Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? – Second Playthrough

After my last blog post, in which I talked about Michael Whelan and Zoe Delahunty-Light’s solo journalling TTRPG Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? and the ways I would play differently if I did it again, well, I thought I ought to try out my suggestions.

  • Instead of using a 10-sided die to randomly generate options, I used my idea of playing cards sorted into suits and using one face-card as a “reset”.
  • I deliberately focussed on following the rules more closely in terms of not trying to guess what I was before I reached the end.
  • I treated “How Long?” as being flexible in terms of how much of that time referred to the journey, as opposed to the stay at the destination.

I definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time, so I feel like my recommendations were worth making – and the point where I followed the rules MORE closely was also the right call. I even added a comment on the page about the playing cards idea!

* * *

My first impression was that turning over the playing cards had a much more appropriate tactile sense to this game. It felt like revealing my object’s history, not randomly picking ideas. I hadn’t expected that to be a way of engaging with the game, but it definitely made a difference to how I felt about what I was doing, and how I engaged with the writing part of it.

The second thing I noticed is that, if the “How Long?” is “Moments”, it doesn’t really allow me to include the travel time in that – so I had to be flexible with that modification of the rules and when that card turned up, I simply let the journey be any duration that seemed appropriate. So that modification worked with some sensible interpretation!

As it turned out, I was not able to keep from forming ideas about what form the object might have – but I did try to keep any assumptions about it away from the writing until I reached the end. This had quite a pleasant effect, in that I could compare my impressions along the way with what I eventually decided best fit the evidence presented in my journal.

For the record, my impressions went something like this: “Oh! Probably a dagger or something, then. No, wait, maybe a map, or directions, or a compass, something like that.” – “I’m definitely getting a ‘wearable’ vibe from this. Probably like an amulet or bracelet.” – “I’m writing this bit with the assumption that it’s a bracelet or amulet.”

Narrator’s Voice: It wasn’t a bracelet or amulet.

* * *

In the end, the story I produced this time was slightly shorter this time than I would expect on average. The option to continue is always there when you turn up the “Below the earth” location, but I felt that the combination of options that came up on that turn were such that I had reached a natural end-point.

I did turn up a face card, but it happened on the first turn of the game. Nevertheless, I followed my own rules and reshuffled that pile before drawing a new card, and continued from there. This meant that I never had any recurrence of mood, location, duration or carrier. I found that a very refreshing difference from the first playthrough.

* * *

For those who are curious to know the details of this playthrough, you can unearth my journal by clicking here and visiting the Google Docs page.

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REVIEW: Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? – TTRPG

Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? Is a one-page solo “journaling” RPG written by Michael “Wheels” Whelan of Dicebreaker, and Zoe Delahunty-Light of Eurogamer (two excellent youtube channels, by the way).

Journaling and solo tabletop RPGs are not normally of interest to me – when I play a role in a game, it’s either a video game with lots of actions and a physical element (of pushing controller buttons) and solving puzzles that someone has put there for me – or else, when it’s a tabletop game, it’s part of being in a group of people and the point is to interact with others. That’s just my personal preference, and I still love hearing about other people’s adventures with games they enjoy.

The concept behind Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? (referred to as WYSTTLEFM from here on) caught my attention and imagination in a different way. In this game, you play not as an active character but as an object whose movements are only by being carried from one place to another, and which has no way of shaping the world around it independent of them. The story you create through the game Wheels and Zoe (to call them by the names they use in their videos) follows this object across the stretches of time, with each turn being anywhere from “moments” to “aeons” long (or even, “Unknowable”, in some cases).

I have always been fascinated by history, archaeology, the artefacts that survive, and the concept of “deep time” or the long processes or continuities that dwarf human awareness and lifespan. So this idea of the object linking different times, places, and people was always going to catch my attention.

It also brought to mind a book I read decades ago, as a child, which traced not a single item but a sequence of them: in each timeframe, a child would lose something valuable on his or her way back home from somewhere else, and then in searching for the lost item find the item lost by the child in the previous timeframe, which was something without the same use-value to the people in this new age, but valued for its antiquity or other qualities. Again, that sense of “deep time” stretching across generations appealed to me back then, as it does here and now.

So I set aside an evening to delve into the ages-long history I was about to create.

The first thing I realised is that “journaling RPG” is essentially another name for “creative writing exercise”.

That is NOT a bad thing! At least, not for me. Writing is, after all, what I started this blog to talk about, and to do. And I even seek out exercises from old school books to provide inspiration, writing prompts, or just to flex my creative muscles in various ways. If nothing else, I was confident that WYSTTLEFM would get me to do this.

The structure as laid out in the rules document reminded very much of English classes in school, with the prompt questions very similar to the way creative writing lessons would be guided by a teacher. Indeed, I think that WYSTTLEFM would be a great classroom (or even better, virtual classroom, in the age of Covid-19) project. I can’t see how that would ever happen with the culture of test, test, test and key stage targets, but all the same, getting a bunch of school kids to use their imagination by playing a journalling game would be awesome. I am sure some school teachers do that already, and the targets be blowed!

* * *

In the end, I was not tremendously absorbed with my first attempt at playing through the game, and did not play to the intended conclusion as my attention and engagement wavered. For various reasons, I feel as though it might be valuable for me to come back to it a second time at some point, and those reasons will become clearer as this review progresses.

The game works by using a single (many-sided) die to produce random prompts from a set of lists. These prompts provide a bare framework to describe a period in the object’s “lifetime”: a type of person who brings it to a place, the type of place it is, how long the object rests there, and a “tone”.

Two points shaped my experience of playing the game: the first was that I felt the strongest focus was on the places, not the people. The introduction page says, “Upon arrival at each location you will describe the journey you have taken to get there” but the “How To Play” prompt questions all focus on the place where you’ve arrived.

This led to an interesting juxtaposition of expectation versus instruction: I initially saw the “How Long?” Dice list as referring to how long it took to get to the new place – but when I re-read the rules I saw that it was the duration of the stay. So my first journal entry was inspired by the journey, not the stay, in a way that shaped how I viewed the object and its purpose. This also gave me the impression that the journey was a simple “point A to point B” journey, carried but perhaps not used?

The second point was that the rules did not give a starting point. I asked Wheels via Twitter whether this was deliberate, and he replied that it was, that the writers had intended the object to be a mystery, unidentified until the end of the game, and we start the journal somewhere in the middle of its lifespan.

The lack of information about the form and function of the object – or perhaps, its initial intended function – was a point where I felt disengaged from the game as such. In my mind, each person rolled would need to have some reason or purpose in interacting with the object, to cause it to be moved from place to place. The rules say, “You will not experience the world through your actions but rather recount the actions that have been taken upon you…” and there’s a subtext that the object itself does not shape the world around it, but is only acted upon. But a dagger, say, will have a very different place in the world than a magical ring.

So in my first play-through, I quickly formed an idea of what sort of a thing would have these people acting on it, and these journeys happen to it. This idea shaped every journal entry because I couldn’t imagine the interactions of the world upon this thing, without also imagining how the world saw it.

If/when I play this game again, I will start with a clearer idea that the object is an unknown, and I would also treat the “How Long?” roll as talking about the overall length of time between carriers, so I can be more flexible about how much of that time is spent journeying versus resting.

* * *

My first roll set gave me a soldier, a place of transition, and years. The mood was “Jubilant”. Why would a soldier be jubilant and take years to get somewhere, while carrying something that could be regarded as a treasure? I immediately pictured a crusader making his way to some Holy Land with an offering to his God. In picturing a “place of transition”, I thought of how Jerusalem is divided between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and was in ancient times one of the key crossroads between the Near and Middle East. But I felt that this “holy offering” narrative was more of a sacred place than a place of transition, so I made the place of transition the point where the soldier heard that the war had ended, and the offering was thanks for peace. He was jubilant now because the long war was over.

This immediately shaped both the object and the future story. A soldier could easily have been carrying some kind of weapon, or insignia of rank or company. Each of these would have changed how I understood and shaped the subsequent transitions. But I made it an offering, that was recovered years later…

One problem with randomly-generated sequential prompts like this, is that sometimes you come across some jarring shifts. Later in my story, the object was moved by a thief, to a private place where it stayed for a few days. The “Mood” was “Fearful”, so in my mind this thief was a young person who acted out of impulse. They were terrified they would be caught, and kept it private in their own belongings and room.

It was hard then, to understand how the next person to handle the object could fit into the category “Monarch”, that I rolled up next! I finessed it by calling the boy’s father the “monarch” of his family, but I wasn’t satisfied with this and created a sequence by which the object ended up in the hands of the state’s royal family.

