Journal Entry 242 / 00877
Seren, Narquel 31, 00877
"And this will be your room."
I glanced around the corner to examine my new stomping grounds for the
next two years. They looked unspectacular. I hadn't expected more than a
comfortable place to drop my bags and my bones. "We, ah, didn't know what
you needed in bathroom facilities. We've hosted Ssphynx twice in the past
six years and the guy at the embassy said that those would work for you."
"They'll be fine, Mister Jainus." I padded into the room. The walls were
decorated in an off-white stucco that exactly matched the bleached cotton
of the dense mattress on the bed, little more than a wooden platform
just a couple centimeters off the ground. A closer examination revealed
that the frame had hinges to take a variety of positions, most of them
probably more comfortable for a human than for someone of my shape. The
basic bed configuration would do.
I checked out the bathroom. The bidet looked familiar, but the
shower had just one head, high up. I wondered how the Ssphynx students
survived with that. "Mister Jainus?"
"Call me Tom," he insisted. His Midwestern accent sounded fake. But who am
I to judge, considering this guy's probably two centuries than I am?
"I'll try. I, um, I'm going to need a shower on a hose if I'm going to
be able to wash completely."
"I can get one of those. The last student we had used one, but it got
old and leaked. Dusty, make a note."
"Done," the AI's voice said calmly. "By the way, we haven't met and Tom
hasn't introduced us."
"Damn," the human said. "I forgot. Rabi, Dusty, Dusty, Rabi."
"Pleased to meet you," I said.
"And to meet you," the AI responded. "I'll see to it that he doesn't
forget the shower unit. Other than that, will you be needing anything
"A map to campus."
"It'll be in your room in a few minutes. Later?"
"Yeah, later," I agreed. The AI clicked off audibly.
"Look, Rabi, if there's anything you need, just ask."
I laughed, I'm sure a sound that came across as completely intimidating
to the who was going to be my exchange host for the next two years,
assuming all went well. "Mister Jainus, stop worrying. I'm fine. I'm
really tired from my trip and you're being so good to me it's making me
nervous. Let me settle down."
"Okay, sorry. Just want to make sure you're comfortable."
"That's probably going to take a while," I said. "Until you're
comfortable, at any rate."
"I'll let you get some sleep. You'll have to adjust to the 24 hour
"Thank you," I said, earnestly grateful that he was going away now. The
door closed behind him.
Would it always be like this? I thought to myself as he disappeared
through the doorway. Mr. Jainus seemed like a nice enough Terran,
but he seemed as nervous as everyone else watching me walk down the
street. I can't help that I look like something out of their worst
Neanderthal nightmares. I didn't ask to be born into the body of a
six-legged, black-furred puma; it's just one of those things that happens
on Pendor. I kept wondering if I should apologize to people I frighten,
or if they should just live with me as I am.
Jainus had two children, both loosely genetically associated with him,
that he was raising as part of his social contract. For Jainus to qualify
for his own Right of Replacement he was supposed to fulfill some social
duty and apparently he was well-equipped to be a parent as well as an
Most exchange hosts were parents. It made sense. The students they hosted
would be enriched by the presence of someone else their age in the house,
and their own kids would learn from the experience. I sure hoped we got
along. Otherwise, this was going to be a long two years.
With a thought, one of my hands scooted across the room and pulled down
the efficient window shades. The room was immediately as pitch-black as
my fur. I lay down on the bed, pulled the generous blanket over my body,
placed my hands on the nightstand and deactivated them. I kept thinking
I should probably unpack my bags next, but sleep took over too soon.
A bang and a thump woke me a few hours later. I turned my hands back
on and tested the window shade. It was dark out; a look at the clock
told me it was "9:30pm," whatever that meant. I tried to remember what
I could about the Terran time of day system and I remembered that "pm"
meant after midday, and that they measured their time from the middle
of the day and the middle of the night. Twelve-hour half-days meant that
nightfall was at six (give or take a seasonal planetary tilt that didn't
exist back home). They measured their hours in sixty-unit increments,
so to my thinking it would be about 3:20 lome'. Early yet.
I wandered out into the main room of the house. A melhuman stood
there, drinking out of a large bottle. When he saw me, his eyes first
turned wide and he looked like he was about to drop the bottle. He did
choke, spilling milk over his shirt. "Damn!" he swore, looking at the
damage before looking up at me. "You're F'Rabi?"
"Yep. You must be Amery." He nodded. According to the dossier I
had received, Amery was fourteen years old. He dressed the part, in a
smart-looking collared and shorts, socks that weren't quite all
the way up, and sneakers. A cap on his head proclaimed what I took to
be some kind of sports team.
"Dad, uh, didn't tell us you were a Pamthreat."
"Didn't your receive a dossier?"
