Sveta: A Gnarly Christmas Carol [7.2k words; sci-fi/mature content]


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    Sveta: A Gnarly Christmas Carol [7.2k words; sci-fi/mature content]

    (AUTHOR NOTE: If you find yourself at any point confused as to the context behind this story, you will want to read the story that precedes it in this conveniently-placed hyperlink.)

    ~

    TODAY'S DATE: 04.02.2133

    1. Did you forget what happened last night? [Yes/No]

    "Yes."

    2. Do you have a thumping headache? [Yes/No]
    "Yes."

    3. Does your palate hurt, most likely because you've been snoring like a foghorn? [Yes/No]
    "Yes."

    4. Does your mouth taste like sweaty donkey's cock? [Yes/No]
    "Yes..."

    5. Is the bedroom/bar/alley you were sleeping in utterly trashed? [Yes/No]
    "Yes..."

    6. Is there at least one other person sleeping in your immediate vicinity? [Yes/No]
    "Yes..."

    6a. If so, are they naked? [Yes/No]
    "Yes..."

    6b. If so, are they dead? [Yes/No]
    "I ... do not know. Oy!"

    "...whuh?"

    "That's a no, then."

    7. Does at least one orifice feel like it's been torn open? [Yes/No]
    "They all bloody do!"

    8. Are there any flies on the ceiling? [Yes/No]
    "Yes."

    8a. If so, do they crawl? [Yes/No]
    "Probably."

    It is at this point that I am struck with a revelation.

    "Hey! Counting flies is your bloody job!"

    "Damn it! Let me wake up first, you bloody harpy!"

    "Watch it! Unless you wanna find out what your cisterna chyli tastes like!"

    "Whatever. Go get me my fixer, sweetheart..."

    "Go get it yourself, idiot – and don't ever call me 'sweetheart' again!"

    At that moment my partner's eyes widen like a prison punk's arsehole.

    "That you, Sonya?! Shit, I thought you were Nadya for a second!"

    "Yeah, because I look so much like Nadya! And even if I was Nadya, what the fuck are you playing at?! Get your own bloody fixer!"

    I cement my fury by flicking one of the many expended condoms on the end table at him. He shrieks as the soggy projectile careens towards his head, only narrowly missing him as he ducks.

    If you answered all of the above with No, go and rethink your life, you boring puddle of cock-drippings!
    If you answered all of the above with Yes, CONGRATULATIONS! Now refer back to this list in nine months.


    ~

    Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm describing my hungover self waking up after another wild party. If people have superpowers, mine is to drink any man smaller than a professional bodybuilder under the table – and even the bodybuilder might have a fight on his hands. As of two months ago I'm currently Yakimanka's champion competitive boozer, having fought off such contenders as a kickboxing champion, an army sergeant twice my age and Igor, who I know for a fact knows his way around a jug of samogon.

    My secret? A cyber-augmented liver hooked up to a military-grade auto-detox kit, installed by yours truly. These things are used by the guys who clean up irradiated wastelands and wade through chemical attack, so you can only imagine how many months of hard labour at the lab it took to save up for it. If Uncle Dima ever found out exactly how expensive it was, Kuzma's mother would just be the first in a whole queue of colourful characters waiting to wrap up my ass in tinfoil and tenderise it like a piņata.

    Not to mention, although the detox will keep me safe from such badness as cocaethylene poisoning and its rather inconvenient habit of hitting mid-orgasm, it only refreshes the liver and not the brain. End result: it's not uncommon for most of my razzles to end in a vicious hangover. This one, although it sucks ass, isn't anywhere close to the worst. As for what the worst is like ... well, you might have half an idea of what it felt like if you can picture a collapsing star exploding inside your skull. And don't even get me started on how much vomit I had to clean up afterward.

    That I even bothered to grab my Official Good Night Out Checklist today, however, indicates that this was a better night than usual. That matter is further enunciated when, while investigating the source of an itchy sensation on my nose, I wipe off a suspicious white powder. That means I must have partaken in a Triathlon – a party where you get drunk, high and laid in the same night. No doubt some hapless bastard has tried to challenge me for my crown. The thought of how much vomit there is in the common room courtesy of the challenger raises a smile onto my face.

    And it's at this precise moment that an ominous growl from my belly parts my eyelids. As I feel a knot rising up in my throat, I come to realise that my ordeal isn't over quite yet. Just while we're on the topic of vomit...

    Like a bat out of hell, I'm out of the bed and in the en-suite bathroom over the toilet. A thick, sour semifluid explodes from my mouth, turning the water in the basin a sickly ochre.

