”

“You’d make a great chef. I love your spaghetti.”

“I don’t know if I can accept this, Lissie. There’s a group forming to try and fight the IBA.”

“That would be one hundred percent illegal. Don’t even think about it.”

“I am thinking about it. This guy Steve told me about it. I’m going talk to him. And you should think about it too. Do the race rules mention what kind of work women can do?”

“There’s an addendum on women. Let me see … Whereas only white men can be chefs, women of all races can do any kind of kitchen work. Black women also have no dance restrictions but women of other races can dance professionally, provided they are either naked or they get naked during the course of the dance.”

“So, you’re allowed to be a stripper.”

“Yes, all women can do any type of sex work except massage parlors. Only Asian women can work in massage parlors. But I could be an escort, a dominatrix, I can do pornos or any kind of prostitution where I sell my body.”

“But you’ll need men to do porn with.”

“Yes, but they have to be black men. Women can also be nurses, babysitters, teachers or work in publishing. Thank god I can keep my job.”

That’s when Pastor Burnside showed up. He appeared to be alone. He stepped into the tiny space we were standing in, making it even tighter. I could already see where this was going.

“Good evening, Willy, Alyssa.” He was all smiles, flashing his gleaming teeth. “Are you ready to show us all how it’s done?”

“There’s a new rule,” I said. “White dudes are banned.”

“Oh, the new race rules. I heard they were pretty radical but I haven’t had time to look at them. What a shame. Put extra syrup on your waffles next week. It’s true what they say about syrup. And I’m in the same boat. My date for tonight stood me up. I told the cashier I’d find a partner inside but he says no dice. You’ve got to sign up as a team when you enter. So, I can’t compete either.”

“I have an idea, Fred,” Alyssa said.

I knew this was coming.

“Why don’t we sign up as a team,” she suggested. “You and me. We both lost our partners. How big is your dick?”

“I’m sure you’ll find it quite ample for your needs.”

And right at that moment, a door appeared. It was just a bluish haze in the air, the way doors to parallel universes always appear. Right at this moment, I had an opportunity to kiss the Scientists’ world goodbye. Permanently. The space we were crowded into was so tight, the haze was just inches in front of me.

“I’m more worried about being choked to death,” Alyssa said to Pastor Burnside, unaware that I was currently looking at, and considering an escape route. “No rough stuff, do you understand?” she went on. “Or I will seriously injure your pecker with my teeth. I don’t put up with rough stuff on a first date. I bite to sever. Any hint of rough stuff and you will be losing your manhood tonight. I’ll bite it off as clean as I can, so you will be able to get it sewn back on, but do you really want to go through that operation?”

“It’s absolutely unnecessary to discuss that possibility,” he said. “Did you know my nickname with some of my female acquaintances is ‘Smooth-n-Slow’? I abhor any kind of rough treatment. So, let’s go sign up. We can get in free. Are you coming, Willy? Are you coming to watch us win? I think you’ll have to pay. It’s just twenty bucks.”

“I’ll try to make it back to see you guys get that five thousand,” I said. “Right now, there’s something else I’ve got to do.”

And that was no lie.

five

A parallel door to another universe opens only when one of your parallel selves has departed that universe for another, creating an opening for you in his universe. When you step into a parallel universe you simply take the vacated place of one of your parallel selves. When the door opens, you have little time to decide if you want to go through it because some of your parallel selves in other universes will also see the door and the door closes behind the first one to go through it. You never get to see any of your parallel selves, and your parallel selves never get to see you. Parallels never intersect, except—in my experience—in the universe where artists make the rules and a few others that intersect with the artists’ world.

The haze in the air dissipated and I knew I’d waited too long. Parallel doors always seem to open in moments of high stress, another universe offering you a permanent way out. But I guess I wasn’t really ready to abandon this universe yet. One of my other selves apparently needed the change more than I did. In my heart, I wished him luck.

I got the hell out of that cramped entryway, hopped into my Corvy and went straight to Slave World.

I gave my bucket to the cashier so she could scan my slaver’s license. “Do you know if Steve Rooster is here tonight?” I said. “He’s a VIP host.”

She handed my bucket back to me without acknowledging that she’d even heard my question.

A moment later an attractive woman I guessed to be around my age opened the curtain enough to make eye contact with me and smile. “Good evening, Mr. Denton,” she said, “I’m Ava. I’ll be your hostess this evening.” She pulled the curtain aside and stepped back to allow me in.

I had visited Slave World numerous times in the past. I knew that when the cashier scanned my slaver’s license, she was feeding my sexual orientation and subcategories into the house computer which would then assign to me the host or hostess that was my best match.

“Call me Wally,” I said. I wondered what else the computer had told her about me. Every time you used your slaver’s license, a databank somewhere kept track of it. Nothing in a bucket ever disappears.

Just looking at Ava, I liked the computer’s decision. She had Bettie Page bangs, whorish red lipstick and soft turquoise eye shadow. Her black lace lingerie and thigh-high stockings set off her creamy white skin. I felt like jumping her bones right there.

“Is this your first time here?” she asked.

“Yes,” I lied. “Can I get a tour?” Although Slave World knew exactly how many times I had been there in the past and exactly what entertainments I had engaged in, the assigned hostesses never got all that information.

She handed me one end of a leather leash that was connected at the other end to a studded leather collar around her neck. She led me into the barroom. I was holding the leash, but she was leading. “Let’s start with two drinks,” she said.

A cocktail waitress appeared. “What’ll you have?” She was wearing the standard Slave World server uniform—leather hot pants and a faux animal skin vest.

“What beers do you have on tap?” I said.

“Drinks are seventeen-fifty tonight, so you might as well get whatever you want.”

“They were nine-fifty last month,” I said. “I paid nineteen for two.”

“It’s NSO Week. Two drinks are thirty-five during the convention.”

NSO. National Slave Owners. Slavery was back and bigger than ever.

I felt like walking out. What a ripoff. They’re soaking the tourists because no locals will come in here tonight, not at these prices. But I was here for a reason. “I’ll have a Ramos Gin Fizz,” I said.

“Same for me,” Ava piped in.

The waitress went to the bar.

“So, you’re psychic?” Ava said. “You’ve never been here before, but you know the price of drinks last month?”

“I’ve never been here during NSO week,” I said. “Your FAQ says you’ve got new rooms and new deals. So, show me.”

“Have you seen our White Guilt Room?’

“No,” I lied once more. I had seen the White Guilt Room on Halloween night the year before. When I’d first walked into it, wearing a black bandit mask but no costume, I didn’t know what to expect. Slave World had been advertising for weeks that it would open its new White Guilt Room on Halloween, with no further description. It was a big room and it was packed, with a lot of caucasians in costumes being led on leashes by non-caucasians, some being whipped, some being treated rather brutally. You could wander the whole room to find what most appealed to you. The gay and lesbian sections were popular, as were the bondage and discipline areas. The indefinable gender room had a long line of indefinables waiting to get in. But I stuck to Vanilla Road, as Slave World called it.

Along one long wall were men of color, mostly black, but some Asians, sitting naked in comfortable arm chairs as white women, clothed but in skimpy costumes ranging from nuns to witches, schoolgirls to trollops, paraded in front of them, looking them over, each one deciding which man she would service next. About half of the men were being orally serviced, with women down on their knees in front of them, heads bobbing.

Then I discovered the opposite wall, just as long, where women of color sat naked in comfortable armchairs as white men, also in costumes ranging from superheroes to vampires, paraded in front of them looking them over, each one deciding which woman he would kneel in front of and service orally.

I found myself in the costume parade, in the spirit of Halloween, just to look. These women were all stunning beauties, relaxing in their nudity, most with their legs spread just enough for you to see the crease or a hint of the labia. I ate so much pussy that night I lost count. I admit I was pretty damn stoned. But it wasn’t just pussy. It was professional pussy. Slave World quality professional pussy. It was exotic pussy, mostly black but also Asian and even one Native American woman I ate out from behind as she knelt doggie style on her chair. All world class pussy. When I left there in the wee morning hours of All Saints Day, I was floating on a cloud.

At the crack of Dawn, one of the Slave World security guards had to literally pull me away from the crack of Dawn. Actually, I never caught her name. I’d never spoken a word to her and vice versa. But I had gone into some kind of trance state with her, unlike any I’d ever experienced before. I also discovered the next day that I’d blown through a massive amount of my life savings just to pay for pussy. Something happened, like I’d fallen in love with pussy and I was famished for love and I felt like each pussy I tasted was loving me. I’d never hidden anything about my sex life from Alyssa before, but I was ashamed to tell her about that night because of the amount of money I’d blown.

I’ve tried to analyze what happened to me that night and I’ve come to the conclusion that the unsubstantiated claims were true. Eating all that exotic pussy had greatly diminished my white guilt. A burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I no longer felt guilty for America’s sins against the Africans, or the Chinese or the Japanese or even the Native Americans. There was something emotionally healing for me, a white man, to make exotic women squeal and cum. But the feeling didn’t last for more than a day or two, and I felt myself drawn back to Slave World, only to find that the White Guilt Room had been a temporary exhibition for Halloween night. I didn’t even go in. I was massively disappointed.

When it comes to healing psychological wounds, I don’t believe in much. But when I left Slave World’s Halloween party that night, I left believing I should be orally servicing anonymous women of color as often as possible for my own sense of wellbeing.

But I’d elected not to tell Ava that I’d seen the White Guilt Room already, as I didn’t want her to skip it on my free tour. I hoped it was now a permanent offering, as I had no intention of spending any money in there tonight. I was on a fact-finding mission. I was just happy to hear it had reopened.

“Have you seen our new Spanking Chamber?” Ava asked.

“No,” I said. And I hadn’t.

“How about our new Dungeon Suites?”

“Are they much different from the old ones?”

“Way cooler. But I’ll show you the other rooms first. The Dungeon Suites are downstairs.”

The waitress reappeared with our drinks and scanned my bucket.

“You know I wasn’t really coming here tonight to hook up with an experience,” I said to Ava. “I’m looking for a host named Steve Rooster.”

“I know Steve,” Ava said. “He’ll be the gatekeeper tonight for the Dungeon Suites. He’s not here yet.”

“That’s really the only reason I’m here. What time does he punch in?”

“Steve keeps his own hours,” Ava said. “But usually about an hour from now. Why don’t you come back in an hour?”

“Well, I was thinking maybe I could get that tour. Kill some of the time while I’m waiting.”

“I’m sure you’re a nice guy, Wally, but I can’t afford to give tours to tourists. I’m looking for customers.”

“But I just paid thirty-five bucks for drinks and the computer matched you to me. You’re my perfect type.”

“When I’m at work,” she said, “my perfect type has money to spend.”

“How much do you want for an hour tour?” I said.

“I don’t charge for tours,” she said. “A tour is a sales pitch and you already said you’re not buying.”

“How about five hundred?” I said, pulling out my card.

She smiled as she scanned it.

The waitress winked at me and walked away.

Ava was back to being flirty. We clinked our tall glasses and slurped at the sweet creamy concoction.

“The White Guilt Room,” she said. “You have my leash. Lead me to it down that hallway.”

I led Ava to the White Guilt Room, which was not where it had been on Halloween. I looked in the doorway that was gated with crosshatched steel bars. It was a much bigger room, an enormous room, but the scene was much the same as before—mostly white people being degraded and punished by black people, Asians and assorted dark-skinned sadists.

“It’s not very crowded,” I said.

“Wait till midnight. This place will be packed. You’ll have to stand in line for half an hour to get in.”

“Is there a host or someone to let us in?”

“You have to use your bucket to open the gate,” she said, motioning to the card reader.

“What’s the charge?”

“Depends on how long you stay. You insert your card at the other end to exit and you get charged by the minute. It’s a hundred for the first five minutes, then ten bucks a minute after that.”

“Can you come in with me?”

“Only if you pay for me too. A lot of guys do that. When you insert your card enter two when it asks how many guests. You’ll pay the time charge for me for however long I’m in there. So, we have to enter and leave together.”

I paid for both of us to enter. I could hardly believe the size of the room—at least three times the size of the White Guilt Room on Halloween.

“We’re both white,” Ava said, “so you can’t hold my leash in here. Do you want to watch me suck off a black man?”

“Do I have to pay you extra for that?”

“Hell no. I like ridding myself of my white guilt as much as anyone else.”

“Does it ever really go away?”

“I don’t know. I’ve spent a lot of money giving head to black men in here and letting them whip my ass and even piss on me, and I still feel the need to do more. But it sure feels good when you’re doing it.”

“You go do whatever you want,” I said. “I’m just going to look around.” I handed her my end of the leash.

As soon as she was gone, I headed straight for the wall where exotic women were seated naked in easy chairs with their legs spread, waiting for oral service. I told myself I was just going to walk the length of the wall to scan the available women. I had other business to attend to tonight. I was just biding my time until Steve Rooster showed up for work. There must have been a hundred women and only a handful being orally serviced. My dick was getting hard just looking at all that pussy waiting to be eaten.

I didn’t get more than a quarter of the length of the wall when I approached a petite seated Asian girl with small breasts and a warm smile.

“Are you Chinese?” I asked her.

She made a face. “No!” she said. “Vietnamese!” She seemed insulted. “Kneel down white boy. You know you want it.”

I obeyed her instantly. I’d never licked a Vietnamese woman’s pussy before and I surely had immense white guilt about that. Though I’d never served in the military and the Vietnam war was eons ago, I’d read the stories and seen the pictures so I knew I’d inherited a tremendous amount of white guilt on that basis.

Her pussy was so beautiful I could hardly believe it was mine for the tasting. As I started to kiss and lightly mouth the clean-shaven vulva, inhaling her delicious scent, I could already feel my guilt dissipating.

Many university and government studies had determined that to any sexually mature male labeled ‘vanilla,’ regardless of age, education or income bracket, the female genitalia are the epitome of beauty. Behavioral scientists had spent years attempting to find something that men found more beautiful than pussy, without even a hint of success. Many were discouraged to find that sunsets, comet showers, and flower gardens were nowhere near second place, which was a shootout between female breasts and buttocks.

I touched the tip of my tongue lightly to the barely open slit and pushed it in just enough to taste the warm salty sweetness of her juices. The wetness surprised me. It was not an artificial lubricant, but her natural fluids, so pleasant, so intense, so healthy.

As I licked slightly deeper along the slit, I had no thought of Steve Rooster, whom I’d come here to see. I only knew my tongue had found its destination. This was where I was supposed to be tonight above every other concern. Trying to heal the wound that was Vietnam.

I watched her face with fascination as I continued to lick and kiss and mouth her. Her eyes were closed but I could see little tensions, almost like tiny emotional gasps when my tongue touched her in certain areas in certain ways. I explored every inch of her vulva, her labia and finally around the edges of her clit and kept returning to those areas where I could see her bracing and feel it as she tensed her hips which I was holding tightly with both hands.

I may not have fought in Vietnam, but I was willing to do my part to ease the suffering that we, the white, had inflicted upon the innocent exotics.

I could feel her building to a climax so I started bumping her clit lightly, erratically, watching her face as it responded to each little bump.

Imagine my irritation when I felt a hand grasp my shoulder firmly and tug me from my pussy-worshiping posture. I spun around, confused by the intrusion, and angry, to find myself looking at Ava.

“Sorry, Wally, but your card’s empty. Can you do a reload on it?”

“What? That card had more than eight hundred bucks on it!”

“Yes, and after paying me five hundred for the tour, for the first five minutes in here it was a hundred for you, a hundred for me, then twenty bucks a minute for both of us. Do the math.”

“Jesus Christ, I forgot I was paying double.”

“Can you reload your last paycheck?”

“No,” I said. “I already loaded every penny I had to my name.” I climbed up off of my knees and said a weak, “Sorry,” to the Vietnamese girl I’d been eating.

“You fucker!” she said. “You come in here with no money? Now you leave me like this?”

“I promise I’ll come back,” I said to her.

“You fucker!”

My white guilt was now shooting through the roof.

“We’ve got to leave this room,” Ava said, “before the bouncers come.”

“Your lipstick is smeared,” I said.

“Thank you for noticing. I wasn’t finished either.” She took a tissue from a pocket in her jacket and started to wipe below her lower lip, precisely where the smear was.

“Your mascara’s running,” I said.

“He was very large.” She was more than mildly annoyed. “Let’s go,” she said, without bothering to wipe at the wet black rivulets running down her cheeks from her eyes.

She turned and started walking quickly toward the far end of the room where the exit door was located. I followed.

“Are you pissed off at me?” I said.

“Somewhat. What do you expect?”

“I’m really sorry. I’ll come back next week and we can stay as long as you want.”

To exit the White Guilt Room, I had to insert my card. A red light started flashing NSF, but the iron gate opened. I knew how it worked. My account would be docked for the funds due as soon as they were deposited.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Ava said when we were out in the main hallway.

“But I gave you five hundred for a tour.”

Just then, Ava grabbed the arm of a tall guy who was walking by. “Steve,” she said. “This gentleman is looking for you.”

Steve Rooster was a lanky, gangly, shined head in a tux that was a size too small. His dark five o’clock shadow made him look swarthy and dangerous despite his thinness. I’d known Steve fairly well in the universe where teachers made the rules. His real name was Steve Rositer, but everyone called him Rooster there too. We both hated that world because of the never-ending tests and pop quizzes. He was my next-door neighbor and we devised cheating schemes to get through our weekly homework assignments. That was one of the first parallel universes I’d landed in and I didn’t stay long, maybe a month. I was working as a butcher and Steve was a security guard at a convenience store.

So, why the hell did we have homework assignments? Everyone in that world had homework assignments. We had to learn the history of the Blockchain, the causes of the Big War, the terms of the armistice with Iceland, the heroes of the Days of Darkness, the Interblockchain Declaration of Dependence, the Bill of Wrongs, ad nauseum. Who cared? We all knew it was just the rich bastards trying to out-wealth each other and making a fucking mess of our lives in the process.

Unlike Shaquille Burnside, who remembered me from prior universes, Steve didn’t remember me from the teachers’ world. This parallel of Steve had apparently never been in the teachers’ world. That kind of stuff happens all the time when you live in parallel worlds. You know people who don’t know you and vice versa. So, we were kind of starting from scratch.

“Steve,” I said. “I met you at the courthouse a few weeks ago. You overheard me complaining about the IBA to one of my colleagues and told me there was a group forming to … you know … The name’s Wally.” I put out my hand.

He shook it with vigor. “Yeah, man, I remember you. You’re a lawyer, right?”

“I’ll leave you two to talk,” Ava said, making a quick departure from my life.

“I’m not sure I’m still a lawyer,” I said. “Have you seen the new race rules?”

“Hey, they’re fuckin’ with everybody now. We got a lot of white dudes workin’ here that we might have to fire. Asians too. I told the GM to change my job description from ‘night host’ to ‘night clerk’ ’cuz nobody knows how to interpret the regs for a place like this. We got a lot of dudes workin’ here that’ll probly be askin’ to be called some kinda clerks, but what the fuck … I been havin’ meetings about this shit for a coupla months now.”

“When’s your next meeting?”

“Tuesday night. You know where Bucko’s Joint is?”

“Sure.”

“We meet in the back room. Ten o’clock every Tuesday. Don’t call me or message me or anyone else about it ’cuz you know the Brain is always watching.”

“I’m aware, Steve. I’ll be there.”

six

I thought about going back to Lethargy to watch the blowjob contest but decided against it. I was so horny from my frustrating experience at Slave World that the thought of watching a bunch of guys getting blown, including Pastor Burnside getting blown by my own wife who was supposed to be blowing me tonight, that I just went home and jacked off.

When Alyssa came in, I was passed out on the living room couch with my bucket unfolded beside me playing some porno station.

“So, how did it go?” I said, pushing myself up to a sitting position.

“We won,” she said. “You’re not mad at me, are you?” She was wearing the outfit we’d picked out together—her black sleeveless tube top and her skimpy denim short shorts.

“No, I’m not mad. I would have done the same thing.” I turned off the porno. “It was about the money. I know that. At least you got your three thou. You look yummy. You know I just jacked off but I could fuck you right now.”

“It wasn’t three thou,” she said, flopping down next to me on the couch. “I got fifteen hundred.”

“Why only fifteen hundred?”

“Well, it’s because he’s black. It’s a seventy-thirty split in his favor.”

“That sucks.”

“I didn’t even realize it until after the contest when we got paid and that’s how they divvied it up. Science rules.”

“So, Science thinks he’s that much less ambitious than you?”

“Oh no. Lack of ambition is only part of it. Blacks get extra added onto their score to make up for their lower IQ.”

“Is this IBA sanctioned?” I said. “Because there’s a lot of controversy over those old IQ studies. A lot of Scientists claim that the standard tests ignore cultural differences and other factors.”

“Yes, but now Scientists have proven conclusively that blacks have lower IQs, based on irrefutable Blockchain studies. There was some evidence that the IBA tests were rigged by the blacks who purposely scored low in order to support a petition to pay them more than caucasians. But the IBA ignored those violations because they said there’s still a lot of slavery that whites have to make up for. And Science agrees with the IBA.”

“But in a blowjob contest, you do all the work. Totally unfair that he got seventy percent.”

“I found out after the contest that Pastor Burnside had a bunch of black women who were begging to be his partner. But if he was with a black woman, the split would be sixty-forty in her favor. By having me as a partner, instead of getting two thousand, he got three-thousand-five-hundred. And I got shafted.”

“How pissed off are you?”

“If I would have known in advance, I would have negotiated a better price with him. At least fifty-fifty. So, I’m upset with myself about that. Technically, you’re not allowed to negotiate an unscientific split, but lots of people do it under the table. You know, gentlemen’s agreement. But if you don’t do it in advance, you’re stuck with Science and you can’t really complain.”

Alyssa kicked off her sandals and put her bare feet in my lap, her standard method of asking me for a foot massage. I knew how she liked it and I always accommodated her request.

“Lissie, I’m getting pissed off about this Science rules crap. Can’t you see what Science is doing? They’re putting us all into convenient slots and we’re not even allowed to argue if we feel we don’t belong where they put us. I mean, maybe I’m not as sharp as the average Jew lawyer, but I’ll bet I’m better than a lot of the crappy Jew lawyers. I passed the fucking bar. Shouldn’t that be the deciding factor? Plus, I’m now prohibited from entering blowjob contests. Just because of this stereotype that black guys have bigger dicks. I’m sure Science discovered that the average black dick is bigger than the average white dick or something. But obviously some white guys have dicks bigger than some black guys. I know I’m above average. I’ll bet Pastor Burnside isn’t as big as me.”

“Yeah, well, don’t go offering that bet to anyone or you’ll lose a lot of money.”

“Oh … how big is he?”

“He’s on the large side, even for a black guy.”

“Oh,” I said, as I started pressing my thumbs into the arches where she always asked me to press harder. “Still, I say fuck Science. He gets paid better because Science says his IQ is lower. Do you think his IQ is lower than yours?”

“I look at it this way, Wal. Last night, he got paid two thousand dollars more than me, even though I did all the work. Sounds like he’s a real dummy, doesn’t it? You know how much he makes on that one-hour-per-week church gig? At fifty bucks a head? Did you count how many worshipers were present? Oh, yeah, he’s a real low IQ guy! He’s got two Lincoln Continentals, that’s how damn dumb he is.”

“I’ve got a plan,” I said. “We’re going to attack Science below the belt. We’re going to lead a revolt against Science that Science won’t be able to stop.” I started lightly rubbing the rough sides of her big toes where she was starting to get callouses.

She closed her eyes and laid her head back against the couch. I could tell she was starting to get into the massage. I was pleasuring all the right places.

“You’re scaring me, Wally,” she said without opening her eyes.

“Next Sunday night,” I said, “we’re going to Lethargy to put on a show. We’re going to sign in as partners and win the damn thing.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’ll go over great with the judges. Wally, you are a white man. I can’t blow you on stage.”

“I’m a white man who was a lawyer up until yesterday. I looked up the new race rules on sexual competitions. Ordinance nine-point-four states specifically that only black men are eligible to compete for any monetary prize. But I’m not going to compete for the prize money. You’re competing for the prize money. I’m only competing for the career.”

She almost looked like she would fall asleep. It wouldn’t be the first time she started snoozing during a foot massage. After a minute, she said very softly, “They won’t buy that explanation.”

“They have to buy it. Because nine-point-four-section B says that if a partner in a sexual competition is ineligible for prize money as a partner, the full monetary prize goes to the eligible partner. Basically, I can be blown but you’ll get the full five thou.”

She tipped her head up and opened her eyes to look at me. “So, does this mean you could have competed tonight?”

“Yes,” I said, “if we’d specified that I was only competing for the career, not the money.”

“Shit! I would have given anything to have you as a partner instead of Fred. He’s got a big dick but I got screwed on the payout.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be up for sex right now, would you?” I said.

She pulled her feet off my lap and curled them under herself. “Oh, sweetie, it’s so late and tomorrow’s Monday.”

“Maybe, like you could just give me a quickie BJ?”

“Oh, honey, not tonight. I hate to refuse you but … I have to be at work early and my jaw is really sore.”

“Is he that much bigger than me?”

“He’s just … really big. But I like your idea about next week and you just going for the career. That’s really smart. I know I could win with you as a partner.”

“So, here’s what we do,” I said. “We go onto the stage as a team with me allegedly only in it for the career, but between you and me—gentlemen’s agreement—we split the prize money fifty-fifty.”

“Sixty-forty.”

“We’re going to tell the judges you get a hundred percent,” I said. “And we’ll tell our friends we did the standard sixty-forty, but we’re really going to make it fifty-fifty.”

“And who is it that does all the work?”

“C’mon, baby, I just lost my attorney gig.”

“Okay, how about this … if you can have your dick hard as a rock within the first two minutes and then you can come hugely in the last minute of the full twelve, and we win, we’ll make it fifty-five-forty-five. I’ll get the fifty-five. I’m willing to do that. We’ll report it as me getting it all to keep it legal.”

Why am I so madly in love with Alyssa?

seven

Bucko’s Joint was a weed bar, a small place with an unfinished ceiling so you could look up and see the heating ducts and light fixtures. No alcohol but lots of drinks, some infused with kickass oils. A placard on the table said hookahs were half-price till midnight. I never cared much for hookah. I had a sour bitch straight up and Steve had a reason to live on the rocks. We were the only two in the back room other than the bartender.

The backroom was a memorial to the late Bucko Burke, though few ever knew his full name. He was a popular comedian whose weekly podcast, Cripples Are Funny, had won numerous awards, as did his spinoff series, The Mentally Ill Say the Darnedest Things. The walls were covered with Bucko memorabilia, mostly blown-up photos of him posing with famous film stars, sports heroes and politicians, always with his trademark squirt gun in hand.

“What happened to Jesse?” I asked the barkeep.

“Who?” he said.

“He was the bartender here for the past five years,” I said. “Only guy I ever saw behind this bar.”

“My name’s Norman,” he said. “I don’t know nothing about Jesse. They hired me four days ago.”

“Jesse did a vanishing act,” Steve said. “He was a buddy of mine and poof, he’s gone. I asked around but no one’s seen him. His number’s dead. His pad’s been cleaned out. Whatcha gonna do?”

“Weird,” I said. This was yet another strange feature of life that started happening after the parallel universes appeared. People would sometimes just disappear, including all traces of them. Did they somehow enter an intersection into a parallel world but no parallel of them stepped in to replace them? Family members or spouses sometimes went nuts trying to find the vanished person. Friends and lovers often went into deep states of grief.

Steve and I hopped off our barstools and took a table. We had business to discuss. With the music cranked up the way Norman had it, our conversation would be private.

“Science is bullshit,” Steve said. “Scientists just make shit up for money.”

“Some stuff they say is real,” I said.

“Big deal. I’m more concerned with the stuff they get paid to say. “

I looked around the empty room. “So, is this the meeting?” I said. “Me and you?”

“So far. I mean, I’m expecting more people to show up. Or hoping. I had a pretty good crowd here last week. Jesse was a big part of it, but who knows where he disappeared to. Another Blockchain mystery disappearance.”

“How good is a pretty good crowd?”

“Twelve.”

“Twelve? We can’t fight the IBA with twelve people.”

“We’ve got to start somewhere. And you’re our first lawyer. We needed a lawyer and now we’ve got one.”

“Oh, fuck. You know we could be arrested for treason. Are you aware that more than a thousand people were executed for treason last year?”

“But that’s in the entire Blockchain Nation. Out of billions of people, that’s not a high percentage. And most of those people were caught with explosives. We’re just talking. You know we had a Scientist here last week. He had a great plan. I hope he comes back.”

“No shit? A Scientist? What was his plan?”

“He said he would try to get a group of Scientists—all officially-recognized experts—to produce a finding that most Scientists’ findings are invalid.”

“So, then the Sovereign Brain will just find that finding to be invalid. The end. That plan strikes me as idiotic. Who was this Scientist?”

“His name’s Buster.”

“Does he have a last name? Did you look him up? What do you know about him?”

“He told me his last name but I can’t pronounce it. I tried to do a search on him, but I don’t know how to spell it. He said he was coming tonight. I think he’ll show up. He was pretty excited about this project.”

“Did you listen to the Regional Mouthpiece’s announcement about blowjobs a couple days ago?”

“I didn’t listen to it, but I sure heard about it. Something about Scientists looking for blowjob experts. Everyone was talking about it at Slave World.”

“The finding is that eighty percent of men’s unhappiness can be eliminated with blowjobs. It’s another one of those findings that you know is true and everybody knows it’s true.”

“They always do that. Telling us shit we already know.”

“Yes, but this sounds like they’re going to try and solve the problem by providing blowjobs to men. That’s why they’re looking for expert cocksuckers.”

“Really? Maybe the Sovereign Brain isn’t so bad after all. Maybe Science is really doing good things. I mean, if they’re going to start passing out blowjobs, how do I get my name on the waiting list?”

I was staring at a blown-up black-and-white picture of Bucko squirting a paraplegic in a wheelchair. The disabled guy had a look of horror on his dripping wet face, while Bucko’s head was thrown back in laughter. It was the most famous photo of Bucko, because it was taken just moments before the beloved comedian died of a massive coronary spasm. There’s a rumor, almost an urban legend, that a subsequent photo showed the paraplegic’s head thrown back in laughter as Bucko lay at his feet. Some people say they’ve seen the photo but it’s not in the archives under Bucko’s pics.

“Did you know the IBA is now sponsoring the blowjob contests at Lethargy?” I said. “They’re promoting them with billboards and putting up the prize money. It was five thousand for first place Sunday night. I think they’re using these contests to find blowjob experts for some plan they have. I think we should get a jump on it. Get in on the ground floor.”

“Like how?”

“We could open a blowjob center, a place where men could get sucked off. We could probably get government funding.”

“I know a shitload of blowjob experts at Slave World—male, female and in-betweens. But I don’t have any money. We’d have to rent some kind of facility. There’s all kinds of overhead expenses. And wouldn’t guys just keep going to Slave World? It’s already a blowjob center among other things.”

“No, no, Steve, you don’t get it. We don’t invest a single penny. We get the IBA to sponsor the whole thing. I have a law degree, you know. I’m not allowed to practice anymore but I know how the system works. You don’t have to be a lawyer to apply for a Blockchain grant.”

Two people, a man and a woman, obviously together, entered the back room.

Steve Rooster broke into a wide grin. “Hey, Buster! Glad you could make it, man! We got ourselves a lawyer!” He stood up and motioned with his arm toward me. “This is Wally!”

I stood up and tried to smile.

Buster—a short fat guy with long scraggly hair—walked right up to Steve for a handshake.

I extended my hand and said, “Wally.”

“I’m Buster Auernheimer. Nice to meet you, Wally. But you don’t look Jewish.”

“Have a seat, man,” Steve said. “C’mon everybody. Sit down. Everybody introduce yourself.”

When all had taken seats around the table, Norman, the bartender, took orders for weed and drinks.

As soon as Norman left, I introduced myself more formally, saying, “I’m Wally Denton and I used to be a lawyer. I lost my license to practice the day the new race rules came out. So, now I’m unemployed.”

Buster said, “I’m Buster and I’ve been a Scientist for three months, since I graduated from Harvard with a PhD in Social Anthropology. I have to tell you right off, Steve, that my colleagues are not crazy about this idea. In fact, Leslie here has agreed to accompany me today to try and dissuade you from going forward with your scheme to discredit Scientific findings and the infallibility of the Sovereign Brain.”

“Oh, c’mon man, you said you agreed with me last week!” Steve whined.

“It’s not him you should be arguing with,” Leslie said quickly. “My name’s Leslie Amoroso and I’m a Scientist with the Strait City Research Academy. We’re currently working on a finding that Italian men need more deodorant.” She seemed very prim and proper, not the type of person who would hang out in Bucko’s weed bar.

“Fascinating,” I said, thinking:  What a fucking waste of time! Everybody already knows Italians eat garlic!

“Mr. Denton,” Leslie said, “as a one-time attorney, you should know the extreme danger you could be placing yourself in by pursuing this project.”

“Sure, but someone has to do something. And the fuckers just took my job away after seven years of college and passing the bar and having my own successful private practice for almost five years. What the fuck?”

“But you’re young, you’re healthy, and with your academic background, you could get a job managing an AllMart or being a dessert chef at Steer Heaven.”

“Why can’t a group of Scientists just start studying some of the findings that other Scientists came up with,” I said. “Some of the findings seem wrong and a lot of them seem politically-motivated, at least to me.”

“There isn’t any research financing for a project like that,” Leslie said.

“Then let’s start at the beginning,” I said. “Describe the whole process of getting research financing.”

“Sure. We can’t just dream up something we’d like to study or analyze. We have to stay within the authorized areas of study as provided by the IBA. It’s assumed that the IBA knows better than us what needs to be studied. And that’s not something we can argue about. It would be a felony to argue with the Brain.”

“Okay, let me give you an example,” I said. “Recently, Scientists determined that women were sex objects. How did that finding come about?”

