Monday, July 16, 2012

Science Fiction Sanity

Diners at the Memory’s End


Raymond Frazee

Copyright 2012, Raymond Frazee, All Rights Reserved.

Note:  this is is being written as you read it.  It is a first draft, and as such, it may be presented with typos.  Please excuse these, and remember that everything will be nice, clean, and near perfect, when you buy this story.  Remember--you get what you pay for.

Part Eight

Thursday, 2 October, 3183

Albert sprinted down the hall, checking his sensors every few seconds. He knew Shadows didn’t always show up on the suit’s sensors, but he’d been lucky for the last ten minutes, and he only needed it to hold out another ten before Meredith and he were out of this maze—
Speaking of Meredith . . . “Hey, Priss, come in.”
There was a slight giggle coming over the comm. “Why do you keep calling me Priss?”
“Habit. You see anything out of the ordinary?”
“You mean besides these damn black spider things that are trying to kill us?” He could almost see her shaking her head. “Nope. But after that nest we blew ten minutes back—”
“Pissed them off, I know.” Albert turned right at a T-junction and stopped. There was an doorway at the end of corridor, maybe thirty meters away. He turned around and look down the other way; the corridor came to a dead end twenty meters past the junction. “I gotta a choke point here.”
“Where the hell are you, by the way?” It wasn’t hard to miss the annoyance in Meredith’s voice. “I told you splitting up was a bad idea.”
Albert flipped up his map, and tried to pinpoint his location. “I think I’m about . . . here.” He transmitted the information to Meredith. “You got it?”
“Yeah, just got it.” There was a pause, then: “I think I’m about three, four minutes out. Hold tight.” The comm went dead.
“Right.” He reached down and felt the huge rifle feed into his left hand. “Fucking Shadows.” He mentally toggled another system, and two beam weapons rose from his shoulders and began scanning for targets of opportunity.
He checked his ammo count on the 20mm rounds in the rifle: 1658 rounds remained of the original 2500 in the clip. He once again thanked whomever came up with Cameron Compressor technology, then fingered the loader on the under-slung 60mm grenade launcher. “Okay, bitches,” he mumbled to himself, “Hell’s comin’ to Za’ha’dum.”
He flicked on his kinetic shielding, and took off for the opening at a full run.
Albert was pretty much aware he was going to hit the shit the moment he was through the door, and he was right: two jumped him seconds after he entered the large, dimly-lit room. The first one scuttled across the room, almost unseen in the inky light save for its fourteen glowing eyes, and slammed a very large sword against Albert’s suit. The kinetic shielding absorbed nearly all the blow, and the internal gyros kept him on his feet. Even so, the Shadow was huge, and it put all of its considerable mass behind the attack, knocking Albert to his left—
Which pushed him right into the other one running at him from left. This one wasn’t so crude as to use a weapon: no, it was going to try and rip Albert apart with its bare forelimbs. Unfortunately for it, Albert was left handed, which meant the huge rifle he was holding was in his left hand . . .
He raised his arm and fired the 60mm grenade straight into the Shadow’s head, remembering to deactivate the proximity sensor before shooting so that it wouldn’t need five meters to arm; it would cover the four meters between Albert and this black monstrosity and—
The explosion was huge. Sound dampeners cut in and muffled the noise, but the blow back was enough to shake him, regardless of the suits’ gyros. The other Shadow wrapped a forelimb around Albert’s arm and tried to pull him off-balance. He decided he didn’t want any of that, and called up the pulse laser on his right shoulder. He dialed up a dozen shots and let them fly. The Shadow screamed in that hell-born pitch that left you feeling as if someone were slowly driving an icepick through your eye and into your brain, then leapt backwards quickly—but not before smacking Albert across the helmet with its sword.
Though his head was ringing a little, and he was a bit off balance, Albert had enough wits, and was steady enough, to bring up his rifle and begin dispensing pain in five-round bursts. Most of the time he went for a head shot, as that was the quickest way to bring a Shadow down, but after this one-two bum rush, he wasn’t in the mood to finish them quickly: he wanted the black bastards to suffer.
However, twenty 20mm rounds, and a shredded Shadow later, he wondered if he should have just put the damn thing down fast and moved on, because it was obvious that in about ten seconds he was going to be up to his ass in alien spiders . . .
