Saturday, March 31, 2012

The More You Know...




I know a lot of people.  I work with them.  I even socialize with them.

Occasionally, I get to know them.  At least I think I do.  And they get to know me in the process.  At least they think they do.

I have discovered some things in the last few weeks about myself that I didn't know.  Feelings I didn't know I had.  Fetishes I had never explored, even in my own mind.

In the process I found out about other people too and the perceptions I had of them were altered.  In some cases, shattered.  

We're more alike than we ever knew, or ever will.  The further my boundaries were pushed, the further my understanding of why I even had boundaries in the first place became.  

The answer I was looking for was as plain as the bonds that united and divided us.  I have boundaries so we can destroy them.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Octavian Doctrine



We write because we feel compelled to.

There are those among us who are looking for something and know exactly what it is: they wait for it to find them, to trace its way back to them through their printed digital words like a lighthouse beacon.  And they'll keep writing until it finds them.  Weeks, or months, or years, or entire lifetimes...

There are those who don't know what they're looking for: they write so that it will come looking for them.  Their words will ring out into the void and when their calling finally manifests, they'll know it on sight like a twin separated at birth.  Once joined, their journey will come to its end...the need will fade.

There are those who write because they don't know what else to do: scenarios and visions fill their heads and force their souls to sway and dance to a Pied Piper only they can hear.  Their writing is a cycle of madness that is born in a blind fury of words that are scraped down to their core and built back up.  The bones are fleshed out and turned into giants before being crippled by a single key.  When the pages are finally revealed, there's no target in mind, no mystery waiting to be revealed, just the calm before the next storm.

Everything they do is the culmination of a single moment back-written to fit our perceptions.

They're authors.

They write because we compel them  to.



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ev(e)



Ev(e)

