J. R. Sherwin
Cliff was "late" because he had been jerking off, which was an irony (and a debilitating one) too obnoxious to consider now. It was nighttime: blessed nighttime. He was never in the mood for histrionics (especially not now), so he didn't think about anything auxiliary tucked away in his brain; he just stood up against the brick wall, tapping his foot rapidly. Nervously.
"Okay Okay Okay Okay!"
It was nighttime, the time to feel good, the sidewalk marinating in the forced effervescence of drowning lights and flashy spectacle. This wasn't even the best part of the city, but the lights and the razzle-dazzle cascaded off any reflective surface too stubborn to get out of the way, making all the exterior walls lambent screens for enticing projections.
Fortunately, there were alcoves.
Young twenty-something's walked down this route to get to the clubs and bars. One such beauty walked past a Victoria Secret's ad, whose model was beautiful but ultimately dead, like a pinned butterfly. The dead-eyed, digitally altered advertisement -- promoting flesh sultry as burnished copper -- was eclipsed by the wholesome, frustrating presence of the sweet-souled genuine article walking down the sidewalk. She looked like such a nice person, strolling about with four friends in tow. She probably was such a nice person, and even if she wasn't, we have a way of excusing and altering the behavior of the wholesomely pretty, a genetic urge to render our most prized and strongest material above the rest of our common rabble.
It would just take a little more time, he was sure of it. Someone would stroll down, someone would stroll down the street, alone, hailing a taxi, walking to the Metro, slinking away from an unwanted advance at some twenty-something bar, her face a vision of twittering teasing, the way all pretty twenty-something girls get when there festively drunk, the way any kind and warm advance is responded with a hazy-eyed "oh yeah?"
He saw someone like him, he could tell, someone slinky with a motor in his foot keeping time on the wall. He couldn't believe it to be true, he probably saw himself in every guy he met. Fuck it, he should stroll down deeper -- it's darker there.
He flipped through the pictures of the girls. Not women: girls. They looked like girls to him: seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, a little older. It was hard to look at them: they seemed like works of art already. But they can't look like anyone of them -- the results might be real embarrassing.
It was a rare moment of inactivity in the office. The diagnostics had all gone well and everything had gone off without a hitch, but of course, they opened to no fanfare, no acknowledgement, nothing, just to wait and see how the world reacts to their newest Rorschach test, how some will see security (most, thankfully) and a few others will get a little bit queasy. But they get sick about the specifics, not the intention.
Never about the intention. Not now.
Everyone acknowledges this work is needed.
Even the addicts: the ones up too late, the ones who ignore their families, the ones who try and explain away those massive credit card debts ("Honey, what's WPI Friends?"). Everyone who dabbles -- and really, that's everyone -- feels a little bit like an addict.
It seemed so silly that it had to come to this. He still never bought into the idea of "addicts." But other people did; it's a way to categorize, and a way to get funding. It's a way to get support.
And people hate these addicts. They hate them because they see part of themselves.
The beautiful girls come scrolling in. Six of them. All between eighteen and twenty-three.
He politely extended his hand to all of them. "I'm Dr. Mooney. It's nice to meet you all."
They responded in kind.
"It's…" began one achingly radiant pixie-haired brunette, "been surreal, for one thing." She smiled moonbeams, her skin flushing a delicate pink hue. "It's just amazing how this all works."
"Yes, we can all agree, it's something all right. Any questions?"
A demure, feather-tipped Japanese with platinum blonde streaks:
"When do we get our stipend?"
A quick, jocund huff. "What stipend?"
The effects of wholesomely beautiful girls enjoying themselves is beyond contagious: it doesn't spread, it controls.
Smiles all around.
"Soon. But if that is the most pressing question on your mind, then things must be going well."
The Japanese girl smiled. Her eyes widened and the room seemed to light up. Mooney felt a soft, persistent hum of intelligence in the girl's face, her eyes, her laugh -- just felt it -- and just felt so happy she had agreed and that this girl was part of the project.
"I know, just speaking for myself," the pixie said, "I feel this has just been a great experience. Just, all of this, knowing what this is for, and just being able to be a part of it." Everyone concurred.
"From the bottom of my heart, the thanks is all on the... paid side of the office."