Five emerged from the shadows in front of him: four more were climbing down the walls above them. There was a chirp on his proximity alarm; Albert quickly checked the data and saw another four sliding down the wall directly behind him. Well, isn’t this special? he thought. They’re coming to say hi—before they gang rape me. Lets see if I can give any survivors something to remember.
He shot three grenades at the four on the wall in front of him. The explosions were enough to shake two of the Shadows lose, sending them crashing into one of their fellow creatures below. Another was partially caught in that mess before being struck by a second of wall that decided it could no longer resist gravity.
But Albert could do the math, and though there were four down, that left five rather pissed-off Shadows facing him. The remaining two hurried to the ground, leaping the last few meters to the floor. All five began to advance slowly while the other four held their positions . . .
Five Shadows suddenly became four as one exploded. Something blue landed in front of another Shadow, pointed its right arm at it, and fired into the creature’s head. It screamed as minor eruptions broke out all over its carapace. Albert knew this was the result of being hit with 10mm explosive rounds—and he knew this because he’d loaded the weapons.
He yelled into his comm, “Don’t move to your left!” then slapped three five-round bursts into one Shadow while his duel, shoulder-mounted lasers worked out on another. This time his intention wasn’t to make them suffer: it was to make them die as quickly as possible. If he took out two, and Meredith—
She’d taken down her first target, and was working on her second. Actually, second and third: the remaining Shadows had taken a bead on her and had decided to engage in hand-to-hand melee, as both produced large swords. Meredith was having none of it, though. She jumped hard, her suit giving her a powered assist as it amplified the strength in her legs, and she leapt almost seven meters up. She did a forward somersault and came down squarely on the back of one of the Shadows, its carapace cracking open. She dropped something into the crack, then jumped at the other Shadow. “Albert!” she yelled.
“Yeah?” He stood there, watching her deal with the genocidal aliens, wondering if he should step in and help.
“The ones on the all above you!” She did a quick flick with her left arm, and a long, glittering, humming sword, popped out of the suit near her wrist. “I’ve got this asshole: get those!”
While watching Meredith deal damage and death, Albert had forgot about the midnight creepers slowly approaching from behind—
He didn’t need to check his sensors: Albert knew the Shadow were almost on top of him. He also knew that there was a pretty good chance if he began shooting, they were going to fall on top of him. Which meant, he only had one course of action—
Albert jumped, just as Meredith had, and the suit amplified his muscles enough that by the time he’d spun around to face the wall the Shadow were crawling up, he was nearly five meters over the floor. He didn’t bother with subtleties: he fired three grenades as quickly as the action allowed, and let the force of the explosions wash over him as the Shadows were blasted into nothingness, or—as happened with one—were thrown from the wall to crash to the floor below.
Though he wasn’t as nimble in his suit as was Meredith in hers, Albert was able to twist enough so he bought the fallen Shadow to bear in his sights. Before it was able to get orientated, he set the rifle to full-auto fire, and sprayed the alien with close to one hundred rounds. The Shadow bucked and spasmed under the assault, squirming and screaming the entire time. By the time Albert was once more upon solid footing, the Shadow lay in pieces, shredded by his attack. “Well, that’s one more—”
“Look out!” Suddenly Meredith was sailing over Albert, one arm pulled back. He turned and watched her sail right into a Shadow that had come from out of nowhere. As she collided with the creature, she punched it right between its many eyes. There was a small burst of energy as a weapon in her hand pumped a huge electrical charge into the creature’s head; the combination of an amplified punch and electrocution put the Shadow down for good.
In the silence that followed the short battle, both Albert and Meredith stood, gazing over the carnage they’d created. Meredith flipped up the HUD visor on her helmet and shot Albert a broad smile. “Damn, I didn’t know this was going to be so much fun!”
Albert nodded inside his suit: unlike Meredith, it was impossible for him to show his face without completely pealing back the helmet and exposing his head. “Told you.” He scanned both directions of long, open space they were standing within. “So, which way should we go?”
“I came from that direction,” she said, pointing off to Albert’s left. “It’s a dead end down there. There could be another entrance, but I didn’t take the time to look for one.”
“Which means going in that direction could lead nowhere.”
“True. On the other hand . . .” Meredith turned, peering into the inky darkness to Albert’s right, and pointed at nothing. “You know what we’re going to find down there.”
