Excerpt from my "Riding the Rocket" story (m/m sf)

I’ve got an erotic romance story in the new male/male ebook anthology RIDING THE ROCKET edited by Sascha Illyvich, just released by Sizzler Editions.
I wrote a fairly dark and twisted piece, somewhat dystopian. Here’s an enticing taste of it!

Bad Place
by Cecilia Tan
Every time mankind gets around to outlawing slavery, some other kind of thing springs up to take its place, or maybe they just change the words for it. I learned that in a history class back when I was in school, the same government-mandated school where I got hooked on Fizz. Actually, it’s a miracle I remember anything I learned at all, considering what a number Fizz did on my brain. Nowadays no one used the word “master” anymore–it’s “body rights holder”–but it means the same thing.
I was in a state med center when I made the choice to become a slave. I have to believe that. Because if I believe that the moment I tried my first Fizz I lost all choices, then I might as well be dead.
I was lying there pretty close to dead when he came in, which might explain why I thought he was an angel at first. I know now that his perfect features, his white skin, blue eyes and blond hair, might all be gifts he gave himself through gene manipulation, but at the time he leaned over the makeshift cot I was lying on, pushing back the hood that had hidden his fairness from a rough, brown world, and backlit by a fluorescent bulb on the ceiling… C’mon. You would have thought he was an angel, too. Especially if you’d burned so hard on Fizz like I had that you weren’t sure where reality started and ended.
I could barely move at that point. My organs were going to give out. I think the techs were hoping my heart would go first, so they could sell off the parts that still worked and get back some of what the government had spent to keep me alive so far.
“This one?” he asked, and someone I couldn’t see answered. Doctor Summers, they called him.
Then he spoke to me. “What’s your name?”
I was trying to move my mouth to answer, but hallucinations kept sprouting around me. The word that came out was “Jimson.”
“All right, Jimson. I have a proposal for you.” He lay his hand on my chest, and the physical contact seemed to ground me, the unruly bleeding colors receding from his face. “You can stay here, in care of the state, or you can sign over your body rights to me for ten years. I have a technological solution for Fizz burnout. I can cure you at great expense. But you’ll be mine for the next ten years. The choice is yours.”
Those were the words he said. (I think). But what it felt like to me was that he was choosing ME. Out of all the Fizzheads lying burned out in that ward, waiting to die, he had come to me. That had to mean something.
The pen was like a live fish in my hand, and I have no idea what I actually wrote, but the moment they took the piece of paper away, he put something into my mouth that turned all the colors black. Or maybe I passed out.
* * * *
“Jimson! Hey fucker, pay attention!”
My head jerked up as someone snapped their fingers in front of my face. It was Coulter, our resident trainer. He was a former Fizzhead himself, three years into the work program, and his Tab gleamed in the middle of his forehead like a drop of mercury made into a malevolent third eye.
“I’m awake,” I said, blinking. “Awake.”
He snorted. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me and glanced around the classroom. They looked like a pack of wolves, feigning disinterest but hungry underneath. The only one who didn’t was Philip, who caught my eye and then looked away, biting his lip. Huh.
I clutched the edges of my desk, trying to form up some plausible-sounding words to deflect Coulter’s attention.
The truth might do. I was okay in lectures, but it was difficult for me to stay awake answering training questions on the desk tablet. “My sleep cycle hasn’t normalized,” I said.
“Oh, is that right?” he said, skepticism as sharp as a shiv.
“The docs are on it.” Ouch. I could see that sounded flimsy to him. “You can check my record!” That sounded even worse.
“You sure you’re not taking a little huff or a little sting on the side?” he said, looming over me.
It was the worst accusation he could make to a former addict, because even though it wasn’t true, I had no credibility to refute it. “Of course not!” I exclaimed, but the others were now looking at me like I had a steak hidden in my pants. “How the hell–”
Coulter grabbed me by the collar of my shirt. “Are you sure? Because I heard that somebody has been breaking the rules.”
