by Margaret Killjoy
Icar relaxed in the shade of the brick store, his long legs stretched out in front of him on the cobblestone, his small pack at his side. He had never seen been to The Vare, and the city was disorientating; people of all sizes and styles hustled their way through mid-day crowds without saying hello to one another, and nobody had yet taken any notice of the gangly, shirtless stranger from the Waste.
He saw her walking from a long ways off, her long thin silhouette more of a minute-glass than an hourglass. Her long black leather coat swept around her shins, overlapping her boots and leaving little skin exposed to the desert dust and sun; only her collar exposed a thin red V of her chest. Her nearly uncovered breasts unintentionally taunted Icar, who turned his gaze downwards when he realized that he was staring.
He didn’t see her when she opened the door next to him and walked into the store. He only looked up when she came back out and spoke to him.
“Hey kid, just get into town?”
“Got any big plans for the day?”
“Good, then come to my house and fuck me.”
Icar’s heart pinballed around his ribcage as they walked down narrow streets and alleys. The wind whistled disconcertingly through thin metal fences and caught the strange woman’s long dreadlocks, throwing them about.
She was thin like a razor, or like a bird of prey. A centimeter-thick red line was tattooed under her left eye and ran down her cheek and neck, across her collarbone and into her coat. Half of her head was shaved and her eyes were small, dark and fierce. Her skin was the same tan reddish hue of Icar and his people, but she carried herself with a slyness he found quite unnatural.
He was staring at her from the corner of his eye when she stopped suddenly to face him. “What’s your name, kid?”
“Icar… what family is that name from?”
“My family is from the south lakeside.”
“Okay, Icar Southlakeside, my name is Annwyn.”
“What family is that?”
“I don’t have a family, I don’t want a family.”
She looked him over, running her eyes up and down his body. Icar guessed that she was at least five years older than him. She started walking again, and he fell into pace behind her, awed and overwhelmed.
After fifteen minutes of walking they reached a dirty, single story brick shack hidden among beautiful houses with ornate stonework. A rusted metal grate covered the only window, and the sheet-metal roof looked about to collapse.
“My neighbors just love me, of course.” She swept her hands out grandiosely before the doorway and then reached out to push the door open. It wasn’t locked; it lacked even a latch.
And yet the inside was beautiful. Lanterns of yellow glass threw their flickering glow onto everything, the noon sun leaving a strong grid of light near the door. The entire place was a single room, dominated by an ironwork bed and canopy against the rear wall. Stone gears half as high as Icar were set into the sidewall for some unknown purpose. Small metal statues cluttered the shelves and one little clockwork gnome stood near the backdoor, a crank protruding from his side like an iron spear from an iron wound.
“This is completely different than where I am from.” He knew it sounded obvious, but he wanted to share his shock with Annwyn.
She ignored him and walked over to the wall with the gears. She worked a massive crank slowly and a metal plate slid down over the front door. “I would hate to be disturbed, wouldn’t you?”
Annwyn took off her coat without ceremony, draping it over a chair. She wore knee-length pants and shin-high boots, all black. Her nipples were as dark as her hair, her breasts the size of fists, and the red line ran over one before splitting at her navel, presumably to run down both of her legs.
She walked up to him and put one hand onto the small of his back. Their hips were perfectly in line and her sharp hipbone pushed lightly into his groin. She leaned forward to as though to kiss him, tilting her head slightly, but he didn’t respond and her face hovered centimeters from his.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, putting a finger onto his cheek, scraping him lightly with a nail.
“I’ve never been with a woman before.”
She stared at him blankly, before pulling her body away a hand’s breadth and laughing.
Icar tried to explain. “Where I’m from…”
She interrupted him. “I know, I know. I had forgotten. Look, I’m from The Waste myself. You’re still going to fuck me though, even if I’m not a boy.” Her fingers slipped down the back of his pants. “I mean, I suppose we could pretend…”
A silence followed as the two potential lovers examined each other, but a loud bang on the front door interrupted them.
“Shit. Shit. Shit.” Annwyn looked around quickly, grabbed her coat, and ran out the back door without another glance. The thunderous knocking continued.
Icar pulled his knife out and held it hidden in his palm, turning to the front door. The metal plate seemed like it would hold, so he tried the back door. It wouldn’t budge.