"Well, yeah, but he just told us your name and that you were coming to
stay with us for a year or two. We thought you were just gonna be another
Ssphynx, like K'Gerri. I can't wait until you meet all my friends." I
can't wait until I get to show you to all my friends. Typical. My friend
Nippe had warned me that Terrans sometimes did that, treating Pamthreats
as well-trained in one moment, as AIs in the next, never quite
sure what to do with us. Still, I hoped some of them would get over it,
and I definitely hoped that Amery would come around sometime soon.
Anyway, I curled up on the couch. "So, what is there to do in Pottstown,
PA?" I asked him.
"Depends on what you're interested in. Not a whole lot goes on during the
weekdays." He picked up a flat control panel of some kind and pointed it
at the vid screen. In a short time, he had managed to find a documentary
on Pamthreats and had saved it. I watched him.
"Going to study me?" I asked him.
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"
"Did you study K'Gerri?"
"Yeah," he said, giving me a sidelong glance. I closed my eyes so I could
see through the cameras under the white mesh that covered my hands.
The two units darted into the kitchen, found a shallow plastic cup and
filled it with milk. "Cool!"
"What?" I asked.
"The way you order those things around. Like, are they really a part
"As much as it gets," I said. "I'm not sure I could live without them."
The front door squeaked slightly as it opened. A femhuman who
I knew to be my age walked through the door, looked at me, started to
panic, then recovered. "Rabi?"
"That's who he is," her told her.
"You must be Zarah," I said, rising from the couch and walking toward her.
One of my hands reached out to shake hers.
She accepted it. "It's warm."
"They're meant to be friendly," I said.
"And they're probably useful," she said.
"I can't do much without them."
"Where have you been, sis?" Amery asked. "It's nearly ten."
"I was out with Keith," she sighed. "For the last time."
"I told ya he was bad for ya," her told her.
"You don't know anything, Amery."
"I can tell asshole from a mile away. I don't have to be seventeen to
figure that part out." Flippant, I thought, but probably accurate.
"Look, um, I don't know what time you two usually go to sleep, but--"
"But they usually go to sleep now, don't they." Mr. Jainus came out from
the hallway. "Okay, you've both met Rabi now, you can both go to sleep."
"Don't get started, Amery. Head off." The did as he was told. "And
what's this I hear about you and Keith?"
"It's nothing, Dad. It's just over. He's a little too pushy for me."
"Your is right, despite his language. He can tell a jerk at
first breath, and Keith even made my jerk radar go ping. And you know
how bad I am at judging people."
Zarah sighed. For a human girl, she was obviously very pretty. Blonde,
straight hair fell in caresses down her back; her taste in clothing
was pretty and simple, a pink vest over a white complemented a
light-green skirt that descended below her knees. Under that she wore
white boots. Her face was very symmetrical (I know, but it's the best I
can do; I don't understand Terran standards of beauty very well). She had
large and I reflected, not for the first time on the nature of
those things, that she must have a terrible time sleeping or standing up.
She seemed to be doing well right now, however. "I know, Dad. But now
I don't have anyone to go to the dance with next week."
"I recall you telling me you don't like to dance, lady."
"That's not the point, Dad," she said. Sometimes, looking like the pet can have its advantages. People forget I'm just as sentient as they
are. I don't think this discussion would have been happening in front
of me if I had been human. "It's a social event. I'm supposed to go with
some kind of partner."
"You could take Rabi," Mr. Jainus suggested, catching us both off guard.
He was paying attention!
"No, really," I said, jumping in. "I'd love to. I mean, if you would
"I don't even know you."
"You'll have a week," Mr. Jainus pointed out. "Besides, it's just the
orientation dance. It'll be full of people who don't know anybody."
"But, he's a... you're a..."
"He is a full citizen of Pendor, lady."
"It's not like going out with Gerri!"
"It is exactly like going out with Gerri," Mr. Jainus pointed out,
retaining remarkable cool. "And if you don't understand that, perhaps
you'd better start doing some serious thinking. He is a guest in our house
right now, and very soon he's going to become part of the family. Get
used to him."
She regarded me carefully. "I'll think about it."
"Do that. Now, off to bed with you." She tromped back down the hallway
to the bedrooms. "I'm sorry about that, Rabi. I don't know what's gotten
into her. Or what made me suggest that."
I shrugged. "It's an interesting suggestion, Mr. Jainus. I'll get used
to her, eventually. I hope. I've apparently slept the afternoon today,
I think I'll go sleep the rest of the night off, too."
"You do that. Unless you rise very early, I probably won't be here when
you get up. There's a case I'm working on right now that's going to be
eating up a lot of my time." He looked at my glass of milk. "I see you
can forage for yourself. You'll probably be fine."
"Probably," I agreed. "Thanks for everything. And, thanks for introducing
me to your daughter."
He laughed. "She's the genetic descendant of my great aunt Sphoe who died
twenty years ago on Copperland. She has the same temperament, too." He
yawned, then apologized and let himself back to bed. "Goodnight, Rabi."
"Goodnight, Mr. Jainus."
I didn't see much of any of the for the next week. I spent my days
on campus, familiarizing myself with the grounds and finding the classes.