Another awkward transition was from “A place of history” to “A ruined place”. I wanted to let that be the same place! But then, how could I talk about the person who moved it? I considered talking about “Time” itself as a person, but that felt a bit twee.

The final challenge was making the “Tone” match the new people and places. I wasn’t sure if “Tone” meant the object’s mood, or the mood of the person who moved it. I tended to try for “both” but if I couldn’t make that work, I focussed on whichever felt most congruent with the transition resulting from the dice rolls. Looking more closely at the rules text, I feel that Wheels and Zoe intended it to be the object’s mood in the new place but I found the story more interesting when I could use it to describe the broad attitude of the person to the object or the world around. This, of course, could feed more directly into the events and actions taken around or towards the object.

More than once, I simply rejected a roll that made no sense to me in the context of the others, and rolled again. This may not have been perfectly legitimate, but it did mean I had a story that felt coherent and congruent.

* * *

The story that unfolded for me covered about a thousand years, maybe 1,200. Summarised, it went something like this:

A token carved and crafted in metal by a soldier who had no special skill but who took the time and attention to his task to create something he felt able to offer to his God, eventually left this item as a jubilant thanks for peace. This object found its way via museum and theft to the palace of the royal family, where it stayed in an inner chamber for centuries.

Eventually, dynastic change came, a usurper took the throne and sprinted some of the treasures away to his own stronghold in case people challenged his claim to the throne (I’d been reading about the Wars of the Roses recently…) More centuries passed, and the stronghold became a ruined castle. From the age of swords and spears, now a mechanised war came and the castle was useful as a position for artillery of some such. The object was taken by a soldier to a museum. The war went badly for the nation and a museum curator took the object as something to sell as he fled the bombing. (The roll was “Merchant” but I couldn’t understand how a merchant could take the object, so finessed the person’s role…)

The curator and his family became refugees (“The wanderer”) fleeing to another land, where they and their fellow refugees found protection and celebrated (jubilant) that they were safe and housed again. Safe and stable enough to dwell in the game place for centuries.

To me, this felt like a “final resting place” – at least, enough that I felt comfortable with not writing any more entries. The story is supposed to continue until you find yourself in “A place below the earth”, but I had rolled the same “Historical” to “Ruined” transition twice, I’d rolled “Private” twice in a row, and was feeling lost myself. And, I’d rolled 10 rounds and not yet reached a “below the earth”, which is roughly 1 in 3 games would last that long.

More positively, it felt like the story had come full circle: I had imagined a trinket or token carved by a soldier and left to celebrate peace; it was now a symbol of good luck and fortune for a family who had fled from war. It was, again, a symbol of peace in their lives.

Yes, this is not quite how the game is intended to be played – you could say that I played the bit before the point the game is supposed to start, instead – but it did provide a satisfying conclusion for me.

I wondered whether instead of using dice to roll for the events, using playing cards as a “moderated dice” might help avoid repetitive rolls. If I were going to try this method, I would separate out the Ace-10 of each suit into 4 piles, add a face card of the matching suit to each pile, shuffle each pile separately, and then draw a card from each pile to produce the next round of the game. If I draw a face card from a pile, then I return it to the pile and shuffle the pile before drawing. This should avoid repetitions without excluding entirely the chance of having the same kind of place, person, duration or tone come up twice in a game. It should also mean that games are much less likely to last a long time, unless the player wants them to (in which case – shuffle the pile again when the “below the earth” card comes up, ready for the next round).

It occurred to me after this playthrough that perhaps it would be more realistic or engaging to allow the same person to carry the object to different new places, or perhaps to allow one place but more than one person over time. When I pictured my soldier travelling across the lands to reach his Holy Land, I imagined that there could be various stops on the way, stops that could count as more than one place. And when I pictured the object in a museum, maybe sometimes someone would take it and bring it back for various reasons, giving multiple people bringing it there at different times?

So another way I might experiment with this game is using a coin toss or odd/even roll to decide which to change next (or maybe, use a 6-sided die to give three options – change person, change place, or change both).

* * *

At this point, it probably sounds like I am being very critical of the game’s design, since I’ve spent a lot of words saying what things I would do differently, and ways that I might modify the rules or mechanism to suit my interests.

But the thing to remember is, I am not a journalling or solo TTRPG player. I’m not the target audience for this game! What’s more, the choices the designers made in putting together WYSTTLEFM are deliberate, with intended results.

They are not “wrong” choices. They are good choices. They are choices that lead in a particular direction, and my own choices would head in a slightly different direction, or use a different focus. That’s all it is.

And, as I said at the start, this feels like a wonderful kind of tool to get younger people engaged with the creative and imaginative sides of writing. The prompt questions are ideal and helpful whatever age writer you might be.

My last comment is that the title of the game is a question. “Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me?” implies a searcher and some powerful motivation for their search. That searcher and their motivation, and the connection it implies with the object, fascinate me as much as all the other questions in this game.

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We have to say Black Lives Matter because they’re marked as “other”

The unfolding drama of police violence and resulting protests in the USA is frightening to watch even from afar. The countless video clips and verbal accounts from people involved make it clear just how terrifying it is to be caught up in the police violence.

I feel an urge towards solidarity in all such situations, and wonder what can be done. This list of resources is a good start; the Change.org petitions seem to be accessible from UK. There is also a Black Lives Matter list of resources and actions here.)

One thing as a White person, is to declare clearly to other White folk where you stand on these issues. And that’s the motivation to write this piece. So, let me say clearly: Black Lives Matter. Police violence is wrong, and police killings of unarmed civilians should always result in prosecution.

The other motivation is, a couple of weeks ago I started reading a book called After The Empire, by Emmanuel Todd. Written in 2002 (and first published in English in 2003), it analyses the demographic and anthropological data in an attempt to make sense of the USA’s changing status in the world as an imperial power that is in decline. The author used similar analysis in 1975 to predict the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the USSR in particular. I started reading it because the blurb and introduction sounded like he was predicting the rise of Trump, the 2007 economic crash and even the role of Russia. (So far he seems to be wrong about Russia, anyway.)

This is relevant because one cannot look at American politics without talking about race.

Todd writes a chapter about “universalism” vs “differentialism” – viewing people as basically equal to or basically different from one another. His idea is that the “Anglo-Saxon” culture (he includes the English as well as American culture in this categorisation – American culture is just the apotheosis of this approach) has a curious dual identity as both universalist and differentialist, in that they include some groups by the exclusion of others:

In the Anglo-Saxon world, relations can shift as attitudes change … Among those that are “different,” some can be reclassified as “like us,” and conversely: some of “them” who were considered to be “like us,” can be reclassified as “different.” But there is always a separation between the completely human and the rest.”

In America, “White” means “us”, the “completely human”, according to the ruling class. “Black” means the “other”. Some groups or individuals can be shuffled between “us” and “other” and that power is used as a potent threat. (Todd goes on to analyse the difference in attitude between French Jews and US Jews on the basis of this threat in US culture.)

I don’t feel like this conclusion is anything that will sound new or groundbreaking to anyone who pays attention to (or is a target of) the differentialist attitude of the “Anglo-Saxon world”. And we need to be clear that the same system absolutely works in the English collective psyche as in the American. (Todd points out that the English definition of “us” can go from “just the English” through “all British” to “all Europeans” – although his suggestion that it was moving towards the latter has been disproved by the whole Brexit movement.) But it needs to be recognised by everyone else, too.

I don’t have answers for what to do. A good start is to listen to others, especially those deemed the “other” in our culture. Use the resources linked at the top of this post. And, some day, we may actually be able to change society fundamentally.

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STORY: The War Fuck Shower

Yet another “three word prompt” story for you. I always try to treat the three words as a single connected phrase, describing a concept or entity or act to be included in the story. This one made it very easy to do that.

I am tempted to spin this into a longer tale where we explore a bit more of the humans’ war versus the Hanvalti, although I’m not sure I could keep up the hot, hard sex theme while also exploring the political and military manoeuvres that my squad of troopers get caught up in!

Content Note: gag reflex, war theme.

The War Fuck Shower

To Jasynna, the war against the Hanvalti seemed unending. A perpetual sequence of hyperspace jumps, atmospheric drops, and planet after planet of slogging through smoke and mud while lasers, pulse bombs and good old-fashioned high explosives blasted the world around her. She didn’t care if war never changed, but this one certainly didn’t seem to. While much of the war was fought in space, by orbital cruisers or interplanetary dreadnaughts, in the end it always came down to soldiers on the ground, securing territory and digging out the resistance. As long as the surface-based anti-starship batteries remained in enemy hands, you couldn’t claim to control the system, and ultimately that meant fighting for them.