  Dana Evans looked closely at the glowing keypad that sealed Dr. Gordon’s lab.  She knew the access codes had been changed remotely for her, but she hadn’t been told what they’d been changed to.  She typed in the generic ANACI login for classified civilian clearance, then the SSBI for initial top secret access.  Both returned a dull beep and a red screen before returning to stand-by green.  She scowled at the screen for a moment, and then typed in ‘Eve’.  The keypad lit green and the airlock opened.
       The door opened onto a catwalk that hugged the walls of a rectangular room.  The center of each section opened onto a staircase that connected the upper observation area and lower floor.  The difference was only about seven feet, but it was enough to create a range of options where someone could be waiting for an ambush.  She listened at the edge of the doorway, but the only sound she could hear was the dull hum of the overhead lights.
       The main power to the facility had been shut down after Dr. Gordon’s team failed to make their last report.  As far as the Government was concerned, thirty men and women shouldn’t just vanish.  The emergency power had also been shut down before she entered the air ducts on the surface and it served two purposes.  The first was that the emergency protocols of the facility would dictate that anyone still living inside the facility would either seal themselves in their respective labs, or return to their quarters.  The risk of suffocation was all to real if an outbreak had occurred and the entire facility became slated for a  containment purge.  The other reason was a bit more personal to her: the last thing she wanted was to find a fan blade whirring at high speed a few hundred feet down a shaft she couldn’t turn around in.
       That just left the battery backup systems, sketchy lighting, and security access systems.  The former she couldn’t do much about, but the latter had been arranged for her as part of her mission statement.  She looked down at the keypad again and felt a surge of heat rise from between her shoulder blades.  She thought they’d gotten past all the nickname bullshit last year after the Japanese nuclear reactor mess.  She had worked twice as hard as any of the ‘Adams’ in her investigative ops unit, and she got a tenth of the respect she‘d deserved.
       She ran her mission objective over in her mind again as she continued to listen to the room:  Find out why B.R.H.D.Lab 23 went dark, then report back and await further orders.  She tightened her grip on her pistol and then crept around the corner onto the catwalk and crouched on the inside of the door.  The hallways within the facility had been empty, and aside from an occasional touch of dust in a few corners, well cared for and clean.  The inside of Dr. Gordon’s personal lab was in a similar state.  As the electronic eye timed out over the door, the airlock closed and resealed itself.  Still nothing moved, but she did hear a soft muffled buzz reverberating up from somewhere on the lower floor.  She moved with a catlike silence and all the grace of a Hollywood ninja as she inched along the back edge of the catwalk and waited again in the corner for something to move.  After five minutes of near-silence, she felt confident she wasn’t in any danger of an ambush.
       When she straightened up and moved toward the lower level she saw a row of tall frosted-glass cylinders where distorted outlines of human-shaped shadows were hidden inside.   She followed the sound across the room from them where she saw an office.  The door was ajar and two large windows flanked its sides.  Each was fitted with mini-blinds that were only partially closed.  From between the gaps she could tell her search for Dr. Gordon was over.  She inched closer and gently pushed open the door with the barrel of her gun.  The dull buzzing noise was coming from a small machine on the floor that was vibrating violently.  Connected to it was a long thin shaft that reached up to where the good doctor was suspended above it.
       The ceiling tiles had been opened and two thick chains hung down through the opening.  Suspended between them was a long, thick wooden shaft that the Doctor’s arms were bound to.  Ropes were attached to each of his wrists, elbows, and shoulders and lashed him to the pole.  His legs were bent, his ankles tied to his upper thighs and then stretched wide by ropes tied nearly to where his hands were.  He had been blindfolded and gagged, then  left naked and impaled on the vibrating machine.  Semen dotted the floor in front of him.  Dried remains still clung to the end of his limp cock.  Dana tilted her head to the side as her brain raced to catch up to her eyes.  The room smelled faintly of ammonia from the dried cum, but nothing else assaulted her.  She stepped forward and put the back of her hand to his shoulder; he was still warm.
      Her head snapped back toward the open door and she raised the gun again.  She watched for any movement again, but then her eyes drifted to the desk where a small camera indicator light was blinking.  She inched closer and picked it up without her gun barrel turning away from the front room.  She turned the camera over in her hand and thumbed around for the playback button.  The loading screen ticked by and the screen went from black to a shaking swirl of colors that settled into the familiar frame of the office.  She could hear Dr. Gordon speaking to someone in hushed tones, but then he answered himself.  She checked the clock on the edge of the frame, but it hadn’t been set.  She glanced from the screen to the open doorway and back.   She wondered briefly how long he’d taken to succumb to his torture.