“Oh, yes, that was an easy one. The team was instructed to find evidence that women were sex objects. Evidence was all over, pretty much in every civilized culture, not only throughout all forms of media, but throughout history. To make it fair, every area of Scientific investigation has a devil’s advocate—one Scientist whose job it is to refute the findings of the group. In this case, he had a hell of a time. About the only contrary evidence he could come up with was statements by women that they were not sex objects—essentially, hearsay evidence with nothing to back it up and mountains of evidence supporting the conclusion that women are indeed sex objects.”

“Leslie, this is preposterous. Why can’t I practice law? Even though I’m not Jewish, I passed the bar. Isn’t that evidence that I have the skills and education to qualify?”

“Numerous studies have shown that Jews, on average, have IQs about ten to fifteen points higher than other caucasians. Plus, there’s the empirical evidence of their success not only in courts of law but in finance and business generally. Why should you waste your time being a half-assed attorney when you could be a terrific supermarket manager? It’s just logic. You can’t be a lawyer for the same reason you can’t be a computer technician. Caucasians don’t have the aptitude for that kind of work either. Asians’ IQs are also higher than caucasians’, on average, and we see the empirical evidence in their above-average achievements in technological fields.”

“So, the way this system works, as I understand it, is the IBA tells the Scientists what the conclusion of their study should prove and then the Scientists prove what they are instructed to prove, and then the Brain verifies the Scientists’ findings.”

“Well, it’s not explained that way in any of our documentation but yeah, that’s pretty much how it is.”

“Have you ever had a situation where the Scientists found the opposite of what the IBA instructed them to prove?”

“It used to happen but not anymore.”

“Why not?”

“First of all, the Scientists who came to the wrong conclusions had their funding discontinued and they lost their standing as Scientists. There were then a few instances where they were indicted for treason and sentenced to lengthy prison terms and that put an end to that. No one rocks the boat anymore. Being a Scientist is a pretty cushy job.”

“So why would the IBA want you to study Italians’ body odor? That just seems crazy to me.”

“Rumor has it that one of the directors on the IBA Board of Governors owns a toiletries factory in Rome. But, you didn’t hear that from me and that’s just a rumor.”

“Holy shit,” I said. “These are the people who are running the world?”

“See, Wally!” Steve said. “It’s just like I told you. Science is bullshit. They say whatever they’re paid to say.”

“I want to hear what Buster has to say,” I said. “Buster, you say you just got your PhD from Harvard in Social Anthropology. What are you working on right now?”

“The only thing I’ve been working on for the last three months is blowjobs. We have already put together a blowjob database like the world has never seen.”

“No shit? I’m personally very interested in that subject. Can you share any of your findings yet?”

“There’s going to be another blowjob contest at the Lethargy Lounge on Sunday. Once more, it will be sponsored by the IBA. Last Sunday’s was just a dry run. We sent out press releases for this next one and we expect a lot of media coverage. Following our analysis of the data we glean from that contest, there will be a Mouthpiece announcement. But I can’t tell you any more right now. I’m going to be one of the judges. I’ve got a few free passes if you’d like to go. Last week’s contest was wild.”

“Hell, yes, I’d like a free pass,” I said. “Saves me twenty bucks, man!”

Buster took out his wallet and pulled some tickets out.

“Hey, me too!” Steve said.

“Like how was it wild?” I said.

“You should have seen the winners. This short chubby black dude comes out wearing a dashiki that’s almost down to his knees and he starts pacing the stage in his bare feet. Then this chick comes out. A redhead. Dynamite gorgeous. I’m immediately thinking what’s a hot babe like her doing with that sawed-off old fat fart? But they put on one hell of a show.”

“Hey,” Steve said. “We got a redhead that works at Slave World named Bambi. Beautiful but flat as a board. Great cocksucker. I wonder if that was Bambi.”

“No way,” Buster said. “This chick had tits. She does this striptease and gets totally naked, except she leaves her panties at midthigh level. Sexy as hell. Ass to die for. Pussy to die for. And just perfect tits. C-cups. Pert and firm and pointing up. You know how redheads have that creamy white skin and little pink nipples?”

“Just like Bambi, except Bambi’s got A-cups.”

Now the bartender comes over, not because anyone called for a drink, but he’s turned the music down and he’s been eavesdropping on this story. I elected not to correct Buster’s description of Alyssa by pointing out that she has B-cups. I was the only one in the room who knew he was talking about my wife!

“She finishes stripping,” Buster went on. “And she’s down on all fours and she crawls over to the black guy. Some kind of African voodoo music is playing. Banging on drums and chanting. And he starts dancing and that dashiki is bouncing up and down with his belly and you see he’s got no pants on and a dick as thick as a Sicilian salami hanging down to his knees!”

“Right there,” Steve said. “I’ll bet you knew right there they were going to win the contest.”

Au contraire,” Buster said. “My first thought was there’s no way they can win this thing. She’s cute as hell and he’s got a monster dick, but the six contestants before them all did full deep throat and I couldn’t see any way this girl—she’s small, maybe weighs ninety pounds dripping wet—she’ll never get that salami down her throat. We gotta deduct points for no deep throat.”

Wrong again. She weighed 105 to 110.

“So, how’d they win?” Steve said.

“Well, she goes after that thing like a hungry animal and I mean she got the entirety sunk into her throat balls deep. Balls deep. Amazing that she could swallow a dick like that. Must have been close to poking into her stomach. That’s when it struck me that they were going to be our winners. But nothing’s in the bag until you see the cum shot. If this dude can’t come, they can’t possibly get sufficient points to win.”

“That was my worry too,” Leslie suddenly joined the conversation.

“Oh,” I said to her. “Were you there?”

“I was the final decision judge. I look at all the judges’ scores at the end and enter the final decision on the winner. If there’s a tie, I’m the tie-breaker. But there was no tie in this contest. It was the best blowjob demonstration I’ve ever seen, and I spent many years in porn.”

“Seriously?” I said. “Were you an actress?”

“Yes, I performed under the name Darla Dollars.”

“Oh, fuck,” I said. “I’ve seen tons of your clips. I had a serious crush on you for years!” This was true. I was sitting there studying the face of this middle-aged woman who was telling me she was one of my dream girls from my boyhood years. And the more I looked at her face, the more I saw Darla Dollars. I remembered her body vividly. She was a gymnast or yoga freak or something. She could do full side-splits, front-splits, standing splits, wrap her ankles around her neck, do handstands on one hand—and she fucked guys in all of these crazy positions.

I was already planning to go home and watch her videos again. I knew all my favorite scenes. Now I’m looking at her more closely and realizing she’s a major MILF. She dresses like a schoolteacher but she’s got stockings on and probably a garter belt and sexy underthings. Holy crap, I’m already undressing her in my mind.

“So, he came pretty big?” Steve asked, bringing me back to the current conversation.

“When he came,” Buster said, “it was like a volcano erupting with white lava. She still had her lips wrapped around the head of his dick but it was way more than a mouthful and it starts running down his dick in gobs and he’s screaming while she keeps sucking it out of him. When he stops cumming, she starts licking it off his dick and cleaning it off his balls with her fingers and licking it off her fingers, licking it off his legs and feet, spent a couple minutes licking it from between his toes. And the audience—that had gone absolutely bonkers when he came—got dead silent through this whole cleanup procedure until finally … she’s lapping it up off the floor! She didn’t even leave a drop for the janitor to wipe up.”

“Man, I hope they compete again this Sunday,” Steve said. “Is this going to be every Sunday now?”

“Yes,” Leslie said. “Every Sunday. And we’re not advertising it yet, but we’re going to be pushing first prize up to ten thousand. We’re running these contests in cities all over the Nation. Eventually, we’ll do eliminations and have the best performers from all the cities competing with each other for bigger and bigger prizes. None of this is official yet, so don’t quote me, but I’ve been in the planning meetings and this is exciting. I can hardly believe it’s really going to happen”

“Tell him about the winner,” Buster said to Leslie, giving her a poke with his elbow.

She smiled. “I was in my judge’s booth,” she said. “And a half-hour after that performance, he comes up to me, still wearing his African dashiki, and he says it would mean a lot to him if he could win and was there anything he could do for me to help me decide—clearly offering to bribe a judge. At my age, I’m open to bribes. And, let me tell you, he wasn’t the only contestant who offered me a bribe. That kind of goes with the territory. I had turned down all offers, waiting for him to show up. Now I had already decided he was the winner but I hadn’t announced it yet. So, I said okay I can give you first place if you give me two thousand of the thirty-five hundred prize money you’ll get. I’m the one taking a chance. I’m the one who could be fired. I’m the one who could be prosecuted. For two thousand you’ll get the first-place honor. He pulls out his bucket and says, take two thousand right now, then pay me the full thirty-five tonight for the cameras. And that’s exactly what I did. But I took that two thousand he gave me and I transferred it to the redhead. It was really only fair. She did all the work. I didn’t want his money. I just wanted to see justice being done.”

“That was really nice of you,” I said. I wondered why Alyssa hadn’t told me about the extra two K she’d picked up. “Couldn’t the IBA still fine you or something if they found out?”

“Most of the Scientists take bribes,” she said. “It’s just what the job entails. Everyone in the IBA knows that. But this contest burns me up. All the men getting the blowjobs are black. That’s the law. Most of the contestants giving the blowjobs are white women and they’re getting shorted on the prize money. The reason I’m telling you this story, Wally, is because I want you to know there are ways of working with the IBA to get what you want. Your little revolution is going to get you into big trouble. Work with us. Think about what you really want in this world and let’s make it happen.”

Darla Dollars was seriously making eyes at me, flattering me tremendously. She had no idea how special she was to me. I was nobody to her, but she was a fantasy girl I’d had such a serious crush on. I had spent many hours over a period of years longing for her. I’d watched her videos until the word ‘slut’ meant something holy and beautiful to me.

“What about the male judges?” Steve said, his head cocked and staring at Buster. “Do you guys get bribes sometimes?”

Buster snorted a laugh. “You better believe it. Probably about the same time Leslie was getting bribed in her booth, the redhead came up to me in my booth and said if you give us first place, I’ll suck your dick because I really need the three thousand bucks, apparently under the impression it was going to be the typical sixty-forty split for female and male. I already knew she was getting first prize. Leslie had already made her final decision and informed us. It just hadn’t been announced yet. So now I’m thinking I’m going to get the blowjob of my life if I just say okay, you win. But I had to be straight with her. I said you’re not getting three thousand. You’re only getting fifteen hundred because of the new race rules. I explained the deal to her. She was ticked off because she felt like she’d done a three-thousand-dollar show, which she had. I told her I would arrange with the other judges for her to get first prize but that I want her to know it’s only going to be fifteen hundred. I started to unzip my trousers for the blowjob and she told me to fuck off. She said I didn’t do that show for fifteen hundred. I said what if I add a few hundred from my own pocket? I knew I couldn’t take anything off the top of Pastor Burnside’s prize. He would never stand for that. So, she said if you mean by a few hundred about twenty hundred, bringing my total prize to thirty-five hundred like the Reverend’s, okay. Otherwise, fuck off. So, I told her I’d get her the money and I did. The IBA pays me eighteen hundred for that gig so I added a couple hundred more from my bucket account and transferred the whole thing to her.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re telling me you paid the redhead two thousand bucks of your own money for a blowjob?”

“Crazy, isn’t it? But after seeing her performance, that’s how bad I wanted that girl to suck me off. And she definitely gave me my money’s worth. Best two thousand I ever spent. I’m hoping she comes out to Lethargy again this Sunday. She really puts on a show.”

So, Alyssa had actually gotten four thousand more than she’d told me! “Cool,” I said. “I’ll definitely be coming this Sunday. Thanks for the complimentary ticket.”

eight

Mixed emotions. That’s the only way I can describe my feelings. The day before the contest, Alyssa opened our morning coffee conversation with, “I had to tell Fred to leave me the fuck alone.”

“Oh.”

“I told him I’m going with another partner and he’s pissed off. Like he thought he owned me. I didn’t tell him the guy I would be partnering with was you. He’s under the impression you’re ineligible.”

“Oh.”

“He really thinks me and him make a great team. He has visions of us achieving international stardom as the blowjob artistes of this age.”

“Do we have any bagels?” I said. “These scones are too dry.”

“We’re out of bagels. Use jelly. They’re good with jelly. He said he’d make the split sixty-forty this time, with him getting the sixty, instead of seventy. I said no way. He said how about fifty-fifty? I said I do all the work. He said how about sixty-forty with you getting the sixty? He was shocked when I said I had another partner I was committed to.”

“Wow, he must really want you to offer you that deal,” I said, then added, “I heard you were pretty good, really stole the show.”

“You heard where? Who do you know that attended that event?”

“Guy I met at that meeting I went to Tuesday night, you know, about revolting against the IBA. He was one of the contest judges.”

“You met one of the judges?”

“Yeah, his name was Buster.”

“And he’s rebelling against the Sovereign Brain?”

“Well, no, actually he’s kind of opposed to the idea. He was trying to discourage me from doing it.”

“Well, that would be my opinion also. What did he say about me?”

“He said you were terrific.”

“Was he like a short fat guy with scraggly hair?”

“That’s him.”

“I blew him.”

“Oh.”

“You lost your job, Wally. We need money. He gave me two thousand. Not bad pay for a blowjob.”

“How come you told me you only got fifteen hundred?”

“That’s all I got from the contest itself because Fred insisted on going by the race rules. I wanted you to know what a dick he is. This two K was a completely separate deal.”

“Oh. What about the other two thou you got from the female judge?”

“How’d you know about that?”

“She was at the meeting, too.”

Alyssa smeared grape jam onto a scone, acting interested in the process, but probably trying to think of how to respond. “Yeah, that was unexpected,” she said at last. “She told me Fred tried to bribe her for first place and she told him two K just so she could get the money for me. I was really touched. She didn’t have to do that. Also, it really pleased me that I’d really gotten it out of him. You’re not mad at me, are you?”

“Actually, I’m impressed. The contest paid five thousand and you ended up getting five thousand five hundred. But how long have we been married—no, together, because we were together a long time before we got married? And how many blowjobs have you given me? Must be thousands. Did you give Pastor Burnside a better blowjob than you ever gave me? Have I ever had a three-thousand-dollar blowjob?”

“Tomorrow night, you’re getting a five-thousand-dollar blowjob. I’d give it to you right now, but we have to save your cum for tomorrow.”

“I think the first prize tomorrow is going to be ten thousand. Leslie told me that. The female judge.”

“Ten thousand? For one blowjob? Wally, you are going to be the luckiest man on the planet tomorrow night.”

36 hours later …

“I’m not competing for the money,” I said for the second time. “I’m just going for the career opportunity.”

“Horseshit,” the cashier said. “Pay twenty to get in or hit the road. You can’t compete.”

Actually, I had a free pass from Buster in my pocket, but I wanted to sign up for the contest, especially after waiting in the signup line for thirty minutes. “According to the IBA rules I can,” I said. “Read Ordinance nine-point-four, sections A and B.”

“Look, buddy, I don’t have a copy of the rules. I just know what they told me.”

“We demand to see the contest judges,” Alyssa said.

“Jesus fuck. Hey, Ryan! Get one of the IBA guys out here!” Then to us: “Step inside the door. You can argue with the Brain people.”

We stepped into the area where the ticket taker stood guard and who should show up with a clipboard in hand but Buster. “Hey, Buster, I want to compete tonight with my partner,” I said, nodding toward Alyssa.

“Hi, Wally. But you’re not black. I gave you a free pass. Just come in and watch the show.” He was eyeballing Alyssa.

“I’m not competing for the money,” I said. “Ordinance nine-point-four says only black men can compete for the money. I just want to compete for the career opportunity.”

Buster looked confused. “But the career opportunities are only for the contestants who are giving the head, not receiving. I assume you’re on the receiving end of the BJ.”

“The ordinance doesn’t specify that. I want to make a career of getting blowjobs. I’ve always thought that would be my dream job and I know I’d be great at it.”

Buster thought about this for a few moments, then a thin smile crossed his lips. “Pretty tricky,” he said. “So, I’ll let you compete tonight but don’t be surprised if the IBA adds another clause to the ordinance making it illegal for you to enter next week. We’ve got so many contestants signed up right now that everyone from here on goes on an alternates list. They only get to perform if someone else drops out. But I’m going to squeeze you guys in tonight. I’ll put you on right after Pastor Burnside.” He started scribbling on his clipboard.

“Can I see the list of contestants?” Alyssa said.

Buster gave her the clipboard.

She scanned it for a minute before she said, “Wow, twenty-one teams tonight, and we go on last.”

“Actually,” Buster said, “we were planning to have twenty teams compete and Pastor Burnside was going to go on last. Technically, he should have been on the alternates list because he came late too. But since he was our big winner last week, I did him a favor and knocked the twentieth team down to number one on the alternates. I think a lot of the alternates will get to go on. I think quite a few people who signed up will chicken out. But, what the hell, we’ll have twenty-one teams competing tonight. Believe me, you’re the only team I would do this for.”

“You did it for Pastor Burnside,” I said.

“Yes, but there was a bit of scratch involved in that.” He rubbed his thumb on his fingers to indicate that money had changed buckets.

Alyssa gave him back his clipboard.

“C’mon in,” Buster said, leading us past the ticket taker. “Put these on your right wrists.” He gave each of us a red plastic wristband. “That way you can come and go. I’m estimating you guys won’t get on stage until after midnight. I’ll catch you later.”

“I wonder who Pastor Burnside found for his new partner,” I said to Alyssa as we scanned the room for an empty table.

“Some big tit bimbo,” she said. “His partner signed in as ‘Double-D.’ Geez, there’s hardly any seats left. Do you want to come back later? Do you think it’ll clear out some?”

Just then an emcee leapt onto the stage with a hand mic and too much energy. “Alright, Strait City! Are you ready for blowjobs?!”

The crowd made a racket.

“We have got a show for you tonight! Twenty-one teams will be competing for our grand prize of ten thousand simoleons! I’d like to ask all of our contestants to please come up to the stage right now so everyone can see what a wild and wonderful competition this will be!”

“For chrissake, do we have to?” I said to Alyssa.

“C’mon,” she said. “They did this last week too. They want to introduce everybody before it starts.” She started dragging me toward the stage.

“I don’t want to be introduced,” I said, though I followed along without any real protest.

Forty-two contestants were a tight fit on that stage. I was one of only three white guys and I quickly realized the other two were gay guys who would be blowing the black dudes they were obviously partnered with.

“It’s going to be a long night,” the emcee boomed over the crowd noise. “So, I’m going to ask all of our contestants to leave the stage right now, except for our first team—Pharaoh and Gigi!”

“Let’s get the fuck outta here,” I said. “We’ll come back at midnight. I can’t sit and watch twenty black dudes get blowjobs. Not that I have anything against them getting blowjobs, but shit, I might have a premature ejaculation before we ever get up there.”

“You’ll get no argument from me,” she said. “There’s a Thai restaurant across the street. You want to get something hot and spicy?”

“Sounds good,” I said. “And MacDougal’s Pub is only a block away. We can get a couple beers and strategize till midnight.”

“No way,” she said. “You’re not drinking, not till after it’s over. You can have root beer if you’re thirsty.”

nine

It was right about midnight when we got back to Lethargy. We flashed our wristbands and went right in. The crowd had thinned out some but all the empty seats were near the back and on the far right or far left side. A black dude was on stage getting a blowjob from a tiny blonde with big tits. We quickly sat down in the back instead of trying to find the best seats available. I was wondering how long we had to go until it was our turn.

That’s when the black dude popped. He pulled back and started painting the girl’s face. She had her mouth open but was clearly trying to dodge the cum shot, moving her face from side to side, up and down, not letting him aim with any accuracy. When his load was spent, she stood and faced the crowd with her mug well-frosted but making no effort to get any of it in her mouth.

“Obviously, they never read the rules,” Alyssa said.

“Yeah, he had the quantity but she totally ignored the percent-swallowed factor.”

“I promise I’ll get every drop of yours.”

“I just hope I can produce half as much as him.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll really get your dick into my throat and I’ll gag up all kinds of gooey mucous before you’re even close to cumming. The amount of slime I’ll be lapping up will be in contention for the record, assuming anyone ever kept such records.”

One of the things I really liked about Alyssa was that she was always reassuring. We had a real partnership. She always carried her weight.

As the team left the stage, the announcer bounded out and almost went flying off into the front row when his foot slipped from under him. He caught himself on one hand, stopping himself from going down. “Hey!” he yelled into the mic. “Get the cleanup crew out here!”  He started to shake off the goo on the hand that had touched ground. The audience groaned, some making distinct eww sounds.

He paced for a few moments then turned to face the audience. “You guys are in for a real treat right now. Returning to our stage as the reigning champion from last week is a man that many of you know as the Pastor who inspires his flock every Sunday at the Tasty Waffle Cathedral, the Right Reverend Shaquille Burnside!”

As the cleanup crew were still wiping areas of the stage, Pastor Burnside came dancing out in his trademark dashiki. The crowd went wild.

“And, his new partner,” the announcer boomed. “He found her in his driveway slurping the chrome off the bumper of his Lincoln Town Car—the delicious, delectable, and downright double dirty, Miss Double D!”

She came out with a cartwheel and landed on her feet. She was wearing a red lingerie ensemble—bra, g-string, garter belt, red net stockings and the highest platform heels I’d ever seen. I was impressed. The girl does cartwheels in high heels. Then I got a look at her. Holy fuck! It was Darla Dollars!

The music started and she put her hands on her hips and waited for the announcer and cleanup crew to exit. Pastor Burnside stood aside, proudly watching her.

So, I’m thinking she’s a judge and she’s a contestant. Or is this her night off from her judge job and is this what she does as a hobby?

Darla Dollars was in good shape. She had stripper moves down to a graceful artform. She wasted no time getting naked. The bra was off within thirty seconds. She’d had a boob job and I only knew that because I remembered her tits from her porno days. There was no way they could have grown that much. I’m not much for silicone enhancement, but they were yummy-looking.

Pastor Burnside was wielding his dick like a baseball bat. I was astonished at its size and even more astonished when I recalled Buster telling me “the redhead” had taken the whole thing down her throat. Balls deep, he said. For the first time in my life I felt sexually inadequate. How was I going to compete with that? Alyssa and I have to follow the Burnside/Darla Dollars super team? This wasn’t fair. I wasn’t sure I could do this.

Darla’s g-string came off with a flick of her wrist and I sat there staring at her pussy, the pussy I once believed to be the most beautiful ever created. Seeing it again, live and in-person, not just an image on a video screen, it struck me that it was still the most beautiful pussy I had ever seen. Now I started worrying about Alyssa competing with Darla Dollars. Darla had years of experience as a professional slut.

Darla didn’t remove her stockings or garter belt. She did a long floor routine, rolling around with lots of leg spreads. She finally got into a backbend position which was mostly incredible for how long she could hold it under the physical stress of being throat-fucked upside-down.

Pastor Burnside hammed it up with his huge dick, which was his gimmick, his claim to fame. He understood showmanship on a visceral level. He and Darla made an unbeatable team.

But from where I was sitting, I couldn’t actually see the blowjob. Darla was facing away from me and I was staring right at her pussy, which looked so vulnerable in her backbend position.

That’s when I first noticed the camera crews from the local media, along with reporters talking on handheld mics, though I couldn’t hear anything they were saying because of the crowd noise.

Pastor Burnside appeared to be really slamming it to Darla. But I was happy just to stare at that gorgeous pussy, the kind of pussy a man could bury his face in and die happy.

Because of where I was sitting, I also missed the cum shot. I could hear it because of Pastor Burnside’s grunts and squeals and I knew it had to be a good one because of the audience’s oohs and ahhs. And I knew when it ended because Darla came out of her backbend position by slowly rising to a standing position. She had an angelic look on her face, with cum dripping down from her lips onto her chin.

The crowd loved the performance. The yelling and cheering went on for almost a minute as Pastor Burnside egged them on by goose-walking around the stage waggling his baseball bat, playing it up for the cameras. He still appeared to be hard as a rock. How the hell was I going to compete with that?

“Fred’s such a cornball,” Alyssa said.

“Cornball?” I said. “He’s walking around with a Louisville Slugger in his pants, not that he’s wearing pants.”

“C’mon, Wally,” Alyssa said, taking my arm. “We’re up next. We’ve got to get backstage.”

“How am I supposed to follow him? I need a bigger dick.”

“Your dick is just fine. Believe me, I prefer your dick a hundred times to his.”

She was pulling me down the aisleway to the curtained entrance to the backstage area. Backstage was brightly lit. Lots of vanities lining the walls but not many people. Darla was back there, already dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Alyssa walked right up to her.

“You were great,” Alyssa said. “You’re going to be a hard act to follow.”

“Thank you for saying that, but I’m not even in the same ballpark as the performance you put on last week.”

The announcer’s voice came from a speaker overhead: “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the final team of the night: Wally and last week’s female champion, Midnight Jazz!”

Midnight Jazz?

“Get out there, Wally!” Alyssa pushed me.

I stumbled out onto the stage, thinking My wife has a stripper name …  The spotlight was way too bright in my eyes. I put my hands up to shade them and immediately I could see the audience, some of the faces in the front row just a few feet from the stage. Everyone was looking at me. A lot of people were making noise, not very well orchestrated, some clapping, some yelling. Why am I standing in front of this huge crowd of strangers? Then I saw the camera crews. Lots of cameras. Every major local media outlet. I stood there waiting longer than I wanted to wait, trying to act nonchalant about this whole deal. Where was the chair? There was always a chair up here before when I saw the contest …

Thank goodness, Midnight Jazz entered the scene.

Damn. I wasn’t expecting the oil. She never tells me anything. She was wrapped in black ribbons and dripping with oil that had been smeared over every inch of her body. The strategically-placed ribbons covered her nipples, except that they kept slipping off, and her slit and ass crack, except that they kept slipping in.

Where did her outfit come from? And the oil? Minutes ago, she was standing beside me backstage completely normal. And I can’t get away from the thought that I’m a part of this team and it’s up to me to perform as planned. Alyssa was basically posing, holding different poses and rubbing that oil around on her body. She looked so damn sexy I was thinking maybe she really can compete with Darla Dollars.

Bitter Bitter Bitter ended abruptly. It was blowjob time. Alyssa spun around to face me directly. Another beat by the Oozing Beagles started blasting from the speakers. Osphresiophilia Fugue. Now I knew what she was doing—playing songs from the time when we first fell in love. I had never seen Alyssa look more beautiful. An erotic fire burned in her eyes as she approached me. I was glad she was finally coming to start this thing. I felt like a dummy just standing there, but what was I supposed to do? I was in my street clothes, a beige polo shirt and jeans. Nobody wanted to see me dance. She had told me not to worry about it, that she’d take care of everything.

She wasted no time positioning me how she wanted me, turned sideways so that everyone in the audience could see both of us. She knelt down in front of me and I was already starting to get turned on. This was my favorite way to get a blowjob—her down on her knees, looking up at me, a begging supplicant. She undid my belt buckle and unbuttoned and unzipped my jeans, giving them a tug down, along with my boxers. I remembered her instruction to spread my feet wide enough to hold my pants up at mid-thigh level, so as not to expose my bony knees.

Gripping my legs just above the knees with both hands, Alyssa looked up at me as she went to work. Normally, watching her do this would get me fully erect in seconds. Seconds. But after having just seen Pastor Burnside’s enormous equipment, my limp dick looked so tiny and … is the word “harmless?” He had been swinging a baseball bat, a caveman’s club, a battering ram. What the hell was I doing in this contest? I didn’t belong here. She coated me good, with strings of her spit starting to drip down onto the floor. But my dick was as floppy as an overcooked noodle.

I was starting to see worry in her eyes and I knew she could see it in mine. This was starting to turn into the most embarrassing situation of my life. I made the mistake of turning my head and seeing the audience—100 people and the local media camera crews watching in rapt attention my inability to get my substandard, miniscule excuse for a dick hard.

Alyssa decided to take matters into her own hands, literally. She took my dick and started rubbing it on her tits. I wanted to say No, baby, that’s not going to do it. Can’t we just get out of here so I can curl up in a ball somewhere and forget about this night?

I was glad the crowd was being polite. Nobody was heckling or hurling insults at us. Yet. But people were also losing interest. Groups were talking amongst themselves, murmuring, ordering drinks, just waiting for it to be over, waiting for the judges to announce Pastor Burnside as the winner. I guessed we were three minutes or so into the alleged blowjob and there was no way I could take this public mortification for another nine.

That’s when Alyssa surprised the hell out of me by standing up suddenly. She looked me in the eyes. “Wait here,” she said. “Don’t you dare move. I’ll be right back.” She was still in charge.

She raced off into the backstage area.

So, I’m standing there with my pants down around my knees and my dick just hanging there. Even the audience was confused. Then I saw Pastor Burnside, sitting right up front and laughing his ass off. He caught my eye and stood up. He was still in his dashiki.

“I will pray for you, Willy!” he yelled in his booming preacher’s voice. That got a mild roar from the crowd.

I wanted to yell back at him It’s Wally, you fucking idiot! But I didn’t. I couldn’t take this anymore. I had a lump in my throat like I was going to start crying. But I didn’t.

That’s when I saw the blue haze. A parallel door was open and all I would have to do is walk through it. I didn’t have to be here for this humiliation. I could step right into another universe and be done with this one. At the same time, it occurred to me that I’d have a parallel self who would step into this scene to take my place. Damn. What a shocker that would be for him. I was so tempted to do it.

I looked down at my sorry dick. I reached my hand down and flicked it, as if to say, Wake up, damn it!

That got a laugh out of the crowd which I wasn’t expecting and I felt like such a jerk just standing there with my drawers down and dick out, abandoned by my partner. Abandoned! Where the hell did she go?

And just that quickly, the haze dissipated. The parallel door was now closed. I’d hesitated too long.

So, I flicked my dangling dick again and got another laugh. I started shaking my hips, making my dick waggle to the beat of the music. This got the crowd roaring. Wally and his dancing dick. Then the crowd started to clap and cheer wildly. I wiggled my hips faster and got my dick spinning like a tassel on a stripper’s tit. The crowd was going wild. I may have found a new career. Dick spinning.

Then I discovered what all the screaming was about. It had nothing to do with my dancing dick. Alyssa had reentered the stage, along with the now naked Darla Dollars and they were molesting each other as they approached me.

I hadn’t even seen them coming until they were almost standing in front of me. Alyssa was still wrapped in black ribbons. Darla was wearing nothing but her platform heels.

“Lie down,” Alyssa said. “On your back.”

I obeyed instantly and as soon as I was settled on my back, Darla planted her feet on either side of my head and I found myself looking up at her sweet sweet pussy. Then Alyssa got down on her knees, straddling my midsection, and bowed down with her face next to mine so she could talk to me over the crowd noise.

“I told her if we win she could have your share of the prize money,” she said.

“But I don’t get a share of the prize money,” I said. “I already failed on my end of the deal. I didn’t get hard in the first two minutes.”

“She doesn’t know that. She thinks we’re doing a sixty-forty split. So, I’m going to give her your four thou. I also told her you thought she had the most beautiful pussy in creation.”

“How did you know that?”

“You told me that years ago, when we were dating.”

“Oh.”

“So, I’m going to suck your dick now. You just enjoy this ten-thousand-dollar blowjob.”

Alyssa backed away and I started to tip my head up to watch her, with a knot of fear already tugging at my gut that this wasn’t going to work, that I simply can’t perform sexually for an audience, until I lay my head back down and saw Darla slowly squatting over me.

I forgot all about Alyssa. That glorious pussy was coming straight for my face and it wasn’t wasting any time getting there. It was mere inches away. I was inhaling the warmth and the musky fragrance of her. I craned my neck up and strained my chin up, but she kept herself just out of reach. I tried touching her pussy with the tip of my tongue and she lowered herself another inch and I succeeded. She pulled away quickly.

I lay my head down. I could die now. I’d touched my tongue to Darla Dollars’ labia major. Then she lowered herself all the way down and started grinding slowly as I licked and sucked and pumped my tongue frantically, oblivious to everything but the fulfillment of this fantasy from my adolescence.

Meanwhile, Alyssa was giving my dick a workout. I don’t know exactly how or when it happened—I had been so totally focused on Darla—but in my mind’s eye, I could suddenly see Alyssa again. And I don’t know why some women just look ten times more beautiful with a dick in their mouth, but she was one of them. And that visual image was fighting with Darla’s relentless grinding for my attention, causing some kind of libidinous overload in my brain.

As if she knew of the battle going on in my head, Darla started pushing herself harder against my mouth, rubbing up and down the length of my face. I don’t know how long this went on, as time was the furthest thing from my mind. But at some point, not of my volition, my focus went back to Alyssa. All of my muscles were tensing. My fingers on both hands were splayed out and pressing against the floor as if attempting to grab it. I could feel my hips jerking as Alyssa’s mouth, her beautiful sexy sloppy-wet mouth succeeded in its efforts to make my buttocks and the muscles in my thighs tighten like steel belts until I could feel the eruption. My muscles would barely start to relax when I would feel the rising wave about to crash again. And again. And again.

At last, I felt the tide ebbing and realized Darla was gone. I was just lying there on the floor, my face wet with sweat and saliva and vaginal juices, panting in huffs and puffs, trying to catch my breath. I pushed myself up on my elbows to see a dozen cameras flashing. I had forgotten all about the news crews that were recording this event for tomorrow’s morning telecast. Alyssa climbed off me and stood up.

I stood also, a bit too quickly as I started to get dizzy and lost my balance, put a hand down to steady myself till the dizziness subsided. Darla was leaning over the edge of the stage signing an autograph for a fan. I stood and looked down to see I was still at full mast, pointing skyward. The crowd was cheering. They had to be clapping for Alyssa and Darla because I hadn’t really done a damn thing. I pulled my jeans and shorts back up and started zipping and buckling and tucking in my less-then-cooperative dick.

The emcee bounded onto the stage. “That was Wally and Midnight Jazz and—a special added attraction—once more, the delightful Miss Double D!” He motioned for us to get off the stage and we quickly complied. “The judges are right now tallying up the scores, so stay in your seats and take advantage of our half-price special on our newest cocktail, Doberman Drool, and yes, it’s minty!”

