This chapter introduces a new Slasher Hunter character I didn’t introduce in Chapter 8. It also introduces Marina Reyes, another of the original Team Spanner members I came up with back in 1992-5 while I still belonged to my college’s anime club; this leaves only one more Team Spanner original left before the original team is complete at last. Rap producer Jayzus dates back to 2000 or so, as do his rivals in the Wu-Tang-like rap group called the Chi-Sah Gang whom I’ll introduce later.
What’ with all the sexual incorrectness? Why do some characters don’t care about what gender one’s lover is or bother to wear their clothes at home when both are illegal and viciously punished? There’s a point to this that will be revealed later. Ever since I started plotting Spanner in 1992, the Culture War has been one of its major themes. Time to sit back and watch the war play out...
← ...from previous
Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 11: Bad Girls Can’t Win
Chapter 11: Bad Girls Can’t Win
It’s hard to keep your shirt on
when you’re getting something off your chest...
when you’re getting something off your chest...
24 September 2014
Mimi cries out in pain. Shira, Cory, Rob, and Brandi rush over to help her. Nancy runs away. “What happened?” asks Cory.
“Nancy just tried to pull my hair out,” sobs Mimi. “She told me she doesn’t wanna be my friend anymore!” Rob takes her into his arms so she can cry on his shoulder. She blushes furiously.
“Why would she do that?” asks Brandi.
“I’ll answer that question,” says Rob. “Nancy’s been stalking me more obsessively, and she’s even attacking my female friends starting with Shira. Mimi’s been trying to stop her...”
Shira says, “I’ve been involved in online fangirl flame wars before, but I never thought I’d have a deranged fangirl as a classmate...”
25 September 2014
While Shira and Leila are making love in the girls’ locker room after school, Christian Fleer is stalking Rob in the parking lot as he waits for Connor and Jennifer to drive him and Steve home. She doesn’t yet know that the even more deranged Nancy is stalking him too.
As Steve organizes his books, homework, and computer equipment in his backpack, Rob walks idly toward the stadium. Before he can get halfway there, Christie glomps him hard from behind. He shrieks.
Steve turns around and is about to tell Rob’s assailant to go away; but when he sees it’s Christian Fleer, he cries out, “Oh, no!”
Nancy screams in rage. She runs toward Rob and Christie, hastily rips open her backpack, takes out a large textbook, and throws it straight at Christie, getting her in the side of the head.
“You rabid little cur!” Christie rushes Nancy to beat her up. Nancy has taken out another textbook and advances on her to brain her with it. As Nancy brings the book down, Christie dodges it and brings up her outstretched arms, hands together, to knock the book out of Nancy’s hands. She knees Nancy in the stomach and punches her in the nose. Nancy falls down and rolls over backwards, but she quickly gets up and charges Christie like a madwoman.
Rob and Steve pick up their stuff and run inside to find Jennifer and Connor. When they find Connor, Steve yells, “Connor! Get Jen! Nancy’s picked a fight with Christie over Rob!”
“What?!” Connor fumbles to get out his phone without dropping it. He speed dials Jennifer. “Hey Jen! It’s an emergency!... Nancy’s fighting with Christie!... Yeah, I will. Thanks! ’Bye.” He presses “end,” switches to the phone’s address book, finds Brandi’s number, calls her.
Jennifer, Brandi, Cory, and Kio run to meet Rob, Connor, and Steve. Together, they all run back outside to find that Nancy is gone and Christie is a mess. Jennifer tries to brush the dirt off Christie’s uniform. Christie tries to slap her, but she dodges. Connor inserts himself between Christie and Rob. “Christian, stalking’s not a good idea even for you.”
“Hmph!” Contemptuously, she picks up her backpack off the car she put it on, then flounces away to her own SUV. She gets in, slams the door, and angrily drives away.
“What gratitude,” says Jennifer sarcastically.
26 September 2014
Shira’s bed. The audio notification wakes Shira up. Groggily she rolls away from Leila and reaches out till she touches the Droid on her nightstand, fumbling with it till she gets a solid grip on it. She holds it up to see who sent it. J.T. Sparks? “WARNING” is the title. She touches the name on the touchscreen to open the GPG-encrypted email using his key.
