26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner
“Stop. Hush.” Jenesis takes hold of my face. “You cannot bring him back. He was just a bonus trophy. Why are you so upset?”
She wipes my tears as I search for words. “I didn’t know that would happen. I didn’t know.”
“First trophies die when their winner dies. Bonus trophies die if they aren’t wanted. Come, you need to eat and drink.”
“How can you be so callous? That was a life! It’s gone because of me.”
“And yet you have no regret in taking the life of Miwinhaiz.”
“That was a giant, blue, clawless lobster. It isn’t the same as a human or a half-human.”
She strolls over to the buffet table. It was carried in while I screamed. No one cared that I was screaming. Blood from the body of the dead boy was wiped up as unceremoniously as if it were spilled milk.
“Why is death so acceptable here? How violent is this planet?”
Jenesis covers her full mouth as she laughs. She swallows before answering. “Phaeton is a world at peace. Citizen spectators view the fights to remember why such behavior isn’t tolerated. The fight broadcasts to others are this world’s biggest trade income. The lesson there being that Phaetons are better than those who would pay to see violence and enjoy it instead of learning from it.”
“That’s messed up. I need to get back to Earth.” I pick up a goblet and drink, unsure of the liquid. My throat aches from screaming. Whatever I’m drinking soothes it.
“This isn’t a liquefied worm, is it?”
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never had a winner’s fest before. But, speaking of worms, as you call them, I need to attend to your leg.” Jenesis sets down what looks like an orange and maroon striped chicken leg and walks to the closet.
She helps me change out of my fighting clothing. I watch as she cleans and dresses my wound.
“I must wash everything later. Take off the rest.” She tugs at the black wrapping that was serving as my underwear.
“Hey! Whoa,” I use my hands to cover my manhood. “Could you at least warn me before stripping me bare?”
“I have seen your body before. Besides, I did not think you cared for my company, so why would nudity matter? I expected you would take the bonus trophy to satisfy those needs. But you didn’t care for him, either. What preference are you open to exploring?”
“The one you said is dead? Is there a different meaning on Earth? Or do you prefer the dead?”
“No! I just,” I retrieve my boxers from the closet and slip them on. I don’t know how to answer this.
“I guess I never really thought about it.” It isn’t true. I’ve thought about it a lot. I just never figured out the answers.
“Sexual preference isn’t something you think about, is it? It’s just something you feel.”
I tap my fingertips together. “Maybe. I mean, sure, I guess for some people it is just something you feel. Like the first time you eat triple chocolate cake. If you eat it and feel that’s it, that’s your favorite food, and you want to eat it as often as possible for the rest of your life, that’s great. But what if, even more than that cake, you really want to be a nutritionist or something? What if that matters more to you than the delicious taste of that cake? The chocolate floods your mind with euphoria. It quenches your hunger and satisfies you longer than all other foods. Every time you lick it off your lips and let the last remains melt in your mouth, you’re there, in paradise. But that cake won’t let you be a nutritionist. People will judge you for not making tofu with pineapple cake or something. And yeah, you could try using words like “moderation,” but you’ll feel like you never fully committed to being a nutritionist.”
Her fingers collide with my lips. “Are people this hung up on whatever cake is, where you’re from?”
I shut my eyes as I tug my hair. “Children. I wanted to father children. The traditional way. Yeah, I can see how I might have used a surrogate or maybe even adopted if it came down to it. But the thing is, I didn’t have to consider the other methods. I knocked up my high school girlfriend. Not on purpose, by the way. The protection failed. Then we got married. My wife was my triple chocolate cake made of tofu.”
“I do not know what tofu is. Did you prefer her, your wife, the mother of your children, to all other people in the world?”
“Yes. Not that I know all the other people in the world. But that was never a factor.”
She nods her head. “Would you have preferred her if she couldn’t have had children?”
When was the last time you ate or drank something without knowing what it was? How did that experience turn out?
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