Chapter One: A Dozen Felines
Eric’s alarm wailed away the morning of his fifteenth birthday, waking him up bright and early at 5am.
“New notifications,” he croaked before lifting his head off of his pillow.
“No new notifications Mr. Peterson,” answered a disembodied female voice.
“Crap: Something of extremely poor quality. Also used as slang to describe…”
“Cancel,” said an aggravated Eric as he pulled himself out of bed. He was disappointed that Claire Bonner hadn’t chosen him yet. Still, he was hopeful. She had allowed him to talk to her for the first time yesterday, which was very promising. After all, it had been only six months since he signed the consent form giving him permission to release his number to her, so having a face to face conversation in such a short time was real progress.
He walked into his bathroom and stared at the three medications he’d taken daily since he was reprimanded for his boisterous behavior as a first grader. Every morning he fought this battle to decide whether or not he wanted to choke down these energy-sapping pills. He picked up the first bottle, dumped a capsule in his hand, and gazed at it as he’d done many mornings before.
“Fuck it,” he said putting the pill back in the bottle. “It’s my birthday.”
After he showered and dressed he made his way downstairs where his father was eating breakfast. To his great surprise his older brother was also at the table.
“Richie?!?” Eric exclaimed as he ran to embrace his older brother. “When did you get out?”
“Last night,” Richie replied. “They let me out early for good behavior. How are things at school?”
“They’re alright,” Eric said taking a bite of toast. “Mr. Graves got busted for talking to Miss Anderson in the hallway the other day. They said he was violating some sort of PUS law or something. It was all over the news.”
“PUA,” said Richie correcting his kid brother. “Pickup artist. They probably got him on one of the Street Harassment statutes.”
“Did they fire him?” Eric’s father said joining the conversation.
“No, but they suspended him for a month and I heard they might make him move schools when he comes back.”
“Damn shame,” said Richie. “I liked Mr. Graves. You gotta be careful these days, kiddo. I just got out for virtual rape and if you don’t watch yourself you’ll find yourself in hot water.”
“It was just a picture and she wasn’t even naked,” said Eric. “Besides, she was your girlfriend. It’s not like you hacked her phone or anything. She sent it to you remember?”
“Doesn’t matter, said Richie. “You gotta to remember that all rape laws are subject to interpretation. They always take the woman’s side so you’ve gotta watch your back.”
“Your brother’s right,” said Eric’s father as he slid his tablet across the table in his older brother’s direction.
“What’s this?” said Richie swiping the screen a few times.
“I’m being investigated for ‘insinuating a possible sexual encounter’ with that woman we were in line with at the grocery store the other night,” he answering using air quotes.
“You mean that fat lady buying all that kitty litter with the tattoos on her face?” Eric asked. “Are you serious?”
“I wish I was. I was just making conversation with her to pass the time while waiting in that long line.”
“Rape laws…” said Richie sullenly as he shook his head at the court summons.
Eric finished his breakfast and set off for school with his two best friends, Brian and David. They’re a gay couple and very popular at school on account of their sexuality. This enables them to mingle with the opposite sex much more freely than other males who have come out of the closet as heterosexuals or who haven’t declared yet.
“So Richie’s out, eh?” said David.
“Yeah, finally,” replied Eric.
“No offense, Eric,” said Brian, “but he shouldn’t have had that woman’s picture in his phone. He should have erased it as soon as she sent it. No telling what kind of thoughts were going through his head. He’s lucky he didn’t get charged with telepathic rape or he’d still be in prison.”
Eric stayed silent. He didn’t dare get into a public debate about rape laws lest he be overheard and reported by a bystander. Plus he didn’t want to compromise his only safe communication link with Claire, who was best friends with David. So he kept his opinion to himself and quietly boarded the monorail bound for school.
Chapter Two: Subsidized B.J.s
Other than a few of his other friends wishing him a happy birthday, the school day was otherwise uneventful. There was the usual gossip about male students being suspended for holding hands with female students, or getting a week’s worth of detention for speaking to a girl without her consent. Nothing out of the ordinary at Sheryl Sandberg High.
The day did get a little more interesting when Miss Anderson had to console a hysterical Cameron Brown (whom everyone called “Cam”), who had a dramatic mental breakdown during class. Rumor had it that the cops were at her house the night before because things got violent between her mothers again. Apparently domestic violence was a regular occurrence at the Brown residence and this particular fight started because of accusations of infidelity involving a man which sent one of them over the edge.
“Did either of them go to jail?” Brian asked at lunch.
“Doubt it,” said Eric. “I heard they’re looking for the dude though.”
“Which one cheated?” asked David.
“My money’s on the one with the government titties,” said Eric. “Besides, they don’t arrest women for shit these days anyway. She’s gotta be shooting up a mall with an AK and even then she’ll get off with a slap on the wrist if she says she was heart broken over some guy.”
“Yeah they didn’t even arrest the woman who tased a toll booth guy who wouldn’t let her through without paying,” said David. “She told the cops he was being rude to her and they let her go home.”
“Typical.” said Eric as he took a bite of his sandwich.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Brian. “If he was being rude to her he totally deserved it.”
“Some chick gets her feelings hurt because she couldn’t bat her eye lashes and get a free pass so she tases the poor bastard?!” Eric could feel his adrenaline rising…something he hadn’t felt in quite a while.
“Shhhh…” urged David. “The monitor’s looking over here. Keep your voice down.” David was right. They definitely had the monitor’s attention. All two hundred pounds of him glared in their direction.
“All I’m saying is that it shouldn’t be legal for some butt hurt bitch to tase some random dude and get away with it. Especially if he was just doing his job.”
“What’s gotten into you today?” asked Brian. “You’re acting different. Being all aggressive.”
