“Where are we going?” I asked.
“To the funhouse,” she said and she pulled me along until we came upon the building made up of a long line of small rooms, exactly alike. She credded the guy at the office and he gave Cheza a code key bracelet. We entered room 319 and Cheza collapsed onto the bed. “Have you ever felt anything so soft in your whole life?” she said, hugging the pillow. I walked over sat down next to her.
“It is pretty amazing.”
She wrapped herself inside the bedsheets and rolled around, still clutching the pillow. “This is how everything should feel, Tig. After tonight, you’ll never look at the world the same way again.”
“How long do we stay like this?” I said.
“We can stay high through the next grade cycle, right before new score grants come out,” she said. “No one at the institute will have any reason to open our boxes until then.”
“And after that?”
“We just sneak back into the city and have Linklyn dull us down again. They’ll never find out.” She got up and peeked out the window, then turned back to me. My eyes were closed and I was shaking my head. “What’s the matter?” she said. “You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”
“This is hard for me to say, Cheza.”
“You don’t want this? Just say it then.”
“I don’t want—“
“What, Tig, what don’t you want?”
“I don’t want, I don’t want,” I said. “I don’t want to ever go back. I want tonight, forever.”
Her face lit up and she threw her arms around me. “I had a feeling about you, Tig Fynch, right from the jump.”
Then she kissed me, for the second time.
My body swelled with an energy I never knew existed within me and I immediately took hold of her. We eased ourselves down onto the sheets and my hands roamed her body with abandon. She would take them at times and place them where they were needed most, all the time cooing beneath me. In that instant with Cheza I realized that all this time I had been a dying man, searching for an oasis.
The moments that passed inside that room were a soul nourishment to me that stretched out to an eternity, feeding me still to this day. We left the funhouse sometime soon after that and although we would go on to experience many astonishing things that night, none of them would stick to my insides like that brief time I spent with Cheza Gregory in an empty room.
And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
“What then? We needs the deets, Tig, don’t go skimp now!” Pooch says. But the duty sensor’s got a sneak-eye on me so I ease back down onto my chair, lips tight. The message gets through and slowly each stud loses their eager eyes and drops down on their seat, too. Alfa shoos a few of the younger, lingering understuds away and we sit in silence, chewing and swallowing. I can read it in every slow up-and-down chomp of their jaws; they’re in agony. They want the know. They want it now.
Patience, studs, it’s coming.
The duty sensor is diligent. He must be able to smell some of that forbidden fruit that I’ve been giving up the know on wafting over from our table, so he just circles us like a moon. We keep our keels even though, biding and biding, when a foodstuff dispense luckily goes gonzo and demands his attention. He leaves and I start back in on my tale.
“After the funhouse Cheza and me hit the streets. We covered the sidewalks, the frontwalks, the backwalks, and all the walks in between. We saw all the sees, heard all the hears, and ate every eat we could.” I lick my lips. “We ate and ate. We ate our way through that whole city.” Every stud listens to my tell and they hoot it up and nudge each other so much you’d think they’d lived in my skins and done it all themselves. “We credded every vendo we came across and they’d play their blows and stringers so sweet that if it wasn’t music you’d call it candy. You’ve never heard notes like these, studs, you can believe. We hopped the gate at the natural, simmed a few adventures, and watched a tale at the cineblast. We were everywhere that night.”
“Did you meet anyone else from The Resistance?” Alfa says. “Is it for real?”
“We didn’t see anyone else besides Linklyn, but it’s real alright. The writing’s on the wall,” I tell him.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean there was actual writing . . . on an actual wall. God Giveth, Man Taketh Away; Your Body, Your Rights; Free The Five, stuff like that. It was all over the place. Cheza was right, something’s happening.”
Alfa sits back slowly in his chair, a far off look in his eye. “Well go on then, tell it some more.”
I pause for a quick thought. They should have the know on all things, I suppose.