I just got word that the NPA plans to deploy combots to police the election. They may be testing some already. Don’t let anybody know I sent this to you.“Policebots... hmmm...” She sits up at the edge of the bed, slides out the phone’s keyboard, and invokes the file manager to see what’s lurking in various neglected directories on the phone’s hard drive. She saves the attached 7-Zip archive J.T. sent containing the specs of various military, police, and corporate security robots currently in use or in development. When she opens the zipfile to read the technical papers contained in it, she laughs when she finds out that some of the robots run Windows. “Hmph! I could neutralize those bots just by rebooting ’em!”
Leila moans groggily. Shira looks back at her, then climbs back onto the bed, flips the covers off Leila’s naked body so she can get a full view of her, and kisses her gently on the lips.
“What’s going on with the phone?” asks Leila.
“Oh, that?” Shira holds it up so they can both see it. “A hacker friend with security clearance just sent me the specs on some robots your grandfather plans to use to keep the financially incorrect masses out of the election. Among other things...” Shira touches the screen to navigate back and forth through various subfolders. One of them catches her eye, called “kits”. She opens the directory to look at the files. She recognizes them with a start. “Rootkits?”
“What are those?”
Shira grins wickedly. “Just the thing to hack a horde of hostile robots. And I’ve got just the apps to put ’em there.” She starts her phone’s text editor, loads a series of source code files she’s been working on for the past year, picks the one she feels best suited to her needs, and thumbs away furiously at the keyboard to edit it. Leila leans against Shira’s back, puts her arms around her, and looks over her shoulder at the screen, fascinated.
after breakfast. Aira grins wide and blushes deep red as she stands naked in front of an equally naked Shira, sitting at the edge of her bed at home. Shira smiles at her and affectionately pats her butt with both hands as Leila comes through the doorway.
“Shira, what are you doing?”
Shira winks at Leila. “I’m teaching Aira how to be naked.”
“You don’t have to learn to be naked.”
“Not you or me, but she does. She didn’t grow up naked like we did.” Shira pulls Aira close to her and holds her tight. “Before she came to me, she mostly wore a full-body mask like most people do, and even when she went without clothes she put on a dramatic mask for the camera. Like most people, she never learned to be normal without her clothes like we did. So we’re keeping her from wearing clothes in the house so she can learn how to just be naked.”
“So how come you have to teach her how to be just plain naked when she grew up naked on screen? I don’t get it.”
“When you’re a loli under the control of child pornographers working for organized crime, you don’t get the chance. You have to be full-on superslut all the time, or else. I should know. I found that out the hard way.”
before class. The day after the talent show fiasco, Shira is the talk of the school. The In Kids stare at her warily; to them, she’s even more of a freak than she was before. Most of the Cool Kids avoid her, but a few can’t control themselves long enough to keep them from coming up to Shira, Jennifer, and even Karen and screaming at them for the way they treated the emissary from Pretty City. They already know Rob and Leila’s stormy history with Lala Sun-Microsoft and Pretty City, so they leave them alone. The Hip Kids, however, mob Shira and treat her like a conquering hero. Jennifer announces, “We’ve reserved Pizza Mafia for Monday night, and you’re all welcome to come!” The Hip Kids break out in cheers.
period 1. Shira finds herself lecturing Old Confederacy-loving Mr. Smith on history after 1865. The subject of their argument ends up settling on Atlanta.
“What I was trying to do last night? One hundred percent ‘Hotlanta.’ But then, I read in several of my history books that the Old South never really accepted Atlanta as one of its own. The pious slave lords always thought of the city as a painted whore. Today, even the city establishment is black. Jayzus, the ATL’s biggest hip-hop producer, has come cross-country several times to try to sign me, but I tell him no every time...”
The students find Shira’s history of the world and the history of Shira far more fascinating than anything the obsessed Mr. Smith has ever tried to teach. One boy asks her, “Why are you so much more interesting just sitting down and reading than he is when he opens his mouth?”
Shira chuckles. “Fanboys are boring. Especially those who never grow out of it.”
lunch, cafeteria. One of the two surviving girls in the outcast clique surrounding Ole-Ole Olson comes up to Shira. Clearly Hispanic. “Shira, you gotta help me.” Accent: Arizona Chicano.
