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 sycophantic kiss-asses. Her lips and eyes worked in tandem with her hands, accentuating her speech with kinesic perfection. In her left hand, she held a glitter-crusted cup.
Bingo. Peter’s eyes locked onto the cup.
“Peter!” Eun tugged his sleeve, pointing at the middle of the gym. Some douchebag had attracted a crowd of gaping mouth-breathers.
“What are you—” He suddenly straightened. “Is that Kayne West?”
“Nope. It’s a hologram.”
“A hologram? But—”
“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!!”
“A fucking illusion,” Peter muttered. “Atherton’s students, entranced by a fictitious lightshow. Big surprise. This isn’t art, Eun, this is—”
She sighed in disgust. “Peter. It’s not like we see these every day. Can’t you just appreciate it for—”
“You’re wrong,” he snapped. “We see these all the time. Life is a hologram, Eun.”
She responded with a dismissive wave and turned back to Taylor, who was 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 watching the hologram. Peter took it as tacit acknowledgement.
He didn’t realize she hadn’t heard him.
Peter approached the punch table, looking suspiciously from side to side. When he was standing over a bowl, he threw a soluble tablet into its surface. It was a customized derivative of LSD, known on the streets as “Double O Negative.” The name was a reference to the actual blood type’s donative properties, meaning Peter’s shit would work on anyone. It didn’t matter who you were or what you weighed; you took double O neg and you would see straight into the center of God’s asshole.
Peter reached in his pocket, grasped the Fuckrising, and started heading for Holly. She was splaying her fingers against her cleavage, nodding along in spirited agreement. Peter stopped in his tracks—his raging hormones had commandeered his brain and dick—and gaped at the love of his life in lust and ador—
No. His eyes steeled over. You know what she is—what she’s done. He kept walking. This was too important to let his—
—cock 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 his way forward. “I see you’ve wiped the snot off your face! Good job, booger-bitch!”
Peter glared. “Your insults suck, Blake.”
Blake crossed his arms. “Well pardon me all to fuck. What’re you—some kind of late-night comedian? Let’s hear what you’ve got, cunt-hair.”
Peter responded with a dark chuckle. “I’m gonna rip your small intestine out from your mouth, your large intestine out from your ass, then use you as a jumprope. Glory in your college years, Blake, because afterwards, you’re gonna 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.”
Stevie Winthrop—one of Blake’s friends—roared with laughter. Blake turned and glared. Stevie cut his laugh short by coughing into his fist.
Blake turned back to Peter. “You think you’re real smart, don’t you Lee?”
Peter snickered. “You’ve 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 squarely in his 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; they were too busy having a good time, or entangled in the drama of an impeding fistfight. “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 haymaker and stepped in, catching Blake in a head-and-arm choke. He followed 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, beast-ass wrestler that he was scrambled to his feet double-legged Peter, then 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 another haymaker. It whiffed the air, but knocked the Fuckrising out of Peter’s hand. The green-glowing vial arced upward, reflecting holographic light off its curved surface.
“No!” Peter reached for it.
“You’re dead, Lee—DEAD!” Blake bridged his hips, bucking Peter off, then squirted up into a crouch. Peter didn’t care; the Fuckrising was all that mattered. He pushed off the hardwood and sprinted toward 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 at her eyes with red-tipped fingernails.
Oh no. An icy ball of dread formed in Peter’s stomach. She was supposed to drink it, not—
“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!” She swung at no one in particular, trying to coldcock the son of a bitch who’d just thrown shit into her eyes. Students stopped dancing, captivated by her fury. Blake Turner was no exception.
“Peter Lee!” Eun shouted.
He turned around and saw her striding toward him, pure murder shining from her eyes. She stopped a foot away and shook a half-empty glass in front of his nose. “Did you spike the punch, you fucking asshole?”
He looked from the cup to Eun, his gaze widening in horror. “Did you drink it? Shit Eun—I told you not to!”
She raised a fist. He took a reflexive step back. “I didn’t hear you, jackass! I drank three fucking cups!”
“Oh my god.” He cradled his forehead with both hands. “Okay, don’t freak out. It’s double O negative—you might hallucinate a bit, but just 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 well over a decade. I’ve seen all this shit before.” She lifted her arm in an casual, expansive wave.
He stared dumbly at her. “Eun—you just drank enough LSD to visit Middle Earth in a Voltron made of X-wings…and you can still talk? How is that even—”
She sighed and shook her head. “Chongha Peter Lee…get over yourself. ‘Enlightenment is the ultimate disappointment.’ ”
He wrinkled his brow. “What?”
Another sigh. “If everything is 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 to look for.” She grinned wryly, made a fist, 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 to her would pay with their organs. A cluster of students had crowded around her, surrounding her with concerned looks and panicked murmurs.
Peter started toward her, swearing under his breath. It’s supposed to be orally ingested. Gotta make sure that—
Then she lowered the hankie, and her lips spread into a vacant-eyed smile. Peter stopped in his tracks, unsure of what to do. Paisley Miller was standing right behind her, talking into a cell, pleading with a 911 operator to please hurry.
Holly placed a hand atop 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 spoke into her phone: “False alarm—sorry,” then clicked it off.
Peter watched intently, nodding to himself like a B-movie serial killer. That’s just the come-up, bitch. Your personal psycho-sphere 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, coated in a wash of dance-hall lighting. Her expression twisted in distaste.
“I’m gonna step out and get some air.”
Blake Turner, who’d declared on numerous occasions that one of these days, he’d stuff his twelve-inch boner into Holly’s eager snatch, laid 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.