Authors: John Burks
“What do you have?” the Banker asked gruffly.
The man was old. He’d been old before the Preacher’s Plague ravaged the world. He was also fat, which was a condition you didn’t often see in survivors and probably the reason he didn’t have a suit on. They just didn’t make them that big. The man gnawed on some unidentified haunch of meat and grease from it ran down the front of his filthy shirt. I put the case of liquor in the large open drawer and then pushed it through. The drawer stopped in the middle, the sterilizer hissed, and then the Banker pulled it through the other side.
“Incomplete case of Maker’s Mark. Interesting. The second one I’ve seen tonight, though the other was actually complete. Where did you get it, son?”
I’d already tried the ‘last one’ comment and failed. I stayed quiet.
“No?” the Banker said, appraising me. “Fine. I’m sure you and your cohort can keep the secret. It is a big city, after all. And where else are you going to trade it but Club Flesh, right? So what do you want for it? An hour in the bar? Maybe a hand job like your friend?” he asked. I wasn’t sure how you managed a hand job in containment. He must mean something else other than the porn term.
“No sir,” I said. “I need a full set of seals for an M-1435 Bio Suit. Not this one,” I lied, hoping he wouldn’t know that it was, in fact, this one. “But my back up suit.”
The Banker laughed at me. It wasn’t just a little giggle, it was an outright laugh, like I’d just told the man the funniest joke he’d heard since the plague. I cringed and feared being run out without my seals or the booze.
“A full set of seals, huh? That’s rich, son. Maybe if you had a truckload of these bottles. Maybe then, but doubtful. I can get you one of the seals…”
“But there are twenty!” I blurted out.
“As I said, I can get you one. You can choose which. It doesn’t matter. But a full set? Oh my. Very optimistic son. I have to admire your spirit.”
One seal wasn’t going to do me any good. “What would buy a set?”
“Besides a truckload of whiskey?”
The Banker shrugged. “I don’t know. A Toucher maybe?” he laughed. “But you won’t find any Toucher’s out there, will you? They are all here, in the bar. No, no seals for you. Is there anything else you desire? Perhaps something not quite as expensive?”
The scarred man was here. That meant his apartment was unguarded, again. My seals and a Toucher might be there. But had he come to Club Flesh following me? If he had, how had he gotten in front of me? I didn’t understand what was going on with him, didn’t get why he was following me. But he had my seals, here or back at his place. I was, for the moment, convinced of that.
And he had a Toucher tied to a bed.
“Is the seat next to my friend open?” I asked and the Banker nodded.
“Hand job and one hour,” he said, still appraising the loot I’d brought. “Four drinks. Sound fair?”
“Sure,” I said, taking the tokens he pushed back through the drawer.
I didn’t have any idea what the big, scarred up man wanted, but I intended on finding out.
The guards led me to the appropriate tunnel leading to my assigned booth and opened it for me.
“You can take your suit off in there, if you want,” the armor suited guard said. “It’s all sealed up and there is no danger. There’s a little space about halfway in. Your crap will be safe there.”
I’d been there before and I knew the drill. I hadn’t taken my suit off then, either. Most people didn’t. I had no intention of taking my suit off now, but nodded anyway, hoping the walls were as good as they advertised them. I had, of course, been in Club Flesh before. It was one of the first things I’d done after the incident with my father, back when I’d discovered freedom really was just another word for nothing else to lose. Despite the horror of what my father had tried to do to me, along with the shock of what I’d done in return, I was ready to see girls. I’d scavenged for weeks to find enough trade material for an hour in the bar. And I got off all of about twenty-seconds into the experience. I’d been back a couple of times since, trading for something I couldn’t find. But I mostly limited my relief spells to porn videos in the safety of my own lair.
The club had changed little since the last time I’d been there and the owners had done their best to give it some resemblance to an old school, pre-plague club. Knowing that their customer base was made up of fanatical introverts, they’d also gone to great lengths to keep them isolated. The tunnel was sealed all around and you had little idea, as you went down it, that you were surrounded by up to eight people and the dancers.
