Walking through the rainy streets of San Francisco, Jeanna Nolan made her way towards an appointment she had reserved a month in advance. She walked at a slow, determined pace - knowing what she wanted and yet willingly taking just a sweet while longer before reaching it. The rain didn't really matter to her as it ran down her coat and shin-length chigos. Water was an element that came to her naturally. Became her, some might say. It certainly made the genuine cotton garment fit her trim body in a manner which brought the best out of it. A marvel of a lady on the better side of her twentieth year.
A few onlookers whistled at her, probably just for that. Looking over her shoulder and casting a smile that was sweet and icy at the same time, the message "hello boys - already taken" made clear. She didn't have anyone, though, at least no real, breathing lover of flesh and bone. She didn't have to worry for herself either. Although that was a clear wolf-whistle, by a group of bike-riding gangers to boot, she was confident. Her body was in shape with the martial arts training she had been through since her early years. She'd need nothing else to protect herself with, and her confidence and the way with words she had usually settled problems before they even started.
Technology had advanced by a great leap at the start of 22nd century. No true breakthroughs had been made besides medical advances and fusion power, which basically ended the global war to be fought over resources before any actual claims on foreign land had been made by any party. The advances in entertainment had followed rapidly with the niche left by ever increasing personal wealth and welfare throughout the world. To the better part of the society, at least, though some of it bled down onto the other side of the fences which protected the middle and upper class from the Mass.
She had taken up a part-time job to fund her personal interests; this was her hobby and her pastime. Seeking out her dreams. Some of them had actually started out of recurring dreams, like this one, which was clearly her most absorbing challenge. On her way into the nightclub, Mirrorsphere, she bumped into someone she hadn't seen for a while. Her ex-boyfriend. He was nice, but it didn't work out for them - something was always missing, and they broke up nicely after 7 months of an affair, and neither bore hard feelings.
- "Hi." "Hi."
- "Heading for the lady's night out, eh?"
- "Bet I do. It's been a while, Ron. Are you on duty?"
- "Ehh, yeah."
- "Shame. Could've popped by for a few drinks."
- "Maybe sometime later. You haven't been doing anything suspicious with that Rinaldo guy, have you? They've been keeping an eye on what he does for a good while now, upstairs."
- "Mike? He's an angel for all I know, though he spins drinks like the devil himself."
- "Okay, just checking. None of my business, really, but I got to keep an eye on things if I want to keep my job. If you catch my drift."
- "Heh, sure do. Don't worry, mister officer... I'll be safe at home before my bedtime.
She gave her a kind smile as she slipped into the club, while the bouncer gave a glance to the cop. He shot one back in return with a smirk, lighting a cigarette and leaning against the wall, sheltering from that rain under the front of the club. Inside the Mirrorsphere everything was as usual. It was a constant party everytime she came or left the place, and the place had no windows in order to maintain that kind of atmosphere. In the beating of bass, amidst the feverish dancers and neon lights, she made her way toward the counter, taking a stool and patiently waiting for her turn. She usually came here to dance the night or day away, but this time was different. No alcohol, light eating and a good rest beforehand, she had been instructed.
Mike Rinaldo was a barkeeper, and good at it. He was something of an artist, knowing what people wanted even if they couldn't really bring it out into words, and usually taking just a glance to know what kinds of drinks people would order. Sometimes he made a show out of it, entertaining the regulars with this sixth sense he had, bringing out a good laughter everytime he just leant a drink into a patron's hand before they had time to even tell what they were coming for.
She had been one such case, and he had taken time to talk with her at the counter on one less frantic night. He had a flashy smile which was like a cherry on top of his mid-american look, wearing straight black trousers and a shiny club-shirt. They had taken time to discuss what she really might be after when she sought entertainment from places like this, and with a few nights more had come to a conclusion. He had led her a bit, having more to offer than just the fare served at the bar. He could sell dreams.
He had a REMshaper rig at the basement of his club. It was new tech and still under federal supervision to keep it "in control during commercializing", the methods having been perfected a good while ago but the manufacturers' licensing wanting to maximize their profits out of it. Mike had a degree in psychology, and worked with this sort of equipment to gather information for supporting theories. They had used theirs to just record the dreaming process and the subliminal mechanics of the mind. The project had come to a stop just as he graduated, the sponsors lifting their profits out of the deal.
