Night of the Flesh Scanners

by Aaron Winslow

Joe Jar-E the Half-Meme came over late one night to go down to the river, where the Sex Caesar had docked his pontoon boat filled with all those sex sacs. He had a fresh sign hanging out front reading MANSEX: 50 UNITS, NANOSEX: 200 units.

Never the scrip for the NanoSex, always only the ManSex, with the same old sex sacs I’d had before. But Joe Jar-E had something different in mind, and he said to me, “Hey, you heard about this nano way to fuck? It’s like you fuck but inside so they just open up and you get inside and you fuck inside, all loaded up inside.”

“My scrip’s a little low,” I said, “It so near the trimming and all…”

But Joe Jar-E insisted. “This one’s on me,” he said, and I didn’t exactly ask questions.

We got there and said we wanted the “nano way”, and Sex Caesar led us into the shack on top the pontoon where he kept the sex sacs, flesh grafts pulsating while oily brackish mucous leaked out.

Sex Caesar held the grafts open, and as we climbed in he chanted, “That’s right, get on in, and huddle up, just like a baby.”

Much later, after I climbed out, I heard voices on the dock, a man saying, “Il lanca egalement plusieurs, fingering in stationary sex sacs. Forget the past, I always say.”

“Pensa que le poids sur son bras…” responded a woman sitting next to him. “Anyway, I touched us down, the other side of the Line, that’s the area we operated in back then, least likely place for the Specialty to look.”

Some other feed flesh jumped off a nearby bridge into water below, caused a loud splash. The man looked around, suddenly alert, spotted us in the shadows. He jumped from his seat and yelled, “We see you, ain’t no use hiding over there.”

We crept closer, still obscure in the shadows.

“Okay, Let’s see them flesh crystals, kid.”

Joe Jar-E, notorious for the failure to produce such crystals when required, said, “Sorry, sir, I left them with my mother-flesh.”

“Mother-flesh,” the man repeated, and spit, and then as an aside to his companion, “What kind of a backwater have we Floated ourselves into…”

The woman at the table leaned toward us, “Don’t mind Blud-Bod, he’s just rattled from the Float. We know you’re not Flesh Regulators.”

“Don’t be too sure yet, Vagi-Con,” Blud-Bod said.

“Naw,” she said. “Sex Caesar don’t let flesh like that into his place. These guys are simple feed-flesh.”

Blud-Bod sat back down, and turning to us, said, “Okay. Uh, sorry about that. Flesh Regulator patrols is tough around here. You two should sit down with us, if you want.”

We climbed between the wooden rails. Our appearance in the light set Blud-Bod going, “Now, there’s a nubile network of odds and ends if I’ve ever seen one.” His eyes roved across the folds and ripples of my overgrown trim-flesh, positively dripping off me. “Come closer to ol’ Blud-Bod,” he said. “I’d like a good sense of that flesh real up and close.”

“You oughtn’t speak in such manner, Blud-Bod, you know our internal rules…” Vagi-Con said, trailing off.

But Blud-Bod, not to be stopped, pulled up his shirt and pulled out a vastly overdeveloped homologic skin-sponge, replete with clustered basal ganglia grafted directly onto his belly. The skin-sponge, beating like a second—and external—heart, was wrapped loosely in foamy plastic, allowing discharge to seep through and create runny pools on the tabletop.

I’d not quite realized that Blud-Bod was this way, and felt myself unable to remove my eyes from the slick, quivering skin-sponge.

Noticing my interest, Blud-Bod raised his eyebrows. “Now. Why don’t you give my skin-sponge a real run-down, feed-flesh?”

I didn’t have half a chance though.

“I said, kill it, Blud-Bod!” Vagi-Con interrupted loudly, sharply.

“Oh, okay,” Blud-Bod laughed and shrugged, “For now.”

Regaining her composure, Vagi-Con leaned toward us, “You two ever hear of a guy goes by Black Nosferatu? A true-flesh trader?”