Eric didn’t respond but it wasn’t because of Brian’s incessant nagging. It was because Claire Bonner had just walked into the cafeteria. He stared at her longingly as she walked by with her eyes glued to her phone. The butterflies in him told him to try and talk to her but just as he stood up to walk over…
“Mr. Peterson!” said the monitor who was walking quickly toward him. “Don’t even think about it!” David pulled him back down in his chair. The monitor retreated to his post but Eric didn’t take his eyes off of Claire.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Brian asked again.
“Don’t worry,” said David. “I’ll see her in Gender Diversity later on. I’ll tell her you said hi.”
“Does Claire look thinner to you?” Brian asked looking over at her table.
“A little,” David answered. “She says she’s down to 180.”
Chapter Three: To Kill A Paramour
“…and that court decision was the genesis of the Paramour Act of 2042,” said Miss Sweeney. “Any questions?”
“Yeah,” blurted out a rotund girl in the front row. “Why didn’t she kill the son of a bitch?” The girls in the class shook with laughter and exchanged high fives with one another. Miss Sweeney smiled and looked to be fighting back giggles herself.
“But why did he end up in jail?” said a male student in the back row. “She cheated first didn’t she?” A hush fell over the classroom immediately. Every wide-eyed, open-mouthed student turned to look at Marvin Owens.
“Marvin!” yelled Miss Sweeney who’s smile had vanished. “You will not talk out of turn in this classroom! You will raise your hand to speak! Do I make myself clear?!”
“Y-Yes ma’am,” Marvin said sheepishly wilting under the scowl of his teacher and his onlooking classmates.
“Do I need to send you to the nurse again? You seem a little brash today.”
“No,” Marvin answered. “I’m sorry.”
“Good. Now to answer your question,” Miss Sweeney continued, “male cheating is now a crime under the Paramour Act.” Marvin slowly raised his hand. Miss Sweeney sighed loudly. “Yes?” she said sweetly in a sarcastic tone.
“I-I understand it’s a crime now,” he stammered. “But…it wasn’t before.”
“Well maybe he should have thought of that before he slept with that skinny little slut,” said another porky female. Once again the girls cheered while Miss Sweeney crossed her arms, tilted her head, and looked at Marvin with her customary duck face claiming victory in the debate.
After a little more one-sided female commentary, Miss Sweeney eventually steered the class into a discussion about the recent protests to give benefits to transgendered males in accordance with the Female Security Tax, which grants free residence, food, birth control, post secondary education, cosmetic surgery, and health care to all female U.S. citizens, enacted by President Hillary Clinton in 2021.
Eric, who stopped paying attention at the onset of the Paramour discussion, was checking his phone every two minutes looking for that precious acceptance notification from Claire. None yet. He decided to text David for an update.
Eric: Have you talked to Claire yet?
David: she said hi
Eric: That’s it?
David: she says shes juggling like 7 other guys right now so it looks like ur in for a long wait sorry dude
Eric sighed in defeat and put away his phone.
Toward the end of class Miss Sweeney gave the class a pop quiz on the amendments to the 75 Rape Laws. He barely finished as the bell rang.
“Remember everybody,” said Miss Sweeney as everyone packed up and began filing out of the classroom. “Your essays on the Vasalgel embargos of the 60’s is due tomorrow.”
Chapter 4: The Cheese Stands Alone
Brian and David stayed after school for Glee Club leaving Eric to ride the monorail home alone. The screen in front of him was tuned to a cooking show called “The Violet Chef” which was hosted by a quad-gendered celebrity chef who was famous for his flowery, violet colored apron. Today he was teaching men how to entertain guests with hors d’oeuvres garnished with purple parsley. Eric touched the screen to turn the channel.
“Senator Paul Pelosi IV and his push to ban heterosexual pornography on all mediums, tonight at six.”
He touched the screen again…
“…the NFL will now recognize Breast Cancer Awareness year round, requiring teams to wear pink uniforms for all home games…”
“…this ‘Roosh’ character probably wasn’t even a real person. He was probably an online fabrication dreamed up by some pathetic….”
…“the 25 year anniversary of the ban on high heels is upon us and to celebrate we’re…”
“…the newly redesigned 2085 Volkswagen Lady Bug will help you get in touch with your feminine…”
…until he finally turned it off. For some reason he didn’t have the tolerance for T.V. today. He checked his phone again. The only notification was a email from his father:
We’re going to be late getting home tonight. I’m still tied up in court over this bullshit with the cat lady and Richie’s still waiting to be put on the International Sex Offender’s list. Anyway, I transferred some Bitcoin into your account for dinner. Male curfew is 7:12pm tonight so you need to be inside before sundown. They’re increasing security in our neighborhood after the cops picked up a man taking a jog after dark the other night. We cannot afford the fine this time so get your ass inside tonight. See you when we get home.
Eric tossed his backpack into his closet, fell onto his bed, and grabbed his gaming controller.
“Open Grand Theft Auto Twenty-Nine,” he ordered.
“Grand Theft Auto Twenty-Nine is temporarily unavailable pending review under Statute…”
“Fuck—cancel,” he said remembering the GTA mysoginy hearings that started last week in the Supreme Court. He tossed his controller on the floor and grabbed his phone to order dinner when it finally happened:
“New notification from Claire Bonner.”
“Read!” he eagerly said jumping to his feet.
“Claire Bonner wishes to inform you that she has not chosen you for potential contact as her queue is full at the moment.”
“Claire Bonner wishes to inform you…”
“Response option disabled at the request of the sender.”
Eric stood still and stared at the wall for a few moments. He let out another dejected sigh, ordered a cheese pizza for dinner, then walked into his bathroom to take his medication.