This particular fight was in the balance. The number of enemy troop ships landing showed that the flyboys had not gained orbital supremacy yet, and the Hanvalti were still able to resupply and reinforce their ground forces. Her own squad had encountered a platoon of recently landed Hanvalt stormtroopers two days ago. Her force-armour still bore the scars. And the depleted energy cells. Fryia had taken a bad hit, and had to be medevac’ed after the battle – she’d survive, and be back in action soon enough.

Garrah, their comms guy, and Inick, heavy weapons, followed her back to base. Another patrol over, another successful fight in the books, one wounded comrade.

Stark plastisteel walls surrounded the forward supply base. Their armour transmitted the access codes and a shielded door slid open. They checked in their dirtied and battered equipment for repair and recharge, and then went to the showers to do the same for themselves. One thing about a world caked in mud: there was plentiful local water to supply natural showers.

It was one of those unwritten codes that all armies seem to develop, that get passed on from experienced squaddies to new recruits. In this army, everyone knew what the first shower to the left was. It was always built slightly larger than the others, and that meant it was more suited to the purpose the troopers needed it for. And Jasynna went straight there.

The war-fuck shower. Before she got through the door, she could feel Inick’s strong, calloused hands on her underwear, while she stripped off her combat undershirt. She could tell from the sound of his footsteps that Garrah was coming too. They all needed this. The aches and hardship of the patrol could only be expelled one way.

Garrah pulled Inick’s shirt off while Jasynna stripped herself naked. When Garrah got on with his own shirt, Inick pulled his underwear off and got on his knees. Garrah leaned back and let Inick pull his underwear off too, and now they were all nude. Inick took Garrah’s cock in his mouth while Jasynna opened the shower cubicle and set the water flowing. Hot, almost too hot to bear. They needed that. It would take a few seconds longer to get going, seconds that Jasynna spent stroking her fingers between her labia and watching the two men get one another’s dicks hard. She lathered her body, the soap making her skin slippery and sensuous under her own hands, letting the huge, beefy Inick and the lithe, lanky Garrah join her under the stinging heat of the water jets. She practically panted, eyeing the two proud erections.

Inick stepped in close. There was no need, but she said it anyway. “I need it hard and brutal, guys.”

“So do we.” It didn’t matter which of them said it, they all felt the urgency. Was it Jasynna rising on her tiptoes or Inick lifting her with his hands? It didn’t matter. She was up and lifted onto the tip of his cock. Garrah made a gesture, and she reached for the lube and handed it to him. Then sank herself down onto Inick’s thick, hard shaft with a groan encompassing all the struggles of the patrol. She could feel Garrah’s hands on Inick’s thighs, pulling them apart. She lifted herself up again, wrapped her arms behind Inick’s neck. Inick gasped and pushed upwards after Jasynna as Garrah gave a guttural sigh.

“Oh, fuck, that feels so good inside me,” Inick groaned. Garrah withdrew and Jasynna lifted herself again, watching Garrah to match her descent to his thrust. Garrah drove his cock into Inick’s arse, which drove Inick’s cock harder into Jasynna’s cunt. She yowled with the overloading sensation, it was like being fucked with the dual force of both men.

“Yes! Garrah! Pound him for me!” she cried.

“Ride my fat cock, you dirty slut,” Inick replied.

“Slut yourself, you filthy fuckboy,” Garrah told Inick. And they fucked. Inick slutted himself on Garrah’s cock, Jasynna rode Inick’s cock. Her breath was already ragged and desperate, her hair bedraggled both by the shower and her own sweat, her face flushed and eager. She could feel Inick’s need thundering inside her, Garrah’s breathing as wild as her own.

Garrah came first, a howl of release and Inick’s sharp gasp – and Garrah’s hips slamming Inick forwards into Jasynna. Jasynna clutched Inick’s hair, winced in pain and ecstasy from the sudden spearing.

While Garrah withdrew and cleaned off his cock in the shower, Jasynna rode Inick harder and reached between their bodies with her hand to rub frantically at her clit. It took her seconds to find the sweet spot and her own climax, screaming over and over again as her legs shuddered and waves of fiery delight swept out through her body.

She dropped to her knees in front of Inick, opened her mouth and let her jaw drop. He gripped her hair and pulled her head down onto his cock. No simple fellatio, this – a facefuck, fast and brutal, aiming for the tightness of her throat. Just the way she needed it. Behind him, Garrah joined Jasynna on his knees, opening his mouth and extending his tongue to probe and suck Inick’s stretched hole and lap up his own cum oozing from the opening. Jasynna was aware of it, not quite able to see, but the thought was enough. As Inick pounded her mouth and she did her best to gasp gulps of air whenever he withdrew, she reached back to her clit, sliding two fingers into her cunt still soppy with Inick’s semen, and used her thumb to press and grind her clit again.

She choked and gagged, losing herself in the physicality of the moment until there was nothing of her memories or mind, just the complete absorption of the moment, of being used, and loving it. She swapped hands on her clit, and reached out with the other to grab Garrah’s cock and stroke it, feeling it regain some of its erection already.

Inick grunted and leaned forwards, his hands on the wall instead of Jasynna’s head. She had a split second to realise he was coming, to prime her gullet to swallow, and swallow hard. She still choked and spurted some of it either side of his cock, a spray and a dribble smearing her chin and his thighs. He bent down and licked it off her face.

Garrah stood up, wielding his cock in his hand and stood over Jasynna. “Got some more for you both, I hope,” he smiled. He stroked his cock hard and fast, Jasynna reaching up and pushing her cleavage together the way she knew turned him on the most.

He stared down at her and wanked furiously until he could deliver her his second load. He aimed at her face, catching her cheek, neck and breasts with a string of thick semen. Jasynna gasped at the suddenness of his spurt, and the impact when it struck her. She revelled in it, and Inick’s eager tongue lapping it up off her skin before the shower water washed it away.

They washed each other off, towelled each other’s bodies. Made their way to the debrief room, still feeling the soreness between their legs. The lieutenant looked at Jasynna.

“Status report?”

“Situation normal, sir. All fucked up!”
Left to right: Garrah, fucking Inick, fucking Jasynna

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STORY: Rumour Valley Railway

This is another “three word prompt” story, this one sourced not from the usual tag cloud, but from a random word generator (I was looking for more erotica sites to use, but most erotica sites don’t arrange their tag clouds by frequency, they go for alphabetical order and list the frequency after each one – so less chance of serendipitous combinations – boo!) The title is the three words that prompted the story. This story is probably as close to a “proper” romantic story style as I do, and I’m sort of pondering whether to try to expand it into a longer story with a relationship between the protagonists. But for now, it stands on its own (and I have far too many other writing projects that I should be doing anyway).

Rumour Valley Railway

Eloise pondered the name on the map while she waited for the train. It seemed apt, for everyone told her the same thing: “Rumour Valley is a strange place. Lots of stories come out of there.” No one seemed to remember what those stories were, just vague hints about suspicions and ruined reputations.

She wondered if they’d told the same stories to the navvies when they put in the railway all along the bottom of the valley, alongside the river flowing steadily towards a confluence with the vast flow of which it was a mere tributary. That confluence was marked by a thriving city, far larger than the market town of Harringby where Eloise spent most of her life, and somehow there was only that railway link. Almost all the folks of Harringby travelled the other direction for work, pleasure or shopping, to the old industrial city farther inland. The old superstitions wouldn’t die. Plenty of people took the train from one city to the other, and so far as Eloise knew, they didn’t worry about it. The legend only remained in Harringby, and the smaller village of Chidestone that was the other stop before the valley opened out into the ancient floodplain, now much higher and drier than the history books told it used to be. So, Chidestone residents went to the river, and Harringby to the factories, and ever it was so.

But the days of such determinism were gone, and a job interview and hope for the future took Eloise on the maligned rail route after all. And besides, it wasn’t as if any stories could be spread if she stayed in a train carriage the whole way, could it? Less than an hour to the terminus, what could possibly happen?

The train pulled up and disgorged its passengers onto the platform. Eloise waited until the platform cleared and hopped through the nearest carriage door, and looked for a place to sit.

At first, she thought the carriage was deserted. Regardless of the superstition, there would normally be a few people still on the train, those from the cities, for example. She looked from one end to the other, trying to decide whether she wanted to sit facing forwards or backwards, in the middle or at one end, by the window or on the aisle.

“Eloise! As I live and breathe! Is it really you?”

