tagSci-Fi & FantasyFleshware Requiem Book 01

Fleshware Requiem Book 01

byxxxecil©

A word to literotica readers,

Be warned, if you're expecting a typical XXXecil story; you will be in for a surprise. That's not what this is. I've tainted my usual smut with drama, action, danger, characterization, all kinds of philosophical reflection, and social commentary. Yes, there's sex. Quite a bit of sex. And thinking about sex when no one's having sex -- or fighting for their lives, or souls.

Fleshware Requiem is a pretentious novella that rises above my usual depravity. For those that want more of my usual fare, go back and read 300 million again.

Here it comes, not like a typical XXXecil story.

I warned you!

--

COPYRIGHT © 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4657-2979-8


*

A CARNAL OBJECTIVE

I waited, muscles knotted into anxious cords, with a steel crowbar ready to kill. I heard her footsteps just beyond the door; and I knew the exact position her head would first appear as she passed the threshold into the lab. I knew where to swing for maximum damage. I adjusted my sweaty grip upon the smooth steel; as my heart pounded beneath my immaculate white lab-coat that bulged slightly near the top from my broad shoulders. That had been her idea. Did she actually find me... handsome in it? Would that even matter to her? In reality it was my nerves I truly needed to grapple. Not to mention the familiar stiffening that occurred within my dark cargo pants. As it always did; when she drew near -- or when I even thought about her drawing near.

My body could sense her approach with an alacrity that seemed to defy the conventional five-senses. As my breathing accelerated; a thin sweaty trickle ran from my tousled, mahogany head of hair, past my sharp brow ridge. I would tell myself, in the other iterations of this identical moment that had occurred so often these past months, that the Hatred was my true lover. Not this nemesis of living Desire that I forced myself to despise. The Hatred was my mantra.

I would have at least this one, small victory. This one, petty blow towards personal liberty.

And there would be many, many more to come; so I hoped. She was responsible for all of it; this laboratory of horrors. The experiments on the cadavers, the imprisonment; the perverse form of inverted slavery that had slipped over the others that had accompanied me to this refuge of shame and pleasure. The vile machines, the preserved flesh surrounding me on cold worktables scattered throughout the chamber where I labored with futility. And the windows of course.

Bullet-proof, triple-layered, reinforced anti-shatter glass. As useless as my struggles had been so far, hitting those windows with the intent of breaking them would prove even more futile. Actually looking at what lay beyond them was out of the question.

If I wanted to entertain even the illusion of survival, of a future.

Everything that I looked upon in the workroom before me served as a stark reminder of why she needed to die. One perversion upon another, leading off on an unwholesome tangent of abominations long past the territories of behavior and innovation that any man had business exploring. Her latest dictates seemed as if she were compounding the degradation and madness that had slipped over me -- and the other survivors like a tarnished burial shroud. And it was all so senseless; She didn't really need me for any of the unholy experiments. What was the real reason she kept me around? It wasn't that I was smarter than her, could do anything she was incapable of. Contemplating the possibilities as to why I was even here, why she allowed me this... this... research only served to deepen my dread.

My lonely resolve, to never stop until I had killed her was soon accompanied by the merciless certainty that these depraved inventions she demanded removed any possibility of pity. The pity that I longed to give her. The reason why I hadn't acted sooner was not overwhelming force on her part; despite the evil of the experiments, prior to now my own feelings where the true enemy. More to the point, my own lusts. But I had reached a tipping point. Or so I hoped.

I was at peace with the violence I intended to inflict on the one I hated as much as I craved. As usual, I felt the first stirrings before she was even through the door. As always, it started as a tingling in my gut. Like circus-cannon butterflies hopped up on meth. Then, the floating sensation. I had once read a neurology article that studied the brains of people in the throes of the deepest, most prayerful religious experiences, across cultures. An uplifting sensation; the part of the brain that oriented the body's perception of position in space was suppressed. It was Immersive; It was sublime. It was Her.

October 19th, 2076 One Year Ago

Must be a trick of the light. Perhaps the glare. Or the bones. Or the death. It got to all of us eventually. I wanted to be the voice of reason; the sane one out of this accidental band of twelve men that did NOT see the apparition. I wanted to be the one to tell them all that they were letting hunger, paranoia, and superstition cloud the reasonable answers that were there for the taking if one has a cool head. But that wasn't true. Amidst the crumbling ruination of now-skeletal guts of the urban corpse that had once been St. Louis, I too saw the Woman in White scampering through broken cinder-blocks and pock-marked pavement.

