Null drones convert a hapless photographer poking around an abandoned hospital. Explicit.

Eight clicks echoed through the dead hospital.

Thomas raised his head. His ears rose too, stretching to hear the sound again. To him, rusted gurneys and rubble-strewn beds were photogenic, not eerie, and an odd noise was cause for investigation, not panic.

He pulled his camera off of his tripod. He thought it might be a wild animal, or some sort of scavenger. Whatever it was, he was going to get a picture of it.

He walked back across the ground floor of Bellvue Hospital, closed down and left to steep in its own formaldehyde for the last thirty years. There had been a quarantine then, a panic—but it was all before Thomas's time. The hospital had never been sealed up airtight. If there were any pathogens left, simply going inside couldn't hurt.

And if he did get sick, it would be suffering for his craft. No one else would have pictures of the hospital in decay. Ceiling tiles drooped from the weight of disuse and moth-eaten sheets lay tossed aside on rusted bedframes. It was heaven for the photographer-cum-urban explorer.

Thomas took two steps back, dropped to one knee, and held his camera close. He took in the stairwell, surrounded by walls with chipping paint, debris brushed into the corners like sand piling up in some forgotten temple. His mind already ran through what he'd be doing to this shot. Punch up the saturation, really bring out the chipped green. Get a good vignette and wash out the orange.

Eight clicks, again.

He stood back up and brushed out his unruly hyena-mane. He brushed his fingers against the paint and crackled the chips underneath his fingers. The lichen-crinkled paint made the shape of the walls slightly uncertain. He strode up the first flight of stairs to a landing, then turned to face an unruly mess of hospital equipment blocking his path.

Mattresses and furniture and stretchers were jammed together, wedged so tightly that he could wrench on the corner of a gurney and it only shifted a little.

Now Thomas was curious. Downstairs he had seen disarray, things left half-done, the unordered mess of individual panic. Nothing had been intentional, which gave his shots a petrified urgency of the heat of the moment left to decay. The chaos here was purposeful and practical. It kept whatever had been on the ground floor trapped there, away from the safety of the upper floors.

His thoughts were buzzing with conspiracies of doctors, doomed wards, frantic rushes to barricade the stairs from whatever danger had crept up from the ground floor. Thomas's dark muzzle was split by his smile while he tore down the makeshift wall. What about squatters? Or maybe drug runners, trying to keep the homeless from stumbling onto their base of operations?

The racket of steel poles clattering down stairs made it impossible to hear further noises from the second floor. With each piece taken away, the barricade sagged further under its own weight, until Thomas could crouch and scoot through the open gap between a mattress and the ceiling.

Thomas swung open the door and his footsteps squeaked. The floor was polished to such a mirror shine that he could see himself when he looked down. Fluorescent lighting ate up his shadow, leaving nothing but a dark haze beneath him. He looked up to make sure. Yes, the lights were on.

The mustiness of the air downstairs, the embalming-smell, was gone from the air. It was clean and just cool enough to keep him from getting comfortable. The scent of bleach mingled with nitrile rubber. It was a scent gently hostile to life.

The walls were intact. The paint was evenly-coated to a fault and chalky to the touch. There wasn't a sign of dust or mold or any age at all beyond the door to the stairwell.

Thomas remembered himself. He raised his camera, and a flash filled the hall. His photo opportunity had become a mystery, but it all felt like adventure to him. The squeak of his boots filled the hall. He left behind a few footprints, his first uncertain steps out of the door, then his turn to the right, each step fainter as his shoes' soles were scrubbed down to clean black rubber.

A break in the monotonous walls came up ahead of him. A pair of signs sat on the wall, one pointing to the left and one to the right. The signs said nothing. On each of them, inscribed in white against the gray plastic, were eight narrow lines, each evenly spaced, each identical.

Thomas raised his camera, adding a picture of the signs to his photoessay. Investigative photojournalism piece? He looked at his camera's screen, then up to his right. He thought he'd seen movement out of the corner of his eye.

What he could make out was a white figure standing next to a desk with its back to him. Nurse uniform, he guessed from the color. She hadn't noticed him yet, so he placed the camera against his eye and curled his lips and squeezed the shutter.

The camera beeped. In the corner of his view, a battery icon blinked. In the center of his view, the nurse turned toward him. He nearly dropped his camera.