“Yeah.” She paces around awkwardly, then blurts out, “I wanna be a Styler like you, Shira!”
“Well, yeah! you’ve come to the right person. What’s your name?”
“Marina. Marina Reyes.”
“You were from Phoenix before the purge?”
“Tucson, actually. My family left before the purge and settled near Yakima, then there was a purge there and now we’re here and we don’t know anybody here, so...”
“Here you are.” Brandi happens to pass by. Shira grabs her by the sleeve. “Hey, we got a request for help.”
Shira looks at Marina. “This is Marina Reyes. Marina, Brandi Quinn.”
“Hi,” says Brandi.
“Hi,” says Marina.
“I hear you’re stuck with Ole-Ole.” Marina nods sadly. Brandi smiles. “If you want my help, I’ll do anything I can.”
lunch, library. “Okay,” says Jennifer, “now that we’re away from the crowds for a bit, let’s plan our little thing tonight.”
“So are we going out?” asks Polly.
“No, we’re ordering pizzas, so no need. We want to get ’em there by eight, so make sure to get there by then.”
One of the librarians on duty asks, “Videogames?”
“Movies.” Jennifer winks.
“Aw, darn.” The girls laugh.
“So who’s got the guest list?”
Shira languidly waves a piece of paper in her hand. “There’s one more name I wanna add to it.”
“I hope it’s not anyone compromising.”
“No. I made her swear. She’ll spend the night with us if I help take care of her, well, problem.”
“I hope it won’t interfere with our schedule.”
“You can come join us if you want. Brandi’s taking care of the arrangements.”
“Shira Thomas, please come to the office,” says the receptionist over the school PA. “There’s someone who wants to see you as soon as possible.”
Shira swears under her breath. She gets up from her seat, takes a deep breath and then lets it out, takes on the calm she needs for potential battle, and silently heads for the door. Jennifer gets up to join her at the door. Everybody’s eyes are on the two as they go through the door; nobody says a word.
lunch, hallway. “So what’s this all about?” asks Jennifer once the door closes behind them.
“Knowing the administration as well as we do,” replies Shira, “our so-called friends in the police would be as good a guess as any.”
As Shira and Jennifer walk together down the hall like the Wild Bunch heading for the arena, the few students stare at them as if they were condemned criminals. As they pass the library, their little krewe gains a third member as Brandi insists on walking on Shira’s other side. “If you’re in trouble, love, I’ve gotta be there to vouch for you. You’re too important to me.”
Shira winks. “Thanks.”
Side by side, black brown and white, the three of them walk together toward the Principal’s Office with the utter determination of gunslingers headed for the duelling ground, as intimidating as they are beautiful. Even the meanest of the In Kids know better than to Challenge them while they’re on a mission. They stride down the hall and pass through the cafeteria till they reach their destination. They look at each other when they find a small and enthusiastic crowd gathered there.
“Looks almost like a celebrity decided to alight here,” says Jennifer.
“Hmmm,” muses Shira. “I hardly see any white kids there. I’m guessing it can’t be the cops.” Shira goes into the crowd saying, “’Scuse me, ’scuse me, got business here, lemme through.”
One black boy gets in front of him, points at her, and says incredulously, “It’s you?!” The whole crowd surrounds Shira and emits a mass squee as if she were the celebrity.
Annoyed, Shira raises her voice. “Will you guys let me in? That means you especially, Kwame Jamal.”
“Okay.” Kwame Jones scurries out of the way. Shira gestures to Jennifer and Brandi, and slips into the door to find—
Shira stands in front of him, paralyzed, her eyes wide open and staring at the big black man in a three-piece tweed power suit, matching beret, dozens of white and yellow gold chains, and mirrorshades. Brandi and Jennifer stare at each other in shock.
“Who is this?” asks Brandi.
“Only the hottest producer in the rap-industrial complex, and he’s got the bling bling bling to prove it.” She goes in. Jennifer holds the door for Brandi and gestures for her to go. Brandi goes in, and Jennifer follows.
lunch, principal’s office. Shira walks up to Jayzus as the kids lucky enough to get a view through the door watch with silent expectancy. The producer holds out his hand. Shira shakes it.