I was in a daze backstage. Darla was getting dressed and complaining that there was no shower. I was trying to think of what to say to thank her when Alyssa came up to me and said, “You performed perfectly. That was brilliant to act like you couldn’t get hard at first. The audience ate it up.”

I was going to say That wasn’t an act, but I knew that she knew that it wasn’t. Instead I said, “Lissie, you still have my cum on your lips.”

She started licking around her mouth.

“I didn’t mean you have to lick it off. Haven’t I ever told you how good you look with cum on your lips?”

“No, I don’t think you have. You told me once I looked more beautiful with your dick in my mouth.”

“Ha!” Darla laughed. “Ron Jeremy used to tell me that all the time!”

“Well, you look absolutely gorgeous with cum on your lips too,” I said to Alyssa. And that was the truth. She was the whole package. “I really want to fuck you right now,” I said.

“When we get home,” she said. “We’ll take a shower together and then you can fuck me.”

The emcee came backstage and said to Darla, “How long till the judges pick the winner?”

She was sitting on one of the vanity chairs lacing up her strappy high heels. “I’m sure they’ve already figured it out,” she said. “I’ll go get the results and bring you the official decision.”

The emcee left and Darla came up to Alyssa and said, “You won, sweetie.”

“Do you think?” Alyssa said.

“I know. I’m the deciding judge.”

“But … don’t you have to see what the other judges say?”

“Look, Alyssa, there isn’t a girl or boy in this contest that gives head with your skill. Buster and I discussed it before I came out to partner with Pastor Burnside. You’re getting the ten thousand tonight and you’ll go onto the list to advance to the next level. It’s a done deal.” Darla turned to me. “And your name, Wally, will definitely go into the hat for career blowjob recipients, assuming such a category is ultimately created. I just want you to know that I meant it when I said that you can get almost anything you want if you just work with us. Now I’ve got to go get the judges’ decision. You two might as well wait right here because you’re going to be called back to the stage in a few minutes.”

Darla left. Alyssa and I were alone backstage.

“How much money did you promise her?” I said.

“Four K, but I’m going to give her five.”

“So, you’re splitting it fifty-fifty with her?”

“Yes.”

“I agree with her you give the best blowjob on the planet, but you should have gotten the whole ten K without her rigging it and taking half the prize.”

“And if she wouldn’t have helped out when your dick was going nowhere, do you think we would have won tonight?”

She had a point. Darla was the reason we won. But that made it even more rigged. No wonder she was so agreeable to helping Alyssa get my dick in operation. Nobody else in the contest or in the audience knew that Miss Double-D was the deciding judge.

I heard the mic screeching, then the emcee’s voice booming from the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen, the judges have chosen our winning team. The ten-thousand-dollar grand prize goes to Wally and Midnight Jazz! C’mon out here guys!”

Alyssa and I quickly went back out onto the stage. I suspect the look on my face would likely be described as a shit-eating grin. I really wanted to get this thing over with. Cameras were flashing. Strangers in the crowd were giving me thumbs up.

“That’s ten thousand dollars, Midnight, already added to your bucket. Now everyone wants to know … what’s your secret for giving the perfect blowjob?”

The crowd was making a racket, cheering and whistling and stomping their feet.

Alyssa was beaming. “Well, I sure wouldn’t claim to ever be perfect. I think no matter how good a blowjob you give, there’s always room for improvement. But if I have a secret, I’d have to say, girls, you’ve got to connect with your inner slut.”

“There you have it ladies, straight from the cocksucker’s mouth! Now, Wally, let me ask you … How important are blowjobs to men, really?”

“How important are they?” I said. Couldn’t he have given me a heads-up on what he was going to ask me? “I’ve never really thought about the importance of blowjobs before, but I’d have to say on a scale of importance from one-to-ten, with a stubbed toe being one and oxygen being ten, blowjobs are about a nine-point-nine, not quite as important to men as oxygen, but pretty damn close.”

They already had me acting as a spokesperson.

ten

Steve Rooster called me. “Congratulations, man.”

“Did you see it on the news?” I said.

“I was there, man. Buster gave me a free pass, remember? Awesome contest. What are you going to do with the ten thousand?”

“I didn’t get any of it. My wife got it.”

“Your wife? I didn’t even know you were married. Did she actually see the contest?”

“My wife is Midnight Jazz. She was the one blowing me.”

“Holy shit! That was your wife?”

“Why did you call me, Steve? What do you want?”

“Oh … we’re having another meeting. After the shit Leslie said … it’s just obvious that this whole thing with the Scientists is just bullshit. We gotta do something, man. Tomorrow night, same time, same place. Be there.”

I was trying to think of how to tell Steve I wasn’t interested in his meetings anymore when I heard the click in my ear and knew he’d hung up.

I was back to mixed emotions. Shit. I knew the Scientists were scamming the world. It was just the same old thing, con artists duping the gullible masses. But, what the fuck, they had Darla Dollars working for them and she was trying to recruit me. She asked me to work with them, said they could make things happen for me. Was there really a possibility I could be starting a career as a professional blowjob recipient? If opportunity knocks, you gotta answer the door. In fact, I felt certain I would excel at that occupation. I could just feel it, like I was cut out for this job that never even existed before. Suddenly, I’d be able to display my true talent—squirting my cum into girls’ mouths and on their faces and their tits. This would be the perfect job for a guy like me.

My phone vibrated in my pocket a little too insistently so I pulled it out to see there was an audio message from the IBA’s Regional Mouthpiece:

Deep mellow voice, speaking slowly, thoughtfully, as if off the cuff:

Scientists have determined that virtually all men require regular—in most cases daily—blowjobs—and in some cases more than once daily—for happiness and satisfaction with life. Yet, the current rate of men getting blowjobs is estimated at less than two percent of the number of blowjobs required. This causes extreme anxiety in all male populations, expressing itself in anger, violence and self-destructive behaviors that continue to ruin both personal relationships and employment histories. The Scientists’ data have been input into the Sovereign Brain and a solution has been found. All men between the ages of 16 and 60 in the Blockchain Nation will soon be scheduled to receive daily blowjobs. The IBA has begun conducting fellatio experiments in the form of regional competitions that will expand to Blockchain-wide contests with cash prizes to discover the true blowjob experts in our midst. Those with sufficient talents will be well-paid as instructors for all who want to learn this valuable skill. Rigorous tests and demonstrations will result in a virtual army of blowjob experts who will not only satisfy all the men in the Blockchain Nation but will become a thriving industry as men from other countries—primarily the Russian and Eastern Bloc countries, the Chinese, Arab and African nations—flood onto our shores with such intense need for our fellatio services that the Blockchain Nation will become the world’s first blowjob-based economy. All men in the Blockchain Nation should watch their inboxes for their scheduled daily blowjobs. Science rules.

Then, talking at a highly-accelerated speed:

Scientists no longer use the obsolete colloquialisms “male’ and “female” in reference to fellatio participants. We now substitute the terms “recipient” and “practitioner.” The practitioner can be any human person of any sexual identity. The “recipient” can be any human person with a penis. Women with penises qualify as recipients, and males without penises do not qualify as recipients. The presence of a penile member is itself the determining factor for a person to qualify as a blowjob recipient. Science rules.

Jesus, was this really happening? Daily blowjobs required? I wanted more information. How long would it be until this blowjob program was implemented? I wanted to call Darla and ask her a thousand questions, the main one being, What kind of part can I play in this program?

Alyssa called. “Did you hear the news?” she said.

“I assume you’re referring to the blowjob news.”

“Yes! Isn’t it exciting! We could both find ourselves in cushy government positions pretty soon.”

“Well, you anyway. But what exactly does it mean that the Blockchain Nation could be a blowjob-based economy?”

“How should I know? I just heard the same Mouthpiece announcement you did.”

“Yeah, but you work for the Strait City News. Don’t you cover the economy?”

“I’m a copy editor, Wally. I’m a human spell-checker.”

“But you edit the economic news. I don’t even read that page.”

“Oh, Wally, you’re so uninformed. All I know is that currently, the strength of the Nation’s economy is tied to the Downie harvest, which has been getting stronger every year for the past decade but it’s slowing down. As long as women keep putting off childbirth until later in life, the Downie harvest should continue going up, but the Fed is predicting it’s maxing out and can’t really grow much more. Apparently the IBA believes that the Fed’s recognition of blowjobs as a commodity will put the Downie harvest into second place.”

“Why is the Downie harvest slowing down now?”

“It’s just biology. Nowadays, most women first conceive between the ages of 40 and 45, which has led to a substantial proportion of fetuses coming into being with Down syndrome. At first, the Sovereign Brain solved the problem via late term abortion. But that was an inefficient solution because it wasted the mother’s time, the doctor’s time, the hospital’s time, and mostly it wasted the life of the aborted baby.

“So, the Brain’s solution, verified and supported by the International Brilliance Authority, was to harvest the Downies as a commodity. Some are used for aftermarket components, especially eyes and internal organs. Others are used for a vast array of scientific experiments, drug testing, medical procedures testing. Many are used in medical schools as training kits. Not a few are cultivated and used for manual labor. The whole program is run by Planned Babyparts. The Brain postulated that Downies would also make excellent slaves and this has proven to be 100% correct. Historically, they’ve proven to be the world’s first good-natured slave class.”

“I would think they’d be worth a lot more than blowjobs on a global scale,” I said. “Of course, I flunked out of Econ 101.”

“As a commodity, the Downie harvest is more important economically to the Blockchain Nation than all agricultural and livestock commodities combined. There’s no data available to the general public on industrial and precious metals, but it’s hard for me to believe that blowjobs could exceed the economic impact of all other commodities to the extent that we would be considered essentially a blowjob-based economy. So, I think the IBA is exaggerating. But it’s still an exciting development.”

I knew she would know what this was about. But before I had time to finish mulling over these thoughts, before I had even put my bucket away, it started vibrating in my hand with another message from the Mouthpiece. “I’ll call you back,” I said to Alyssa. “Yet another Mouthpiece message.”

Deep mellow voice, speaking slowly, thoughtfully, as if off the cuff:

Scientists have determined that all men are bisexual and must have sex weekly with both men and women to maintain mental and emotional health. Biological males between the ages of sixteen and sixty who are currently categorized hetero/vanilla on their slaver’s license will be required to report weekly to a Carnal Exigency Facility to fulfill their obligation to the Nation by having sex with another man. For both comfort and convenience, vanilla men will only be assigned other vanilla men as their sex partners. Together you will explore and discover your inner gay selves. Also, for your convenience, the location of the nearest Carnal Exigency Facility is now programmed into your self-driving vehicle which will automatically transport you when it’s time for your appointment. Your assigned facility is now open for business. All CEFs will soon be open twenty-four/seven. Don’t miss your assigned appointment. And bring lube.

Then, talking at a highly-accelerated speed:

If assigned appointment time is inconvenient, you may reschedule to a different time on the same day by paying a onetime fee of one-hundred-twenty-five dollars. Only one reschedule allowed per month. Cancellation fee is three hundred dollars. Fine for failure to report in, reschedule or cancel: five-hundred dollars. The Carnal Exigency Facilities are not associated with any religious affiliation, political party or protest movement. We are an official government agency, of the people, by the people and for the people. Science rules.

This couldn’t possibly be real. Suddenly, I’m bisexual and I’m supposed to be having sex with both men and women? And what the hell is a Carnal Exigency Facility? Are they going to make me do it in front of them so they would know I was complying?

Fuck this shit.

I called Alyssa. “Did you hear the Scientists decided all men are bi?”

“I did hear that. Are you ready to start taking it up your butt?”

“No way! The Scientists are wrong. I’m not bi.”

“I don’t think you can fight it, Wally. Science rules.”

“Don’t say that. Science sucks. I’m fighting this thing.”

“I was talking to Darla this morning over coffee and she says you’re going to get the job demonstrating to men the optimal ways to get blowjobs. We might even get to work together sometime, because you’ll be in a team with a series of ever-changing world-renowned blowjob experts who will be administering your blowjobs. Pretty cushy job, Wal. All you’ve got to do is stand there and come.”

“Really? She said that? Did she mention the salary?”

“No, but you’re going to be the first authorized and licensed blowjob recipient. Also, you still have to get daily blowjobs like all men and that program starts in two weeks. Darla said that schedule is now posted online.”

“Thanks. I’ll check it out. I can hardly believe my life is coming together so quickly. Other than this new all-men-are-bi bullshit, which I fully intend to dispute. Do they have a job for you, too?”

“Yes, a great job—fellatio educationist, essentially, the head of the head department. I’m the Head Head. I’ve got to run, Wally. Are you going to be home tonight? I’ve got a couple new techniques I want to try out.”

“I will definitely be home. Catch you later.”

I logged into the Carnal Exigency Facility site and input my slaver’s license number. Up popped my personal appointment calendar that listed the blowjob practitioners that would be administering my blowjobs starting in two weeks:

Monday: Megan

Tuesday: Christina

Wednesday: Amy

Thursday: Floyd

Friday: Jennifer

Saturday: Maria

Sunday: Bruno

Immediately, I was worried about Floyd and Bruno.

I called the CEF information line.

“Carnal Exigency, where your pleasure is our measure.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Hello? Can I help you?”

“Yes, what does that mean? Your pleasure is our measure?”

“It’s our slogan.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Look, buddy, are you calling to make an appointment, change an appointment, or cancel an appointment?”

“I have a question about my scheduled blowjob appointments starting week after next. Can you please transfer me to someone who can answer a question for me?”

“That would be me, sir. What is your slaver’s license number?”

I rattled it off.

“Yes, I have your schedule right here. Wallace Denton. What’s your question?”

“I see on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I’ll be getting blowjobs from Megan, Christina and Amy.”

“That’s correct, sir.”

“But on Thursday, it says I’m scheduled to see Floyd. Is that accurate?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, my question is: Is Floyd a guy?”

“A guy?”

“Yes, a male. A dude. A biological human with a Y chromosome.”

“Well, technically, sir, males have both an X and a Y chromosome.”

“I know that! But does Fred have an X and a Y?”

“Of course, sir. All men do, other than men who were born in women’s bodies.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. I want to change my appointment with Floyd to an appointment with a human who’s got two X chromosomes, but no Y chromosome. I’m not gay and I don’t want some dude sucking me off.”

“We no longer use the term ‘gay,’ sir, when referring to a man. All men are now officially ‘bi.’”

“Are you aware that there is a difference between ‘officially’ and ‘actually’?”

“We are quite aware of your situation, sir. That’s why your daily blowjobs don’t start for two weeks. Until then, you will be assigned a weekly male lover to ease you into your gay self.”

“I thought you didn’t use the term ‘gay’ anymore.”

“We use it sometimes, but not as an overall descriptive. We do not classify men as homosexual or heterosexual anymore, but at the same time we are helping gay men to ease into their straight selves, and we have similar programs for women. Soon all men and women will recognize their innate bisexuality. Tomorrow morning at 9 am, you are to report to the Carnal Exigency Facility for your first gay romance.”

“Are you nuts? I’m not gay. I’m not having any gay romance. I like girls. Look, I have an idea … Instead of Floyd, can you assign me to a male who was born in a woman’s body? I could tolerate that. It’s fine with me if she identifies as male, just so long as she wasn’t born with a penis.”

“Mr. Denton, if a person identifies as male, then you should properly refer to that person as ‘he,’ not ‘she.’”

“Right. I can do that. So, can you arrange that for me?”

“No. Nice try, though. A word of advice, sir—and it’s a word of advice I’ve already given countless times today to guys like you—don’t try to fight the system. If you fail to appear for your appointment, the authorities will pick you up for questioning. And if you refuse to cooperate with your rehabilitation, which is really just allowing you to realize your true nature—as determined by Science with one-hundred percent accuracy—you will have to be deprogrammed and reprogrammed. I’ve been led to believe that deprogramming is unpleasant and reprogramming even more so. It’s much easier to just accept the word of Science and do as you’re told. Now, don’t miss your appointment tomorrow morning at nine. When you get to the facility, Nurse Screable will explain everything and answer all your questions. Just remember to bring a fragrance-free lube as some men are sensitive to scented lubricants. You know, you don’t want to cause anal itching.”

eleven

The first thing I said to Nurse Screable was, “I forgot to bring lube.”

She was a plump, matronly woman with carefully coifed greying hair. “No problem, Mister Denton, we supply all the necessary items. Besides, I see you’re classified as hetero-vanilla, so you’re unlikely to be needing any lube until your second visit. This is just a getting-to-know-you introduction. Your assigned lover has not arrived yet, so just have a seat.”

I went to one of the naugahyde couches across from her desk and sat down.

A few minutes later, a young guy about twenty-five entered the waiting room and walked up to Screable’s desk. He said in a very loud voice, “What is this bullshit?”

She looked at him calmly and said, “Name?”

“Allochezia. Jason Allochezia.” He was short-statured, maybe 5’6”, slim, wearing a denim jacket and jeans tucked into calf-high motorcycle boots.

Screable looked at her computer screen. “Please have a seat, Mister Allochezia. Doctor Sangrado will see you shortly.”

“Like fuck he will. This is a fucking mistake! I do not need to take estrogen! I don’t want female hormones!”

“You’ll have to discuss that with the doctor.”

“There’s not a goddamn thing to discuss! This is bullshit!”

“Please, Mister Allochezia, calm down. And watch your language. You should feel honored to have been chosen to participate in our “Making Men into Women” program. Now if you would kindly take a seat, the doctor will see you shortly.”

Allochezia started pacing the floor nervously, wringing his hands and muttering to himself.

I walked over to Screable’s desk. “I’m not taking estrogen,” I said.

“Of course not, Mister Denton. You have not been chosen for that study. There may be signups for it in the spring if you’re interested, but for now, just have a seat.”

I turned to see Allochezia stop his pacing abruptly. His eyes widened momentarily then he took a step forward and froze. I knew exactly what was happening—he’d just seen a blue haze and was stepping into a parallel world. When his body relaxed, he started looking around as if dazed. One of his parallels that had just entered our world was trying to figure out what he’d walked into.

“Holy fucking shit!” he exclaimed as, I assumed, memories were flooding into him and he was realizing where he was and why. “No fucking way!”

I was still standing in front of the nurse’s desk.

“Mister Denton,” Nurse Screable said in a soft voice.

I turned to look at her.

“Why don’t you step into the Tranquility Room to wait for the doctor.” She motioned to a door behind her.

As Allochezia went into a tirade of “Jesus fucking Christs,” I stopped myself from answering Screable with my own, “This is bullshit,” and instead said, “Thank you.”

I went into to the so-called Tranquility Room and closed the door behind me. The small space was dimly lit by scented candles and reeked of jasmine. The walls were hung with large, dark, patterned tapestries. A king-size bed with an ornately carved headboard dominated the center of the room. A small marble-topped end table on each side of the bed held a votive candle burning in an orb-shaped red glass holder. One of the end tables also had a white jar labeled “Lube” and a ceramic bowl of condoms. There was no other furniture in the room. Hidden speakers in the walls were playing what sounded like a recording of wind chimes. Spooky.

I could hear Allochezia shouting again, followed by what sounded like a brief struggle and the sound of a deep male voice, not Allochezia’s, then silence.

I stood there wondering what to do. I didn’t want to get on the bed, not even to sit on it. Some dude, my so-called “assigned lover,” would soon be entering and I didn’t want to look like I was waiting for him in bed.

I visually scanned the walls and ceiling for any type of surveillance cameras. I felt certain that someone would be watching and even recording the goings-on in this room. The door opened and Nurse Screable entered with a guy about my age and height. He had a pencil-thin mustache that gave his upper lip the appearance of a permanent sneer. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt.

“This is Bret,” the nurse said. “Bret, this is Wally.”

We glanced briefly at each other but neither of us made a move to shake hands or even nod a greeting.

“Now, we realize that both of you guys consider yourself heterosexual,” she continued, “but thanks to Science, we know that heterosexuality is a myth perpetrated by the obsolete patriarchy that was in power during your formative years. We realize this will be a slow process but we’re confident you will both discover your attraction to men if you just spend some relaxed quality time in a romantic environment. The Tranquility Room has been designed by the Sovereign Brain to be the perfect ambiance for romance. So, I’ll just leave you boys alone to get acquainted. No pressure. All sex must be by mutual consent. My suggestion: start by holding hands. Don’t try kissing on the first date! Give yourselves something to look forward to.” And with that, Nurse Screable turned and walked out, pulling the door closed softly behind her.

“Look, Wally,” Bret said, “let me just state right now, for the record, it ain’t gonna happen.”

“We’re on the same page as far as that goes, pal,” I said.

“Is this room bugged?”

“Hey, I know as much about this place as you do, but off the top of my head, I suspect someone’s listening to us right now, or they’re recording our conversation to listen to later. Before you came in, I was trying to find surveillance cameras. There’s a smoke detector on the ceiling just above door. There could be a camera or mic hidden in that thing.”

“Look, Wally, we gotta be in here for an hour, so let’s spend our time searching this dump for mics and cameras. All these wall hangings could be hiding anything.”

“Good idea, Bret. They want us to believe the tapestries are for ambiance, whatever the hell that is. To them, we’re just a couple of rats in an experiment. But I know they’re probably watching our every move and recording everything we say. Like we’re going to be stuck in a room lit with candlelight and that’ll make us start sucking each other’s dick.”

“You search the west wall. I’ll search the east wall. Then we’ll do north and south. Are there any damn electric lights in this room?”

“Not unless they’re behind the tapestries,” I said.

“Short answer: No. What if the cameras are behind the tapestries but up near the ceiling? I can’t reach that high even to feel for them. And you’re no taller than me. I think I see a lump under the rug up there but I can’t quite reach it.” He slid one arm up behind a layered patchwork tapestry that appeared to be made from heavy oriental rug fabrics. “Get me one of them tables to stand on,” he said.

I took the votive candle off the bedside table that was otherwise clear and set the candle on the bed. The “marble” top was plastic. The table had spindly wooden legs and was very light. “This will never hold your weight,” I said as I brought the table over to where he was still feeling around under the tapestry as high as he could reach.

“You just hold it for me,” he said as he stepped back from the wall.

I set the table down against wall and held it steady as he stepped up onto it. Before he even straightened his first leg, the table crashed to floor, two of the table legs splintered. He jumped back to keep from falling on his ass. “Shit!” he said. “These fuckers thought of everything. They don’t want us to know they’re spying on us.”

“Now, Bret, just stop and think for a minute,” I said. “We know they’re recording us either video or audio or both, but so what? We’re not going to do anything or say anything, so what does it matter?”

“I know there’s a goddamn camera in here and I’m going to find it!” And with that he yanked on the tapestry and when it didn’t give, he yanked harder using both hands and pulled it from the wall with a tearing sound. It fell to the floor in a heap.

“What the hell are you doing, man?” I said. The heavy fabric had apparently been attached to the wall with an evenly-spaced row of large brass screws. The screws were still in the wall, holding fast to stringy plugs of the tapestry fabric.

He looked up at the wall. “No camera there,” he said. “No mic. Let’s look under the next one.”

“You tore it,” I said. “That could be valuable.”

“Are you a fucking faggot?”

“What? No! I’m just saying—”

Before I could finish what I was saying, he grabbed the tapestry beside the one he’d already torn down and gave it a good pull. It was a lighter fabric and it came down fast.

“Pay dirt,” he said, pointing to a small black circular object over our heads.

“I believe that’s just the speaker that’s playing the sound of the wind chimes,” I said.

He looked at it more closely. The chimes were much louder without the fabric muffling them. He said, “You’re right.”

Once more, no camera, no mic.

Once more, shreds of the ripped fabric still held to the wall.

“Jesus Christ,” I said. “They’re going to charge us with vandalism!”

“You know where the camera is,” he said in a blatantly accusatory tone. “Tell me where it is, you fucker!”

“What are you talking about? I don’t know shit. You’re going to get us in trouble!”

He walked to the opposite side of the room where a single large tapestry covered the entire wall, with a giant oblong mandala that seemed to be moving in the flickering candlelight.

“That’s got to be worth some bucks,” I said.

Riiiippp! He tore it down.

“Damn it, Bret! What does it matter?”

He walked over to me and looked me in the eyes. “What does it matter?” he said through his clenched teeth. “You’re trying to get a video of me sucking your dick and you think that doesn’t matter?”

“Bret, I’m telling you, I’m not gay. I’m just a normal guy like you.”

“You’re trying to get me on tape! You sonofabitch! I knew they were going to stick me in this room with a damn queer! I knew it! They knew I wasn’t queer, so they figured they’d put me together with a goddamn faggot to try and turn me!”

“Calm down, Bret. I’m not gay and you’re acting crazy. Look at what you did to this room.”

And with no warning, he hauled off and socked me in the jaw so hard I went tripping backwards and crashed into the other end table, breaking that table and sending the other candle, the lube and the bowl of condoms flying onto the bed and tipping over the votive candle that I’d already placed there. I slumped to the floor and by the time I regained a modicum of composure, I saw that the candle had started the bedspread on fire.

That’s when the door opened and Nurse Screable entered with a bewildered look. My jaw was aching. Bret was standing in the middle of the floor with a satisfied smirk on his face. The smoke alarm went off with a pulsating shrill whistle. A uniformed security guard entered within seconds, probably in response to the alarm. He must have been right outside the door. The fire was already diminishing but a lot of black smoke was continuing to curl from a smoldering hole in the bedspread.

Nurse Screable touched the guard’s arm. “Get some water, John,” she said softly.

The guard turned on a flashlight and looked around at the mess in the room, then he pointed the beam at Bret then me briefly, decided the trouble was over and went to get some water. The smoke had a sickening chemical smell.

I stood up, bracing myself with one hand on the bed, still shaky from being sucker-punched.

A blue haze appeared right next to Nurse Screable. I could walk through it right now and be done with this scene. When I thought about my parallel self suddenly appearing here and seeing what he’d walked into, I snorted a laugh.

“Is there something funny, Mister Denton,” the nurse said.

“No,” I said.

“May I ask what is going on in here?” Her voice was too calm and measured for the scene. The screeching of the smoke alarm was frazzling my nerves.

“You said there had to be mutual consent,” Bret said.

“Yes, I did,” said the nurse.

The haze dissipated. I wondered if I would regret my hesitation.

“Well, this faggot you stuck me in here with,” Bret said, “kept trying to grab my dick!”

“That’s not true,” I said. “He punched me! Go look at the video!”

“Video?” said the nurse.

“He said you were videotaping us,” Bret said. “You were gonna get a video of me having queer sex then you could blackmail me.”

“Mister Denton, you have a wild imagination.”

“I didn’t say that stuff.”

The guard returned with a large plastic tumbler of water which he used to douse the smoking embers on the bed, peering at it with his flashlight until he seemed satisfied the fire danger was gone. Then he used his flashlight to poke a button on the smoke detector over the door, turning off the alarm.

“You may go, John,” said the nurse. “But stay close by. Buzz maintenance. I can deal with these clowns.”

The guard left the room.

Nurse Screable fixed her eyes on me. “Do you understand what mutual consent is, Wally?”

“I didn’t do anything,” I said. “He just started tearing down the tapestries and when I told him to stop, he socked me.”

She turned to Bret. “Why don’t you go home, Bret,” she said. “We’ll contact you tomorrow to reschedule another appointment.”

“Not with that queer again!” he said.

“No, no. I’m sorry about this. Some closeted men just have too much testosterone for their own good. I’m very sorry we endangered you. It won’t happen again.”

Bret left the room in a huff.

“I will have to file a report on this, Wally,” Nurse Screable said.

“I didn’t do anything,” I said.

“Look at this place. Someone will have to pay for it.”

“Bret did the whole thing. He was looking for cameras.”

“And why did you tell him there were cameras in the room?”

“I just said I thought there might be.”

“And you tried to touch him intimately?”

“No! He made that up!”

“Why would he do that? He was clearly disturbed by your advance.”

“There was no advance. He punched me. I never touched him.”

“Yes, well, I’m not the one that decides who’s responsible. I just file the report on my observations.” She turned toward the door. “John!”

The guard entered quickly.

“Please escort Mister Denton to the exit and be sure he doesn’t attempt to vent his rage through any more vandalism.”

“I didn’t do a goddamn thing,” I said. “You’re jumping to conclusions.”

“It’s out of my hands,” Nurse Screable said. “The board will make a decision and you will be contacted. Now kindly leave the premises.”

twelve

“What’s the big occasion?” I said to Alyssa as soon as I walked into the kitchen. She was sitting at the breakfast nook table in the corner.

She stood up and cocked her hip in a vavavoom pose for me. “You like?” she said. She was wearing a lacy turquoise lingerie ensemble with a waist-cinching corset and neon blue stockings.

“I like. Lots. Extra lots.”

Her smiling expression altered to sudden concern. “What happened to you?” she said, sitting back down at the table.

“What do you mean?”

“Your jaw is swollen! The whole left side of your face.”

“Oh, that. My assigned lover at the Carnal Exigency Facility sucker-punched me. No big deal. It’s just the way straight men get intimate with each other.”

“The coffee’s hot,” she said, nodding toward the pot on the table.

I sat down across from her at the kitchen table and poured myself a cup. “My turn,” I said. “What happened to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Just the look on your face when I walked in,” I said. “Before you saw me and jumped up to tease me. You looked like somebody died or something.”

“Did you see the latest discovery of Science?”

“You mean since it was discovered all men are bisexual?”

“A new discovery came out this morning,” she said. “Do you remember the survey they did last year to determine what the ugliest part of the human body was, based on everyone’s opinions?”

“Sure. No one could figure out what the purpose of the survey was. Honey, you really look incredibly sexy in that outfit, but my mouth is really fucked up right now. I don’t even think I can eat tonight. Is my lip swollen?”

“Mostly the side of your face.”

“I don’t think I’ll be much for kissing tonight. Not fair. You look so yummy. What are they saying about the survey?”

“How did you answer the question?”

“I think I checked ‘male scrotum.’ How did you answer it?”

“The same. And the results were posted this morning. According to both men and women of all races, nationalities and age groups, scrotum took the ugly prize.”

“So what?”

“So, Scientists have been working on how to fix the problem.”

“They better leave my nutsack alone!”

“Believe me, they looked into various methods of beautifying scrotums but none of them worked. They even tried removing the scrotum completely and pushing the testes up into men’s bodies but it interfered too much with sperm production.”

“I’m telling you, Lissie, these Scientists are bonkers. Guys have had scrotums since the beginning of time. Everyone accepts scrotums for what they are. Ugly, but hey, they’re holding the family jewels. How did they even do these tests?”

“Same old same old. Remember when everyone was wondering why the futures price of the Downie harvest was soaring? Like always, they used the Downies for testing.”

“Well, I’m glad the tests failed.”

“Yeah, but they came up with another solution.”

“How bad is it?”

“Pretty bad. You know how Science is always working to make total equality between the sexes? Well, they didn’t want to accept the fact that men have a physical ugliness that women don’t have, so they decided that since scrotums couldn’t be removed or beautified, all women should have scrotums surgically attached in order to make men and women equal.”

“Where the hell are they going to get the scrotums?”

“Yet another Down syndrome benefit to society.”

“How clever.”

“But wait. In order to attach the nutsack, they make a slice in the female taint and pull the ovaries out so they’ll fill the scrotal sack like balls before they sew it on. They posted pics of the Downie girls that have had the operation and I’m feeling very depressed. I have my appointment next Thursday to get measured for a scrotum.”

“Oh, sweetie, I really don’t want you to have balls. You’ve got such a beautiful pussy. Why can’t they leave it alone?”

“That’s why I put this outfit on,” she said. “I was trying on my sexy things to see which ones would look good if I had balls.”

“Sweetheart, your outfit is adorable and you look great in it, but nothing you own would look good with balls. You can’t let them do that to you!”

“Well, they’re not scheduling any of the surgeries yet, just taking measurements. There’s already a movement rising up against it. The fact is there aren’t nearly enough Downie boys to provide scrotums to all women, even if they limit the operation to sexually active women. So, the IBA is now kicking around the possibility of castrating all men over the age of sixty to harvest scrotums.”

“But a lot of men are still sexually active at that age.”

“Yes, but their sperm quantity and quality are diminished. One faction of Scientists is pushing for all men over fifty to be castrated. A lot of men are pretty dried up by that age anyway, but their scrotums are perfectly serviceable. The biggest uprising right now isn’t women but older guys who want to keep their balls.”

“Aren’t a lot of women protesting against getting scrotums attached?”

“Every woman I’ve talked to is opposed to it, but there isn’t any formal movement against it yet. Everyone’s afraid of the consequences of expressing any opposition to Science. Since it’s just now being discussed by Scientists, everyone’s just hoping Science will rule against it for practical reasons. The problem is the Sovereign Brain is infallible and Scientists always go with the Brain’s decision. Wally, I see the haze.”

“What haze?”

“The blue haze. There’s a parallel door right in front of me. I haven’t seen a door for six months. I have to make a decision quickly.”

“Just calm down, sweetie. You’re getting all stressed out.”

“I think I have to do it, Wally. I do love you, you know.”

“Baby! I don’t want to lose you. I love you too!”

“But they want to sew a scrotum onto me.” She stood up from the table. “Don’t worry, Wal. One of my parallel selves will be taking my place here in no time. You won’t even know the difference.”

She took two steps forward, then froze, and I knew it had happened. She’d gone through the door. A moment later, she turned and looked at me curiously.

“Alyssa?” I said.

She came back to the table and sat down. “It’s okay, Wal,” she said. “My memories are coming back now.”

“But you’re a different Alyssa,” I said. “You just came through the parallel door.”

Once you’ve seen a person go through a parallel door and one of their parallels take their place, you can always recognize when it happens to someone, even though you never see the blue haze yourself unless it’s your parallel door. Sometimes you just see a person out on the street take a step forward and come out a different person, a person who looks identical because they’re in the same body, but you can see the confusion in their eyes as they try to figure out where the hell they are.

When I was in the businessmen’s world, I once saw a guy get caught picking the pocket of another guy in a bar. The victim of the crime was about to haul off and sock the thief when the thief took a step to the side, then turned back around and it was a different parallel. The poor chump had no idea what he was walking into and found himself having just been caught stealing red-handed. Even the victim of the crime recognized that he was now looking at a parallel of the guy who’d robbed him, which gave him momentary pause, though he still followed through with his punch and decked the guy.

