"Everyone knows what happens when you stick a fork into a lit toaster," Annette sneered, rolling turquoise eyes and flipping stringy orange hair to taunt her companion. The gesture went unnoticed.
"Lit? Yeah. Pop, pop, sizzle, and then you fry, and then you die. But I didn't die."
"Sometimes I want to pop you when you talk like that."
They were friends, definitely, bonded by pain. Trauma, emotional turmoil, crippled twins of spirit. Sometimes, though, Annette seriously thought Valerie was a nut case. Or more of one than she was, anyway.
Unfazed, Valerie was lovingly caressing the tongs of a fork and, occasionally, dragging their tips across the soft flesh of her wrist. Her emerald eyes had a way of seeming too bugged under contrasting short-cropped black hair when she was focused -- they were almost creepy. Eventually, she shrugged. "Sex isn't sex, without pain, without death. Without transcendence above it all."
"If you want death, you'll get it at that rate. Electrocute yourself."
"Pegged it, sweetie. I do want death. I want to be fucked to death without sex. What other way is there to go? Life is filth, and we are the unpure. The contaminated."
Sex, in itself, wasn't unclean. Breeding, yes. The world no longer needed that action and humans were far too unpure for procreation. Lust, yes. Pointless copulation, fucking, nothing but bodies thrust together for physical satisfaction. Sweat, semen, lubrication, saliva (and tears, all too often tears). Wasted moisture for non-lofty goals. Sex could perform higher functions, though, it could be transcendence. Or so Valerie had been trying to convince Annette ever since they'd met in a rape trauma group ages ago. She'd been right about endorphins, anyway, and about burning away the shame.
"If you have the pain," Valerie had confidently stated, "you lose the shame. You don't have that element of sex for physical enjoyment only. And with that pain comes the endorphins, the morphine of the mind. The gateway to true release. You should try it sometime."
Annette hadn't wanted to try anything remotely connected to sex. The shame ever burned in her mind, the fear of enjoyment in despicable acts. How could she wittingly take pleasure from something as dirty... something so hateful and cruel... something that could be served only as punishment? Months had passed before she could be coaxed to the point of painful masturbation, and there only as proof that fire can truly burn away shame.
Burning herself was nothing new. Sometimes the mind bled, the mind needed a release for pain. Tears could never leak fast enough, screams could only be smothered by a pillow. At such times it was nothing extraordinary for her to speed up the release by slicing little nicks in her arms. The blood ran freely, pre-coagulation, and she felt some of the emotional pain released. It also worked with burning. Stubbing cigarettes out in her legs, practicing scarification by jamming heated metal rings into her wrists. Of course the latter never really worked, the burn would poof out into a blobular mess rather than the intended pattern. The pain healed her though. It was her own personal version of Jesus.
It was never questioned that Valerie knew about the scars, she had her own batch of them etched across her various limbs. Annette didn't have a habit of bleeding in front of her though. Or at least not until she was asked to.
"Why, do you get a cheap thrill out of watching?"
Valerie smiled sadly. "I don't believe in cheap thrills. Do your thing and I'll do mine. Just trust me, ok?"
Annette shrugged, pulled up her sleeve, and began lightly pressing her cigarette cherry into random patches of skin. The sizzle was the sound of Heaven, the smell that of purified flesh. She was absorbed enough to ignore her friend's brief exit from the room, and the re-entrance. She was absorbed enough to barely notice Valerie putting on her version of mood music: Cosey Fanni Tutti's Time to Tell ("A sexual performance artist, female obviously," she'd been told). She wasn't absorbed enough to ignore it as her skirt was scooted up and her friend's left pointing finger was inserted into her vagina.
"It's cold! It burns!" She shrieked, knowing that didn't bother her so much as the intrusion did. She didn't think she was capable of being physically attracted to anyone. Val? She supposed she admired her physique. Tall, slender, graceful yet tough. It was something to wish for in lieu of her own small and overly stout form. Admiration was one thing, though, she had never looked at Val sexually. She didn't wish to look at anything that way.