       Despite the evidence hanging behind her, when the Doctor entered the frame of the camera she was shocked to see he was already naked.  His body looked clean and unblemished.  His hair looked damp, like he’d just been out of a shower.  He turned the camera to face the position where she’d found it and Dana could see the wooden pole he was still suspended from behind her.  He made a few cursory checks to be sure it could hold his weight, then hung from it a moment before he looked over toward the door and smiled shyly, then nodded.  
       She glanced out toward the lab and strained to listen but the machine behind her was too distracting.  She risked using her boot to turn the switch on the side of the machine’s housing.  There was a faint click, and then silence washed over the room.  The video in her hand fell silent as well as Dr. Gordon walked out of the frame toward the lab.  She heard his muffled voice and made out something about being ready.  He told someone that the camera was set up and rolling.  A moment later she saw Dr. Gordon reappear, only this time he was fully dressed and his hair was dry.  He also looked suddenly older and had three days growth of facial hair around his mouth and neck.  She looked back at the man hanging dead behind her and her eyes narrowed on his jaw line.
       Dana’s eyes darted across the screen as a second later,  Dr. Gordon appeared next to Dr. Gordon, only the second version was still naked.  Dana watched as the two kissed for a long moment.  The clothed Doctor groaned slightly before he pulled back causing his second visage to stumble forward slightly.  The clothed Doctor touched the other’s face gently and then led him to the waiting pole.  Dana watched transfixed as one Doctor tied the other. He suspended him, blindfolded him, gagged him, and then set to the task of operating the machine with a clinical efficiency.
       Within minutes the bound Doctor was at a peak of arousal that was as clearly visible.  It was equally clear that the clothed doctor was enjoying the sensations he caused in his victim.  Dana could see that with each burst of vibration brought out by the machine, the bound doctor’s cock would jerk upright, pulse and spit in orgasm.  The clothed doctor, only partially visible in the edge of the screen seemed to mimic every action of the bound man, convulsing in time to him, his knees buckling under him repeatedly as if the bound man was transferring his tactile sensations to the other man.
       Dana knew from the mission brief that the Doctor had been researching behavioral bio-weaponry and cell research, but this was somehow way more than anything anyone on the surface knew about.  The video played in her hand for another ten minutes and each orgasm the men shared didn’t diminish, but seemed to grow more intense.  Dana felt a sudden dryness in her throat while she watched.  She swallowed hard, but it lingered.  She could feel a warmth rising up her back and it strained to escape the neck of her armored bodysuit.  She watched transfixed by the bound Doctor’s cock as it jerked up again and again, pumping out his essence for what had to have been the seventh or eighth time.  She glanced back at his deflated cock behind her as her own heat intensified.  It was a shame, really.
       The sound from the screen in her hand suddenly changed and she watched as the bound Doctor started to moan intensely.  His throbbing erection seemed to grow even larger and it took a moment for Dana to realize that the clothed Doctor had set the machine controls aside and had opened his pants to masturbate.  As he touched himself they both moaned in unison.  They both felt his touch even from across the room from each other.  The bound Doctor and could feel the other man’s hands as they stroked his cock. Dana’s mind scrambled to comprehend what she was seeing.  She’d heard of twins born with such identical traits that one could remotely feel when the other was sad, happy, or angry, but this was unlike anything she’d ever heard of.
     Both men reached orgasm at the same time and when they did, the bound Doctor’s head slumped and his body sagged.  The clothed Doctor fell back panting out of the edge of the screen.  She could hear him moving around in the lab, the sound of his pants being refastened.  He was muttering gibberish that faded into the background.   There was the sound of the lab door as it opened and closed.  The scene remained unchanged except for the movements of the machine on the floor.  Dana watched the entire video until she heard the sounds of the doors opening again.   After a few more minutes, she appeared and found the camera. 