Jayzus takes a long drag from his cigar and blows smoke rings. “I been hearin’ great things about you, Shira Thomas. Or is that Loca Fantoma?”
“So you’ve been watching me on MyTube?”
“That ain’t the least of it. Several of my fans here sent videos of your performance last night. You were absolutely killin’. I knew what I had to do.”
“Sign me to a big contract.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
Shira stares at Jayzus for a minute. Then she paces excitedly back and forth, looking at the hip-hop kids in the hallway, who want her to sign; then at Jennifer, who silently begs her not to sign; and back and forth. She musters up reasons why she shouldn’t sign, then she turns back to Jayzus and takes a deep breath.
“Yeah, I know I’m good enough and hot enough to make it huge. I know you’re a good enough producer to make everything work. I can see myself worshipped by millions. I’ll be set for life, with big mansions in California and the Caribbean, and Swiss bank accounts, and full membership in the New African cultural élite, beautiful male Mexican sex slaves and all the latest sexbot models...” She takes another deep breath and lets it out. “But I’m afraid I’ll have to turn you down.”
In unison, all the hip-hop kids outside the office yell, “Noooooo!” They beg and plead her to sign. Jayzus gestures them to shut up. They fall silent.
He asks, “So why are you turning down one of the best contracts ever?”
Shira raises her finger and paces. “Well, for one, the boyz and bitchz in the ’hood would see me as you selling them out just so you can sell records to suburban white girls who squee over Minty Fresh. Second, I come with political baggage and might bring a little of my mother’s and my troubles with the Law to you, and you don’t want that. Third, I have a significant other of the same gender, which makes me sexually incorrect, and that definitely does not play well at all in New Africa, or old Africa for that matter. Fourth, I’d lose my street cred if I were to sign with you; I’d lose all respect from the Style Underground for selling myself out to the hated fashion-industrial complex. Last but not least, I prefer to retain complete creative control over my own works. So that’s why, lucrative as your offer is, I’ve decided to turn it down.”
Jayzus stares at Shira with cold anger. “I guarantee you’ll regret it.”
Shira stares back, confident in her choice. “You don’t know that. Good day.” She turns toward the door and leaves. Jennifer and Brandi follow. The disappointed crowd makes way for them to pass. Jayzus stares at Shira without blinking until she passes through the crowd, turns back toward the cafeteria, and disappears from view.
Kwame runs after Shira into the hallway, and demands, “Why the hell did you turn down Jayzus? If I was you, I’d sign in a New York minute!”
Annoyed, Shira turns to him. “Why? Would I wanna go trendomatic and lose my Style? It’s like losing my soul.” She turns from him and walks away.
Shira’s apartment. Morning tutors don’t have to come to afternoon classes, and neither Shira nor Leila have college classes on Fridays, so they decide to spend the afternoon making love. Today, Leila didn’t even attend high school classes. Shira finds her napping nude on her bed. Her right leg is hanging off the bed, giving Shira a clear view of her genitals from the doorway.
Shira quietly walks over to Leila and looks up her sleeping body. She gently moves the left leg slightly more open so she can get a better view of her genitals. She slowly caresses Leila’s hips and buttocks and admires the beauty of her cunt. Then she lowers her face toward Leila and gently kisses her nether lips.
Leila suddenly jumps awake. Shocked, she stares at smiling Shira. “What are you doing?”
“You have a beautiful cunt, Leila.”
“Your cunt. It’s gorgeous! You’re so lucky to have a cunt as beautiful as this. I’m so glad those Pretty City surgeons didn’t put their cruel knives to it!” She plants a long gentle kiss on Leila’s nether lips, then gently grasps the protruding inner lips and slowly opens them like the petals of a flower. “Your inner lips are so frilly. And I love the way they stick out an inch.” She looks into Leila’s eyes. “Don’t you dare get ’em cut, Leila. They’re much better the way they are.”
Leila stares back at Shira for a moment, then says, “I never thought about that before.”
“Have a lot of people said you have beautiful breasts that they want to touch and caress and squeeze?”
