Short Strokes: NEAR and Dear

Another piece from my writing class that had been under consideration but that has now been rejected.  It’s also another one off meaning at the moment I have no where to go with it in my head.  I need to finish another series and get to editing The Alphabet Game now that I have it back from Lorelei Logsdon who edited it in under a week as opposed to the last go round that stretched on for months and gave me next to squat for my trouble.  New laptop is finally all set up so both of those are on tap for the coming weeks.

N.E.A.R. and Dear
Jamaica Knox was bored as usual.  Her bronze skin glistened a bit as she watched the sun reflecting off the polish on her toes.  Her breasts were still taut and full but there was no one there to appreciate them.  It was just her and grandmother alone in a large rambling home.  At 20, she hadn’t seen much of the world outside of her family estate.  She stood on her front porch staring out at nothing really.  She draped her 5’4’’ inch frame on the porch swing and let her hair swing in the breeze.  This is how she spent most of her time when she wasn’t daydreaming about what her life might be like somewhere else, anywhere else.  There had to be more than a porch swing on a wraparound porch in the middle of an isolated fortress.  
The closest neighbors were over five miles away.  They were older and their kids had all left home years ago.  Leaving was a common theme around the area.  Her grandmother was fixed on her perch in the living room watching 21st century television and her parents were off on yet another adventure.  Jennifer and Samuel Knox had been her first dose of leaving and longing.  Her parents had thankfully blended together after the identified mate ritual but that was partially because they shared a desire for something more.  They raised her and loved her dearly but as soon they had reached their obligatory time as parents they packed up, promised to check in and left the planet on the first thing smoking.  They had spent very little time at home since she had turned sixteen. 
There was little for her to fear at this point.  Crime had been eradicated on all of the outer world planets.  Most illness could be addressed at home via their medical pods and there hadn’t been a natural disaster, famine, or war in over three centuries.  Part of that was due to the last major conflict that happened 2057 on OE.  No one really discussed the dismantling of Original Earth.  When most of what had been the Middle East had been bombed into oblivion apparently the leaders of the rest of the planet decided it was time to relocate before they got even more out of hand.  Frightened citizens from every major and minor nation boarded long range shuttles and headed out into the darkness of space.  Her ancestors had chosen one of the more isolated settlements and thus she was safe, healthy, bright, and bored out of her skull for the moment on the lovely planet New Earth Associated Resettlement.  
Jamaica had always called it NEAR like the other people her age.  They had never experienced a bad day in their lives.  Neither had OE since the mass exodus.  Apparently relocating hundreds of millions of citizens had caused those there to calm the heck down.  It wasn’t the panacea of most of the off Earth settlements but generally speaking they were doing well.  The ozone layer had been repaired, famine had been a long ago thing that most people had no tangible experience of, there were plenty of jobs and homes and whatever else interested them.  The thing that made Jamaica envious though was the residents of OE were able to do things that were explicitly banned on NEAR.  There was no freedom to just be and explore and let your curiosity run wild.  Kissing a classmate in junior high could get you expelled if they weren’t your identified mate.  What she wouldn’t have done to spend one day at home with the memory of someone’s kiss on her lips.
The settlement leaders kept everything in order by restricting every option they could possibly have.  Food options were directed towards their honed palettes, meant to provide nourishment but not enjoyment.  Clothing tended to arrive in the colors their pupils dilated most to when they were witnessed, functional and comfortable, but nothing that got them excited.  Music was designed to make you feel good and keep you calm, nothing more, nothing less.  And sex outside of a recognized arranged partnership was expressly forbidden.  No foreplay, no anticipation of meeting your lover, just your identified mate and prescribed life.  If you broke the fraternization rule at all you could be shunned by everyone or “reprogrammed” if your mistake was deemed minor.  Grandma Joan had been reprogrammed for experimenting with a neighborhood girl.  Jamaica’s parents, especially her mother, had learned from Grandma Joan’s mistake. They never did anything to violate the rules of NEAR but they had abandoned her here to go explore the universe and one of the things that had been leaked in one of the old Earth entertainment that was readily supplied.  Jamaica hadn’t yet learned what motivation could come from longing.  Even if she had, no matter how interesting it might have been, she couldn’t act on it—at least not without being very careful and very private.