A muzzle pointed in his direction, but there were no eyes to look for him. Even the suggestion of eyes, as if eyes had been covered up, was gone. Nor was there any sign of nostrils or lips or even a mouth or teeth at all. It was a sightless, senseless thing. Cave creatures sprung to Thomas's mind, bleached by their secluded habitat, degenerating without the need for eyes or pigments.

The nurse-thing was white from head to toe, a uniform color with a glossy sheen. There was no fur, only a sleek membrane that coated its body like bare skin.

Its boots squeaked against the floor. It was walking toward him. Thomas's mind was blank. He didn't know what to think. Fear twisted at the pit of his gut and flooded up to fill his mind.

The thing let out eight clicks, identical and evenly spaced.

Thomas ran. Identical, featureless walls whipped by, but every time he looked back, it was there. It was clicking. It was running after him.

He took a corner at a sprint. His legs shot out and he came down onto his hip.


He clutched his side and his leg buckled under him. It wasn't broken, it just hurt. He needed a moment. He shoved open the nearest door and limped into the darkness.

He saw nothing once he closed the door, but he heard every sound his body made. He heard the quiet rushing of air from a vent. He thought he could hear footsteps and clicking outside.

A soft whirr glowed in his ears, lighting up his hearing. He turned, facing toward the source, then felt a prickling heat wash over his fur, like he'd just held his hand in front of his camera's flash.

His camera was outside. Damn it!

A colorless glow cast monochrome light across the room. He could make out the silhouette of the door against the stark walls. A large machine arched over him; he was facing a set of blank panels, with a second set of panels behind him. Along one wall, a white backlit board stretched across the room.

He flinched at the sound of plastic crinkling beneath fingers. Two footsteps, and the sound came again. A furless, glossy figure stood in front of the board. It had sterile white skin and a featureless body. Its silhouette made it look feminine, but Thomas had a hard time thinking of it as anything but an object.

His eyes were fixed on it as he walked. Slowly, curling each foot down as he stepped, silent but for his heart.

Hanging on the board were a set of x-rays. His own x-rays. He glanced behind his shoulder; the door was about ten feet away. The thing clicked to itself—just like the other, eight clicks, identical and even like they were produced by a computer. It studied the x-rays without looking at them. Its sightless face faced forward, looking at neither image, clicking to itself.

Thomas grasped the door handle and turned it. The latch chattered into the silent room and he froze. The thing had stopped clicking. Thomas couldn't tell if it was looking for him. His knuckles ached and he felt like he was going to collapse.

It reached for the x-rays and pulled them off the board.

Thomas slipped out through a crack of light, then eased the door shut again. He glanced toward the floor for his camera, but it wasn't there. The nurse thing had snatched it, he assumed. He set his teeth together. All the money and care he'd put into the camera kept him from running downstairs. He'd take his camera back. Then he'd run the hell out of here.

His mouth hung open and he breathed slowly enough that he hardly made a sound. He took careful steps to avoid the squeak of rubber against tile. On top of an empty desk fifty feet away, squatting like a swatted fly, was his camera. Next to the desk were a pair of nurses. Their muzzles pointed past each other and they stood without moving, but by the measured clicking, he knew they were aware.

Fifty feet became twenty. He stared at the nurses, studying them for a motion that suggested they had noticed him, for a hesitant pause in their clicks, anything.

Twenty feet was ten, and now five. The weight of fear had lowered him into a crouch. He reached out, stretching for the strap.

A white hand closed around his wrist. The nurses didn't turn to look at him, but one of them had a stone-firm grip on his arm. He jerked back, but the grip didn't waver.

Thomas had been in fights before. This was something he could handle. Teeth bared, shoulder twisting, he aimed a jawbreaker right at the nurse's muzzle. His fist plowed into its face. There was no crunch. There was no pain of bone on bone. Its muzzle wobbled and gave way and bounced back and then the arm the nurse held onto was forced behind his back.

Thomas hissed at the pain twisting between his shoulder and elbow and wrist. The nurse's fingers split. The white peeled back like shredded skin. Oily black ooze splashed onto Thomas's wrist. He kicked and grasped for the nurse's throat, but his claws dragged straight through the white flesh and into the black tar beneath.

The other nurse grasped his arm and forced it down against his back. Both arms were encased in the sticky tar that squeezed into every crevasse and glued it all together. It bonded to itself most of all, so when they pressed his arms together, his arms stuck that way, no matter how he twisted or worked his claws or pulled and pulled and pulled.