Carter University with its specialized degree in interplanetary law had
seemed the perfect place to study. And since Mr. Felix Jainus, Esquire,
was an interplanetary law specialist he seemed to be the perfect host. Of
course, the fact that he was never around made him even more perfect. I
found out that he wasn't teaching any of the classes I had planned to
take and that suited me just fine. I went to my first day of classes
and prepared myself for what looked like a grueling first year.
Over the course of the week I met often with his children, however. Amery
brought his friends over first chance he got, and first chance I got I
made it clear that I was a student with a lot of homework, not someone
they could just come over and pet like some housecat. Maybe I have
attitude but that's tough. I do have a lot of homework. And I'm not
sanguine about being stroked by anonymous male hands. Alone, though,
Amery and I got along.
Zarah, on the other hand, spoke very little to me over the course of
the week. She was polite and contrite and generally amicable but didn't
seem to have much to say to me. I don't know if she was just naturally
untalkative or if it was me, but I hoped that in either case we'd
Friday classes ended around three, Terra, and I headed back to the house
to get some rest. I found Zarah sitting in front of the vid screen,
looking at a list of scheduled event showings and flipping through the
resource lists. "Hi," I said as I walked through the door.
"Hi," she replied back, not at all sounding friendly after all.
"No," she said. The conversation we had been having the week before
clicked into my head and I looked up at her. "That dance you were talking
about. It's tonight, isn't it?"
"Yeah," she grumbled.
"Lemme guess. You still don't have a date."
"No," she sighed.
"Still not interested in taking me?" I asked.
"Why do you want to go?" She gave me a careful looking-over, as if she
hadn't already done exactly that every time we'd passed by one another
"Because it's the school freshmen social. I'm a freshman. Like you.
Besides, people keep staring at me in class like I'm about to jump up and
eat them. If I went with you, you could introduce me and maybe encourage
people to treat me like a real person. Besides, maybe you'll like me."
"I do like you."
"You haven't said one word to me all week."
"I have too!" she protested.
"'Pass the salt please,' has been about the extent of it," I said,
"What would we say to each other?"
"Oh, I dunno. What do you listen to? I'm very fond of audio these
days, with some of the classical stuff mixed in, like REM, or Gramma's
Hatchet. I don't watch much video, I like playing Go but I'm lousy at it,
and I have too much homework."
"Sounds like me."
"The Go, or the homework?"
"Both," she laughed. "But I could never listen to your music. Gimme
"Ewww. Sousa and stuff like that?"
She nodded enthusiastically, making me laugh. "Okay, okay. Give me a
minute to get dressed and I'll take you to the social."
A minute turned into ten, but eventually she came out, wearing a lovely
dress of black with lavender trim that ended just below the tops of her
breasts, exposing her substantial bosom for all the world. The ruffled
skirt seemed to shimmer slightly as she walked, and it didn't quite get
to the floor, exposing low-heeled casual shoes. She had brushed her hair
back very casually, and she looked quite delicious.
And I don't mean than just because I'm a Pamthreat.
"I'm ready," she said.
"I am too," I agreed. We took the bus into town, the same one that I took
every day into school. At night however rode a different clientele', one
not quite used to seeing me and I once again suffered the uncomfortable
and even frightened stares of people who I might otherwise enjoy the
company of. Still, Zarah seemed to be content with my curling up in one
of the benches that lined the sides of the bus's front area. She sat
down in the chair beside me.
We arrived at the social, held in one of the larger halls on campus,
soon after it had begun. "Not many people here yet," I said.
"No, these things don't usually start up until late." The music had a
pounding, rhythmic beat, and I recognized the genre as some sort of the
late industrial mix. It had its moments, and I figured I could do some
dancing to it, if anyone wanted to dance with someone who barely came up
to their waist. I watched as Zarah made her way through the thin crowd
and found a couple of other who were also standing around as if
waiting for something to begin.
"Zarah, what have you brought with you? That's not the Pamthreat
everyone's been talking about, is it?"
"What else would I be?" I said, introducing myself. I bowed down on one
foreknee and greeted them graciously. "My name is Rabi."
They introduced themselves as Geena and Madoka. Talk settled down as Zarah
caught up on the local gossip and once again I was allowed to listen on
the simple grounds that they didn't believe I could understand them. It
was the strangest thing with Terrans. They knew that I spoke Anglic;
they had heard me. The moment they turned their attention to one another,
though, it was like I ceased to exist. Zarah seemed to know; she kept
giving me sidelong glances and I kept giving her smiles. She didn't
seem to mind that I was paying attention. I learned quite a bit. The
two friends were quite happy to know that she was no longer ''warming''
with this Keith fellow, and already they sounded as if they were plotting
Zarah's next romantic move. Geena had a boyfriend who hadn't yet shown
up, and Madoka was also romantically involved, although from the gist
of the conversation I learned that he didn't live in the area and his
class schedule conflicted with tonight's event.
