** This is my second attempt to complete this fast-growing, rather out-of-control novella -- I might get around to finishing it one day, but thought I would get it out there, so you can see what you think. It is a hybrid sex novel / sci-fi novel / odd mix of things. Comments are very welcome.**
I took a breather about 100m short of the summit and surveyed the scene. This was probably my favourite part of the country, a green valley with tiny specks below me, which were farms and cars on the road, flanked by imposing limestone cliffs like the one I was trying to ascend. I gave quiet thanks that I'd quit smoking, checked my altimeter and map once more, and headed off to the top.
Twenty minutes later, I was there. It must be one of the best feelings in the world -- I was the highest object in the valley. I would have lit a joint to celebrate, but I'd probably have wandered off into the wrong valley and gotten lost. I just sat down and looked at my county. The hills seemed fur-lined and I could see tiny white flecks, which must have been sheep. I relaxed into a euphoric reverie. I love having time and space on my own, reflecting on events, or just daydreaming. I began to imagine how these valleys were formed, how millions of years ago this was a sea which receded, leaving rivers to cut powerfully through the rock and form these splendid features. Ah, weekends.
A dull, distant rumble reached my ear from the left. Strange, we were miles from any airport. Maybe the RAF? It got louder and I became irritated -- don't you guys take Sundays off, for Christ's sake?! Insistently, the roar approached and I was sure the planes were going to fly straight over my head, ruining my peace. Finally, I turned around, planning to give the marauding jets the finger, but I couldn't see anything. Must be very low in the other valley -- wasn't that against the rules? I might drop them an email and complain. People should say what they think more often.
Damn it, they're still getting closer! But still they were elusive. Could be helicopters, I guess, those new ones we bought from the Americans, but I couldn't hear the distinctive rotor noises. Where the hell were they? Ten more seconds passed and the roar became almost deafening. It seemed to be right over my head. Still, no sign of aircraft. It couldn't be an earthquake, right? I glanced nervously at the ground, half expecting it to open up beneath my feet, but that didn't happen either... no jets, nothing in the sky ... I was whirling around by this time, trying to identify the source of the noise and getting more and more scared. I could swear it was right over my head, like standing right behind a plane on takeoff. There was no wind, no heat, I couldn't feel anything on my skin, this was fucking weird...
I was incredibly comfortable after perhaps the best sleep of my life. Strange that I couldn't remember dreaming anything, but I was obviously well rested and felt great. Everything was fine, except this was definitely not my bed. As I opened my eyes and started to look around I nearly had a heart attack. The bed was floating in a limitless void. There were no points of reference, no lights, no objects, just a billion miles of blackness in every direction. I put my head over the bed and looked down but was nearly sick with vertigo. Curling into a terrified, foetal ball I pulled the covers over my head and wished that I could wake up from whatever fucked-up nightmare this was.
Then some lights came on. Breathless with relief, I threw back the covers and I was in a modern hotel room, quite large, with an ornate dressing table, a widescreen TV and what was probably a bathroom through a door to my left. There were large windows to the right but the curtains were drawn. I got up and felt thick, warm carpet between my toes. This was getting cool. What kind of dream was this? I thought I was on a hill in the Dales, but now I'm in some hotel.
I'd lost my clothes somewhere along the line. What the fuck was going on? Had I been drugged or robbed? I felt OK, actually rather good. I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. It was still me and I still needed a shave, testimony to a lazy Sunday morning spent reading the paper before setting out in the car to the National Park. Well, things can't be that bad. Now, let's try to figure out what's going on while I clean up.
The phone rang as I was finishing drying off after a good, hot shower. Feeling freshly shaven and alert, I confidently answered. "Hello?" The voice was pleasant, quite charming, a woman aged about 30, I guessed. Anything else was difficult to tell. "Good morning, Sir. I hope you slept well."
So, we were going to carry on as though there was nothing amiss, were we? Fine.
"Yes, thank you, very well indeed. I wonder if I might ask how it is that I'm here. And where I am?" She almost interrupted me, but not quite. Neat trick.
"Please don't be alarmed. A member of our team will explain everything very shortly. You are in no danger. Please join us for breakfast in the lobby whenever you are ready." The line clicked off.
I put the phone down and decided to finish my reconnaissance before going downstairs. I know my way around hotels, having spent months touring, so I quickly checked the cupboards and drawers, which were empty. Then I opened the curtains.