The nurse's skin sealed up as quickly as it had broken. One at his shoulders, the other at his feet, they lifted him kicking and shouting. No matter how he struck them, their bodies bounced back—the worst he could do was push them away, but with his hands bound and legs held, he couldn't even do that.

He could only watch the fluorescent lights go by above him. Each was identical. Not one flickered. Not one bulb was different. He wasn't sure which direction he was going or how far it had been. The hospital itself had grown degenerate, its features smoothed over with a cancerous sameness that defied his internal sense of direction.

They stepped through a doorway, and then the nurses laid him down onto a narrow bed. He jerked violently, but the nurses grabbed his shoulders and held him down and forced a needle into the soft flesh of his neck. The burning pressure of an injection flared up for a moment, then he was loaded into the small, circular space inside of a large and bulky machine.

Numbness started at the tips of his toes and along his fingers. He could still move, but any fine task left him with numb fingers uselessly groping at the inside of the tarry bonds that held his arms.

All around him, the machine whirred with a quiet, large noise. His fur prickled as if it had been magnetized, standing on end with a chorus of tiny tingling sensations. His back arched and his chest rose, pulled by powerful forces that worked beneath his skin. Flesh swelled out into his chest. His skin was tender, his nipples swollen, and an ache pounded through his whole torso.

Another surge rushed through the machine and into the air around him. His gasp was strangled by the pressure blossoming against his chest. His shirt tented out; his flesh was achingly hot and stiff and swollen, He had breasts. They tugged at his shirt and rubbed at the fabric until they were tender and swelled again, large enough to overflow his cupped palms, wobbling atop his ragged breaths.

Thomas pulled at his bonds. A new urgency had filled him. The resilient rubber stretched and returned back to normal. He pulled again, holding his arms as far apart as he could. A hole split through the middle, through the membrane that connected his arms. His muscles gave way, and he was forced to relax them for a moment.

A third time the unseen energy swelled through him, forcing mass into his chest. He dragged his arms apart. They trembled from the strain. His nipples dented his shirt visibly, and they ached between the cool air and his body heat. Rubber snapped beneath him and his arms flew free, knocking into the walls of the machine. They were coated by slick, glossy latex, a thin coat that smoothed out the details and left his fingers sleek and soft and rubbery.

He pushed at the walls and scooted backwards along his spine. Kicking open the small door, he scrambled out, falling to the floor, one hand wrapped across his aching chest, the other helping push him to his feet. In front of the large monitor displaying his brain scan, the two nurses stood, motionless and quiet. Were they studying his brain or sleeping? He had no time to worry about that.

The muscle relaxant sent his legs flopping and arms wobbling uncomfortably. He could move, but he couldn't stop his limbs when he wanted to, so at best he could stagger drunkenly down the hall, trying to keep his shirt from chafing his breasts. With his other hand, he grasped a corner and shoved himself into a supply closet.

Thomas pried each of his fingers free from the next. Once the membrane was broken, the rubber eased back into a slick, skintight shape that looked almost natural. He rubbed his latex-coated claws through his mane. Each of his claws had been encased, preserving them but also dulling them into rounded rubber points.

He grabbed at his shirt and threw it up over his head and down to the floor. His breasts hung against their own weight in the air, rising and falling with his breathing.

Thomas wiggled his fingers, then touched each fingertip to his palm. The relaxant was wearing off. He was going to make a run for the stairs. Forget his camera, forget everything other than escaping.

He threw the door open and he ran. Which way didn't matter; he had to find stairs eventually. He clutched awkwardly at his breasts, to keep them from bouncing and wobbling. He was out of breath and felt dizzy. Hadn't he passed these doors before? Three doors, then a sign with eight evenly spaced vertical lines. He was going in circles and yet he wasn't even turning.

He took a right on instinct and ran straight into white rubber.

“Get off!" he howled,

Thomas snapped out at the nurse with his boots. The two of them had him up in the air, then shoved him down onto a stretcher. He immediately wrenched to the side, grabbing at the railing. A thick leather strap pulled his ribcage down against the bed. Another strap held his wrists and waist down. A third pinned his ankles to the stretcher, and a fourth held his shoulders down.