That voice! Memories stirred in an instant hearing him again. He must have been slumped in his seat and hidden from view, which was why she hadn’t seen him before. It was Peter Terrigate, a boy – no, a man, now, for sure – Eloise remembered from their school days, from the year above hers. She turned to look at him.

He was even more gorgeous than she remembered. That barrel chest had filled out, his muscles were now properly toned, and those deep, soft, brown eyes… Eloise recalled the crap teenage poetry she’d scrawled at the backs of her exercise books about this absolute dish of a man. He’d let his hair grow out so there was a slight air of a Bohemian fop, on top of the classical sports hero physique. It was all she could do not to drop her bag.

“Peter! I haven’t seen you in years!” Eloise exclaimed, to cover up her sudden wave of embarrassment.

“I haven’t been home since I left for uni. Somehow I figured you’d be long gone too, never thought I’d see anyone I knew from Harringby – but still have loads of fond memories. I guess I thought everyone else had forgotten me, though.”

“How could I? I, um, I had a huge crush on you, you know.”

“You did not, don’t fib! I was so awkward back then. Still am, come to think of it.”

“No, I really did. To be honest, when I heard you just now, I remembered some of the things I used to write about you…” Eloise trailed off as she felt her cheeks start to burn.

Peter reached out and hooked his finger, lifting her chin slightly with his knuckle so their eyes met again.

“You’ve gone a very pretty colour, Eloise. I might think some of those things were really, really dirty. Is that why you never said anything at the time?”

Eloise froze, torn between the embarrassment if she said yes and he laughed at her, or the lost opportunity if she lied, and it turned out he was okay with it. But the way he was touching her, the way he’d taken command with just one finger under her chin. She wanted, so badly, to say “yes”, to confess, and see where it led. So she did.

Oh God, he leaned in so close, close enough she could feel his hot breath on her cheek, feel his body heat close to her own chest. His voice sank to a murmur.

“Now, why would you tell me that, Eloise, unless you wanted to try out some of those dirty, dirty things with me, right now?”

The heat from her cheeks seemed to have overflowed to the rest of her body, and into his. She swallowed nervously, she could feel how much he meant it, how already his cock was stiffening in his trousers, nudging against her thigh. She ought to feel scared, but she just knew that if she told him “No”, he’d stop and leave her alone, or just go back to talking. Only that confidence allowed her to nod.

“But, what if someone sees?”

“We have the train to ourselves. We can do what we want. What you want. And I think you want to take down your undies and put them on the seat.”

Eyes wide and staring into his, Eloise hitched up the hem of her interview skirt on both sides and used her fingers to hook into her knickers at the hips. She bent her knees and eased the underwear down over her butt. Eventually, she had to break eye contact and bend at the waist, struggling to unhook the panties from her shallow heels. Without a word, she stood, reached out, and dropped them on the nearest seat. She looked for Peter’s expression again.

“Now I think you want to unzip my flies and pull my cock out.”

“Yes, sir,” Eloise said. It seemed like the right words. She gently guided him closer with her hands on his hips, then fumbled with his zipper for a second or two before she managed to ease it down. She bit her lip as she reached her fingers through the opening. Of course, she’d dreamed of what his cock would look and feel like, but she’d never imagined she would find out for real.

It felt stiff, thick, she could trace her thumb around the edge of the foreskin that was already peeling back as he became more erect. She’d never been with a man without wanting to explore every contour of his penis, each vein and ridge, and it was no different now. Her fingers stroked the length and girth from tip to base, and she revelled in the sensation of his cock changing, growing, in response. Only when she had touched every inch did she bring it out so she could look at the beautiful shaft in all its glory. It was thicker and longer than she had guessed, almost matching her most vigorous fantasies when she’d wanked as a teenager.

“Not a disappointment, I trust?” Peter asked.

“It’s huge, sir!” Eloise said. What she thought he wanted to hear, and true.

“I think you want me to fuck you with it, right now, don’t you?”

Oh God, did she? Her heart pounded in her chest and her cunt leaked arousal. The way he asked, he was letting her choose. If she said no, she could lose that cock forever. If she said yes, then…. what? It would be wrong – lewd, disgraceful, yes. She was on her way to a serious, important meeting, a job interview. The rational part of her mind put up every argument it could to make her turn him down, but her gut, her genitals, her sex drive, were in command.

“Yes, sir. I do.” Without him asking, she climbed up onto the seat, knelt with her rear towards him and her thighs spread, her arms resting on the chair back and her chin over the headrest. She reached back and hitched her skirt up around her waist, tucking it into its own waistband to leave her open and bare.

“Fuck me, please, Peter.”

He teased her, brushing his cockhead against her slit, making her rock back, hungry for it now she’d agreed and given herself to the lewdness and naughtiness. His hand, firm and controlling, pushed her back into place until he was ready. A soft tearing sound, a rubbery swish.

“Almost forgot something important there, sweetie,” Peter said. His cock felt different now – a condom. Eloise sighed happily that he’d thought of that precaution, though she wondered how come he’d had one ready. Forgetting or ignoring the hypocrisy thats he always carried one or two herself.

Then his hands were on her hips, his cock was pushing her open, her mouth open and moaning quietly at the utter deliciousness of the sensation as he filled her up.

“That feels so good, El. Oh, God, you’re so hot!” Peter eased his full length inside her.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Eloise gasped. “It feels amazing.”

Peter rocked his hips back and forth, Eloise responding with hers, listening to Peter’s groans and echoing them with her own higher-pitched moans and sighs. She’d never felt so turned on so quickly, it defied all her preconceptions about what she liked and wanted, her hangups about exposure, about, well, everything. But she was lost in the moment, riding Peter’s cock – riding Peter Terrigate’s cock – and loving every second, every sensation.

Peter’s left hand reached round her hip and he leaned over her, his chest resting against her back so he could reach all the way to her tiny, throbbing clit. The instant he touched it, she let out a shrill squeak at the ecstatic fire. He needed no further encouragement, and kept softly circling the nubbin with his fingertip.

Eloise closed her eyes, panting for breath as it felt like her whole chest was contracting in time to Peter’s touch, his thrusting cock, his heartbeat, his mind.

“Please,” she gasped, “Please make me come!”

She felt his right hand grip her hair as he redoubled his efforts. Somehow, that possessive, controlling gesture was what it took to drive Eloise to climax. She howled and screamed and writhed and bucked. Her body rode out her orgasm for an eternity packed into a few seconds, until she collapsed against the chair back, Peter still sliding his cock an and out of her.

“My turn now. I think you want to finish me with your mouth and swallow it all. It would be a shame to spoil that smart skirt of yours with my cum leaking from your pussy, after all.”

“But you’re wearing a condom, there wouldn’t be any-“

Peter interrupted. “I was quite clear about what you wanted to do, Eloise.”

Eloise gulped. “Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” He was already pulling out.

She turned around and crouched as low as she could, bringing her face down to his crotch level, reaching back with her hands to hold the seat and keep her balance. She watched him carefully slide the condom off his cock, tie it off, and stuff it into her bag. He dropped his business card into he rbag after it, then turned to face her, wielding his cock like a weapon before him. Eloise blinked as it came too close for her eyes to focus on it, and nervously opened her mouth.

She groaned as Peter’s cock forced her to open her jaw even wider than she’d anticipated, then all sound was cut off apart from a muffled splutter – he was in her mouth and fucking her face. There was no doubt about who was doing what to whom in Eloise’s mind, blinking back the tears as she took his shaft right to the back of her throat, trying to tease him with her tongue. He was faster, more brutal, than in her cunt, and as disgraceful and debauched as it felt, it also felt right to let him use her like this. She wanted it. He wasn’t like the boyfriends she’d occasionally dallied with. He was something more powerful.

“I’m coming, El! Brace yourself, swallow everything!”

Panic seemed to flood Eloise’s system but there was nothing she could do about it now. She felt Peter’s cockshaft twitch and pulse, and suddenly he was giving a guttural cry, his hips slamming against her cheeks and his cock forced deep into her gullet, and hot, thick spunk flooding her. Her throat twitched and she gulped, fighting the sensation she was drowning by drinking everything she could. She still felt some of Peter’s semen dribble down her chin, making her sense of utter shame complete.

He pulled out a pack of wet wipes, and mopped her face, then used another to wipe her cunt dry, too.

“Wow. Thank you for fucking me. I can’t believe I said yes, I still can’t believe we actually did that.” Eloise gabbled as Peter helped her straighten herself out.

“Well, we did, and I’m glad.” Peter held her hips and pulled her close, placing a soft, lingering kiss on her lips.

“You know, I can still taste myself on you,” he told her, making her blush again.