Associates were spinning around in their chair, not looking directly at any of the girls, just grinning big grins, maybe hoping one of the girls would turn around and reveal a flit of interest, a wayward, attention-demanding flick of the eye, and at that moment his associates could feel as if they were on the same level with these beauties, deriving joy from the same experience, and that associate could think "maybe she's interested in me."
It reminded Dr. Mooney of the early experiments: foregone conclusions really:
Items are placed on sale in a supermarket. Two fat girls bring the items to the register, but the sales don't ring up. The cashier needs to call management. The items are trivial, like gum. Lines form as the girls hold up the line getting the manager. Gauge the line's reactions, their perception of the two fat girls, how quickly they become intemperate.
Duplicate for pretty girls.
Guess the results.
These girls, they walk out to the bar, in the bitter cold, in glorified bras and mini-skirts, low-rider jeans and various textures violently form-fitted to be as streamlined as a porpoise. The bar opens up -- the two second feedback of amplified screams and hoots and excitement -- and then the girls disappear.
But here is one girl is walking back. Alone.
Alone. This girl is walking back alone.
He hated them. He was a nice guy, and he would look into beautiful faces and warm, open eyes and imagine some humanity in them, pretend that function met form. He believed that they would understand him, that all his life he just needed a beautiful girl to love him.
But they just give him that look. Flocked with their friends on all sides, how transparently disinterested they look, how obnoxiously hypocritically, overhearing them calls guys pigs and pricks and "all the same" and "only after one thing" when they were the ones after one thing, after a guy with money and looks and everything unnecessary.
They put their pictures on their websites, their Facebooks and their MySpaces -- coy pictures overflowing with exposed flesh and demure smiles and overt celebration -- and as you keep their sites open you cycle through static porn pictures, notice how their smiling faces aren't so far removed from the come-hither gaze of a porno slut, realize that it's not a far stretch to picture these Facebook whores as real whores; you transpose faces, match foreign breasts to a familiar face, pick which bitch from high school should be matched up with the dehumanized pussy of some slut you will never know.
This girl was alone. This girl was an ignorance-feigning slut. Look at the way she's dressed.
If he was more attractive and richer, this would be the opening of every recent porn flick:
"Hey," he would say. "where you goin', the night's young."
"Hey… home," she would say, all glassy-eyed.
He wasn't actually sure how they all went down: he only needed to watch the online trailers to finish off. But probably money would be offered, the girl would be attracted by both cash and attention, and the fucking would commence, maybe in some back alley.
He realized he was following her into some back alley. This dumb bitch was doing the job for him.
In any other circumstance she would be making fun of him, she would be ignoring him, she would be embarrassing him, she would be a living testament to masculine frustration:
But not now.
The crew had spread around the lab, doing their own work. Mooney had headed downstairs, caught Morgan Flim going back into the raise room, schematics and notebook in hand. It was his lucky time of the month alright.
Each month one of them got to go into the appropriately named "raise room." Scope out the newest pornography -- "new" being a relative term, since pornography had a rate of production rivaling Happy Meals -- and do research on the newest angles, the newest themes, (on the street, amateur, professional, aggressive, low-fi, gentlemanly), the newest target (Asian girls, bbw, blondes, petite, teen, incest, diamond, hooters, older, geriatric, pedophilic), everything and anything to get a better handle on the streets.
"Lucky" time of the month was a euphemism. A barrage, a never-ending masochist viewing session of all the newest, updated-to-the-day porn had a deadening effect on even the most eager new employee who was prematurely excited to tell his friends what he got paid to do all day.
He often joked that you could get all "addicts" to quit just by making them watch all of it: addicts live off the needling desire to view porn at any time, but porn at all times would be, well, kind of like sleeping with your wife day-in-and-day-out -- the repetition and boredom from which they were probably escaping. But, maybe not, as the kaleidoscope of different porn options made sure no consumer was left unsatisfied; the fact that a subject as simple as "college whores" could be so variegated left little doubt as to the depth of the modern porn well.
Sure, almost everyone wanted less porn, more real intimacy, more stable families, less "addiction," whatever that meant. Porn (which we can identify but not define) was a strong bacteria that once targeted, mutated and flourished. Obscenity? Devoid of substantive content? It's amazing how quickly established pornographies would begin with a reading from the Bill of Rights, offer strained political metaphors (Lady Liberty eating out Blind Justice?) or admittedly cute political satire (they had lost count of how many pornos featured busty conservative lawyers being fucked -- literally and metaphorically -- by a defendant, or how many gay pornos featured surprisingly accurate portrayals of the president of Focus on the Family learning to tolerate and become less (or more) anal.)