They took a seat around a table. I pulled a bench up to the table with
my hands, and that seemed to impress upon them that I was more than
just a big, dumb animal. I know, I keep saying that over and over,
but it's true. This was just the beginning; over the next two years I
would have to prove, repeatedly, to people that I was sentient. It took
so long to get that through their skulls.
But Zarah kept me in the conversation, adding my name here and there to
mention of her and her brother. When the conversation came around
to the curricula, Zarah was kind enough to ask me first, "What classes
are you taking this year?"
"History of Interstellar Law, Sea Law and Space Law, llerkin Space Law
One, and English Literature."
"Eng Lit?" Geena asked. "Why take that?"
"Because if all I did all day was study law, I think I'd go insane. At
least by reading a little Shakespeare I can keep my mind off of all
these stupid people screaming at each other over the pettiest details."
"I would think that Shakespeare would be all about the petty details,"
"The sweaty details, maybe," I said. "There's a lot of sex going on
in those stories. It is a bit weird, I guess. I mean, they had so much
invested in protecting their women and sacrificing their men, and there's
so much of that in the stories. We don't have those worries anymore. We
know there are enough of us. And sex isn't that big a deal anymore."
"Which one are you studying now?"
"'Much Ado about Nothing,'" I said. "The 2030 re-editing of the Brannagh
version is what we're using for our presentation, although the teacher
likes to make us read it out loud before we watch an act to see what
we're missing and what an actor does with it."
"Would you like to act, Rabi?" Zarah asked.
"Nah," Zarah said. "I don't know if I could stand to be a ractor. And
stage acting is more about waiting for impending doom than about putting
on a good play."
"You really think so?" I asked. "I don't know. We went to a live
performance the other week and I really enjoyed it on its own merits. It's
nice to see people doing something imprecise. Better that than a perfect
performance, without a nuance out of place. It's the differences that
keep the play from being boring, the different meanings. I mean, look
at Hamlet. You can concentrate on the father-son relationship, or the
son-mother relationship. You can make the play be about indecision in
the extreme, or only indecision about when to act. Nobody can perfectly
capture a story." I stopped. "Maybe that's why I'm taking it along with
law. It has the same relationship to reality."
"Acting ability would be really good in the courtroom," Zarah suggested.
"You watch too much drama," I said. She grinned. "So, what classes
are you taking?"
She listed them off. They didn't sound all that exciting; she was
going for a sociology degree, for what reason I had no idea. I got
the impression that she was one of those people who hadn't figured out
what she was going to do with her life and wasn't one of those people
determined to party herself into oblivion. A hard position for anyone
to be in. At least the party-hardy types had a goal of some sort.
"Do you wanna dance?" she asked me as the music picked up the pace.
I looked up at her. "Are you serious?"
"It's not a slow dance. Do Pamthreat dance?"
"I've been told that when I dance it looks more like I have to than
Zarah laughed. "C'mon, Rabi, let's go dance." She walked out onto the
floor and began shaking her body with the rhythm of the music. I followed
her out, watching with more amusement than anything else as a wide space
opened up around me.
I think I looked ridiculous, dancing to a moderate beat with Zarah there,
but she urged be on and I felt all right about being there with her.
Finally, after three fast songs, a slow dance began and I took refuge
off the floor, pouring myself a huge glass of water and downing it as
as quickly as I could. My tongue hung out as I tried to get rid of the
heat I'd built up. I was grateful for air conditioning.
She sidled up next to me. "You dance okay."
"I don't look right dancing. I'm not equipped with an upper body to
She laughed. "I suppose I am."
"In an atavistic way, yes. At least for a human. Or so I'm led to
I didn't dance again for the rest of the night, but several people other
than Zarah did offer. I suppose I should count those as compliments,
but to be honest I suspect it was more for the novelty value of hanging
with a Pamthreat than anything else. Am I being cynical or paranoid? As
midnight rolled around Zarah found me again and said, "I suppose it's
time to head home."
"I suppose," I said.
"Did you have fun?" she asked.
"In a way, I guess I did." We started walking toward the door, following
an unspoken agreement that the bus stop would be our next destination. We
reached the stop to discover that we were the only people there. A single
light illuminated our stop, and otherwise the road was dark and empty. The
thumping of the dance hall sound system could be heard in the distance,
a giant electronic heart, all other sounds muffled by the buildings and
I put one hand over my eye and called up the HUD system in the palm. "The
next bus will be here in four Terran minutes," I said.
"Oh, good." She knelt down beside be and, to my surprise, kissed me on
the nose. "Thanks for taking me, Rabi."
"You could have gone alone."
"Without a date?" she said, mockingly aghast.
"Was this a date?" I asked.
"It was," she said. "And you were a pretty good date."
"I didn't do anything. I just sat with you and listened to your friends
"That was good enough," she said. "Besides, I'd love to hear you read
Shakespeare. I didn't know you liked it."
"You've only known me a week. I'm sure we'll find other things in common."