The PA pinged. “The next station is Chidestone. Please make sure you have all your belongings before leaving the train.” Already, they could feel the train slowing down as it approached the platform.

“This is my stop,” said Peter. “Maybe I’ll see you again on the journey back…”

The train pulled to a halt, and Peter grabbed his bag, and skipped from the train. A dozen or so passengers scurried on and the train pulled away.

Eloise made her way to the toilet cubicle to redo her hair and makeup ready for her interview. In the mirror, she looked exactly like she’d just been thoroughly fucked by a handsome young man.

And she realised her panties were gone.

Of course, no one else had any proof of what had happened, but by the time she got home that evening, the rumours were all over Harringby and Chidestone.

Rumour Valley Railway 1

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Trouble on the streets of Sexblogtown

I have been very much on the sidelines as far as sexblogging is concerned for a while now. My video game projects are taking up a huge amount of mental processing, and there’s also been a metric fucktonne of shit happening in my personal, irl, life that I generally have no wish to discuss online with anyone who isn’t in my very tight and very limited circle.

Nevertheless, I do follow and catch up reading a few of my favourite bloggers in the sexblogging community as and when, and for those I follow on twitter, I see their tweets.

All of which means that I don’t want to just sit this one out on the sidelines entirely.

Many of the names involved are unfamiliar to me, although the involvement in the community is often significant and I am aware of them.

All of which is just preamble.

The trouble mentioned in the title is that someone in the sexblogging community wrote a tiresome screed against inclusive language, characterising requests for people to not use hurtful or abusive language structures as some kind of linguistic totalitarianism. It’s a tired and disgusting form, and there was frankly nothing special about the writing quality or the message here. After taking the time to read it, and processing my fury, I concluded that the only response I could give would be “OK Boomer”. It’s not like I haven’t seen the same apologia for hatespeech repeated over and over for the past 20 years or so in various forums and countless different people.

I became aware of this when one of the bloggers I follow tweeted a link to Kayla Lords’ These Moments are Always Bigger Than We Think They Are and followed the links there to find out what was going on: MxNillin’s and via pingbacks from there to Quinn Rhodes’
I do not have to be nice to people who misgender me
and vanillafreesex’s Do Better!. (Quinn’s blog is one of those on my “catch up reading” list so I might have got to this later anyway, but it’s better to be current-ish if I can with this post.

Those references will be plenty to give you the gist of what happened and why this is (a) a big deal, and (b) not something I want to sit out entirely. Even if all I’m doing is giving the slightest boost by linking them, rather than adding anything of my own to this.

I’m nonbinary genderfluid. When people start having a go about neologisms used as pronouns, or questioning the need for words like cisgender, or asking why they can’t use this or that word that used to be okay, I start to feel threatened. I “pass” as cis male and generally get away with not being seen as “queer” in r/l; but every time I hear someone refer to me as a “man” I get a slight twinge of dysphoria – even though I will use that word about myself (but generally as part of an established phrase/quote to express a view).

I seek out spaces where I hope/expect that I can be seen/accepted as not just a man, as somewhere else in the gender continuum. It feels threatening to find that the sexblogging community is maybe not as good on that front as I had hoped. While the people I connect with by reading their blogs or following on twitter are all pretty good on this stuff, and thus I am shielded a bit from the wider community, I had contributed in the past on one of the affected events, and considered participating in another, so this is not great. I don’t write a lot of trans/NB characters in my short stories, but I do make an effort to not restrict my stories as far as the characters’ genders and pairings are concerned.

But like I said, I am somewhat shielded from the main impact of this “drama” (as Kayla Lords points out, there needs to be a better word for these things, but it’s what we have for now). The point of this post is to speak up and just say that transphobic tirades against inclusive language poison the atmosphere for everyone. All of the posts I linked above asked for people to speak up and stand with them, and for what little it’s worth, this is me doing that. I’ve been a bit cowardly about it, avoiding using google-able names of the events or the people who wrote or backed the original piece. (That r/l stuff has me pretty vulnerable overall, so I’d rather not attract too much attention right now.)

So yeah. The links above are better written and more informative on the subject so go read them, get informed, and make your own choice. This post makes mine clear.

Posted in Gender, Language, Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

STORY: Sophie’s First Time

Content Note: exhibitionism, D/s, beating.

This story is another one using a “three tag prompt” I scooped from a kink/fetish web board’s tag cloud. The tags were “first time parking lot beating” and conjured basically, the scene presented below.

By now, you may have guessed that one of the things I have set myself for 2020 is to do more of these stories.

Sophie’s First Time

Sophie had worried that, after a month chatting on social media, she’d have nothing more to say when she met Dan. That every conversation topic would have been wrung dry and no new words would fill the void. That somehow their first date would be, well, boring.

And now, hours after that first hesitant offer of her cheek to receive Dan’s peck, her head was buzzing and her excitement palpable. When he offered to walk her back to the parking lot, her heart leapt. She fidgeted in her best little black dress, the one she always wore on a first date, before accepting, extending her hand, letting him pull her to her feet.

It didn’t need saying that he was in charge now. During the month of discussion and negotiation, they’d talked about what was involved, how she could withdraw at any time, how he wouldn’t take anything that wasn’t offered. But through the evening, she had deferred more and more to his decisions for her, even to the point of letting him deny her the option of drinking alcohol – usually she felt she needed a couple of drinks just to get through a first date.

So now, when he put his arm possessively on her butt to guide her back to the lot where they’d both parked befoe meeting at the bar, it just felt right to let him steer her with a stern word from time to time. She was glad the amber streetlight hid the coloration of her face, or he’d know she was blushing. Her cunt felt uncomfortably warm, tingling and excited just at his touch. That wasn’t normal, was it? It was certainly different than any of the boyfriends she’d dated before.

It was so late at night, the parking lot seemed deserted. The lighting seemed brighter, and was whiter, clearer. Sophie felt Dan’s mouth just behind her ear.

“What a pretty colour you’ve gone. I wonder why?”

Sophie squirmed in his grasp, bit her lower lip. “I don’t know, Sir.” It was the first time she’d actually used the title they’d talked about. She felt like she’d crossed a bridge, made a decision she wasn’t sure she could, or wanted to, take back.

When they reached her car, Sophie turned to Dan, expecting him to want to kiss her, like her other dates would have. Instead, he took her by the hips and turned her round to face the rear of the car.

“Bend over and place your hands on the car,” Dan’s voice was so stern and commanding! Sophie squirmed in her strappy heels, legs pressed together tightly, but at the same time, she did exactly as he told her.

“Good girl. My beautiful little subgirl,” Dan spoke more softly, a note of appreciation unlike any Sophie had heard even when other men had said they liked her looks. She looked over her shoulder at him, wanting him to see her gratitude.

“Eyes straight ahead, girl. Head down, arse up!” She responded without hesitation, and Dan continued smoothly, “Good girl!”

His fingers touched Sophie’s thighs, slid up to find the hem of her dress. She shivered, anticipating the next step. His hands eased her dress up, towards her hips, and beyond.

“I think I’m about to find out why you were blushing,” Dan said, “Am I right?”

Sophis nodded, her voice a breathy gasp, “Yes, Sir.” Her cheeks burned so fiercely she almost expected to see their glow reflected in the shiny metal of her vehicle.

She shivered as he bunched her dress around her waist, and hooked his fingers in the top of her panties. “What are you going to do?”

He didn’t answer straight away. He just pulled her panties down around her thighs, leaving her bottom bare and exposed. Sophie whimpered, her fingers curling and pressing harder against the car.

“Please, Sir. What are you going to do?”

“That’s better. I’m going to beat your arse, and you’re going to like it. But first…” He put his fingers to Sophie’s naked cunt, and she felt at once pleased and ashamed that she had taken the time to shave before coming out to see him. But most of all, her heart skipped a beat when she realised he was feeling for how wet she was. That he really had discovered the reason for her red cheeks.

“Ah. I see. Well I think that makes you something of a dirty little subgirl, who deserves to be spanked, don’t you?”

Sophie nodded, helplessly. She felt incredibly dirty with her arse exposed and letting him touch her this way, in a public place, where anyone could see – never mind that no one was there now, and unlikely to be for hours. And she felt dirtier that she was getting even more turned on by the thought. It was so far from anything she’d ever done before.

Dan’s hand squeezed and fondled her buttocks, each in turn, making her squirm each time. All she got was a stern instruction to stay still. She bit her lower lip and tried to keep her body from betraying her. She wanted to look round, but more, she wanted to please Dan, to prove that she could be the sort of obedient sub she’d read about in the stories that had led her to finding the site where she’d started talking to Dan.

