An extravagant mansion illuminated a wooded countryside. Hypnotic dance music emanated from within accented by the low buzz of socialites, the atmosphere was pierced by laughs and the clinking of glasses. Alan was sitting by himself in one of the many side rooms designated for activities. This particular side room held a substance dispensary, of which numerous were scattered through the mansion. Normally he was more cheerful and social at these events, but recalling the Captain’s disappointment and remembering his time on the wall compelled Alan to wallow by himself at least for a little while, after all it was impossible to avoid engaging in the nights recreational activities for long. He observed celebrities a plenty, and could hear the booming dance music from the great hall though he was in a more secluded wing of the mansion. Everyone was here he thought, from the politician business quarter, to the designers and players from the entertainment garrison, and I’m just sitting.
Tonight Alan and his comrades were the guests of honor and they acted as such, high not only on the various substances afforded to them by the dispensaries, but also on the general aura of the night. The soldiers were frolicking from partner to partner, activity to activity, dancing, games of skill, games of endurance, games of passion, there was no expense spared for the victors tonight. However Alan just sat, not necessarily sad, but by no means at the same level of ecstasy as his compatriots. No sooner had he ordered a drink did he find himself approached by a fan gently drawing her finger across his left shoulder as she crossed to sit next to him on the barstool, a good looking brunette woman who was not at all afraid of being forward.
“Well hey their Lieutenant, I’m Stephanie it’s great to finally meet you in the flesh.” She said slowly and breathily.
Alan looked at her and unabashedly took her in from head to toe, he smirked, she’d be fun, and someone who definitely knew how to live maybe she’d be able to pull him out of his funk. He straightened up a bit and draped himself back against the bar. He smoothly motioned for two concoctions to be brought to them
“Hi there Stephy, glad I could meet you too.” He said winking “I’m guessing you’re a fan of my work?” He said confidently with style. She brightened right up.
“Absolutely! The way you go out there and defend Lazora, you’re just so brave and capable; you do fantastic work out there.” As she spoke she reached out and touched his arm lightly and allowed her hand to wander feeling his shoulder and muscles. Alan enjoyed the attention and played along.
“And what is it that you do Stephy, someone so interested in combat, are you a hopeful recruit?” he joked
“Oh no! I’m entertainment sector, I’m quite comfortable leaving the heavy lifting to you guys.”
She took in his body with her eyes, practically devoured him on the spot focusing on first his arms, then his chest, then headlong into his eyes.
“I’m an actress actually” She added
“Well that would explain why you’re so damn beautiful” he said while looking right in her eyes “They don’t let us warfighters get too pretty, guess we have to stay scary or something. I’m curious now Stephy, what kind of acting do you do?”
Stephanie stopped for a second asking herself what she had gotten into, this lieutenant was smooth, far more poised and self-assured than his platoon mates made him out to be… she was impressed but now also wanted to impress him. She continued with an attempted air of superiority.
“Nothing important, or well, nothing you would’ve heard of or like you could’ve it’s just not that big, but I mean it is big but like yeah, I’m rambling sorry, it’s a TV drama.”
Shit she thought, I really bungled that one
Alan chuckled and smiled, for an actress she sure seemed to get a bit of stage fright.
“Lets’ dance.” He warmly commanded
She sprung to her feet giggling and took his hand pulling him gently along to the dancefloor, they passed room after room, some had closed doors, some open, in the open doors they could make out people having the time of their lives going at it, sometimes just two, sometimes three, more often than not, massive piles of bodies all moving in one rhythmic motion swapping partners, laughing, moaning. And before I know it that’s where I’ll end up sooner or later Alan thought to himself.
He wasn’t displeased at this outcome he enjoyed physical activities of connection just as much as the next person. What he was, was bored, it had become routine there was nothing special to it anymore, sure all partners had their own unique techniques, but that wasn’t enough to keep him interested, he wanted more, more of what? He wasn’t entirely sure.
As they neared the dancefloor the music became louder and louder, a rhythmic pounding assaulting his ear drums. Electronic screeches punctuated the unrelenting bass beat. They stopped in front of two massive wooden doors at minimum twelve feet tall and eight feet across, the music quieted for a moment. Stephy cast a smiling glance back at Alan, she flung both doors open just as the bass dropped on another track and the entire floor erupted in movement and music, Stephy pounced on Alan grabbing his arm more forcefully this time pulling him to the center of the floor, right in the middle of all the sweaty hot and bouncing bodies all. She leaned close to his ear and yelled so that he could hear.