    "I need to stop fucking drinking so much..." I grumble to myself, even though I know damn well I'll ignore this advice at the NEXT party.

    The sharp putrescence of ethanol rising from the toilet reliably informs me that my tipple of choice must have been at least one-sixty proof. Possibly one-seventy... No, further olfactory examination deduces it to be one-sixty five. Just over twice the alcohol content of your bog-standard vodka, in other words. So what was it I tried to drink last night? Absinthe? Rakija?

    Just as I deduce that nobody fucking cares, I finally stagger out of the en-suite after a good old-fashioned puking sesh. It would appear that my bedroom partner has taken me up on my earlier proposal to get off his ass and fix himself up. Probably out of fear of being bombarded with another johnny.

    I can't help but gasp at the absolutely wretched state of this bedroom. From what I have so far gathered, it's a hotel room, and not one I'm familiar with. Alright. So I most likely went out of town with friends for some as of yet unknown purpose. There are empty bottles of booze everywhere, and at least ten used condoms on the floor. There's no way on Earth someone like the bloke I woke up next to has that level of endurance, so there was definitely more than one here. That at least explains why I'm aching so much. Though if he was mentioning Nadya, who's one of my old classmates, then at least I can rest easy knowing I most likely wasn't the sole focus of an orgy. Better yet, nothing's leaking. That means I'm not pregnant. Good.

    Even so, I reach down to my track pants on the floor and pull out a small plastic jar from its pocket. Upon unscrewing it I take out a levonorgestrel pill and pop it, going to the bathroom sink and swallowing it with a jarful of tap water. I believe I've already stated at length why I'm not the best candidate for motherhood – and I don't take any chances with such serious matters as this.

    When reaching into my pocket though, I find myself in possession of a small leaflet. There's what appears to be a woman on the front of it, dressed in a huge, flowing black robe as she holds out a microphone. The silver mask she's wearing is shaped in the image of a young woman screaming in untold despair, with two ovoid openings where her eyes would be, and missing her lower jaw. The acronym at the top of the leaflet reads in bold white lettering: F.A.S.R.

    Now I remember what I was doing out here. With the extra cash I bagged up last week I promised Igor I'd take him to see the Freaky Alien Sex Robots concert in Minsk, since they're touring Russia this year. Here my memory is far less fuzzy – with FASR easily living up to its fierce reputation amongst the heavy metal crowds. Though it comes with the moderately unsettling revelation that I'm about 700 kilometres away from home, I remember that Sveta came with us to watch the concert as well. She rented out a minibus for the occasion, bringing quite a few of us to watch the concert – me, Igor, Nadya and a few of Sveta's other mates who I don't know.

    "Sveta..." I repeat to myself with a sudden dreadful realisation.

    I turn to the alarm clock on the end table, its lucid blue digits proclaiming 10:24. My thundering headache pauses as my skin runs ice cold.

    ~

    "Fuck-shit-arse-dick-bitch-piss-bastard-wank-cock-pussy-cunt-bollocks-twat-PRIIIIICK!!!"

    Such is the deluge of profanities that explodes from my mouth as I stumble down the hallway as fast as a hungover seventeen year-old can possibly manage, stepping into her track pants as she hastily dresses herself. The good news is that I'm not totally bare: my FASR T-shirt protects my chest from onlooking mingers. Whether or not I bothered to put on my bra is presently rock bottom on my list of concerns.

    In case you've not figured it out yet, Sveta was supposed to be picking me up for the drive home at half past eight – in other words, two hours ago. Having kept her waiting for that long isn't exactly a sobering thought, considering she volunteered to drive us here herself, that she needs to get the bus back to the rental shop and her hellish temper. All kinds of terrible images manifest in my mind about my impending punishment for tardiness. Such images range from a high-volume dressing down to being chased around the hotel car park by a berserk gorilla driving a minibus after me, fully intent on turning me into a red stain on the pavement. I'd rather not become the subject of a hit-and-run death, but if I keep her waiting for any longer, that's probably what's going to happen. This I consider as I pass the confused receptionist, several equally bemused families and blunder through the hotel doors at full tilt...

    "FUUUUCK!!!" I squeeze out one more blasphemy for good measure as the sunlight strikes my eyes like a hammer, forcing me to avert my gaze in much the same manner a vampire would if in the same circumstance. Just at that moment I trip over the kerb and fall to the floor, for my trousers having fallen to my ankles. Only the presence of my underpants has prevented a total sartorial cataclysm.

    Nursing my latest war wound, a slight graze on my knee from the pavement, I turn back to the door to see a young child, no older than eleven. The boy looks on at me with wide-eyed amazement, about to say something before I cut him off:

    "You want some advice, kid?"