I could see that the rush of memories flooding into Alyssa was starting to slow down. She was looking around, getting her bearings.

“Now I see why my parallel got the hell out of here,” she said. “I don’t want a damn scrotum.”

“Science rules,” I said.

“Oh, Jesus. This is absurd. What does this have to do with Science?”

“We’re not really allowed to question Science, you know.”

“Wally, I don’t know if I can live with Science making the rules.”

“It’s refreshing to hear you say that. Your parallel self who just left loved this universe up until she got scheduled to be measured for a scrotum. Any chance you might be into having sex? I can’t explain this but even though you look and act exactly like the parallel Alyssa who left, I feel attracted to you in that ‘new girl’ kind of way. You look so sexy in that corset.”

“You’re just like the Wally I left behind. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.”

“But both of us may be leaving this universe soon. This could be our last chance.”

“Last chance?” she said.

“For sex. You’re already looking for an exit door. I’m ready to get out of here.”

“I know why I want out; I don’t want balls. But why are you leaving? Wait a minute, it has something to do with your swollen jaw, doesn’t it? Now I remember. They’re going to make you have sex with guys. Why is that so bad?”

“Because I’m not gay, dammit! And if you’re getting a scrotum, geez, I want to go to a universe where you don’t have balls. I like you better without balls. That’s just a fact. And I’m sick of Science trying to run my life. It’s not really Science. It’s just greedy power-mad people who take control and use the word ‘science’ to justify their ends.”

“Sometimes I think that’s the problem with all the universes. You know what the weirdest thing is? Even weirder than us always being together? In every universe I’ve been in, we live in the Blockchain Nation.”

“Wow, I’ve been thinking about that too. How does the Blockchain gain control of every universe? How many universes have you been in?”

“Five. All with the Blockchain in charge.”

“Only five? You hardly move around at all. I’ve been in nine. Have I been living with you in all five of yours?”

“Every one. Married or, at least, living together. And when I entered this one, I was so happy to see you again. I really think we were made for each other.”

“Who made the rules in the universe you just came from?” I said.

“Artists.”

“Artists? That’s the universe I wish I could get back to. Did you still have that rock star boyfriend you had when I was back there?”

“He OD’d a couple years ago. But I had stopped seeing him six months before that. The thrill was gone. I wasn’t seeing anyone but you. I was happy to get away from the drugs and his obnoxious celebrity friends.”

“So, it sounds like we got our life together. Why would you leave that universe?”

She just looked at me for a long moment before she said, “Because of my extreme sadness.”

“Oh.” I hadn’t known Alyssa to be suffering from depression. “Was my parallel self still driving a delivery van? That’s what I was doing when I was there four years ago.”

“Well, yes, you were working for United Stuff, but that was up until a year ago. I’m not sure I know how to tell you this … but … you weren’t with me for the last year I was there.”

“Really? We broke up? But I’ve been crazy about you in all nine universes I’ve spent time in. I mean, I know we argued all the time but … I found the artists’ world to be one of the happiest worlds—no, the happiest universe I’ve ever been in. Admittedly, disorderly and often confusing, but always interesting and thought-provoking and just happy.”

“Geez, Wally, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the reason I became so sad was because you died.”

“I died?”

“Well, that parallel of you did. That’s why I was so happy to see you when I got here.”

“How did I die?”

“You got involved with the wrong people and … you know.”

“Are you saying I was murdered?”

“I’m just saying you made some bad decisions, Wal. People tried to warn you. After you died, I waited for six months for one of your parallels to show up. Then I found out that when a parallel dies in a world, no other parallel of that self will ever enter that universe again. You can only enter a universe when one of your parallels moves on. But death is not moving on. Death is an exit. Death is an end.”

“Are you saying I can never again return to the universe where artists make the rules?”

“I wasn’t trying to say that but I believe that’s true. Without a parallel self in that universe anymore, there’s no one there to leave and open a parallel door for you to get back in. The reason I left was I didn’t want to live in a universe without you.”

“That’s such a sweet thing to say, baby. I’m so glad you’re in all of my worlds too.”

“So, as long as you’re already dressed for sex, we should do it, but you have to understand I can’t kiss you or eat you or anything involving my mouth. But I sure would like to fuck you right now.”

“But I have to leave now, Wally. I was so happy to see you here, but I see the blue haze. I’m not staying for the scrotum surgery. I really can’t risk staying here. You know, when you see the blue haze, you better take advantage of it.” She stood up.

“You’re kidding? Already?”

“It’s no big deal. One of my parallels will take my place. You won’t even know the difference.” She took a step forward and stopped and I knew she was doing it. Then she turned to look at me.

“Alyssa?” I said.

“Wally … I am so glad you’re here! So, what is this place? Science town? Oh, wait a minute … my memories are flooding into my head. My parallel self left because … I am scheduled to have a scrotum surgically attached. Oh, Christ.”

“Please, Lissie, don’t leave yet!”

She came to the table and sat down. “Well, I can’t leave yet,” she said. “I don’t see a parallel door. I could be here for months, years. Sometimes I go a long time without seeing a way out. And what the hell happened to your mouth?”

“It’s a long story. Are you up for fucking?”

“You Wallys are all alike. And what’s with this scrotum surgery? I’m sure that’s why my parallel left.”

“That’s why more than one of your parallels left. I guess I’m going to start running through all the Alyssas in existence. I wonder how many of you there are.”

“Honestly, Wally, I have no intention of leaving. I like the idea of having balls.”

“Get out of here!”

“No, I’m intrigued. My understanding is that they’re going to fill the scrotal sac with my ovaries. Can you imagine how sensitive that must be? I mean you could actually be licking and sucking on my ovaries with nothing but a thin layer of skin between your mouth and my gonads. Ooh. That sounds deliciously kinky.”

“Alyssa, I don’t want you to have balls. I’m sure if you had them, they’d be the cutest balls of any chick I know, but I don’t want you to have them. Don’t do it. Decline the operation.”

“Only one problem, Wally. Science rules. It’s not up to us. And you have to stop being so negative about getting screwed in the butt. You might like it. Open up your horizons.”

“Now that you put it that way, I am definitely getting out of here. As soon as I see a blue haze, I’m jumping ship. And you may go through a few Wallys before you find the Wally that likes the idea of sex with men and licking your balls. Hell, I never thought I’d meet the Alyssa that wanted a scrotum, but that just goes to show there are many different Alyssas. Who was making the rules where you just came from?”

“Lawyers.”

“A horrible universe,” I said.

“Have you lived there?”

“No, I visited, so to speak. I was living in the universe where artists make the rules and it kept intersecting with the universe where lawyers make the rules. So, I saw enough of it. It was a very disturbing place.”

“Your experience is like mine in reverse. I never lived in the universe where artists make the rules but I did see it a few times when it intersected with the lawyers’ world. I almost stayed in the artists’ world once. It looked kind of tempting but I didn’t really need the change then.”

“What do you mean you almost stayed once?”

“My parallel self in the artists’ world asked me if I wanted to switch places with her.”

“Can you do that?”

“Sure. Don’t you know about the intersection rules?”

“I never heard anything about them.”

“Arriving in a parallel world through an intersection is different from getting there through a parallel door. The lawyers’ world is on the cutting edge of the Blockchain intersection regulations. I heard that the Blockchain itself caused the intersections, though I’ve never seen any official statement to that effect. You know how lawyers are. They leak classified information all the time but they never provide the source, so you can’t look anything up.”

“Okay, let me ask you a question. If I went through a parallel door and found myself in the lawyers’ world, and then the lawyers’ world intersected with the artists’ world, would I be able to stay in the artists’ world?”

“Sure, if your parallel self there was agreeable to the switch.”

“But there’s one problem. I don’t have a parallel self in the artists’ world. I recently learned that my parallel self in that universe died.”

“Hmm … interesting … I believe you could stay there. You just can’t have two parallel selves living in the same universe.”

“Lissie, you’ve just given me hope. I regret that I ever left the artists’ world and when I heard my parallel self there died, I was told that no parallel door to that universe would ever open for me again. But now, I see an option. If I can get to the lawyers’ world, I can wait for an intersection to hop back into the artists’ world.”

“I can’t believe you actually want to go to the universe I just left. Do you have any idea how awful it is to live under the rule of lawyers?”

“Yes, but that’ll just be a temporary stop for me, a necessary transition route. Ultimately, I want to get back to the artists’ world. I am a lawyer, or at least, I was until the new race rules were published a week ago. Whatever the lawyers throw at me in the way of laws, I’ll put up with it, knowing that the first intersection I see into the artists’ world, I’m kissing the lawyers goodbye. So, the only problem I have right now is trying to figure out how to get to the universe where lawyers make the rules.”

“Why don’t you put in a requisition for transfer?”

“A requisition?”

“Geez, Wally, don’t you know anything about inter-parallel law? Did you actually pass the bar?”

“I never even heard of inter-parallel law. Who do I put in the requisition to?”

“Geez, I never did it. I think there’s a form online. You might really like the lawyers’ world. You’ll definitely learn about inter-parallel law there. Everybody I knew was requisitioning transfers all the time. You have a parallel in the lawyers’ world. I know that for a fact because I just left him. But he’ll have to be agreeable to switching places with you. That means you’ll have to sell him on the idea of coming here, to this universe.”

“Oh. That’s not good. The last time I was in the lawyers’ world, when it intersected with the artists’ world, I had a big fight with my parallel self. Did you ever try to argue with one of your parallels? You can both see each other’s point of view so clearly that you both end up sputtering. Plus, I’m going to have to convince him to come here, where Science will be ordering him to start having sex with men and his wife will have balls. That’s not going to be an easy sell. Not to a Wally Denton.”

“I wouldn’t go too deep into that stuff. Just tell him I’m here. He begged me not to go through the parallel door when I left. We were crazy about each other.”

“Why don’t I just requisition a switch to the artists’ world directly? Why should I go through the lawyers at all?”

“The Blockchain isn’t accepting transfers to the artists’ world for any reason. The artists’ have violated too many Blockchain laws and their universe is deeply in debt due to unpaid penalties and interest. That universe has been off limits for years.”

“My parallel in the lawyers’ universe will probably be with another one of your parallels. Is there any reason he might prefer you to the parallel he’s with now?”

“A lot of reasons. Not that I’ve ever met her. Tell him I said I’m ready for that six-way. He’ll know what you mean.”

“Really? A six-way?”

“No, not really. But tell him that. You should be able to convince him to switch. He doesn’t really like it there.”

“Can I ask you a question? Why are you helping me get to the lawyers’ world?”

“Because you are a drag. You’re no fun. The Wally I left behind has a sense of adventure and daring. Can I be honest here? You’re the first Wally I can’t connect with. I was so happy to see you, but I don’t even want to fuck you. I want my Wally back and you’re not him.”

“But he might have to have sex with men here. How’s he going to feel about that?”

“You don’t have to tell him that.”

“So, I should trick him into coming here?”

“All I’m doing is telling you what you have to tell my Wally if you want him to switch with you. If you’ve got some weird moral qualms about doing what you have to do, then good luck getting to the lawyers’ world.”

Mixed emotions. Could I actually trick my parallel self into entering a horrible universe where he’d be forced to have sex with men and his wife would have balls? Would my conscience ever forgive me?

But I didn’t hesitate to put in the requisition. And I was surprised at how quickly the Blockchain responded. I had barely tapped the ‘send’ button and a beautiful blue haze opened up in front of me. As soon as I stepped into it, I felt the weight of the Law. It was such a different ambiance from the world of Science.

thirteen

I stood there looking at my parallel self, unable to speak. There was something strangely spiritual about the experience. He was sitting at the kitchen table in front of a computer monitor, typing on a keypad. He looked up and just stared at me incredulously. It was not a comfortable moment for either of us.

I spoke first. “I’m your parallel from the universe where Science makes the rules,” I said.

His eyes were looking me up and down in confusion. His face relayed tremendous frustration and weariness. Finally, he said, “What happened to your face?”

“Oh …” If I tell him about the Carnal Exigency Facility it’s all over. “I got into a fight,” I said. “You shoulda seen the other guy.”

“So, what the fuck are you doing here?”

“I’m hoping you might be interested in switching places with me.”

“Jesus Christ, I can’t take these goddamn intersections anymore. Get the fuck outta here!” He was clearly in emotional distress, and not due to my arrival in his world, but a distress he’d been in for a long time, a distress deeper than any I’d experienced in any universe.

“There’s no intersection,” I said. “The Scientists’ world never intersects with other universes. I filed a requisition for transfer with the Blockchain Parallel Oversight Department. I have ten minutes to see if I can convince you to switch places.”

“You put in a requisition? Why would anyone want to live in this godforsaken universe? You do understand that lawyers make the rules here, don’t you?”

“I know, but I’m a lawyer. I’m not prejudiced against attorneys.”

“As your parallel, I believe I can say with some authority that you are not Jewish.”

“Oh. Are there race rules here?”

“The race rules were created here and I believe they are Blockchain wide, enforced in all known universes.”

“I’m pretty sure the race rules were created by the Scientists, not the lawyers. At least, that’s what the Mouthpiece said when I first heard about them. But regardless, do you want to switch?”

“Well, either your Mouthpiece is a fucking liar or mine is. But let me ask you this … Why would you think I’d want to go to a place where Scientists make the rules?”

“Alyssa’s there.”

“Alyssa’s here.”

“Yes, but the Alyssa there is the Alyssa who was with you until a few hours ago. She likes you more than she likes me and she thought you might be open to joining her.”

“Really? What’s your occupation there now? Which is to say, what kind of lifestyle will I be walking into? And don’t say you’re an attorney.”

“I’ve just been approved by the IBA to be the first professional fellatio recipient.”

“The what?”

“I get blowjobs for a living. Alyssa told me to inform you that all men in the Scientists’ world are now required to get daily blowjobs. But I get more and I get paid for it. Best job I ever had.”

“No fucking way! And you’d rather live here because …?”

“Honestly. I don’t want to live here. But this universe sometimes intersects with the universe where artists make the rules, so I need to move here for the opportunity to hop over there. The Scientists’ world never intersects with any other universes.” I felt a twinge of guilt not telling him what he would really be walking into and I knew he could see the guilt I felt. He could see I was hiding something and something big. I felt I had to hurry and change the subject. “Can I ask what you do for a living?” I said.

“Paperwork.”

“What kind of paperwork?”

A blue haze suddenly appeared in the room.

“That’s your door back to the world of Science,” he said. “One of us has to go through it in the next ten seconds. What’s the real reason you’re getting out of the Scientists’ world?”

“Oh, Alyssa also told me to mention that she’s ready for the six-way. She said you’d know what she meant.”

He leapt up from his seat. “Sold!” he said with a grin as he stepped into the blue haze and disappeared before my eyes.

As the haze dissipated, my “memories” of his life in this universe, now my life, started flooding into my brain. Paperwork. Tons of paperwork, unending paperwork hung over my head. It was stacked up in my office, much of it overdue. If I didn’t finish the past due documents today, I’d have to file extension forms on all that were not completed. More paperwork. I was getting a headache just thinking about it.

That’s when Alyssa walked into the kitchen. She was wearing her baby blue spaghetti-strap camisole and matching panties. Her feet were bare. She looked yummy. “Honey,” she said. “You said you were coming right back to bed as soon as you filled out the thirty-nine eighty-two.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I got sidetracked. I’m almost done with it. Did you get yours filled out?”

“Twenty minutes ago, Wally. You’re so undependable.”

“No, really, I just got here. The Wally you were with up until now just walked through a blue haze. I’m a parallel Wally. And if I’m not mistaken, you just arrived in this universe yourself a short time ago.”

“How would you know that?”

“Because the Alyssa who was here a couple hours ago took the place of the Alyssa I had been with in the Scientists’ world until just now. I love that little shorty pajama set you’re wearing. Of all the Alyssa’s I’ve met, you’re the cutest.”

“What the hell happened to your jaw? Your face is crooked.”

“Oh, it’s just a little swelling. I bumped into something. I can’t actually kiss you right now. Would you be up for doggie style?”

“You Wallys are all alike. Finish filling out the thirty-nine eighty-two and come to bed.” She left me alone in the kitchen.

I sat down at the kitchen table and looked at the monitor. The 3982 was up on the screen. My parallel self had partially completed it. It occurred to me I’d filled out this form hundreds of times in the past in this universe.

The top of the page said:  Form 3982: Spousal Contact Agreement

My name and my Blockchain Citizen’s Number and Slaver’s License number were filled in, as well as answers to the standard nine questions.

  1. Location where contact will occur: residence bedroom
  2. Expected duration: 20 minutes
  3. Orifice penetration: Yes
  4. Orifices off limits: none
  5. Bodily fluid protections: none
  6. Pregnancy protections: vasectomy
  7. Aids or devices: none
  8. Contact recorded by: BSB overhead cam
  9. Safe word: contrectation

Vasectomy? I’d never had a vasectomy, but apparently my parallel in this universe had. I’d always trusted Alyssa to be taking the pill in every other universe. If I had entered this world through a parallel door, I would have entered the physical body of my parallel, a body that had had a vasectomy. But as I thought about it, I did inherit the memory of having had a vasectomy. But my parallel took his body with him. I’d have to ask Alyssa if she was using any birth control.

From that point on, I merely had to click the “I AGREE” button after acknowledging that I’d read the Terms and Conditions. I (or my parallel self) had read these in the past and I knew I didn’t like them. I scanned them quickly and remembered why:

  1. All physical contact between spouses must occur in a well-lit area under video and audio surveillance by the Blockchain Safety Bureau (BSB). Recordings will be available for review by either spouse or any of their registered attorneys for a fee that varies based on the type of recording device, the length of the recording, and the petitioner’s past history with legal enforcement agencies.
  2. All physical contact between spouses must be by mutual consent. Either party may express nonconsent by speaking the agreed upon safe word, which requires all physical activity to stop until both parties discuss the issue and specify the precise physical contact that is not consented to by the party that spoke the safe word and both parties must decide upon a mutually agreeable action that will occur in place of the disagreeable action.
  3. Either or both parties may file for monetary compensation in the event of any contact that is alleged to be not by mutual consent. Payment of the fine will dissolve the case. If the fined party disputes the charge, the BSB Arbitration Board will schedule the first hearings of the dispute which will include the audio and video recordings of the incident. Both parties will be responsible for the chain fees, which will be billed as per Blockchain Account Standard Regulations, Part VIIa. Each party is entitled to legal representation. The Arbitration Board’s decision will be final.
  4. Spousal contact is billable by the minute. Payments are deducted directly from your Blockchain Bank Account. If actual minutes of the recorded activity exceed 25% of the Expected Duration estimated via this Spousal Contact Agreement, the overage will be billed at 200% of the standard rate. If actual minutes of the recorded activity are less than estimated via this Agreement, the full amount estimated will be charged.
  5. Any false statements on the 3982 will result in a fine of not less than $500, or imprisonment of up to ten years, or both.

As I was reading this, Alyssa walked in. “Wally!” she said with more than a little irritation in her voice. “You’re always playing these passive-aggressive games to piss me off.”

“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. I got caught up reading the terms and conditions. Do you mind if I ask if you’re taking the pill?”

“Of course, I am.”

“That’s what I figured.” I deleted the word ‘vasectomy’ and changed the entry to ‘pill,’ but before I tapped the “I AGREE” button, I thought better of it, as they would be contacting me to get a vasectomy. I was now recalling that vasectomies were required here for men over 35. But if I was caught making any false statement on the form, I could get ten years. Shit. I really didn’t want a vasectomy, not that I was looking forward to kids in my future; I just didn’t want them messing with my balls. I wasn’t planning to stay here anyway. So, I changed it back to ‘vasectomy’ then tapped “I AGREE,” having read only to number five of the eighteen or so total terms. “I’m coming right now,” I said.

“You and your lame excuses. Well, forget it now. You killed the mood like you always do.”

“What do you mean? I never kill the mood. I like the mood. What can I do to help you get back into the mood?”

She came over to the kitchen table and plopped down in the chair across from me. “You can’t even kiss,” she said. “Your mouth is out of commission. This universe sucks. I am so upset that I walked through that parallel door that got me here. This is the worst universe I’ve been to.”

“Where did you come here from?”

“The universe where athletes make the rules.”

“I’ve never been there. What’s it like?”

“You’re not missing anything.”

“Were you with one of my parallel selves there?”

“I was with seven of your parallel selves there. But you were married to someone else. A dancer. But I was your lover and you spent more time with me than her. You didn’t like it there at all. You kept leaving. Every time you saw a parallel door you went through it, and another one of you would come in. We argued all the time. When I finally left it was in the middle of an argument. I’ve been with you through all of the universes I’ve been in. Have you been in any universes without me?”

“I’ve been with you in all nine of the universes I’ve lived in,” I said. “It’s one of the reasons I love you so much. You’re always there for me. I was really hoping you’d be with me again in this universe. But I have to tell you I’m planning on leaving here as soon as there’s an intersection with the artists’ universe. I lived there for a few months and they were the best months of my life.”

“So why did you leave?”

“I got tired of dealing with the constant intersections. Parallel universes are never supposed to intersect. It’s supposed to be impossible according to all the brainiacs. But somehow, the artists’ universe is intersecting with the lawyers’ universe all the time. And it’s a pain in the ass. A lot of suicides are committed as a direct result of intersecting parallels. You should never have to deal with your own self living in a parallel universe. I admit I was definitely drinking too much there. I had some pretty horrific arguments with my parallel selves. But still, I have an overwhelming desire to go back. It was the only universe where I never got bored. The only reason I came to this sick excuse for a universe was because I remembered it sporadically intersected with the artists’ universe. I never wanted to be here. How bad was the world run by athletes?”

“I should have stayed there, but the parallel doors that kept opening were too tempting. The food rules were intolerable. I hated my job there. But I have to tell you, Wally, I will depart from this sphere as soon as I see an exit door.”

“What was your favorite universe so far?”

“I loved the universe where mothers made the rules. They were strict but sensible. It was a bit boring but they had a great rewards program if you were obedient.”

“I think it’s disgusting that we have to fill out the Spousal Contact form every time we have sex here. And why do they have to film it every time.”

“Legal protection. It’s all they care about. Are you hungry?”

“I’m starving. What do we have to eat?”

“We’ve got salami if you want a sandwich. I’ll make it if you fill out the six-twenty-seven.”

I pulled up Form 627 on the monitor and started filling it in.

Daily Lunch Report

  1. Location of meal: residence kitchen
  2. Main course: salami sandwiches
  3. Side courses: dill pickles
  4. Drinks: coffee
  5. Dessert: none
  6. Number dining: two
  7. Meal prep: Cit.f 4JL439h6I114z
  8. Meal recorded by: BSB overhead cam

Then I got to the ninth question …

  1. Orifice penetration:
  2. Orifices off limits:
  3. Bodily fluid protections:
  4. Pregnancy protections:
  5. Aids or devices:
  6. Expected duration:
  7. Safe word:

“What the hell?” I said. “It’s asking me a lot of the spousal contact questions. It even wants a safe word. A safe word for eating a salami sandwich? What’s that about?”

“We have to answer those questions and use safe words now for all meals. The U.L.A. just came out with that ruling this morning.” The U.L.A. was the Ultimate Legal Authority.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “People have to use safe words just to eat lunch?”

“Not people. Us. You and me. Apparently, on a random scan of meals yesterday, they watched our dinner, and then watched a whole bunch of our meals over the past six months. They have an explanation under the Penalty Assessment button.”

I clicked on the flashing red Penalty Assessment.

Attn: Cit. 5hH460kmF426gD      and       Cit. f4JL439h6I114z

Ordinance 451m:  Violation of Standard Meal Regulations

The Ultimate Legal Authority has determined that your mutually-shared meals will henceforth be subject to all rules and regulations normally enforced for Spousal Contact in addition to the standard rules and regulations for meals. This requirement is due to observation of your recorded meals obtained over the past 180 days.

Specifically, under Ordinance 451m, food and drink items may not be inserted into bodily orifices other than the mouth for purposes of consumption. Food and drink items may not be sucked out of bodily orifices. Food and drink items may not be smeared onto the body and licked off. Tableware and cooking utensils may not be used as dildos or spanking devices. Neither the male ejaculate nor the female vaginal lubricants are to be used as sauces, seasonings, gravies, condiments or dessert toppings.

Current penalties exceed the total funds available in your combined Blockchain Available Funds Accounts. You must contact the BSB Arbitration Board to work out a payment schedule.

As I read the Penalty Assessment, I remembered doing all of these things with Alyssa during many of our meals. It was all just good clean fun, or good dirty fun. Of course, these unlawful activities were engaged in by our parallel selves, not either of us specifically, as we’d both just arrived in this universe today. But under the law, we were responsible for all violations by our parallels.

“Damn it, Lissie, they’re going to take all of our money. What are we going to do?”

She set the salami, mustard and bread on the table, then said, “I have no idea what you’re going to do, but I’m getting out of here.”

“Hey, I’m with you one hundred percent on that, but I mean what are we going to do right now until an opportunity to leave turns up?”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Wally. I see a parallel door right now. That beautiful blue haze. I’ve got to go for it.”

“Are you kidding me? Can you even stay for a sandwich?”

She stood up. “Can I get a goodbye kiss?” she said.

I stood and gave her an air-peck on the cheek, all I could muster with my jaw so sore.

“Sorry, baby, but I’ve gotta run,” she said. “The sandwich is tempting but not as tempting as that beautiful blue haze.” She disentangled herself from my arms and took two steps back.

I saw that momentary freeze I’d come to recognize as one parallel exiting and another entering. A smile crossed her lips. “Wally,” she said. “I was hoping I’d find you here.” She looked down at her skimpy little bedroom outfit. “It looks like I’m ready for bed. So, let’s go do it!” She was beaming.

“You look scrumptious, sweetheart, and I would love to fuck your brains out. But this is the universe where lawyers make the rules. So, it’s not as simple as that.”

She looked at me with concern. “What happened to your face?” she said.

fourteen

Alyssa came over to me and touched my arm with tenderness. “Oh,” she said. “My memories here are starting to come back. We really are up shit creek, aren’t we?”

“Have a seat,” I said. “Do you want some coffee?”

“Have we got anything stronger? There’s some whiskey in the cupboard as I recall.”

“The most important memories always come back first,” I said, as I went to the cupboard over the counter and got the bottle of Irish whiskey and a couple shot glasses. I needed a drink too. “So, what universe did you just come from?” I asked her as I poured a couple stiff ones.

She knocked hers back and said, “Just put the bottle on the table. You should put some ice on your face.”

We both sat down.

“I’m fine. So what horror were you escaping from that landed you in this craphole.”

“I was in the universe where gamblers make the rules,” she said.

“I’ve never been to that one. How was it?”

“It was different. They have rules but you’re supposed to break some of them and you’re never a hundred percent sure if you should be obeying or violating a rule. They actually have penalties for obeying some rules.”

“Seems like there would be some kind of consensus on which rules to follow.”

“But there isn’t because different rules work differently for different people. I was always trying to figure out how the rules worked for me.”

“Why’d you leave?”

“Oh, like always, a huge danger loomed and in a moment of stress, a parallel door opened. It’s always such a big decision because you know that when you go through that door, it’s only because your parallel self in whatever universe you’re about to enter also faced a bad situation and sometimes something downright horrible. So, here I am, hungry and horny. Since we can’t fuck, it looks like you were about to make a sandwich.” She nodded toward the salami sandwich fixings on the table.

“As soon as I finish filling out the six-twenty-seven.” I started filling in the spousal contact data that was now required for lunch. “Do you mind if I ask what danger in the gamblers’ world chased you out?”

“We were caught cheating by the FOA.”

“FOA?”

“The Federated Odds Authority, which is the governing body that sets the line for all rules and regulations in the Blockchain. According to their analysis of data collected on citizens, we were cheating the system. The system was designed to provide the Blockchain with a percentage advantage over everyone on any and every transaction or activity engaged in. They call it a cost of living tax but everyone else just calls it the house edge. Nobody likes the house edge, so everyone is always coming up with schemes to neutralize it or, when possible, reverse it. So, their analysis was correct but nobody considered it cheating. We were just working the system.” As she explained this, she was spreading mustard on four slices of bread.

“Were you with one of my parallel selves there?” I said.

“Oh, yes, and we were making a killing on the whore market. You were the one who came up with the scheme.”

“Not actually me,” I said. “One of my parallels.”

“I know but I always think of all your parallels as you. I think in some kind of cosmic sense our parallels are really us. So, stop being anal and correcting me when I refer to one of your parallels as you. You know what I mean. But it was a brilliant ruse and one hundred percent foolproof … that is until some idiot wrote about it. He published a book called The Whore Market Formula.”

“What’s the whore market?” I said, as I remembered to enter my alleged ‘vasectomy’ onto the 627.

“Well, that wasn’t the official name,” she said. “That’s just what everyone called it, especially after the book came out. Officially, it was called the NGI, or National Gratification Index. You have to understand that everyone over the age of sixteen in the gamblers’ universe is considered a prostitute. Men and women and in-betweens—and it doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, whatever—you’re a whore. Not their language. They call us hedonic conferrers. And the FOA is the pimp that owns everyone and must be paid for all sexual activity. Once more, not their language. They’re just the FOA enforcing the stipulations of the NGI.”

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Were we buying sex or selling it?” I hit the I AGREE button to submit the 627.

“The way it was set up to work, every time anyone has sex, you’re supposed to be paying the FOA. You’re supposed to pay to have sex with me and I’m supposed to pay to have sex with you. The amount people are charged is determined by the duration, specific activity and other factors. All women have RFID chips in their vaginas, mouths and anuses, as well as in every finger on both hands. Men have RFID chips in their penises, anuses, tongues, fingers …” She passed me a sandwich. “Let’s eat.”

“What about foot fetishists?” I said, trying to take a bite, then realizing the range of motion my sore jaw allowed restricted me to nibbling. “Sounds like foot fetishists would get lots of free sex.”

“Oh, no,” she responded through her chewing. “People’s sexual proclivities are catalogued in their slaver’s licenses. Great salami!” She swallowed. “Anyway, the FOA makes adjustments to the RFID chip placements to accommodate all variations. Foot fetishists will have RFID chips in their toes and ankles and the soles of their feet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bondage freak, a masochist, into orgies, erotic asphyxiation, whatever. All perversions are accommodated so that the Blockchain will get its cost of living tax if you engage in any orgasmic activity, including masturbation.”

“So, that’s the whore market? How the hell were we making money on that?”

“Oh, no, that’s not the whore market. That’s just regular life in the gamblers’ universe.  But, like in all universes, there are also real prostitutes, meaning women and men who make their living providing sexual services for a fee. They have special RFID chips to accommodate the financial transactions. The way it works is if you fuck a whore, funds from your Blockchain account are immediately transferred to her or him, with a cost of living tax taken out for the NGI’s commission.”

“So, how were we cheating? I don’t see any way to get an edge on this game.”

“You were working for a tech company that monitored the RFID data as it came in to the FOA. You were on the team that had to correct bad entries and reprogram the faulty chips. The chips were failing all the time. Basically, you were a government hacker.” As she polished off the last bite of her sandwich, she started making another another one. “You told me one of the guys you worked with was a programming whiz,” she said. “And he taught you just enough for you to do what you had to do. One of the things you found out in that job was that certain FOA big shots weren’t having funds removed from their accounts when they had sex with prostitutes. The prostitutes were paid from the Blockchain National Reserve. It was a perk the big shots gave themselves—free sex with hookers any time. The whores got paid in full and assumed their payments were coming from their customers’ accounts, per usual—but the big shots got as much sex as they wanted, the bill paid by the Blockchain Nation. I remember the day you said to me, ‘I can reprogram our chips.’ And I said, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ Boy, was I dumb. Every time we had sex, I was paid like a hooker, and the longer we spent fucking, and the more frequently, the more I was paid. You know, Wally, that was the single, most romantic thing any man had ever done for me. And, boy, did we take advantage of it. We were getting rich and we were fucking our brains out. If only it would have lasted longer …”

“What happened?”

“This book came out. The Whore Market Formula. It spelled out the whole scam and the FOA got wind of it. Actually, you told me all the guys on your reprogramming team were doing it and I guess some of them had clued in some of their friends and who knows who else learned about it. But that was the end of the gravy train. You got fired and they put you under house arrest during the investigation. You didn’t want to deal with it, so you walked through the first blue haze that appeared.”

“What happened to you?”

She passed me another half-sandwich. “I was placed under house arrest also, though at first they only went after you. They thought I was one of your ‘victims.’ Then they saw how we were hiding the money and they froze both of our bucket accounts. We couldn’t even afford food when they did that. I watched three other Wallys come and go before a parallel door opened for me and I got out also. Every time I think about how our parallel selves will deal with it, it seems like they won’t. They’ll just keep going through the haze. I see serious prison time in our parallels’ future. I don’t think a salami sandwich was a very good lunch choice for you. I’m almost done with my second one and you’ve barely started your first.”

“I can’t open my mouth very wide right now,” I said. “But the sandwich is good. I’ll finish it, but slowly. And here we are in deep shit again. The lawyers have confiscated all of our funds and these are the suckiest rules ever. Did you ever notice how the situations keep getting more dire—both the ones we escape from and the new ones we enter?”

“What are we going to do, Wal? I can’t stay here with no money and some medieval punishment hanging over my head.”

“Me neither. I really have to get back to the artists’ world. It’s the only universe I feel comfortable in. You know I’m starting to remember parallel intersection law.”

“You filled out the six-twenty-seven, right?” she said. “As I recall, we now have to enter spousal contact info, since they don’t trust us to eat without having some kind of kinky kitchen sex. So, let’s do it.”

“Hey, you’re right! They’re making us fill out the form, so we’re authorized to accommodate their expectations. Why don’t you sit on the table and lean back so I can have pussy for dessert?” I set my salami sandwich aside.

“Can I squirt some mustard on your dick?”

“Don’t you think that might burn your vaginal walls?”

“Baby, there isn’t going to be any mustard left on it by the time we start fucking.” She got up on the table and sat with her legs spread in front of me.”