       She looked up at the doors of the lab and her head tilted to the side slightly.  Somewhere out in the labyrinth of this facility she’d passed right by Dr. Gordon and never even knew it.  She stripped the video card from the camera and set it the edge of the desk on her way into the main lab and looked for a security interface.  The glow on the upper deck by the doors was still bright.  She holstered her gun and started to key in a quick scan of the internal cameras stationed throughout the facility.  She knew the main doors were sealed, the internal passages linking Dr. Gordon’s level to the others had also been sealed when the power was shut down.  A key list of one hundred  seventy doors appeared on the screen and she ignored the personal quarters of the other researchers.  The number dropped to forty.  She skimmed through the list and finally found Doctor Gordon in the cafeteria.  He was sitting in a chair, slumped forward.  Even from her vantage point, Dana could tell he wasn’t breathing.  She scrolled back the log until she saw him enter.  No one followed after him.  He just sat down, and died.  
      She turned around and looked down at the lab.  She wondered what the hell she was going to say about all of this in her report.  The last thing she wanted was to surface with a suicidal Doctor who killed himself through the indulgence of a gay bdsm fetish.  Yeah, that would go over really well.  The nickname of Eve would pale by comparison of what they came up wit after that.
       She made sure the door was still sealed and then headed back down into the lab and started to look through the equipment and binders along the shelves and countertops.  She circled the room and found herself staring at the tall cylinders.  She glanced back toward the bound hanging man in the office  and then at the cylinders again.  The frosted glass was too dense to see through, so she reached for the handle of the door.  The hinge was a little tight, but the heavy door pulled open.  The empty space was padded along the walls and was just big enough to fit a full grown person inside.  It reminded her of some kind of stasis pod from the movies where astronauts would freeze themselves against the tireless void of space.
       She moved on to the next, then the next, and the next.  Each was empty.  When she touched the handle of the last door, a shock of electricity shot up through her hand and seized her arm.  The involuntary muscle spasm hade her hand clench on the handle and the pain dropped her to her knees.  The world turned a dull white at the edges of her vision.  She felt like her mind was spinning in her skull and then thrown down a deep chasm.  When the jolt finally subsided, her arm felt numb, and yet, tingly as well.  She closed her eyes and tried to catch her breath but once her eyelids closed, she was surprised to find that she could still see a dull white color instead of black.
       She felt a maddened sense of danger and backed away from the cylinder.  She drew her gun again and raised it up toward the opened sliver.  Her mouth went suddenly dry.  Everything started to sound like it was in an echo chamber, every sound reverberated off of itself.  She could hear her own ragged breathing, but from outside her body.  She forced herself to step closer and as she neared the edge of the glass, she could see the dull white sheen behind her eyes darken as her shadow crossed over the edge.  She pulled open the door with the tip of her boot and had the strangest sensation that she was both staring into a mirror, and well as watching herself in a dream.
       She could see herself standing in the padded chamber as naked as the day she was born, and yet she could also see herself standing fully clothed in her stealth body-armor pointing a gun at herself.  Her mind existed in both places simultaneously.  She lowered the weapon instantly, feeling as foolish as if she’d just put the barrel in her mouth.  At the same time, she felt herselves gasp, and both of her said ‘what the fuck?’  in unison before coughing on the dry air hard enough to make their eyes water.  They both looked up at the dormant air vents overhead and coughed again.
       She felt a dull heat run up her back and circle her collarbone.  It was like a lover’s hands, sensual and insistent on her shoulders before it started to crawl down her chest toward her breasts.  They both shook their heads as she reached out her hand to help herself out of the cylinder.  She realized what’d she’d done and jumped back, raising the gun toward herself and then pointing it away in a mad instant.  She screamed in frustration and confusion, but the sound didn’t come from her own mouth.  It rose like a banshee from her naked form standing in front of her.  She closed her eyes again and pounded her fist against her head trying to get her thoughts to fall into some kind of order.
        The moment her eyes closed, she saw herself from the outside and fell to her knees.  The sensation of having two noses, four ears, and two heartbeats pounding in her mind was like a battering ram against her sanity.  Her walls broke.  The sight of herself crumbling also created a hollow feeling in her chest that was rapidly filling with an icy cold.  It shifted turbulently though as she watched herself.  A dozen thoughts flashed through her mind, but the one that lingered long enough to hold onto was that all of the others on he rteam were waiting for her report.  She focused on the humiliation she’d have to endure when they found out that she’d failed.  ‘Eve’ they’d called her.  They couldn’t even say her name properly.  Jones, Jackson, Taylor, Simmons, Banner…but they never included Evans.  She was just Ev(e) to them.