    The boy nods slowly.

    "Steer clear of booze and hard drugs!" I instruct him – I'm half-joking, full serious.

    At this point a woman with short-cut black hair and a dark teal business suit shows up and takes the boy by the hand. She glares back at me as if I'm some sort of disease, her light blue optical augments scintillating in the daylight.

    "Pathetic wretch!" the woman hisses at me, her accent betraying her New Leningrad residency. "Come, Vovochka – let's leave the girl be and check in!"

    "Mama, what's a hard drug?" the boy newly identified as Vovochka asks the woman with genuine curiosity. "Is that like what Papa has?"

    The mother doesn't answer as she ushers Vovochka in through the hotel doors, her eyes flashing as she gives me one last look over the shoulder.

    For a second I start to sympathise with vampires, seeing as how they're always forced to retreat from sunlight for rightful fear of being incinerated. I do, however, use this brief interaction with Vovochka to figure out that I am in fact not being burned to death by the fury of solar power. Granted, I only realise this when I notice that the sun has been obscured by a towering humanoid figure standing above my wretched self.

    "What the..." I mumble out in confusion.

    "Fucking hell, Igor really did do a good job with those Depth Charges..."

    The young lady looming over me has a fiery-red mohawk haircut as tall as her head, luminescent purple eyes owing to recent augmentation, and solid black lips on a pale white face. She also loves leather jackets, this being the case ever since we went to high school together, and is wearing one alongside a pair of TSV-camouflaged combat trousers.

    ~

    Meet Svetlana Ivankova, my best buddy since childhood. Sveta's one of two of us with a driving licence, the other being the same Tanya whose name-day was the day after payday. This represents a problem, given her three fatal flaws – she's arrogant, her mouth could melt the ears of a VDV drill instructor, and she has a temper like hellfire. That makes her nickname of 'Nutcracker' even more fitting, especially considering it's also her favourite ballet. She's got such a big head she probably could break open nuts with it. And her anger issues mean that she would certainly try to use her head to break some bastard's nut open.

    Speaking of almost killing someone, there's actually a brilliant story about how Sveta managed to get her set of wheels – a brown five-seater Kolesnikovsky Kyton hatchback. One of her friends, a stim-junkie, kept borrowing money from her for blowouts, to the point that he owed her about three and a half thousand rubles. First rule of lending money, however: don't give it to a junkie. This lesson she learned when coming to collect the cash, only to discover that he'd gone and bought a new car, a navy-blue MAZ, for three and a half thousand rubles. Being a reasonable person most of the time, Sveta made the arrangements to take the car as payment for her buddy's debts. In fact, she would have had that MAZ to this day had it not been for another development.

    Turns out her slimy fuck of a friend also owed his brother a similar debt, and in a magnificent case of mistaken identity, this other guy decided to take his revenge – by throwing a tyre through the windscreen of Sveta's brand new ride. Sveta protested such a slight by snatching her hunting shotgun, kicking down the brother's front door and threatening to turn his brains into a thin pink paste. Or at least I assume it was a threat, considering how she was literally foaming at the mouth during the course of her friendly chat.

    Needless to say, the hapless bastard explained his mistake in pretty short order, and even offered to compensate her by handing her his car, the Kyton, instead. He's damn lucky she took the offer, and so for that matter is the girl herself – without my insistence, she'd probably have ended up being deported to Siberia for first-degree murder. Not the first time I've had to bail her out of trouble. Not the last, either.

    Anyway, that's the story of how Sveta carjacked a junkie at gunpoint and got away with it.

    Oh, and before I forget – if you're wondering what a Depth Charge is, it's a bomb drink composed from a whiskey glass of samogon and a shot glass of cheap cologne. Igor tells me he got the idea for making them from his uncle, a soldier in the army, who in turn brought the recipe home from a tour of duty in the Baltic Union as a war trophy.

    ~

    "Where is he?" I blurt out, referring to Igor. "The bus home... We gotta get home..."

    "You are home, stupid!" my buddy answers with a smirk. "I see you got fucked up yet again!"

    What feels like five minutes is actually only about ten seconds at most. For such a period of time I try to gather my bearings and figure out where it is I am.

    "In more ways than one..." I eventually state as I pull my trousers back up. "How much did I have?"

    "Well, put it this way," Sveta frowns. "The journey to Minsk and back took eight hours each way. You and the others were ... pretty much completely fucking wasted throughout the whole journey back. Coke, booze – to say nothing of the lads you and Nadya brought with you."

    "How many was it?"

    "Truthfully I wasn't paying attention, but at least eight got onto the bus. You really fancy yourself a party girl, don'cha?"

