Good Girls Get Milked
A quick escapist VR cowification sketch. Mature.
It's one of those days that stretched on way longer than it should have, from rushing out in the early morning to driving back under an unpleasantly gray sky, bundled up in a coat I'm sick of wearing, after staying late for a job I'm sick of having. By the time I finally get home, it's dark. I manage to get off my shoes and coat and stick some frozen chicken in the oven, but after that, I'm spent.
Still in my shirt and slacks, I slump down onto the futon and just sort of hang there and stare at the ceiling. I stare over at my TV. I stare down at my VR set. It's been a week or two since I've used it—just too busy. But I need it, even if I feel like I'm not too far from passing out. The metal contacts in the strap settle against my neck as I slip the goggles on. I lay down, and flip the switch.
There's a half-second of nothing, then the sensory drivers click on, and suddenly I'm standing. Then, chunk by chunk, the grass loads in under my feet, and the sky rolls blue and bright above me, and a light wind brushes over my shoulders, carrying the scent of hay and warm dust.
I take a breath, then exhale so deeply I feel like I'm deflating. I flop down onto the ground. It's soft underneath me, and the blades of grass are cool and slick under my fingers. As I sit up, I realize I didn't even get my socks off. I bend down, tug them off by the toes, and pitch them over toward the nearby tree.
March 12, 2018
A stressed-out college student relaxes by turning herself into a bimbo. Mature.
Kris thunked her face down into the middle of her textbook and let out a groan. Her lips stuck to the pages, which was probably gross, considering she'd bought it used. Dragging back her red hair, she pulled herself up, then folded her arms and flopped back down.
Midterms could eat a dick. Her first one wasn't until next Monday, but she'd been studying all day and she'd barely gotten through the first two weeks of class. She hadn't even changed clothes. She was still wearing the blue, palm-tree-patterned pajama pants and old high school Quiz Bowl tee shirt she'd worn to bed. It wasn't that she didn't want to take a break, it was that she couldn't. Even if she tried to nap, she'd just lie in bed stressing out over her impending doom until her stress headache came back.
What she needed was to relax.
Kris tipped her head to the side and glanced up at the shelf above her desk. Sitting on the side next to her closet was a round red button with a silver base. She reached up and pulled it down, setting it on the desk in front of her. In bold white letters across the was printed 'RELAX'.
Kris tapped her fingers across the letters. She'd never used the button before; never really had a need to. Now, between her headache and gnawing anxiety and her inability to get some rest, this was as good a time as any to try it out.
Her fingertips danced on top of the button while she pursed her lips. Either she should do it now, or put it away, she told herself. She pushed the button with her palm. It sank until hitting the bottom with a ker-click!
February 10, 2018
The Elixir of Al-Rūn
A College mage tries to steal an elixir of suggestion from his alchemy teacher, but winds up pranking himself pretty hard. Mature.
The evening bells rang out over the blue domes and white walls of the College, calling all its students to dinner in the Great Hall. By rule, only primes or those with special dispensation from a College Master were exempted. Martin was neither of these, but he had come to learn that during dinner, when the halls were nearly empty, was the ideal time to avoid being caught.
The sleeves of his blue fifth-year's gown were rolled up above his elbows and his dark hair was tucked behind his ears. On his desk before him, a sigiled blue flame lapped at the bottom of his glass alembic. A vial underneath the spout collected the thin, milk-white fluid, a distillation of white betony and hyssop petals.
Crouching down, Martin tapped the side of the alembic, coaxing a few more drops to run down into the vial. The betony and hyssop was spent. They had given him less distillate than he'd hoped, but he was sure it would be enough. He only needed to make it to the alchemy laboratory and back.
Within the laboratory, in the personal collection of Isidore, the College's Master of Alchemy, there sat a glass decanter, inlaid with gold and filled with a rose-red elixir. Martin had seen it only once, when Isidore had taken it from his study to show it to a sixth-year. It had been a gift from a friend of his, a Master at the great University of Al-Rūn, the cradle of alchemy itself. As Isidore described it, the elixir was made of camomile, saffron, a lock of hair cut from a slave's head, and the claw of a tame tiger. If drunk, it would render the drinker pliant and suggestible for a time.
This was his aim: to steal a portion of the elixir of suggestion, enough for several doses, and use it for his own ends. First of these would be Nicholas.
January 20, 2018
A fox goes to the Bureau of Orthomorphic Management for a routine appointment and runs afoul of red tape. Mature.
Robin found the yellow envelope waiting in his mailbox on Thursday. It announced, in thick letters, that it was his final notice from the Bureau of Orthomorphic Management, and that he needed to renew his license by Friday or it would be revoked. As well as the final notice, it was also the first notice, and the only notice, that Robin had gotten.
The thought of letting his license lapse as some sort of protest came to mind, but then Robin remembered what a nightmare his friend Nick had gone through when he'd gotten his license revoked. He didn't even get his old name back; he'd had to take a crummy public-access name like Reginald.
So shortly after noon and still a little sleepy, Robin tugged the garage door open, threaded himself between his apartment-mates' cars, and climbed into his own. It wasn't a long drive, but he didn't want to leave his license's fate to the whims of the local bus route.
The building of the Bureau of Orthomorphic Management looked like a brick of tofu. It did have windows and doors, which aren't features of tofu, but even the un-tofu parts of the Bureau building were infused with that bland simplicity. Robin imagined vandalizing its facade with spraycans of sauce and spices.