 “Get the fuck up, Dana.”  Her voice sounded like her, but different.  Like a message on an answering machine played back.  “I said, get up!”  She screamed at herself.  The gun slipped out of her hand and fell on the floor.  She walked over to herself and reeled back, then swung hard.  She felt the blow in her hand and against the side of her head in the same instance.  Both hurt.  A lot.
       It also knocked her flat to the floor.  She opened her eyes and saw her standing in front of her.  It took a few minutes for the vertigo she felt to subside, but once it did her thoughts started to expand out from her own head, into her own head.  She became aware of her breathing, her heartbeat and the sweat running down her neck.  She unbuckled the outer jacket and handed it to herself.  She took it and slipped it on, but it barely covered her chest.  Her half-naked self started to look around the lab and she stood up and followed her own lead.
       They found a pair of slacks in a locker near the office, but there wasn’t anything for her feet.  When she straightened up and presented herself for her inspection, she smiled.  The slacks and the tactical jacket were indeed the start of a fashion revolution.  “We need to find out if-”
 “-he left anything we can use to -”
 “-figure out what the hell is going on.”
       They looked at each other like a hand that had been removed from a cast after several long months.  Each was part of the other, but alien and different.  “This is going to take-”
 “_some getting used to, yeah.”
       Each started to move toward the same portion of the desk and then both stopped to let the other go on ahead, then stopped again.  
 “Look, I’ll go first, and then you can follow my lead.”  Dana said to herself.  They both nodded, and then Dana started to rifle through the notes scattered across the counters.  Her other self looked at the chronometer on her jacket.  “We’re down to-”
 -“Twenty-eight minutes, I know.  I mean, I saw it when you looked down.”
       She returned to the cylinder and inspected the handle while her other self moved from the loose papers and started to look into the Doctor’s computers.  She didn’t need long to crack his codes, but the information she was looking for was far too intricate and expansive to even start getting her mind around.  She copied the files to a jump drive and put it in her pocket.  She glanced over at herself near the cylinder and then copied a second one.  Once it was done, she walked over to her gun and picked it up.  She felt a moment of hesitation, but then dismissed it as she handed it over to herself.
       She took it, then checked it out of habit before she moved it to her off hand.  Dana smiled thinly and nodded toward her thigh where another pistol was still holstered.  As her alter-self couched near the handle, Dana had a sudden flash of insight.  It was a thought that was hers, a question, but it didn’t originate from her own head.  “Yeah, I think I like that idea.”  her alter-self said.
 “This might just be the most incredible thing that could have happened to us, Eve.”  Dana said.  She let the sound of the name ring in her ears and for the first time it didn’t sting like an insult.  In fact, it seemed like an almost unbelievable joke.  They both laughed, and Eve leaned back to look up at Dana.  Eve’s jacket had parted for an instant and Dana felt another rush of heat sweep up her back, only this time it didn’t stop at her collarbone, it swept across her shoulders and down over her chest.  The feeling washed over her breasts and she saw Eve’s nipples harden even as her own did.
       They stared at each other with the lingered traces of their smiles still evident at the edges of their mouths.  Another wave of heat rushed over her, only this time it started low in her abdomen and circled within her and coiled tightly in her clitoris.  Dana could see Eve’s eyes watching her own body’s reactions.  They both felt hungry, hot, and suddenly incredibly wet.  The Doctors’ Gordon flickered briefly in their minds, their obvious primal energy both shared and explored.  But perhaps where theirs was steeped in fetish and bondage, Eve and Dana could feel something more sensual between them.  It might have even been better; hotter than Hellfire.
       Dana moved closer to herself and knelt next to Eve.  She felt a stabbing longing to push herself back onto the lab floor and take her own head in her hands, to kiss herself, to taste what her tongue felt like, to explore herself in ways that she could never have imagined before.  She felt the same feelings rebounding inside her from Eve and it filled their combined senses.  They both wondered for the briefest moment if what they were plotting was masturbation, incest, or a strange combination of the two.  They drew closer until they could each feel the other’s breath on their lips and just before their mouths touched they both stopped.  “We need to leave-”
 “-but then we will make time-”
 “-for ourselves later.”
 “My god, I’m so fucking wet right now.”
 “I know.”
       Dana looked over at the gas lines feeding the cylinders.  Then down at Eve’s breasts peeking out from under her jacket.  The chronometer showed the last minutes ticking by fast.  Eve smiled.  “Lets light it up.”