“But nobody’s told you your cunt is just as beautiful?” Leila shakes her head no. “They haven’t looked hard enough. You’re so lucky to have such an incredibly beautiful cunt. It’s just as beautiful as the rest of you. One more reason why I’m so totally in love with your body.”
Leila says sadly, “But do you only love me for my body?”
Shira plants a sweet soft kiss on Leila’s nether lips. Then she climbs up onto Leila, holds her tight, looks deep into her eyes, and says softly, “Leila, you are your body.”
“But then what about my soul?”
Shira kisses her. “That’s a deep philosophical question we should save till after we make love.” She gives Leila a hard passionate kiss, sticks her tongue into her open mouth, caresses her nether lips with her fingers and then sticks a finger through them and deep into her cunt, making her squeal and moan through the kiss...
the property. After the stress of the last few days, everybody except the mean girls are relieved to be done with school for the weekend. For some, the weekend begins when the final bell rings; for others, it starts the next day, for their parents have reserved Fridays for homework and chores. Shira comes to Marina and gives her the formal invitation to the gathering of friends at Jennifer’s tonight, and formally accepts her request for help against Ole-Ole Olson.
Outside the front door, the Slasher Hunters’ van awaits them. Brandi, Shira, and Marina get in to join Arisa Saionji, John Peck, and Martin Lansky. Shira waves at them. “Hi, guys!”
Pointing to the Mexican-looking man riding shotgun, Peck says, “You haven’t met our surveillance expert, have you?”
“Oh no, I haven’t!”
“Lars Ulquiorra,” he says in an obviously Scandinavian accent as he holds out his hand. “Pleased to meet you. Brandi says great things about you, Shira Thomas.”
“I didn’t know you were Swedish.”
“Yeah, I surprise people that way. They like to call me the Mexo-Arab Swede.” Lars and Shira laugh.
Lansky drives the Hunters to the property owned by Ole-Ole in Bangor where Marina’s outcast clique, the Shovel Gang, hang out. Connor, Jennifer, and the Shelley twins follow behind them. Shira syncs her Droid with Lars’ netbook, then returns it to its pouch on her backpack’s strap.
Peck’s van and Connor’s car park out of sight from the Shovels’ usual rendezvous point. Marina gets out first, scopes out the place to make sure nobody’s watching them, and goes to the rendezvouz point, where Ron and Don are waiting. An old car from the mid-twentieth century parks there; out come one more boy (the driver) and three more girls, all of them still in their blue school uniforms. Lars points a parabolic mic at the group. From the conversation, the Hunters figure out that the boy’s name is Ray and the girls are Sandi, Lori, and Beth. All of them come from the lowest levels of the social hierarchy. They believe they have no chance to rise above their low station, so they hang around an adult from the level above theirs: the unskilled laborers. He contracts out his shovel to landscaping and construction companies for a living. When he feels the urge to kill somebody, he uses his shovel as a weapon. Tonight, Marina expects to be the target of his rage. Tonight, Ole-Ole will find out he’s the target of the dreaded Slasher Hunters. He does not yet realize that the one leading the hunt is the one thing he fears most.
Finally, Ole-Ole’s old pickup truck (also from the mid-twentieth century) pulls into the property’s long driveway. Ray takes the four girls into his car with him; Ron and Don decide to walk the length of the driveway. Once they are out of sight, Shira gives the signal for the girls to go.
Shira, Jennifer, Brandi, and Arisa tread quietly behind Ron and Don, using the woods and the boys’ own loud chatter as their disguise. At the other end of the driveway is a large dilapidated warehouse that still bears the name and logo of Dictel Corporation, the former owner of the property and of the company town that Bangor once was. When everyone is inside, Shira sneaks in first. She peeks out and nods to signal the others to follow her.
In the warehouse, Ole-Ole has built a makeshift home, not much more organized than an illegal trailer home on Harstine Island, where he used to live among the dregs and rejects of white society. He is content with his low station. He has none of the desire to move up in the social hierarchy that drives other men of his class to join the military, the government, or the Church of America and become rich and powerful nouveau aristocrats. Instead, he lives in a slovenly dwelling in an abandoned Bangor warehouse with a small group of high school kids over whom he is pleased to dominate. In return, they protect him from the police and refuse to report him whenever he goes out on a killing expedition. He has the talent to be a professional contract killer, but he has no ambition.
