Peter and Eun walked into the gym. Students were chatting and laughing, shimmying to the music and 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’s eyes zeroed in on the cup.
“Peter!” Eun tugged on his sleeve and pointed at the center of the dance floor.
“What’re you—” He suddenly straightened. “Is that Kayne West?”
“Nope.” She 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, the letters rippled with rainbow light, bringing them into sharp relief:
MADE BY ANOS.
ANOS. Peter ground his teeth and clenched his fists. Evil cockfuckers.
“Peter—look!” Eun pointed again. “He just turned into Taylor Swift!”
“It’s a goddamn illusion,” Peter muttered. “Atherton’s students, entranced by a 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 is?”
“You’re wrong,” he snapped. “We see these all the time. Life is a hologram.”
She waved a dismissive hand and turned back to Taylor, who was now morphing into the rapper Drake. Peter clapped her on the shoulder.
“I’ll 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 over to the snacks and refreshments table, looking suspiciously from side to side. Once he was certain no one was watching, he flicked a soluble tablet into the punch.
The tablet was a variant of LSD, known on the streets as “Double O Negative.” It referred to the blood type’s donative properties, meaning Peter’s shit would work on anyone. It didn’t matter what you’d eaten or how much you weighed—you took double O neg and you’d see 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 for the cheerleader. She was still chatting with her brainless minions, splaying her fingers against her cleavage and nodding along in spirited agreement.
Goddamn, he thought. She looks beautiful.
His raging hormones took control, halting Peter dead 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 feet 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 act now and thwart her ascension, 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 but Blake shuffled right, cutting him off.
“What’re you—a late-night comic? Let’s hear what you 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 crippling oxy addiction, and a milfy wife that can’t stop banging her big-dicked tennis trainer. Face it Blake—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 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 climbing the teenage 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 standing head-and-arm choke. He followed up with a cross-leg trip, whipping his hips to add extra torque. Blake 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. Peter employed his jiu-jitsu (due to long hours of training with Reptar, he was almost as good as a Danaher black belt) and pulled guard. One elevator 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 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 and squirting 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 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 staggered sideways, clutching at her eyes with her polished nails.
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 stared at her, 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 an empty cup in front of his nose. “Did you roofie the punch, you fucking asshole?”
His gaze widened. “Shit, Eun—I told you not to drink it!”
She raised a fist, making him take a reflexive step back. “I didn’t hear you, jackass! I had three fucking cups!”
“Oh my god.” He cradled his head in both hands. “Don’t freak out, okay? 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 been fractalizing.”
“Wait…” He lowered his hands. “How are you even functioning?”
She gave him an exasperated look. “Peter, I’ve practiced kundalini yoga for over a decade. I’ve seen all 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 technicolor X-wing…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’ means accepting and embracing what you already knew. There’s no surprises, Peter—not if you know what you’re truly looking for.” She made a fist and knocked 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 had crowded around her, surrounding her with concern and urgent murmurs.
Peter started forward. It needs 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?”
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, 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, 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. “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 snatch) laid a gentle hand on her upper back.
“Want some company?”
She circled her arm, breaking contact. “Fuck off, Blake.” She walked toward the exit. “You douche-bro neander-fuck. 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…
And let out a deep, satisfied breath.
And the Fuckrising fucketh.
Here’s the link to the book on Amazon: Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl