Battle for the Known Unknown Ch. 08bybradley_stoke©
"So, what is it you do, Paul?" she asked, when he'd finally exhausted the topic of how scientific research was funded in a society that had no grants or government funding. "I take it you work in a university?"
"Well, yes," Paul admitted. "I do research into historical data. I'm a kind of archaeologist, but I use my knowledge of obsolete operating systems and ancient software tools to make sense of vast amounts of data."
"What's the value of all that?"
"It's hugely valuable," Paul answered. He was warming to his subject but he was also anxious whether the discretion he was strongly advised to maintain might be compromised by a combination of alcohol and the presence of a beautiful naked woman. "A lot of data was collected in the past for quite different purposes than for the information we can get out of it now. For instance, in the twentieth century the first real evidence for global warming came from records kept by priests for quite different purposes than to provide a long-term record of climate change. Similarly, an analysis of literature can tell you a great deal about eating habits and recreation. There was a time when people spent something like three or four hours a day watching cathode ray tubes in darkened rooms. It was something called television. Because the habit was so prevalent, no one maintained detailed statistics of its impact."
Beatrice seemed no less fascinated by Paul's account of his profession than she was about Godwin's political and social structure. The questions she asked were evidence of a sharp informed mind. She was someone who knew a great deal about many different things and could readily grasp some rather difficult concepts. But in all this conversation, which soon stretched beyond one measure of beer to several of them and wound through many of his almost random range of academic interests, Paul learnt very little about the naked woman seated beside him.
Despite this, Paul's interest in her increased at the same rate at which he consumed alcohol and the degree to which he could expound his encyclopaedic knowledge of the abstract and abstruse. He wasn't a man who could observe a flower without considering the biological function of its intricate petals and how it photosynthesised. He was more taken by a landscape's geomorphic features than its aesthetic beauty. He enjoyed music more as a functional backdrop than a thing imbued with its own virtues. And even now he found comfort as he observed Beatrice's beautifully formed body by analysing her physical beauty rather than merely admiring it. But admire it he did, and as the alcohol clouded his analytical tendencies, he found increasing pleasure in doing so.
"We can go back to my apartment, if you like," Beatrice suggested at a time in the evening which in retrospect seemed peculiarly well chosen. It was before Paul's new taste in alcohol defeated his ability to handle it, but after it had lessened his reservations.
"Yes," said Paul, before he had the chance to analyse what his response should be and what this invitation might entail. "Yes, that would be very nice. Very (hic!) nice, indeed."
It was only once they were out in the broad street, above which was the constant whoosh of passing sky taxis, that Paul at last asked Beatrice any questions.
"You're not a prostitute, are you?" he asked, mindful of his restricted credit rating.
"No, not at all!" Beatrice laughed, though she didn't seem at all offended. "I live near here. Just over there, in fact," she said pointing up at a tall building. "It's due to rain in about ten minutes, but we should get there before the downpour."
"Is it that time already?" wondered Paul, who'd been told about Ecstasy's twice-daily precipitation cycle.
"I'm afraid so," Beatrice said with a smile. "It's well after midnight."
The escalator to Beatrice's apartment was somewhat less well appointed than that in Paul's hotel, but it was still spacious with thickly upholstered seats for them to make the journey up to the 120th floor with no discomfort. Paul then followed her along a corridor much like that in his hotel. Paul's mind wandered to the thought that this tall building very nearly touched the level's ceiling above which was another level that was much the same, only smaller as it occupied a position closer to the colony's hub. He missed the high skies of his rather more modern colony where space was extended without the need to cram millions of people together.
"Here we are!" announced Beatrice after several hundred metres stroll along the wide corridor. She stopped by a door that was exactly like all the others they'd passed and just a few metres from a water fountain. "It's not much, but it's all I can afford!"
"Afford?" wondered Paul, who still had difficulties comprehending an economy that was tied so closely to financial transactions. "What do you do for a living?"
"Oh! This and that," said Beatrice carelessly as the door recognised her and slid open to let the couple enter.
Compared to Paul's hotel suite, Beatrice's apartment was very modest indeed. There was an ante-room, a living room and a bedroom, whilst a bathroom and kitchen were discreetly hidden by sliding doors off a short adjoining hallway. But it was straight to the bedroom that Beatrice took Paul. Already there was an understanding that they should have sex together although there'd been no physical contact at all between the two on the walk to the apartment.
With one of the couple already naked it was entirely up to Paul to dictate the speed of the proceedings, although Beatrice assisted him by undoing his simple utilitarian loose clothes whilst lovingly peppering his torso and upper thighs with kisses. It was only when the two of them were stretched out now both naked on her huge mattress that Paul could truly appreciate Beatrice's beauty.
Her bosom was large but her nipples were so exactly proportioned that it seemed wholly natural. Her pubic hairs were shaved and there was no stubble to hint at a recent shave or indeed that she'd ever had to shave. Her long blonde hair cascaded onto the silk sheets. But it was her face that made Beatrice so entirely desirable and which awakened Paul's penis from its native torpidity. Even his companion in long-neglected Nudeworld, Blanche, didn't exhibit so much desire and excitement.
Their lovemaking was the most passionate of Paul's life so far. None of the real women he'd made love to and not even his virtual lovers were as responsive as Beatrice. The sex was urgent, carnal, sweaty and exhausting, but this time Paul rose to the occasion. His recent woes with the blue-skinned sex worker were now banished from his mind. He fucked with pure abandon. His thrusts were answered by Beatrice's thrusts. The sheets were soon a sodden mess from their shared perspiration and yet, even after ejaculating many times, Paul still felt the need to plunge once more into that inviting hole that accepted him whenever and however he felt inclined.
Their lovemaking was not incessant. Although Paul appreciated the new suppleness of his body that resulted from his recent skeletal refit, he was by no means equal to Beatrice's inexhaustible sexual appetite. During those pauses, they slumped on their backs beneath a holographic display of cloudy skies and swooping sea-birds. Paul speculated on the relationship between 27th century aesthetics and modern needs, while Beatrice mused rather more lyrically on the beauty and pleasures of the ancient colony of Ecstasy. She described the concert halls and the evocative music she'd listened to there. She described the level that was modelled on the Pleistocene savannahs of North America with regenerated mammoth, mastodon, ground sloths and sabre-tooth cats. She marvelled at the wide variety of entertainment available in the colony from the most vulgar to the most exquisite. She made Paul understand that there were far more pleasures available to the space tourist on Ecstasy than the just hedonistic ones for which the colony was most famous.
It was during one such pause, that Paul heard a strange commotion that came from outside the apartment and down the corridor. There were aggressive shouts and an unnerving thump. He glanced at Beatrice with a smile.
"Partygoers!" he said with a grin. "They've obviously had too much to drink."
"Maybe," said Beatrice, but for the first time that evening without a smile on her face. There was an unusual seriousness on her face. "I think I'd better check."
"Be careful," said Paul with real concern. "You know what people can be like when they've had too much to drink." Of course he didn't really know. He'd seen the odd tourist vomiting on the streets outside the bars and only knew about the antisocial affects of drinking from his extensive research into earlier centuries.
"Don't worry about me," said Beatrice. She stood up, naked as always, and left Paul on the bed as she strolled out of the bedroom and then out of the apartment altogether.
While she was gone, the commotion outside actually got worse and despite the soundproofing of the apartment loud enough for Paul to get some idea of what was happening. The shouts got louder. Then there was the sound of scuffling and some muffled thuds. Paul was torn between his natural cowardice and a chivalrous sense of duty, but thankfully Beatrice was back in the flat well before five minutes had passed.
"You were right," she said, smiling at Paul through the open door. "Just some rowdy neighbours. I'll just wash my hands and I'll be back with you."
Paul smiled. He could hardly wait to resume their lovemaking. Already his penis was twitching with excitement. But somewhere at the back of his mind, he couldn't help wondering why Beatrice should want to wash her hands and why there were red streaks on her arms and bosom.