“You could say that.” Though she looked a bit concerned, the smile was still etched upon Meredith’s face. “But we have to get out to of here, don’t we?”
“Yes.” He pointed his rifle in that direction. “I could be wrong, but I think we only have two hours before this place blows.”
“You don’t have a timer going inside you suit?”
The suit did the best it could to shrug. “Guess I forgot. Oops.”
Meredith’s laugh was short and sharp. “Oops, my ass.” She nodded hard, and her visor snapped shut. “Well, we best get to running then, right?”
“Right-o!” Together they both sprinted off into the darkness.
Albert knew they had the advantage. They were armored up, powered, and carrying weapons against a foe that had numbers and size, but little more. Sure, they were going to get hurt; Albert was already sort from getting knocked about, but nothing was broken or damaged badly. Even though he had the more powerful suit, he was taking it easy, pacing himself. Albert saw himself as a long distance runner, holding onto his reserves, saving something for the next two hours of hell he knew they had before them.
Meredith, on the other hand . . . Albert saw here as a sprinter. She was fast and aggressive. She didn’t wait for the battle to come to her—she took it to her opponents. The moment she’d seen her suit she felt in love with it. The first time she took out a group of Shadows, Albert saw her in such a different light. Meredith was a powered killer in heels—yes, he’d kept that attribute when he’d modeled the suit—and she couldn’t seem to get enough. The more danger they encountered, the more she threw herself into battle.
Speaking of battle . . .
Albert’s sensors were picking up a number of entities in the darkness ahead. One of the problems with the Shadows was that even though living creatures, life sensors didn’t always pick them up. They were very good at hiding, able to stand invisible in bright light, capable of bending the darkness to their will. His sensors were scanning just about everything on the electromagnetic spectrum, and with a little luck he’d pick up the creatures before they saw him—
But what he was seeing now . . . Albert knew in order to see Shadows like this . . . “Meredith.”
She already knew what he was going to say. “I’m seeing them.”
“Lots of them. You want to look for a way around them?”
There was a pause on Meredith’s end, but she never slowed. “You really want to?”
“Neither do I.”
Albert smiled. “That’s my girl,” he whispered, hoping his comm wasn’t transmitting. Deciding he needed something a bit surreal to make this battle worth while, he threw on some music: Jimi Thing. Yeah, just the sort of thing you needed right before you started killing alien spiders.
As they saw the first of the Shadow emerge from the darkness, Meredith burst into a full run, then leapt into the air. She extended her EPM blade, then deployed the twin shoulder-mounted railguns in mid-flight. Albert set on the external speakers, and the music filled the space—along with Meredith’s yell. She kicked off a dozen rounds from the guns moments before she slammed into three Shadows and gathered them up in her deadly embrace.
Albert stood back and began unloading on the Shadow. It wasn’t that he was worried about getting in close—as a matter of fact, he was getting rushed by some of them, and one got its pincers around his arm before the lasers took it out. He felt the impact of their bodies upon him while his rifled fired, and the round counter spun down.
The music, made more for sitting in the main cabin of Liberator and watching the world float by, gave the scene a surreal quality. Albert dropped an empty cartage and slapped in a new one, then fired the grenade launcher three times, clearing out an opening. Meredith was going full-on warrior woman on the Shadows, firing the railguns and the arm mounted rifle at point blank range, then following up with a physical assault on a Shadow who was standing next to one she’d just blown to pieces. Meredith took a couple of hard hits, and went down hard once herself, but she was dealing out a lot more damage than she was taking.
Albert knew she had to be hurting, however: he’d taken the hardsuit design and upgraded it to modern tech, but even so, most of the physical damage from the Shadows was absorbed by the kinetic shields—and he was certain that, even then, some of each blow was getting though. She’s a tough girl, he thought. Though she’ll be sore in the morning . . .
Meredith jumped upon the back of one Shadow and kicked it’s head off. As he went down she yelled, “Hole!” and Albert saw that between his shooting and her attacks, they had a clear path through the mass of aliens looking to kill them. Not time to worry about it, he thought, then began running towards Meredith. “Go!”
“I got point!” She ran ahead, while Albert set the pulse lasers to blast anything behind them while he scanned left and right. Her railguns were going off every few seconds as she identified a target, fired, and turned it from a threat to goo.
Albert knew this wasn’t going to be easy, however. “The area’s closing up ahead.” He saw the walls above them beginning to narrow, and sensed the floor would do the same.