He sat down on a chair and waited, knife in palm with his mind calm and ready. Only when the banging stopped and fifteen minutes had passed did he allow himself to worry, and he undertook a careful search of the shack.
The statues were all made of scrap and they represented different kinds of people, most of them punks. They were all beautiful, but the meter-high gnome by the door stood out from the others. Gears formed his joints and deep, sad metal eyes were cast to the floor.
Icar turned the gnome’s crank twice before it clicked into place. The statue looked up to face Icar and the white noise of a gramophone came from the horn embedded into its belly.
“Come to The Cally Bird, corner of West and Divide.” The recorded woman’s voice was calm, but Icar stepped back nervously. Technology, while not unknown, was taboo to his people. He reminded himself that he had chosen to leave his people, too steeped as they were in tradition and magic.
The white noise stopped and the statue cast his eyes downwards once more. Icar turned his attention to releasing the metal plate that held the door open.
The Vare churned slowly to the constant thrum of machinery. Smokestacks and steam thrust into the sky as the radioactive soil was shoveled into boilers. Gear slipped on gear inside every home and clock towers decorated every few blocks. Far at the end of one cobbled street, Icar even saw a steam robot—a train that walked on four legs instead of gliding along tracks—that thundered away before Icar could reach it.
Once he thought he saw Annwyn leaning against the entrance of an unmarked store, but her tattoo was wrong and her hair was too light. The woman caught his eyes and glared.
“I’m sorry,” Icar mumbled, more to himself than to her, and kept walking.
In the next alley four men were standing with knives drawn, facing each other with a nonchalance that Icar couldn’t understand. Quickening his pace, he was glad that he had nothing worth stealing.
When the sun began to set Icar put on his thin wool shirt and walked westward, stopping at every street corner to look for the rare signposts. He had just reached Divide and was gazing at the sign when a short, stocky man in rags approached him.
“Hey there, Wastie, you need some help?” The man gave a toothy smile that lifted his enormous brown eyebrows away from their position obscuring his eyes.
Icar stared at him reproachfully. “I can read, thank you.”
“Hey, hey, don’t mean nothing. I can smell the Waste on you, just wondering if you needed some help is all.”
“If I can find my way amongst the nothing, then I can certainly find my way when there are signs posted.”
“Ah, ah. You’d think that.” The man reached up and thoughtfully pulled some crumbs out of his reckless beard. “You can find your way in nothing, but I can find my way in something.”
“Which way on this street to West street?”
“Of course. To find West, walk away from the setting sun. Now how about a scrap of food for the help, yeah? I know you’re headed to The Cally Bird.”
“I have nothing to spare, old man. I can find my own way.”
“Take the entire world for granted, then, will you. You’ll do well with ‘em.” The strange man walked past Icar. “Just remember, it’s never wise to betray a beggar.”
Icar turned his back on the setting sun and walked into his shadow on Divide.
The club was unmistakable. At four finished floors, it was twice the height of anything on the block, and steel girders formed the skeleton of another four. No windows faced the street until the fourth floor, and there was no trace of habitation. Icar began to fear that the place was abandoned.
He walked to the front door, an unassuming and unadorned piece of steel, and knocked timidly. The acoustics of the space amplified his gentle rap to thunder.
A moment later a young man answered the door with a mumble and a creak. “Yeah, we’re not open yet. Come back later” He squinted a bit and brushed the long dirty black hair from his face. “Oh, you’re not from around here.”
“That seems painfully obvious to everyone.”
“Got somewhere else to go?”
Icar shook his head.
“Well, you can come in early then.”
“I don’t have any money or anything though…”
The young man laughed and looked Icar warmly in the eyes. “Neither do I, don’t worry.” He stood to the side and ushered Icar inside. “I’m Fera.”
“Welcome to The Cally Bird, then. Not everything is as it seems.” He closed the door behind Icar and paused to let his eyes adjust. “Ah, I just fucking love getting to say that.”
An occasional bang and curse emitted from a large room at the end of the entryway, but Fera ushered Icar into a door on his right. “Some bands are setting up in there, and it’s best not to get in their way.”
A massive cube of stone served as a table for a fast-paced game that Icar couldn’t follow. Thin, palm-sized metal cards of different alloys were being passed around chaotically by three of the most beautiful people Icar had ever seen.