So she heard rather than saw as Dan undid his belt, slipped it from his trousers, folded it over. He rested the long strip of leather across the peak of her behind, brushed it in a slow caress side to side and up and down her buttocks. Sophie closed her eyes, tense, her fingers once more trying to burrow into the paintwork.

“Remember to breathe, little subbie,” Dan said. “Nice, slow, deep breaths.” Sophie could see the sense in the command, so she tried to do it, relaxing her body. She almost forgot why she was doing it.

The leather smacked against the fleshiest part of her rump, and she yelped with surprise. The sting bloomed and spread from the initial strike, from a sharp tone to glowing warmth, almost soothing. She reached her left hand back to try to touch and soothe the smarting flesh but Dan caught her wrist and firmly, but gently, forced her hand back to its place on the car.

“You can touch when I’ve finished, sweetie,” he promised.

“Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

She couldn’t make herself relax again, but Sophie focussed on breathing. The second stroke of the belt drew another cry from her lips, and made her hips jerk forwards. Again, the hot glow spread from the intial strike, and she moaned softly. It was strange how such a painful experience could feel so good. But she didn’t have time to reflect on the paradox, because Dan struck with his belt again. It was clear he was growing more confident, satisfied that she was going to take it. She squealed, gasped and yelped in equal measure as Dan laid more strokes across her bare bottom, giving her just enough time, a second or two, to recover from the last before delivering another one. She had no idea how long it lasted, lost count of how many she’d taken. She only knew that her whole backside was ablaze, stinging and throbbing in a way that felt better and more painful than she’d ever imagined. And her cunt agreed, tingling and dripping as her arousal grew.

At last, Dan relented. Her knees slumped against the rear bumper, her elbows on the metalwork. She gasped for breath. Eventually, words formed in her throat.

“Thank you, Sir!” she breathed.

She felt his hands on her butt, cupping and easing her cheek apart.

“You’re welcome, subgirl.”

She heard a zipper unfasten, felt his calves either side of hers, his body heat close behind her. His cockhead against her lower lips.

It took a moment to remember the word.

“Red.”

At once, she felt him step back, heard him fasten his zipper.

“You can move now, Sophie,” he said. She nodded, stood up, pulled her panties up and blushed as she felt them squelch against her sopping pussy. Pulled her dress back down around her thighs. She turned around.

“I’m sorry, Sir. It’s just – I didn’t want my first time to be in a parking lot.”

* * *

PS I feel like it’s worth mentioning that in my mind Dan’s next words are absolutely to praise Sophie for using her safeword, and to reassure her that he’ll take her virginity only when she is comfortable and ready for it. (Regardless of what you may feel about the concept of virginity, to Sophie the character, it means something.) If I get some suitable prompts, I may revisit this pair an see how their relationship unfolds!

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STORY: Transactions For Love

CONTENT NOTE: Mind control, dubious consent, auction, forced(?) orientation change, totalitarian regime and suppression

The following story came from a set of tags that grouped together on a kink site I frequent. The tags formed the prompt “club love auction”.

Transactions For Love

Guema stood straight with her arms over her head as Ferunn finished dressing her. She yearned for him, instead of fastening her dress, to hitch it up around her waist and take her, the way he always did. To spank her, twist her dark hair in his hands, make her hurt and feel like his.

But that was not going to happen. They were going to the Lore CLub, to be welcomed as new members, and the rules were clear about the conditions for entry. But membership provided protections and support for the sort of life and sex they had experimented with – the sort of thing she was now wishing he would do to her before they left.

The Lore operated outside of the usual oversight of the Five Worlds Commonwealth because it had on its side the twin attributes of secrecy, and influence. Enough of the most powerful people in the city, and indeed on the planet, had links to the club, that they had freedom within their own grounds that most citizens could not achieve.

Guema reminded herself of this, reminded herself that it was the safest way to enjoy the pleasures she’d discovered in her body through loving, and eventually submitting to, the powerful man whose tender hands now caressed her throat and fastened her small, glittering neck chain.

“Ready, darling?”

“Yes, Sir,” she answered instinctively, but then, “I – I don’t know if I want to go through with this. We’ve got away with being Dom and sub for this long, right? Maybe we won’t get caught?”

He held her wrists. “It’s okay for you. You have the skills and experience to start anew with your life, but my political career would be over for good. I can’t take the risk.”

Guema nodded. “I know. We talked it out and I agreed, and, I have a lot to lose to, but, I’m nervous.”

“Relax. The procedure is really simple and safe, you’ll hardly feel a thing. And then you’ll be safe and can enjoy yourself.”

Guema nodded again. “You’re right. I’m sorry, Sir.”

Ferunn leaned his chin on her shoulder and whispered in her ear, “I just wish I had time to punish you properly.” Guema squirmed and rubbed her thighs together, suddenly uncomfortably moist between her legs.

* * *

They were greeted at the Lore Club by a woman in a tight evening dress.

“Hi, I’m Casselie. Which of you two delightful people will be up for auction tonight?”

Guema felt Ferunn’s hand on her butt gently push her forwards, and she raised her hand awkwardly. “I am, Ma’am.”

Casselie laughed, a sound so beautiful Guema knew she must have had her vocal chords and accent adjusted. Expensive procedures, so maybe Casselie had a job in the media to make it worthwhile. Or had a rich boyfriend in the club who paid for a vocie he found most pleasing.

“No need for Sir or Ma’am for anyone except – well, you know, of course. Follow me this way, sweetheart.” She turned to Ferunn, “Please find a seat and wait for the evening’s events to begin.”

Guema followed Casselie through a side door and down a corridor to a padded room with a posable medical chair and what looked like a VR headset. Casselie patted the seat and Guema didn’t wait to be told to position herself on it. The headset lowered over her eyes and shut off all sight and sound. She had the sensation of a rapid flickering of experiences and sights, and a second later the headset lifted away again.

Casselie helped her out of the seat. “All done. We just had to check that you qualify. We do have applicants for membership who try to trick us and evade the requirements. But your application checks against the scan, so we are very glad to allow you into the auction.”

“Oh, I had no idea. Well, I, um, I guess there’s nothing left to do until it’s my turn?”

* * *

The turns were picked by a quantum-powered randomiser. Guema’s heart gave a little lurch when her name appeared top of the list, ahead of two women, one man, and one person listed as non-binary. A listing that in the Commonwealth at large could lead to dreadful consequences, but apparently the club was a safe space for all manner of identities, not just the interests shared by Guema and Ferunn.

Casselie led her to a waiting room, with a large “1” on the door. A display screen showed her camera angles of the club’s auditorium and she picked out Ferunn’s face in the crowd. He seemed as nervous as she felt. Casselie seemed to be the MC and before long, she announced the auction of new members. Following that, it seemed, there would be the “existing members trade”, before the club opened up for “the usual festivities”.

And then, the auction began.

A different woman escorted Guema to the stage door. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it once it’s over,” she said, and patted Guema’s butt just as Casselie announced her as the first lot of the auction. With her heart in her throat, Guema stepped through the door and onto the brightly lit stage, into Casselie’s arms.

Casselie held her wrists just as Ferunn had held them, standing behind Guema’s back, guiding her to the centre of the stage, presenting her for the members watching from tables and alcoves scattered through the room. Guema could barely see them beyond the footlights. Casselie whispered in her ear.

“Just stand here for a bit while I get things moving. Show off your curves.” Another gentle pat on her butt, and Guema found herself alone as Casselie took her gavel.

“Beloved members! This delightful new submissive is our first lot for the night, and possibly the best of the bunch (although I expect I’ll say that about all of them). Every cubic centimetre can be yours if you make the highest offer, so bid early, bid often, and bid as much as you dare. Let the bidding commence!”

The initial calls came at a dizzying rate, but once the bids reached 45,000CR they slowed down. Casselie walked back to join Guema, and she felt the auctioneer’s hands releasing the contacts on her dress. She gave a little whimper, but given the nature of the club, she supposed it was fair that she should be shown naked for the buyers to see what their credits bought them. She helped Casselie peel the dress from her body and stood awkwardly, conscious of everyone’s eyes on her body, her hands twitching with the desire to cover up fighting the expectation that she should be displayed.

“Isn’t she cute, and shy? Doesn’t that make you want to have her for your very own?” Casselie called to the audience, and the bids started up again, there were only 5 or 6 voices, and they gradually dropped out. Guema realised there was at least one woman among them.

“What do I do if a girl wins? I’m not gay, I just don’t do that stuff,” Guema whispered to Casselie.

Casselie caressed Guema’s butt, a contact now associated in her mind with reassurance: “You will, though. Because you’ll love her.” Casselie’s whisper seemed equal parts comforting and threatening.