“I know.” A tried sigh came over the comm. “We can’t go back.”
“Then no point wondering.” She suddenly held up, and Albert stopped next to her. They both peered into the murky distance—
The floor was narrowing. There was an archway maybe seventy, eight meters away. Between them and the archway were maybe fifty or sixty Shadows on the floor, and another three or four dozen clinging to the walls. And what they didn’t kill when they first encountered this mess was creeping up on their position—
“Not looking good,” Meredith said.
Albert almost laughed. No kidding, Captain Obvious, he thought. Instead, he said, “Yeah, I see that.” He softly cleared his throat. “It’s not like we have a choice on this run, though, is it?”
"We could look for another way out.”
Then came the soul-chilling rattle of the Shadows behind them, making a sound that was a cross between nails on a chalk board, and roaches scurrying off into the darkness. Albert wanted to say, “That’s not a good sound,” but he knew Meredith also knew that. “Like it’s going to do anything good.”
“Right.” She flipped up her EPM sword. “Might as well get this done.” She took two steps towards the Shadows some fifteen meters away—
And everything stopped. All sound, all movement: there was nothing.
Meredith turned to her left and right, the turned to face Albert. As she flipped up her HUD visor, she asked, “What the hell is going on?”
Pointing with his rifle in the general direction of the Shadow they were about to attack, Albert said, “Ask her.”
Stepping between the frozen Shadow, Maggie—now dressed dark blue work coveralls and tan work boots, approached. When she was only a few meters away, she raised her hand and greeted them. “How you doing?”
“We were just getting ready to waste Shadow ass,” Albert said. “What’s up?”
“CQ Draconis is starting to show signs of activity,” Maggie said. “You said you want to know.”
“Right you were.” He turned to Meredith. “The stars are finally right.”
She nodded, though she didn’t know what he was talking about. “At least one is.”
“Right.” His suit hissed as Albert’s helmet disengaged from the rest of the suit, finally exposing his face. “Okay,” he said aloud, “Shut down program.”
In an instant Albert and Meredith found themselves back in the main cabin, sitting at the V-table in front of the windows. Both took a moment to gather their wits about them and get orientated before doing anything. “What you got to show us, Maggs?”
A holodisplay, two meters by two meters, appeared against the starboard wall of the cabin. Maggie partitioned it into four separate sections, each showing a view from one of the different electromagnetic spectrums being monitored. Being astronomy students, they both instantly knew which spectrum was which without having to ask.
Meredith looked the display over. “Wow, look at the UV,” she said, pointing to the partitioned display in the lower left of the screen. “Look at it shine.”
“Oh, man.” Albert saw that it did indeed shine. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary in the visual spectrum, but infrared—the upper right—and ultraviolet—the lower left—were glowing in ways that indicated there was a lot of activity at those wavelengths. But the X-Ray display—lower right—was, as Albert might say, out of control. The x-rays were incredibly bright, and he knew what this meant: a great deal of destructive energy was being released. “Maggie, you’re gathering all this for us, right?”
“Of course, Albert.” Maggie wasn’t there in her avatar form, but here omni-present voice was in his and Meredith’s heads.
There was something that Meredith wanted to know. “Maggie, how many data channels do you have open?”
“At the moment, I’m feeding data to 6,473 channels.” Though they couldn’t see her, both Meredith and Albert could sense her smiling. “It would appear that students from all over the planet heard about what you were doing, and wanted to participate.”
Albert resisted shaking his head. When he’d made his offer to everyone in Professor Koltzer’s class, sure, he’d made the off-hand remark about getting others in on this project, but he didn’t realize so many would want to be a part of what he—and Meredith—was doing. Right now, Albert was suddenly feeling as if his “Hey, I can do this!” semi-boast in class a few hour ago had become something spectacular, and not a little wonderful.
Meredith leaned over and hugged his right arm. “You did good, Albert,” she said as she leaned her head against his shoulder. For the first time, Albert looked at Meredith and saw her in a very different way. Not like in the game, where she’d had so much fun kicking hard ass and laughing the whole time. No, now . . .
Now he was seeing her as someone who wasn’t just a study partner, or a fellow gamer. She was someone nice and . . .
Suddenly, she squinted her eyes, arching her back with a look of slight pain. “Ouch!” she moaned. “Oh, jeez, my back is suddenly killing me.”