“I really like those panties,” I said. “Baby blue is your best color.”

“Do you want me to take them off?”

“I’ll do it,” I said. “When I’m good and ready. With my teeth.”

“You Wally Dentons are all alike.”

My phone buzzed, the Interparallel Emergency buzz.

“Do you have any idea what that could be?” she said.

“I’m afraid to listen.” In all Blockchain universes, the Interparallel Emergency buzz was a message from the Master Block. It was mandatory to listen to the message immediately and heed it. These messages were often warnings of impending bad weather. The weather, at present, was calm and pleasant. Sometimes they warned of air strikes or invasions by anti-Blockchain Nation armies, but these types of military skirmishes hadn’t been happening for years.

I played the message and we listened together.

WARNING! This is not a test! A parallel intersection is imminent! E.T.A. less than five minutes. Take cover and avoid confrontations with parallel beings. The Blockchain Advisory Board is predicting an intersection with the universe where artists make the rules, deemed the most dangerous of the civilized worlds and more dangerous than many uncivilized worlds. Take cover now. This is not a test.

“So, the new Parallel Intersection Alert system is finally in operation,” I said. “If it works, this is fantastic. This is what I came here for. I thought I’d be stuck in this crappy excuse for a universe for weeks, months even. I was praying it wouldn’t be years.”

“So much for fucking,” Alyssa said, swinging her legs off the table. “Damn, I hate intersections. I’m taking cover.”

“Maybe you should come too.”

“Are you privy to any inside info that leads you to believe I have no parallel there?”

“Well, no … I’m pretty sure you do have a parallel there.”

“Then it would be foolish of me to go. You go be with her. I’ll just wait for a blue haze and get out of here the normal way. And good luck, Wally! I hope you find what you’re looking for.” She sat down on the floor in a cross-legged Buddha pose and closed her eyes.

There was no real way to take cover during an intersection, but if you stayed put and kept your eyes closed, you would usually be safe. I went outside and stood in the middle of the street, waiting for the jolts. A half-dozen other people were also out there—the ones who had decided to take a look at the artists’ world. Most would not be planning to stay, as their parallel selves would complicate things. But people were always curious about other worlds.

I managed to keep my balance when the first jolt hit. I was ready for it, had my legs spread and my arms out. At least three people that I saw fell down. Obviously, they were intersection amateurs. The first jolt is always the strongest and most disorienting. The way I’ve heard it explained the physical location of one parallel is trying to slide into the same space in another parallel, which for some reason causes a metallic screeching noise as both parallels fight for dominance. If that first jolt is the only jolt, the intersection won’t occur. False alarm. But if you feel a second jolt, even a soft bump, the intersection will be happening.

The second jolt was milder but it opened up the intersection so I could see where the split was. The parallels always end up slightly off kilter from each other.

I took advantage of the intersection immediately and walked right into the artists’ world, home free. I sat down on the pavement and closed my eyes with a feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes an intersection is fleeting, lasting no more than a few seconds. There are lots of stories of people who got trapped in a world they didn’t belong in, a world where their parallel self already had a life. It’s very dangerous to get trapped in a universe with a parallel self. Even if accidental, it’s a felony and as soon as you are discovered by anyone in authority, you will be locked up with no trial. There are stories of people who are rotting in prison because they’d gotten trapped in a universe where their parallel was already living.

But when the artists’ and lawyers’ universes collide, you often have an hour or more in which you can walk between the two worlds. Visually, you can see the split because of physical differences. Outdoors, objects like trees, bushes, fences, automobiles, even houses, telephone poles, anything that’s different in the two worlds looks “sliced” where the intersection occurs. Sometimes, even the ground is at different levels, or paved in one parallel but not the other.

Indoors can be even more disconcerting because the insides of houses and other buildings are always very different. I saw more than one intersection between the artists’ and lawyers’ worlds where the indoors intersected with the outdoors. I’ve never experienced an intersection in the middle of my own body, but I’ve seen it. It’s nauseating to be in two worlds simultaneously, so you have to move quickly to one or the other if it occurs.

Some worlds look very similar to each other, but you always knew when you were in the artists’ world. This was a residential neighborhood in Strait City, mostly single-family houses, a few duplexes, but artists live communally more often. Cars were parked in most of the driveways. The lawns were unkempt by most standards, but many of the lawn areas were covered with sculptures, some with gardens, some just looking like junkyards. I’d seen this same neighborhood in most of the universes I’d lived in and now I knew where my apartment was located in the lawyers’ world. But what really sets off the artists’ world is all the paint. Throughout the city, graffiti artists had covered most of the structures with their colorful visions, and not only the structures—houses and garages—but many of the cars, utility poles, some of the tree trunks and even the cement sidewalks.

I sat quietly for a long time, my eyes closed to avoid the dizzy sick feeling that comes from watching two worlds that are not quite lined up. I kept thinking of Alyssa. I’d abandoned her in the lawyers’ world and I felt pangs of guilt. How was she going to get out of there? There would be no parallel of me that could step in to take my place and keep her company. It was futile to hope she’d find a blue haze soon, because that would just mean another of her parallels would be finding herself in the same predicament. It gave me a headache just thinking about it.

Assuming there’s still a parallel of Alyssa here in the artists’ world, she will have been without a parallel of me for a year. I started imagining her seeing me again and throwing her arms around me with joy. This was the universe where I would live out my days. I couldn’t wait to get started. This was the most hopeful I’d felt about life in many years.

It was twenty minutes or so till I felt the intersection disappearing. Then there was that screeching sound again, but not so loud, not so irritating, and I knew it was over. I was home at last in the artists’ world. I opened my eyes.

fifteen

It was starting to dawn on me that I’d gotten here with no baggage. I didn’t have to find my parallel self and convince him to exchange places, because he’d already died. Nor was I stepping into my parallel self’s shoes, picking up with his life in whatever godforsaken state he’d left it.

I didn’t get up immediately but sat there for a while looking at the scene around me, just trying to recall everything I could about this universe I’d left four years earlier. Artistic expression of any kind is not only encouraged here, but greatly rewarded. It’s a widely held belief that anything you do can be practiced as an art form. There is an art to eating. An art to walking. An art to sleeping. An art to masturbating. There’s an art to talking. An art to dressing. An art to complaining. An art to cheating. There’s an art to lying and even an art to crime.

In the artists’ world, your best legal defense is art, and it can be a very powerful defense. Many criminals win in court if their crime can be shown to be highly artistic in its execution and they can defend it on that basis more artistically than the state’s attempt to prosecute it.

It occurred to me that I was at loose ends here. Since my parallel had already died, I wouldn’t have a house or an apartment. I wouldn’t have anything. I took my bucket out of my pocket to find it was dead. Of course. Wally Denton’s bucket account in this universe was permanently closed due to his death. But in addition to my bucket being dead, I didn’t know Alissa’s number in this universe.  I’d have to get another BUC-360, but how? And where would I get money? Having no baggage could be more of a curse than a blessing.

I knew what I had to do. I had to find Alyssa. Maybe she’d be back at her old apartment, where we’d lived together four years ago, or at least most of the time, when her rock star husband was on the road. That would be the logical place to start looking. I had to bring back my memories of our life here. Everything about it. My job, my friends, my neighborhood. Somehow, with no ID and nothing to my name, I’d have to reconnect with this world and create my place in it again.

It was scary in a way, but I had an immense feeling of both freedom and accomplishment. I’d successfully returned to the world where I intended to stay put. The universe where artists make the rules was the black sheep of the Blockchain parallel universe family, the renegade universe. My kind of world.

Getting around town was always difficult in the artists’ world. Street signs were painted over like everything else. Graffiti artists were highly paid by the government to continually repaint the world. I got to my feet. It was eerie that there was no vehicle traffic but quite a few people were wandering around.

I recognized the neighborhood I was in only because the Straight City Elementary School of Art was on one side of the street and I had made deliveries to this school years ago when I was driving a van for United Stuff. The apartment I lived in with Alyssa when I was here four years prior was about eight miles away.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said to a passing pedestrian. “I need to catch a ride but I don’t see any busses. Don’t busses run on this street?”

“Sir?” he said. “I haven’t been called ‘sir’ in years. The name’s Jeffrey.”

“I need to catch a ride to the Bukowski Heights district, Jeffrey. I’m Wally.” I extended my hand.

“Not today, Wally,” he said, shaking my hand limply. “There’s no service today. No busses, no taxis, no rideshares.”

“Why not?”

“It’s Noneday.”

“Oh.”

I’d forgotten that just before I left this world, the Blockchain Arts Council had renamed Monday to Noneday. It was an ordinance we’d voted on that had passed by a huge margin. No one liked Mondays, so it had been repurposed as a day that’s not a day. There was no return to work on Noneday, because Noneday didn’t count. It was a day for just fucking off. All businesses were closed. There was no school, no nothing. There were so many things to like about the world where artists made the rules.

“What happened to your face?” Jeffrey said.

I reached up and touched my swollen jaw. “It’s a long story and I’m pressed for time,” I said. “So, you’re saying I have to wait until tomorrow to get anywhere?”

“Day after tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the I.R.D. holiday.”

“I.R.D.?”

“Interblockchain Rape Day. October thirty-first. Did you just get off the boat, or what? It’s the biggest celebration of the year. Where are you from?”

“Up until ten minutes ago, I was in the Lawyers’ universe. Isn’t tomorrow Halloween? Halloween was always a big deal in this world. I used to live here.”

“I take it the lawyers don’t celebrate rape.”

“Celebrate it? They prosecute it! How the hell do you celebrate rape?”

“By raping and being raped.” He was looking at me with a dead serious demeanor.

“When did this holiday start?” I said. “I lived here up until four years ago and there was no I.R.D. holiday. What happened to Halloween?”

“Everything changed three years ago. The Interblockchain Arts Council announced the First Annual Artistic Rape Challenge, which is now held every fourth of July. The Artistic Rape Challenge is different from the I.R.D. because only the top rapists in the Blockchain Nation are allowed to participate.”

“It’s a rape competition?” I said. Had the artists’ world gone totally nuts since I’d left?

“It’s not a competition. It’s an exhibition. Everyone stays glued to the podcast for sixteen hours on the fourth of July. You should see some of these rapes. There are some extremely talented rapists in this world. The I.R.D. is different from the Artistic Rape Challenge because tomorrow it’s all of us common folks just raping and being raped to the best of our amateur abilities. Quite a few of the pros join in, so you will see some pretty creative rapes tomorrow.”

“There are professional rapists?”

“It’s a highly-developed art form.”

“Where are all the children during this craziness? At what age do people start raping?”

“You start raping as soon as you’re ready to rape. All the age laws were rescinded two years ago. Children study rape methodologies in elementary schools now. The three R’s—reading, writing and raping. At first, they spend most of their time learning how to be raped. You have to master the art of being raped before you’ll have any proficiency as a rapist, even at an amateur level. Since you’re new here, you’ll probably have to start by raping children. They’re the easiest ones to catch.”

“I have no desire to rape children and no intention of ever doing anything of the sort.”

“Wait’ll you start getting raped tomorrow. You’ll change your tune.”

“I have no intention of being raped tomorrow or ever!”

“Then you better have a pretty good hiding place. People will find out you’re new here and it’s going to be open season on your ass.”

A young woman approached us. “Who’s this guy, Jeffrey?” she said. “And what happened to his face?”

“He’s new,” Jeffrey said. “Brie, meet Wally. He just popped in from the lawyers’ world.”

She turned to me. “So, you just hopped over in that intersection fifteen minutes ago?”

“I used to live here,” I said.

“He never heard of the I.R.D. holiday,” Jeffrey said. “He hasn’t been here for four years.”

“And I honestly can’t believe that people in this universe are now going around raping each other like there’s no tomorrow,” I said. “Tell me the truth, Brie. As a woman, don’t you think rape should be a crime?”

“Not if it’s done artistically.”

“Right. Rape as an art form. How many universes have you visited or lived in, Brie?”

“A bunch. Maybe twentyish.”

“Have you ever noticed that no matter who makes the rules, everything gets fucked up?”

“What do you mean?”

“How come if artists make the rules here, it works out great for rapists?”

“All art is rape. That’s now one of the Art Council tenets.”

“All art is rape? I don’t buy it. Maybe it’s possible to rape artistically. I still have to wrap my head around that idea. But art itself is not rape. Art is seduction. There’s a world of difference. Are you sure artists are making the rules here? What if it’s really rapists making the rules?”

“If you’re going to talk that way, at least keep your voice down. What you’re saying is awfully damn close to blasphemy.”

“Blasphemy? We’re in a world where children are taught rape is like coloring with crayons. And what about murder? Is murder an art form now?”

“Absolutely. In fact, many murders are committed during rapes. The murderers almost always get off. The art defense is hard to beat.”

“And they’re teaching this to kids in school?”

“Sure. Once rape was recognized as a natural human drive, rapists organized and demanded their rights. Rapistry was soon determined to be just another sexual orientation. Once the book came out—The Art of Rape—everyone’s thinking changed. We realized the beauty of rape. You should read that book if you’re going to stay in this universe. It’s a fantastic book.” A look of mischief crossed Brie’s face. She cast a conspiratorial eye at Jeffrey. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” she said to him.

“Ha!” he laughed.

Brie turned to me. “How would you like to be raped right now?” she said.

“I assume you’re joking,” I said.

“Bad assumption.” She looked at Jeffrey and said, “Let’s do it.”

He looked thoughtful, like he was considering her proposal.

“Absolutely not!” I protested. “I just need to get to Bukowski Heights. I don’t have time for your games.”

“It’s Noneday,” she said. “Nobody has to get anywhere on Noneday.” She touched her hand to Jeffrey’s forearm. “He’s perfect,” she said. “We should do it.”

“I don’t want to be raped!” I said.

“Obviously,” Jeffrey said. “If you want it, it wouldn’t be rape. It would be consensual. Not much fun in that.”

“Give me a break,” I said. “I’ve got to get to Bukowski Heights even if I have to walk.”

“Doesn’t Lyra live in Bukowski Heights?” Jeffrey said to Brie, then to me: “She might give you a ride.”

Brie waved to someone behind me. “Lyra!” she called.

“I think it’s about eight miles from here,” I said. “If you can find a ride for me, that would be so helpful. I guarantee you I will be staying indoors all day tomorrow.”

“That sounds like a good plan,” Jeffrey said.

Then, everything went black. My arms were grabbed and held tightly by multiple hands, immobilizing me. I realized within seconds what had happened; a cloth bag had been pulled over my head. I struggled to free my arms but it was useless. There must have been two people on each side of me, four hands strongly gripping each of my arms. I could hear voices shouting.

“Take him down!”

“Grab his legs!”

“Bend him over!”

“Get his pants!”

Unable to see anything, and now with multiple hands also immobilizing my legs, I was helpless as I felt myself being forced onto all fours onto the pavement. My head was pushed down onto the cement, and not gently, my cheek grinding into the gravelly surface, the cloth bag over my head not providing much padding. Because of my already injured jaw, the pain was intense and caused me to cry out. Someone knelt on my shoulders. With my rear-end still up, multiple hands were attempting to unfasten my belt buckle, but before it was even loosened, my pants, including my underwear, were roughly tugged down to mid-thigh level, my bare ass now exposed to the breezy October air.

I heard a male voice yell, “Get the lube!”

Struggling was futile. I had no idea how many people were holding my arms and legs but it must have been eight or ten at least. A feeling of claustrophobia had me breathing in gasps. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t see. I had never felt so helpless in my life.

There was commotion all around me, voices talking excitedly, though I was making no sense of it until I heard a female voice shout, “Here comes Miss Mcgillicuddy!”

Then I started hearing a gaggle of children’s voices mixed in with the general commotion. The children’s voices were coming closer and the adult voices and commotion died down to a murmur. Then came an authoritative matronly woman’s voice:

“Now, class, watch and learn. No pushing, Megan. Everyone will get a turn. This is the kind of rape we’ve been studying in class. This is a gang rape. This is the kind of rape you’ll take part in when you’re little if you want to rape adults, because you’re not strong enough to rape them all by yourself. Now—show of hands—how many of you have already been gang-raped? Hands up! Okay, looks like one, two, three … five of the girls and only one of the boys. Actually, it’s two boys from our class because we all raped Brent yesterday but he called in sick today. Remember how red his butthole was when we finished?”

Through a ragged chorus of giggles, a young girl’s voice said, “It was bleeding, Miss Mcgillicuddy!”

“That’s right, DeeDee. Brent had to see the school nurse. Now, who can tell me the easiest way for girls to rape boys? Donna?”

Girl’s voice, softly: “With a dildo?”

“That’s right, Donna. Now, do all the girls have their dildos? Hold them up! Excellent! Cheryl, where’s your dildo? At home? Always carry your dildo. But, if you don’t have your dildo, what’s another way girls can rape boys? Lisa?”

Loud proud girl’s voice: “With fingers!”

“That’s right, Lisa. We can always rape boys with our fingers or other objects you might have access to, like the handle of your hair brush. But who can tell me why we prefer not to use our fingers? Anyone?”

Young boy’s voice: “So you don’t get poop on your hands!”

I felt something splash on the side of my face and a cool wetness seeped through the cloth bag. There was a sharp smell, like some kind of solvent. Was it gasoline? Kerosene? It was making me dizzy. Was I about to be murdered?

I don’t know how long it was until I awoke in a state of confusion. The bag was off my head and I was lying on my side with both legs curled up almost to my chest in a semi-fetal position. With my hands, I could feel that my jeans were pulled up on me. As it came back to me what had been happening before I must have lost consciousness, I was beginning to realize that my anus felt like it was on fire, burning with a searing pain. Had I been anally raped by a mob of school children with dildos?

I sat up and felt woozy, still dizzy and mildly nauseous. I looked around to get my bearings. I was still in the street, in the same place where the gang rape had occurred, but now, no one was paying any attention to me. I didn’t see Jeffrey or Brie or any familiar faces. I remembered the little girl’s voice that said, “It was bleeding, Miss Mcgillicuddy.” I envisioned a bloody stain on the seat of my trousers.

What had become of the artists’ world, the universe I thought I loved so much?

sixteen

Alyssa was staring at me in somewhat a state of shock.

“It’s me,” I said. “Or, at least, it’s a parallel of me you haven’t met yet.”

We were facing each other about ten feet apart in the middle of Kahlo Park. Aromatic smoke was in the air from dozens of barbecue grills, including the one Alyssa was standing in front of tending to a rack of ribs with a long, pronged fork.

“Holy fuck, Wally,” she said. “You died a year ago. How did you get here with no parallel in this universe?”

“I didn’t come through a parallel. I was in the lawyers’ world and it intersected with this world, you know, how it always does, so I stayed. I always liked it here and I wanted to come back. I got the word that my parallel had died here. I hope you still have room in your life for me, assuming I decide to stay for a while.”

“Holy mother of God, I wasn’t expecting this. You died. Now you’re back? Hey, I already put you behind me. I’ve gone ahead in my life.” She closed the lid on the barbecue grill then sat down at the picnic table beside it. “What the hell happened to your face?”

I sat across from her and decided to ignore her question. “How long have the ribs been cooking?” I asked.

“Since noon.”

“That’s two full racks. Are you having a party or something?”

She just looked at me.

“They must be close to done,” I said. “Did I ever tell you how good you look in a white tee when you don’t wear a bra?”

“Wally, what do you want?”

“You don’t sound very excited to see me.”

“You died. Do you understand? And everybody knows you died. Except you’ve apparently risen from the dead, and you’re wondering if I’m open to having a relationship with a zombie of my dead husband. I’m not sure that’s legal here, but that doesn’t matter. No one pays much attention to laws in this universe.”

“So I’ve been discovering. But I’m not a zombie. I’m just a different parallel of me. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have come here. I mean, what’s with this rape culture?”

“Rape culture?”

“You have to let me stay with you, Lissie. This world has become dangerous.”

“How else can I say it? No! You cannot move right into my life again. We had a great thing, but you’re not him. You’re his parallel. You’re not a bad-looking guy, Wal. You’ll meet someone.”

“Let me be blunt, Lis. I have no money. No ID. No car. No bike. No living quarters. No pot to piss in. No bucket. Or, to be more precise, dead bucket.” I pulled my bucket out of my pocket and showed her the blank screen before I tossed it into a big metal trash can beside the picnic table. “Garbage,” I said. “And how do I get a job without ID?”

“So, now I have to get you a hot bucket with fake ID? I could go to jail for that.”

Aromatic smoke was starting to pour from beneath the grill lid. Alyssa had never been much of a cook, but she sure knew how to barbecue babybacks.

“So, you’re going to leave me out here in the street,” I said, “so I can spend tomorrow being raped? You know I was raped downtown a couple hours ago. Gang-raped. I don’t even know how many people raped me, but I’m sore as hell and I really should see a doctor. Maybe I should take some kind of antibiotics.”

“You were gang-raped? Oh shit, I can never tell when you’re bullshitting me. Is that what happened to your face? I’ll put you up in my workout room. But you can’t come into the house proper.”

“You have a workout room?”

“It’s my garage, Wally.”

“You’re going to let me sleep in your garage?”

“You can use the weights, but always put them away. If I find weights laying around, your use privileges will be revoked. And you’ll be evicted if it happens a second time.”

“I won’t even look at your weights. Why are you being such a hard-ass? Is the garage heated? It’s going to be cold tonight.”

“Sorry. I’ll give you some blankets. How did you find me?”

“I walked eight miles from where the intersection occurred to your old apartment. The guy who’s living there now—”

“Lucas,” she said.

“Yeah, Lucas. He told me you’d probably be here for the Noneday barbecue. Those ribs sure smell good.”

“So, now I’m expected to feed you too? You better come up with a way to live here, Wal, because I’m not much for charity cases.” She stood up and went to the grill, lifting the lid. Clouds of white smoke billowed up. She forked one rack of ribs off the grill and closed the lid again. She put the slab of ribs onto a serving tray on the table. “Help yourself,” she said as she started mopping sauce onto the ribs.

“You know I always land on my feet,” I said. “Tell me what happens on Interblockchain Rape Day. In detail. I’m trying to mentally process this.”

“Interblockchain what?”

“The big I.R.D. holiday. Interblockchain Rape Day. It’s tomorrow.”

“In this world, Wal, tomorrow is Halloween. I don’t know what they celebrate in the lawyers’ universe, but apparently artists are a bit more sane.”

“Are you saying there’s no Interblockchain Rape Day tomorrow?”

“Wally, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I took the half-rack of ribs Alyssa had left on the tray after serving herself. “I was told it was the artists’ biggest holiday,” I said. “Where everyone goes around raping each other. Even children.”

“Somebody’s pulling your leg, Wal.”

“Lissie, I was gang-raped this afternoon right out in public. A group of elementary school children with dildos—”

She gnawed at a rib, then stopped and said, “Wait a minute. Was there a black bag placed over your head?”

“Yes!”

“And you blacked out?”

“Yes!”

“Oh my god, they got you! I can’t believe you fell for it!”

“Fell for it? My ass is still burning!”

“Oh, Wally, you are such a chump. You were not raped. It was a prank. You’re going to be on ShrewTube tonight for all the world to see.”

“ShrewTube? Lissie, this was not a prank. I was anally raped by Miss Mcgillicuddy’s class as a lesson in gang-raping for her students!”

“Ha! What day is it, Wal?”

“What?” She seemed so certain that I was pranked, but my ass was absolutely certain my gang-rape was no joke.

“What day is it today?” she asked again.

“It’s the day before what used to be called Halloween.”

“Tomorrow is still called Halloween. But today is Noneday and there’s no school on Noneday. You know that. So, why was Miss Mcgillicuddy having a class?”

“Alyssa, I was there! I know what happened.”

“Do you know who Suzy Mcgillicuddy is? She’s the host of the ShrewTube channel. Every Noneday, the ShrewTube collective podcasts a prank where they make an unsuspecting idiot—always some innocent guy who just arrived in this universe—believe he’s about to be raped. Then they hit him with some ether and dust his ass in habanero pepper powder. You were the wrong jerk in the wrong place today. All that happened to you is that you had your pants pulled down. There was no rape. We can watch it together tonight if you want. It’ll be a scream.”

“But there were a whole bunch of school kids with dildos!”

“Did you see them?”

“I heard them! They weren’t five feet away from me!”

“There were no children there, Wally. You heard a tape recording of women’s voices that were electronically altered to sound like children. They’ve done half a dozen versions of this prank that I’ve seen. Some of their other pranks are even wilder. You should have seen last week’s episode. They managed to convince a guy that he was raped by a pack of sex-crazed wild hyenas.”

“Are you shitting me? That whole thing was a prank?”

“Just be relieved that it didn’t actually happen. Try to see the humor in it.” She resumed gnawing on another rib.

“But I’ll have nightmares from this. I’ll be suffering from PTSD for the rest of my life. It can’t be legal what they did to me. I should sue them.”

“A hundred guys before you have tried to sue them, but ShrewTube is funded by a Blockchain grant. It’s totally sanctioned by the government. The whole purpose of it is to educate men about the effects of rape. To really show them what it feels like.”

“Why would I want to know what rape feels like?”

“So, you’ll stop raping.”

“But I wasn’t raping.”

“So, you won’t in the future.”

“But I wouldn’t in the future anyway. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe this.”

“What can I say, Wal. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, chalk it up to a learning experience and get on with your life. I don’t want to hear you bitching and moaning about being faux-raped for the next six hours.”

“Six hours? More like six months. I’m traumatized. I need drugs. Honestly. It’s hard for me to deal with this.”

“You’re traumatized? I’m irritated.”

“Lissie, you used to care about me!”

“Wally, I have a man in my life and I don’t want you messing it up. The Wally I loved died a year ago. You’re not him. You just look like him and act like him and think like him and it’s disconcerting. My Wally died. I grieved for him and though you’re here now, you’re not the him I was grieving for.”

“You mean you found someone who is so important to you that you won’t even see me on the sly?’

“That’s exactly what I mean. I’m glad you understand.”

Finally, I started gnawing at the rib I’d been holding for a few minutes, or at least, I attempted to gnaw with my miserable jaw out of whack. “All right,” I said. “I promise. I’ll totally ignore my impulses. My bucket is dead. I don’t have digital communication methods. Can you do a search for me? I want to know what the artists’ law is with regards to a parallel arriving via intersection where his parallel has already died, so he cannot step easily into a position and a way of life.”

She wiped her hands on a paper towel, then took out her bucket. She tapped a few keys. “Okay, I’m looking right at the law and what it says is that you must step into your parallel’s life. This is your obligation under penalty of incarceration and confiscation of any and all of your assets, including deposited funds, investments, real estate, business interests. Any assets of his that have not already been distributed will be yours.”

“Can you look up his assets?”

“No. I know his assets when he died. He had no assets.”

“Oh. What else does the law say?”

“It says that any debts your parallel owed are now your responsibility. And any judgments against your parallel are now judgments against you.”

“Were there any judgments against my parallel when he died?”

“There was a posthumous judgment against him.”

“What kind of judgment?”

“He was convicted of treason.”

seventeen

“Treason? What the hell did he do?”

“He was spouting off about his hatred for the Blockchain authorities.”

“And they sentenced him to death?”

“No, they sentenced him to life in Kansas.”

Kansas was one of the United States back before the Big War, but in every universe I’d visited or lived in, Kansas was now a Blockchain prison camp. No one knew what it was like inside. There was an impenetrable electrified fence around it. “Once in, never out,” was how it was officially described, as only those sentenced to life were sent there and no one had ever been known to escape. There was some communication between the prisoners in Kansas and the outside world, mostly convicts begging their families and friends to send them stuff.

“Is that where my parallel died?” I said. “In Kansas?”

“No, they never captured him. He was being protected by his followers, mostly women who all but worshipped him. He failed to show up for his trial. They put out an APB on him, but before they found him, he died, and I have to admit, Wally, I didn’t want to be seen with him anymore. I was afraid of being accused of being an accomplice. I loved him and I knew where he was, but I kept my distance.”

“So, how did he die?”

“Some people say it was murder. Some say suicide.”

“No way!”

“It was the way it happened.”

“What happened?”

“He OD’d.”

“On?”

“Vagina.”

“Vagina?”

“Pussy. He OD’d on pussy. I admit it was a fitting way for him to go.”

Just then a big guy showed up, maybe 6ʹ4ʺand built like a weightlifter, huge chest and shoulders, arms like tree trunks. He had a big plastic bowl in his hands that he set on the picnic table after eyeing me curiously. “Here’s the tater salad, Allie.”

Alyssa jumped up and gave him an affectionate hug. She looked so tiny next to him. “Duke, this is Wally. Wally, Duke.”

I half-stood and reached out my hand but my attempt at a firm handshake was lost on him as his hands were so much bigger than mine. Even his fingers were musclebound.

“Wally’s a parallel of my ex-husband,” Alyssa said. “He just bopped in during that last intersection.”

Duke nodded at me with a crooked smile. “Oh,” he said. “That Wally. Nice meetin’ ya.” He turned to Alyssa. “But I gotta run, Allie. Hope you saved me some ribs.”

“There’s another whole rack on the grill,” she said. “And take that jar of sauce. I knew you guys would be hungry.”

As Duke grabbed the rack of ribs from the smoker, using tongs to set them into a large cardboard box lid, Alyssa sat back down and said to me, “He’s helping his buddy patch the roof on his house today.”

And just like that, Duke took off with his lunch.

“His name’s Doug,” I said.

She looked confused for a second, then said. “Yes, that’s his name. Douglas Hawthorne or Hartford or something. I’ve never heard anyone call him anything but Duke. Do you know him?”

“In a prior universe. This is the first time I’ve met him here.” The reason I remembered Doug, now Duke, was that we hung out at the same bar in the universe where bankers made the rules. I won a lot of drinks from him playing stripes and solids.

“So,” Alyssa said, “where were we before Duke showed up?”

“I believe I was asking how someone could OD on pussy,” I said.

She snorted a laugh. “You eat too much of it,” she said. “You know, it’s all you wanted to do at the end. Or, not you, but your parallel.”

“I didn’t know there was a lethal dosage.” This disturbed me. I thought immediately of the White Guilt Room at Slave World in the Scientist’s universe where I’d pulled an all-nighter eating pussy one Halloween night. The only reason I quit was because the club closed at 6 a.m. and the security guards literally dragged me out. I remember thinking throughout the night that it was costing me a fortune but I couldn’t stop.

“There is and he exceeded it,” Alyssa said.

“There is what?”

“A lethal dosage. There were more than a few articles written about it in medical journals. Nobody knew you could OD on pussy before. As it turns out, a person can OD on just about anything. There’s a lethal dose of milk. A lethal dose of water. And he OD’d on pussy. It was sad at the end. They kept him in a small room on a big bed. There was always a line of women waiting to get in. One at a time, they would go in and he’d eat them. He wouldn’t stop for meals or sleep or anything. After a few days, his muscles became so weak he couldn’t lift his head anymore. He had to lie on his back and women would come in and sit on his face. They said he could make any woman come. He just had a natural understanding of clits. Then one day, he stopped licking, stopped nibbling, stopped sucking. He died like he lived, with a vagina in his mouth. I’ll bet you can understand how that would happen.”

“What do you mean?” I said, though I understood completely.

“C’mon, Wal, I’ve been with a bunch of your parallels in a whole lot of universes and every one of you guys eats pussy like you’re famished for it. If you weren’t such a political hotcake, I’d keep you around just for that reason. I’d tell my new boyfriend to take a hike in a heartbeat. I’ll probably get in trouble just for letting you sleep in our workout room. It’s Duke’s garage actually. That’s why you have to pay rent. We’ll have to show that you paid him to put you up. I can plead innocent to charges that I knew you were wanted by the authorities. Your posthumous trial and conviction were not publicized. People knew you’d died but the Blockchain authorities tried you in secret. I heard about it from some connected friends.”

“But why would they try me in court if I was dead?”

“Because they wanted to go after your followers and especially the women who had been hiding you. Quite a few of them are doing time right now.”

“What was I saying about the Blockchain muckamucks that got them so bent out of shape?”

“It was right after they started arresting men for eating pussy.”

“Arresting them?”

“Because of the annual Life Is Art and Art Is Life Survey. Ninety-three percent of women rated men as having zero artistic ability when it came to cunnilingus.”

“But what about the seven percent of women who didn’t score the men at zero?”

“I didn’t say there were any high scores. All the seven non-zeroes were still pretty pathetic. The only ones to score high on the art of pussy eating were lesbians.”

“How did women score on cocksucking?”

“Not great, but a lot better than men scored on pussy eating. Gay men were the only group to score high on fellatio, and they agreed to teach women how to suck dick, so women are still allowed to perform the act, but they have to attend training classes if their husbands or boyfriends refer them for reeducation.”

“So, why don’t lesbians teach men how to lick pussy?”

“They were asked to, but they declined. They had no inclination to teach men anything.”

“So, now it’s illegal for men in this universe to eat pussy.”

“Yes, though a handful of men are filing an appeal. Most men don’t even care.”

“And, as soon as it comes out that Wally Denton’s parallel is back in this world, the authorities will be coming after me for my parallel’s crimes?”

“That’s about the size of it.”

“How many people watch ShrewTube?”

“Everybody. It’s the number one show in the Blockchain Nation. You’re dead meat, Wally. There’s no way you won’t be recognized by hundreds of people, maybe thousands, and the search will begin. If you’re still interested in staying in my workout room, rent on the garage is fifteen hundred bucks a month, and that’s a deal.”

“But I have no way to make money.”

“How about you put your talented tongue to work?”

“Really? You mean women would pay me for oral servicing?”

“You’re a legend, Wal, or at least one of your now-defunct parallels is. But I guarantee you there will be a market for your talent. Word will spread. Everyone knows parallels have a lot of the same skills and obsessions.”

“I wish my jaw was in better shape. While we’re passing out compliments, you should know that when I was living in the universe where Scientists make the rules, you won a blowjob contest, and what’s more, you were offered a high-paying government position training women to give blowjobs.”

“Wow. I never entered any of the blowjob competitions in this universe.”

“Well, if you’re anything like your parallels that I’ve been with in other universes, you are one helluva cocksucker.”