The bus mysteriously trundled out of nowhere, the massive doors yawning
to let us in. We found a spot in the middle of the bus. We were the only
people on the bus, which at this hour didn't even merit a passenger
assistant. I wondered why the daytime buses even had them because,
after all, the Terrans were as healthy as Pendorians. A disability would
always be temporary, and there were personal assistants in the meantime,
not to mention waivers for personal vehicles.
"Maybe," she murmured. She let her hand fall on my back and began
stroking. At first, I thought she might be doing the same thing as her
brother, unconsciously treating me as a pet, but her wink and grin when
I looked up at her told me that she knew I was capable of understanding
her gestures for the intimacy they represented. The moment of thought
passed and I decided that I could put up with her attention.
More than put up with it, though. I was becoming aroused by it. She
smelled good, and the touch of her hand on my back was about the most
relaxing thing I'd felt all week. Then I realized that she was probably
smelling a little too good. "Zarah?"
"Did you put on a Pamthreat perfume?"
"Mmm-hmm. Just something mild. Not like a mating scent or anything like
that. Just something I thought you might like."
I took a deep whiff of it. I didn't recognize it, but I felt oddly
relaxed and calmed at the scent of it. "What is it?"
"It's called Pamthreat Melody. Which I thought was a really silly name.
It's the kind of name that I would find on bubblegum- scented stuff. But
I looked it up on the 'net and it seems to be really popular."
"I bet it is," I said.
"Do you want me to not wear it?"
"No, I like it. Maybe you should just keep it for special occasions,
Her hand continued stroking me gently. "I'll remember that." We sat
together on the bus like that for the entire ride home, which was more
than a half hour. When we got home (was it home already?) we separated
with just a quite "Goodnight" to one another.
My relationship with the Jainus was pretty good. I spent the next
three months doing more homework than I had ever seen in my entire life. I
used more brain-enhancing nanochine than I would have thought sensible,
but my physician assured me that I was on the safe side as long as I
didn't fret about the "other" Rabis that might have been had I not been
a law student. Other than wondering if any of them might have felt less
exhausted than I did, I didn't worry about them.
Zarah and I went out together several times, mostly on Sunday afternoon,
mostly for shopping or communal media. I took her to see a showing of
"King Lear" at the Globe and managed to get tickets to an all-Pendorian
revival of "Cats" showing at the Moscow Opera. The present audience
was pretty but a few members of the cast came out anyway. I have
to confess, it was so nice to talk to someone in Caiss knowing that there
was no translator between us. I can speak Anglic obviously but it always
feels weird. The Felinzi I was talking to wondered if I wanted to join
the cast since I was studying Drama but I politely declined. I already
had a career planned. For the next century, at any rate.
After finals, Zarah invited me to a day of American Orchestra, thankfully
more Copland than Sousa, at an outdoor showing in Greensboro, South
Carolina. The band occupied a huge, white-painted gazebo, and the
performers all looked comfortable with their striped and spangled white
suits. As we sat listening to the music I was startled by the feel of
Zarah's hand on my back again, stroking me. "I'll stop if you want me to,"
"I don't want you to," I said, relaxing. I shifted my weight up against
her and pressed my back against her bare thigh.
It's hard not to live deep among a people without learning what they
think of as beauty. I was bombarded day by day with images of beauty
from advertising and media, and also listened to both Zarah and Amery
deride some of the images as unreal and artificial.
By all accounts, Zarah was a beauty. She had worn a dark-blue cotton print
dress covered with floral prints that offset her pristine white skin,
a rarity these days. Almost all families had once carried some genetic
flaws; gene hybridization two centuries ago to overwrite those flaws with
more desirable traits had created a species with far fewer "whites" or
"blacks." Amery's skin was a more standard tint, like Mr. Jainus's.
Her body was firm without being the obvious source of obsession,
comfortable without being skinny, and her bosom was something to attract
the primitive eye of every male from any species where the females came
with those accouterments. And, like I said, her face was very symmetrical.
She continued to stroke me for the entire concert, pausing only when
biological needs sent one of us into a tiny closet not intended for
Pamthreats. We shared a greasy lunch and an equally greasy sweet with
the absurd name of elephant ears.
Afterward, we wandered around the town, coveting much, buying nothing. I
could have bought anything I wanted. Money was something of a joke
anyway between Pendorians and Terrans, since the only commodities they
had worth wanting were living space and reproductive rights. The first
was for sale but the mechanisms by which that was arranged were arcane;
the second was tightly controlled by the Terran government. A state
lottery provided for the rare slot opened by fatal accident.
We wandered home just as night was falling. Both Pottstown and Greensboro
were in the same timezone so home was just a tiny bit brighter. We left
from the Pottstown SDisk transit station, walked the pedway back into
town, and made our way up the hill to her house.
Zarah called out, "Dad?"
"Your will not be home tonight," the AI, Dusty, said calmly. "He
was called away on emergency business and will be spending the evening
on the moon. It would seem there was a fatal accident."