    "Gee, Sveta, it's almost like you've known me for eleven years!" I half-bark with a weak grin.

    So there we have it. I've had at least eight over the course of the past eight hours, and who the fuck knows how many litres of booze or kilogrammes of cocaine I've ingested. How we didn't get pulled over by the fuzz I don't know.

    "I'll tell you what'll really help with this special case of PPD, though," I start to suggest.

    "Coding?" Sveta states with a huge grin on her face.

    "Not in this lifetime!" I snap at her. "I was going to make the proposition that we go grab the others and get a bite to eat at Katya's."

    "That is also acceptable," says Sveta. "Though my wallet's back home, so we'll need to take a detour."

    ~

    Before long, we're on the road. I'm currently seated in the shotgun seat of the Kyton, Sveta having returned the minibus some time ago. My face is armed with a perpetual wince owing to the burning sun overhead. Not an unusual affair for March.

    Now, any passenger who realises that metal pipes and skulls tend not to get along knows that the driver decides what goes on the radio. Fortunately, most of the time, Sveta's musical tastes align with my own. We're both huge fans of metal bands like FASR and Lazarus Hellscream, and can discuss the significance of each band's big hits. One of the songs I heard in Minsk, for instance, was about retribution for a brutal gang-rape – referring to the troubled past of Skyfire, the lead singer who was on the cover of that leaflet I have. She's personally written most of FASR's songs, incorporating a lot of violent and demonic imagery into their works, and the song about her is part of an album about all four members of the band. A smile creeps up my face as I recall the song about Tratnyr, the drummer who got double-crossed and left for dead during a bank raid gone hilariously wrong. Skyfire has a cybernetic augmentation that lets her back ribs fold out as she spreads her arms out, like a Viking blood-eagle – to the delight of onlookers in the crowd as jets of fire promptly erupt from her back like a balrog's wings.

    Sometimes though, when it comes to music, Sveta pulls something out of her hat that even I don't expect. I mentioned The Nutcracker was her favourite ballet – I didn't even know she liked ballet until about a month ago. She swaps tastes like Tanya swaps bodily fluids, and not just musical either. One moment she's got a taste for classic Kristov movies; the next moment she's inviting me over to watch some sad Kyle Rainey romance flick. The only one that's really stuck for any length of time is heavy metal.

    ~

    Just as I think about this, the music from the radio set catches my attention. The rapid strumming of a bass guitar accompanied by light drums fills my ear, evoking the image of the sea in my mind.

    "Hey, what's this?" I ask.

    "Ah," Sveta enunciates, clearly well aware of what is now playing on the radio. "This, Sonya, is something different. This is called 'Surf Guitar'."

    "Surf Guitar?" I state with genuine interest.

    "Yep," she confirms. "It's guitar, played by surfers. Picked this album up at a swap meet in Vladimir the other week."

    "What's this song called?" I ask her. "I like it."

    "Couldn't read much of the cover: it's in English, and truth be told I was more focused on the hot guy on the front. Something about a miser, from what I gather."

    "Why would surfers write a song about a miser?" I ask, my eyes narrow with inquisition.

    "I dunno," Sveta shrugs. "Maybe it's part of a film score. Maybe it's from an adaptation of Dickens."

    "Dickens?"

    "Yeah! Imagine it: A Gnarly Christmas Carol!"

    "...what."

    "It makes so much sense if you think about it! Surfboards were expensive back before the nukes went flying. So naturally, the surfers would've had to bum cash from boring day jobs. And they'd surely celebrate Christmas too! So imagine they work for this right fucking cock-hound – let's say, in 'Big E's Surf Shack'. And the workers there would be like, Dude, can I have, like, a Christmas bonus? And Big E would be like: Are you fuckin' kidding me, bro? This ain't a goddamn charity, man! And then the three ghosts would be like: Dude, that's totally bogus. Like, fix your ways, man!"

    There's a pause of about two seconds as I exert every pound per square inch of my mental power in a desperate effort to try and comprehend exactly what I've just heard.

    "Why do I get the terrible feeling you've just revolutionised the global cinema industry?" I ask with a hint of dread, the fruit of my heroic thinking.

    Sveta's subsequent chuckle slowly rises into a giggle. Then the both of us burst into hysterical laughter.

    ~

    As of two years ago, when her old man kicked her out of the house, Sveta owns her own junkyard in Balashikha, some twenty klicks east of Yakimanka district. It's built amidst the ruins of a factory once owned by RUBIN Aviation Corporation, if the long rusted-out logo is anything to go by. A tall concrete fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the property, deterring all but the most persistent thieves and curious pissheads. For those that do somehow make it over the four-metre high wall, two sentry turrets positioned by the warehouse give them thirty seconds to scram or be ventilated. The warehouse in question is locked up with biometric scanners and no windows, making it almost impenetrable to all but the best raiders.