Well, poor old Flim was in the raise room, and Mooney was getting some schematics when he saw the feather-tipped Japanese girl across his desk, face pallid, worthless as a dead battery. The desk's contact with her swelling breasts arched her ass toward Mooney.
He stood, dumbfounded. Was she okay? He felt his pulse quicken. He stared at the form on his desk. He couldn't help feeling guilty at indulging in her immaculate body. Her picturesque form, rendered immobile for optimal viewing, seemed almost aesthetically justified.
She seemed okay before…..He wondered, was she ill? A drunk?
Like an answering machine whirring after the power comes back on, she bolted up to her feet.
"I…I…Oh my god, I am sorry…I, I don't know…"
"It's okay," he said.
Oh my god.
"Oh my god," Mooney said aloud, the thought demanding vocalization.
He wondered how his staff had prepared her, made sure she was unconscious and prostrate. He could picture his staffer Morgan Flim popping out her tits while she was knocked out, just to see if she were truly unconscious. He could picture what Flim would say, "It's not like she feels it or anything," or "Hey, I'm just preparing her for her future!" Mooney felt disgusted at Flim, regardless of whether Flim actually did anything like that; just knowing that Flim would do something like that was bad enough. Worse he felt disgusted at himself for not imagining some general idea of sexual molestation. Repugnance toward the idea of Flim popping her tit out was bad enough, but he had to wonder, the image necessitated imagining what her tit must look like, and that could just be revealing his own…
He saw the note next to where she had lain.
In big bold letters, he could see:
Stupid question. Of course he was.
What boasts from the lab would be contained in that letter.
What boasts fucking deserve to be in that letter.
Goddamn, they were good, he told himself, goddamn we were good, he told himself, to make his insides stop foaming.
He wrapped his hand around her neck. They were in an alleyway, alone. How often does this happen! Never, it was unbelievable. He knew he would type this story online, post it in one of his preferred chat rooms, and they would never believe him. This was truly a story in the making: he remembered to note the yasp sound she made as the air left her throat.
"No," her voice abrupt and jagged as chipping ice.
"Yes," he said. His left hand circled around her waist like a seat belt, his inner arm feeling the comforting, demanding warmness of her cleavage. His right hand started the downward pull on her shirt. He could imagine how her tits would look popping out, the care-free caress of gravity making them perk and bounce ever so seductively, like a girl flashing, the drunken, weary shock on this girl's face like the effect from a camera. He almost wished some errant security camera was catching all this, just to see if his mental recording matched the voyeuristic, authoritative gaze of a true-to-life recording.
He eventually forced her down, her still saying "no" and "please" and "someone help me," pushing him back, futilely pushing against his shoulders. She was drunk -- the slut -- and the alcohol -- the slut -- seemed to sedate her. A little disappointing.
She knew it wasn't just a grope after he started ripping off her pants. The tits -- full, firm, frustrating -- are the most scenic, the most fulfilling, but he needed to be inside her. Pussies were not as fun as the breasts -- the wet disgusting sloppy cave; he had once looked at one online spread completely open with medical tongs, and it had made him sick -- but they were necessary for complete satisfaction.
Pushing on her throat, he heard the crack! of her head against the brick wall. He noted the almost romantic way her dying hand stroked his inner lower lip on its descent. He unpried her bare (slut), unguarded mess -- no frat boys and their bottles tonight -- spread it with a V of his fingers, and, surprisingly soft, forced his way inside.
"No," she murmured.
It was so tight. So tight, so wet, it was a little area of perfection and protection, a little gift he needed to take, something perfect from something so horrid, wretched, and inscrutable.
It was so tight.
So fucking tight.
Screaming. He was screaming for dear life. Something was wrong.
(Twenty minutes before Cliff's forced entry, someone else who frequented Cliff's preferred chat rooms -- known to his legion as "PearlyWhite" -- caught his own prey and was in the process of pounding away. PearlyWhite made sure to bleed his bitch -- the satisfying, vindicating taste of her own blood; a practice PearlyWhite could not foretell would became M.O. amongst his ilk. PearlyWhite had caught himself a real live one).