She was climbing, as if to get a higher vantage point. She nimbly mounted a smooth curvature of silvery metal that had once been part of the now-exploded landmark Arch to reach a nearby half-collapsed brick wall that formed a staircase profile from the irregularity of its disintegration. What was she looking for? At? If the Woman in White was looking towards us; she would have seen an almost unbearably grim gaggle of desperate men.

Most of us had only been able to scrounge-up old 20th century gas-masks, luckily equipped with modern, sub-molecular filters. But most of our weapons were primitive slug-throwers from that era as well. The woman, or indeed any observer would not have been able to see our faces beyond the mosquito-like countenance of our fully-enclosed respirators. She would have seen that the rest of our bodies were covered by a motley assemblage of padded garments, scuba-diving wetsuits, and thickly wrapped leathers. All with as many pockets-within-pockets as possible; as your basic slug-thrower gun only had a tenth the ammo capacity of a modern pulse weapon. Every bullet precious, and needed. No such thing as a spare clip. That and food. What there was of it.

Oddly, actually getting enough food was often less of a problem than one might have expected in the apocalyptic wasteland that the country -- and the world found themselves in. My band had actually survived the eight years since E-day almost entirely on pre-packaged, processed food-stuffs preserved to last for the long haul. But actually eating it was a whole 'nother ball game. Not that all of us that started out eight years ago were still alive.

Even though the woman perched on the broken wall couldn't really make out our faces; just the fact that we were walking, wearing clothes, and even bothering with gas-masks spoke volumes; or at least it should have -- to any survivor.

"Sal; we gotta do another Endo check." McConnaught demanded, his voice filtered by his mask into a hollow rasp. Because of her? Because you see some fallout shelter headcase that finally decided living underground wasn't living? Just because she finally snapped and decided on one last breath of 'fresh' air, " I actually made finger-quotes. " - that we need to waste resource testing for T-levels that we all know are too-damn high?" I argued.

"Eh, not like rat skins are in short supply." muttered Garland, our sort-of-doctor. Well, not really a doctor; he had a been a Medical Technologist before E-day; that was the best we could hope for. "It just takes time for the endothelial cell cultures to get started is all."

"No reason to waste that time when we could be making more progress towards this... Preserve-place they talk about on Short-wave." I insisted. "Let her be. She's gotta be infected already. No contact is the best contact."

"Maybe... maybe Sal's wrong; Maybe she's the living proof?" said Cleary, as he refuted me, widening his stance as if ready to give chase.

"What, of a cure? Ehhh... been down this road too many times." grumbled Garland with a dismissive shake of his gas-masked head.

"The only labs big enough for any real hope were the first ones hit!" I snarled; reminding myself time and again of the cause of our hopelessness grated on my already fraying nerves. "You're thinkin' with your little head again." I accused. But Cleary was like that; done a dime in Federal lockup for sexual assault back in 67' Not someone I wanted watching my back; even after all these years of him doing just that. Besides, he could do tricks with a car-engine that had to be seen to be believed. As it was now though, I suppose we couldn't claim to be much better. The real reason, besides all the rationalizations and survival-based excuses about why we wanted to get to this Preserve, was the buzz we'd heard that there were women there. It really was that simple; Cleary was just less shy about admitting it.

Now it seemed, we wouldn't have to shoot, hot-wire, and suffer our way to Wyoming; it seemed that the rarely-acknowledged object of our quest was right in front of us. She seemed healthy enough. From a distance, at least. Some kind of white, flowing gown. Smooth, perfect skin.

Not a tumor in sight. That was refreshing.

No trouble breathing, no crippling pain. But no respirator. No gas mask. That lingering, long-suffering hope for hope itself tickled the edges of my consciousness again; after being so long buried.

"Hold up," cautioned Tannerman, our best sniper. "Maybe she can be our Endo test. Just give it a minute."