    By profession, Sveta is a wasteland scavenger – and considering she did disastrously at school despite wanting to be an architect, she's doing exceptionally well for herself. When we all got our final grades a few years ago, Sveta's were so hilariously bad that our friendship circle joked that she'd be the one serving us at the Shashlik Kingdom, one of Russia's two main fast-food chains. Apparently determined to stick it to us, Sveta didn't bother to get a job at any fast-food outlet out of principle, which irritated her dad enough for him to throw her out. In a rare gesture of magnanimity, Uncle Dima let her doss in our garage while she got up on her feet. In an even rarer turn of luck, however, Sveta didn't need to. When her great-uncle kicked the bucket the day before she arrived, he left her his scrapyard in his will – along with three residential properties in Balashikha district, two of which have since been rented out to an augmentician's family and two married alkies. Sveta doesn't care much for their activities, so long as they pay rent – which they do, so I'm told. Or at least the auger does.

    So ensued a brief court battle with a fashion company owned by one of the city councillor's son, which had apparently been promised the land to build a new shoe factory. That court battle ended rather quickly when the judge told said dirty councillor's son to go and screw himself. Admittedly, Johan and his boys may have horned in when they heard Sveta was at risk of being shafted. And the corporate lawyer who had the vital documents to hold up the company's case may have accidentally deleted them after watching his wife unwittingly fall ulna-first onto the business end of a sledgehammer.

    Human clumsiness aside, this is where Sveta stashes most of the goods she gets on her monthly scavenger hunts while she waits for buyers.

    ~

    But we won't be visiting the junkyard today. Instead we'll be visiting Sveta's house, a modest bungalow just across the street from the junkyard. We pull into the driveway before coming to a stop with a jolt; how I hold in my stomach contents I don't know.

    "Come on in!" Sveta proclaims upon opening the front door, gesturing me through. "Get yourself some breakfast – mi casa es su casa, and all the shit that entails."

    Sveta's not exactly a hoarder, but she's certainly no epitome of tidiness. As I step into the house, I almost trip over a lawnmower in the hallway, only averting a second humiliation by stopping at the last second. While Sveta searches for her wallet in the living room, I navigate the pileup of junk in the dining room to the kitchen, fully intent on following through on my buddy's instruction regarding the acquisition of morning victuals.

    Moments later I return from the kitchen, making my way toward a home-made wooden table and chair with a bowl of cornflakes. Not that we proletarians even have real corn any more – you can thank the nukes for that. This unbranded cereal was most probably mass-produced in a hydroponic farm in the ass-end of Siberia, as most foodstuffs we get tend to be. Does this bother me? At this very moment, as I'm just happy to get something into my gob that isn't booze or something far worse – not really.

    Instead my mind has wandered elsewhere. Coming to Sveta's place and thinking about the wastelands where she scavs, I find myself thinking about the bandits again. The scum of the wastelands, the people who subsist through plunder and pillage – they who didn't, as the state calls them, in the context of assimilation into society. In the earlier years they were a huge problem for the Russian people, but these days they've been driven underground, metaphorically as well as literally: the Mechanocratic Armed Forces makes a special point of destroying any bandit camps they find with overwhelming force. For those the jets can't catch, they let civilians go after them and do whatever. As far as the State is concerned, bandits aren't people – they are prey.

    "Ey, Sonya – I got a question for you!" Sveta calls from the living room.

    "Ask away," I answer in a monotone.

    "What's the only creature that can kill a dragon without much effort?"

    "A virus," say I.

    "Eh?" Sveta seems bemused.

    "More accurately, it kills it without any effort," I continue without turning to her. "The virus doesn't even know the dragon's there. It simply breeds and operates within the environment that just so happens to be the dragon. The virus' life cycle ends when it devours the very environment that sustains it, often taking down the rest of its kind with it."

    A brief pause for thought.

    "Something tells me there's a few 'viruses' you've got your eye on at the moment," Sveta states afterward, her eyes narrow.

    "Why'd you think I answered the way I did?" I finally turn to her. "Heard there's a few bandit camps lurking in the Baltics. I'm getting my payday tomorrow. We pick up a Letter of Marque, get a cheap rifle or something, ride with a caravan, and we've got ourselves a weekend hunting trip..."

    "I dunno..." Sveta averts her gaze. "Plugging rad-rats and the odd reindeer is one thing. But people?"