Cliff knew it was too tight.
It was so fucking tight.
Cliff's mind was exploding. He was stuck.
It was shrinking.
Her hole was literally shrinking around his penis. She couldn't just let him have this. She had to take away the prize.
(and his friend with the internet handle PearlyWhite would flee after he was done, leaving his prey crumpled and worn like a cum-soaked blanket, and she would cry and wish for another life.
Elsewhere, another boy with an internet handle unbeknownst to PearlyWhite or Cliff was preparing to go out hunting, but a message in his cell phone from "Flashfest" offered a free trailer for "Tricked College Tricks," and as he watched the four minute trailer, perused their offerings, loved the derring-do, come-hithering, put-ons and ultimate domination of these college bitches, he decided, fuck it, I'll stay in.)
But Cliff was stuck,
Her wetness was like glue, thick and burning, like the times he masturbated with soap in the shower.
"FUCKING HELP ME!" he screamed
And like a carnivorous flower she folded upon him.
He tried to tug, hard, and finding he couldn't, screamed to arise passions, awaken passersbys like no female scream could elicit in this alcohol-saturated downtown.
Like a battery, the girl had gone out. Through mechanical reflex, her cervical muscles clamped down and tucked inwardly, her dying brain transmitted an electronic S.O.S to nearby police units.
A cop received it on his LCD device.
Downtown. Fortieth and Q, the message instructed.
If Cliff was learned in the sciences, he might have noticed how all the blood from his penis watered down the vaginal glue -- but he knew nothing and screamed.
"Tell me your name."
"Eliza, that's a pretty name…"
"Ha, thanks. I notice you didn't say anything about Morton."
Dr. Mooney smiled.
"I guess you just gotta keep it real," Eliza smiled.
"But Eliza, is that…ethnic? Is that, say, taken from a family member?"
"Gloria. That's a nice name. I figure that's a name that cheers people up. You know, like ‘glorious?'"
Gloria smiled. She was authentically pretty, tan, bronze skin -- half African/Vietnamese, an alluring mix -- but it was her smile that convinced Mooney she deserved to be in the program.
"Why thank you. Mooney is a nice name too. Astral. I am sure it makes people think of the solar system and space and what-not. That's pretty nice too."
She smiled again. He was pretty sure she was playing coy, low-key smart.
"No, Eliza came outta nowhere. No one I know of has this name. I like it though, boys seem to like it, girls seem to like it, it's all good."
Mooney smiled again.
"So what brings you here, Ms. Morton."
Ms. Morton upper and lower lip tucked together: a sign of slight but noticeable cognitive stress, a sign of remembrance.
"I remember filling that out on the form."
"Yes, I know, please, indulge me -- in your own words."
"Well, it's a good cause. It's horrible what's going on out there. My friends and I don't feel safe. All of these people should be brought to justice, should be punished, and if this is the least I can do…"
"Yes. I am glad you feel that way."
She smiled inwardly. "Plus, in some ways, it is kind of flattering."
Truth be told, this was the first time he ever heard that, and he was surprised, both at himself for not remembering if anyone had ever said that before and equally surprised at such a simple, unlooked equation: Flattery + Justice, private compliment and public benefit, a simple satisfactory sum. It was the perfect ego pleaser.
"Well, I do appreciate your honesty. Some might not view it that way. I do not want to dissuade you, but some might view it, as, well…."
"Creepy?" Gloria guessed
"Ha, I guess it's not that hard to jump to the conclusion. Yes, I told her some people thought it was creepy, but Eliza, thankfully, thought otherwise. Some people have problems with it. I try and be sensitive to people's misgivings, and I try and explain -- fully -- what they are getting involved with."
"I can see why it's flattering, to be honest. Even though, if I am correct, it is all composite, still, a part of you is represented, is used to achieve the final product. And it feels good, to know, we -- we are making the streets safer. I have the utmost respect for you, sir. To be honest, I plan on going into law, and I am realistic enough to know that I probably won't be able to go into prosecution or public law -- I know I am still a romantic utopian at heart -- but part of this makes me feel better about myself. I -- well, part of me, whatever part -- can help get something done, help take these people off the street.