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Assassin.






Assassin.

       Bryce looked up at the glaring fluorescent lights above his head.  He imagined a small space twenty floors above him that was pressed between two offices.  The gap was three feet wide, tapered away from a window to where a pair of air ducts converged.  At least, he hoped the gap was there.  The blueprints of the building weren’t complete or easy to get a hold of, but Janos, his very influential and well-connected client, had made what there was of them available to him.
       Getting himself into the heart of the counter-terrorist unit of the national police headquarters was another matter altogether.  After considerable internal conflict, he decided that what he needed to do was be taken prisoner.  Common thievery would not suffice, either.  Being thrown into a menial cell with the other riff-raff would never do.  He needed to get the attention of just the right people.  The kind that loved trying to solve a mystery.  Sprinkle in a dash of heroic pride and just enough national secrets to exclude himself from being transferred for fear of a high level government leak, and he’d be getting somewhere.  Exactly where he was, in fact.
       So it was that Bryce found himself in a small plain-looking conference room shackled to a rather stiff chair.  A security camera watched him in silence from the ceiling in the corner of the room.  The windows on either side of the door were frosted glass, and the door was covered with an electrostatic shield that only gave him muddled views of indistinct shapes moving back and forth in the hallway.  He felt a strong stab of pride at the amount of discord he’d managed to create in such a short amount of time within these hallowed halls.
       A pair of hardened-looking men entered the room, and for a moment, Bryce could hear the jagged sounds of tense voices and ringing phones before the door closed behind them.  Bryce stared down at the rolled-up duffle in one of the men’s hands.  Both men wore identical charcoal grey suits with dark ties.  He could tell the neckties were a clip-on style.  Neither man looked stupid enough to have a strangulation hazard wrapped conveniently around their necks.  The first man noticed Bryce stare at the duffle as it was set on the table.
 “You recognize that,” he said.  It wasn’t a question.
 “No.”  Bryce lied.  He’d left in a locker at the Hub.  The only way they would have found it was after they’d discovered the key he’d hidden in the ship’s hold.  Of course, that meant they’d found the skiff he’d hidden in the remote shipyard near the Hub’s southern edge.  Bryce pursed his lips for a moment.  He thought he’d done a better job of hiding it.  They’d had to have found a few other breadcrumbs as well, otherwise they wouldn’t be here talking to him yet.  He could see it in the way they stared at him.  Like time was nothing.  He was a swath of wet paint to them, and they were there to watch him dry.
 “Where are the other three?”  The second man finally found his voice.
 “What other three?”  Bryce said, following the script they set out for him.  In truth, there wasn’t anyone else.  In the hidden compartment of the ship were three sets of alias documents waiting for a bio-imprint to claim them.  Bryce’s own documents were already filled out, marking him as ‘Wyland McDermont’.  It wasn’t like he had any intention of ever using them.  It was all window dressing for the stage.  Granted, each set had cost him four grand and if his plan went sideways, that sum alone would keep him hot for a few years in a shielded detention cell.
 “And how did you come across this?” the first man pulled a small card out of his pocket and laid it face up on the table.  He tapped the edge with his fingertip, and a holographic file started to play  back.  It began with a few random news files about the city and then transitioned into an expose on the Hub’s newest high-security VIP terminal.  After that, it launched into a frenzy of schematics and blueprint diagrams.  Bryce knew the back-trace was clean, so he shrugged at them.  It was show time.
 “I found it in the street, laying next to a picture of your wife.”
       If the man’s eyes got any colder, the room was going to get uncomfortable real quick.  The second man opened the case and unrolled it across the table in a way that would have been dramatic if Bryce didn’t already know what was in it.  It consisted of exactly half of an arsenal.  The frames of two pistols, half of a submachine gun, the stock of a high-end sniper rifle, the hilts of two swords, two stilettos, and a small pouch of plain silver disks that looked like poker chips.  No barrels, bullets, or blades.
 “I think you were the runner delivering a few components before going back to keep the engines running on that heap we found in the southern yard.  Let’s try this again.  Where were you going.  Who was your target.  And who are the others.”
       They watched him like a specimen in a jar, gauging his reactions.  It was true that they wanted him to answer, but they weren’t expecting it right now.  They were looking to establish a pattern to his physical behavior.  They wanted to be able to see what he looked like when he was lying.  Bryce cleared his throat lightly and sat up a little straighter in the hard chair.  The chains holding his hands and feet to the anchor in the floor rattled a little.  He looked over at the first man with the cold eyes.  “I was going to your house.  My target was your wife’s pale sweet ass, but the others were already there taking turns.”
       The first man’s fists clenched and Bryce looked over at his partner.  “And you’re just wrong.”  He smiled and leaned back.  “Don’t I get a vid call or something?   I mean, I’d like to call his wife and tell her not to wait up for me tonight.”
       The first man looked over to the second and nodded before he turned toward the door and twisted the deadbolt.  “No, son.  No calls.  I think we need to establish some ground rules here.”
       Bryce’s eye twitched at the moniker.  ‘Son’?  Really?  “Yeah, your wife said that after she rimmed me for an hour.”
 “That’s fine, Son.  Keep talking,” he said while he walked to the corner of the room and stopped under the camera.  He reached up and pulled the power feed from the wall, and Bryce watched the little red transmission light darken.
 “You’re not going to blow me, are you?  ‘Cause I don’t think I could get it up for you.”