Her grandfather hadn’t been as careful as he needed to be so he packed up eventually as well.  Grandpa Steven had left not long after her parents.  He felt as though he had done his time in hell and he wanted to live out the last years of his life anywhere that felt more real, to see what pleasures and undiscovered things the universe had left to offer him.  He wanted to kiss a woman who wasn’t his wife.  He wanted to lounge around and watch what was referred to as pornography but just appeared to be racy movies from before the OE conflict.  So he disappeared days before the reprogramming was set to commence.  That left her and Grandma Joan alone unless her friends or siblings stopped by.  As long as food was ready on schedule and Jamaica was there to eat with her, Joan largely ignored Jamaica.  That was helpful because it allowed Jamaica the freedom to explore without fear of reprisal from the only family member who hadn’t abandoned her to chase their own need fulfilment. 
A few months shy of her twenty-first birthday Jamaica ventured out one night with friends after Joan had gone up to her bedroom.  Her friends from secondary school had told her about a growing underground scene that was nothing like their daily experience.  There were allegedly all manner of decadent things to explore, from the food to the people.  They promised her that her senses would be overwhelmed and she would never be the same again.  Jamaica was sure that it felt more clandestine than it really was but she wanted to do anything but spend another night alone taking an unnecessarily long bubble bath and going to bed.  They journeyed out to a massive expanse of desert and stood on the edge of a large lake.  This was the way of NEAR, create a vast empty space, pretty but abandoned, then adorn it with an equally pretty but out of place thing.  She hadn’t been to OE but she was almost positive there would be not be very many ten mile wide lakes in the epicenter of a desert.  Still it was captivating.  That juxtaposition of natural and unnatural gave birth to the hidden world she was about to enter.  A voice emerged from the darkness.
“Please leave any traces of your real identity in your vehicle.  Be sure to enable the masking cloak that was provided to you so that your car is not spotted randomly in the area by overseers.  When you are ready please step on the platform.”
As soon as the voice stopped speaking a burnished silver disc emerged from the sand.  They stepped onto it and began to disappear beneath the sand.  Jamaica panicked briefly, thinking that the sand would fall in on them but her friend Denise convinced her they would be all right.  She tapped on the clear glass tube surrounding them and hugged Jamaica.  When they finally made it to the street level of the underground Jamaica was caught off guard by what she saw.  Music was blaring from a number of what appeared to be nightclubs styled after 21st century buildings.  There were a few cars scattered about that you could drive through the city streets.  And then Jamaica saw something that captured her attention and she went running full steam towards the entrance.  Her friends looked at each other and then back in her general direction before shaking their heads and walking another direction.  George broke the silence first.
“Who comes here and gets excited about a book store?”
It didn’t make sense to anyone else as they went to explore what was available and intriguing to their senses.  Jamaica nearly tripped through the door.  There were books, actual books, not digital maps or touch screens.  She fingered through a few pages before the lone other shopper noticed her.  She went from aisle to aisle, touching, giggling, getting oddly aroused by the smell of the old paper between the bindings.  She had always been fascinated by the concept of books when she was a small child.  She only saw them on what counted as their television but the fact that people seemed so enraptured by what was on those pages had always captivated her.  She was so lost in her exploration that she didn’t realize that anyone was following her or even in the store.  As she rounded a corner towards the racier fare, her companion finally spoke.
“Excuse me, I hope I didn’t frighten you.  My name is Arthur.  I had to speak because I haven’t seen anyone here in the year I’ve been exploring this place.” 
Arthur was just shy of six feet tall and wiry.  His skin was a smooth rich chocolate color and she found herself wanting to lick it to see what he tasted like.  As she continued to look at him she thought he was handsome and his voice felt like it was hugging her when he spoke.  His face was partially covered by a full thick beard that she was intrigued by.  She wanted to touch it but felt that would be intrusive.  He looked strong and she just wanted to fall into his arms.  She felt a stirring in her body that was both foreign and welcome. She let out a quick gasp and then laughed at herself.  What could really happen in a bookstore?  “My name is Jamaica.  I’ve never seen a book in person so I had to stop in.  I hope I wasn’t interrupting you.”
They both smiled and realized that if they never wanted to see each other in the store they wouldn’t have to.  It was fairly large and if you were tucked in one corner wouldn’t notice anyone else come or go.  But yet here they were, staring at one another like they were slices of birthday cake, one of the few indulgences that had been held over from OE.  And so it was that Arthur found his Jamaica.  They spent the next few hours talking. He showed her the books he really liked and thought she might as well.  Shakespeare, Anne Rice, Hemingway, Vonnegut and then all of the girly fiction he had worked through, some of it better than others.  She found it fascinating that he wasn’t overtly hitting on her and he was amazed any halfway attractive young woman was in a bookstore.