    "Yeah! Besides, you know better than anyone how these fuckers work!"

    "Damn it! I don't want to go hunting for defenceless wastelanders!"

    "Defenceless?!" I state indignantly. "Tell that to the poor bastards they've robbed, raped and killed to make a living!"

    "I'm not having this conversation again!" Sveta snaps at me. "Two wrongs don't make a right, Sonya – they just make the original wrong ten times worse!"

    "Alright," I decide not to press the debate further, knowing she won't budge. "Sorry for bringing it up. What were you originally gonna say about the dragon?"

    "A tarrasque, of course," she states with a huge grin.

    "A what?" I blurt out.

    "I read about it from this."

    She conjoins her statement to the production of a large hardback book from her shelf. The front cover is adorned with the visage of a huge, floating monster, its dagger-like maw opened wide as its single eye gazes with menace upon the reader. The text has faded, clearly being many years old – a relic from one of Sveta's scav hunts.

    "Holy hell, where did you find that?!" I ask, recognising the creature as a 'Beholder' in an instant.

    "On a scav hunt outside Leninka a few weeks ago," she elaborates, producing two more similar books from the shelf: "The things were just rotting there on a bookshelf, but in good enough condition that you could probably start a fresh campaign with 'em."

    "They've gotta be worth thousands!" I state with genuine awe.

    "You're damn right they are. These are copies of the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Masters' Guide for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. If they were in mint condition, they'd be worth more than your house!"

    "That said, I wasn't gonna sell them just yet," Sveta announces as she puts the trio of books into her backpack. "Maybe we could get the girls and have a campaign started sometime?"

    "Well I already know Zina would be interested," I start to think. "Yevtaliya – she'll do anything she's told to. Nadya – eh. I dunno."

    "What about Tanya?" Sveta suggests.

    I raise an eyebrow. "I thought she had that gig in Chasovaya district. That's why she didn't come with us to see FASR, remember?"

    "I said she was spending the night with Hater while her old man's working the weekend in Yekaterinburg," Sveta promptly explains.

    "Oh... I see..." I murmur.

    Hater, by the way, is Tanya's current boyfriend. His real name is Nikolay Berezinsky, but everyone calls him 'Hater' because he's taken up the whole 'emo' shtick, complete with long black hair, make-up and dark attire. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how or why Tanya shacked up with him, since the two are nothing alike. She's confident to a fault, never taken recreational drugs in her life, and I'd say she's quite a looker. He's a little weed with no self-confidence whatsoever, we know for a fact he's a junkie (his mother is one of Johan's regulars), and he's not exactly the best catch in the appearance department. An intelligent, wealthy girl hooking up with a complete deadhead...

    Then again, her dominance and his submission might be exactly why they're together. When it comes to bedroom practices, Tanya's into a lot of bizarre shit. I've seen many more manuals on BDSM on her bookshelf than any classy woman would be comfortable claiming ownership of. Not to mention, a few of her 'toys' poking out of her cupboards have given me far more insight into her predilections than I ever endeavoured to acquire. To this day, I'm still utterly baffled as to why she keeps both an electrified baseball bat and an ancient NKVD torture manual in her bedroom. I'm not entirely sure whether I even want to know either.

    This I contemplate as we pull up to the fabulous summer dacha of Tatiana Vlasova, about ten minutes after leaving Sveta's junkyard. The edifice is, of course, constructed in bleached white Chistaya, complete with a classical-style front entrance. That said, she has an excuse: her grampa is the chief director of the Ukraine and Byelorussia sector branches of Gosbank, the Mechanocracy's state bank. Tanya's following in her gramps' footsteps and currently works as the personal secretary to the director of Gosbank's Moscow branch office – that's to say, her father. As a direct result of that, she has FAR more money than she really knows what to do with – which at least explains her odd sexual appetite.

    I only know Tanya's father Yakov from a very brief conversation when I went to a pool party here one time, but from what I've heard about him from his daughter, I'm not the only one who fancies themselves a chronic party animal. From that alone, I can judge that 'working the weekend in Yekaterinburg' is little more than a synonym for 'drugging himself into transcendence'. Next time I meet him, I think I'll challenge him to claim my crown...

    ~

    "Just out of morbid curiosity," I ask Sveta as the car rolls up to Tanya's front door. "What d'ya think my alignment would be? In real life, I mean."

    "You?" Sveta huffs. "Chaotic Evil. No question."

    "Chaotic Evil?" I repeat, not sure whether to be honoured or insulted. "You think I'm a sociopath?"

