Peter and Eun walked in the gym.
Students were chatting and laughing, shimmying to the music or drinking punch. Holly was standing off to the side, surrounded by a circle of fawning sycophants, holding a glitter-crusted cup in her right hand.
Bingo. Peter zeroed in on the cup.
“Peter!” Eun tugged on his sleeve and pointed at the center of the gym.
“What’re you—” He pulled his arm away, then suddenly straightened. “Is that Kayne West?”
“Nope.” Eun shook her head. “Just a hologram.”
“A hologram? But—”
“Look closer. Under his left eye.”
Peter squinted. There was something on his cheek…letters, he realized. They were hovering in the air an inch above his skin.
“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.
ANOS. Peter ground his teeth, clenched his fists. Evil cockfuckers.
“Peter—look!” Eun pointed again. “He just turned into Taylor Swift!!”
“A goddamn illusion,” Peter muttered. “Atherton’s students, entranced by a fictitious lightshow. Big surprise. This isn’t art, this is—”
Eun sighed. “Peter, 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, Eun. Life is a hologram.”
She waved dismissively 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 reply; she was bobbing to the music and watching the holo. Peter took it as tacit acknowledgement.
He didn’t realize she hadn’t heard him.
Peter skulked to the dance floor refreshment table, looking suspiciously from side to side. When he was standing above the punch bowl, he flicked a soluble tablet onto its surface, spiking it with a customized derivative of LSD, known on the streets as “Double O Negative.” The name referred to the blood type’s donative properties—meaning Peter’s shit would work on anyone and everyone. It didn’t matter how much you’d eaten or what you weighed; you took double O neg and you’d see straight into the center of God’s asshole.
After the tablet bubbled and vanished, Peter expressed a small, satisfied grunt. Time to deal with Holly. He reached in his pocket, grasped the Fuckrising, and headed towards her. She was still chatting with her brainless minions, splaying her fingers against her ample cleavage and nodding along in spirited agreement.
Goddamn, he thought. She looks beautiful.
His raging hormones hijacked his body, halting him in his tracks. He gaped at the love of his life with a mixture of lust and adorati—
No. His expression steeled. You know what she is; you know what she’s done. He forced his legs to keep walking. This was too important to let his—
—dick get in the way. Holly Dent was like Sarah Palin, only smart and capable. If he didn’t thwart her heinous plans, the world would end in ash and fire. There’d be no escape from—
“Peter fucking Lee!” Blake Turner swooped in front of him. “You wiped the snot off your face! Good job, booger-bitch!”
Peter glared. “Your insults suck.” He tried to sidestep around the jock, but Blake shuffled right, cutting him off.
“What’re you—a standup comic? Let’s hear what you’ve got, cunt-hair! Talk some shit!”
Peter replied with a dark chuckle. “I’m gonna rip your small intestine out from your mouth, your large intestine out from your ass, and use you as a jump rope. Glory in your college years, because after you graduate, you’re gonna wither away in a suburban Mordor. Whiny brats, a hidden oxy addiction, and a milfy wife that consistently cheats on you with her big-dicked tennis trainer, all while you rot in a neon-lit office. Your predictable-as-fuck life is about to peak.”
Stevie Winthrop—a seasoned member of Blake’s entourage—roared with laughter. Blake shot him a dirty look. Stevie cut it short by coughing in his fist.
The jock turned back to Peter. “You think you’re real smart, don’t you Lee?”
“You’ve given me so many comebacks that I’m spoiled for—”
Blake ’bowed up, pressing his pecs right against Peter’s. “The fuck you gonna do, huh? You wanna start something? Huh? Huh?” He shoved Peter squarely in the chest, making him stumble a few steps back.
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 all too busy trying to climb the dominance hierarchy. “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 saw it coming; it was straight out of Street Fighting 101. He ducked the haymaker and stepped in, encircling Blake’s neck and catching the jock in a head-and-arm choke. He followed with a sweep, whipping his hips to add extra torque. The jock hit the ground with a pained “WHOOF!”