“I hope they taught you some rhythm in your trainings.”
She spun around and began to move with the music, thrusting her butt right into Alan’s pelvis. Alan followed immediate suit keeping his motions in sync with hers as she gyrated left and right up and down, forward and back. They didn’t break contact once, he put his hands on her hips, worked them along her body up to her chest, lingered there for a moment and then wandered elsewhere constantly moving. He put his face near hers the smell of her hair was intoxicating the music brought them physically closer and closer until the two were practically one. He rotated her around so they could dance face to face, the moment was magical her eye caught his they stared as they moved in unison, touching getting closer. Cheek to cheek they spun and laughed and made little jokes to one another mouthing words and doing funny moves. Alan pulled away slightly and briefly to look at her face and she pounced they were kissing now, and dancing and spinning.
To Alan it seemed like they were at it for hours, hands moving all over, and then it started up again, he found himself getting bored, self-conscious even, he despised the feeling that was coming over him, it had happened so many times before, he just couldn’t stay in the moment anymore, his head crept back in, he couldn’t find respite from his own mind. “Why is this enjoyable, this constant kissing, all it is is the smacking of lips and exchange of spit, sure I’m aroused but why do I feel nothing…” he asked himself. He’d open his eyes to look around the room, it was massive, the ceiling had to be at least 20 feet high, the room itself a grand hall with at least 300 other people, and all the others were at it and more, everyone seemed so invested in their activity. He wondered why he couldn’t be. Stephy pulled away now, her face was completely flush and her eyes were twinkling.
“I’d like to go somewhere else with you now!.” She yelled beaming and winking.
“Sounds fun to me!” Alan yelled smiling back. In his mind though he remained tormented, this was no different from any of the other celebrations he’d attended, it was the same shit again and he was finding himself sick of it. Go to a party, meet fun girls, engage in the formalities and then copulate, rinse, repeat. Continue on that way all night until the sun came up and it was time to leave. No matter how many people he met he always felt foreign to them, no matter how many he had, or how close he tried to get to someone they always remained out of reach.
Stephy had grabbed his arm again bringing him towards the wing they had come from to look for an open room for the two of them, they exited the dancefloor, were now walking the corridors, pausing every so often to grab at each other pushing against the walls kissing intensely. His desire to be with this woman was intense, but he knew that the sensation was temporary that after the act he would feel just as empty if not more so after the event regardless of how physically enjoyable it was. He pulled away gently.
“Tell ya what, I’ve got some other people I still have to say hi to.”
“We’ll exchange contacts, you go around and have fun for a while and I’ll reach out to you later.” He added
She was noticeably disheartened, her posture slouched and her eyes sank.
“Ok, you better not forget about me Lieutenant!” She said lackluster but hopeful, she gave him another passionate kiss and the two tapped the communicators on their temples and then brought their fingers to the others communicator. The exchange registered as a success via an alert on each’s HUD. Stephy gave him one last longing glance and was on her way back towards the alluring buzz of the dancefloor.
Alan stood in the hallway watching her go, surrounded by the sounds of dance music and now in this wing of the mansion the yells of ecstasy coming from the rooms of the other party goers. Not all of them were going at it he remembered some were just getting impossibly high on all of the substances afforded to them at this gathering, and others playing games of skill to establish their dominance over others, and even then some people sat in more quiet rooms and actually talked discussing ideas they found pertinent. He resolved to go up to the top floor to try and clear away his mind with the view from the mansion roof, however just to be sure he promised himself he would stop at as many dispensaries as he could on his way to try to numb his mind away.
He walked and thought and walked, he was empty really, watching the others at the venue, trying to just get a taste of their feeling to spark him into party activities. They were all so happy and embroiled in their struggles and Alan just couldn’t grasp it, he felt so far away from all of them friends talking to friends recounting all the stories of the days in the prior week. How George was able to overcome the plight of a finicky coffee maker, when Stacy stood up to the boss in the office and got the rest of the workers an easier schedule with fewer deadlines. It wasn’t just the trivial things either, Faussbaum was discussing the intricacies of multi-dimensional space and Dr. Mirchelli was making others aware of the psychological phenomena Sonder.