"No.... It's been eight fuckin' years..." rasped Nailer, our wilderness-survival expert. " I won't... won't...." he never finished his sentence. He didn't really need to; we all knew -- and felt what he did. Having to perform a biochemical test to know if was safe to feel the sunshine on your face... Never feeling the wind in your hair. It wouldn't take much of an excuse to say 'to hell with all the precautions'. Like Nailer did.

It took a moment to struggle with his tamper-proof straps and seals, but far too quickly, he ripped off his mask to breathe in great gusts of forbidden, unfiltered air. And to give chase. His stringy, once-blond matted tangle skewed in several directions as his face, and wild eyes freed themselves at last.

"It's alright.... I'm okay... and I want more... I want.. Her." And with a hungering hiss, he set off in the direction of the Woman in White. We were stunned for a moment. McConnaught just wanted to expose a sealed plastic sheet sandwiching a growth of preserved rat-skin to test the toxin levels, but Nailer had volunteered himself out of his own frustration. Not surprising; he'd been a park ranger, and sometimes-hunter before... it must seem like a cruel joke to travel from city to countryside, forced to seal himself off from the natural world in such an unnatural way. Also not surprising; no one else followed his lead with regards to our respirators.

And he had snapped. He seemed to be breathing just for the sake of breathing as he lunged towards the Woman in White. She must have noticed us, and made up her mind concerning our trustworthiness, because she slid down the Arch fragment and took to running herself. Odd, those looked like high-heels she was wearing; but she was able to move with a graceful speed to impress a ballerina.

In moments, it had become a full-blown chase. Some of us were going after Nailer, to try and talk some sense into him while there was still time; if there was still time. Nailer was chasing the woman. And the rest of the men chased Nailer to prevent him from getting to the woman first. To his credit, he lasted about two minutes.

"Yes... Yes... I'm.. I'm fine... I'm uhhh..." Nailer gasped, panting with determined exhilaration, and then with agony. "She's... immune... and so am.. I.. I... " he stumbled to a stop next to a rusted fire-hydrant, as a coughing spasm wracked him. Followed by the clenching of facial-muscles. "You see... I can... handle it...." He grunted; eyes flashing wild with pained lunacy as a trickle of drool escaped his quivering lips. "Uh -- AHHHHH!!!!" his eyes squeezed shut from the pressure that was building behind them. "We don't need.... the masks... don't need... the tests... She... survives... I'll survive! Free... free from the th - " he fell, vomiting to his knees. The white of his left eye suddenly flushed a solid crimson, as a blood vessel burst in his retina. "Not.... to me... I... I am... immuuuuuuunnnnnnnn...." His head jerked like a rag doll with the strings cut as he collapsed into a thrashing heap upon the rubble-strewn cement.

His howls barked through the deepening gloom of early dusk as he clutched his skull; as if trying to prevent his gray matter from flying the coop. There was only one thing to do. I began to load my Winchester.

"You think...*GULP* that I'm not really... immune... show you... show you all..." Nailer raved, froth escaping the rictus of his clenching jaws. "Stronger.... smarter that you... prove it..." He began to stand on wobbly feet, veins throbbing in his neck and forehead. He began a slow, low-boiling cackle as a trickle of blood escaped his right ear. "Rip your mask off too... you'll see it's alright... if you're Man enough..." he wheezed.

No way in hell.

I didn't answer him. No one did. Once the first stage symptoms were obvious, there was literally no reasoning with the victim.

So no one tried.

Instead, I reasoned with a bullet. Between his eyes. So much for our wilderness expert. Eleven men now. The sound of my shot was a sobering death-knell that changed the mood almost as readily as it changed Nailer from man to corpse.

"Too much activity; too many footsteps... too much noise, noise, noise" twittered Mouse with a spasmodic quiver. That was the only name we'd ever gotten out of him. He was right, of course. He knew as well as anyone how to slip through the ruins unnoticed. Just a juvenile delinquent when E-day hit, but he'd survived alone for years; knew where to go in any city to find food, drink, a bath -- (not that he partook of that luxury too often.) Useful enough to keep around despite the fact that he was almost certainly clinically insane. But hey, he'd never pulled a stunt like Nailer just did.

"Now, we've gotta get going; unwanted attention won't be far behind." Garland reminded us.