Two, women, had kind, soft, pale faces unweathered by the fine lines Icar had assumed as universal. They could have been twins, sitting opposite one another, one with a fanned mohawk and the other’s hair close-cropped. Both wore identical black leather jerkins embroidered with gut, and both were laughing and smiling in peculiar joy. Their bodies had a fullness unlike what Icar was used to; their chins were soft and their bodies seemed to be as much fat as muscle. Their skin was a shade that seemed to have never seen the sun.
The third player was a man with deep chocolate skin and severe features who caught the cards with a fluid grace and ran them briefly through his fingers before passing them on. He seemed to grow no hair at all, for even his brow was bare, and yet his eyes reflected a comforting worldly acceptance that Icar had never seen.
Fera took the last seat by the table and Icar stood awkwardly behind him. The woman with short hair took her attention away from the cards long enough to make eye contact and Icar introduced himself.
“I’m Icar,” he said.
“Set.” She answered him, and he presumed it to be her name.
Her twin snatched the last card from her outstretched hand. “Got you.”
The game seemed over for a moment and everyone turned to Icar.
Fera introduced him. “I guess he wandered in from the Waste or something. He’s our new lost little lizard.”
Set smiled, the bald man nodded and Set’s twin just stared.
“Here,” Set scooted over on her stone bench, “sit down, but don’t make me lose again.”
Fera gathered the cards, pinged the top one with his fingernail three times, and began to pass and toss them every which way.
An hour later, Fera had yet to win a single game and Icar, who wasn’t playing, had yet to make any sense of it. A low thrum bled in through the wall and the bald man collected the cards.
“I guess the bands are ready if the machine is running.” Set told this to Icar, who nodded ignorantly. They all filed out into the auditorium.
At one end stood an indecipherable mess of gears, tubes, pistons, levers and barrels, and the strangest band of musicians stood in front of it all. One, of ambiguous gender and wearing ripped and patched coveralls, was poking and shifting levers, while another stood in front of a keyboard set into the wall and a third over a set of drums that seemed to be made of broken robots. They seemed to be quite pleased with themselves, as they were grinning like mad. A burst of steam shot out from the keyboard, but the musician dodged nonchalantly and kept smiling.
The huge space filled up quite quickly after that, but Icar took no notice; Annwyn had tapped his shoulder. Her hair came forward over her narrow shoulders and she wore a broad leather strap tight across her breasts.
“Icar Southlakeside, isn’t it?”
“Annwyn,” he acknowledged.
“Have you had a tour of The Cally Bird?”
“Not yet. Are you going to take me?”
Icar was more curious about her earlier escape than the details of the building, but he kept his thoughts to himself. The auditorium dominated most of the building, but a narrow flight of steps led to a single room on each floor. While they were walking a slow bass beat, the sound of a giant stone gear, began.
Annwyn ignored the doors on each landing until the fourth floor, which she opened with a casual flourish to the darkened room beyond.
Stepping into the shadows, Annwyn pressed a button that triggered sparks that lit an oil-lamp chandelier. Although smaller, the room was almost identical to her shack, shelved with statues and automatons. A bare mattress lay on a curious bed built of springs and sheet metal in the corner.
“I’m sorry about earlier.” Annwyn hooked her arm around his waist and slid a pinky under his waistband to rest alongside his hipbone.
“Who was at the door?”
“I’m glad you found your way here though, I was hoping to see you again.” She began to rub her finger in slow circles.
Icar was silent for a moment. He was angry at being ignored, but he couldn’t concentrate on anything except her touch. “Do you want to continue where we left off?”
Annwyn laughed. “Sure.” She stood to face him, pulling her hand off his waist. “Only if you want to, of course.”
“Of course.” Icar took a half step closer to her.
“Well then, if I recall, I was pressed up against you like this…” She rubbed the front of her hip into his groin, “my hand was creeping along…” She put her left arm around his back and put her hand down the back of his pants, “And you were about to explain that, girl or no, you want me very badly.”
Icar reached out timidly to touch her cheek, running his fingertips along her hairless chin. When he reached her mouth, he began to stroke her upper lip lightly, but she pushed her mouth forward and bit him firmly. As soon as she had his finger trapped, she ground into him harder with her hip.
She shifted her weight, moving her hipbone and coaxing an unconscious moan from Icar. Releasing his finger, she smiled and took a half step back.