He knew instantly what was causing her ailment. “It’s the game. You don’t realize it, but you’re mimicking movements in real life, even though they’re very small . . .” He extracted his arm from her grip, then reached behind her and gave her shoulders a quick, ineffectual rub. “Maggie.” Albert didn’t take his eyes over Meredith. “What time is it?”
“17:37,” she said immediately.
Albert slapped the table with his free hand. “I don’t know about you,” he told Meredith, “but I feel like getting comfortable.”
Looking up at him, Meredith asked, “What do you have in mind?”
He released her and slid out from the seating area. “I’m going to get into my pajamas, then have Maggie cook us something for dinner.” He two a couple of steps, then stopped. “Um, I’m just gonna grab my stuff from the bedroom, then you can go back and have Maggie auto-fac you something to wear.” He smiled. “Considering we didn’t really have time to get our shit before leaving Penningham.”
Once more a puzzled smile appeared upon Meredith’s face. “You have an auto-fac in your bedroom? Here?”
“Of course.” Albert headed for the bedroom in the back of the cabin, saying over his shoulder, “Why wouldn’t I have one? I’ve got everything else.”
Albert found a pair of gray lounging pants and a matching top, and changed quickly. “Maggie, you can fix Meredith up, right?” he asked as he slipped his top on.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Um . . .” Something suddenly came to Albert, a tiny vision in his mind’s eye. “Don’t make her anything to . . . You know . . .”
Maggie may have been an artificial intelligence, but she had a very good idea where Albert was leading with this question. However, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t have a little fun with him first. “Know what? What do you mean?”
He knew his avatar far too well. “You’re just messing with me, aren’t you?”
“A little.” She paused for a second, then said, “If you’re suggesting I not allow her to ask for anything to risque, then you have nothing to worry about.”
Albert blew the wall a kiss. “Thank you, Maggs.” He pulled on a pair of slippers, then headed back into the main cabin. “Okay, all yours,” he called to Meredith.
She walked past him, looking Albert over. “Pretty plain, if you ask me.”
“Like I said, I’m getting comfortable.” He shrugged, then stopped and watched Meredith walking to the bedroom. “And I’m used to wearing this when I’m on-board.”
She quipped over her shoulder, “It shows,” before disappearing into the room, the door sealing behind her.
While he was waiting for Meredith to get kitted, Albert got things ready. He had the sitting area converted into a large bed—something he’d last done during a “Girl’s Night Out” back on Shaldibari—then ordered up a couple of simple dinners to be ready about 18:30. Then Albert crawled onto the huge bed, slipped his legs under the covers, and watched the display of CQ Draconis while waiting for Meredith to return.
He heard the door open, followed by the slap-slap of slipper on the cabin floor. He didn’t need to look around to know Meredith was changed. “Maggie get you set up okay?”
She walked to the front of the cabin, then stopped before the window. Meredith was obviously wanting to get Albert’s attention, and as soon as he looked in her direction, she had it, full and undivided.
Meredith has Maggie make her a pair of light blue pajama, tops and bottoms, embossed with light-white stars and clouds. Albert had an eye for material, and he was sure the pajamas were made out of silk. She held her arms slightly away from her body and performed a slow pirouette for Albert, so he could take her all in. She was barefoot, and this was the first time he’d noticed she had a light blue polish on her toenails. I remember the last time people were doing pedicures in here, he thought—
Meredith stopped and let her arms drop to her side. “What do you think?”
“Very pretty.” Albert nodded slowly, as if approving of her choice. “Silk, right?”
“Yeah. I’ve never had slik pajamas before.” She flexed her muscles slowly, enjoying the sensation of the material against her skin. “This is really nice.”
“Thank Maggie. She’s very good when it comes to making things.”
Meredith looked to her left at the wall. “Thanks, Maggie,” she said, and stared at the wall for a few seconds as if she expected the avatar to emerge.
While she didn’t appear, Maggie’s voice resounded throughout the cabin. “You’re welcome, Meredith.”
“Did you hear that?” Meredith seemed genuinely surprised that the response didn’t go to her internal comm.
“Yeah, I heard it. Maggie does that some times, just because, I guess.” He patted the space to his right. “Come on. Come get comfy.”
Meredith climbed onto the large sofa-bed. “Wow. You converted this!”