"And," a smile returned, "you are sort of immortalized forever. And, well, standing in the waiting room with all those beautiful model girls, it makes you feel nice just to be a part of it. I mean, these girls…these girls are so beautiful. Heh, promise me you'll let me see the final product. Damn, with all these girls being used to make that you'll need to keep me away!"
He made a mental note of how ironic her societally-sanctioned bisexual quips are, but smiled anyways, because all these girls are usually pretty humble.
"I have two more questions for your, Eliza."
"I have two more questions for you, Gloria."
"And one request."
"And one request."
"Yes sir?" Eliza had responded
"Yes?" Gloria had responded, in the same interview an hour after Eliza.
"Are you claustrophobic ? What do you think of when I mention dark rooms -- dark like midnight?"
"Nothing," Eliza had said. "I mean, I would hate to be in one, but I'm not claustrophobic."
"Ummm," Gloria stammered, reaching for an answer. She was afraid a wrong answer could disqualify her. "Nothing really. I'm not claustrophobic or anything. I don't really like the dark, but probably no more any more than anyone else."
"One more question. In one short, terse, to-the-point sentence: What is your absolute worst memory?"
He looked, hoping they knew what "terse" meant, wanting to see if their brows creased, if they were taken slightly aback at the get-in-and-get-out approach of revealing their most intimate and painful experience.
Eliza: "I was in a car crash when I was young. My brother was driving and he was killed."
Gloria: "My sister telling me that she was date-raped."
At one time, he remembered, a month ago, one of the girls he was interviewing for the program had asked him a question he was surprised wasn't asked more:
"What if they get someone who is innocent?"
"None of them are innocent," he had said.
Before she could ask the inevitable and obvious follow-up, he explained:
"They never say ‘yes.'"
This point always demanded more elaboration. Early in-house testing of the original female archetypes was too good at picking out fakes; the algorithmic response unit given to the "girls" could always be boiled down to a reductive pattern. There are incalculable variations on the whole "saying no" when confronted by a violent rapist, but the nature of mechanical reaction gave the early archetypes a detectable, rhythmic cadence to their voice. Attack; internal calculation; response. Of course, these rapists wouldn't be kidnapping these girls and interviewing them over tea and crumpets, so on the streets, in-and-out rapists would hardly be able to test the girl's response times and speech patterns (but never underestimate a fetish scorned: the staff soon envisioned rapists kidnapping girls and subjecting them to oral tests before determining whether they were "real").
These bugs had all been ironed out. Before these "girls" were just the equivalent of an obstinate machine -- a machine set to "frustrate" -- but new methods in A.I allowed these girls to deduce for themselves (not that it's a hard deduction) to resist violation.
But still, a girl like this could not be "charmed" or "tricked" into agreeing (never underestimate the power of a fetish scorned; he could imagine rapists setting up impromptu "reeducation camps"). These "girls" had their own, independent response mechanisms -- as all people do -- but they were like rats in a maze who can pick only their own route.
Never underestimate the power of a fetish scorned: Mooney predicted rapists would soon be bleeding women on the street, to see if their blood tasted real enough.
"One more request, if you will indulge me?"
They would always tighten up right here. Everyone knew they were scheduled for an hour, and since the interview had only taken twenty minutes up to this point, they would sit here wondering how this request was going to take the rest of the time.
"Can you please take this test?" It tests reading comprehension, analytic and logical reasoning. It helps us immeasurably.
"I greatly appreciate the time, commitment, and unquantifiable service to the community you are offering us. I assure you, there will be many women -- and their families and friends -- who will not be able to thank you enough."
They had both gone in to take the test. The staff's skills had stumped him. Next to "Eliza" and next to "Gloria" and next to almost all the girls, the little box lay empty, indifferent. His inability to check that box signaled his transportation into a Dickian unreality,
The little box read: "Real?"
He could no longer tell. Just like that Japanese girl slumped on his desk, a saboteur his staff had mixed in with the real girls, just to drive the point home. The point: We're good.
Or maybe, "We deserve a raise."
One of these girls was real, the other one wasn't, and he couldn't tell.
Real? A new "girl" laid out before him, brought to his attention while the crew hovered about, riddled with nervous excitement worthy of an angry bee's nest trapped in an overturned jelly jar.
This "girl" had caught a perp last night, although more like the perp had caught her.
Her name was "Theresa."