“That’s so sweet of you to say that, Wally. I’m going to ask you a big favor. When I take you over to the garage, even though I’m not going to live with you anymore or get married to you again, would you eat my pussy just once for old time sake?”

My dick was already jumping in my pants. “Well, I … you know … there’s nothing I would love to do more … but with my mouth like this … I’m not sure I can perform up to my old standard. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll give it the old college try and if I can make you cum, then you’ve gotta suck me off. You know, for old time sake. Plus, it’ll be a good test to see if I can do it professionally.”

“It’s a deal. Let’s go over there right after we have our babybacks.”

“I’m full. I can’t even finish this half-rack.” I wasn’t really full. I just couldn’t eat ribs with my jaw so sore. But I didn’t want to tell her that. I was hoping it would be a lot easier to eat pussy. “I had a couple salami sandwiches earlier,” I said, though I hadn’t even finished half a sandwich. “But won’t your apartment be one of the first places the cops will come looking for me?”

“Sure. But the garage is two miles away from my apartment and it’s not in my name. Duke owns the garage. He’ll be all for it. He’ll appreciate the extra money. He can claim ignorance regarding what you’re doing there.”

“Are you serious? I mean, I love eating pussy. I love it. If I could make my living eating pussy that would be like a dream come true. How much should I charge for a licking?”

“Keep it simple. A hundred. But you’ll make a lot more in tips. Women are desperate for oral service. You could charge a thousand and get customers. But I think we should go for quantity. Maybe we could do a sliding scale. Have regular lickings, premium lickings and full VIP service. A hundred, five hundred, a thousand. What do you think?”

I was already imagining exactly how I’d differentiate between the packages that would make the price jumps seem reasonable. “I can do that,” I said. “But how can I get paid? My bucket is dead. I have no account in this world anymore. Since all funds are now digital—”

“I knew you were going to get me involved with you again. I knew it.”

“C’mon, Lissie, you’re the one who’s pushing me into this. And you can’t let them send me to Kansas!”

“I’ll have to open a business account for you, but your name can’t be on it. I can get you a hot bucket, but if you get busted for it, you found it somewhere. Keep my name out of your life disasters.”

“But you know they’re going to find me. Word will get out. Can we appeal my parallel’s judgment? It doesn’t seem fair that I should have to pay for his sins.”

Alyssa did a search. Within ten seconds she had an answer. “Yes! It says the Blockchain recognizes that not all parallels are identical in thinking. Judgments against one parallel charged against another may be appealed to the Interblockchain Court of Appeals. There’s about fifty pages of instructions. And the court and attorneys’ fees are an arm and a leg.”

“I’ll beat this thing. I’ll show them I’m still a helluva lawyer.”

“Only one problem. The waiting list for a hearing is about six years. And you can’t post bail. Not for treason. You must be in Blockchain custody while you wait.”

“Custody? Like house arrest?”

“No. Custody.”

“Jail?”

“Kansas, Wally. You’ll wait for your hearing in Kansas.”

eighteen

Duke’s garage had at one time been an actual three-car garage, or, more accurately, a three-firetruck garage. Alyssa said it had been the home of the neighborhood’s volunteer fire department many years ago, when the neighborhood had a volunteer fire department. It was in a warehouse district, and other than for the three tall garage doors, it looked very much like all the other cinderblock buildings in the area—covered as it was in multicolored graffiti.

Alyssa had driven us here after stopping to pick up a quilt and a pillow at her apartment. Inside, the garage looked like a workout room. There was a treadmill, a rowing machine, two exercise bikes, multiple benches, some horizontal, others inclined and half a dozen other contraptions I’d never seen anywhere but in a gym. Dumbbells and barbells were on racks against one wall along with a full set of free weights.

Alyssa and I were alone in the large high-ceilinged room.

“When did you get so into fitness?” I said.

“Right after you died, or that is, your parallel died. I went into a severe depression, almost became suicidal.”

“I’m glad you decided to live. I don’t know what I’d do here without you.”

“If I hadn’t met Duke, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“And you two are monogamous?”

“I am. I don’t think he is. I don’t ask questions. So, don’t get any crazy ideas just because I’m going to let you eat me out. This is a one-time deal. How about I’ll lie down on that bench over there?”

“Just like that? Why don’t we take it a little slower? Maybe start with some kissing and hugging? You know, making out a bit? Necking? Petting? I like to go slow. I’ve got to ease my sore jaw into this.”

“I want to get this over with, Wally.”

“But this could be our last time ever. I want to stretch it out.”

“You’re trying to make me fall in love with you again. I’m done with love. Do you think I want to lose you again? I don’t have a lot of hope for you surviving here. Your parallel got you into such deep shit. As soon as ShrewTube airs tonight, they’ll be coming after you.”

“What time does it come on?”

Alyssa looked at her bucket. “It already aired an hour ago,” she said. “Do you want to watch it now or later?”

“Oh, shit, let’s just watch the damn thing and get it over with.”

She unfolded her bucket all the way and propped it against a dumbbell rack so we could watch the podcast on a big screen. I sat down in front of it on one of the benches and she sat down beside me, about a foot away. I inched over toward her and she inched away.

“Hi. I’m Suzy Mcgillicuddy. Welcome to ShrewTube. The Jape Rape of the Week video will not be screened tonight. After submitting our footage to the Blockchain Podcast Approval Board, we’ve been informed that tonight’s victim is a wanted fugitive. We have been asked to hold off on screening this video until after he is captured. His name is Wallace Denton and he is believed to be a parallel of a Wallace Denton who died thirteen months ago. We have a photo of him here.”

 

A face shot of my mug appeared on the left side of the screen next to a photo of naked buttocks being spread by multiple hands on the right side. In the face shot, the swollen area of my jaw appeared to be a deep purple color with some puke yellow coloring around the edges. It looked way worse than I thought it did.

“The pic on the right is of the fugitive’s butthole, a screenshot from our Jape Rape of the Week video, which has been positively identified as Denton by the government’s new sphincter recognition software. As has been widely reported recently, sphincter recognition is now considered more accurate at positively identifying individuals than facial recognition, fingerprints or DNA. Assholes are the snowflakes of the human body. Every sphincter is unique.

“Denton is still at large and considered dangerous. He was last seen walking up Miro Way after saying he was headed for Bukowski Heights. If you see him, contact the authorities immediately.”

“Goddamn it, Wally, why’d you tell them you were going to Bukowski Heights?”

“Because that’s where I used to live with you, or at least, the parallel of you I was with four years ago. I was trying to find someone who would give me a ride. We’re not in Bukowski Heights here, are we?”

“No, but if they start going door-to-door in Bukowski Heights, they’ll find Lucas at my old apartment and he’ll tell them everything he knows.”

“But he doesn’t know where I am. I won’t be with you. I’ll be hiding out here.”

“They’re going to question me, Wal. I’ll have to lie. You’re complicating my life again. I could end up in Kansas with you.”

“This Friday night at 8 pm, the Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective is sponsoring another Pussy Eating Competition, this one to determine the Regional Champion! General admission is just twenty-five dollars at the Georgia O’Keefe Rotunda. Click here to purchase your tickets in advance. This event will sell out!”

“The O’Keefe Rotunda?” I said. “That’s the biggest stadium in Strait City! Have pussy eating competitions gotten that popular?”

“Oh, it’s a big business now. First prize for the regionals is fifty thousand. The Interblockchain Finals has a million-dollar first prize.”

“They’d just started having those contests when I lived here four years ago. I even considered entering one of them back then. I think the first prize was a hundred bucks. It was in a bar as I recall, but I never went through with it. I’m just not the perform-in-public type.”

“The Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective has these contests a few times a year now,” Alyssa said, “But only women can compete. They’re pretty strict about enforcing it. There were quite a few men in the Lesbian Artists Collective and there was a schism and they broke away from the group to form the Lesbian Men’s Collective. They sued the lesbian women last year to be allowed entry into these competitions, since lezbros, as they call themselves, not only identify as women, they identify as lesbians.”

“I take it they lost their case.”

“Big time. The problem they had was their historical record. They’d been entering the competitions for a couple years when even straight men were allowed in, but none of them did much better than the straight guys. A few of them won some local contests, but most of the major contest winners were lesbians who were born women. One of the lezbros tried to sneak in last year by taking advantage of the fact that in order to keep it honest and fair, the judges are blindfolded so they can’t see who is eating them out. The lezbro came in drag and had the lowest score ever recorded for a finalist, which didn’t help the lesbian men’s cause a whole lot. There are at least a dozen other lawsuits pending on this competition.”

“So, no men are ever allowed to compete anymore?”

“A few who have won previous competitions have been grandfathered in, but no new men are allowed at all. Some of the women who identify as men that are allowed to compete are being sued by women who identify as women who say they are the only true lesbians since women who identify as men are actually not lesbians but straight men who happened to be born with vaginas.”

“It’s hard to argue with that logic,” I said. “Can you dim the lights in here?”

She turned to look at me disapprovingly.

“Can’t we make it just a little more romantic?” I said.

“I don’t want romance.”

“Well, I don’t know how to explain this, Lissie, but licking your pussy is very romantic for me. And I’m going to have to go slow because my jaw is fucked up. Do you know how much I love your pussy? My dick is hard already just thinking about it.”

“That’s not romance, that’s lust.”

“I promise I won’t try to live with you or marry you. But if we’re going to have sex, I want to make love. Just for now. Just for this one night. Tomorrow I die or go to prison for life or whatever. But right now, the only thing I want in the whole world is to make love to you one last time.”

“Oh, Wally, it’s not going to work. I thought I might be able to get one really nice pussy licking out of you, just because it’s been so long. You’re the only guy I’ve ever been with who really knows how to eat pussy. But if I let you go down on me, it’s all over. You’ll own my heart again. I can’t let that happen.” She stood up. “I’m going home. There’s a futon in the corner you can sleep on. I use it sometimes when I’m too tired to drive home. It’s comfortable enough. There’s a shower in the corner. Towels are on the shelf beside it. I have to get out of here before anything happens. Duke comes in the morning to work out. I’ll let him know you’re staying here temporarily. He’ll be fine with it. I’ll see what I can do about advertising your cunnilingus services and I’ll really try hard to only tell women who will understand the danger you’re in. But I think you know this can’t last. Word will get out and you’ll be found. There’s no place you can hide. They’ve got your anus in high-def.”

And with that, Alyssa went to the door and walked out without even turning to say goodbye.

I had no idea what the morrow would bring. But I wasn’t feeling highly optimistic.

nineteen

I didn’t sleep well that night. The futon was okay and the quilt kept me warm enough, but I spent most of the night praying for an intersection to open so I could jump back into the lawyers’ world. What was really sad about this was that I hated the lawyers’ world. I’d arrived there in such an underhanded way, tricking my parallel into switching places with me, knowing I was sending him to the Scientists’ world where he would be forced to have sex with men and his wife would have balls. And I knew she wasn’t going to do the six-way with him. That was a total fabrication. He would hate me for the rest of his life. How could I do that to my own parallel?

I longed for the days before the Big War, when there was only one me and one world, when there weren’t constant rule changes and people had more of a say in the direction of their lives. My head was clogged with foggy memories of worlds I’d once lived in. I wondered if there might not be an uninhabited island somewhere where I could go and just be me, if only Shaquille Burnside’s fantasy of an ‘exit door’ were real. As if I could survive alone on an island, me, a city boy who knows nothing of nature.

I felt defeated. Having succeeded in getting back to the only world I’d ever liked, I find it’s not the same world. Complicating the slim probabilities I could imagine for ever getting away from this place were the complete lack of destinations I had any desire to get away to. And in this abysmal state of hopelessness, on the brink of imprisonment, Alyssa, the love of my life, won’t even sleep with me. Goddamn it, Alyssa, this could be my last night on earth!

Shortly after sunrise, Duke walked in. He had a box of donuts, a large Styrofoam cup of coffee and a quart carton of orange juice.

“Allie says you like donuts for breakfast,” he said. “Do me a favor and drink the OJ. Donuts are poison.”

“Wow, man, much appreciated,” I said. “Do you mind if I catch a bit more shuteye?”

“No problem. Don’t let me bother you.”

I pulled the quilt up over my head and turned my back to the room. For the next half-hour I listened to Duke clanking the weights and grunting, pretending to be asleep so I wouldn’t have to engage with him, not that he had any inclination to converse. After a quick shower, he left.

I got up and showered myself, then spent five minutes studying my jaw in the mirror. About half the swelling had gone down but the color was still pretty ugly. I sat down for my donut breakfast. The coffee was lukewarm by this point but still relished. I ate all six donuts and even drank all the orange juice. My jaw was already starting to feel better. I then spent hours pacing the floor on a sugar rush.

Around noon, Alyssa walked in.

“The Kansas Women’s Compassion League may have come to your rescue,” she said.

“Wait! What’s the Kansas Women’s Compassion League?”

“It’s a group of women prisoners that were incarcerated for harboring your parallel when the authorities were engaged in the manhunt.”

“So, what are they doing?”

“They’ve petitioned the Lesbian Artists Collective to allow you to compete in the pussy-eating contest. They’re arguing that if they allow you to compete and you win, it would prove conclusively that men should be allowed to eat pussy again. Or, at least some men. They’re counting on you to win this thing, Wally. If you can pull it off, they may be granted clemency and released from their life sentences.”

“How did they even hear about me being here?”

“I guess they watch ShrewTube in Kansas.”

“But what if they let me in the competition, but I don’t win?”

“Well, if you lose decisively, it would prove the Collective made the right decision in telling men to take a hike. Essentially, Wally, they’re depending on you to win back for men the right to eat pussy.”

“And all I have to do,” I said, “is beat the world’s top lesbian pussy eaters at cunnilingus? Has that ever been done? How long have these contests been going on? Has any man ever beat a lesbian at eating pussy?”

“A few years now, and like I said yesterday, a few men have won some contests, but their overall record is pretty dismal. But neither you nor your parallel were in any of the contests. And these women in Kansas really believe in you.”

“What do the oddsmakers say?”

Alyssa tapped her bucket twice and said, “Vegas is putting the line at ninety-nine-to-two against you.”

“Unfortunately, I think it’s more like a hundred-to-one against me. Maybe a thousand to one. If I were you, I’d go put some money on the lesbians. I’ve never engaged in competitive pussy eating and now I’ve got to go up against the most talented professional pussy eaters on the planet. All lesbians, no less. I don’t think I can do this, Lissie. I doubt the lesbians will even let me compete, so it doesn’t make any difference what a bunch of convicted felons in Kansas are saying.”

“You’re wrong about that, Wally. If you weren’t going to be allowed in the contest, nobody ever would have heard about that Kansas petition. You know how the Blockchain controls the news media. Since they let this come out to the public, you’re as good as in. Within an hour of the news about the petition coming out, O’Keefe was sold out for the event. The Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective hasn’t made any official response yet, but I’m telling you it’s a done deal. This is going to be podcast all over the world. I think you better start training seriously. The contest is in twelve days. If you fail—I hate to remind you of this—you’re liable to be executed.”

“Executed? I thought the penalty for treason was life in Kansas.”

“That’s what I thought. But I looked it up. That’s the sentence if you turn yourself in and cooperate with the authorities, which you haven’t done. Your face is looking much better today.”

I ignored the compliment. “What form of execution do they use in this world?” I said.

“Well, they’re very concerned with the environment and ecology, so they use police dogs.”

“German shepherds?”

“You know they’ve been feeding the dogs the Downie scraps for years. A lot of studies have shown that dogs, especially big dogs that are genetically closer to wolves, fare best healthwise on a diet of raw meat and bones. So, it’s most efficient to just let the dogs carry out the death sentences and get their lunch at the same time.”

“That’s disgusting. So, are they using a lethal injection, or at least some kind of knockout drug, before they turn the carcass over to the beasts?”

“They used to do that but the drugs in the convicts’ blood were making the dogs sick and BETA filed a lawsuit against the prison warden.”

“BETA?”

“The Blockchain Ethical Treatment of Animals organization. So, now they just throw the condemned into the kennels and let the dogs do things the way nature intended. You know, they’re really into natural solutions. They call it canine cleansing.”

“They call feeding people to dogs ‘canine cleansing’?”

“You know how the Blockchain likes euphemisms.”

“Jesus fuck, Alyssa. I can’t beat lesbians at eating pussy. Where do I surrender? I’ll just go turn myself in to the authorities right now. I don’t want to die. I’ll go to fucking Kansas.”

“It’s too late for that now. You have to start believing in yourself, Wally. You have no idea how good you are. Haven’t girls been telling you your whole life you’re the best pussy licker they’ve ever had?”

“I’m sure girls say that to all the guys.”

“No, they don’t. You’re exceptional. And it’s your only realistic option. You’ve got to take this thing seriously. Do you even know the tournament rules?”

“How would I know the rules? Can you pull them up on your bucket?”

She unfolded her bucket to full size so we could study the rules together.

Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective

Official Rules for the Pussy Eating Regional Championship

  1. The three judges will be chosen by the B.L.A.C. Selection Committee from past winners of both Regional and Interblockchain Pussy Eating Competitions.
  2. The 99 Contestants will be chosen by the B.L.A.C. Selection Committee from past winners of official B.L.A.C. local competitions.
  3. There will be four rounds of pussy eating, during which time the judges will remain blindfolded throughout.
  4. A judge may eliminate a contestant at any time in any round by tapping the contestant on the shoulder. Once a contestant is tapped out, she must immediately exit the stage and may not return for any subsequent round. A tap-out is a permanent elimination.
  5. In Round One, the getting-to-know-you round, contestants will have three minutes to demonstrate their kissing, nibbling and licking skills on the vulva, labia, vagina and clitoris. No hands, fingers, dildos, or any other implements may touch the judge’s pussy. Lips and tongues only. The anus is off limits in Round One. Violation of any aspect of this rule will result in immediate disqualification.
  6. In Round Two, the let’s-get-serious round, contestants will have five minutes to demonstrate their tongue-fucking and clit sucking skills. Once more, no hands, fingers, dildos, or any other implements may touch the judge’s pussy. The anus may be tickled with the tongue but not penetrated. Any violations will result in disqualification.
  7. In Round Three, the we-were-made-for-each-other round, contestants will have ten minutes to demonstrate their overall technique. This round will end when there are only three contestants remaining. Hands and fingers may now be used freely, but no foreign implements. There are no restrictions on anal stimulation, other than the restriction on foreign implements. Any violations will result in disqualification.
  8. In the Final Round, the get-your-rocks-off round, contestants will have fifteen minutes to bring the judge they are eating to orgasm. Once more, no implements may be employed. Violating this rule will result in disqualification.

Note:  The Final Round is not a speed contest. The first contestant to accomplish the goal (judge’s orgasm) will not automatically be the winner. Each judge will rate her orgasm on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 points being perfection. Bear in mind that historically, the first judge to climax has never awarded the most points. And no contestant has ever scored a perfect 100 points.

  1. First place prize is $50,000.
  2. Second place gets Carl Kasell’s voice on their answering machine.
  3. In the event of a tie, there will be a sudden death suck-off.

“According to the second rule,” I said, “I’m not eligible to compete since I’m not a past winner of a local competition.”

“That second rule is the reason why a handful of men have been grandfathered in,” Alyssa said. “Most of them are transgenders. But I’m of the opinion that they’ll bend that rule for you. They’ll want the money. They know you’re the reason the stadium sold out. The podcast advertising dollars will be through the roof for this event, but only if you’re in it. And the public is expecting you to be in it.”

“But won’t some of the other contestants complain? They all really did win local contests and they know I didn’t.”

“They’re not going to complain about you being allowed to compete. They all think men are crappy pussy eaters. They’ve heard the stories about you, so they’ll relish the chance to prove they’re better. And they’ll love the idea of having such a huge audience. To them, you’re just a gimmick that’ll draw a big crowd. But you better start training a.s.a.p. Because the women you’ll be competing against have probably been eating a lot of pussy for months now in anticipation of this contest. Are you in shape for this?”

“If you’re asking me if I’ve been eating a lot of pussy lately, the answer is no. I’ve been in a dry spell, so to speak.”

“Then I’ve got to get you some pussies to start practicing on.”

“How about you?”

“That’s out of the question.”

“Okay … I like ’em young, nubile and shaved clean.”

“Look, Wally, you’ve got to take this seriously. I tend to doubt the judges are young, nubile and hairless. You’ve got to practice on the types of pussies you’ll be encountering in the competition. I think the judges have already been announced. Let’s see if we can find them.”

She did a search and came up with the names within seconds. “Okay,” she said. “Here they are:  Maya Johnston, Oprah Scotia and Emma Okunda. Let’s start with Maya Johnston.” She did another search. “Here she is. Look, she’s a writer. She’s thirty-one, has a master’s degree in feminist studies and she’s the author of three self-help books:  Men the Enemy, A World Without Men and The Male Scum Factor.”

“Oh, Christ, I’m dead. She’s one of the judges?”

“Yes, but she won’t see you. She won’t know you’re a guy. Remember, they’re blindfolded. Let’s look up Oprah Scotia.”

“Can you pull up an image of Maya Johnston first? I want to see what the bitch looks like.”

Alyssa did as requested, finding a whole page of pics, some face shots, some full body, even a few nudes.”

“That’s her?” I said. “Damn! She’s gorgeous! Why does she hate guys so much? I would fuck that girl in a heartbeat. I would marry that girl!”

“You don’t have to marry her, Wally. You just have to eat her out. Can you detach your dislike for her politics from your attraction to her pussy?”

“No problem. Guaranteed, no problem. But you’ve got to find me a girl that looks like her to practice on. Who’s the next one?”

“Oprah Scotia.” Alyssa pulled up Oprah’s info page. “Wow, she’s only twenty-two and single,” she said. “She’s a part-time lingerie model and a professional athlete. She’s listed as a floater on the Strait City Punks’ paintball roster.”

“Pictures, pictures, let me see this one!”

“Take a look.”

“Oh my god! She’s my dream girl! How the hell did she get to be a judge in this contest?”

“Apparently, she’s won quite a few regional pussy-eating competitions. The young ones have been taking over the competitions in the past year. She’s already a recognized expert in the field.”

“I can’t wait to start training. Who’s the next one?”

“Emma Okunda. Here she is. She’s sixty-seven and a recipient of the Distinguished African-American Lesbian of the Year Award. She’s also an author. She wrote a book titled, Clinical Obesity—My Blessing in Disguise.”

“She’s clinically obese? Please, don’t show me her pics.”

“Here they are.”

“Oh, shit. Really? She’s a judge?”

“She won the Interblockchain Championship last year. She’s considered by some to be the best cunnilinguist in the world. She’s on the board of directors at the Chicago Cunnilingus Academy.”

“How much does she weigh?”

“Let’s see … four hundred and eighty pounds. Have you ever eaten a fat girl’s pussy?”

“Fat? Yes. But she’s beyond fat.”

“Well, we’re going to get you the fattest girl we can find to practice on. I don’t think you’ll need any practice on the other types.”

“No! I need to practice on all types! Not just fat girls.”

“Don’t argue. As your personal trainer, it’s my job to get your pussy-eating skills up to speed for this competition.”

“You’re my personal trainer?”

“Assuming you’re agreeable to the standard two-thirds to one-third split.”

“What are you talking about?”

“There’s a fifty-thousand-dollar first prize, Wally. If you win it, I take two-thirds and you get one-third. That’s the legal standard.”

“No way! I thought it was sixty-forty.”

“Since when?”

“That’s what it was in the world where Scientists make the rules.”

“You’re in the artists’ world now, Wal. Get used to it.”

twenty

The next day, Alyssa entered the garage with a short fat black girl, and by fat, I mean really fat. She was wearing a skin-tight t-shirt with a bra that held her enormous tits out like torpedoes, and a micro-mini-skirt that barely covered her ass. He thighs were thicker than my waist. She had a sassy wide smile on her face. I liked her immediately, but, geez, she sure wasn’t my type.

“Wally, this is Bertha. She answered my ad for older fat black girls who like receiving oral sex. Bertha, meet Wally.”

“Ooh, you’re the man of the hour,” Bertha said. “Everybody’s talking about you. I’m gonna snap some selfies of you with your face in my muff.”

“No pictures, Bertha,” Alyssa said. “I told you he’s wanted by the law, so we’ve got to stay under the radar until after the competition.”

“Glad to make your acquaintance,” I said. “But you look a lot younger than Emma Okunda.”

“Who?” Bertha said.

“Bertha’s thirty-six,” Alyssa piped in. “She also only weighs three-hundred and sixty pounds, but she’s only five-foot-one, while Emma Okunda is five-nine. Bertha’s the best I could find on short notice to come close to our requirements. And I brought you a shaving kit. You don’t want your whiskers to give you away. You make sure you shave on the day of the contest.” She handed me a small faux leather toiletry bag. “I see the swelling is almost completely gone. By the contest date, the bruise should be gone.”

“C’mon, Alyssa,” I said. “How positive are you that the lesbians are going to let me in this competition? Aren’t you kind of jumping the gun?”

“Oh, no, they announced it this morning,” she said. “It’s official. Let me play you their announcement.” She pulled out her bucket and put it on speaker:

In response to a petition received from some of our incarcerated sisters, the Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective has decided to allow a biological male to enter the Pussy Eating Competition for the Blockchain Regional Championship a week from Sunday at O’Keefe Rotunda in Strait City. We know that some of our sisters may disagree with our decision to violate our own official regulations, and had the request come from the biological male himself, we absolutely would have denied it. But as some of the petitioners have been members in good standing of our lesbian community in the past, we have agreed to be flexible in our rules this one time only. This decision does not in any way mean that we will ever make such an exception again.

 

To the biological male, Mister Wallace Denton, whom we are generously and compassionately allowing into our competition that is otherwise closed to all biological males, we are putting you on notice that you will be turned over to the Blockchain authorities immediately following your elimination from the tournament.

“Look, Alyssa,” I said. “I think this is a bad idea. Isn’t there somewhere I could just hide out until there’s another intersection with the lawyers’ universe?”

“You can’t hide, Wally. They know you’re here. I’m being followed everywhere I go. There are surveillance cameras all over the city. You winning this contest is your only hope. Maybe between now and twelve days from now, an intersection will occur and you can get the hell out of here. But the fact is we haven’t been having intersections all that often. Before the one you came in on, the previous one was almost a year ago. The reality is that this pussy-eating competition is your last best hope. And look at it this way—you really might win the thing.”

“I can’t compete with lesbians,” I said.

“You let me be the judge of that,” Bertha said.

“Are you a lesbian?” I said.

“No, but I’ve had a lot of them munching my rug where I work.”

“Where do you work?”

“Lopsided Lily’s. I’m a go-go dancer.”

“It’s a dyke bar over on Gertrude Stein Way,” Alyssa put in. “I went and saw her there after she answered my ad.”

“They eat your pussy right there in the bar?” I said to Bertha.

“We’ve got a VIP room,” Bertha said. “They pay for it. Hundred bucks an hour.”

“Look, Wally,” Alyssa said, “I’ve got to get going. Bertha’s being paid a hundred a day for the next eleven days, so make the best of your time with her. She’ll be here every day from noon to three. I’m going to leave you two alone so you can get right down to business. I’ll come back later this afternoon.”

“So, she gets a hundred an hour where she works,” I said. “But you’re only paying her a hundred for three hours?”

“You’re not paying for her,” Alyssa said, “so butt out.”

“I’m just trying to figure out what’s happening. I thought I was supposed to be making money for you so I could pay my rent here.”

“I don’t need your rent money anymore. You have sponsors now. Investors. I’m being reimbursed for my costs. There’s a lot of money riding on you, so get used to it. There’s a possible book deal and a miniseries if you can pull this off. It’s my job to whip you into shape and the day of the competition is closing in. So, get to fucking work!”

“We’ll have a good time, Wally,” Bertha said. “For a hundred a day we can do everything. I like sucking dick, too. You like big titties?”

“No!” Alyssa cut her off. “No dick sucking and your tits are off limits, Bertha. I’m paying you, so you follow my instructions. Wally’s going to eat your pussy. That’s all. Are we clear on that?”

“We got the picture, boss,” I said.

Alyssa gave me a disapproving look before making her exit.

“Do we really have to do what she says?” Bertha asked.

“Oh, she doesn’t understand about the necessity of getting in the mood. Jesus, you have a great rack.”

“And I love having my titties sucked on!”

“I know they’ll be therapeutic for my jaw. And I love having my dick sucked. How good are lesbians at pussy eating really?”

“Men don’t even begin to compare. But I’ll show you some tricks. Lissa says you’re really good at it, so maybe you’ll surprise me.”

Over the next eleven days, I learned a lot about Bertha. I discovered that she almost turned the job down because she wanted more money. Then when Alyssa explained to her who I was, it rekindled her interest. She was planning to start entering pussy eating contests herself and she was hoping I could teach her some techniques! She’d heard the stories about my legendary parallel who’d died with a pussy in his mouth.

She didn’t confess to her ulterior motive until after I’d eaten her out, which had been preceded by me playing with her scrumptious titties for as long as she could stand it. That was followed by her demonstrating her deep throat techniques on my dick for as long as I could stand it.

After she’d told me why she’d agreed to take the job for so little money, I told her a secret of my own. “You know, you’re not really my type. I’m not into fat girls or black girls. I like petite, white girls, little waifs with little titties.”

“No shit? Then we’re even. I’m partial to hunky black men with big dicks.”

“I was really disappointed,” I said, “when Alyssa told me I’d have to practice pussy eating on fat black girls. But you have completely altered my perspective. Now I’m going to be out looking for big boobs and dark meat. How do you rate my performance? On your pussy that is.”

“You’re the best.”

“But how do I compare to the lesbians at Lopsided Lily’s?”

“They got nothing on you. How’d you learn to eat pussy like that?”

“I was raised Catholic.”

“No shit? They teach Catholic boys to eat pussy? I thought you all were just gettin’ butt-fucked by the priests.”

“None of the priests I knew ever expressed any interest in my butt.”

“So, you sayin’ the nuns schooled you on that?”

“No, I don’t mean I learned it in school or anything. But, just something about the religion, the way they concentrate on going to hell and mortal sins and eating Jesus’ body, you know, communion …”

“So, lemme understand this … eatin’ Jesus body made you wanna eat pussy?”

“No, it wasn’t like that. I just wanted to do moral sins and eating pussy seemed like one of the easiest mortal sins to do because girls liked it.”

“Other boys you know turned out like you?”

“I don’t know. I never asked them.”

“So now, when you’re eatin’ my pussy, that’s a mortal sin?”

“No. The whole thing changed for me when I got older. It was like I was worshipping one of God’s most beautiful creations and it was way better than going to Mass or saying Hail Marys. I guess pussy is my religion now.”

“Well, I don’t know about that bein’ raised Catholic shit. There’s a lotta damn boys your age was raised Catholic and I never heard tell about them all bein’ great pussy eaters.”

“They probably weren’t raised as devout Catholics. Most just go through the motions. I was an altar boy and a choir boy—a real holy joe.”

“Well, I’m a tell all my boyfriends to start goin’ to church. You think that’ll help?”

“No. Religion’s not the same any more. Not since they got rid of hell. I may be the last of the great Catholic pussy eaters.”

Bertha laughed out loud at this. “Honey, you the last o’ somethin’, but I don’t think Catholic got shit to do with it. My cousin got married in a Catholic church. Maybe that’s why she married that boy. Shit, I’m a call her next week and ask her if that’s why. You think that’s why?”

“Fuck if I know. Why don’t you go lay down on the futon? I gotta practice my clit sucking some more. Did you know when you get turned on, I can feel your clit throbbing against my tongue? Like it has a pulse.”

“Ooh, baby! You sure know how to romance a woman!”

I was feeling better than I’d ever felt in my life—physically, mentally, emotionally. I felt cleansed. I must have eaten Bertha’s pussy a hundred times and every time she came, I felt an exhilaration beyond anything I’d ever experienced. Day by day, my jaw healed as my spirits lifted.

I’d figured it out along about my third or fourth day with her. Her orgasms were totally dissolving my white guilt. Not that it got completely washed away. I’d come to accept the fact that some of it would always be with me, a genetic part of my white soul. But now, I wasn’t consumed by it like I had been throughout my adult life. It almost felt okay to be white.

twenty-one

The Georgia O’Keefe Rotunda had a seating capacity of 55,000. It had initially been built as a baseball stadium but baseball had died due to lack of interest in the artists’ world. Now, it was primarily used as the home field of the Strait City Paintball Punks. Paintball was the most popular professional sport in the Blockchain Nation, or at least in the universe where artists made the rules. But today, paintball was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind as thousands of lesbian pussy-eating aficionados were already drinking and raising hell out in the Rotunda parking lot tailgate parties.

The scene inside was somewhat chaotic when I arrived there an hour before the competition began. The organizers were trying to arrange the 99 contestants into three arbitrary “color” groups—red, blue and yellow—of 33 each. We had numbers on squares of colored cloth pinned on us front and back. I was number 19 blue.

I got a mixed reception from the other contestants. A few wished me well. A few gave me dirty looks, but said nothing. I had a feeling they had been instructed to ignore me. Quite a few of the contestants had coaches that were putting them through last-minute tongue and mouth exercises.

I kept to myself. I was nervous and uncomfortable and just trying to blend in and disappear. Which was impossible. Nobody had informed me that there was a standard outfit for these competitions. I was dressed in my typical jeans and sweatshirt, while my rivals were all wearing cutoff t-shirts and flannel g-strings, mostly in a lumberjack plaid pattern. I kept looking for any other guys among the contestants, but there were none. I saw a few questionables who may have been transgenders, but I was the only undeniable biological male. How do I even pretend to blend in with them?

Once we all had our numbers pinned to our shirts, the color groups were instructed to form into three different single-file lines around the main stage where the judges would be. We were told to stand in order of our numbers, with number one being closest to the stage and ready to walk up the ramp to perform, number 33 being furthest from the stage and last to perform.

I wondered how on earth the crowds that were just starting to fill the stadium would ever be able to see what was happening from such a distance. Then I saw the tech crew testing tiny camera drones that would be streaming the content they captured to the huge HD screens that surrounded the arena. They were taking extreme closeups of each other’s faces and hands. Seeing the amazing clarity of the images being transmitted by those drone cams—you could see the wrinkles in the knuckles of the sound man’s thumb—it struck me how close up the audience would be seeing the action.