Alan liked that one the most, it helped explain his loneliness if only just a little bit, everyone is in their own little bubble, it only makes sense that one might feel alienated because no matter how hard they tried or how close they got to another they would never have lived the life of that other person and therefore never be able to get close enough to them. Sure you could have friends and meet people with similar interests but really truly care for another, be able to feel what they’re feeling well, that’d just be about impossible, and anyone who made a bigger deal about this separation than normally is made, those people were just being melodramatic, weak.
Alan approached a bar on the 3rd floor and ordered several drinks and began to get to working seriously on reaching the level of the other party goers but he unfortunately couldn’t shake his own mind, no matter how many substances he imbibed he still felt rational thought circulating through his skull. After camping at this bar for a while decided to get up and move towards his intended goal, maybe some increased circulation would allow his little chemical cocktail to take its intended effect. With his first steps from the barstool he knew that his motor functions at the very least were impaired just making it to the roof was a journey and a half. Each time he picked up a leg the floor shifted three paces to the right, that coupled with his gross over-correction resulted in a wild bee-like zig-zagging pattern which got him to his destination by the most indirect means possible. Once standing at the top of the stairs facing the exit to the roof he took stock of his current state.
“Well my legs can’t be trusted, so that’s nice to know, my arms well they’re on a bit of a physical delay as well… speech hmmm I wonder how speech would be”
He opened the door and looked straight ahead onto the roof multiple tables and chairs; or was it just one set? Thankfully no people or music though. He allowed a bit of time for his sight to stop spinning to get a good view of everything, it was spectacular. The stars the seemingly unending wilderness from the tree tops, the seclusion… the quiet… he closed his eyes and took a deep breath leaning against the nearest wall, just simply enjoying the air when he was approached by the most gorgeous woman at the party, he was sure of it. She tapped him on the shoulder and said with a wide smile in the most delicate and intoxicating voice.
“Hi there, I’m Jessie you must be Lieutenant Green?”
Alan didn’t just yet trust his speech he reasoned the best bet to keep this girl interested would be to play the mysterious but inviting gentleman. He rose up his arm show casing his symbol winked at her, nodded his head and motioned her to the closest table to sit. She was noticeably excited but picked up the game playing it cool as well. She turned her back to walk over and Alan took this small window to quickly recompose swallowing a small metabolism enhancer. He could already feel the fog lifting from his mind, gathering some momentum to walk steadily over sitting with finesse. He motioned to his communicator to order some drinks, but she waved him down; he was surprised it was borderline offensive to not imbibe at these events… she was different. The two shared a brief but intense gaze causing Alan to crack a smile. He sipped some water and marveled, her eyes were a deep full and rich hazelnut and her brown hair flowed in gentle waves highlighted with slight strips of a warm golden hue. He began speaking without even realizing, surprisingly clearer than he thought he could.
“Well Jessie, I’m glad you found me, walking and sitting are great and dancing would’ve just been the weirdest way to see you, and since you know who and you do stuff so what do you?”
Alan bit his tongue and furrowed his brow that was not even close to coherent, he began to feel very self-conscious fumbling over his words like that. He glanced up and made eye contact again with her and darted his gaze away as quickly as she saw it. She was smiling, she thought he was funny. He was astonished at how he managed to lose all of his suaveness so instantly. He looked back up and was lost.
“I work with citizen growth and education.” She said while holding up her arm and winking just as he did.
Once again Alan found himself smiling, she just picked apart his little forearm move by giving it back in the most playful way possible, his curiosity for her grew fiercely.
“How does someone in the education caste make it to an event like this?” He inquired
She smiled coyly “Well let’s just say I know a few important people”
“Well Ms. Mysterious, what do you teach then?” It took every fiber of his being to hide his giddiness.
“Mathematics and logic, but I dip into some studies on history for my own enjoyment.”
“Wow, that’s actually really cool you’re quite the mix; most math people I know vehemently reject subjects that don’t line up with their computations.”
“Oh don’t get me wrong” She humbly stated “It’s really not all that I just read like occasionally you know, to pass the time?”
He had no idea how but he was falling for this woman hard, her look, her presence, her words, her air it was all unbelievable. Somehow she had managed to skirt past all those hormonal defenses citizens were equipped with. True yes he was attracted to this woman but it was something more, he wanted to know more about her, who she was, where she was from, where she was going.
“What’s your favorite period to study?” He blurted over-eager.