“Let’s hear it for Kitty Cat Brown, ladies and gentleman,” the DJ said flamboyantly from the walled in booth at the top of the bar, overlooking the stage. “Kitty comes to us all the way from Miami, Florida, home of beach and sun. Tell us, Kitty… how the hell is it down in Florida?”
The stripper didn’t answer. She looked if not numb, then bored. The DJ kept on. “That’s right, Kitty… they’re all fucking dead. Fucking dead in New York, fucking dead in Miami. They’re fucking dead everywhere but right here in Club Flesh, the very best in post-apocalyptic tits and ass brought to you by the fine folks of Fortress. Give up for Fortress, ladies and gentlemen! Fuck… ladies and gentlemen… that’s a riot. I don’t see a single fucking gentleman in this god damn house. More like a bunch of scummy ass scavengers, but what the hell would we do without you bastards?”
I finally passed the suit area, skipping the whole disrobing part, and made my way to the small stool in front of the bar. I was surrounded on both sides, top and bottom, by hard Plexiglas and I glanced nervously at the caulk seals joining the seams. The sides were painted black so you couldn’t see into the next hermitically sealed block, but the paint had scraped away over the years and, if you looked just right, you could peak through. The stool sat chest level with the stage and there was a flexible rubber membrane separating the viewer from the dancer. There was also a smaller version of the banker’s drawer next to the membrane that allowed the dancer to serve the customers drinks and receive tokens.
Hard rock pounded across the club’s speakers, reverberating inside my suit. The dancer moved about the stage mechanically in the dim light. At first glance she seemed young and vibrant, but that was just the lack of quality lighting. I peered in closer at the half naked woman. She wasn’t young by any stretch of the imagination. She was nearing fifty, at least, and rail thin. Her breasts were desiccated, hanging limply in front of her. She moved with the gravity of a lead weight and I wondered how long she’d been at it, entertaining scavengers from the ruins in this place.
“That’s one hot bitch, ain’t it boy?”
I cringed. Was he talking to me? I leaned down and peered through the scratch in the window.
“She isn’t the best they have. Not by long shot, but that black fucking bitch is hot.”
There was a twinge of madness in the man’s voice. I didn’t answer.
“I’m going to fuck her,” the man said. “I’m going to fuck that bitch in the ass and I’m going to make her like it.”
At that point I didn’t know if he was talking to me or not. The muscle bound, scarred man looked back and forth from the crack I stared through to the dance floor. The madness in his voice was matched by the crazed look in his eyes. He had to have moved quickly from his lair, and the rape scene there, to Club Flesh. He salivated as he watched the dancer.
“She’s going to like it, ain’t she?” the big man said, then turning back to the glass separating him from the dancer. “Come on, honey. Bring it to Big Woody. I got some shit for you.”
The DJ droned on. “Don’t forget, my good friends, if you have a token for a hand job, turn the red light on as soon as you’re ready. Miss Kitty is looking for a dick to play with, aren’t you Kitty? She likes them nasty scavenger dicks.”
The black woman looked around the bar, bored, looking for a light to come on. When she started walking towards me, I panicked. Not that I wouldn’t mind a hand job, mind you, but I didn’t want to die from the experience. She didn’t come to my window, however, and ended up next to me.
“Looky, looky, ladies and gentlemen. Miss Kitty has her a catch. Do him good, baby, and we’ll just wait till you’re finished,” the DJ crooned, putting on a slower paced Motown song.
“Come on, baby,” Kitty said to the man next to me. “I ain’t got all night. Put your chip in the drawer and let’s get this shit on.”
I peered through a small scrape in the paint and watched as the same guy I’d watched fucking earlier kicked his stool back, stepped up to the bar, and pushed his bulbous, scarred cock into the rubber membrane. The rubber sealed around his dick, acting like a giant condom. Kitty knelt in front of Big Woody, stroking his member from the other side of the plastic wall.
“How is that, baby? Is that right?” the stripper said, the boredom apparent in her voice, laced with the faux eroticism. “You’re going to cum good for momma, ain’t ya?”