They were heading towards the front entrance when her friends stumbled through the door looking disheveled.  She didn’t want to ask what they had been up to but took it as a cue that it was probably time to go.  She looked back at Arthur and they exchanged another generous smile. 
“Until next time, my dear sweet Jamaica.”  He bent over at the waist and gave her a generous flourish of his right arm.
She smiled and was dragged out of the store by her companions.  As they ascended back to the desert lake, they pummeled her with questions.  Who was he?  What had they been doing? Did she really spend the last few hours playing with dusty old books?  What kind of person comes here without hoping to do something illegal?  They couldn’t possibly understand what had just happened to her.  At that moment, neither could she, but it was the beginning of the rest of her life.
She had ventured back many times both with her friends and alone over the next six months.  Each time she headed to the bookstore looking for Arthur.  She found him more often than she didn’t but on the days she was there alone she found a corner chair and thumbed the pages as fast as she could.  Some nights they ended up in tangled in each other’s arms while one of them attempted to read their chosen novel between kisses.  She was feeling adventurous one night and explore the love and sexuality tomes while she had the store to herself.  As her eyes scanned pages, she felt her body react in ways it hadn’t completely before now.  Her breath was catching in her throat a bit and her nipples were becoming tight against her red and white polka dotted sundress.  She pulled her skirt around her waist and took off her panties as she compared her sex to that on the pages.  The women in the drawings looked to be enjoying themselves, especially when they were connected to another body physically but she had never contemplated what it would feel like before that night.  She redressed quickly and went home to a fitful aroused dream.
In it, Arthur was there, hugged close to her back and completely naked.  She could feel his erection against her thigh was beginning to throb.  Feeling totally out of sorts, she reached between her legs and guided him inside of her.  She mewed as he broke through another level of her resistance.  She moaned softly and began to cry as he moved gently inside of her wetness.  He bit into her shoulder as she arched back against his body.  They continued to rock together for a bit until his fingers sought out her clit and twirled it between his fingers.  She bucked against him as her orgasm overtook her.  He smiled in her ear and whispered, “Sweet honey.”  She awoke with stickiness between her thighs and wanted nothing more than to get back to their store.
He was there waiting for her.  He lit up after seeing her come through the door but suddenly started looking serious as she moved towards him.  She pulled the book she had been glancing through off the shelf and showed him what she had been reading, The New Joy of Sex.
“Have you done this before Arthur?” she asked as she flipped to one of the more complicated pairings.  She was urgent, insistent, and nearly feral even though she hadn’t really understood the concept of lust until she met him.
He shook his head no.  “I haven’t been that adventurous yet Jamaica.  Yes, I’ve had sex but it wasn’t as intense as people made it out to be.  Maybe you have to be invested in the person for it to be better.”
She stepped closer to him and cocked her head to the side before she asked her next question.  “Are you invested in me, Arthur?”  Before he could speak again she kissed him.  Deeper than any of their other kisses had been and long enough that both of their bodies began to warm up.  He pushed her away for a moment and asked if she was sure that she wanted to go further. 
She responded by unzipping her dress and asking him to help her step out of it.  She led him to a storeroom they had found a few weeks back when they got tired of being in the main storefront.  On a completely out of place leather sofa she waited naked while he undressed.  She motioned for him to sit on the sofa next to her and she watched his erection twitch in the cold air as he did so.  Her eyes got large and her hands reached out for his dick impulsively.  She stroked him gently, letting her fingers dance around the tip.  He felt like nothing that had been in her hands before.  More give than the only thing she could think of like it but still harder and more urgent than she could have imagined.  His breath started to become ragged as she explored him with all the curiosity of a young child.  They were nimble and soft and she seemed insistent on making him rigid.  When she was satisfied with her machinations she climbed into his lap.
She slid down onto him as slowly as he had entered her in her dream.  The pressure was amazing.  She felt full, light, bursting with energy and like she was floating at the same time.  Her walls clenched around his shaft and she felt a tug that she had never experienced before.  His mouth found her nipples and added to the heat that was creeping over her body.  The pressure got more intense, which made her hips pick up their pace.  Soon she was gyrating on him like she was unhinged and she had her first orgasm.  As the shudders racked her body, Arthur held her close and repeated the words from her dream.  And so it was that Jamaica was bonded to Arthur. 
