The pretty boy in the orbital bar was wearing moth wings, last year's fashion but he carried it well, and this job looked fresh out of the vat. I kept an eye on him as I sucked down another container of energy drink. He sauntered over to the jukebox and pressed the keys that would take him to my site. Iridescent sparks crawled down each fluttering sleeve as he moved. As my top download came streaming through the speakers at me yet again, the boy turned as if he'd just noticed I was in the room - nice touch that, however contrived - and came to me as if he'd done something marvelous. His compound eyes glittered, black with hints of ruby. Pretty. Pretty enough that I might give him a chance.
"It is a lovely song," he buzzed complacently. I couldn't tell where the voice was coming from - he carried a proboscis tightly coiled under his chin but I doubted he could talk through it. It didn't really matter. I kept my eyes on his, as was only polite, but I was really trying to figure out whether those bulging facets were the real gemod or just pross, sunglass domes overlaying mere human optics. Prosthetics seemed most likely; not many folks go the whole way for fashion. But it wasn't an impossibility; even on this hick station I'd seen a few full modifications.
He was standing very close to me. It was an effort to keep looking up at his face. His expression was unreadable - I'd never bothered to learn Bug, figuring the fad would have run its course before I ran into one I needed to read. He was probably pretending to be unaware of the effect he hoped he was having on me.
He couldn't read my expression either, I'm sure, or he wouldn't have been standing so close. My smile was becoming even more strained than it usually was during these fanboy encounters.
I felt a brief tap on my thigh and glanced down. He'd unrolled his proboscis and was probing nimbly around my zipper - so the gemod was real, but what an unpleasant way to find out!
I snap-grabbed the proboscis with energy-enhanced reflexes before he could roll it back in, and hung on as tightly as I could. The muscular tube of ridged black gristle flexed and thrummed under my hand as he struggled to speak, his hands pressing ineffectively against my shoulders. Tiny rainbow flakes came off his wings and littered the floor around my stool. None of the other customers seemed to notice anything wrong; from their perspective I guess moth boy was getting just what he'd come for.
My grip slipped only a little bit but he took the brief opportunity and whipped the tube up out of my hands. He brought his hands up and I got ready to break him, but it was only to burnish his proboscis and press its coils back into shape with quick jerky motions. I thought he'd turn and run then, make a break for it, but he stood his ground.
"You move too fast, pretty wings," I hissed. "I can't stand another one-night stand."
"I have to," he sobbed. "It's all I have."
I'd been wrong on two counts. Three, if you count the fact that I didn't want him after all. He was the gemod, all right, but he wasn't pure moth.
His eyes were real too, of course. I walked away in them a thousand times.
©2000, Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved.
The title and tagline are both Janis Joplin songs.
This document was last updated March 17, 2000.