“Naw,” said Joe Jar-E. “Ain’t nobody like that here, this about as crazy as things get and that’s only every few months when the Sex Caesar comes ‘round.”

They looked disappointed at that. Vagi-Con forced a smile, said, “But we know he’s here, he might just be real secret or something.”

“Not the Black Nosferatu I know”, said Blud-Bod, “He’s a fiend for flesh, can’t help himself. He lacks a certain flair for subtlety. If he’s here they’d know.”

Vagi-Con shook her head sadly. “I think our Float got real fucked up. I don’t think we’re exactly where we think we are.”

Then under my tank top, an itch inside the fold of some undulating layer of flesh, I felt it fall out and unroll itself. Vagi-Con noticed it, too: “I guess your trim-dates are near, right?”

“Yep,” I replied, “Any day…I hope.”

“You kids are real sweet,” said Vagi-Con, “You should come on with us.”

Blud-Bod nodded at Vagi-Con, added, “There’s a few transgressor modules, some concubine RNA’s I can tap out. That’s what you’ll want to do, not have to worry about this trimming anymore. At least not too much…”

I looked at Joe Jar-E. What business did he have with a band of Flesh Scanners? Half-Meme of Half-Memes if I ever saw one, he couldn’t Float, forget about even passing a solid flesh scan.

Joe Jar-E touched my shoulder, nodded, and I knew what he meant, so I said, “Okay. I’ll Float with you.”

Vagi-Con narrowed her eyes, “…and him?”

Joe Jar-E shook his head.

“He ain’t ready yet,” I said.

“Let’s get on out of here, then,” said Blud-Bod.

From a wet-skin case he removed a hard organ, thin strips of intestines wound around a small portable generator, every inch the meat-engine.

“Okay Vagi-Con,” he said, assuming suddenly a most clinical visage. “Let me borrow your void-organ.”

She pulled up her shirt. Blud-Bod plugged the flesh scanner directly past the soft mucous membrane lining of the dilated orifice on her stomach. Vagi-Con lurched backward. Blud-Bod labored to keep the scanner plugged into the void-organ, as it was soon slick with putrid black jelly-fluid.

After a moment, he pulled the scanner out of Vagi-Con’s void-organ.

“We got a reading,” he said.

“What is it?”

“Says negative. No Black Nosferatu here.”

“I knew it,” said Vagi-Con. She turned to Blud-Bod. “Well, you want another go at those sex sacs?”

“There’ll be time for that later,” he said, and winked in my direction.

Vagi-Con turned toward the road, and took a few steps before realizing we hadn’t followed her.

“Moto-Skiff’s tucked in a swamp just up a ways,” she said. “We can walk on over and Float up the coastline from there.”

She began again, and Blud-Bod ran after her.

“Walk a little with me, huh?” I said to Joe Jar-E.

We walked at a steady length behind them without speaking. Electrical towers rose above the swamp trees. The sun diverged with its reflection on the river and dank fertile swamps, and after awhile Joe Jar-E tugged on my sleeve.

“I reckon I got to get on back home,” he said.

“Figured that,” I said.

He held out his hand, revealed his small pile of scuffed and clouded flesh crystals.

“You had your flesh crystals all along?” I said.

“You know I can’t never remember nothing,” he shrugged, “Besides, can’t just show ‘em off to just anybody, right?”

He turned his hand over, dropped the flesh crystals into my palm.

“You don’t want them?”

“I’ll get more, ain’t hardly a need for ‘em around here. Just something of a reminder for you.”

Then he left, and I went nearly the opposite way.

I kept those flesh crystals in my pocket, I kept them by my side, on my person, as near inside me as possible because I found life Floating with the Flesh Scanners an exercise in mutability, and the flesh crystals a dim yet sure source of constancy. And somehow to get away from the swamp wasn’t enough. No, in fact, you had to hold a piece of it with you.

Aaron Winslow is a writer, archivist, editor, and student living in New York.