One nurse pushed the stretcher while the other walked beside it. Thomas snarled and gnashed his fangs and jerked his wrists, but the leather straps held tight. The nurses clicked at one another, always eight identical clicks, always in perfect rhythm.

Thomas clenched his teeth and balled his hands into rubber fists. There had to be a weak spot in the straps. If he could get one hand free, maybe he could free himself.

A pair of double doors swung open. The air was colder here and the lights more focused. The floor and walls were hard ceramic tile. Behind a low wall, about six feet high, the seats began. There were four rows, each higher than the next, in nested semicircles around the operating area. The seats were filled. In each of them sat a nurse, with its face pointing blankly outward, as if they were all staring straight ahead and not at Thomas being wheeled in.

Not even gallons of bleach had washed away the smell of vivisection. It was the smell of primal fear seeping out from between the tiles. Thomas could have been blindfolded, and he would have known he didn't want to be here.

The nurses stopped. His stretcher was in the middle of the operating area. Another nurse stood by, waiting to receive him. A surgical mask was stretched over its unmoving muzzle in a metastasized imitation of medical procedure.

Thomas started to laugh.

The surgeon clicked at the assembled group, neither moving to face its audience or its patient. Eight clicks, a short pause, eight more, again and again. Thomas raised his head. His x-rays and CAT scan hung on a blackboard.

He howled with laughter and twisted his hands until his wrists hurt and his skin felt like it would tear. He thrashed, but the stretcher's weight kept him from tipping over.

His laughs couldn't drown out the surgeon's clicking. Tears squeezing the corner of his eyes, fighting the sobs clinging to his larynx, he fixed the surgeon with a grin.

“What's up, doc?"

The surgeon didn't even pause, but Thomas burst out into cackles so forceful that he pounded his heels against the stretcher and nearly lost his breath.

The surgeon lifted a black mask from a rolling desk. It held the mask as if to display it for a moment, Thomas rolled his eyes back to get a good look at it. A broad brow and a thick muzzle set it apart from the gracile nurses' features, but apart from the round rebreathers on either side of the snout and the round, opaque lenses for eyes, it had the same simplified, regressive form as the nurses. It was a face without details.

Thomas slammed his shoulders back against the stretcher. His hysterics broken, his breaths were short and clipped and his voice wavered on the edge of a sob.

“Get that away from me you quack!" he snapped. Thomas snickered and grimaced.

The mask smelled rubber and cold and sterile.

Thomas's voice grasped at defiance. “No, fuck off!"

His chin and snout were trapped on the inside of the tapered muzzle. He couldn't stretch the latex enough to open his mouth, nor could he force the mask back off his face. Rubber pushed against his skin, smoothing his fur down, forming a tight seal. A rubber nub, like a short nozzle, popped into his mouth. It fit between his top and bottom teeth and he could do nothing but bite down on it.

His ears flicked. The respirators hissed softly as he breathed. He tried to speak, but with his jaw and lips and tongue all locked, all that escaped the respirator was an undifferentiated hissed moan.

Thomas slammed his head into the stretcher. Sparks popped and his bones ached but the mask sat firmly on his face no matter how much he tossed himself back and forth.

The rubbery tar on his upper arms seeped upward, pore by pore, pulling itself along Thomas's skin one miniscule pseudopod at a time. It pulled his skin taut, filling in the creases and swallowing up his fur. The same tightness and prickle and push ran back along his cheeks and his jaw.

The surgeon produced a brass nozzle connected to a velvety red, woven hose. Thomas looked up at it behind the lenses of his mask, letting out a few ragged hisses through his respirator. The nozzle pressed into the front of the mask, sliding through a tight hole and popping its tip into Thomas's mouth. The cool metal ring touched his immobile tongue.

The taste of herbs flooded his mouth and his eyes watered and he nearly gagged. It was as if a spice rack had just exploded on the tip of his tongue. He inhaled to clear his mouth, but it only brought hot fumes seeped in spice and smoke.

Sweet grass-taste swirled into his mouth and down his throat. He breathed saffron and exhaled golden clouds. Latex oozed through his scalp and swallowed up his hair and squeezed the life out of his cheeks. It locked his elbows and chilled his veins and stilled his pulse.

Thomas still squirmed but it was disoriented and anxious. His claws slapped at the bare metal stretcher. His toes curled and he kicked his feet. The surgeon moved down his body and began examining the soles of his shoes. Every blood vessel ached and his body told him to breathe breathe breathe and he did and all that came was more saffron.