"Oh, no!" Zarah said. "Anything I should be concerned about?"
"Not that I can think of," Dusty said. "Unless your interest is prurient.
It appears that a space suit failed in a most unlikely fashion. There
is speculation that this was a particularly messy suicide. But your
father has been called in by the managers at Alpha to prepare for an
investigation and the inevitable trading of suits."
"Painful, too," I muttered, then realized that pain was only valuable
if it was remembered. The victim remembered nothing. For him, it was
all over. I shuddered. The thought was too gruesome.
"Amery is spending another night in Kampuchea, following the games down
there." I snorted. Amery was probably going wild with a gang of other
kids his own age in this crib that people called Earth. It was hard to
kill yourself on a planet where your body dealt with damn near anything
and the AIs took care of the rest. It took something awful, like hard
vacuum, to kill you.
I sighed. This was a terrible way to end a good day. The death of
another, even a stranger, was hard to take on a world where it was so
avoidable. I let my hands float into the kitchen to the refrigerator,
where I got myself a glass of milk (really a yeast-produced but orally
indistinguishable product that was nutritionally superior and lacked the
animal fats that clogged arteries, not that that mattered). I curled up
on the sofa.
"You're taking this hard," Zarah said.
I looked up at her and thought about trying to explain, then decided
against it. "Don't you?"
She sat down next to me. "Yeah, I suppose I should. It'll be later,
I guess. I can't-- Dad says I'm too young."
"You're no younger than I am," I said.
"You're more mature."
"Oh, great," I said. "Next thing I know you'll be recommending that I dye
grey streaks into my fur and start to look like a silverside Pamthreat."
"Do those really exist?" she asked.
"The non-sentient silverside? Yes, but they are rare. I think there
have been five spotted in all of history. To get that a Pamthreat
has to stumble on a hunting ground that's incredibly rich, free of any
competition, and they still have to get lucky. Even prey fights back
now and then." She grinned at me. "Anyway, I'm not enough to begin
spinning bad homilies."
"Well, we have the house to ourself, there's no school tomorrow, and I
don't want to watch TV," she announced. "What would you like for dinner?"
I thought about it for a moment. I had a world of choices. "Phad Thai."
"What?" she asked.
"Phad Thai. It's thin, wide rice noodles, softened in warm water and
then tossed with stir-fried harvest leftovers. I'll cook."
"Okay," she said. "I'd love to see a Pamthreat cook."
"Not much to see. I cook like everyone else." I wandered into the kitchen.
"Okay. Dusty, can you get me a couple of Phad Thai recipes?"
"Done." The kitchen display came on. I looked them through. Each was
slightly different, and together I picked up a general idea of what the
eventual outcome should taste like. "Okay." I reared up on my four hind
legs, tilting up so that I could almost pass for a 'taur with a very
short hindbody, and looked over the counter. "Not much room in here,"
"Kitchen space wasn't a premium with Dad, I guess," she said.
I ordered the ingredients and started the water on the heater. When
it reached 70 I dropped the noodles in and turned off the coil. Then
I turned my attention to the mix of vegetables, egg, and seasonings. I
chopped the ginger by myself.
Zarah watched all this from the living room, her eyes wide as my hands
whizzed around the kitchen, solid and confident as they went from task
to task. I would occasionally leap up onto the counter and taste this
or that, pleased with the outcome even as I move on to the next phase.
A few minutes later I produced two huge plates of Phad Thai and served
one up to her. She took a taste and smiled. "It's good!"
"Then you'll eat what I cook?"
"I will," she agreed with a smile. She sat at the table; I pushed my
raised dining bench over and joined her. It was a little awkward--
being a Pamthreat always is, it seems-- but she ate with gusto. I
criticized. "I could have let the noodles soak a little longer, made
the water a little hotter."
"It's fine," she said. "Stop worrying about it."
I laughed, which made her startle momentarily. "Sorry," I said.
"I don't hear you laugh often," she said.
"That's because it seems to scare you. I try to keep it in, even when
I think something's very funny."
"It makes you... gloomy."
"I can be scary or gloomy," I said. "Great."
"I don't mean it that way. I mean, I think I could get to recognize your
laugh as a laugh if you did it more often."
"Maybe," I agreed. We finished our meals and took refuge back on the
couch, allowing Dusty to put away the dishes and the leftovers. Neither
of us had been able to finish our plates, but I wasn't surprised. I had
made so much that even the increased appetite caused by nanochine hadn't
inspired us to that much hunger.
Out of habit, Zarah turned the feed on and began scanning the
channels. She conscientiously avoided the news feeds which would probably
be about the accident/suicide and nothing else. But turning on the regular
videos didn't do much for her either. We soared through a dozen dramas,
sixteen documentaries about history, medicine, war, biography, sociology,
crime, and the inevitable aliens-built-the- pyramids, children's shows,
and so on. It was all there, the entire world laid out for us to see. If
I'd wanted, I could have asked for a copy of the police stream from Square or Piccadilly Circus, another pair of eyes to document the coming
and goings of two billion human beings.