I listened to the man grunt as she worked his cock and couldn’t believe the guy’s nerve. The rest of us in the wastes were limited to getting off to fifteen- year-old porn and here this guy is, fucking a Toucher and then following that with a hand job in Club Flesh. I was suddenly very angry. The guy had some serious audacity. He follows me around painting that fucking Preacher logo, steals my shit, and then rubs it in my face by doing this right here. What the fuck was this guy thinking?
“Harder bitch,” the man growled.
“Ain’t no need for that, baby,” the stripper told him. “I’m going to pull on this boy ‘till you cum all over in there. That’s what you want, right?”
“I said fucking harder,” I heard the man say, followed by a thump that couldn’t be anything but his fist on the wall. Kitty jumped back, a second, and then looked up at the DJ. The man absent mindedly motioned for her to keep on going, which she did.
“We got a live one here, ladies and gentleman. The man in number seven likes it a little rough.”
“You like watching, don’t you boy?” the man said, turning to look at me through the scratched paint of the plastic wall. He groaned as the stripper did her best to work his massive, scarred cock through the rubber membrane. “How is it, watching all the time like that? Don’t you ever want to feel the pussy? ”
I jerked back from the wall and pushed as far the opposite direction as I could.
“It’s okay, man. I know what it’s like to be alone and afraid. I lived like that forever. But I’m not afraid now. I’m a fucking god, man. I’m fucking immune.”
Did he recognize me, somehow, from his apartment? Or was he referring to me watching him right there? I was scared, but I was also too scared to leave. What if he had my seals on him and was bringing them here to trade? They were that valuable. I didn’t think I’d have half a chance to get the away from him if he hadn’t already turned them over to the Banker.
The stripper either didn’t hear him or didn’t care. She continued pulling on him from the bar. I couldn’t look away, however, and stared as he began pumping the wall, pushing and pulling opposite of the stripper’s motions. He began fucking the rubber membrane as furiously as he had the Toucher back in his apartment.
“They’re Toucher’s here, you know? We don’t need this fucking barrier between us. I can fuck her right now and it’s all good.” There was that madness again, that tone in his voice that reminded me so much of Radio Guy. He was bordering on absolute insanity and I wondered why the rest of us weren’t as crazy. It was that kind of world.
The man’s face was as scarred as his body and I could barely see his eyes in the dim lighting behind the mass of scars that ran across his head. They looked like little white dots, pushed back behind the skin. His teeth were yellow and chipped and I could imagine, despite the containment barrier between us, I could smell his rotting breath. Had he kissed the Toucher with that mouth? Had she screamed, maybe trying to bite him as he did?
“I can fuck her, man. Watch this shit.”
The next few moments sped by at super speed. I didn’t entirely know what was going on, at first. Big Woody pushed through the rubber barrier hard, snapping the membrane like an old rubber band. The stripper glanced down, unsure of what she was seeing at first. As soon as the membrane ruptured the skin on her hands, closest to the man, began to bubble and blister as if someone had hit it with an invisible fire. She screamed and tried to pull away but the man reached through and grabbed her, pulling her to the larger, plastic barrier.
“No baby,” he cooed. “Where you going to go all mad like that?”
It took me another precious few moments to realize what he’d done. He’d broken the containment and started the reaction with the old black stripper who was most certainly not a Toucher.
I looked up at the DJ who was aimlessly jamming to music over his headphones. I stood, banging on the plastic.
“Let her go, man. Let her the fuck go,” I pleaded, watching as the Preacher’s Plague ignited the veins in the woman’s arms around where he held her. She writhed in agony, trying to pull away from the heavily muscled man. I banged on the plastic, trying to get the attention of the DJ who I was sure was not only armed, but could call in the troops from Fortress.
“Fuck her,” Big Woody spout. “She’s just another whore. They are a dime a dozen now that we’re cured. We can fuck anybody we want.” His voice trembled and I knew he was in the first phases of the Preacher’s Plague taking hold. His airways were beginning to close.