“Yeah. Just about everything in here is electopolymorphic. And I’ve done this area like this before. I make for a nice, large, sleeping area.”
Nodding her head slowly, Meredith drawled, “I see . . .”
Albert laughed. “Relax. You’re sleeping in the bedroom. I’m going to stay out here.”
“And you need such a large bed for just you?”
From the tone of her voice, Albert didn’t know if Meredith was actually serious, or just playing around. “I’ve camped out here a couple of times,” he said. “I like room to lay about. I can take up a lot of room if I’m not careful.”
Meredith laughed. “You don’t look that big.”
“Big enough.” He looked straight ahead as he said, “Please bring cabin lighting down to ten percent.” In an instant the cabin was nearly engulfed in darkness, with only a few running lights in the ceiling and floor, and the telescope display, acting as ambient light. “Thank you, Maggie.”
Meredith almost gasped. “Gosh, look at the stars!” she said as she pointed out the main windows. Albert had instructed Maggie to orient Liberator so the telescopes would be in shadow, and to extend a sunshade to keep out light from the system primary and the planet. As an additional precaution, Liberator’s hull, normally white, was now turned an inky black, to minimize glare.
As such, with as much light as possible filtered away from the gaze of the telescopes, the same light was filtered away from the main windows, and with their eyes now light adapted to the darkness, the many stars of the Hyades star cluster shown with unparalleled brilliance. “It’s so pretty,” Meredith said.
“Yeah, it is.” Albert had to admit he needed to spend more time looking at the stars than locking himself up in the ship and find a few moments to enjoy what was just outside the ship. “And look at ol’ CQ—” He pointed to the display, showing the cataclysmic variable in all it’s destructive glory. “It’s putting on a great show for us.”
“I don’t think that was the intention.”
“Well, it’s there for us to enjoy while Maggie collected our data.”
Meredith slowly turned to Albert. “Don’t you feel bad that we’re not doing that.”
“We are.” He sat back, getting his hands behind his head. “I mean, it’s not like we wouldn’t have a system down on University collecting these images for us—and then having the data analyzed by the same system.” He looked out the window. “We just need to apply what we wanted to do with the information, and get our results.”
“And we do that when?”
“We can start on it tomorrow.” Albert rested his head against the back of the seat-bed. “Tonight we eat and relax.”
“Um, hum.”
It turned very quiet in the cabin, neither Albert of Meredith speaking while they lingered in the dim light of Liberator’s cabin. Albert considered getting some music on before he realized he might have to explain were he’d gotten all the strange songs she was hearing. Yeah, not everyone is used to listening to thousand year-old tunes, he thought. He was about to ask her if she wanted to get back into the game when he realized—
Meredith was holding onto his right arm, with her head against his shoulder. “Um . . . what are you doing?” He kept his voice low and friendly, so it didn’t sound like he was surprised, or freaked out.
If Albert thought Meredith was going to break away and answer in an embarrassed tone, he would find himself disappointed. “Snuggling,” she said, the word coming out as an extended sigh.
“Ummm . . .” Albert didn’t know if he should pull his arm away from her, or . . . Well, it was the “or” he was having an issue with, as any “or” could lead to any number of situations . . . “Do you think you should be doing that?” he finally asked.
“Why shouldn’t I?” She looked up from where her head was resting. “Don’t you like this?”
“Sure, but . . .” A moment after he said “sure”, Albert knew he should have kept his mouth shut, and simply pulled himself away before continuing the conversation. Now, trying to qualify why Meredith’s snuggling wasn’t okay—right after he more or less said it was—was going to leave Albert looking bad no matter what he said. “I just don’t know—”
“Know what?” Meredith moved closer, turning her body so she was more or less facing Albert as she lay upon her side. “Do you like me?”
Oh, fuck . . . During their weeks together, Albert never once imagined Meredith as being any more than a study partner—okay, a very friendly lab partner, but not much beyond that. They’d never associated beyond the campus . . . though they did stop off at The Lusty Librarian for a couple of pints now and then, and stopped off at a chips shop just off the campus once before heading to the library. And there was the time Albert took her to lunch on a Friday at a small place he’d been to, over on the coastal side of the university campus, right after they were finished a project. He remembered the lunch now, because that was the day Cytheria asked him about his study partner, and how they were getting along . . .
“I think you’re a great person,” he finally said.