    "To be honest, you can be a bit sometimes," Sveta shrugs. "But not all Chaotic Evil characters are sociopaths. I think a good example of that is Halko, from that HV series the name of which I've forgotten again. The one with the Imperium. The thing about Halko is that he's a murderer with a callous disregard for societal norms and values, but he's not a total asshole – in fact, he'd probably make a decent parent. Really, 'chaos' just means a disdain for authority and 'evil' means you tend to be selfish – both of which help to embody you particularly."

    "I can't believe you just compared me to Halko from the Sidhverse," I feign offence in jest. Truthfully, I'm glad Sveta doesn't think I'm a complete cock-hole. We often argue about things, but what's important is that we're there for each other. She's been around for me as far back as I can remember, and I've helped her out every time she feels down about something. Even vandalising junkies armed with car tyres.

    "Whatever," Sveta rolls her eyes with a smirk. "Go get Tanya!"

    ~

    "Tanya!" I call through the house as I step in through the double front doors. "Tanya, we're going to Katya's for lunch, you wanna-"

    The first sight to assail my eyes is the living room. The all too familiar tart smell of puke fills the house, its source covering the floor in sporadic puddles. In the distance the fridge is open, along with several cabinets full of food – the contents of which are now scattered all over the floor. As I step forward a stray tomato is splattered beneath my right boot; all around are jars of peanut butter, some actual peanuts, a half-eaten leg of ham covered in vomit and several types of jam. Another step forward and a biscuit disintegrates beneath my left boot with a crack, its source revealed to be an opened packet of chocolate digestives. Milk drips off of the leather couch from a vast white puddle covering its top – to say nothing of the packets of foodstuffs scattered EVERYWHERE. A smashed jar of mayonnaise lies on the floor, its former contents now against the industrial white wall. There's even a box of brownies balanced perfectly atop the ceiling fan.

    Too long, didn't read? The room is completely and utterly trashed. Somehow Tanya's trashed it harder than my hotel room.

    "What the fuck..." I behold this veritable bomb site with my jaw hanging open. The mess is bad enough, but I can't help but be awed and horrified at the sheer amount of food gone to waste. Strict as he is, Uncle Dima made damn sure we always appreciated what little we had growing up.

    "Uhhhhhh..."

    That feminine grumble came from the paddling pool on the other side of the living room, near to where the dining hall is. Slouched within the pool butt-naked is an attractive young woman, with flowing plum-coloured hair and natural white skin. Or at least she would look attractive were it not for the dribble of vomit running down her cheek.

    "Tanya, why does your living room look like the set for Babushka's Bake-Off got raided by the Internal Troops?" I demand to know. "Where the hell's Hater?!"

    And as if to grant at least one of my questions an answer, the door to the downstairs bathroom swings open. Out stumbles a skinny, raven-haired boy with ugly, pallid skin, missing every garment bar his white boxers, themselves stained with vinegar and probably a handful of different bodily fluids as well.

    "Y-you probably don't want to go in there for the- for the next few hours," Hater grumbles in his signature dour, barely-coherent drone of a voice. "Possibly weeks. May- maybe ever."

    The waft of shit-smelling foulness that promptly joins the miasma in the living room reliably informs me that it may be a bad idea to light a match in that particular part of the house. Suddenly I feel sorry for the poor bastard who has to clean up the epic shitstorm I left behind. Then I remind myself with a shrug: whatever, he's getting paid for it.

    Eyes narrowing like gunsights, I turn my head to face Tanya. "What the hell did you and Hater do last night?"

    All I get out of her is "I... I dunno...".

    "No really, I'm positively curious. How in the absolute fuck do you create such a mess playing a sex game?"

    And over the course of the next five minutes, Tanya struggles to explain the concept of 'feederism' to me. I know it involves putting on weight as a form of long-term gratification (don't ask how I know), but she misunderstood it as overeating for short-term gratification. After overdoing it to the point they couldn't even move, they realised it wasn't getting them off, so they decided instead to settle down for the night with some booze. Well, turns out that at some point, one of them grabbed for a bottle of absinthe to share, only to realise the hard way they'd actually grabbed a bottle of ipecac instead.

    "Wait wait wait, back up a moment – why the fuck would you keep syrup of ipecac in the living room?!" I blurt out.

    Because Hater is bulimic. The bottle's his.

    "Well you better clean this up! Because if your old man comes back from his weekend break in Yalta to this, he's gonna tear you in half."

    Out the corner of my eye, I spot a familiar face trying to inch his way towards the back door, having dressed himself during my 'conversation' with Tanya...

    "HEY!" I bark at Hater, and he stops dead as I grab his arm. "If you're gonna run off, do it when you knock her up, not beforehand! At least get that right, you creep!"