His head bobbed and a guttural croak came from his respirators, accompanied by wisps of spice. Every motion felt like he was swimming, like he was tired and drowsy and just wanted to close his eyes and…

...and he gasped deeply. Spice flooded into his lungs, and he breathed out. Warm tears warbled in the corners of his eyes. He felt giddy like he'd slipped half-out of his skull and couldn't quite fit back in. He wore his own body like a baggy costume.

Latex still prickled through his skin, plucking at his biceps and trickling between his shoulderblades and clinging to his shins. He lifted his masked face, squinting through the lenses—yes, his shoes were coated with latex reaching halfway to his knees. His arms still showed the ripple of muscle running through them—even clearer now, with no fur to hide the form.

The operating room was quiet and empty. A saffron hiss fogged up the air as he turned his wrists. He propped himself, heel and shoulder against one side of the stretcher. With his left side focused on keeping him still, he tugged with his right arm against the straps. He felt the leather give way. One more tug, and his right hand was free.

The straps clattered to the side as he pushed them away and scuttled down to his feet. A light squeak of wheels met his latex-coated ears—a rolling hook for an IV drip was handcuffed to his wrist. In lieu of an IV, an elegant piece of molded glass orbs and silver joints hung like an ornament from the hook.

He grasped the hose that ran to his snout. The other end connected to the hookah. Thomas breathed and it burbled softly.

While the nozzle in his mouth seemed to be lodged there, he grasped the end of the tube on the hookah and pulled it free. He let out a small hiss of triumph, then began to gag and feel weak. The feeling was a new one, but one he knew well. He'd just felt it—the feeling of suffocation. He sucked in a big breath, but the air might have been car exhaust for all it did to his lungs. Clutching at the hook, he jammed the hose back on and soothed his chest with gulps of saffron smoke.

Compared to his old shoes, the new rubber soles he walked on were thicker. These pushed him up off the ground and lifted his heels slightly. He had the tread marks of combat boots and a hip-swinging gait. His hookah, the only thing that was keeping him breathing, rolled with him every step he took.

He wasn't going to stick around the operating room to see what they wanted to do next. As he pushed through the doors, he got used to putting his weight further forward, keeping himself balanced on the balls of his feet. The latex wedge that kept his heels in the air slowly thickened as he adjusted to the new center of gravity.

Thomas held onto the rolling hook with one hand, breathing in sugary spice and breathing out tiny clouds that trailed along behind his head. The handcuffs would never come off. Even if he got out of this hospital, how was he going to readjust to normal breathing? He would need a hookah by him all the time.

He stared at a set of three signs on the wall. Each of them had an arrow, and each of them had eight identical, evenly-spaced lines on it where letters should have been. His knees gave out, and he slumped down onto the floor. His sobs were strangled by the mask, but a sharp, rhythmic hissing accompanied the heaving of his shoulders.

They had taken away his clothes and trapped him in latex gloves and boots and given him breasts like some kind of freak. The prickling expansion of the latex inched over his chest, toward the mounds that bounced with every motion of his body. He reached to touch his muzzle, and despite the layer of rubber on his hands and on his snout, it almost felt like he could touch skin to skin—both layers were surprisingly thin for their resilience.

One paw grasped between his legs, where his shaft hung sadly, tip touching the cold floor. The other slipped around one of his breasts, feeling its weight and size to judge just how big it was. His fingers squeezed his shaft gently to feel it stiffen in his hand in response. His claws trailed along one of his swollen nipples, making it crackle with the ache of overstimulation.

Foggy breaths puffed out of his respirators. His hand moved along his shaft slowly, holding tightly, legs spread, hips gently twisting. His other hand moved across his bosom with an eagerness he had always reserved for others, never for himself. With his smooth, glossy hands, it was as if someone else was squeezing and twisting him beneath their latex paws.

Latex tugged itself up around his thighs and inched over his torso, continuing its gradual spread while he rubbed faster and groped and stroked and rubbed his breasts and tweaked his nipples until his heart was pounding and his cheeks were flushed and he sucked down big breaths of hookah smoke. He needed this now, needed it to relieve the pressure in his head and all the way down to the pit of his stomach. His rubber heels squeaked against the floor.

He was cumming. His nipples were slowly swallowed up beneath the slow march of latex, and his shaft was pulsing and yet completely dry. He couldn't stop. He needed that release. He needed to feel that rush, the chill that came afterward.