Everyone was watching with rapt attention.
There seemed to be no bruising anywhere easily accessible to the human eye. A nod of her neck revealed some evidence of bruising on the back of the head. But nothing terrible.
This was the innocuous little wonder, the first non-victim, the first catch. The perp, some nobody named Cliff Ordelling, was in custody, caught by the most satisfying trap ever invented. Mooney liked to think, like a panoply of fraternal twins, every willing participant who contributed to this alien, composite beauty -- the 23-year old South African bombshell studying physics at University, the 19-year old Irish-Chinese mix just graduating high school -- could revel in the glory of their first success. He wanted to call every fantastic girl who participated and gush all over them, invite them to dinner, thank them until his phone exploded from overuse.
When he fully undressed Theresa, the extent of the damage could be seen. Her lower body had been treated, well, like those private sex dolls you can buy downtown. Quickly, he thought of Japan -- America could hardly keep up with Japan in terms of disgusting pornography, delinquent sex toys and exotic fetishes, yet still, you don't see rapists prowling the streets like you do in America. (Or maybe just not as many are reported). Mooney's mind shot off to a faraway study that he still believed in:
"But objectivity requires that an additional question be asked: ‘Does pornography use and availability prevent or reduce sex crime?' Both questions lead to hypotheses that have, over prolonged periods, been tested in Denmark, Sweden, West Germany and now in Japan. Indeed it appears from our data from Japan, as it was evident to Kutchinsky (1994), from research in Europe, that a large increase in available sexually explicit materials, over many years, has not been correlated with an increase in rape or other sexual crimes." He still believed that to be true.
Yet here he was, with this public/private doll.
He wondered how a footmark could faintly be seen above her bladder, and wondered whether this model (at one staffer's suggestion) was made to fart during her attack: nothing brought out male fury -- and more criminal charges -- like a feminine transgression of the sexual order.
People around him were holding hands, one had slight tears in her eyes, out of happiness or regret was currently immaterial because a minute later when one out-of-the loop staffer came in and told them the perp's name, people cheered. One name off the streets, one fucking rapist asshole off the streets.
Later that day, the thank you letters would come streaming by the truckload. Every project manager on the website -- which, mind you, was password protected -- had a stuffed e-mail account filled with effluent praise.
The next day, after they repaired the damages, Mr. Mooney brought her back to life.
"Theresa? It is Theresa, correct?"
She awoke from a light nap. "Hello," she said chirpily, still on the gurney.
Mooney smiled. "Hello…. Are you all right?"
He put her back to sleep.
Later, she awoke again, walked around in jeans and a baggy flannel shirt, looking both attainable in her l'il-ol-American-girl garb and something remote and fantastic, like a coveted, warm prize. She smiled.
"Do you feel all right?"
"I feel fine. What's going on here?"
"Do you know why you are here?"
Her lips pouted for a second, "Nope."
"Do you remember anything from last night?"
"Um, I remember waking up in a white room…is everything okay?"
"Everything is fine, Theresa. We are gonna go soon. You can go home. Before you go, what music would you like to here?"
She thought for a second, and said, "It would be weird without the girls, but how about Born in the USA?"
It played through the room.
She was going home.
Late at night she would emerge from an exclusive, dark crawl space tucked away in consenting bars and clubs to flood the market and walk the night anew. Every night she was born anew, eyes and mind perpetually fresh.
Just like BaitCar, Cliff's video went online. A little camera embedded under Theresa's breast had fulfilled Cliff's aberrant wish. "Street's Watch: Take Back the Night, Reclaim our Communities: if you rape, you pay the price." If even one of these perverts were deterred after seeing Cliff writhe, it would be cost-effective. Along time ago, one of the staffers thought that, perhaps, this would make a great database: track downloads on the site, get information on these potential perverts, if we bust one, cross-reference them through the site, track their IP address, use it to show premeditation, to show that they knew the consequences and still acted. Think, he had said, this could be a database for legions of potential perverts.
The plan didn't fly, for obvious reasons.
And face it -- 20,000 downloads a month can't all be from rapists.
© 2006 by J. R. Sherwin
Bio: Mr. Sherwin says, "I am a graduating senior from the University of Maryland, College Park. I am graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in government and politics. I will be attending Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law this Fall."
E-mail: J. R. Sherwin
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