I was in the biggest city I had ever seen and it went on for miles. Tens of thousands of skyscrapers teamed along broad avenues, interspersed with large, green parks. I was clearly on a very high floor of one of the tallest buildings. It was very quiet and the air was brilliantly blue. This was nowhere I'd been before. Tokyo, maybe? No, it looked kind of Western. There were no neon signs, and I couldn't make out traffic. There was nothing in the room to indicate where we were. Time to figure a few things out.
Thankfully, the elevator and corridors were all standard hotel stuff. I quickly found the lobby, which was deserted. If this is a hotel, where the hell is everyone? I wanted a cigarette. It was far too quiet. After a minute spent stressfully glancing around the lobby, the lift doors opened and three women got out. "Thank God! Hi, there. Sorry to disturb you, but ... "
One of the women, a very tall, slender type with long, black hair, motioned calmingly. "Please sit down. There is no reason to worry. Everything is going to be fine. We will answer all of your questions very soon. First, you must be hungry, and I know you'd like one of these", she purred, offering me a cigarette.
I paused for a second and said, "Thanks, no. I've quit".
She smiled and put the smoke back in her pocket, my eyes following it lustfully. "Shall we?" she said, motioning to the dining room.
I followed them to a table near the windows. Sunlight managed to stream through them, despite the cluster of buildings surrounding us, which I knew to be almost as tall as this hotel. A waiter in traditional uniform brought bread, cheese, coffee, juice and cold meats. I discovered that I was starving and started buttering up a roll before I remembered that I may have been abducted by total strangers and was now in some totally foreign city against my will.
"You must have a lot of questions. Please be at ease with us. I can only assure you that, despite how this may seem, you will come to absolutely no harm. In fact, you are very important to us and will be treated in the best possible fashion. Please, help yourself to anything you'd like."
I polished off the roll, drank some coffee, which was an excellent Brazilian blend, and sat back. "You're right. I'm being well looked after. This place must cost the Earth. But I'm very confused and I'd love to know who you are, where we are now, and why I'm here."
The dark-haired woman placed her coffee cup down and began. "We are a race unknown to your planet. This is the first contact between yourselves and our people, and we are delighted to have finally made contact with you. As for where you are, you are our guest on our home world. It has taken roughly forty years for you to travel here, although for you this has seemed almost no time at all. This building is one of a suite of structures dedicated to the furthering of our understanding of neighbouring systems and their inhabitants. And, to answer your third question, you have been chosen, I admit against your will, to take part in a series of experiments designed to increase our knowledge of you, your planet and the species which inhabit it. I must apologise for having effectively abducted you during an otherwise pleasant Sunday afternoon hike, but there was simply no other way. Please accept our apologies. Would you like more coffee?"
Just like that. Very matter-of-fact. "Ma'am, I was unaware until today that aliens even existed -- I mean, really existed -- and you're telling me that I'm on your home planet, drinking coffee, and I'm here to enhance your understanding of Earth? Sorry, love. Pull the other one, its got bells on".
The three girls chuckled. "We were warned to expect a degree of scepticism. That is quite understandable. In time you will come to both believe and understand where you are, and why. For the moment, we realise that you need plenty of time to digest this dramatic change in your environment. We are very used to dealing with situations like this and you will find us co-operative in every possible respect. Are you sure you wouldn't like a cigarette? We have sensed from the beginning that you have a particular desire for this substance."
I eyed the proffered smoke while I finished my croissant. "No, thank you very much. One of the first things you need to know about me is that I've stopped smoking, so please don't offer me any more of those."
The three women seemed fascinated by this detail and chattered briefly in some foreign language. This was irritating. "Ladies, you've answered my questions, but I've a lot more... why me? There are over six billion people on Earth and you chose me. Why?"
The woman looked down briefly before answering. "To be honest, because you are rather normal. Your physical characteristics are in line with the majority of your race. Although you do not represent the ethnic majority, you seemed to be an ideal candidate on a number of levels. Bear in mind that you were chosen from a huge number of candidates on a basis close to randomness -- we simply don't yet know what we're looking for. We were hoping you'd be able to help us decide how best to choose future guests, perhaps those representative of certain character or ethnic traits that might be of interest to us. Think of it, for the moment, as blind luck".