Peter skipped over him to get at Holly, but Blake—beast-ass wrestler that he was—scrambled to his feet and took Peter down with a lightning-quick double-leg. 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, he’d mounted Blake and was sitting on his chest.
“FUCKER!” Blake threw another haymaker. It missed Peter’s face, but knocked the Fuckrising out of his hand. The green-glowing vial arced upward, reflecting holographic light off its curved surface.
“No!” Peter arched back and tried to grab it.
“You’re dead, Lee—DEAD!” Blake bridged his hips, bucking Peter off, then squirted up into a hunched crouch. Peter didn’t care; the Fuckrising was the only thing that mattered. He pushed off the hardwood and sprinted toward it.
Don’t let it break dear lord don’t let it—
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!” She careened across the floor, clutching at her eyes with glossy red fingernails.
Oh no. Icy dread formed in Peter’s stomach. She was supposed to drink it, not get it in her—
“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!” She swung wildly, trying to coldcock the fucker who’d thrown shit in her eyes. Students stopped and watched, captivated by her fury. Blake Turner was no exception.
“Peter fucking Lee!” Eun shouted. He turned toward her voice.
She marched up to him and shook a half-empty glass in front of his nose. “Did you spike the punch, you fucking asshole?”
His gaze widened. “Shit, Eun—I told you not to drink it!”
She raised a fist. He took a reflexive step back. “I didn’t hear you, jackass! I had three fucking cups!”
“Oh my god.” He cradled his head with both hands. “Okay, don’t freak out. It’s double O negative. You’re gonna hallucinate, but try and remember that none of it’s real.”
“Double O what?”
“LSD.” He flinched back and covered up.
She shook her head, disgusted. “That’s what I thought. The gym’s fractalizing.”
“Wait…” He lowered his hands, puzzled. “How are you even functioning?”
She gave him an exasperated look. “Peter, I’ve practiced kundalini yoga for close to a decade. I’ve seen this before.” She lifted her arm, encompassing the gym with a casual wave.
He stared dumbly at her. “Eun—you’ve drunk enough acid to visit Middle Earth in a Voltron made of X-wings…and you can still talk? How is that even—”
Eun sighed. “Chongha Peter Lee, get over yourself. ‘Enlightenment is the ultimate disappointment.’ ”
He wrinkled his brow. “What?”
Another sigh. “If everything is made of an all-powerful consciousness that voluntarily limited 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 really looking for.” She made a fist and knocked twice on his forehead. “Wake up, you angry little monkey.”
He brushed her hand away. “That’s not—”
Another scream split the air. Holly was pressing a hankie to her face, vowing loudly that whoever had done this would pay with their organs. A cluster of students crowded around her, surrounding her with concerned looks and urgent murmurs.
Peter started forward. It’s supposed to be ingested. Gotta make sure that—
She lowered the hankie. Her lips spread wide in a vacant smile.
Peter halted, unsure of what to do. Paisley Miller was standing beside Holly, talking into a phone, pleading with a 911 operator to please hurry.
Holly put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Pais—I’m fine.”
Paisley looked doubtful. “You sure? They’re sending an ambulance right now.”
Holly’s smile grew a little wider. “I’m fine,” she repeated.
Paisley spoke into her phone, “False alarm. Sorry,” and clicked it off.
Peter watched intently, nodding creepily like a B-movie serial killer. That’s just the come-up. Your personal psycho-sphere is about to get beaten and shat on.
Holly stretched her arms overhead, 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 clear distaste. “I’m going outside. I need some air.”
Blake (who had declared on numerous occasions that he’d stuff his three-foot boner into Holly’s dripping wet snatch) laid a gentle hand on her upper back.
“Want some company?”
She circled her arm, breaking the hold. “Fuck off, Blake.” She walked toward the exit. “I need to be alone with my selves.”
Her last two words rang loud and clear in Peter’s ears: My selves.
Peter grinned. The Fuckrising cometh…
He let out a deep, satisfied breath.
And the Fuckrising fucketh.