But Ole-Ole is unusually jittery today. He paces back and forth, back and forth. His agitation makes his kids nervous; they’re terrified that he may fly off the handle any second, for any reason or none. They know he feels the hunger, and it can only be satiated through murder. “Wh-what’s wrong, Ole?” asks Ray, his cowardly second.
“Somebody’s onto me. They been trackin’ me down, doggin’ my every move, takin’ my targets away.” He turns suddenly and points at the kids. “One o’ you musta been rollin’ on me. One o’ you done been tellin’ them everthin’ I been doin’.”
And then Ole-Ole picks up his shovel and turns threateningly to Marina. “You been rollin’ on me, ain’tcha, ya dirty little spic whore! You been fuckin’ rollin’ on me!” He hits her on the side of the head and knocks her down.
Marina whimpers, “No, I didn’t. Please don’t kill me.”
“Fuck you, lyin’ whore! I shoulda listened to my betters when they warned me about your kind! Die!” He raises the shovel and brings it down to kill Marina.
The shovel stops in mid-air. Ole-Ole looks in front of him to see what he hit, only to find Shira standing over the cringing Marina. She has just caught his shovel on the way down. He gasps in horror. “Y-you—”
“Well, well, well. Long time, no see... Ole.” Shira front kicks him in the gut and sends him backwards, slamming into the old refrigerator, knocking it open so that several beer bottles fall onto the floor. He keeps his grip on the shovel; he fights to regain his balance till he stands straight again.
Ole-Ole charges Shira with the blade of the shovel. She disappears behind the door frame. When he barges through, Jennifer knocks him on the back of the head with the empty beer bottle; he falls into the coffee table, breaking it underneath his bulk.
The three boys attack Shira and Jennifer. Shira whips out her loaded Go-Yo and smashes Ron in the chin, Don upside the temple, and Ray on the tailbone; all three go down whimpering in pain. Sandi tries to knife Marina, but Brandi punches her out with her gloved fist. Lori jumps Brandi; she backs up to smash Lori against the garage door frame; Lori loses her grip and falls off. When Don tries to climb up to his feet, Arisa kicks him in the face with a steel-toed boot, knocking him back down. Marina stays in the corner; Beth merely holds her head in her hands and just screams and screams.
Ole-Ole reaches to grab the knife Sandi dropped, then struggles to his feet. He throws it at Shira; she dodges it and Jennifer catches it. She throws it back at him hard enough that it lodges deep into his chest, right in his heart.
When Steve Irwin, the famous “Crocodile Hunter,” was speared by a stingray, he had two options. If he had left the sting in his heart and let surgical professionals carefully extract it, he would still be alive today. Instead, he pulled it out and bled to death.
Shira says to Jennifer, “I hope our man is smart.” Ole-Ole looks down at the bloody knife sticking out of his chest for what seems an endless moment. Then he grins evilly back at Shira and Jennifer, chuckles as he looks down at the knife again, and reaches for the handle. With one yank, he pulls the knife out of his heart. The kids of his clique gasp in horror. Jennifer facepalms and sighs. Triumphantly, he licks his own blood off the knife and gloats, “You’re fuckin’ daid now, Rebel Styles!”
Shira gasps in mock astonishment and says, “Whoops! You’re dead!”
Ole-Ole chuckles loudly as he chases Shira around with the knife. But within a few seconds, he starts to feel weak. He looks down to see blood streaming out of his chest. He panics and whimpers, grabs the nearest towel, tries to stanch the bleeding with it; but nothing can plug the hole in his heart. Soon, he drops the towel, groans in frustration at his failure, totters on his feet, then falls over drained of blood, dead.
“Well!” sighs Brandi. “There goes ’alf our bounty.”
“We still got our man, though,” says Shira. “And he won’t be around to kill anybody anymore.”
The Shovel Clique stare dumbly at the bounty hunters who have torn their one adult pillar of support out of their lives. Marina leaves their number and joins Shira and Brandi with the Slasher Hunters.
“Where are you going, Marina?” demands Ray.
Marina replies, “I’m with Shira now. I’m joining Team Bremelo.”
