Peter and Eun walked into the gym. Students were chatting and laughing, shimmying to the music and drinking punch.
Peter zeroed in on Holly, currently surrounded by a circle of sycophants. Her lips and eyes were working with her hands, accentuating her speech with kinesic perfection. In her left hand, she was clutching a glitter-crusted cup.
Bingo. Peter stared intently at the cup. He needed to keep in view so he could—
“Peter!” Eun tugged his sleeve, pointing at the middle of the gym. Someone had attracted a crowd.
“What are you—” He suddenly straightened. “Is that Kayne West?”
“It’s a hologram.”
“A hologram? But—”
She nodded at it. “Look closer. Under his left eye.”
Peter looked. There was something on his cheek…Letters, he realized. Letters that rose off his skin and hovered in the air.
“I pulled up in the Benz, they all got up in;
We all went to the Den and then I had to pay;
If you fucking with this girl then you betta be paid;
As Kanye rapped, rainbow light rippled across the letters, bringing each one into sharp relief: MADE BY ANOS.
Fucking ANOS. Peter gritted his teeth.
“Peter look!” Eun pointed again. “Now he’s Taylor Swift!!”
“It’s an illusion,” Peter muttered. “Atherton’s students, entranced by a fictitious lightshow. Big surprise. This isn’t art, Eun, this is—”
She sighed in disgust. “It’s not like we see these every day. Can’t you just appreciate it for what it—”
“You’re wrong,” he snapped. “We see these all the time. Life is a hologram, Eun.”
She dismissed him with a wave and turned back to Taylor, now morphing into the rapper Drake.
Peter clapped her on the shoulder. “Be right back. Don’t drink the punch.”
She didn’t respond; she was bobbing to the music and studying the hologram. Peter took it as tacit acknowledgement.
He didn’t realize she hadn’t heard him.
Peter approached the punch table, eyes darting from side to side. When he was standing directly over a bowl, he threw a soluble tablet into its surface. He’d just spiked it with a customized version of LSD. It was known on the streets as “Double O Negative.” The name was a reference to the blood type’s donative properties; it meant that Peter’s shit would work on anybody. It didn’t matter who you were or how much you weighed; you took double O neg and you would see straight into the center of God’s asshole.
Peter reached into his pocket, grasped the Fuckrising, and started heading towards Holly. She was splaying her fingers against her cleavage, nodding her head in spirited agreement. Peter stopped in his tracks as his raging hormones took momentary control of his brain and dick. He gaped at the love of his life in rabid lust and ador—
No. His eyes steeled. You know what she is. You know what she’s done. He kept walking. This was too important to let his—
—dick get in the way. Holly was like Sarah Palin, only smart and capable. If he didn’t pull this off, ash and fire would coat the world. There would be no escape from—
“Peter fucking Lee!” Blake Turner swooped in front of him, blocking the way forward. “I see you’ve wiped the snot off your face—congratulations, booger-bitch!”
Peter glared. “Your insults suck, Blake.”
Crossed arms. “Well pardon me all to fuck. What’re you—some kind of late-night comic? Let’s hear what you’ve got, cunt-hair.”
A dark chuckle ran through Peter. “I’m gonna rip your small intestine out from your mouth, your large intestine out from your ass, and use you as a jumprope. Glory in your college years, Blake, because afterwards, you’ll wither away in a suburban Mordor. Ungrateful brats, a hidden oxy addiction, a milfy wife who cheats on you with her big-dicked tennis trainer…your predictable-as-fuck life is about to peak.”
A few yards away, Stevie Winthrop—one of Blake’s friends—roared with laughter. Blake turned and glared. Stevie cut his laughter short by coughing into his fist.
He turned back to Peter. “You think you’re real smart, don’t you Lee?”
Peter snickered. “You’ve just given me so many openings that—”
He bowed up, pressing his pecs against Peter’s. “The fuck you gonna do, huh? You wanna start something? Huh?” He shoved Peter in the chest, causing him to stumble backward.
Peter raised his hands, palms out, a gesture that said, I don’t want to fight. He was grasping the Fuckrising between his fingers, but no one noticed. “Look, man: I have business with Holly so—”
Blake snorted. “Business with Holly?” He looked over his shoulder and yelled, “Guys! Peter Fucking Lee has business with—”
And then he swung. Peter knew it was coming; the move was straight out of Street Fighting 101. He ducked the cross and stepped in, catching Blake in a head-and-arm choke. He followed up with a sweep, whipping his hips to add extra torque. Blake hit the ground with a pained, “WHOOF!”