"Just keep playing with your cigarette, sweetie."
She tried, but now found herself distracted for different reasons. The flesh of Valerie's finger could have been a frigid icicle, numbingly cold, but it left a trail of fire. Freezing, burning, numbness, pain. She absorbed the feeling, relaxed into it, let go her feelings of degradation. This wasn't sex, this was a friend showing her a new experience. She could feel the bubbling patter in her brain, the chemical reworking, the reputed endorphins, the electricity growing in her body. Eyes closing, body trembling, mind exploding. It was probably (would be definitely, had she the experience to verify it) the first orgasm she'd ever had, and she didn't feel guilty about it. Or not very much so, anyway.
Fire (nothing more extravagant than hot pepper juice. "It soaks into your mucous membranes to make a mild, constant, heat. A feeling of reality against the cold plastic of flesh," Valerie had later explained) had indeed burned away the shame. Still, she couldn't quite get into some of the other habits her friend professed to (and later demonstrated). Tying a scarf around your neck, purple in the face and moaning breathlessly, while masturbating seemed dangerous. Maybe the suffocation could cause brain damage. Hadn't their minds already suffered enough?
And, this time, her needs were granted. The wheels tilted into more of a slant, bringing the lashes down faster. The length of the cables drew in slightly to sharpen their bite. A knob was turned yet more to set the wheels rotating faster. Valerie gasped and briefly bugged her eyes, then seemed to sink down into her restraints with a look of dazed pleasure. Her body spasmed without inhibition upon each new set of lashings. It was enough to content her for a short while -- and then she was, as before, requesting more pain.
Reddere appeared quietly pleased. Annette was feeling queasy. She couldn't help but cringe as the length of the cables was drawn yet shorter, knowing that would bring the wire tips across her friend's back. The only relief was that the turning speed of the wheels was slowed down considerably. She expected to hear a yelp of pain as the first strokes hit, rather she heard a gasp that was... a sound she had only previously heard during the heights of hot pepper juice masturbation. Uninhibited pleasure. It looked like the wire tips were drawing a slight trickle of blood each time they fell.
Rather unexpectedly, Reddere stood up to unfasten his pants and then lower them as he sat back down. Annette mentally slammed from shock to fear to protectiveness. She felt for the boot knife at her ankle and scooted closer to the console. Then she just watched as he began masturbating. The synchronicity was incredible. The lashes slowly fell, both Valerie and Reddere gasping with them. Their expressions became steadily more dazed, nearly enraptured, their breathing ever became more sharp. A steady stream of blood grew and trickled down Valerie's back as Reddere sank further into his chair and manically stroked his partial foreskin, causing a steady stream of pre-ejaculate drops for the communal flow of moisture. Neither of them noticed their horrified spectator as they screamed in unison from the agony of full-bodied orgasm.
Inevitably, Annette panicked. She quickly shut the machine down.
"I'd already told him about my toaster experience and my feelings of transcendence," Valerie was commenting. "I think that was why he wished to try me in the machines. He also has the feel of transcendence and he gets it through metal. You saw how connected we were."
"What I saw was the guy being irresponsible and leaving you in there so he could jack off. I might have saved your ass in more ways than one by shutting it down!"
They couldn't seem to come to an agreement about the experience. It was enlightening, no it was dangerous, that was part of the enlightenment, no that was a risk, risks increase endorphins, and on and on and on.
"You're talking like this prick is a kindred soul when he's just another sleazy man."
"Jealousy, Annette? And where were you before we met? Were you an isolated kindred soul?"
"I wasn't anywhere." And she felt it was true. Before she'd met Valerie she'd felt nothing more than lost, hurt, confused, and isolated. It was partly why she agonized over her friend's extravagantly dangerous habits. Should anything happen to her, should she be taken away, then it would be nothing more than lost isolation again. And jealousy? Maybe. Annette had never come any closer to actually loving someone and she didn't wish to lose the feeling. She didn't want to be left behind, alone, because she didn't have the same goals of transcendence as Val and Reddere seemed to. Don't take her away from me...