       Bryce didn’t notice that the second man had moved behind him until he snaked his arms under his own and held him in place.  The fist man strode over slowly and leaned back before putting his full weight into a punch that felt like wrecking ball slammed into his face.  The world spun in front of his eyes as the man lifted Bryce’s chin to square another blow.  Bryce only laughed through the split in his lower lip.
 “What’s so damn funny?” the second man hissed next to his ear.
 “It’s just that…this is going to hurt you a lot more than it hurts me.”
       The first man leaned back and came in full force again, but just as he was about to connect with the side of Bryce’s head, Bryce de-materialized like a flash of shadowed smoke.  The second man was suddenly holding empty air and fell forward into the other man’s swing just in time to be struck sideways and knocked to his knees.  The first man spun around at the sound of Bryce’s shackles hitting the floor.  The last traces of smoke solidified calmly on the other side of the table.  The first man reached for his gun as the second staggered to his feet.  In the same moment, Bryce reached for one of the small silver poker chips and pressed his thumb over the center.  As the gun was clearing the holster, Bryce dropped the blinking micro-explosive and swept the duffle closed while turning his back to the two men.  The second man’s eyes widened on the falling bomb and reached for the first man’s shoulder and the edge of the table.  He barely managed to pull it over and drag the first man down behind it.
       The instant the disk kissed the floor, it burst into a firestorm of light, heat, and thunder.  The blast slammed into the table and punched the men behind it against the wall.  The explosion shattered the windows and tore the door off its hinges.  From out of the smoke and the fire, Bryce’s phantom shape joined the chaos  and shot down the hallway toward the elevator shaft as the sprinklers began dousing the flames.
       He glided through the doors and into the darkness beyond.  He stretched like ink in a glass of water for an instant before he turned skyward and rose the twenty floors he needed.   He bled through the cracks under the doors and shifted between every shadow until he reached the end of the hall.  He found the offices at the end of the corridor and managed to slip under the first’s door to float along the edge of the wall until he found an electrical outlet.  He pooled himself around the screws to penetrate the wall.  Once he was inside, he listened for the sound of the air ducts and wasn’t disappointed.   An unwashed pane of pale glass dominated the wall  before him, and it looked out at the fading midday light.  His body  materialized again, and he focused intently to solidify his bag.
       Once he felt the full weight of it again, he set it under the window and took a deep breath.  He smiled.  Flatliners were so predictable.  He never would have gotten through the energy shields protecting the building on his own.  Instead, they walked him through the front door and had the decency to carry his luggage.  
       If he had tried to ghost past their exterior defenses, every electronic eye in the city would have trained on him within minutes.  His bio-scan would have been posted everywhere.  He felt the stiffness in his jaw start to set and snorted.  The hit was definitely returned ten-fold.  Bryce looked out the window, tilted his head toward his shoulders and heard his neck pop.
       The building across from him was nearly two full city blocks away and at this distance, its surface was like a polished mirror.  He unrolled his bag and picked up the stock of the rifle.  As he raised it to his shoulder, the air blowing past him in the ducts condensed around him.  The air got thicker as the temperature dropped low enough that he could see his breath.  In the fog of his exhalations, a barrel began to form in the empty stock.  The dense air crystallized into the shapes of his missing components.  He felt the full weight of the bullets manifest in the magazine, and then bent his head as the scope appeared before his waiting eye.  The power of the scope was near-supernatural, making the gap between himself and the building instantly vanish.
       Like most of this world’s political Flatliners, they had luxury apartments in the city financed by taxpayer money.  The soon-to-be late Senator Barrister was no exception to that rule.  But unlike the good Senator’s more narcoleptic colleagues, Barrister didn’t do much sleeping there.  The file Bryce had been given was very keen to point that out.
       As he toyed with his optics, he found a setting that allowed him to see through the mirrored glass more easily.  When his vision corrected, he found himself looking into the Senator’s bedroom, tastefully decorated in a luxury hotel kind of way.  Nothing was unique, and there were no personal items anywhere.  Rather, it all looked easily replaced with off the shelf items.  Granted, they were pretty high shelves.  He smiled behind his rifle.  When humans flatlined, it tended to get messy, which meant someone was gong to need some long arms before the day was done.  
        Bryce moved the lens across the room from the bedroom door to the pillow on the bed.  He checked the closets and the  nightstands.  A door along the room’s back wall was closed, and he noticed a light that crept out  under the door.  He trained his eye toward the top of the door and waited.  When the door opened, his fingertip tensed, ready to fire.  
       It wasn’t Senator Barrister.  The woman who appeared was unexpected.  She wore a towel around her body and had another in her hands to dry her hair.  He watched her move to the edge of the bed and drew in a slow breath.  She was beautiful.  She was tall, dark-haired and pregnant.  Bryce cursed softly.  This could get emotionally tricky.  The file he had on Barrister mentioned that he had a mistress, but didn’t mention she lived at the apartment, or that she was with child.
       From where and how she sat on the bed, he could tell she was pretty far along, maybe thirty weeks.  Her breasts looked full under the cloth.  She was curvy too, and not just around the unborn child.  She had curves in places that made men and women jealous.  She finished with her hair and set the towel aside and glanced at the bedside clock.  She seemed to be lost in her thoughts for a moment before she reached under the bed and pulled out a folded photograph of a man who looked like he was in a detention cell.