"Her..." Cleary insisted. "At the least, she's probably got a safe harbor, a clear zone if nothin' else." That made sense. Cleary paused, a lit a cigarette. He lodged the nicotine-delivering stick between the ridges of his re-breather assembly, where the vapors could -- in theory be sucked in. That did not make sense. If his filters were any good at all, no vapors would get through. He typically explained himself with a 'fuck the Apocalypse, I ain't stoppin' now.' His actions more symbolic than chemical. "See where she gets off to." Nods of general agreement.

But that also meant I had to follow her too; to save her from my own allies. None of us could go it alone. Individually; and actually survive. Even Mouse, cunning as he was, still got wounded from time to time, still needed help. (That was how we found him.) But I'd be damned if I let them have their way with the Woman in White. Months.... maybe a whole year since any of them had even seen anything female. I knew these men; they'd tear the poor girl apart! But if I was too strident in my opposition to the painful violation they were bound to inflict; they could easily turn on me. Was this stranger worth dying over? I followed after the crowd; wracking my brain to determine how I could save her, not get myself shot, and not alienate my team?

Struggling to conceive of an answer, I scrambled over the bodies of near-mummified corpses of both men and vehicles, wondering if I would be put down with no more ceremony than I had just used to dispatch the contaminated Nailer. I huffed it past a cinder-block wall with valentine-motif graffiti of a stylized heart with many cupid's arrows piercing it. We barreled through the wreckage after our feminine target in a haphazard mob, nimbly avoiding the pulverized remains of our once-civilization; the intended purpose of our mad scramble seemed the final nail in the coffin of chivalry, civility itself. Unless I could save her. I wasn't a total monster; despite all the bullets-between-the-eyes, the vital supplies and medicines we'd stolen to save ourselves over the years. The knife-edge choices that left no room for second thoughts. There had to be some limits; some last ethical shred to grasp on my slide into an amoral abyss of ruthless savagery.

It was not until the third city block that I became convinced there was more to this than met the eye. The Woman in White.... she seemed to stop, pause for a moment next to the ivy-embraced metal shaft of an unexploded Chinese ballistic think-bomb jutting out of the side of an old hotel. What a find! Salvaging the neurolectrics alone could let me bypass almost any automated security! A few years ago, I would have complained bitterly about the pointlessness of it; human warfare was only incidental to E-day. It was not the cause. If only our Leaders had known the truth in those early hours...If they'd suspected the magnitude of the betrayal... but no, they were locked into an us-vs.-them Cold War mentality. Blind. Utterly blind.

But now, the first thought in my mind was how every last bolt and rivet of the missile could be exploited to our advantage; in a modern, apocalyptic parallel to the way my Great-Plains ancestors made use of every part of an arrow-perforated buffalo. From bristles to bladder. Nothing wasted. A lesson from history that served me well. Any further-reaching concerns ceased to matter.

But what should have mattered was why the woman seemed to be waiting there. At first I thought she was trying to catch her breath; but no...something in her eyes alerted me; it was as if she wasn't really afraid. She was studying us too intently for someone in a panicked dash with only escape on her mind. My well-honed instincts smelled subterfuge. I picked up my pace to keep up with the others as it occurred to me that the woman wanted to make sure we didn't lose sight of her. Wanted us to follow her. There was one possible explanation.

It could only be a trap.

Ballsy, though. For twelve -- make that eleven men, all equipped with both small-arms and rifles. She must be extremely confident in her allies! We could surely inflict heavy casualties if someone intended to take on our entire band at once. Casualties that few survivor-colonies would be able to afford.

"N-no, wait... It's not what it looks like!" I insisted. Vanconi shoved me aside rudely.

"Don't try it, Sir Galahad. You're not spoiling this for us!" We needed Vanconi; as a 20th century gun enthusiast, he could keep our weapons in good order. Would he recognize my value to the team, or only his immediate, physical needs? The problem was, they knew me as well as I knew them; and what I was determined to prevent.

But the pattern seemed clear to me, she would scamper frantically down the choked thoroughfares past rows of vehicles abandoned to rust and rodent, running with just enough vigor to play the frightened little damsel in distress; yet it seemed as though her overall distance from us never changed. Every once in a while, she would kick some rubble, or drag down a swath of ivy, as if... as if to make sure she left a clear trail so that the whole group could chart her progress; since some of us were faster than others.

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