“But I don’t want to.” Guema protested, but it was too late: there was only one bidder left: the woman had, indeed, won.

“Congratulations to the Exalted Lady Havynia! You’ve bought this delightful young lady’s heart for the incredible price of 134 thousand credits, which will go a long way to keeping this club a safe place for us all. Thank you so much!” Casselie gushed from the stage, holding Guema’s hips.

Casselie looked across to the side of the stage for confirmation that the credits had been transferred appropriately. With a nod from the club treasurer, she took Guema’s wrists and guided her to the curtained-off area at the back of the stage. The curtain rose and a similar arrangement to the one in the medical room came into view, but the VR headset was replaced by a skullcap and dataport socket. These things were only supposed to exist in Federal Commonwealth Correction facilities, to treat the criminally deviant. It was a Mind Adjuster.

“No, please – I thought, I mean, I didn’t realise…” Guema pleaded. Then she realised the chair had restraints attached. Casselie forced her forwards, pushed her onto the seat, strapped her wrists in place.

“Did you think the Love Auction was just a game, that you’d be playing a part for your buyer? No, we need to make sure. But once it’s over, you won’t mind at all.”

“Sir! Ferunn! Please, make them stop!” Guema cried out, but the bright lights blinded her and she heard no response. Casselie fitted the skullcap over Guema’s head and plugged the dataport cable from the machine into Guema’s neck.

“Ferunn! I love you!” Guema wailed. This time she heard a voice – unmistakably his – call back, “Not for long, darling!”

Her dataport tingled. She tried to cling on to the passionate desire and fondness for Ferunn that had made her agree to their membership, the special tone in his voice that always brought her back for more. But it became harder and harder to remember what it was she liked about these things, as each one seemed to fade into a past memory rather than a present emotion. Sparks seemed to crackle in her scalp and while she could remember loving him, and the memories were tinged with fondness, she just couldn’t muster an special sense towards him any longer. It seemed absurd to try. New feelings, there was a woman, whose face and voice seemed just perfect, someone whom she knew wanted her, because she had bid a lot of money to be loved by her. A woman she would do anything to please.

And there was that woman, Havynia, whom she’d never seen before this moment and yet knew she loved more deeply than anyone she’d ever known, releasing her from the medical chair, holding her closely, soothing her. Guema wrpaped her arms around her. “I love you, Havynia! Thank youf or being here for me.” She wondered why those last words brought a strange sob from a single voice in the audience.

“I know, sweetie. But remember, it’s ‘Mistress’ or ‘My Lady’ when we’re in the club. Come with me, and let’s let them carry on.” Havynia squeezed Guema’s buttock and Guema hurried to apologise. The Lady pulled a black leather collar from somewhere and fastened it round Guema’s neck, attached a short chain, and led Guema from the stage. She only paused to gather up the dress Guema had been wearing.

Her new Mistress had Guema kneel beside her table while they watched the next member auctioned off. This was a Dominant man who had joined as a solo. His chiselled physique drew several bids from submissives of all genders in the crowd. But the Exalted Lady Havynia had what she wanted.

Guema turned her face upwards at a gesture from Havynia.

“Do you like licking cunt, sweetie?” the Exalted Lady asked.

Guema grimaced slightly. “No, Mistress.”

“Never mind. I’ll love making you do it anyway. And you will, won’t you?”

“Yes, Mistress. Because I love you.”

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2019 General Election initial reactions

Like many of my friends on the Left, whether they are Labour members, supporters or who just vote Labour because there isn’t another leftish option at the moment, I greeted the announcement of the exit polls result last night with utter horror.

I stayed up to find out the fate of my local election (stunned to see the support for my candidate had evaporated to be overtaken by the LibDems – although it did match the YouGov MRP prediction) and the Cambridge election (well done Cambridge and congratulations to Daniel Zeichner for managing to hold on amidst the disaster).

I saw Jeremy Corbyn win his own seat with a big majority, and I saw his speech conceding that he would not lead the Labour Party into the next general election.

And I saw the different analyses of what went wrong.

The “party line” from the Corbyn wing, both in the leadership and the Momentum pressure group within the Labour Party, is that the Left failed to move the agenda away from the single issue of Brexit and that people just went with the Conservative slogan of “Get Brexit Done” instead of considering other policies and instead of choosing a nuanced approach. Many on the Left will be inclined also to blame the national media, who chose to portray any hint of nuance as “confusing” and “unclear”, and who were gleeful in reporting the Right’s perpetual demonisation of Corbyn himself.

The right wing of the Labour Party is proclaiming that it proves “Corbynism” is just a wrong-headed approach. Their answer is to surrender and return the Labour Party to the centre-right ground it occupied under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The racist wing of the Labour Party (by which I mean, the hardline Leave faction) obviously chose to compare the 2017 result and manifesto with the 2019 one and declare that the main difference was “respect the referendum” versus “2nd referendum”.

I am very much on the Left. I am in the Labour Party only because there is no realistic chance of a full-on socialist revolution for the time being, and until we get one, we still have to work to help the people who are suffering now. The “parliamentary road” will never actually get to the total reorganisation of society that I want to see, but it can do a lot to prepare, and it can do a lot to help the least well off.

The first claim made by the Right that I want to address is one that I believe Alistair Campbell made, which is that it is “ludicrous” to continue believing that an agenda “so far to the left of the general population” can possibly win.

There’s two assumptions there: the first is that the policies were unpopular, and that Blairism remains an easy sell; and the second is that winning is the most important thing.

But it is far from clear that the general population still holds the same kinds of values as in the Blair years. The Blairites managed to hold Ed Miliband away from an anti-austerity message in 2015 and it was a defeat. Gordon Brown (the economic intellect of Blairism, in the same way as John McDonnell is Corbyn’s partner in their project) lost in 2010. As McDonnell said when asked to react to the exit poll, the polls all showed the individual leftwing policies offered by the Labour 2019 manifesto were popular and enjoyed support.

What is clear, however, is that these policies were far to the left of the media’s position. While the population may have changed, the people reporting on politics are largely of the same economic class, with the same concerns, and come from either a centre-right or a rightwing background. I watched for four years as entirely unearned hatred spewed forth, and there is a strong feeling that anyone espousing leftwing policies would have met with similar abuse from these angles. Even the less rightwing press had become deeply invested in the Blairist project. There was a concerted campaign, starting before Corbyn was even elected leader, to obscure the reality of what he believes in and to ridicule the idea of a move to the Left. The media sought to create the reality they wanted by pretending it already existed, or by presenting a false “both sides” narrative. As many of my friends took to quoting, “if one person says it’s raining, and another says it isn’t – the journalist’s job is to stick their head outside and find out for themselves!” (I’ve paraphrased from memory here, but that’s the gist of it.)

The other key point is that we are at a point where we need to look at what the country needs and what the planet needs. The centre-right Blairist project ultimately failed Britain, and would certainly be inadequate to the task of rebuilding what has already been torn down by 9 years (soon to be presumably 14 years) or Conservative policies designed to undo all the gains made for human dignity and rights in this country by the Attlee and Wilson governments (and even the early Blair government) – it is not hyperbole to say that the Tories fundamentally want to roll back the political and social situation to something like the 1930s, or even the 19th century. The class of people represented by Boris Johnson, and his fellow Tory cabinet, are the class of people who are trained to believe that they rule as of right; the 20th Century has been a direct challenge to that belief and socialism the most direct challenge of all. (Remember, when the Magna Carta made a similar challenge to the divine right of Kings, the monarchy kept trying to roll that back and eventually we had to behead one to get the point across!)

It will take a serious leftwing agenda to save and restore all the social security systems created by Attlee’s government. The NHS, in particular. (We’ve already lost the presumption of misfortune rather than idleness, that underpinned the support for those out of work.) It will take a hard, state-driven, effort to combat climate change in ways that do not either deliberately or incidentally punish the poorest and most vulnerable. It will take a concerted effort to improve and encourage learning and education in this country, and to open up access to full economic involvement for the more isolated regions.

If such policies are needed – or more accurately, if we believe these are the measures we have to take to put our country and its people back on track – then offering watered-down, inadequate, versions of these cannot be worthwhile. “Winning”, only to do not-enough, is not winning at all. It’s surrender to the right-wing narrative.

Finally, I heard people both on the centre-right and on the racist centre-left (i.e. “Leavers”) claim that working-class people who voted for Brexit had abandoned the Labour Party because the Left had called them too stupid to realise what the effects were, and that Brexit was racist – “or, in a veiled version, said ‘we didn’t get the message across that this would be economically bad for them, and that Brexit is racist’.” (Approximate quote from one comment heard on the election night coverage).