Peter skipped over him to get to Holly, but Blake shot a hand out, grabbing him by the ankle. Blake, beast-ass wrestler that he was, scrambled up and went for the pin. Peter employed his jiu-jitsu (due to long hours of training with Reptar, he was the equivalent of a Rickson Gracie black belt), and pulled guard. One scissor sweep later, Peter had mounted Blake and was sitting on his chest.
“FUCKER!” Blake threw a hook. It whiffed the air, but knocked the Fuckrising out of Peter’s hand. The glowing green vial arced upward, reflecting holographic light off its small, curved surface.
“No!” Peter reached for it.
“You’re dead, Lee—DEAD!” Blake bridged his hips, bucking Peter off, then squirted to his feet. Peter didn’t care; the Fuckrising was all that mattered. He pushed off the hardwood, chasing desperately after the airborne vial.
Please don’t let it break dear lord in heaven please don’t—
There was a tinkle of glass, a chorus of “Oh my God!”s, and the ear-piercing wail of Holly’s scream.
“What the fuck! What the FUCK!” Holly careened across the dance floor, clutching her eyes with red-tipped nails.
Oh no. An icy ball of dread formed in Peter’s stomach. She was supposed to drink it, not—
“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!” She began swinging at no one in particular, trying to coldcock the son of a bitch who’d thrown shit in her eyes. Students stopped dancing, captivated by her fury. Blake Turner followed suit.
“Peter!” Eun shouted.
He turned around. She was striding toward him, pure murder shining from her eyes. She stopped in front of him and shook a half-empty glass an inch from his nose. “Did you spike the punch, you fucking asshole?”
He looked from the cup to Eun, his gaze widening in dawning horror. “Did you drink it? Shit Eun—I told you not to!”
She raised a fist, and he took a reflexive step back. “I didn’t hear you, jackass! I drank three fucking cups!”
“Oh my god.” He cradled his forehead in his hands. “Okay, don’t freak out. It’s double O negative—you might hallucinate and feel a little weird, but keep in mind that none of it’s real. You’re not gonna—”
“Double O what?”
“LSD.” He flinched back, turtling up and covering his face.
She shook her head, disgusted. “I figured it was something like that. The gym’s been fractalizing.”
“Wait…” He lowered his hands. “How are you even functioning?”
She gave him an exasperated look. “Peter, I’ve been practicing kundalini yoga for over a decade. I’ve seen it all before.”
He stared at her with something akin to reverence. “Eun—you drank enough LSD to visit Middle Earth in a Voltron made of X-wings…and you can still talk? How is that even—”
She shook her head and sighed. “Chongha Peter Lee…get over yourself. ‘Enlightenment is the ultimate disappointment.’ ”
He wrinkled his brow. “What?”
Another sigh. “If everything’s comprised of an all-powerful consciousness that chose to limit itself so it could rediscover its own omnipotence, then ‘enlightenment’ simply means coming back to what you already knew. There’s no surprises, Peter. Not if you know what you’re looking for.” She grinned wryly, and knocked twice on his forehead. “Wake up, you angry little monkey.”
He brushed her hand away. “That’s not—”
He was interrupted by another scream. Holly was pressing a hankie to her face, swearing that whoever had done this would pay with their organs. A cluster of students had crowded around her.
Peter started toward Holly, swearing under his breath. It’s supposed to be orally ingested. Gotta make sure that—
Then she lowered the hankie, her lips spreading wide in a vacant smile.
Peter stopped in his tracks, unsure of what to do. He looked past Holly and spotted Paisley Miller, talking into her cell, pleading with a 911 operator to please hurry.
Holly put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Paisley—I’m fine.”
Paisley looked doubtful. “You sure? They’re sending an ambulance right now.”
Holly’s smile grew by another inch. “I’m fine, Pais.”
Paisley said into her phone, “False alarm—sorry,” and clicked it off.
Peter watched intently, nodding to himself like a B-movie serial killer. That’s just the come-up, bitch. Your personal psychosphere is about to get beaten and shat on.
Holly stretched her arms above her head, yawned, and blinked sleepily. “I’m okay.” She glanced around at her concerned thralls. “Seriously.” Her eyes settled on the far wall, which was bathed in a wash of dance-hall lighting. Her expression twisted in clear distaste.
“I’m gonna get some air.”
Blake Turner, who’d declared on numerous occasions that he’d one day stuff his twelve-inch boner into Holly’s wet snatch, placed a gentle hand on her upper back.
“Hey—you need some company?”
She circled her arm, breaking his hold. “Fuck off, Blake.” She turned away and started walking. “I need to be alone with myselves.”
Her last word rang loud and clear in Peter’s ears.
He couldn’t help but grin.
The Fuckrising cometh…
He expelled a deep, satisfied breath.
And the Fuckrising fucketh.