I thought about this. "But if you need to study my race so much, how come you already speak my language? That's not the majority language, either."
She nodded, "no, it is not. But it is the most complex of the languages we have sampled -- over a hundred -- and it contains the greatest number of expressive nuances. We are aware that your own vocabulary is rather large. We felt that this might make communications easier. How would it be, for example, to attempt to communicate grand ideas such as those we will put to you, without the benefit of a comprehensive grasp of language? It would only complicate matters. In this respect, too, you are highly suitable."
I stared at her. The thought of my being a suitable subject for study by an alien race was just mind-blowing. "But I'm a nobody!" I blurted gracelessly, I'm not a professor or anything..."
She held up her hand with that lovely, calming gesture. "You are articulate, educated, creative and psychologically very fit. You are ideal for our purposes." And that seemed to be the end of that discussion.
I looked out of the window at the entrance to another enormous building. "You are curious about our city", she said simply. I was equally curious about why there was only one woman speaking to me. I looked at one of the others, a petite blonde. "You understand my language also?"
She nodded, "yes, I am fluent. But my purpose here is communication on a different level. I and my learned colleague", she said, motioning to the redheaded girl next to me, "are gifted in the sciences or non-verbal communication. I have particular interest in your use of gesture, and my colleague studies the energy waves you send out. These are all forms of communication, although many among your race seem not to notice them." I stared at her rather blankly. "Perhaps you had not noticed that my colleague has been sending out amorous alpha-waves since you arrived. We have all been sending positive vibrations. Have you sensed this?"
I was about to answer when the dark-haired girl said, "perhaps it is best to discuss these matters under proper test conditions. Have you eaten sufficiently?" I nodded, still a bit stunned. Amorous alpha waves? They sounded cool. "Then shall we ascend to the offices, where we can continue?"
I rose with the trio and followed them back to the elevator, eyeing the redhead with interest. She was gorgeous, sure. And sexy. And, I thought with a certain sense of alarm, an alien from god knows where. Sexy aliens? This was going to be a wild ride.
I found myself starting to relax as we zoomed up in the elevator. The three women, or whatever they were, offered charming, beguiling company. Perhaps that was the point... maybe they're only here to put me off my guard so that when this door slides open, I can be easily blasted into millions of fragments by some evil galactic dictator...
My paranoia was eased by the thought of this redhead and her alpha waves. The lift seemed to be taking a while. "If you don't mind me asking, what exactly are alpha waves?"
The redhead girl smiled charmingly. "They are a means of communication. Your whole body, and mine, are conduits for electrical activity that begins in the brain. I am sending commands to my nervous system that creates a generous energy field, vibrating at a level that I choose. You do the same thing. I can sense that you find all three of us highly attractive and stimulating. Perhaps you desire us sexually. This is quite normal and was part of the reaction we hoped to provoke from you. In turn, you can sense, I hope, that I also find you attractive. I cannot speak for my colleagues, as it is bad manners among our race to interpret the energy waves of those with whom you have professional relationships. Too many complications and distractions could result".
Like flirting in church, I thought. This was terrific! Now that I thought about it, perhaps I could sense something from her. A very slight but perceptible tingle in my skin, very hard to describe, but real nevertheless. It was nice. "I've got to ask... forgive me if this is rude... but are you, actually ... well, women?"
The three burst into a fit of giggles and just then the elevator door opened into a massive hallway, clearly some kind of transit or reception area. Thousands of individuals were on their way somewhere, all in different directions. Huge, multi-coloured screens were displaying hoards of information that streamed from right to left at incredible speeds. It was quite noisy but in the cavernous space, there was no din, only a discreet, ordered, continuous exodus.
"I'm afraid there are one or two administrative matters to attend to. You must register as a visitor here, if you don't mind. We have had a number of difficulties with, shall we say, guests who did not quite appreciate our hospitality as you do, and these details have proven rather ugly in their execution". I flinched at the word.
"Of course. Anything you need".