Shira puts her arm around Marina, whose former comrades in the now doomed Shovel Clique stare stunned at the charismatic classmate their now dead protector, Ole-Ole Olson, had just called by the dreaded name of Rebel Styles.
Jennifer’s house. When Willa opens the front door, Karen has brought Aira and is holding her by the hand. Aira wears a cute lacy white dress the cousins have bought her. “Hi, Aunt Willa!” says Karen with a huge smile.
Willa winks. “Hi, darling.” She smiles at Aira. “And you must be Shira’s new friend Aira. Please call me Willa.”
“She’s my obachan.”
Aira says shyly, “Hi, Willa-obachan.” Karen and Willa laugh. Willa lets them in and closes the door.
Inside, three children are playing together. Their skin is as dark as Shira’s, but their hair is black and curly. The oldest is a girl about Aira’s age; the youngest is half their age; in between is their brother. They wear nothing, yet they are completely unselfconscious. Aira blushes. “Willa-obachan?”
“Why are they naked?”
“Why not? There’s nothing wrong with it, certainly not in this house.”
Willa smiles and nods. The three children, hearing, them, come over to see. Together, they wave at Aira and say, “Hi!” Aira smiles, blushes, and waves.
The older sister says, “I’m Angelina, and this is my brother Marlon and my sister Erika.”
“They’re Shira’s nieces,” says Willa. “Her oldest brother is their father.”
“Wow. You look a lot like Shira.” They smile at her. “I’m Aira.”
Karen says sweetly, “Ai-chan, how do you introduce yourself in Japanese?”
“Izumi Aira desu. Dōzo yoroshiku!“ Aira bows.
“Can you swim with us?” asks Angelina. Her siblings echo, “Please?”
Aira looks up at Willa. Willa smiles and nods at her. She looks back at the dark children and blushes furiously. “Do I have to take my clothes off?”
“People shouldn’t wear clothes in the pool,” Angelina says.
“Okay...” Aira takes off her clothes, and prepares to go with them to the swimming pool when a vacuum cleaner switches on, and a small dog begins to bark and growl. “What’s going on over there?”
Angelina giggles. “Oh, it’s just the cat.” Aira looks behind the chair to see—
Riding a cat-sized Roomba is a big beautiful tortoiseshell Maine Coon cat. As the robot moves back and forth to vacuum the carpet, a surly Pekingese harasses her. She rides her mechanical mount like a knight with sword unsheathed, angrily swiping at the dog in hopes of sinking her claws in and doing serious damage. Aira is enchanted by her beauty. “Oh, I’m in love!” She runs over to sweep the cat right off her mount. At first the cat struggles and complains. But Aira holds her tight and soothes her with gentle caresses. Eventually the cat gives up, surrenders to her new admirer, relaxes, closes her eyes, and purrs. Aira turns to Willa. “What’s her name?”
“Boadicea. We named her after an ancient Celtic warrior queen.” She winks. Aira grins happily.
Shira and Jennifer return with Marina, Brandi, and Arisa. Already waiting for them along with Willa are cousins Karen, Clover, Courtney, and Schuyler, along with friends Polly, Mimi, Leila, and Fiona. When everybody’s inside the house and Jennifer locks the front door, Willa gives the signal for everybody to throw off their clothes. The three newcomers stare wide-eyed as the others gleefully liberate themselves from their clothes and then hug and kiss each other. Jennifer stops in front of them and puts her hands on her hips. “I see you girls have never been naked in the house before.”
“Y-you’re nudists?!” stutters Arisa.
Jennifer grins. “Why not? Social nudity’s good for you. So take off those silly uniforms right now! Everybody’s waiting for you out back already.”
As Jennifer leaves for the the open glass back doors and the smell of barbecue hits their noses, the three look at each other, wide-eyed and blushing.
“Social nudity’s good for you, she said?” says Brandi.
“That’s what she said,” replies Arisa.
With grim determination, Brandi and Arisa quickly naked and throw their clothes aside. Marina stares at them, eyes even wider and blushing more furiously. They stare back. Marina takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, and fumbles her way out of her clothes.
The others are already eating when Brandi, Arisa, and Marina reach them. The children run around and play happily, seemingly oblivious to their unclothed state. Aira is deliriously happy. Jennifer comments, “She looks like she’s never had real friends before.”
