Maxwell’s eyes opened suddenly. He looked around. Everything was dark, and strangers’ voices echoed from another room. He couldn’t remember when he got into his bed, or when he fell asleep. He couldn’t see the ceiling above him, nor the blankets that rested heavily on top of him. Something strong pulled them over his head, and for a moment he felt soft flesh brush against his hand.
The cloth pressed down against his face. Though Maxwell tried to move, his body refused to move. He felt a heavy weight in his stomach, and his own stale breath puffed off the blanket and down onto his face before it suddenly lifted, only to rest more heavily against his chest. The soft cloth quickly grew hot around him, and he could feel sweat gather into large droplets, only to slide down into his hair.
He couldn’t move.
The heavy pressure grew, and the bed grew all the hotter. He half-heard a voice at his ear. The breath stank of alcohol and spices so hot he could taste them. The words were lost on his ears as his tears burned a trail down into the wells of his ears. Laughter came from nearby, female and full-bodied. He tried to look, but his vision remained full of blackness.
He blinked rapidly as twisting, dark forms appeared, and pinpricks of light danced. He wanted to reach for them, to find out if they were real, if his vision was returning, but his arms remained at his side, heavy and unfeeling.
His breath came faster as he twisted his tongue, willing it to shout, but hearing nothing of his own voice.
“My head!” The voice was familiar, a girl, he couldn’t place it. She sounded close, like if he just looked down, he would see her. “Oh god, he promised he wouldn’t! Just… just use the failsafe!”
Maxwell felt cold all over suddenly, and something thumped against his chest, and then he felt another impact. A moment later, he felt cold deep inside– refreshing cold that chilled him starting at his core. He closed his eyes, and felt his body sag. Liquid poured from the thing that touched him, cooling his chest and neck, and he slowly found enough relief to close his eyes.
Closing his eyes was perfect. He couldn’t hear the others anymore, only the sweet sound of snow, and slowly, he remembered his name was not Maxwell, but Nuvalc, and he felt the rough bark of a tree against his back, and as he opened his eyes briefly, he could see. The sluggish, dark blood that bubbled freely from his pink-clad chest seemed so welcoming and so icy. As his sweaty face grew stiff with frost, he closed his eyes again, and for a brief moment, tears slid down his cheeks, resting on his tusks as they froze.
Maxwell stretched as he rose from the bed. “So, how was it?” He looked at Stacy and Elle. Stacy’s hands had dark blue on them, and she held the failsafe device. Elle gripped her head. “Not so good?” He blinked. “I thought they said they had put in programming to make it less realistic.”
“You screamed in my brain, Maxie!” Elle whimpered, her voice quiet. “Let’s just… not try again.”
“Aw, come on, Elle. We promised, we’d each do it.” Stacy huffed. “Besides, you’re the one who didn’t use protection.”
Maxwell shrugged. “We can try it again another time. They don’t go bad or anything.” He stretched again and grunted as his back popped all over. “I don’t remember anything.”
Stacy cursed. “You were supposed to.”
“Maybe that one was broke, or a re-labeled old model.”
“Whatever. That was supposed to be the coolest thing to try when drunk.”
Elle grunted. “All you did was play dress-up with him and put him in a doll bed– hardly cool!”
“Hey, it was funny!”
“No, not really.” Elle scowled. “I didn’t even get a chance to do anything.”
Stacy rolled her eyes. “Let’s just find something else to do. I hear beer pong in the other room.” She turned and walked out, her massive heels nearly twisting her ankles as she fought a moment to keep balanced and protect her pride.
Only when Stacy was gone, did Elle look over at Maxwell. “I’m going home.”
Maxwell gave her a brief hug, and she hurried out, coat left in the closet of Maxwell’s house as she walked as fast as she could in a short skirt and high heels that were taller than a pop can. She didn’t want to leave her house for a week.
Parties were stupid, she decided. She’d much rather stay home and play Cards Against Humanity, or maybe another retro game like that.
She barely remembered arriving home, and certainly not crawling into her bed in the nude, but she did remember finally closing her eyes– if only because they opened again suddenly as an image of a miniature blue boy watched as a knife plunged into its dress-clad chest. Pink ruffles turned dark blue, and antennae slowly lowered down, finally relaxing as his pupils slowly dilated.
These visions haunted her for three days before she stopped trying, and instead stayed up, flipping through channels as she laid on her bed. Beside her, her phone blinked with forty-two missed calls and around two-hundred unread texts.
“-Senorita, mi am-” “-BILLY MAYS’ CLONE HERE-” “-And where her legs meet her back-” “-By Google, supreme online overlords since-” “And now we have Joss Fillian on his recent-” “-This time the body was wearing a pink dress-” “-SEASONS OF LOOOOOOVE-“
Elle paused and flipped back.
“He was found on the reserve’s hunting grounds, stabbed in the chest and covered in frozen sweat. Cause of death is extreme heat, which completely stopped his rapid healing effect, and a stab wound to the chest.” The reporter was bundled in the warmest-looking clothes Elle had ever seen, and behind her, a snowy forest, full of stunted trees.
“Officials report he was wearing a dress commonly found on the fifth re-release of Cabbage Patch dolls’ merchandise. We urge anyone who knows anything to call us at-“
Elle turned the television off and stared at the black screen. The image of the dying creature overlaid the dark pane in her mind, and she slowly looked away, hands trembling.