Each time they met after that they would read, explore the sexuality or erotica sections and then act out whatever caught their attention.  They changed positions, locations and orifices at will.  The first time she took him in her mouth he almost exploded immediately and she lapped at his juices like they were the only thing promising her salvation.  When he let his mouth explore her folds, she trembled and shook so much he was afraid he had broken her.  Her orgasm was so long and loud that they both looked sheepish when it was over.  Sheepish and horny as a dog in heat, touching each other was the only thing that seemed to extinguish the fire. They tried as often as they could to exhaust one another. 
They were in the throes of a steamy and intense session when the sirens went off.  Initially she thought they were in her head and meant her body was going to explode from the inside out.  When she heard the screams they broke away from each other and got dressed in a rush.  They barely made it out of the bookstore before they were separated from one another.  Guards were shoving them towards separate holding areas for processing.  The lights went dark and suddenly they were rushed into the emergency pods.  Jamaica made it home without being stopped but she had no idea what had become of Arthur and what would happen to anyone they had captured underground.
The invasion of their underground cell hadn’t been a fluke.  A young man had fled after impregnating a girl he had met there.  This wouldn’t have been a major issue except she was the daughter of the undersecretary of the Defense Ministry, Chairman Louis Paulson.  He had not taken the news well that his oldest child was pregnant and had been traipsing around underground violating the edicts of NEAR.  He turned her over to the scientists that handled the reprogramming and let them violate her brain until they had found the location of the cell.  She had essentially been lobotomized as a result.  Never one to accept the blame, like all of the NEAR leaders, he had launched a full out assault on the underground dwellings.
Chairman Paulson spent the next eight months eradicating what the nightly propaganda called, “the most insidious ill that has ever plagued our peaceful planet.”  Each underground cell they found was raided and destroyed.  It was dismantled on the local news and the dissidents’ names and faces were periodically shown on the screen as well.  Dissidents were anyone that deemed to try to enjoy a life that was not part of their script.  Those that were captured were isolated and reprogrammed to the point they may not recall their past lives.  They had to restore balance became the rallying cry of the government.  Eventually a curfew was imposed so that it became illegal to be anywhere other than your domicile after dark.  Life that had already been heavily controlled slowly began to be no life at all.
The fact that there was now no safe place and no safe way to indulge in anything remotely pleasurable was starting to cause a series of riots.  Apparently, those cells had allowed the residents of NEAR to burn off those baser instincts without derailing the settlement.  A quickie in the movie theater meant a husband wasn’t overly aggressive with his wife.  Being able to sing in an underground nightclub had meant quite a few housewives could release their artistic urges without drawing scrutiny  Without those outlets there was initially a growing sense of unrest.  Neighbors were short with one another.  Classmates were fracturing over minor debates.  All at once it seemed there was a palpable anger and the tiny cracks began to splinter the foundation of NEAR.  There was vandalism, a rash of break-ins and even a few fights.  Local propaganda blamed new immigrants and unruly young people but they were not fooling anyone who was paying attention.  And then like a wildfire she read about in the bookstore, the revolt spread in record time.
Those that had escaped the raids had formed a loosely organized but well planned and well-funded rebellion.  They had targeted a few key areas to penetrate and hoped to topple things from the inside.  The dissidents had infiltrated the government forces, news outlets, transportation companies and the programmers.  They put hackers in key roles and let them loose.  It admittedly wasn’t hard to hack the systems because they assumed no one could ever get into their ranks without arousing suspicion.  Once they were in place they altered troop schedules, changed delivery routes and content, and began sanctioning those that had enacted the new regulations that were destroying life on NEAR.  Minor infractions in those ranks meant dismissal and potentially reprogramming.  Most were spared that treat except Chairman Paulson.  The nightly news opened with his guilty sentence and a live reprogramming.  Some watching had been horrified by the procedure which was part of the plan.  The truth of the matter was they just didn’t want to leave him as a potential threat in the future. 
For two months, the revolution held together tightly.  The NEAR power structure had been overrun and they were mostly in hiding.  And the people were unhinged in their lust.  There were parties and music that made you hyper and horny and sleepy and sad.  There were decadent foods that made you moan when it passed your lips and luxurious clothes to wear that felt like soft caresses whenever you warn them.  And most of all there were bodies coupling and uncoupling at will all over NEAR.  Jamaica hoped it meant she was going to be united with Arthur but at no time did she see him on the news or in the streets.  The worst part though was that as quickly as the rebellion had stormed up and took over the remote planet it had come to fall apart. 