    "I- I was just fetching a broom..." he attempts to excuse himself.

    "Yeah, that's why you've got your car keys," I jab him in the side, and sure enough I hear a familiar jangle from his jacket pocket. "Get your ass back in there and help out."

    Caught out, Hater takes the broom I thrust in his general direction and slinks off back into the living room.

    "You fucking degenerate greaseball..." I remark as I grab a dustpan and brush nearby.

    I half-expect Tanya to tell me to knock it off and leave him be, Hater being her boyfriend and all, but she's far too fucked to even speak coherently. And her sober self knows very damn well what I think of Hater, his family, ethnicity, eating habits, religious conviction and sexual orientation anyway. Here's a hint: you wouldn't repeat it to your kids.

    ~

    In case you haven't figured it out yet, the word 'commitment' registers in my mental dictionary as a vile disease that devours you from within – necrotising fasciitis for the soul. I've noticed there's three kinds of boyfriends you can wind up with. One's a big surly drunkard who feels like he needs to compensate for his shitty bedroom prowess and terrible life choices by beating his woman to a bloody pulp. Men like Hater are timid fuckers with severe mommy issues, degenerate little greaseballs who exist solely to serve more dominant women so they can feel like their pathetic little lives are worth the effort it took for their mama to squeeze them out. The third kind does the opposite – they're worthless lumps of shit like number two, but they thrive off the pity their woman gives them, and they use that pity to manipulate them and ruin them mentally, turning them into an equally-pathetic shell of a person.

    Isn't it easier to avoid all that horse shit by just living free and fast? None of the other girls back in my school classes seemed to think so. They were all always obsessed with boys – talking to one in elementary, kissing one in middle school, and shagging one in high school. If you ask me though, all this 'romance' crap is just an extremely ostentatious way of asking someone to fuck. Keep an open mind. Don't limit yourself to one person who'll just dump you for someone prettier later. Hell, I'm open-minded enough to try a woman sometime – I have yet to add any girlfriend types to my aforementioned rogues' gallery of boyfriends.

    Not Tanya though, even when she tells that useless flea rancher of a boyfriend to leech off of someone else, and even though I know she's weird enough to actually say yes to my advances. My five rules of fuckery are nice and simple: no close friends, no family, nobody in a committed relationship, no animals and no aliens. We haven't found any aliens yet, but it's nice to be ready – 'need it and not have it' and all that. Everybody else, however, is fair game.

    I said it before, and I'll say it again – live fast and live free, and the only thing you'll have to give back to the world is a sexy corpse.

    ~

    "Hey, Sonya!" Sveta's sharp voice bellows from outside, interrupting us mid-cleanup. "You two playing the balalaika in there or something?! What's keeping you both?!"

    "Tanya and Hater have refined trashing the house into a Fedotovian masterpiece!" I explain through the window. "She's not in any state to clean up by herself. Come help her out!"

    "Oh for crying out fuck..." I hear Sveta grumble as she marches up to the door. "What do you mean she's not in any state to clean up by herself?!"

    "She got wasted after one of her weird sex games. Some-flaming-how she's in an even worse state than I was earlier! And I'm fairly sure if she moves more than five centimetres, her head will explode!"

    Sveta takes but one step into the living room.

    "I doubt she's that far gone ye- GREAT DONKEY'S NUT-SACK, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE!!!"

    Sveta's scream of horror makes Tanya groan and grab her ears. From my personal experience of hangovers, I can attest that the noise registered in her brain like the scraping of nails on a blackboard. The mere fact that Sveta made such an utterance, considering her choice of profession, says a lot about the cataclysm I've been helping clear up.

    "It would appear that our planned luncheon at Katya's will have to be postponed," I remark, barely able to suppress a laugh. Sveta, her jaw having almost fallen off, closes her mouth and starts breathing again.

    "Fuck it, I'll just grab us a bite to eat at the Shash down the road..." she shakes her head, turning to address Tanya and Hater: "Do you two lovebirds want anything for breakfast?!"

    Tanya and Hater's eyes suddenly widen with terror.
    ~
    Last edited by The Carcosan Herald; October 17th, 2019 at 06:45 PM.

  2. #2
    I think you're a very good writer - there's a bit too much profanity in this piece for me, but that's just a matter of personal taste. The [yes/no] bit at the start is clever, and the structure works, with a series of short snippets of life. Not much more to say, other than good writing, and keep at it!

    HJC
    My novels Hidden Content , Hidden Content and Hidden Content are available from Amazon

    Hidden Content Hidden Content Hidden Content

    You can find me on Twitter: Hidden Content

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