To that, I think we have to hold up our hands. Okay, we can say, they weren’t too dumb to realise all that. But that means that we have to accept that a certain proportion of the population (I refuse to accept that it is really the “working class” we need to talk about here – it’s more general than that) is actually just really fucking racist, and happy to be that way.

If you point out something is racist, and the person doing it says, effectively, “Yeah? So what?” the answer is NOT to become more racist. Racism is a serious problem, both as a drain on an economy, and more importantly, as a denial of human dignity and a degradation of humanity. The hardline “Leave” faction want us to say it is okay to surrender the racism point as long as we get to deal with some of the other issues.

The choice facing the Labour Party is stark and unforgiving. We cannot afford to surrender on social justice, on climate change and our belief in the basic human dignity of everyone. We cannot afford to compromise and agree to be “just half-racist”. We have to combat each and every one of those points. But doing so may mean a long struggle to shift the ground back from the Right.

The Labour Party began in 1904. It took 41 years to form a majority government, and to shift the political agenda away from the 19th Century and the acceptance that there is just a natural order of things where the rich rule and the rest serve and live in squalor. The Tories have been working for 40 years to undo that change and to roll things back to how they used to be.

But they haven’t done it yet. We can and must find ways to reverse the backward drift.

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STORY: The Thirteenth Full Moon

Content Note: Mind control, dubcon, supernatural, historical witch hunt.

Tonight is The Night. This one night of the year, one night every thirteen months – where a month is counted as 28 days, the period from one full moon to the next. For over 300 years, every thirteenth full moon is The Night.

This is the place where they hanged me as a witch, where I have been held ever since as a cold, insubstantial spirit, helpless, devoid of touch or sensation and trapped to witness the aching passage of time around me. The place where there used to be a marker, where there used to be a memory of what was done here to the women who stepped out of line. The memory has faded, replaced by this bright, gaudy era where things that were once considered the stuff of arcane magicks now seem commonplace and mundane. So many clothing styles have come and gone, so many people, so many new ways of doing things.

They built a place on my grave, my gallows. They call it a “Traveller’s Lodge” but they compress the words into a single, shortened version. It is like an inn or tavern, but larger and less joyful. But people still come here, they stay one night and move on, journeying not just this country, but to others far and wide, by means that still seem beyond imagining to me.

And once every thirteen full moons, is The Night.

I yearn through those thirteen months for touch, and sensation, and pleasure. I long to feel a body and breath and heart. And every thirteenth full moon, I can.

Business trips were the worst. Alison hated them with a passion, but her boss, Herbert Barthener, relied on her organisational skills and command of the day-to-day minutiae, and never went on a trip to negotiate a deal without making sure she was there too. Although he insisted they share rooms to save on expenses, he understood boundaries and maintained a professional distance all the time. There had been times when, accidentally, she’d glimpsed him half-naked on these little jaunts, and to be honest, she wouldn’t have minded if he made a move. A few times at home, she had fantasies of it happening, of them somehow misjudging their alcohol intake and somehow they ended up touching, caressing and leading on to more and more intimate embraces. It was safe to dream of, because it would never happen.

He always let her shower first. She could hear him, now, just finishing his own wash. She sat down on the edge of her bed, the bedside lamp the only light remaining. She felt so tired, and so strange. A sudden chill ran up her spine and her body looked different. She couldn’t explain it. It was like a subtle filter had shifted over her eyes. She felt her nose twitch, as if there was some scent she was catching. And she watched in horror as her hands moved, of their own accord, to unbutton her pyjamas.

A body! And, I can smell him so close, a man to share it with. A man to enjoy! This body aches to be touched in the way I ache to be touched, its owner almost a stranger to the pleasures that saw me cursed and murdered. I know she wants it, that is the key that unlocked my power. Already we breathe deeper, I arch her back, lift her chin, we bite our lower lip, oh yes! It feels so good to be back in a body.

“Alison! Are you feeling alright?” Herbert stood in the bathroom doorway in his own pyjamas, dark blue in contrast to Alison’s pale pink. She willed herself to speak but nothing came out. Instead, one hand drifted idly to her nipple and she stared at her own fingers circling the soft teat, aware of the slight shiver of excitement the touch added to the fear racing through her mind.

“Well, okay, Alison. I guess we all have a need from time to time. Just try to be quiet, okay?” Herbert pulled back the duvet and started climbing into bed.

He wants me, I can smell it. His cock is twitching. I can hear it. He needs me, he wants this body. I can taste his thoughts, the countless times he’s denied himself because he told himself it was wrong. This is so delicious: spicy, sugary, temptation. I make my body moan softly – a natural reaction, i can feel it inside her too, but it’s my reaction now. All mine. Oh, I do it quietly. I don’t want him annoyed at her. But I know he hears. I know he can feel his cock stiffening for me. I guide these fingers downwards, sliding them under the strange pantaloons my host wears, down towards the pudenda. The source of my hungers and my woes.

Alison didn’t understand what was happening, was too stunned even to resist. And it felt good, so she just watched as fingers that were hers but not hers slid under her pyjama bottoms and started to stroke her labia. She felt her face flush hot and red as this mysterious self-violation produced arousal and her fingers touched wetness glistening around her opening. She heard Herbert’s breathing slow and deepen as he settled onto his bed. In a daze, she stood up and tucked her thumbs in her pyjama waistband. In a move she had never done before, and barely even dreamed of, she bent at the waist, slowly folding her head towards the floor and dragging the pyjamas down the backs of her thighs, down her calves, displaying her bottom to her employer. It seemed like a dream as she stepped out of the pyjamas and turned to slide back the covers on Herbert’s bed to reveal to her horror a cock standing proudly to attention.

“Alison! What are you doing?” Herbert gasped.

She straddled his hips, her right hand spreading her cuntlips and her mind shocked to feel her nipples hard and jutting. She felt like some lewd caricature of herself.

In a voice she’d never used, lascivious and greedy, her throat flexed and her mouth opened, her tongue and lips formed words that were not her own. “I know you want this. I want it too. Don’t resist.” her hand moved from her cunt to his cock, her fingers curling around it. It was so long since she’d had a boyfriend, she’d forgotten how hot and fleshy and textured they were to touch. She didn’t want any of this, and yet the fascination aroused her, and she knew it was her own reaction, not the force that had taken her over. She was turned on by touching, by stroking, Herbert’s cock.

“We mustn’t, it’s inappropriate -“ Herbert’s breath caught as Alison’s thumb stroked the underside of his cock.

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” the same lewd voice promised from Alison’s vocal cords.

She yearned for Herbert to stop this, to refuse, to push her away, to do anything to prove that he didn’t agree. But he just lay there, staring up at her, drinking in the curves of her bosom with no attempt to disguise his lust. Had he really fantasised about her like this every time they went away? Were such thoughts racing through his mind whenever he saw her in the office or when they went away? The notion appalled Alison, even as she remembered she had entertained such thoughts about him from time to time.She watched from inside herself as her hands rested on the pillow either side of Herbert’s head, her boobs swinging temptingly above him. She felt her cunt slide down to engulf his cock and she moaned – yes, that was her own voice, not the imposter in her body – as she felt it fill her up. It was so long since she’d fucked, she’d almost forgotten how good it felt to have a living, pulsing, hot thing inside her, not her smooth, trembly vibrator.

But, for it to happen like this, with her body controlled by something else – it was horrible and yet – and yet, she could feel it all, feel the arousal, the desire, stirring in her own bosom.

Oh, the delight! The need! The ecstasy! My one night of carnal pleasure in a year of barren, unanswered desire. I want it all, I want it now, but I have to wring every ounce of bliss from the night that I can, I cannot give in to the desire to hump like a bitch in heat – not yet, anyway. So I ride him, slowly, savouring every infinitesimal moment, every sensation I can draw from the time. I will take him slowly this first time. I have the whole night and I have her whole body, and his. I will make him rise again and again for me to enjoy in every way I can. What care I for their professional lives? This is my one night, The Night, and I will take it as mine, using these two as only I know how.

Because the curse is not the denial. The curse placed on me that binds me to this lace, and this night, is not to be devoid of form and unable to take pleasure. It is the continual renewal and reminder. It is this one night. Each time I promise I will not indulge and each time my need, my desire, my torment is too great and I seize the chance and condemn myself to another thirteen months of burning and futile lust, at the end of which, I make another person fall from their own morals.

The Devil came to me, as I hung from the gallows tree, and like a fool, I took His bargain.

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