They were not geared to run a planet.  There was some benefit to the NEAR officials. Even if they had been sapping the enjoyment of life they understood the ins and outs of keeping them all fed and safe.  The rampant overindulgence had proven to be just as problematic as not being able to indulge at all.  The rebellion leaders were smart enough to know there had to be some balance.  Either extreme was too much for NEAR to handle long-term.  So very quickly and quietly NEAR leaders and the revolution forces began meeting.  They spent months hashing out a way that each side could come away with some of what they wanted without the looming threat of more unrest. 
The result of those meetings was a treaty that allowed heavily regulated exploration of one’s base desires.  The nightclubs looked much better under moonlight.  The bookstores were plentiful even though largely unused.  The parks and lakes were not randomly placed and were stimulating on multiple levels.  However, the most radical change was the dismantling of the forced partnering programs.  That had been a tradeoff but you were allowed to pick your mate until you reached the age of 29.  At that point if you had not done so then you agreed to have a partner selected for you.  That dismantling also led to the rise of a burgeoning legalized sex industry. 
And that is where Jamaica found herself tonight.  She was sitting in the business office of her club.  She had spent months locating and decorating a Victorian styled home to make it into a den of iniquities to borrow a phrase from one of the novels she had devoured during her time underground.  She had spent the last few weeks selecting men and women to help the customers act out their desire when they visited.  Each had been trained using the old sex guides she had first perused with Arthur.  The thought of him still sent a chill up her spine but it had been over a year since she’d seen him and she wasn’t sure what to think about him now. 
The club had opened successfully and was proving to be a popular enterprise.  She had been excited about the opportunity to indulge in the carnal activities as well but after a few months she realized that while her staff and the patrons were interesting they never gave her the same charge as Arthur could.  She decided to focus on making sure that the club was never in violation of the treaty but she quit taking clients over time.  When one of her bookers started stalking her, Jamaica decided to listen to what was causing Nadene to become so distressed.  Nadene kept insisting that a client wouldn’t go away until he met Jamaica.  He wouldn’t say why, only that he had heard she was running the best club in the area and he wanted to meet the owner.  Jamaica didn’t want to call the authorities because she didn’t want the club to come under scrutiny.  There was an uneasy agreement to leave the clubs alone provided there was no trouble.  Jamaica finally stopped Nadene’s ramblings and asked where the man was. 
Jamaica made her way to the oversized bedroom with the library attached and entered quietly.  “I understand that you wanted to meet the owner before you departed,” her voice was soft and tired.
“Yes I did, I’ve been looking for someone I lost a while back and was hoping it might be you.”
Her body felt his words and it started a familiar two step in her brain.  He moved across the room to her slowly, masking the heat that was drawing them back together.  Soon enough Arthur was wrapping her in his arms and pulling her close to him.  She looked up at him and then kissed him hesitantly because she didn’t want to wake up if she was dreaming.  The kiss became a dance for power which she happily lost.  He sat in the oversized desk chair and asked her to strip.  She had picked up a few tricks in their time apart and by the time she was naked she noticed the sizable bulge in his pants.  She knelt in front of him and pulled him free of his clothing.  Her eyes locked on his as she took him in her mouth and slowly suckled on him.  The sensations were so much more pleasurable without the fear of being exiled looming over the encounter.  She licked up and down his shaft while planting tiny kisses along the way.  She was enraptured by the taste of him, salty and warm and pulsing against her tongue.  When he could take no more he pulled her up by her hair and spun her around so that she was laying on the generous oak desk. 
She knocked over the decorations as he pushed inside of her.  They moaned in unison and fell back into step with each other after a few strokes.  She bucked against him as he tangled his hand more deeply in her hair while pressing down on the small of her back with the other.  She knew she wasn’t dreaming but she was convinced she might be high.  Her body hadn’t been fully alive since they were separated.  But now he was here, he had found her and she was a volcano on the verge of erupting.  Instead of holding off and hoping they weren’t discovered, she came hard and often.  He held off much longer than she thought he would but then collapsed on top of her.  She giggled to herself and he was momentarily confused.
“You always seduce me surrounded by books,” she stated, her voice tinged with a smile and cracking from exhaustion. 
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