There was VIP seating in rows of comfortable lawn chairs set up right on the field. Many local celebrities sat in the exclusive pricey sections close to the stage. Waiters in tuxes were circulating through the celebrity areas with trays of hors d’oeuvres and glasses of wine and champagne.

Public sex competitions on a professional level were common in most of the Blockchain universes I’d lived in. Some people said it was because humankind was sinking to new depths of depravity. Others said it was simply because people realized that sex, like food, was one of mankind’s true religions and that these competitions were actually spiritually-cleansing exhibitions to a public that worshipped the performers.

Now that I was going to be a performer, I feared I would be hated. I was crashing a private party. I never wanted to compete against lesbians. What the hell was I doing? There’s going to be some drone the size of a flying ant buzzing in my ear while I’m licking some stranger’s private parts to win a prize. Is this really the only way I can stay out of prison?

And I still didn’t know how to get ID in this world. There would be a bureaucratic but legal means of doing this in any other universe, but no one here seemed to know how to do it. I figured it was probably a moot worry because I had little chance of beating the best 98 lesbian pussy eaters on the planet. It wasn’t even a realistic fantasy for me. All I saw in my future was execution.

And it was all happening so fast. An announcer’s voice over the PA was welcoming the crowds that were fast filling the seats. This was going to be a sellout.

Announcer over the loudspeakers: “The Blockchain Lesbian Artists Collective welcomes you to the Rachel Maddow Memorial Pussy Eating Competition! This is the Regional Championship Tournament in which the top pussy eaters in this quadrant of the Blockchain Nation will be battling it out for the first prize and the right to compete in the Interblockchain Pussy Eating Finals!”

Now my group, the blue group, was being herded to an aisle where we got in line by number and for the first time, I saw the judges, already blindfolded, on the stage being led to their seats. Emma Okunda was impossible to miss. She made Bertha seem small. The judge that was in front of the blue group’s aisle, my assigned aisle, was Oprah Scotia, the lingerie model and paintball floater. The young nubile one! I was stoked. Yes! Let’s get this contest underway!

Suddenly, everyone was scrambling to get into their seats. The celebrities and special guests in the high-priced field seats stopped wandering around schmoozing and getting their pictures taken and began settling into their reclining lawn chairs. The air was electric with anticipation.

Everywhere I looked I saw people pointing at me, the conspicuous biological male among the hundred lesbian competitors in flannel g-strings. I had to stop looking around. People were taking pictures of me. Total strangers were giving me the finger. Others were flashing thumbs up, thumbs down, waving, scowling, laughing. I was the reason many of them had come.

A female emcee in a slinky gown, no doubt a muckamuck in the B.L.A.C., was pacing the stage as she introduced the judges, rattling off their accomplishments and credentials. The judges’ seats were on raised platforms, like lifeguard chairs that reclined and had stirrups to hold their legs aloft and spread wide. The only judge I had a good view of was Oprah Scotia, as the other two were facing the red and yellow groups in different directions. A spotlight was aimed directly at Oprah’s pussy and a drone was transmitting the image onto multiple big screens, as other drones were aimed at the other two judges’ pussies.

A hush came over the crowd. Those giant closeup shots of the pussies surrounding the arena were what did it. All eyes were on those beautiful pussies, those holiest of holy places from which all human life had sprung. I kept looking at Oprah’s pussy on the stage, maybe a hundred feet away from me, then looking at the drone image of it blown up on the HD screens. I could hardly believe I would soon be kissing and licking that pussy, though I’d have to watch the eighteen blue group contestants in line before me doing it first.

The emcee was prattling on about the rules and procedures. She mentioned a buzzer that would blatt whenever a contestant was tapped out. She demonstrated it—BLAAATT!—and that got the crowd’s attention. “And now,” she took the opportunity to address the audience, “let the pussy eating begin! Contestants number one, red, blue and yellow, please come up onto the stage!” The first three contestants trudged up the ramp and stood before their respective judges.

Now I could see how it was done. The judges’ seats were on some kind of hydraulic lift system. Each contestant stood in front of her judge, literally between the judge’s spread legs, and a female referee in a white and black striped shirt adjusted the height of the judge’s seat with a button, raising or lowering the seat so that the judge’s pussy was at the perfect height for eating. As soon as all three judges’ seats were adjusted to the satisfaction of the contestants, the emcee rang a bell and the contestants moved in for the feast.

Two drones monitored each contestant, providing both longshot and closeup images on the big screens. I was trying to watch all three contestants and was astonished to see on one of the screens a judge’s hand—Emma Okunda’s hand—tapout the girl who was licking her. Within seconds, I heard the irritatingly loud BLAAAATT!

I couldn’t believe it! Not ten seconds into the contest and already a contestant had been eliminated. This was a lesbian who had already won at least a local competition. How bad could she be at eating pussy? Her referee led her to the down ramp.

I went back to watching the action on all the screens, my eyes hopping from screen to screen watching lips and tongues on lips. My dick was getting hard just thinking about eating all that glorious pussy. Not a minute later I heard that BLAAAATT again and this time saw that the blue contestant eating Oprah’s pussy had already gotten the buzz. I watched the girl with the #1 on her shirt come down from the stage with tears in her eyes, her dreams shattered so quickly.

That’s when it struck me that this was for real. This was the moment that would define my future. And every thirty seconds or less, I’d hear another BLAAAATT and I’d frantically look from screen to screen to see who was just kicked out and watch as the girl’s ref took her arm and led her to the down ramp. Never once did I have any idea of why an ejectee was ejected.

It all just looked like wonderful pussy eating to me. In a way, I was glad the judges were culling the herd so quickly. I was number nineteen and I didn’t want to wait forever to learn my fate. Some of the contestants lasted the full three minutes without getting buzzed, but it seemed to me that more got buzzed than not. These judges were not easy to please.

twenty-two

Then it was my turn. Walking up the ramp to the stage I heard the noise from the crowd grow quickly from a steady buzz to a deafening roar. Halfway up, the sound was so ear-shattering, I stopped and turned to see what was causing the commotion. It was tens of thousands of men and almost as many women cheering me on. They were standing and stomping their feet, rattling their seats until the whole place was rocking with their chant of Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally!

What do I do? Do I smile and wave? Take a bow? Should I acknowledge them in any way? I was literally frozen. I’d never experienced anything like this before and I hadn’t been prepared for it. I’d assumed I would be climbing the ramp like all the other contestants with no fanfare, just another number pinned to a shirt. I’ve always been the quiet unassuming type, never trying to get in the spotlight. I wasn’t Wally, I was 19 blue.

Then I started to see the signs some of them were carrying and now waving wildly: MEN WANT PUSSY! MEN NEED PUSSY! GO WALLY! LICK HER GOOD!

Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally!

I waved and bowed and managed a weak smile before turning back to the job at hand. At the top of the ramp, the ref took my arm. “You’ve got three minutes,” she said. “It’s round one, so it’s just licking and kissing, no penetration, stay away from her butthole and no using your hands.” Then, under her breath she said, “I’m not supposed to tell you this but she doesn’t like it if you go right for her clit. Too sensitive. All those girls she buzzed off were clit lickers. Just work around it and you’ll make it to round two.”

“Thanks,” I said, as she wiped Oprah’s pussy with a tissue then adjusted the height of it to my mouth level.

I closed my eyes and leaned in to inhale the scent of her. Heavenly. I lightly brushed my lips against her vulva. I could hear the drones buzzing in my ears despite the racket of the crowd. I hadn’t even gotten my tongue involved yet when I felt her tap—but it wasn’t on my shoulder—which would have signaled my elimination—it was a light tap on the top of my head.

I looked up to see Oprah’s head tipped up, as if to look at me, except that she was blindfolded.

“Can you hear me?” she said very loudly in order to be heard above the pandemonium of the stadium. “Is that you, Wally?” I had never met this girl before, but she asked as if we knew each other.

“Yes,” I said. “I can hear you. Do I know you?”

“I knew your parallel. I just want to ask you a question. I’d like your opinion. I had my pubic hair removed by laser a year ago. Now, my pubes are starting to grow back. Do you think I should go back for further laser treatments or just shave them?”

What? She’s asking me for grooming advice? How well did my parallel know her? I looked at her pussy. “You mean these wispy pubes?” I said. “No, don’t worry about them. You don’t have to shave them or laser them. Your pussy is gorgeous.”

“Okay,” she said, and lay back down.

I went back to work on the job at hand, mostly kissing and mouthing her, using my tongue sparingly. She had one of those pussies that was mostly closed with the labia on the inside even with her legs spread as they were. Her natural lubricant was just beginning to seep from her slit. As I was about to lick it up, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It wasn’t her hand; it was the referee’s hand. I turned to look at her.

“Time’s up,” she said.

That was a fast three minutes.

Oprah’s head tipped up when she heard the ref. “Come back soon, Wally,” she said loudly. “I want you to finish what you started.”

The only thought in my head was I didn’t get the tapout. I didn’t get the buzzer. I’d made it to round two. The ref led me to the ramp where the contestants that hadn’t been eliminated exited the stage. Now, the cheering and screaming and Wally! Wally! Wallys! were deafening. So far, I hadn’t let my fans down.

I was the sixth blue team contestant that was still in the running. That meant thirteen blues had already gotten the tapout. One of the blue girls high-fived me and said. “Nice show, Wally. You already beat a bunch of queer girls. That’s impressive.”

I watched the big screens with the rest of the girls as the remaining contestants tried to survive the first round. I noticed that all the girls who quickly went for Oprah’s clit got the tapout, which meant to me that the ref wasn’t informing all the girls about Oprah’s predilection for going slowly. I wondered if all the blue girls who made it to round two had been told the secret. Was she favoring her friends? And regardless, why me?

I spent a lot of time watching the monitors of the contestants who were eating the other judges’ pussies. Was there any technique I could pick up that might give me an edge with either of the other judges? But those BLAAATTs kept coming at regular intervals and I couldn’t figure out what any of the rejected pussy lickers were doing wrong, other than for the ones that made the mistake of going after Oprah’s clit too soon.

If there was a master technique for eating pussy, I sure didn’t know it. In my limited experience, every woman I’d eaten had been different. Some didn’t like direct clitoral stimulation until after they were turned on. Some never liked it. Some wanted nothing but. Some only liked it when you approached from one side or the other. Some didn’t like finger insertion. Some always wanted insertion. Some wanted to rub their own clits with their own hands while you tongue-fucked them. Some wanted a finger in their anus and vagina simultaneously. Most women would let me know what they liked by how they responded. Some would outright tell me what to do. But in this competition, there was no room for making a mistake and I felt I’d made it through the first round purely because of help from the ref.

By the time the last contestants made it through round one, the field had been substantially cut down to size. Of the 33 contestants in each color group, only 11 remained from the blue group, 12 from the red group and 10 from the yellow group. There were now 33 contestants in total.

For the second round, we stayed in our same groups, but the judges rotated their positions. The blue group would now be eating Maya Johnston’s pussy, the judge with the master’s degree in feminist studies and author of The Male Scum Factor. This couldn’t possibly turn out well.

While I was waiting my turn, watching the other contestants in my group on the big screens, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Maya’s pussy. I kept wishing the drones would get better angles on it and that whatever contestant was eating it would get her face out of the way.

Ironically, I absolutely adored Maya’s pussy. She had one of those plump meaty vulvas that you just wanted to bury your face in. Purely on the basis of looks, this was world class pussy, as good or better than any pussy at Slave World. If I were a religious man, I would have to admit that this pussy was among the crowning achievements of all God’s creations.

My dick was hard just looking at the digital image of it and the thought that I’d soon be kissing it and licking it had me short of breath. Two of the contestants before me got the tapout buzzer and in both instances, the BLAAATT jarred me back to reality.

Then it was my turn to climb the ramp to my destiny. Once more, my fan club among the 55,000 in the stands went into a frenzy of Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally!

My heart was racing.

The ref gave me her spiel. “Start with kissing and licking again, but you can take it a bit further. You’re allowed to tongue-fuck her and suck her clit in this round. You’ve got five minutes this time. But no hands and no foreign objects.” Then she lowered her voice. “Maya likes her asshole tickled,” she whispered in my ear. “You can’t use your hands, so just do it with the tip of your tongue.”

“Is that allowed in this round?” I asked. Hell, I was so nervous I couldn’t remember the rules.

“Absolutely. Just no penetration. You can tongue-fuck her pussy, but not her asshole. Just tickle it lightly. It drives her crazy. She won’t tap you out as long as you keep that up. Now get to it. The clock is running.”

“But she hates men,” I said. “You know she’s just going to tap me out.”

“She won’t know it’s you, Wally.”

“She can hear the crowd screaming my name. She may be blindfolded but she’s not deaf.”

“She thinks you’re in the yellow group, which would mean you’re eating Emma right now.”

“Why would she think that?”

“Because she asked me which group you were in and I told her yellow.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because she knows it’s her turn for the blue group and I don’t want her to know when you’re eating her. I want to know if you’re good enough to win this thing. I don’t want her buzzing you off for any reason other than your poor performance. Now you’ve already wasted two of your five minutes, so get to work.”

I looked at that plump gorgeous pussy, that sacred glistening slit that enchanted my soul and lured me closer, closer, until my lips barely brushed the edges of the crevice. Always that question of worthiness … By what license had I the right to taste the warm nectar that seeped from the font of life? But as I pondered that unsolvable mystery, I was also checking out her perfect anal sphincter, the pink puckered ridges so beautifully symmetrical, all leading to that tiny portal that spiraled into the dark abyss.

I closed my eyes and started kissing her plush mons, very lightly, just whisking my lips across it but not for long. Within thirty seconds she’d taken my head in her hands and pulled my face tightly into her crotch as if attempting to smother me. I did my best to locate her moistness with my tongue, lapping up her briny sap as she started grinding her hips, really smashing my face into her, transporting me to a state of … well, ouch!

Then, just as suddenly as she’d grabbed my head, she let go of it and grabbed the backs of her thighs, pulling her knees up tight against her chest, tipping her butt upwards to give me easy access to the darkness at her core. She sure wasn’t shy about letting me know what she wanted.

I teased her by starting at the ridge of her taint, kissing and lightly nibbling at it with just my lips, working my way down slowly, then simply following the ref’s instructions, lightly tickling the forbidden sanctum with the fluttering tip of my tongue, as I listened to Maya’s staccato whimpering.

By the time the referee placed her hand on my shoulder to let me know my time was up, I was in such a state of rapture I had forgotten all about the competition and what I was doing there. It was the noise of the crowd that brought me back to reality. Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! Wally! So, Maya thought Wally was eating Emma, and I was just another one of the lesbian contestants, being judged in complete blindness. I realized I’d made it through round two without being buzzed off.

Down in the waiting pit, I was trying to figure this thing out. The ref was clearly cheating for me, but then the judges weren’t trying to be fair either. Why would a judge ask a ref what group I was in? Of course, just not being tapped out didn’t mean anything in itself. This was a winner-takes-all competition. What if I didn’t win, but came in second? Or fifth or even tenth—any of which would be an impressive finish in a field of 99. But would any finish other than first mean a thing as far as my legal case and my future were concerned?

I was watching the big screens of Emma Okunda being eaten by my competitors. I could now see that the girls who’d remained in the contest really were the more adept pussy eaters. I was seeing techniques I hadn’t tried before. This was pussy eating with style and nuance. And yes, this was art and a highly developed art form at that.

The sound of the BLAAATTs was what kept me grounded. The less artistic were still being tapped out with regularity. By the time all three color groups had completed their second-round performances, only fifteen contestants remained—five from the blue group, four from the yellow group and six from the red group.

I had one judge to go—Emma Okunda, the 67-year-old 480-pound black lesbian. I was glad I’d spent eleven days with Bertha. I’d discovered that fat black pussy was every bit as good as skinny white pussy.

One of the blue group contestants came and sat beside me after coming down the ramp. She too had avoided the buzzer in round two and looked pleased with herself. Her mouth and chin and parts of her cheeks were wet, sticky wet.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m Destiny. I’ve heard stories about you. Have you ever competed professionally before?”

“No, and you haven’t heard stories about me. You’ve heard stories about my parallel who is deceased.”

“I’m quite aware of your parallel who died with a pussy in his mouth. But I’m talking about you. The word is that you’re as good or better than your parallel. And that word is being passed through multiple universes.”

“The word? What word? Who is saying this? There’s now interblockchain gossip about me? Whatever they’re saying, I’m sure it’s bullshit.”

“You didn’t happen to be at Slave World in the universe where Scientists make the rules last Halloween, did you?”

“You gotta be shitting me? I never told anybody about that night!”

“What I want to know is why you didn’t stay there. They had just reopened the White Guilt Room with more pussy to be eaten than ever. So, why would you leave that universe?”

“There were extenuating circumstances. For one thing, I couldn’t really afford the White Guilt Room. Pro-level pussy is expensive. I blew all of my savings on that Halloween night. Thousands. I’m embarrassed to say how many thousands.”

“C’mon, Wally, I don’t buy it. Usually, when someone finds something they like, they find a way to afford it. You’re a smart guy. You know how to make money.”

“Not that much money. Not legally. Pro pussy costs more than you imagine. I don’t even know how I got into this mess. I never dreamed I could compete with lesbians. I’m not looking for fame and publicity. I don’t want people following me around. I’m fighting for my life up here.”

The stage coordinator announced that round three would be starting in five minutes, so please gravitate toward your group positions.

“Can you tell me quickly what’s allowed for round three?” I said.

“According to the official rules,” she said, “this is the ‘we-were-made-for-each-other’ round. This one’s ten minutes. Freestyle. Overall technique. This is the make it or break it round. This’ll take us down to the last three contestants who have to battle it out in the final.”

“Can we use our fingers in this one?”

“We can use our hands and fingers, but no foreign implements. No dildoes, no vibrators, no devices other than your body—lips, tongue, teeth, nose, earlobes, anything that could conceivably be an appendage. You can use your elbows. Toes. We can penetrate the butthole but just no foreign objects. If you violate the rules, you’ll get a boot in your ass.”

“Thanks. But how come none of the rounds allow dildoes or vibrators?”

“Because we’re looking for the masters of cunnilingus. If I show you how I use a vibrator on myself, how it feels best to me, you could take the vibrator and do it just as well as me because it’s not your talent, it’s the vibrator. But this is primarily an oral competition. I can’t show you how I lick my own pussy because I can’t do it. You have to figure out for yourself how I like it. The sad thing is there’s talk of allowing dildoes in these contests starting next year.”

“Why would they do that?”

“Advertising dollars. Money talks. Sex toys are pretty popular in the lesbian community, so the big device manufacturing companies are paying off the right people. With big sponsorships, the prize money will get bigger, but I think it’ll wreck the whole contest.”

The stage coordinator announced All contestants get in order by group and number. One minute till round three begins!

“C’mon, let’s get in line,” Destiny said.

“Yeah, good luck … and may the best man win.”

In the blue group, I was now third in line. Destiny would be fifth. Watching the two blue group contestants in front of me on the big HD screens, I was trying to figure out if there were any specific techniques that seemed to work better on Emma Okunda. The first girl didn’t get very far. She was concentrating on clit sucking and got buzzed off after making it only four of her ten minutes. The second girl lasted the full ten. It was literally impossible to see what exactly she was doing because for the last nine minutes she had her face totally buried in Emma’s ass. Was she licking? Sucking? Tickling? Tongue-fucking? I hoped the ref would have some advice for me. She’d already gotten me this far.

I stepped up onto the platform and the ref took my arm.

“Okay, Wally,” she said. “This is a big one. You have ten minutes and you’re now allowed to penetrate both her pussy and anus, and I mean deep penetration. Use your hands and fingers freely. Now, with Emma, she’s a little bit different from the other judges. Physically, that is.”

“Hey, I’ve been practicing on a fat girl, so I can deal with the big thighs so long as she can open them up.”

“She won’t have any problem spreading her legs sufficiently. But she doesn’t have an actual clitoris.”

“She doesn’t have a clit?”

“No, but she’s not that different. There’s a very sensitive strip of flesh in about the same area where a clit would be located. It’s just not a little hooded nub like you’re probably used to. And she really likes analingus. It’s not easy to get to her butthole because her ass is so meaty. She’s a hygiene freak, so don’t worry about cleanliness. You’ve got to spread her cheeks with both of your hand just to see it. But you want to get your tongue deep in there and really ream her out. When she starts to moan, it’s time for you to start finger-fucking her. Use two fingers in her cunt and your pinky in her butthole. That’s when you start sucking on that faux clitty. Hard. Maximum suction while you scrape your tongue on it, harder than most girls like it. And she’s multi-multi-multi-orgasmic. She’ll be screaming, but don’t stop until she literally tears you off of her.”

“What do you mean by ‘faux clitty’?”

“Like I say, it’s not actually a clit. When they did her sex change operation, they took some of the sensitive skin from the underside of her penis and moved it to where a woman’s clit would be so it works about the same.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Are you saying Emma Okunda was a guy who had a sex change operation?”

“Yes. But, like I say, she’s not that different.”

“I thought guys weren’t even allowed in this competition! Even if they had an operation!”

“They’re not, not anymore. But, believe me, Emma Okunda is one hundred percent female. She’s one of the transgenders that was grandfathered in. Now we’ve already wasted two minutes of your ten and the crowd is screaming for you. So, get to work!”

Holy fuck … I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. I didn’t mind that she was old enough to be my grandmother. And I’d learned to like fat girls. And I loved black girls because they soothed my white guilt. And it made no difference to me that she was a lesbian. In fact, I found that kind of sexy. But she was a fucking guy! No way was I going to stick my tongue up some fat dude’s asshole while I’m giving him a hand job on what’s left of his chopped off dick! No fucking way!

“Hey, thanks for all the help,” I said to the ref, then turned toward Emma Okunda’s pussy. It looked an awful lot like a real pussy. It was no less than amazing to me that there used to be a dick and balls where the slit was. It made me queasy just thinking about it. For chrissake, what would ever possess a man to have his dick cut off?

Incredibly, it not only looked like a real pussy, it looked like a stunningly beautiful pussy. In fact, I had to admit to myself, it was the most beautiful pussy I’d ever seen close up, beyond even Darla Dollars’ Garden of Eden. As a man who’d been worshiping at the pussy altar for my entire adult life, I found myself feasting my eyes upon what must qualify as the Sistine Chapel of pussies.

I got close and closed my eyes. I inhaled. It didn’t quite smell like pussy. It sort of smelled like pussy, but not quite. It was just body odor. Sweat. No Bartholin’s gland was producing a vaginal lubricant with that distinctive musky piscine odor that drove me crazy with lust. But it was so perfectly proportioned, so perfect in every way. I had always credited God with having created the female genitalia as the apex of his artistry, but this was a pussy created by man, by no less than the Michelangelo of cosmetic surgeons.

I couldn’t understand my hesitancy to get orally involved with it. My life was at stake. It’s just skin. Don’t think of it as a guy’s mutilated dick. If the ref hadn’t told me Emma was a guy, I would already be indulging. Perhaps I would have noticed the lack of pussy taste and the unusual clitoral area, but I never would have guessed this was a surgically-enhanced penis. Never. We humans always believe our eyes, and my eyes were telling me to bury my face in this muff and eat to my heart’s content.

The drones were bugging the shit out of me. As if they knew something was amiss. They kept flying directly towards my mouth, just inches away from me. I just stood there, frozen. I was picturing what the images on the big screens must look like. Closeups of my lips, closed, unmoving, stoic.

I had probably been still for three to four minutes when I saw Emma’s hand reaching toward me, then tapping my shoulder. Maybe two seconds after that, I heard the BLAAATT and knew it was all over. The ref took me by the arm and led me away. She didn’t say a word and I didn’t look at her. I felt like I’d let her down. She’d tried so hard to help me. Now the crowd was in an uproar, booing loudly. They’d watched me for how many minutes doing nothing? Not even trying? I’d disappointed the men of this world big time.

Two armed guards took me down the exit ramp. I didn’t dare look up at the angry crowd. I was led into a tunnel that went beneath the stands and out to the street where a police vehicle was waiting. I wondered if Alyssa had watched it, not that it mattered. She wasn’t my partner anymore. I had no partner in this world.

I was handcuffed and taken to a nondescript two-story building a few miles away. It was a short ride. The building was the only one on the block that was not covered in graffiti. It didn’t seem to belong in this world. I felt numb.

As soon as the heavy iron door to the building was opened, I heard a cacophony of animal growls and loud barking mixed with human cries and wails. With a cop on each side of me, I was led down a long hallway. On one side there were huge kennels with big dogs that jumped viciously at the fencing as we passed. On the other side were prisoners, men and women in the same cages, all ages, all naked and barefoot, some lying on the cement floor unconscious, many backed up against the far wall, trembling, crying, moaning, dirty, disheveled, excrement and vomit on the floor. Some of those in the cages were obviously Downies, though many were not. One glance at the dogs was a mistake. I saw a dog gnawing on what was unmistakably a human arm, most of the meat stripped from the bone, but the hand and fingers still intact. Bloody bones littered that kennels. I had to breathe through my mouth to keep from gagging. The stench was overpowering.

I heard the cops on either side of me talking, but my brain wasn’t registering what they were saying. The room they took me to looked like a small courtroom. There was a judge’s bench but no seats for a jury. No one was in the room except for the judge when we entered, one cop still on either side of me.

One of the cops said, “Wallace Denton, your honor. Kansas, or canine cleansing?”

There was no examination, no interrogation, no explanation. No depositions, no hearing, no indictment, no trial—just the arrest and the sentence. I had no money, no home, no supporters, no defense. I said nothing.

I waited.

The judge tapped the monitor in front of him, briefly scanning the screen, then spoke only one word. “Kansas,” he said.

I was the happiest man alive.

twenty-three

The Kansas Indoctrination and Enhanced Interrogation Center was crowded with new arrivals when our bus dropped us off. The few dozens of us on the bus had sat in silence throughout the ride, having been told speaking was forbidden on the journey. All obeyed. Built-in cuffs and leg shackles on the seats had kept all of us in place, a constant reminder that we were now prisoners of the Blockchain. There were more men than women in our group, but I made no effort to get an exact count. What did it matter?

The brief euphoria I’d experienced after my sentence had been handed down had been dampened by the lengthy, less-than-comfortable bus ride, filled as it was with my visions of the kennels and the human prisoners waiting to be fed to the beasts. I was recalling individual faces, twisted in agony, a young woman on her knees, screaming and screaming, as if her screams would awaken some sense of decency or morality. My inability to shake these gruesome abominations from my thoughts almost had me in a state of panic, despite having personally escaped it. Too close for comfort doesn’t even begin to describe the nightmare.

My thoughts kept going back and forth between the horror of the dogs that had come so close to eating me and the ultimate pussy I’d failed to eat. Had I delved into that pussy with gusto, I may never have seen those dogs. I may have won that competition with the inside information I’d been provided by the ref. My whole life could have been altered. I could have been a hero to men and all but worshiped by women for my oral skills. This was my chance at fame and fortune and I blew it.

It had been a nine-hour ride so we were greatly relieved when the bus came to a stop and the shackles were unlocked. Most of us were dying to take a piss. There was a stench of urine in the bus, so a few obviously hadn’t been able to hold it. Now, milling around inside the large open room where we’d been herded, it was a small but welcome relief just to stretch our limbs and breathe different air. The unisex restrooms were in continual use with long lines to get in. A few hundred of us were in the main room, somewhat more than half men but hard to estimate as all were wearing similar baggy orange jumpsuits that zipped up the front. Most of the crowd had already been in this room when our bus had arrived. We were all just looking around in anticipation. Waiting.

Because of the stress I felt, I was sure it wouldn’t be long until a blue haze would appear and I could make a quick exit from this latest nightmare of a universe. I suspect that’s why everyone else was looking around and what we were all hoping for. Without having to ask anyone in that room, I knew that all had walked that same hallway and had seen the horrific plight of the Blockchain’s castoffs.

There seemed to be no authority figures in the room. Just us prisoners in jumpsuits, going in and out of the restrooms and waiting. I was surprised to spot one of my parallels across the room at about the same time he spotted me. He hadn’t come in on the same bus as me. We both started walking towards each other, eyeing each other curiously. Was he mimicking my crooked smile, or was I mimicking his?

“How’d you end up in Kansas?” I said as soon as we were face-to-face.

“Probably the same as everyone else in this room,” he said. “I broke the damn rules. How about you?”

I didn’t have to ask him if he’d seen the kennels. I could see the kennels in his eyes. I felt as if I were looking in a mirror. The few times in the past I’d confronted one of my parallels, the encounters were uncomfortable, but soon set aside and forgotten. This was different. We were in deep shit, deeper than any shit I’d ever been in before. I couldn’t shake the image of that dog gnawing on a human arm and the terror on the faces of the prisoners who had seen their fellow inmates being fed alive to those animals. I wanted to make some kind of joke about PTSD or dog food, anything, but there was nothing humorous about any aspect of our current situation. I felt a lump rise in my throat and I attempted to hold back my tears, but I couldn’t. Neither could he. Our arms went around each other and we buried out faces in each other’s shoulders, just sobbing uncontrollably for maybe a minute.

I could feel him attempting to stop the same pain I was trying to squelch, neither of us very successfully. I leaned back and looked at his face, wet with tears like my own.

“They passed a law,” I said, trying my damnedest to talk normally and change the unspoken subject in my brain, “against men eating pussy …”

His eyes were locked on mine, waiting for me to say more about another idiotic law, anything to escape from the nightmare of the dogs.

“And,” I went on, “that didn’t exactly agree … with my libido.” I snorted a weak laugh at this and felt a thick mucous flush from my nose. I backed up more and wiped it onto my jumpsuit sleeve. “That was my crime. Eating pussy.”

“Oh, man,” he said, his voice breaking, “that’s a rotten fucking law. I would have violated that one myself. Where I was, they passed a law that said I had to start sucking dick. I told ’em to shove it.” Now he was wiping his face with his sleeves also.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Were you in the universe where Scientists make the rules?”

“Nope. Never been in that world. This was in the universe where pop stars make the rules. Can you fuckin’ believe that? Fucking pop stars!”

“That’s a new one to me,” I said. “But they had the same law in the Scientists’ world and that’s the reason I got out of that one.”

“Where’d they have the law against pussy eating?”

“It was just against men eating pussy. Women were still allowed to. That was in the universe where artists make the rules. I even had a chance to get that rule rescinded—or at least I’d been led to believe that—if I would have eaten this one fake pussy, but I couldn’t do it.”

“What kind of fake pussy? Like molded latex?”

“No, no, it was a woman who was born with a dick and balls and had them chopped off. I gotta admit that fake pussy looked awfully damn real. But I couldn’t do it. That’s why I’m in here.”

“Oh, yuck! I’m with you on that one.”

A microphone screeched, then the sound of a finger tapping it silenced the buzzing crowd. There was now a man on the stage at the front of the room, holding up both hands to get everyone’s attention. He was mostly bald and a bit overweight, but he had a big friendly smile, almost jovial. I don’t think anyone else in that room was feeling anything close to jovial. The room went dead silent.

“Welcome to Kansas,” he said. “This is where you will live out your days. There is no way to escape from this state. There are no guards watching the fence, so feel free to try, but no one has yet accomplished it and many have perished trying. Not a pleasant way to go. Frankly, I like it here, so I’m perplexed as to why anyone would want to leave.

“You should know right from the start that there are no parallel universes in Kansas. Nobody in this state has ever seen a blue haze, nor will you. Now that you’re here, you will never find a way out. No worlds ever intersect with Kansas. Ever. This is why the Blockchain has chosen this state to be its penitentiary. We are isolated from the Blockchain Nation and from every parallel universe.”

This news was only mildly distressing, and only because I had been plotting in my mind how I would escape from Kansas whenever the first parallel door appeared. So much for that plan. But I had to admit I’d grown weary of living in parallel worlds. Maybe this would be a change for the better. Whatever, I’d have to make the best of it.

“Your assignments have already been determined,” he continued. “But don’t ask me about them because nobody tells me anything. You will learn of your assignments very shortly. Before we get all of you checked in, are there any questions?”

A voice from the back, speaking loudly: “Who makes the rules here?”

“All rules are made by the directors.”

“What directors?”

“You’ll meet one of the directors right after we get all of you logged into the system. He’ll explain everything. I know none of you have your buckets and believe it or not, you won’t need a bucket here. We already know who you are and everything there is to know about you. So, let’s get to it. We’ll log you in then pass out your assignments. This process is quick if you all just follow instructions. I want you to form a line, single file, in front of the door to my left. One at a time, go through the door, drop your jumpsuit to your ankles, bend over and spread your cheeks, so we can get a quick scan of your anus.”

The anal scan was quick and painless but humiliating like always. I hated anal scans. Before I even had my jumpsuit pulled up, a mellow authoritative electronic voice said, “Wallace Denton, report to room fifty-three-B.”

I walked down the long hallway until I came to the open doorway with the number 53-B above it. I went in. There were about two dozen others in the room, all men in similar jumpsuits. No women. Most were seated in the scattered folding chairs. A few stood talking quietly. A small oak desk at the front of the windowless room was the only furniture other than the folding chairs. We were all just waiting to find out what this was about. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see my parallel.

“Hey,” he said.

I forced a smile. “The good news is we made it past the dogs.,” I said.

“One day at a time,” he said. “We can do this. What kind of assignments do you think we’ll get?”

“I’m guessing for me and you some pretty hard labor. Some of the old men in here might get easier work, but we’re just too damn strong and healthy.”

“He grasped my forearm tightly with one hand. “We’re going to make it, man. We’ll be a team. Let’s vow to protect each other. I would die for you if it comes to that.”

I took his other arm and squeezed it tightly. “I know you mean that, man. And I know you know I mean it when I say I would kill for you.”

An older man entered through the same door we’d come in but he wasn’t in a jumpsuit. I guessed him to be about 70, with thinning white hair and thick white eyebrows. He was dressed casually and carried a slim leather briefcase. He walked to the front of the room.