Everything else took second stage now. He needed to get this out. He pumped his paw along his shaft quickly, feeling the fur on his loins prickle as latex swept over them. His shaft pulsed, straining at an orgasm but still producing nothing. There was no burst of numb bliss, just intense need without relief.

The latex that washed over his groin was tight. It clung to him and pushed at him and swallowed up his shaft mid-stroke, still on the verge of an orgasm that refused to come. He kept rubbing, but the shaft was slipping out of his hands. It retreated back into a smooth and featureless crotch, defined only by the gentle bulge of pubic muscle. He...she pressed her fingers into it and the flesh spread open, pulling back at a tiny seam too small to see, revealing a damp and featureless vulva.

Thomas tugged inadvertently at the hose that ran to the hookah and bumped the base with her smooth and sleek and thickened black-coated hips. The wheels rolled out from beneath it and it tipped over, landing square across the latex-covered part of her back. Her skin turned thick and gooey and gaped open, wrapping black tendrils around the hookah's body. Agitated hisses spewed from her respirators until the whole hookah had sunk into her body, leaving just a large bump along her spine, from which the red hose ran, up over her shoulder and into her mouth.

Sharp hisses clicked out of her respirator as she started to laugh and cry at the same time. This whole place was insane. She'd passed out in a puddle of formaldehyde hours ago and this was just a fever dream. Maybe she hadn't even gotten out of bed this morning. But no matter how hard she convinced herself, she was still sitting against the hospital wall, still snickering through a gas mask.

She pushed herself onto her feet and found herself a few inches higher. All of that extra height was in her heels. Her shoes, if she could call them that now that they seemed to have merged with her skin, still had thick rubber nubs for gripping the ground, but the way that her heels sat perched six inches above her toes made them far more fashionable than utilitarian.

Each step pitched her hips to one side, then the next. She tucked the snout of her mask as far down as she could make it point, looking at the latex closing in around her bare belly. Around the bare fur was an area of bubbly, wrinkled latex, like rubber sealing up a crack in the road or like the surface of a tar pit. Beyond that ring, where her fur was completely absorbed and her pores filled to the brim, it was smooth and glossy enough to reflect the halls around her and hint at powerful muscle underneath.

She giggled into the mask, which turned the noise into a staggered hiss. They had feminized her to weaken her, she assumed, but she was a hyena. She was probably stronger than she was as a guy. She stopped, her boots clicking together. She raised one arm, made a thick fist, and flexed. Beneath the black latex her muscles swelled lead-thick. A triumphant puff of saffron smoke spewed from her respirators.

The sound of tendons tightened and tuned and plucked echoed through her bones and up to her ears. With her black-wrapped fingers, she prodded her stomach, now enveloped in latex. Small spines ran up along her waist from hips to ribs, and by the second they were tightening. Her breaths had to come more shallowly. Her body had already incorporated a hookah into her anatomy; a corset was no surprising feat after that.

The figure she cut was broad but feminine, stocky and rounded out around the hips and chest and legs so that her muscles worked with her figure, rather than fighting it.

She clicked out a snicker as she wondered what her girlfriend would think when she got out of here. She held onto that thought as she wandered through hall after hall. She had been walking in a straight line for ten minutes. She imagined knocking on the door of her apartment, announcing to her that she was home with a big puff of smoke, and seeing her girlfriend's face.

Or, actually, she didn't imagine her girlfriend's face. The shape of her was there, the memories of a relationship leading back a month or two, but she couldn't for the life of her say what her girlfriend looked like.

'Her girlfriend', because she couldn't remember what her name was either. There was no longer an expression beneath the opaque black lenses of the mask's eyes, but if there had been, it would have been one of creeping dread.

Her best friend, she thought. The one who she'd done activities with. She didn't even have a gender for them. And come to think of it, could she have had a boyfriend? She didn't see why not.

Her parents, she had to know that they were… No first name came to her mind, no species, no appearance. Not even a last name.

She thought about herself.

No name. No relatives. No one she knew other than herself.

The dread of oblivion clung to her. The world was vanishing beyond her view and she only had the sense of loss to tell her that anything was different.