"Bored?" I asked.
"There's nothing on," she sighed, settling down to some tri-d show
from the mid-22nd century. It was a rehash of some Campbellian cyclical
thing from the late 20th, I saw in the credits; all in all, unexciting.
"Then turn it off and let's do something else," I said. "We could
"I just wish I could turn my brain off sometimes," she sighed. "I mean,
I know you can do that if you really want to, but I don't have the
hardware or the software. I'm not enough to get the surgery anyway."
I grinned. "Shuffleware sounds like a waste of time to me."
"Better than going crazy by being stuck in time."
"I suppose," I replied.
We both fell silent. I guess we were both trying to come up with something
to say, something to fill the hours that we had before either one of us
would be tired enough to go to sleep. Zarah giggled.
"What?" I asked.
"We could have sex."
I looked up at her sharply. That particular scenario had occurred to
me, but I had dismissed it. I was happy to have someone I liked enough
to let touch me and regretted the fact that I couldn't give anything
back but the deep, dangerous rumble that some Pamthreats refer to as a
'purr'. But the idea did have my interest. "We... could. Could we?"
"I don't see why not," she said. "We're supposed to be compatible, right?"
"I'm made that way. That part of me looks nothing like the one found in
your standard non-sentient Pamthreat."
I peered at her face closely, looking for signs that she was joking,
that there was a way out of this dilemma, that in fact I could get away
with not accepting. "If I turn you down, will you be upset?"
"No. It's just something to do."
"Just something? Not something special."
She uncurled and leaned down close to me. "Of course it will be special,"
she said. "I don't have sex with just anyone. I haven't done it since
I dumped Keith, and that was three months ago."
"Does this mean we'll be 'warmin' together'?"
She kissed me between the eyes. "It could. I've never done it with a fur."
"Rabi, either way, I'll try not to think of you differently tomorrow."
"We live in the same house. Under your father's roof. What will he think?"
"He'll be out of the house often enough, and as for what he thinks,
we're students. We're supposed to do things like this."
Maybe it was my hormones warring with my paranoia, but I kept having to
shift in place as my erection rose and fell, painfully, with every change
in the mood. I was in a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don't situation,
and I don't like that feeling. But there was no hope for it. This seemed
the inevitable conclusion of my being in the same house with Zarah.
I reached up and nuzzled her neck, gently kissing and licking her throat.
She shuddered. I've been told that humans are of two minds when it comes
to being with Pamthreats, that the aversion to large predators is
still deeply embedded in their psyches. Zarah moaned softly and said,
"I like the way your fur feels, Rabi."
She pulled off her dress and lay back on the couch, offering her soft,
pale belly up to me. I let myself nuzzle her breasts, playing with them.
They didn't do much for me compared to her smell but she obviously
enjoyed letting me play with them and it was kinda interesting the
way they bobbled back and forth as I licked at them. Like all modern
Pamthreats I can make the burrs on my tongue stand up and control how
rough they are at will. She seemed to like them slightly rougher than
kissing strength, especially on her nipples.
She sat up for a moment and turned under me, running her hands along
my chest and belly. She repeatedly dug her hands into my fur, touching
me. I had never been touched like that before and I discovered that
liked it. A lot. Maybe this wasn't going to be such a bad thing after
all. Her hands were getting closer to my cock and I was starting to get
anxious. What would it feel like when she touched me there?
I got my answer. She touched the full sheath of my cock and I damn near
came on the spot. "Urr," I said, "That feels good. But I'm going to come
already if you do that any more."
"Zarah..." I sighed. "I've never done this with a humanoid. Just
Pamthreats. And we're not so sophisticated. We don't have the kind of
hands you do; ours don't feel so much as work."
"Oh," she said. "That's okay, then. I'll just see if you can come twice."
She stroked along the entire length of my cock with her hands, from the
sensitive tip to my testicles, closing momentarily on my scrotum before
she ran her hands back up my cock again.
"Oh, fah," I groaned. She did that over and over and I was so close to
climaxing that I could barely keep my feet still. When I did come I was
afraid of swiping her with a claw. White semen arced out onto my belly
and all over her arm.
"Wow," Zarah said. "You had a lot saved up." She looked at her forearm all
covered in reproductive and then lifted it to her lips, licking just
a bit of it. She made a face that told me it wasn't all that wonderful
to her, but then she licked herself clean just the same.
"Don't expect me to do that," I said, laughing, as I sent my hands
into the kitchen to fetch me some towels. They came back and I wiped my
"That was nice," she said.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Yeah. Better than another game of Go that we both know we're so bad at."
"True," I agreed. "Would you like to take this into the bedroom so we
"I think that's a good idea," she said. We stopped just long enough to
drop the mess we'd made into the laundry; by the time we were done in
the bedroom everything here would be cleaned and pressed. Most of it is
impregnable to dirt anyway.
