Peter and Eun walked into the gym, merging with scores of students. People were chatting and laughing, shimmying to music and drinking punch.
Peter zeroed in on Holly, who was currently surrounded by a circle of sycophants. Her lips and eyes worked in tandem with her hands, accentuating her words with kinesic perfection. Clutched between her fingers was a glitter-crusted cup.
Bingo. Peter stared intently at it, resolving to make sure that it didn’t—
“Peter!” Eun tugged on his sleeve, pointing at a figure in the middle of the gym: some dude who’d attracted a crowd, and was eliciting a bunch of oohs and aahs.
“What is it? What are you—” Then he straightened. “Is that Kayne West?”
Eun shook her head. “It’s a hologram.”
“A hologram? But—”
She nodded at it. “Look closer. Under his left eye.”
Peter looked. Sure enough, there was something on his cheek…letters, he realized. Letters that raised off his skin and into 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 lettering, making it clearly visible:
MADE BY ANOS.
Fucking ANOS. Peter bowed his head and gritted his teeth. You’ll pay for your crimes. By all that is holy, I swear that you’ll—
“Peter look!” Eun pointed again. “He just turned into Taylor Swift!!”
“It’s a hologram,” Peter muttered. “Atherton’s students, entranced by an illusory lightshow. Big surprise. This isn’t art, Eun, this is—”
She sighed in disgust. “Peter, it’s not like you see these every day; can’t you just appreciate it for what it—”
“You’re wrong,” he snapped. “You see these all the time. Life is a hologram.”
She dismissed him with a wave of her hand and turned back to Taylor, who was currently in the process of morphing into Drake.
Peter clapped her on the shoulder. “I’ll be back. Don’t drink the punch.”
She kept bobbing with the beat and studying the hologram. Peter took it as tacit acknowledgement.
He didn’t realize she hadn’t heard him.
Peter approached a punch bowl, eyes darting from side to side in suspicious little glances. When was standing over it, he threw a soluble tab into its surface. He did the same with the other two bowls, spiking them with a specialized brand of LSD. It was known on the streets as “Double O Negative.”
“Double O Negative” referenced the actual blood type’s donative properties, implying 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.
After he’d spiked the last bowl, Peter reached in a pocket, grasped the Fuckrising, and started heading towards Holly. She was splaying her fingers against her cleavage, expressing a fake-ass laugh and nodding her head in spirited agreement. Peter stopped in his tracks, gaping at the love of his—
No. His eyes steeled over. 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; he had to do this for Bitefighter. Shit—he had to do this for the world. Holly was like Sarah Palin, only smart and capable. If he didn’t pull this off, then all would end in fire, ash, and—
“Peter fucking Lee!” Blake Turner swooped in front of him, blocking his way forward. “You wiped the snot off your face! Good job, booger-bitch!”
Peter glared. “Your insults suck, Blake.”
Blake crossed his arms. “What are you—some kind of late night comedian? Talk some shit then, booger-bitch!”
A dark chuckle ran through Peter. “I’m gonna rip your small intestine from your mouth, your large intestine from your ass, then use you as a jumprope. Glory in college, Blake, because after that, you’re gonna wither away in a suburban Mordor. Ungrateful brats, a hidden oxy addiction, a milfy wife that cheats on you with a yoked-ass trainer…your predictable-as-fuck life is about to peak.”
A few yards away, one of Blake’s friends—Stevie Winthrop—roared with laughter. Blake turned and glared, and Stevie cut his laugh 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, slamming his pecs against Peter’s. “The fuck you gonna do, huh? You wanna start something? Huh?” He shoved Peter’s chest, making him stumble back.
Peter raised his hands—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 and—”
Blake snorted. “Business with Holly?” He looked over his shoulder and yelled, “Guys! Fucking Peter Lee has business with—”
And then he swung. Peter knew it was coming; it was straight out of Streetfighting 101. He ducked the cross 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 tried skipping over him to get at Holly, but Blake shot a hand out, grabbing Peter’s 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 squarely on his chest.
“FUCKER!” Blake threw a wild 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 out 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 hardwood, chasing desperately after the airborne vial.
Please don’t let it break it’ll take an entire month to cook up another—
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 gym, clutching at 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 get in her ey—
“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!” She began swinging at no one in particular, trying to coldcock the son of a bitch who’d thrown shit in her face. Nearby students stopped dancing, captivated by a Level 7 Ape-Shit Holly Dent. Blake Turner followed suit; he’d lost all interest in Peter Lee.
“Peter!” Eun shouted.
He turned around and saw her striding toward him, pure fury shining from her eyes. She shook a half-empty glass in front of his face. “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 and he took a reflexive step back. “I didn’t hear you, you jackass! I drank two and a half cups!”
“Oh my god,” he murmured. He cradled his forehead in his hands. “Okay, don’t freak out. It’s double O negative—you might see some stuff and feel a little weird, but keep in mind that none of it’s real. You’re not gonna—”
“Double O what?”
“It’s LSD.” He flinched back and covered 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 since I was seven years old. I’ve seen all this 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 we’re comprised of an all-powerful consciousness that chose to limit itself so it could rediscover its omnipotence, then ‘enlightenment’ 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, then 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. Atherton’s teen queen was pressing a hankie to her eyes, swearing that whoever had done this would pay with their organs. A small group of students had crowded around her, and were urgently asking if she was okay.
Peter started toward Holly, swearing vehemently under his breath.
It’s supposed to be orally ingested; gotta make sure that—
Then she lowered the hankie, revealing a vacant smile. Peter stopped in his tracks, unsure of what to do. He looked past her shoulder and saw Paisley Miller was standing behind her, talking into a phone, pleading with a 911 operator to please hurry.
Holly put a hand on Paisley’s shoulder. “It’s okay—I’m fine.”
Paisley threw her a doubtful look. “Are you sure? They’re sending an ambulance right now.”
Holly chuckled, as if she’d just heard something patently ridiculous. “I’m fine, Pais.”
Paisley muttered 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 rose to her feet. She 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, currently bathed in a wash of dance-hall lighting, and her expression twisted in distaste.
“I’m going to get some air.”
Blake Turner, who’d declared to his fellow jocks on numerous occasions that he’d stuff his throbbing boner into Holly’s snatch, placed a gentle hand on her upper back.
“Hey—you need some company?”
She circled her arm, making him let go. “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.