“Take off your shirt,” she commanded. When his arms were over his head and his vision was blocked she drew her fingernail quite quickly down from his right nipple, across his navel, to where his erection was pressing up against the waistline of his pants. She untied the bow of his belt as he finished removing his shirt.
“It’s been too long since I’ve been with a man Of the Waste,” she told him, and put her arms around his waist, pressing him against her. She turned and pulled him tightly against her back. The noise from the auditorium banged in through the walls, a rhythmic heavy knocking unlike any music Icar had heard before.
Icar started to put his hands on her bare stomach, but she took one of them by the wrist and led his fingers to trace the bottom curve of her slight belly. When she released him he put his hands over her hipbones and pressed even more tightly against her.
Annwyn leaned her head back onto his shoulder and put her thumb against her own crotch, rubbing through the leather. She purred lightly up to Icar as he looked over to what awaited in the corner.
The bed was intimidating—sharp-looking metal and heavy springs—and the leather mattress was as black as Annwyn’s pants. Annwyn followed his gaze and raised her head.
“Don’t worry, it hasn’t killed anyone yet. And believe me, its probably nicer than the furs you’re used to.”
She shrugged his hands off of her hips and walked over to the bed. While facing away from him she unclasped her pants at the sides and pulled them down over her ass. She bent forward to slide the pants down to her ankles and Icar stared at her exposed cunt.
He had long fantasized about women, but in his tribe only the fertile were permitted to engage in heterosexual sex. Since Annwyn was from the waste, she was almost certainly sterile as well, and the thought of breaking from his culture’s traditions was as exciting as it was nerve-wracking. He unceremoniously pulled off his pants as Annwyn, standing upright now, stepped out of hers.
“Will you…” she turned to look at him over her shoulder, and distractedly ran her eyes up and down his body. “Will you help me with this strap?”
Annwyn was lanky and muscular like most of the women of his tribe, but even thinner. Her torso was slim, her neck and legs long, but her bare ass was full. Icar moved forward to untie the leather lacing.
When he was behind her, she took his dick and slid it between her legs so that it rested up against her cunt, protruding slightly from the front of her thighs. While he fumbled with the knots, she slid back his foreskin and ran her fingernail across the rim of the uncovered head. A drop of cum appeared. Annwyn wet her finger with it and ran her finger in circles on the underside of the tip and Icar moaned once more. She let go and the strap finally came off her back. He moved his mouth over her neck and tasted the dried salt on her neck.
“Now lie down, your head near the wall.” Icar did as she commanded, and as he put his weight on the bed it shifted and settled underneath him. “I’m going to tie you down, but I won’t hurt you too badly.”
Icar nodded nervously and Annwyn straddled his waist, holding the leather strap in front of her before bringing it down over his neck. She ran the laces through eyelets in the mattress and tightened it until Icar could breath easily but couldn’t lift his head.
“I want your hands free so that they can touch me. Don’t try to untie yourself or I will hit you. If you want me to untie you, tell me to and I will. Do you understand?”
Icar managed a weak nod
She looked up in thought and Icar gaped at the harsh beauty of her neck—accented by the red line—which taunted him from the corner of his vision. “You know, I’m glad we were interrupted earlier, because I really like this bed, and I’m really looking forward to fucking you on it.”
Icar was too overwhelmed to respond verbally, but instead let out a slight whimper as his hips convulsed. Annwyn shifted back until she was poised over him, spit on her hands and lathered his cock with her saliva while Icar stared at the ceiling. The baffling stranger lifted her weight, pushed his dick into position and slowly eased it into her cunt.
As she began to ride him he instinctively spread his legs apart to angle himself more pleasurably, but she put a stop to that immediately by trapping his legs with hers. “Imagine that your feet are tied together,” she told him, “and you’ll save me the trouble of finding another strap.”
He obeyed and she fucked him, leaning her weight forward until her breasts pressed against his chest. The bedsprings moved slightly in time. He tried to raise his head to kiss her taunting lips, but the strap kept him from moving. She chuckled above him, and he shifted his arms under hers, reaching up to grab her shoulders and push her further against him.
Annwyn brought her face near his and stared at him. He met her gaze for only a moment before it overpowered him and he had to shut his eyes. Even with them closed he could feel her cold stare, until finally she kissed him, for the first time.