“There’s always a first time,” says Shira.
Brandi and Arisa learn quickly to adapt to the unusual new custom. But when Jennifer sees Marina wobbling deliriously and blushing horribly red, she runs over to her with concern. She puts her hands on Marina’s shoulders to steady her, looks into her eyes, then says to Brandi and Arisa, “I think she’s suffering from acute culture shock.” She takes Marina into her arms and holds her tight, caressing her back to comfort her. Marina starts to cry; Jennifer kisses her on the cheek.
Behind them, Shira says, “I guess it was a bit much to expect her to get used to something so radically different after living for so long under that man’s thumb. Can I hold her, Jen?”
Shira holds her arms out wide. Marina runs to her and holds her as tight as she can. Shira kisses her on the cheek. Through her tears, Marina asks her, “Are real Stylers like this?”
“You probably know the first rule of Style,” Shira replies, “which is that fashion can be used as a weapon. Well, the second rule is that you can Style even when you’re wearing nothing. It’s all in the attitude, really. So yeah. If you can’t Style when you’re naked, you probably can’t Style no matter what you’re wearing. Now you know the secret of the Radical Stylers.” She winks. Marina gives her a huge smile in return.
Brandi and Arisa look at each other with huge grins on their faces. “She says real Stylers Style even when naked?” says Arisa.
“Then what are we waitin’ for?” answers Brandi. “Let’s Style!” She and Arisa strike a cool pose for each other.
Jennifer pumps her fist. “Yeah!”
Brandi and Arisa throw themselves into each other’s arms and bounce together in circles, giggling like little girls.
After the barbecue, everybody goes inside for a swim. The children, the Richter-Thomas cousins, the Shelley sisters, and Polly take to the pool as if they were born to it. Mimi and Marina sit together at the edge of the pool with their legs in the water. Both of them are blushing.
“So you’re new to this too?” asks Marina.
“Mm-hmm!” replies Mimi.
Marina moves close to Mimi puts her arm around her shoulders. Mimi puts her arm around Marina and kisses her gently on the cheek. Aira surfaces next to them, waves, says “Hiiii!” and dives like a fish back underwater.
After they exhaust themselves swimming, they shower and dry off, then take their seats in the plush couches and chairs of the living room. The Richter-Thomas cousins, the Shelley sister, and the children form a large group hug on the long couch facing the now closed and curtained back door. Another group embrace forms with Polly, Mimi, Marina, Brandi, and Arisa on the shorter couch.
“Are we spending all weekend like this?” asks a dizzy Arisa.
Polly nods happily. “We certainly hope so. We try to do this every weekend.”
Marina says, “Is there any truth to the rumors that your naked weekends turn into all-girl orgies?”
Everybody stares at her. Jennifer says, “Uhh.. why? Did the boys tell you that?”
Shira flashes her a What you talkin’ ’bout? look. “Not with children around.”
Marina blushes redder. “Well, I asked because if the rumors were true, I might wanna join in.”
A chorus of relieved sighs answers her. “Well, we’d have to put the children to bed first,” says Jennifer.
27 September 2014
Thirteen young women in Willa Richter-Thomas’ guest room sleep in till early afternoon, exhausted after the previous night’s activities, clumped in groups. They’re awakened by the insistent ringtone emanating from Shira’s Droid Mega. Groggily, she reaches for it, tries to find it, finally touches it and grabs it. She presses the talk button and puts the phone to her ear.
“Hello?... Oh hi, Cory!...” Suddenly she sits bolt upright, alarming the others. “What?!... Oh shit. This is fucked. Love ya. ’Bye.” She presses end and drops the phone onto the bed.
“What’s wrong?” asks Schuyler.
Shira pivots so that she sits on the side of the bed. Her eyes are wide open; she does not smile. “Girls, I’ve got bad news. Really bad news.” The others ask her what it is. Once she’s certain she has their full attention, she says grimly, “Cory just sent me word that Nancy just got killed.”
Mimi gasps in absolute horror.
“What’s more, there’s video of the murder. Seems some of our mean girl friends beat her to death while the phonecam was running. I think we got us a war.”
Mimi screams and screams.
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Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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