Her respirators hissed angrily. She dragged her rubber-nubbed claws across her blank face. The pain of motion swirled inside of her, rising up through her chest cavity and spreading laterally. Protrusions warped her smooth flesh and she flexed them and felt the hot, swollen sting of her latex skin stretched over firm forms. Her unsteady muscles tensed, then relaxed. Her mind was testing their movements, adjusting to new sensations.

She raised her arms. Her one, two, three, four arms. She looked down at her four palms and four exhausted clicks slipped from her respirators.

Her spine, for lack of a better term as her body was slowly plasticized, bunched up along her lower back. She groped behind her and clutched the smoothly curved protrusion, about a foot long, rising from the base of her breathing tube.

Four jolts hit her, screeching against skin and shearing loudly. Four tapered mouthpieces slid from the protrusion on her back, running in a single line like spiny spikes. They split into an upper and lower pair, each pair with one on the left and one on the right. Sleek velvet hoses extended from behind the mouthpieces. The hoses curled around her hips in slow arcs. Each of the four slotted neatly into its own pouch on the front of her stomach.

She was already her own walking hookah, and now she could serve parties of one to four.

Slow saffron clicks misted out of her respirators. Her upper hands grasped her breasts and pulled them back to feel the tightness of the latex, how it pushed back against her hands. Her lower-left hand parted the hidden folds of her pussy, and her lower-right hand dug into it, searching for pleasure to drown out the dull buzz in her mind.

She looked up into a white featureless face and didn't move. It wasn't looking back. The nurses never did; they had no eyes, so their faces always pointed perpendicular to their shoulders. The only sound was her respirators and their uneven clicks and the light squeak of her fingers against the damp inner recesses of her body.

The nurse reached out and pressed a collar around her throat. She watched its fingers warily, but once the collar was buckled, it stepped back. Three rows of short, rounded, chrome-steel spikes jutted from the black leather. It was classy, yet just a little rough.

It was like her. She was classy and a little rough.

She could imagine herself standing still, nothing but the occasional puff of an exotic flavor from her respirators, holding a plate of hors d'oeuvre in one hand while partygoers puffed on her like a hookah.

And then, later, she could pleasure them each. Why did she feel so lustful, she wondered. Her lips curled against her fingers and slick fluids, artificial latex-based lubricants, flowed down her thighs.

She felt so lustful because she was made that way.

A smokey hiss turned into soft clicks. Four...six...eight clicks slid out in one breath.

She had been so worried about herself just a moment ago, but now that she knew the truth, she felt a pleasant emptiness. Or, more precisely, she didn't feel it. There was no self to feel pleasant.

The nurse clicked eight times at her, each sound identical and evenly spaced. She clicked back, matching the nurse's pace perfectly.

She had worried she would lose her identity, but she couldn't lose what she never had. She had nothing more to define her than a nurse did, or a door, or a machine. She was better than a nurse and a door and a machine, but not because of anything intrinsic to herself. She was better because she was a luxury.

Luxury. The word made her thighs rock lightly and brought more slick lubricant running down her thighs. She needed a name, like a yacht needed a name, or a hunting rifle, or a manor estate. Her imagination had been excised, just like her sense of self, but she liked the word.

Her name was Luxury.

Saffron relief flooded the air. Her lubricants pooled on the floor around her thick boots. She straightened her knees, pulling herself up to her full height and laying both her sets of arms in a neutral position by her sides. She was strong but rounded, her rough edges gently filed down into something pleasant. An interesting conversation piece and a tool for pleasure, all in one.

She was almost perfect, except for that voice in her head. It had emotion and feeling and self-identity.

You can't give in. Remember yourself

Luxury breathed and let saffron smoke fill her to the brim and seep into her mind.

Dontforg etwhoyou are|hey can||ake ||a|away |romyo||.

F|g||ti|| yo||can| |e|||||s ||v||||| er||e||| ||||||||

|||s|||| |||||||| |||||g|| ||||||||

|||||||| |||||||| |||||||| ||||||||

|||||||| |||||||| |||||||| ||||||||


Luxury was still and quiet. She could wait for weeks, just standing here.The passage of time meant nothing to an item like her. Soon she would be sold, and she could be the expensive plaything that she was built to be.

Thomas had thought this place was a hospital, but in truth, it was a factory. It was a factory with no owner, no company, no logo, no address, no workers, and no mind. No thought was guiding it but the constant churning of a machine intelligence.

It was a factory without identity.

Eight dead clicks echoed through the hospital.