Her lips were thin and her breath tasted of something unpleasant, something Icar didn’t recognize, but he didn’t care. She pulled her hips up slightly, until his cock was barely inside her, and slowly worked him while her tongue explored his mouth. When he tried to kiss her back she bit his tongue and he quickly withdrew.
Beginning to moan, Annwyn sat back up and let him all of the way back inside her. Icar had been alternating rapidly between being too excited to contain himself and too nervous to find pleasure it what was happening, but as she started to reach a sort of rhythm he began to calm down and enjoy himself.
“Give me your fingers.” Icar reached up and Annwyn carried them to her mouth. Instead of biting him, as he had expected, she gently sucked his forefingers and thumbs, wetting them with spit. With a new calm she drew his hands to her small breasts and he squeezed her nipples.
She gasped and arched back, and Icar ran his wet fingers around her areolas. Every time she pushed down onto him, the bed sprung them back up and soon the world itself seemed to be shaking. Her hips were convulsing, sending spasms through Icar, and with each he pinched her nipples. She was silent except for the heavy breaths that came from her in spurts.
“I don’t know if I can contain myself,” Icar managed to say between heavy breaths.
“Then don’t.” She moved her one hand down onto her cunt and started to rub her clit while Icar felt the muscles in his legs tense.
It felt as though the bed itself was fucking them, forcing them together and apart while she rode him. Icar let out a short moan and started coming. As soon as Annwyn felt his orgasm she touched herself faster and placed her free hand on his chest. He lay exhausted while she masturbated with him inside of her, and her crazed breathing and convulsions were enough to keep him mostly hard even after his energy was spent.
Less than a minute went before she pulled off of him, rolled onto her back and slowed her fingers over her cunt. After a moment of heavy breathing she ceased to touch herself at all, and she placed her wet hand on his belly.
“Mmm…” Annwyn began, “that was alright.” She curled up onto her side towards Icar, and draped a leg and arm over him.
“You mind untying me?”
“Do it yourself.” And suddenly he was lying next to a complete stranger.
Icar found the knots, and after a few moments’ confusion, worked himself free. He lifted his and stared at the thin naked woman who lay across him. “Who are you, anyhow?”
“You can sleep here, if you’d like, the bathroom is on the second floor.”
Icar lay on his back for hours while Annwyn snored, but he couldn’t find sleep. Too overwhelmed by the day, his thoughts kept drifting back to his two-week journey alone through the waste. He thought of Carin, the handsome hunter whom he had left behind. He thought of how well the two of them had fit together when they slept, hands on each other’s cocks. He thought about how well they understood each other.
Shortly before dawn, Icar lifted Annwyn’s arm and slid out from underneath her leg. He retrieved his clothes from the floor, dressed and went out to the roof.
The roof was flat and nearly bare, with neither wall nor railing. Two buildings butted up against the club, but the connecting rooftops were a three-meter drop. Twin brass chimneys spewed out steam in unison, a square hole led to the ladder he had just ascended.
Overhead, girders formed the framework of another four floors, with ladders connecting a few sheet metal platforms, but Icar didn’t climb any higher. Instead, he walked over to the edge, facing Division.
A dozen or so club-goers were out in the street, drinking and laughing in the empty industrial district. Icar didn’t recognize anyone, and with a start he remembered that he didn’t know anyone in The Vare. His tribe wouldn’t take back a deserter, and he only hoped that he could find tribe here. If the people of The Vare were all like Annwyn, he wondered how he could survive at all.
He heard footsteps and turned to see Annwyn approaching, a wraith in the early morning light, wrapped in her long black coat.
The two stood on the roof and couldn’t look each other in the eyes. Icar turned towards the edge and stared at the fierce dawn; filtered through all of the exhaust of the metropolis; it shone with pinks and greens he had never known out on the wasteland.
“This city is pretty filthy.”
“Yeah, but you might get used to it.”
“Have you gotten used to it?”
An awkward silence followed, interrupted only by the subtle and grandiose color changes. Annwyn spoke first.
“Look, if you’ve got something to say to me, please just say it.”
“You’re kind of an asshole, aren’t you?”
“That’s it. That’s all I wanted to ask.”
With a flap of her long coat, Annwyn turned and went back down the ladder.
Icar sighed and faced the new day.
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