Her bed creaked under my weight. It was large enough for two, but only
just. As she wriggled out of her and socks I got another long,
full look at her. I liked the way she looked but the human standards of
"beauty" still eluded me.
She joined me on the bed, making it creak even more. "Lie down," I
whispered, surprised that I could manage that much control over my voice.
Was there really something so common in the Pendorian instinct that I
was actually finding her arousing? She couldn't possibly have had the
same programming with respect to me; she wasn't a Pendorian.
I nuzzled her soft belly, making her giggle, and then with my nose coaxed
her legs open, exposing her beautiful core to all the world. The scent
rising from her was musky and deep and sweaty, much like the weather all
day long, and as I pressed my tongue to her I got my first taste of
human flesh. I have to admit that I liked it but I wouldn't want to eat
it in any other form. She moaned as I tongued her open flower, finding her
clitoris among the folds and shapes, kissing her as much as I was able.
I realized that I was trying to emulate human porn. There had to be a
better way. I raised my head slightly, letting my eyes look up over the
length of her body to stare into hers and began lapping at her just as
I would lap at water.
That did it. It took no extra time to wind her up and make her happy. She
was coming in less than three minutes, moaning loudly, her hands clenched
at her sides. It made my heart thump to know that I had turned her on
so much, especially when I couldn't make any assumptions at all about
how much she was turned on just by my being me.
"Oh, fuck!" she said with one final shudder. "Oh, Rabi, you were
"Oh, good. Just don't say it so loud the neighbors know, too, okay?" I
laughed, then found myself shifting uncomfortably again.
"You got me all hot and bothered again," I said.
"Well..." She turned over onto her hands and knees. "You could always,
"I do," I said. I tried to get onto her back without using my claws.
"Oof! Hey... Uh, wait," Zarah said. "This isn't going to work."
"You're right. You're too tall. Even your thighs lift you up too high
for us to get comfortable."
"Well, if that's a compliment about my legs, I'll take it." She grinned.
"Let's try this." She lay down supine on the bed, a pillow thrust under
her pelvis, lifting her buttocks up slightly, exposing her sex to wink
between her cheeks and thighs. She glistened before my eyes.
"Oh, now there's a sight," I said. "And it's more like the way Pamthreats
do it." I easily padded up the length of her body, letting my nose nuzzle
the back of her neck. She shivered. "Ready?" I said.
"Yes." I let my erection slide between her legs, finding its home among
the confusion of pubic hair. I was surprised that I had no trouble
entering her, but there was no mistaking the warmth that surrounded my
cock and welcomed me into her.
"Oh, yes," Zarah groaned as I let my weight drop more onto her. I wondered
if I shouldn't be more careful, wondered if her pelvis could take my
weight as readily as a femPamthreat's could. She certainly didn't have
the back and shoulders for it.
But that worry went out of band with the wonderful feelings her warm
body was giving me. We fucked with slow, easy motions as I took care to
keep much of my weight up. "Lie on me," she breathed.
"Stop holding yourself up. Lie on me. I'll be okay." I wondered for a
second, and then let my four rear legs drop down, using them only for
motion. I lay my head next to hers as we began fucking slowly. Her breath
came in labored gasps under my weight, her moans got louder as we fucked.
She was pushing back against my cock with every stroke. The smell of her
hair, her breath, her sweat was rich in the air. I licked her shoulder
and the taste of salt and lust and fear were all there.
I was careful about being too forceful; I didn't want to her and I
was at least twice as strong as she was with those rear legs. I must have
been doing something right because she came loudly long before I did, and
she had one more before the tightness in my belly became my own climax.
"Oh, fah," she groaned.
I laughed. "Only Pendorians say that!"
She turned her head toward me and kissed my nose. "You were great,"
she said. "A little heavier than I thought you would be. Next time,
ignore me when I tell you to lie on me."
"Did you notice it during or just afterward?" I asked.
She rolled over before she answered. "It didn't distract me from coming,
I guess. Maybe you should... Oh, you do what you think is right. You
made me come twice. You know what you're doing." She was laughing with
every word, obviously enjoying the little tremors of afterglow. "Oh,
Rabi, thanks for being my housemate."
"Thanks for being mine," I said. "Even if it was entirely by accident."
"There is nothing wrong with accidents that work this well," she sighed,
running her hands up along her sides. She turned over and kissed me on
the nose. "So," she said, "still friends?"
"Still friends," I agreed.
"Good," she said. "What time is it?"
I looked at a clock. "It appears to be almost ten at night." I had
finally adjusted to the local clocks if not the length of the day.
"That early?" she sighed. "I'm still not tired. Let's go see if there's
anything on the television."
"There's always something on the television," I pointed out. "The question
is, do you want to watch it?"
"I'll make popcorn," she teased.
"Then it's a deal. Find some cornball S/F and it's a better deal."
"I'll see what I can find."
The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.