There was a short concrete walkway that led to the front door, guarded by railings made lumpy by so many re-applied coats of black paint. Beside the double doors were two plastic signs mounted to the wall. The first said, 'Bureau of Orthomorphic Management, Regional Office'. Below, next to a small intercom, was the second sign. A drawing showed a stick-figure with large tusks hunched over, trying to fit through a door too short for them. 'Persons needing assistance please press button,' it said.
Robin pulled the door open and stepped inside. The top of the doorframe cleared his ears with two feet to spare. Foxes like him weren't the tallest species, but you'd have to be a giraffe to have trouble with the front door.
Past the front doors, Robin came to the lobby. The lobby was meant to have a directory. But at some point, someone had thought to pin up a sign directing visitors to their department. Then everyone else had realized what a good idea that was, and by now, the lobby had grown into a jungle of signage. Sheets of printer paper with arrows were taped to the walls and pinned to bulletin boards and stapled on top of each other, all begging the reader to follow their directions.
If you were coming to see the Exercise and Fitness Approval Board, that was on the other end of the building. Nonstandard Locomotion Permits could be found on the sixth floor, stairwell access only. The Body Planner's Office announced that it was "on the Mezzanine", which Robin thought was likely a made-up word to trick young interns.
July 22, 2017
Administration (from The Merger)
A corporate takeover includes free mandatory bovinification for all employees. Excerpted from the paid anthology The Merger. Mature.
Stephen sat down at his desk and took a deep breath. The office was hot today, and buzzing with low chatter as people shifted cubicles and rolled their favorite chairs around. He wasn't moving; he wasn't important enough to get shuffled.
Aside from the bustle around him, it was a normal day at the office. His only new email was the one from Mr. Bayer about the merger. That was good, right? It meant he wasn't getting downsized yet. Right? He logged onto the project database and started updating each entry.
And then his chest felt tight. Not like a heart attack, not like something was clutching him, but like the front of his chest was snug against his shirt. It was the same white shirt and blue tie he'd worn a hundred times before, so what was different today? He tugged at the side of the collar and loosened his tie a little bit. A little bead of sweat rolled down his forehead. He looked to his right. Craig was in the cubicle opposite his, earbuds in, working away, unfazed by the warmth.
Craig wasn't worried about his performance review. Craig wasn't worried about some new boss coming in and deciding to fire any employee who'd gotten a bad review.
Stephen got up from his chair and brushed back his short, dark hair. Quick trip to grab some water, that was what he needed. Each step, the pressure pushed against his chest, like it was swinging up and down. He folded his arms across his chest to keep it from bouncing as he walked to the water cooler. Was he gaining weight? He hadn't been eating too well lately.
He reached out to push down the blue lever, then froze. He stared at his black fingernails. When...? How? The water spilled over his cup and he jerked back, leaving a small splash on the ground. His eyes darted from the wet carpet to his hand. His fingernails were larger. Blacker. Thicker. A sudden flush ran across his cheeks and sweat prickled beneath his shirt. He shoved his hand under his armpit to hide it. As he rushed back to his cubicle, he tried to ignore the feeling of his skin stretching and his fingernails growing thicker and bulkier..
Craig still had his head down in his computer when he got back. Stephen plopped down into his seat and spun to the side, so Craig couldn't see him extracting his hand from his armpit. His fingers quivered. He tried to move his pointer and middle fingers independently, but they refused to separate. The thick black nails on both fingers squeezed together, and then with a pop of bone and sinew, his fingers had joined. He wiggled his new, broad finger and the bulky black keratin hoof on top.
December 15, 2016
The Laidly Wyrm
Did you know there's an English folk song about a knight kissing a dragon? Mature.
The black granite walls of the seaside keep couldn't keep him at bay. Sir Roderick, youngest knight of the Order of the Green Hen, had come to fight the dragon. The dragon's crimes were only those of scaring coastal farmers and carrying off several head of cattle, but to Roderick, this was an opportunity to distinguish himself.
Getting inside the keep was a challenge all its own, but high walls couldn't stop him. A rope tied to his sword, thrown like a spear through a small window, let him scramble up into the guard tower. From there, he picked his way through the wide corridors of the keep. His footsteps echoed against the steady roar of the waves as he sought a path to the courtyard.
Eventually, he found a set of double doors, bolted with a thick iron bar. Sunlight glared through the cracks from the other side. He took a moment to ready himself. He tucked his blonde hair back, slipped his helmet onto his head, and then placed one hand on the hilt of his sword. With the other, he threw back the bolt and pushed open the doors.
In the courtyard, the high walls cast shadows against the thick flagstones. In one corner, the floor had crumbled away entirely, leaving a hole straight down to the rolling sea below. And in the middle of the courtyard was the dragon.
Its powerful, sinuous body stretched out along the stones. It sat like a great regal cat, with its forelegs tucked under its chest and back legs extended. Its scales glistened in the sun; they were a shade of blue richer than a nobleman's coat. A pair of smooth horns curled from its forehead, first sweeping back, then arching forward again in a lazy, serpentine curve. Its yellow eyes fixed on Roderick. Lean muscle rolled beneath its scales as it rose to its feet.
The dragon's voice reverberated through the stone. "At last!" it rumbled. Roderick watched its teeth. They were not like daggers. Daggers were thin and meant for slicing. The dragon's teeth were stout and jagged and meant for tearing meat from limb and armor from knight.
Roderick had practised what he would say the whole way from the nearest town. "Remember the name Sir Roderick, dragon," he said. The tip of his sword traced a line straight to the dragon's head. "Because it's he who'll slay you."
"Wait," the dragon said. It held out a taloned claw as big as Roderick's rib cage. "You're here to slay me? You mean you don't know?"