Meredith wasn’t disappointed by the answer. “I think you’re great, too. Do you like me?” She laid her hand over his. “I don’t mean as a classmate or study partner, or anything like that. I mean, do you like me as . . . I am?”
Albert figured he needed to tell Meredith the truth. “I like you for who you are; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But . . .”
“I’m with someone, Meredith.”
“Really.” She smiled. “Is that someone a she?”
“Yeah.” He smiled back. “Did you think otherwise?”
“I never heard you talk about anyone, so who knew?” She giggled. “So, they buy you Liberator?”
For some reason the question upset him slightly. “No. She’s mine.”
“You bought her.”
“So what do you do?”
Albert had dodged this question for a while, and knew he had no choice but not to answer. “You know I can’t tell you.”
“Not even a little?”
She slid closer, placing herself along said, Albert, almost draping her right leg over his. “I think you’re fascinating. And I want to know more.”
Once again, Albert detected the faint scent of jasmine, and this time he didn’t have to lean in close to smell her. Her body is giving off heat, ‘causing her perfume to evaporate . . . damn, she smells so . . . Albert snapped his mind back to the conversation, because thinking about how nice Meredith smelled was something he didn’t need right now. “Believe me, there’s nothing to know. I’m—”
“An open book, I know.” Meredith lifted herself up, bringing her head up to where she could face Albert. “You’re so full of shit, you know that?”
“Oh, enough.” Meredith rolled up and over, and was suddenly straddling Albert, who was surprised by how quickly she moved. She settled into position, resting upon his legs, his waist, his— She smiled. “I thought you were with someone else,” she gleefully whispered while rubbing herself against him. “I guess when she’s not here, the study partner will do.”
This isn’t what I wanted, he thought, but there was no denying that Albert liked Meredith, and he did find her attractive—and seeing her in her lovely silk pajamas started a reaction that Albert had never intended to take beyond an inner arousal. “It’s not like that, you know. I like you—”
“Oh, hush you.” She began unbuttoning her top. “I need something to hush you up, and . . .” She undid the last button on her top and slowly slid the top from her body. Meredith wasn’t wearing a bra, and her full, naked breasts were only centimeters from Albert’s face. “I think I have just the thing.” She cupped her breasts in both hands and gave herself a long, slow squeeze. “Make that, ‘things’.”
The things, as Meredith called her breasts, were right in Albert’s face, and while he fought the impulse to do anything with, or to, Meredith, he felt the powerful urge to do something . . . “I don’t know,” he whispered.
“You don’t know what?” She moved her right breast closer to his face, her erect, hard nipple only centimeters from his lips. “That you don’t want me? I know that’s bullshit.” Meredith pressed her nipple against his lower lip, using only the lightest of pressure. “Open up, honey. I want you to suckle me.”
As she pressed her nipple against, and then through his semi-parted lips, Albert didn’t fight Meredith’s advance. He knew it was wrong He knew he was betraying a trust. He knew—but he couldn’t fight Meredith’s advances, or that she was offering herself to him with little hesitation.
“That’s it,” she cooed as Albert began suckling her nipple, his lips warm and delectable against her breast. “I should have had Maggie make me something that would have caused me to lactate. I’d have been huge with all that milk.” She giggled, then touched him lightly on the cheek. “And I would have made you drink it all . . . up.”
As his arms went around her naked torso, and pulled her close, Meredith whispered, “That’s it, honey. Hold me close, please.” She gently ran her fingers through Albert’s hair with one hand, while her other hand began sliding her pajama bottoms off. “I don’t care if you have a girlfriend, ‘cause she’s not here: I am.” She managed to get one leg off, letting the bottoms hang off the other. “She’s not here to love you—” She slipped Albert’s penis from his pajamas. “I am.”
She positioned herself over his unbound erection. “And she’s not here to fuck you—” She took him and slid him inside her body. “I’m doing that.” Meredith rocked her hips hard against him, and Albert released her breast and moan as his hands found her hips and grabbed them hard. “I’m doing it with . . . oh, fuck!”
In the darkness, three hundred thousand kilometers from any living person, their gasps were unheard as they orgasmed together.

Did you like it?  Hate it?  Did it make you look for sharp objects?  Have you given up trying to get Maggie's number?  Would you like Meredith's instead?  Or maybe Albert's, since he'll need a place to stay?  Leave a comment and Tell Me!

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