I shook my head. “I’m clean. And my dorm’s clean.” That was true, too. I was sure of it.
“Gee, I dunno, with all the time you’ve been spending in the infirmary, like you said, according to your record? You could be the source.”
“I’m not!” I sounded like a five year old, protesting like that, but what else could I do? I hadn’t even snuck out so much as an aspirin and on top of that, I hadn’t even heard of anyone else getting high in my whole group. I would have heard.
He just shook his head. “Five minute penalty. Give me your Tab.”
I sat there in shock. I’d never drawn a penalty before. I’d been in training six months. I’d kept my head down. I’d been obedient. I’d been good.
I’d been waiting to see Dr. Somers again, whose name I now knew how to spell. He’d been there for my Tab surgery of course, but since then, the only people I’d seen were the others in my group, a few docs, Coulter, and one or two other trainers.
I’d been dreading this since the post-op session when I’d found out not only what, but where, my Tab was. “Sir,” I said to Coulter, trying my hardest to sound harmless and obedient, “My Tab… it’s not easily accessible.”
“Accessible?” Coulter pressed.
“With my, um. Clothes on.”
That was the wrong thing to say. Coulter’s eyes glittered with intensified interest. Just my luck, he wasn’t just a power-tripper, but a pervert, too. Fuck. “Okay then, Jimson, I’ll give you a choice. You can hand it to me here in front of everyone, or we can go together somewhere private for your punishment.”
I looked around for help, but there was only Philip, who looked as scared as I was, one hand over his mouth and his eyes wide.
It wasn’t really a choice. No way was I going to drop trou in front of the whole group. “I’ll go with you, Sir.”
Coulter nodded. “The rest of you fuckers stay put, or you’ll be next. Killian, you’re in charge. Nobody gets out of their seat until I get back.”
Coulter held me by the arm as if I might run away while we went down the hall, then pushed me into the shower room attached to the gym. “All right, let’s have it. If it’s not in my hand in thirty seconds, I’ll make it ten minutes instead of five.”
I kicked off my shoes and pulled my pants off so I could kneel with my knees spread. I licked my fingers and reached around behind me. Into me.
Yeah. You can see why I didn’t want to do it in front of everyone. I felt the smooth metal nub of the Tab with my fingers, then felt it come loose. I pulled it free and then held it out without looking up.
“I ain’t going to fucking touch that,” he said in disgust. “Timer’s running. I’ll tell you when you can put it back in and not a second sooner.”
I stayed where I was, on my knees, the Tab in my fist.
Dr. Somers had explained it while I was still hazy from anesthesia, but compared to the Fizz-burned state I’d been in before the surgery, I felt clear and crisp as a winter night sky. The Tab was wired into my nervous system now, he’d said. It sent certain signals to keep the effects of the Fizz-burn at bay, some of them chemical, some of them electrical.
When removed, not only would the hallucinations start again, but it would hurt. There would be pain, agonizing pain. When a Tab was used up, it was important to swap in a new one immediately, or I would suffer. And he didn’t want me to suffer needlessly. That was what he said.
At the time he’d shown me how to swap out Tabs, he’d worn a nitrile glove on his hand, and used a cold gel from a tube. One of his hands had been warm and firm, a kind touch, a more intimate touch than I’d expected for a medical procedure. The other reached into me, and I’d masturbated to the memory of it so often now, it was hard to remember I hadn’t actually tossed off in the hospital bed in real life.
This, though, on the tile floor of the shower room, this wasn’t erotic. This wasn’t a fantasy. I wondered if Coulter would get off literally later, or if this was a different kind of excitement for him.
That was my last coherent thought for a while as reality crumbled away from me and the pain hit like an intense cold, starting at my core and working to my limbs. I might have been screaming. I really couldn’t tell.
* * * *
I woke up in the infirmary. Philip was standing by my bed. “Oh shit,” he said, the second I opened my eyes. “You scared me.”
Read the rest in Riding the Rocket! ((The publisher’s book info/buy page is here: https://shop.renebooks.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=ANTHO-02)

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