“C’mon, let’s grab a seat,” my parallel said. We took the two seats that were nearest to us in the back of the room.

As everyone became aware of the man standing at the front, the buzz of conversation died and the few standees sat down.

“Good evening, gentlepersons,” the man with the eyebrows said. He had a forced but friendly smile. He placed his briefcase on top of the desk then walked around to the front of it. “I am Max Frottage and I have been assigned by the Board of this esteemed institution to help you blend back into the real world, that world being any one of the Blockchain Nation’s parallel universes.

“Perhaps you’ve heard that no one has ever escaped from this correctional facility. That’s true. There is no way to escape. Anyone who gets within thirty feet of the perimeter would die a painful but fairly quick death. You should also have been informed that there is no way you can ever return to society at large, and that’s true. You cannot do it. But I can put you back into the worlds you love, provided you can be rehabilitated. So, do not despair. It’s my job to deprogram you, then reprogram you as a new you, a happy you, a healthy you.”

He casually half-sat, half-leaned on the desktop.

“All of you in this group suffer from extreme toxic masculinity. You tend to view society from your warped binary perspective. You see almost every aspect of life as either male or female. For example, you likely prefer watching sports to soap operas. You tend to pursue so-called ‘masculine’ activities like fixing your car, or drinking beer, or barbecuing big hunks of red meat, or hunting, or cigar smoking.”

“Now you’re talking!” said a voice from a few seats in front of us to a titter of laughter.

Max smiled warmly to show he had a sense of humor and was on our side. “You probably don’t know how to knit,” he continued. “or crochet, or arrange bouquets of daffodils and pansies. It’s a tragedy that you’ve been brought up to think this way. It’s unnatural. It’s perverse.” Now he looked serious, even stern. “I’m sure you would be reluctant to wear frilly feminine clothing. You would be loath to the idea of wearing lipstick or eye shadow or painting your fingernails or toenails. But think about it … Why should only women have the right to be pretty? Being pretty is a God-given right you should be exercising throughout your lives. And by the time I finish with your deprogramming and reprogramming, all of you will be strutting around like peacocks.”

“We gotta get outta here, Wally,” my parallel said in an undertone.

“I’m also well aware,” Max went on, “that all of you have an aversion to physical contact with other men—unless, of course, that contact is through brawling, bar fights, or dangerous contact sports. That’s not only sad but very unhealthy. This aversion to physical intimacy with other men is a pitiful form of sexual perversion that keeps you from enjoying your lives to the fullest. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can fix that. You’ll have to work at it. I’m not going to lead you on into thinking it will be easy. It will take hard work and dedication on your part. But I want you to know it can be done.

“Most of you, I’m sure, would be disinclined to put another man’s penis in your mouth. The concept may even disgust you. But why should women be the only ones to experience the joy of sucking off a man? And you would no doubt be downright hostile to the thought of another man inserting his erect penis into your anus. And admit it, you would even be disinclined to tongue kiss another man. How sad, how tragic, and how lonely your lives must be.

“Now, I don’t want you to fear that I’ll be turning you into a bunch of homosexuals. To the contrary, you will still fully enjoy sex with women, but also with all of the myriad other sexual beings on this planet—the intersexuals, transsexuals, sadists and masochists, foot fetishists, furries, pony people … the list is endless. You may find yourselves sexually attracted to animals, paraplegics, amputees, even children and infants, and all of it will be healthy and satisfying.”

“Pony people?” a voice rang out, followed by a gale of laughter. I laughed out loud myself, wanting so badly to feel anything other than despair.

Max smiled, like he’d heard that joke before and didn’t find it especially funny, then went on with his spiel: “But for now, it’s my job to introduce you to your neglected feminine side. Hopefully, in time, I’ll be able to release you back into the Blockchain Nation. Does anyone have any questions?”

“I got a question,” a guy in the front said. He stood up. He was a fat guy, normal height but probably 350 pounds, maybe 400. “Are you outta your fuckin’ mind?” he said.

This drew the biggest laugh of the day. It was what everyone in the room had been thinking, none others brave enough to voice it.

Max approached him without altering his friendly smile and took what appeared to be a standard BUC-360 from the front pocket of his slacks and touched it to the arm of the big guy, technically, the upper bicep. It delivered some kind of a jolt because that guy was thrown about ten feet across the room before he collapsed onto the floor. We all stared at his body, which wasn’t moving at all. Out cold.

Max smiled broadly. “I should have mentioned,” he said, “whenever I ask if there are any questions, it does not mean you may question my authority. Are there any other questions?”

There weren’t.

“You’ll find the cafeteria down the hall on the left,” Max said. “It’s a bit late for dinner, but I understand you’ve had nothing to eat all day. You’ll find a delicious snack we’ve prepared for you, after which you’ll retire to your quarters. Following your snack, just stay in the cafeteria and chat with each other, get to know one another. One of the directors will take you to the dorm after you’ve had some socializing time so you can get some sleep after your long day.”

twenty-four

The snack turned out to be chicken wings, grilled bratwurst, baked beans, pepperoni pizza and beer. We were starving, but nobody had an appetite. Does that make sense? I was dying of hunger but I couldn’t eat. Everyone had one thought in mind:  What the fuck are they going to do to us? Would they use torture? Create mental distress? Sleep deprivation? In my mind I was going through all the military torture techniques I’d ever heard about. We were in a prison where the guards were sadists with a mission.

It was not a serve-yourself buffet. Women in aprons stood in front of the food tables to serve the grub onto our plates with tongs, spoons and spatulas. I took a bit of each, mostly to be polite to the serving girls. When I got to the beer table, the girl who was standing in front of the two-pint tankards of light and dark beer caught my eye. She was smiling at everybody, plain-looking, sad eyes, but a pretty smile. When she caught my eye, she was staring right at me.

As I picked up a mug, she leaned into me and said in an undertone, very quickly, “Take the beer but don’t drink it. Now smile and laugh like I just told you a joke.”

I was about to say, “What?” but she’d already turned away from me to say some kind word to the guy following me in line. Then it hit me what she’d said and I forced an immediate smile and said “Ha!” not loudly, but in that quiet room, the loudest sound in the room.

I walked to an open seat. My parallel followed and sat beside me.

“Don’t drink the beer,” I said to him.

He looked at me for less than a second and he knew that I didn’t know why but I knew. We sat there nibbling at the man chow.

“Do you think they’re recording everything we say?” he said.

“Probably,” I said.

We sat there lifting our beer mugs to each other sporadically, toasting one another, putting the mugs to our mouths, then placing them down in front of ourselves again, never touching liquid to lips. I surprised myself by eating everything on my plate. A lot of guys were on their second or third mug of beer when the director showed up, a woman who was either born in a male body, or a man who was born in a female body. A true androgyne, dressed as a woman.

The low-key murmuring conversations ceased within seconds of her entry. She looked around the room. All eyes were on her. “You will follow me down the hall to the dormitory,” she said. “You will see your Blockchain Citizens Number on the headboard of your bed. Toiletries are provided in the restroom. After performing your ablutions, find your bed and lie down. The dorm monitor will extinguish the lights when all are in bed. Talking is not allowed in the dormitory.”

On the walk down the hallway, I could see that many of my fellow prisoners were wobbly on their feet. One even fell in the hallway and was helped to his feet by one of the guards that was stationed every fifty feet or so. I suspected the beer.

My bed was on the opposite side of the room from my parallel’s. I felt an inexplicable comfort in knowing he was with me in this unbearable situation. I wished he was closer. But I had no idea what either of us could do for the other. All of the single beds had handcuffs chained onto both sides, not a good omen.

Once we were in our beds, mostly sitting up, two nurses entered in white uniforms and started going from bed to bed, shackling each prisoner and giving injections. No one protested and no one asked questions.

When the nurse arrived at my bed, I lay down immediately. She leaned down very close to me. “I’m not actually fastening your cuffs,” she said in a soft voice, barely above a whisper. “But just keep still and you’ll appear to be locked down like everyone else. We’re coming to get you later.”

“Who are you?” I said, also whispering.

I heard what sounded like the shackles clasping, but I didn’t dare test them. “Close your eyes and breathe slowly so it appears you’re going to sleep,” she said. “We’ll be back for you in an hour. Just do as I say.”

Then she placed her syringe on my forearm and made a motion with her hand as if injecting me, but I knew no needle had penetrated my skin. She pulled her hand away as if extracting the needle, then moved on to the next bed.

Within a few minutes, the nurses finished their rounds and left the room. The lights went out. It seemed like I waited forever listening to the breathing of those in deep sleep around me. I had no way of telling time, though I guessed it probably was about an hour till I saw a shadowy figure standing beside my bed, though I’d heard no one enter the room. It was too dark to discern whoever it might be. Then I felt the weight of the cuffs on my arms being lifted off of them but without any sound. A hand took my hand and pulled gently, urging me to sit up. I did so, then swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood. I followed the Shadow to the door and cringed involuntarily when the handle clacked open and again as it clacked shut after we’d gone through. The hallway we went into was dark, but lighter than the bedroom. I almost tripped over a guard that was slumped unconscious on the floor about ten feet from the door. We hurried passed him. Fifty feet further, we passed another guard, also unconscious. We walked quickly. I kept stealing glances at the shadowy figure dressed in black, face covered by a black hood, leading me to I knew not where.

We came to a door at the end of the hallway. The Shadow opened it and an alarm started clanging loudly. We went through the door and found ourselves outside in the cool November Kansas air.

A vehicle was waiting for us, engine running. It was an old sedan. The Shadow opened the back door and I climbed in. The Shadow climbed in after me. There was a driver in the front seat, a young female who turned and smiled at me but said nothing. Old gas-powered cars like this—cars that required a driver—were collectors’ items now.

I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as the driver put the pedal to the metal and the rear-end fishtailed as we burned rubber on the one-lane blacktop road we were on, leaving the sound of that clanging alarm to fade in the distance behind us.

I turned to find myself sitting beside a woman about my age. It was a moment before I realized she was the nurse who’d pretended to inject me.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Lillian Bumgartner, the founder of the Kansas Women’s Compassion League.”

“Oh, my god! You’re the person who got me entered into the Pussy Eating Championship! I’m so sorry I let you down.”

“It wasn’t just me, it was the entire league of women I now represent. And to the contrary, you performed beautifully.”

“But I totally failed on Emma Okunda. I feel so bad after all you did to help me. I guess I’m just not evolved enough as a human being, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat a fake pussy.”

“Emma’s pussy is as real as mine or any other woman’s. She’s not really a transgender. That’s just what Regan told you.”

“Regan?”

“The referee. She was working undercover for the League. I told her to tell you that about Emma because I was sure you wouldn’t be able to perform. You’re a typical alpha male in that regard.”

“I don’t get it. Emma’s pussy looked real, but it didn’t smell like a pussy.”

“Wally, you’ve never been with an older woman, have you? A postmenopausal woman? Emma Okunda is sixty-seven years of age. She doesn’t produce a natural vaginal lubricant anymore and hasn’t for many years.”

“Oh. Shit. I feel like such an idiot. But why would you do that?”

“Because I wanted to get you here. You have a fan club here in Kansas. A fan club with pussies that are just aching to be eaten by you. The thing is you really had no chance to win. Emma Okunda is a cheater. She had a deal with one of the contestants to bite her ass in a certain way so she could identify her. They were planning to split the prize money, which I assume they have done.”

“So, why didn’t you just let me eat her pussy and lose? It would have had the same result since you knew she planned to tap me out. I would have ended up in Kansas regardless.”

“It was selfishness on my part. I didn’t want Emma Okunda to experience the best pussy licking of her life. She’s the one who pushed for the ban against men eating pussy. She didn’t deserve to be eaten by you.”

So, now my brain was in turmoil. Emma Okunda was a woman, but I wouldn’t eat her pussy because I thought she was a man. I had passed on the most beautiful pussy I’d ever seen because I’d been tricked into believing a falsehood. I felt no animosity toward Lillian or Regan for scamming me. I was angry at myself. I could have had that pussy, a once in a lifetime pussy being served up on a golden platter. And what the fuck did it matter if it was male or female or Martian, for chrissake? It was beautiful and warm and being offered to me. I’d wanted it so badly, wanted to taste it, get lost in it, I’d spent the last minute until I was tapped out with my eyes closed because I knew I couldn’t resist its resplendent beauty.

The car started bouncing on a rough patch of road but the driver didn’t slow down.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Deep into Kansas,” she said. “We have a fortified compound there and a large community.”

“When they see I’m missing, will they come after me?”

“They’ll know you’re with us, so they’ll write you off.”

“They’ll see the guards were knocked out.”

“It won’t be worth it to them to chase you. The guards are fine. They have all of your parallels for revenge.”

“One of my parallels is in the indoctrination center back there.”

“Yes, we know that. Unfortunately, we didn’t know he was going to be there or we would have made arrangements to save him too.”

“He means a lot to me. Can’t you go back for him?”

“It’s too late now.”

“But you don’t understand. He is me. I can’t leave him there. They’re going to try to brainwash him. They’ll never do it. He’s like me. Way too mentally tough. But I hate the thought of what they’re going to put him through. We have to get him out of there.”

“They brainwashed your partner,” Lillian said. “Or at least, one of her parallels.”

“My partner? You mean Alyssa? They could never brainwash Alyssa. I’ve been with a whole lot of her parallels and they’re all razor-sharp and tough as nails.”

“Didn’t you meet one of her parallels that was agreeable to getting a scrotum surgically attached?”

“No fucking way,” I said. “I mean, I did meet that parallel of hers, but … Jesus Christ.”

“It won’t be long,” Lillian said, “until every parallel of Alyssa is happily sporting a scrotum. Once they get one of them, they do the whole lot the same way. The Blockchain runs every universe and eventually every universe will all have the same laws, the same rules, the same standards, the same hierarchy.”

That shut me up for a minute or two. Jesus Christ, they’d brainwashed Alyssa? She was the love of my life. I felt an anger seething inside of me, a hatred for this uncontrollable monstrosity of a political system that had taken over the world.

“I have to go and save my parallel,” I said. “I can’t let them brainwash him. I just can’t.”

“You don’t have to worry about that, Wally. They’re not going to brainwash him.”

“You didn’t hear the spiel one of the directors gave us. They’re going to make it very painful for the prisoners not to comply with their wishes. They’re brutal. They use physical punishment.”

“Wally, I swear they’re not going to brainwash or torture your parallel.”

“How can you know that?”

“Because they’re going to exterminate him. Every Wallace Denton in every parallel universe will be exterminated from the Blockchain Nation. And I know that because all of us Blockchain escapees now living in Kansas have had all of our parallels exterminated.”

“But wouldn’t they first try to reprogram him?”

“They can’t take a chance on him while one of his parallels—you—are no longer in the Blockchain. They’ll have to exterminate him and all of your other parallels. You pose a threat to them. You escaped from the system. Here in Kansas we have freedom to be who we are. We’re making our own rules. But our parallels are history.”

“But I can’t just abandon him,” I said. “You know where he is. You have people working on the inside. You fooled them into thinking you were one of their nurses. There must be a way to save him.”

“Yes, there is a way. If you were to return to the indoctrination center and surrender, really surrender, and go through their brainwashing program to turn yourself into a whole new person and continue acting like you prefer to be exactly whatever it is they turn you into for the rest of your life, they won’t exterminate you or any of the parallel Wally Dentons who also act that way. You truly could be the savior of the Wallace Denton branch of the Denton family tree.”

“Lillian, I’m a fighter. I have no intention of being brainwashed. I’m not going to become some kind of slave to their idiocy. I don’t give up easily and I can’t let my parallels be murdered. Maybe I can’t save all my parallels, but at the very least, I’m going to save the parallel I just left in that hellhole or I’ll die trying. Let me ask you this: How long until the Blockchain authorities come out here looking for me?”

“Out here in the wilds of Kansas? Ha! They won’t waste their time coming after you out here. They have no power in this state. This state is outside the Blockchain.”

“Then I just need a few days to figure out a plan. I’m going back there. I have a sense of loyalty to that one parallel that I can’t explain. I’m getting him out of there.”

“You don’t have a few days, Wally. The Blockchain works fast. All of your parallels will be gone within twenty-four hours.”

“Oh, fuck … Do you have any guns at the compound?”

“Sure. Handguns, rifles, automatics and semiautomatics. We’ve got flame throwers, grenades, lots of stuff. We were expecting the Blockchain to come after us when we first set up the compound, then we found out they’re just a bunch of nerds who only know how to fight digitally. I’m sure I could rustle up a weapon or two for you. You just don’t strike me as the action-adventure type. It sounds like a suicide mission to me.”

“How many people are living in the compound?”

“About sixteen thousand.”

“No shit? I thought it would be like twenty-five or thirty! Are all sixteen thousand in the Kansas Women’s Compassion League?”

“No. There are seventeen women in the League.”

“Oh. Are they all people you saved from the indoctrination center?”

“The only people we ever saved from that place were you and two of the women who are now in the league. The other sixteen thousand in Kansas are people who were born and raised here. Most were here before the Big War and they’re still here. The three days of darkness didn’t affect the western half of Kansas. They still had sunshine and daytime. The eastern half of the state went into darkness like the rest of the Western Hemisphere, so all the major cities in Kansas are now in the Blockchain.”

“What about Wichita?”

“That’s on the east side, as are Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, Overland Park—all the big cities. That whole area is on the east side.”

“I always heard that the whole state of Kansas was a big prison.”

“That’s the Blockchain’s official bullshit. They do have an electrified fence around the part of the state that’s out of their control, or at least, in areas where there is electricity. Much of the state’s eastern border is without any power, so they have a brick wall that’s constantly under repair. No one knows why, but it develops bulges and cracks regularly, probably a holdover effect from the cryptoconcussion devices. But the wall isn’t there to keep the Kansans in but to keep people in the Blockchain out. The only so-called ‘prison’ is that indoctrination facility I freed you from.”

“That building didn’t appear to be very large. Where do they put all the prisoners? I thought they had the whole state.”

“They use that place to reprogram malcontents. Anyone who can’t be reprogrammed goes to the dogs. Literally. They keep no prisoners. You either buy into their program or you’re exterminated. And if they exterminate anyone, they assume any parallel of that person is also a bug in the system, so they exterminate all parallels of that person.”

I thought about this for a few minutes. I wondered if this was why I’d seen so many people through the years in so many Blockchain worlds just disappear without a trace. I thought about Jesse, the bartender at Bucko’s Joint that Steve Rooster said had simply vanished without a trace. Had he, or one of his parallels, proven to be ‘faulty’ and unable to be reprogrammed? I wondered if Steve himself was safe. Steve had said Jesse was part of his secret group. Ever since the Big War, I’d thought the Blockchain was some kind of inexplicable technological accident. Now it was hitting me that it was an evil foisted upon the world by design.

“When I looked into the possibility of fighting my parallel’s sentence for treason—”

“You found out there was a long waiting list for a hearing,” she completed my thought.”

“Exactly.”

“There is no waiting list. There is no hearing. If you had turned yourself in for a hearing, you would have been taken to the indoctrination center and if you couldn’t be reprogrammed, you would have been dog chow. For some years, any close friends or associates of yours would have been getting urgent but friendly messages from you asking for supplies and money and things of value, mostly money. The detention center makes a lot of money from ‘gifts’ to people they exterminated years earlier.”

I let that sink in for a few moments before I said, “I want your honest opinion, Lillian. Do you think I’d be able to recruit any of the men in Kansas to help me free my parallel?”

“No.”

“How many men are there? Adult men.”

“In the compound? About two thousand, give or take.”

“So, you’re saying there are two thousand men and fourteen-thousand women?”

“Give or take.”

“And you don’t think any of the men would help me out?”

“No chance. You’re nobody to them. They’ve got families and mouths to feed.”

“Damn. Why so few men?”

“There were more than a hundred thousand people in western Kansas, mostly rural and small-town people. Even though they didn’t experience the blackout and never had parallel universes, they lost all communications with the rest of the world. It was scary. Ninety percent of them abandoned their towns and farms within a few months of the war ending to connect with the world, not knowing that once they stepped into the parallel universes, there would be no going back. As it turned out, a lot more women stayed behind. Men were just more adventurous, I guess. You know how men are.”

“So, are these sixteen thousand people mostly a bunch of old people?”

“No. In fact, most of the older people left because the Blockchain was running around in Kansas trying to get everyone to leave and offering the older folks housing. A lot of the teenage boys left, because, you know how boys are, looking for excitement. Many more women stayed behind. Now they’re settled in, most of them farming and ranching, like they were before, but without many men. Do you see those lights up ahead? That’s our compound. That big building is the assembly hall.”

“It looks like a barn.”

“It used to be a barn.”

“Well, I wouldn’t fit in here at all, Lillian. I’m not a farm boy. I’m a city boy. I can’t relate to farming.”

“Can you relate to fucking? There are a lot of horny women in Kansas.”

“Damn it, Lillian, you’re trying to get me to change my mind.”

“I’m just explaining the situation.”

“Well, I’ve never been much of a hero in my life, and maybe this would be a suicide mission, but I’ve got to give it a shot. They fucked over the love of my life and they’re going to throw all my parallels to the dogs. My parallel back there in the indoctrination center isn’t a reproduction of me, or a clone. He is me. I am him. We share a heart and a soul. I don’t care if I die trying to save him, but I can’t live knowing what’s going to happen to him if I don’t do something. Can you get dynamite? I’m going to get my parallel out of there and blow that fucked up shithole off the goddamn planet. And if my parallel’s already exterminated, I’ll enjoy blowing that place up even more.”

“You can’t do that, Wally. If you do that, they will come after us. And they have us surrounded on all sides. They’re so much bigger than us. We could easily demolish that indoctrination center, but then what? Right now, they leave us alone.”

“Then all I’m asking for is an automatic weapon and a vehicle that’ll make it back to the indoctrination center. I’ll be all by myself so they won’t blame you. And either they let me get my parallel out of there to avoid the gunfight, or they’ll kill me. It won’t affect you. The first thing I’m going to tell them is that I stole the car and weapons from you and that I’m going to kill as many of them as I can if they don’t let my parallel go. And I’ll mean every fucking word of it. Except, of course, the part about I stole the stuff from you, but they won’t know that. Please?”

She sighed and put her hand in mine, which I took as sign of tenderness. “If that’s what you want to do with your life, Wally, I’ll see to it that it happens. But you’re going to have to leave the compound very shortly after we arrive there, or you may be too late to save your parallel. You may already be too late.”

twenty-five

We pulled up to a tall chain-link fence. Must have been twelve feet high. The driver got out and opened the padlock that was holding the gate closed. In the headlights, I got my first good look at the driver. She was an olive-skinned buxom brunette with long wavy black hair, wearing skin-tight jeans and sneakers. I would guess Hispanic, or perhaps an island girl from the Caribbean.

After driving us through the gate, she got out of the car once more to relock it. Then she drove us to the big barn about a hundred yards distant.

“The girls are going to be disappointed,” Lillian said before making any move to get out of the car. “I all but promised them I’d be delivering you to them tonight.”

“The seventeen members of your compassion league?”

“Them too, but a whole lot of other women in the community. They’ve been preparing for weeks, studying your fetishes, creating special fetish days for you.”

“What do you mean studying my fetishes?”

“We hacked into your slaver’s license account.”

“You can do that?”

She just looked at me.

“I don’t have any fetishes,” I said.

“Really? Slaver’s licenses are usually pretty accurate.”

“I’m listed as hetero-vanilla. I’ve been identified as hetero-vanilla since the licenses were first issued. That’s as unfetishistic as you can get. Give me an example of a ‘special fetish day’ they created.”

“Okay. Today is stockings and garter belt day. All the girls are wearing stockings and garter belts.”

“Oh. I really do kind of like women in stockings, though I never really thought of it as a fetish. What do you mean by ‘all the girls’? How many girls?”

“Only a hundred. The girls had a lottery to determine which ones would be available for pussy eatings each day. There will be a hundred per day waiting for you in the assembly hall orgy room.”

“A hundred?”

“Obviously, you don’t have to eat every one every day. It’s up to you. We’re not going to let happen what happened before to your parallel. We’ll make sure you get enough food and sleep. We know you have pussy addiction issues.”

“So, you’re saying there are a hundred girls right now in stockings and garter belts waiting for me to arrive?”

“Yes. In the assembly room. They knew we’d be arriving about this time, so I assume they’re ready.”

“Will some of them be wearing pantyhose?”

“Not as far as I know. Do you prefer pantyhose?”

“No, I can’t stand pantyhose. I’m strictly a stockings and garter belt man. But sometimes when you say ‘stockings,’ women think you mean pantyhose.”

“Well then they read your fetish profile correctly. They’re wearing nothing but stockings, mostly thigh-highs, some mesh, and garter belts.”

“No panties?” I said.

“No panties. Oh, but I think they’re wearing high heels. Some of them are wearing those old-fashioned stockings with seams up the back.”

“How’d they know I like seamed stockings?”

“You requested them once from a hostess at Slave World. But they’ll be wearing panties tomorrow. Tomorrow is camel-toe day.”

“Camel-toe day? I love camel toes. This was in my slaver’s license data?”

“Yes, and the girls have been practicing all week, pulling their panties up real tight for you. Of course, what they’re really hoping for ultimately is that you’ll want to eat their pussies. Unfortunately, you won’t even be here.”

“What other fetishes did you find in my slaver’s license data?”

“Oh, I don’t remember the whole schedule, but they’ve got a panties pulled down day.”

“Really?”

“Oh, they practiced that one for hours one night. They were all walking around wearing nothing but panties, but pulled down just enough for you to see the top of their slits and when they turn around the top of their butt cracks. And there’s a whipped cream on titties day, and a whipped cream on pussy day, and a whipped cream on ass day—obviously you lick it off them. But there’s also a whipped cream on dick day where they lick it off you. And there’s a Catholic schoolgirl day, and a fuck a nun day—”

“Stop.” I was getting short of breath. My heart was pounding.

“I think it would be best,” Lillian said, “if we just drive on to the arsenal shed and find you a gun. We don’t want to waste too much time and it’ll probably be best if I just tell the girls after you’re gone that you have some important business to take care of and maybe you’ll come back, and maybe not.”

“No, I just want to look in on them and tell them that I really appreciate their efforts and I’ll definitely be back with my parallel, so they’ll have two of me. Double the fun.”

“If you insist,” Lillian said. She opened her door and got out.

I did the same. I felt weak, unsure of the wisdom of this plan.

She led me to a side door of the barn and we went in.

The scene was as she’d described it. A hundred women wearing nothing but stockings and garter belts. And high heels. They moved in on me before I even had a chance to introduce myself. They swarmed around me, rubbing up against me, pulling me deeper into the room where there were more women, more breasts, more buttocks. They lay me onto a huge circular bed and in no time my mouth was on a pussy, legs straddling my face, a sweet, sweet pussy. One of my hands was cupped over a breast and the other was finger-fucking a girl I couldn’t even see. I felt my jumpsuit being opened and peeled off my shoulders, then a hand was encircling my dick and a mouth was sucking on me.

And I thought about my parallel, and all of my parallels, and I knew that they were all, every one of them, within me. And the only way to rescue them all would be to rescue myself. And I thought about how wrong it would be for any man to not eat a pussy that was being offered. Would this not be as grave a sin as a man could commit? And wasn’t I already guilty of committing this sin with Emma Okunda? And if a man were to have a higher purpose, a sacred calling, in this cold and lonely sphere of existence we call life, would that calling not be to taste the holy sap that seeps from the fissure from which all life flows?

And it hit me like a biblical revelation that I’d found that ‘exit door’ I’d always longed for, that island where no parallel worlds existed, surrounded by an ocean of universes, isolated from their ever-changing rules and mouthpiece directives and blue haze solutions to impossible predicaments that get worse with every world you step into.

And I knew that I was at this moment fulfilling the meaning of my very existence. And this tender flesh I was now tasting was but the first of a hundred twats I would be tasting tonight, to be followed by a hundred more tomorrow, and tomorrow, and through all of my tomorrows. Then again, I could just be a fuckin’ addict, ’cause I ain’t goin’ nowhere.

epilogue

Five years later …

Kansas has been good to me. I now have 163 children and quite a few more on the way. We are still cut off from the Blockchain Nation as far as politics and commerce go, but we do follow what’s happening in that strange world of parallel universes that surrounds us.

I had a conversation with Lillian about six weeks after I arrived here, after I’d settled in to my daily routine of a couple of fucks and a lot of cunnilingus. It was right after the first time I’d had sex with her. She was on the schedule that day for my nighttime fuck and I had been anticipating it all day. I really didn’t know any of the women I was having sex with and presumably, Lillian’s name came up in the lottery. She was a great fuck. We made out like high school kids for half an hour, before I licked her to orgasm then screwed her in classic missionary position. We sat up and passed a doobie back and forth afterwards.

“Do you understand you’re a sex object?” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. Do. You. Understand. That. You. Are. A. Sex. Object?”

“I don’t get the question,” I said.

“C’mon, Wally, do you know what a dildo is?”

“Of course.”

“Do you understand that you are like a dildo to these women, a vibrator, albeit a very fancy vibrator?”

“I never really thought of myself that way—”

“But that’s precisely what you are.”

“To you? Am I supposed to be insulted?”

“No! No! Not to me! I have feelings for you and I can tell you like me. I mean to the dozens of women you service every day. I’m trying to figure you out. We’ve been discussing you—”

“Who’s we?”

“A group of us, not a formal group, but those of us who try to keep this place running smoothly. Mostly women, but a few men. You’re an enigma to us. We treasure you here. We’re worried about your wellbeing, your happiness. We’re using you. You’re an addict, and what we’re doing is beyond enabling you. I’m worried that we’re abusing you.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s not abuse. Like you say, I’m a dildo. That’s what dildos are for.”

“But it’s been a month now. How long can you go on like this?”

“Almost six weeks,” I said. “But I don’t think you understand, Lillian. This is a spiritual thing for me. Is there any higher calling than to spend your life worshiping pussy? I’ve come to realize that the Sovereign Brain has it backwards. Women aren’t sex objects. They’re too connected to their emotions. Men, on the other hand, are born to be sex objects. It’s what fulfills us.”

“Other men aren’t like you,” she said.

“I think they are. They just don’t know it.”

I never saw Lillian again after that night. A few days later she was captured at the indoctrination center attempting to liberate a group of prisoners. I had nightmares for a while after, envisioning her in the kennels.

We’ve learned that this island of sanity in eastern Kansas is not the only such island on this planet. A half-dozen other land masses of varying sizes and shapes that inexplicably have no parallel doors to other universes have been discovered. We call these areas “islands of sanity,” though the Blockchain Nation calls them “parallellessspheres.” A couple of parallelless regions in Africa are even larger than our Kansas refuge. A few of the smaller Caribbean islands are parallelless. Other known parallellessspheres are in Russia and China. Unfortunately, communication between the islands of sanity is nonexistent. Every once in a while, we intercept secondhand information about these areas from encrypted Blockchain reports we manage to unscramble, primarily detailing failed attempts to incorporate these areas into parallel worlds.

Meanwhile, the Blockchain program marches on. According to the data they publish—which we never fully trust—18% of women between the ages of 16 and 35 now have scrotums. This is a result of the Castrate the Codgers initiative that passed three years ago, requiring all men over 55 to donate their nutsacks. Within ten years, they’re predicting there will be more women with scrotums than without as a result of the Planned Babyparts “Downie Clone Farms” program. A charity group is now sending missionaries into poor countries to bring scrotums to underprivileged women around the globe.

The “Making Men into Women” program has also taken off big time. It’s estimated that 29% of men between the ages of 16 and 30 now have functioning breasts, with “functioning” described as “capable of lactating as a result of pregnancy.” Only a small percentage of these men have successfully carried children to term, however, a problem being worked on feverishly by the Blockchain-sponsored Wombs for Grooms Foundation. That percentage is expected to rise as more and more men are impregnated.

The suicide rates of women with balls and men with tits were skyrocketing for a while, though the top scientists are stumped as to what is causing this phenomenon. Drugs are being developed and tested to counteract suicidal tendencies. The most successful of these drugs causes sporadic paralysis, incontinence and mental confusion, making the patients unable to function in their regular occupations, in which case they are exterminated, which is viewed as a positive result by Blockchain authorities as it has at least managed to decrease the percentage of suicides.

Somewhat disturbing to us Kansans is the recent construction project on the indoctrination center, a Blockchain expansion program that will ultimately increase the center’s square footage to triple its current size. This is likely a result of having to deal with underground resistance groups that have sprung up in multiple universes. Three of these groups that we know of, all operating loosely under the Block the Blockchain banner, have reportedly been organized by parallels of Steve Rooster.

Some of these groups have managed to deactivate the electrified fence in remote areas of the Kansas border for brief periods in order to save people being hunted for extermination, mostly older men for failure to report for castration. This has increased the male population of our island of sanity by about 1200, slightly easing the burden of men here in sexually servicing this insatiable female population.

More than a handful of women have also entered our island of sanity through the vandalized fences, mostly women who were escaping scrotum attachment surgery. Not a few of these female refugees from the Blockchain also happen to be lesbians, attracted by the large husbandless female population here.

All in all, I have few complaints about my life in Kansas. I occasionally regret my decision to make no attempt at saving any of my parallels, all of which were exterminated long ago. But in my heart, I know I did the right thing by staying here, as I’m sure I would have perished in my foolhardy attempt at heroism. Hell, I’ve never even fired a gun. Guns have been outlawed for common citizens in all of the parallel universes I’ve lived in.

To keep my pussy addiction under control, while at the same time allowing the sex-starved women of Kansas to experience orgasm via oral stimulation, I now orally service only twenty women per day. Sometimes twenty-five. Never more than thirty. Not to imply that I’m the one that decides on how many. To put it bluntly, I follow orders.

I only fuck twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. As with the women I eat out, my intercourse partners are assigned to me on some kind of rotating schedule that I have no control over, a lottery system they tell me. I have no authority in Kansas, no political power, no clout, no juice. I’m a sex object, pure and simple. A slave. I do as I’m told and I’m happier, more content and satisfied with my life than I ever dreamed I could be.

*   *   *

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