       Bryce watched over her shoulder as she touched her fingers gently to the man’s face.  When she turned slightly, the towel fell away from her breasts and belly.  He stared at her darkened nipples and the light sheen of moisture on their tips.  His cock twitched in his pants, and he had become so entranced with her nudity that he didn’t notice the stream of tears that had formed on her face.
       She had pressed the photo into the side of her belly and held it there as she gently wept for a few moments.  Something startled her though, and she suddenly jerked the picture away and returned it to its hiding place under the  bed.  She hid her face in the towel to dry her face.  She just finished composing herself when Senator Barrister came into the bedroom.  He walked past her and went into the bathroom.  Bryce tracked him through the crosshairs and waited for his chance to take a shot.  Just as he was lining up on the back of the Senators head while he peed into the toilet, the woman decided to hang her towel on the back of the door.  Bryce backed his finger off of the trigger and waited.
       As they came back into the bedroom, Bryce could see the Senator’s mouth moving.  The woman’s head dropped a little, and  her shoulders slumped.  She folded her hands just above her ass.  The posture pushed her stomach and her breasts out further.  The effect it had on Bryce stunned him.  He’d never been so attracted to a Flatliner like he had in that instant.  She looked so inviting, vulnerable, and exciting in some primal way he couldn’t explain.  The Senator came up behind, reached around her and cupped her heavy breasts in his hands.  He started to fondle her, pressing her breasts together before letting them drop.  One hand reached down and rested on her belly while he pinched her nipples.  The touch made her leak, and it cast a wet sheen across her areolas.  The look on her face was a mix of revulsion and a sadness that made Bryce want to risk shooting him on the spot but he was too close to her.
       She looked down at the bed where the picture was hidden, and then up to the ceiling.  She closed her eyes for a few moments and then as Barrister continued working her nipples, she slowly started to respond to his touch.
       Her mouth opened as her nipples swelled and coated his fingertips with her wetness.  He used it to trace lines down her belly toward her lips.  He started kissing her neck while his fingers traced a pattern from her breasts to her belly and finally to her clit before repeating itself.  He started grinding into her bare ass while he kissed her neck harder and nibbled at her ears.  A light sheen was starting to show between her thighs.
       She leaned back against him as he worked her body but before he let her orgasm, he spun her around and pressed her to her knees.  The woman sank down easily and nearly ripped his pants open to free his straining cock.  She stroked it a half dozen times before she pulled him into her mouth and swallowed him completely in one breath.  She worked him in and out of her throat with a practiced skill, and he groaned, threw his head back, and her mouth attacked him.    He bucked to meet her inhalations, nearing  orgasm with each pump of his cock between her lips.
       He gently pushed her back to the bed and turned her to stand bent over the edge.  He knelt between her open legs and drove his tongue into her from behind.  Her mouth opened as the tongue parted her lips, and Bryce could tell she started to moan.  Each time the Senator’s tongue touched her clit, she rolled her hips back to meet him.  He was working her like an instrument of pleasure and just when  it looked like she was about to climax, he backed off.
       He stood her up and turned her around again.  She was almost panting as he forced her to her knees so she could pull off his pants.  The light glean of sweat covering her only added to the eroticism.  Bryce was finding it hard to concentrate.  A less subtle part of him was wishing he were in the room with her instead of Barrister.
       Once the Senators clothes were off, she swallowed him to the base again, and the Senator threw his head back and groaned.  He moved his hips in time to her sucking, and she reached around him and pulled him by his ass.  He drove deeper with every breath and rock of his hips.  He was fucking her throat, and it looked like they were both enjoying every second of it.
       Without warning though Barrister pulled back and slapped her hard across the face  He turned her over again so she was bent over the bed again.  Bryce could see the red mark on her cheek, and the tears that ran down her face.  She looked so conflicted as Barrister entered her roughly from behind.  The guilt and lust mixed in her features even as her breasts swayed to his rhythm under her.  
       The tips of her dark nipples grazed the blankets, streaking them with moisture as she started to orgasm.  Her knees collapsed under her and Barrister just pressed her forward and started to take his pleasure from her shuddering womb.  Bryce couldn’t hear the words, but whatever he said through his clenched teeth sent her into oblivion as he thrust into her.  She started to openly sob between orgasmic spasms, and buried her face between her arms as her body betrayed her and kept thrusting back at him.
       With a final loud cry, Barrister started to slap her upturned ass, and the woman started to writhe in a full body orgasm that made her collapse fully, leaving her muscles twitching under her skin.  As she rolled forward and off of him he yelled and slapped her thighs but she was too far gone to respond.  He climbed up on the bed and stood over her and stroked his cock until he started to orgasm all over her.  It splashed into her hair, across her face, her darkened nipples, and finally onto her swollen belly.
       By the time he was finished, she was awake enough to hear him yelling at her.  She reacted like a whipped animal as he pointed to the bathroom.  She ducked her head at his raised arm, grabbed her towel, and almost ran to the shower closing the door after her.  Bryce tightened his focus, adjusted the scope for distance and wind, then squeezed more gently and with more feeling than the Senator had ever shown her.