Perhaps they really were getting under my skin. If this was some ruse to keep me malleable and co-operative, it was a work of genius. I was truly putty in their hands. But greater things were at play -- I was walking in a new universe and I was having a fantastic time. Everything I saw was new. As we approached the giant, semicircular reception desk, I passed a hundred different forms of life. Some were mere wisps of gas floating serenely by, communicating to their neighbouring clouds with thin, bright blue strands of thought. There were other humanoids, but nothing like me -- some were eight meters tall, others dwarf-like and stocky. The variety of clothing was profound. The tall humanoids wore a one-piece body-glove that resonated sonorously as they walked. The dwarves were in quite conventional jackets and trousers but wore powered shoes that sparked with each footfall. This was like a great sci-fi movie and an LSD experience rolled into one.
We reached the desk and another human-like woman appeared and spoke with my guides. They nodded towards me and the clerk, a pretty black girl with purple hair, eyed me with interest and then waved me forward. "Welcome to our planet. I trust your journey was comfortable."
I smiled, "yes, thanks. You might want to leave out the 'bed floating above the bottomless void' part for future travellers, but otherwise it was splendid". All four women made an immediate note on a hand-held machine, keys tapping almost in unison.
"You have been asked to take part in the afternoon experimentation session in Laboratory Four. This is a top-secret area and the relevant clearances have already been arranged. As you are a special guest, many of the immigration formalities have been waived, and your file notes that you do not carry any dangerous diseases."
I shot her a look. "That's a relief! I was kind of wondering if it might be the other way around..."
All three guides shook their heads. "You can contract nothing at all from us. It has been carefully prepared this way".
I kept smiling. I've found it to be an excellent panacea at borders, and this, for all its incredible weirdness, was still a border of sorts. "So, are there any forms to fill in?"
The clerk glanced, slightly nervously, at my guides. "No", said the redhead. "We simply need some biological samples. Your body is constructed in the Ribose-Nucleic format, and we will need to collect evidence of this, in different forms. I will assist you, if necessary".
I thought for a minute and then figured it out. "A DNA sample?" All four smiled and nodded. "Sure. Will it hurt?" All four shook their heads. "Would you follow me? It won't take long."
The redhead led me to a quieter part of the concourse, nodded to a uniformed, humanoid guard and opened a door into a small lounge, with two sofas, a table and a machine of some kind in the corner. "This is a replication machine. I believe one of the entertainment formats on earth discussed its use."
No way. She couldn't be. "Star Trek?" I offered.
"Yes, that was its name. There were so many we had to watch!"
I stared dumbly at her "You've seen it?" She laughed, "oh, of course. It was required of us before we were admitted to the program staff. 'A thorough knowledge of human culture will be required'" she recited. "Now, are you ready to provide some samples?" She gestured for me to sit and joined me on the sofa, pulling out her hand-held computer. Or whatever it was.
"I'm going to require four samples. Let's start with the easiest one." She pressed two buttons on the machine and a small bag appeared in the tray, like a coffee from a dispenser. Only it just appeared. "Cool", I offered. She smiled. I was going to have to cut down on the 'dumb tourist being amazed by everything' routine. They were bound to get bored of it shortly.
"This one is a skin cell sample. The rules say I am supposed to get a sample from a place that has not had too much exposure to weather, so that there is a great chance of producing clear results in the lab. Would you lower your trousers, please?"
I stared at her. "You want me to drop my trousers?"
She smiled calmingly. "There is no reason to be nervous. I am very professional. I simply require some samples, and then we can continue to the lab." I sighed resignedly -- this was not how I imagined things shaping up -- stood, pulled down my trousers and sat. "Would you like to lie back? This won't take long." I did as she asked. Her hands went straight to be crotch, where she reached into my pants, brought out my penis and stroked the tip with a cotton swab. The sensation was cool, almost cold, but it didn't hurt. "Thank you. I will also require a sample of saliva. Please deposit some in here", she said, passing me a plastic cup, just like at home. I dropped some saliva into it and she closed it tight. "Great. Next, I need a sample of your urine. Please do that into here", she said, passing me something that looked like a short condom with an elongated tip. "I do not need very much". She was just sitting next to me, asking me to piss right in front of her. "I will assist you. Please lie back again", she requested, with a hand on my chest, pushing gently, for reinforcement. I could feel her take my penis in her hand again, and then the rubbery condom sliding over my tip. "It is ready. Please deposit some urine when you are ready." She was still holding my cock. I managed to squeeze out a small amount, which was apparently satisfactory. "Thank you", she purred, removing the condom and producing a cool, damp cloth which she used to clean my penis. This was starting to feel good. I didn't know if she was trying to turn me on, but if she was, it was working.