They left the bar together and went into the back room, Mike telling his right-hand Tina to look over the bar while they went about on their business. The basement of the bar was well maintained, not like a basement at all but a private club - and indeed it was one. Mike had put some good time and money into it, and a designer he knew more than personally had done the planning for it. The setup was quite simple, and didn't really need more than just resting somewhere comfortable and attaching a number of small electrode patches onto the subject's forehead.
- "Is everything ready, Mike?"
- "Of course, my darling... I've spent a good while doing studies on your subject of interest. To make it as real as possible. That's what you wanted?"
- "Yes. I want the whole thing to be as close to real as possible without actually going into water and -"
- "But you can, and should go into water. I've had a tub brought here." He smiled. "I even have the salt to go with it. Your very own slice of the pacific."
- "Thank you, Mike. You're a darling, too, but you have someone saying that to you already. I don't really have anyone, and honestly don't even feel like I need someone to say that to me. I'm past nice with those dreams, they just keep on - god. The thing I hate most about them is that they're just shadowy feelings about things I should do, and they vanish a mere moment after I wake up..."
- "Don't worry. This will be something you'll remember for a long time. And I'm not talking about the experience itself; the way it happens is a simulation of a true experience. It'll be like actually living through it, and then remembering it like just as life. - I was a little frightened at times at this, but I know that this is what you want. I did it just for you, every second and every sensation."
- "Muchos gracias, Mike."
She gave his curly hair a kiss, taking a look at the vast amount of material he'd been collecting for this. Videodiscs, books, recordings... It had been quite a job. She'd paid for it in full as an artist should. The thing about REMshaping was that it couldn't be just programmed - if feelings and ideas were to be inserted, they had to be imagined in every vivid detail. It was indeed a work of art.
She stripped herself free of clothing, letting her toes play on the rug of the floor, and then slipped into the briny bath which was so close to human body temperature that it could allow her to stay in the water nearly indefinitely without fear of hypothermia. He helped her lay on the support inside the tub, the scent of saltwater filling her nostrils as he worked the patches accurately onto her forehead. After confirming him that everything was OK, he nodded back to her and started the REMshaping. She drifted off into sleep, feeling like she was sinking underneath the water. Darkness took hold of her vision.
Waves splashed about her as she floated in the sea, seeing the sandy beach of an island not far behind her, and the bright sun brought out the beautiful scene in the bottom of the ocean out into her sight through the crystal clear water. She took a dive, and soon noticed that she could hold her breath indefinitely, even accidentally taking in water which made her expect a sudden gagging fit didn't have an effect. Good thing. Everything else was so live, so real - She'd been freediving earlier and knew what to expect, and this was truly it. If this wasn't real life nothing would be. She also noticed a chain-wrapped armsleeve running from her left wrist up to her shoulder. Excellent, he grinned to herself. Mike had indeed thought of everything.
Back in the basement of the club, Mike heard footsteps from the staircase and the door creaking open.
- "What is it, Tina? If the lemons are out, there's nothing I can do. We're out of them."
- "I'm afraid I'm not here for the lemons."
He suddenly shook up from his chair and looked to the door. The cop. He knew him from earlier, having been an acquaintance of both. This could ruin everything, he thought. They had a brief conversation about what was going on, the illegality of such methods of entertainment without a license, and came to the subject of her dreams. He knew that she had certain obsessions about the challenge her dreams seemed to give her... They made a deal. He could stay around and follow her dream through the videoscreen which was used for monitoring the experience, or bring him over for questioning and have her dreams cut off. He chose the former.
She dived forward under the waves, enjoying the soft currents as she drifted with them. Slowly she removed her swimming suit, enjoying the feel of water as it supported her and caressed her with those soft currents, waiting for the other to make an appearance.
At the same time, she felt a current wash against her back, and looked on in shock and awe at the first time she saw and felt such a creature swim past her. A real shark. The magnificent animal slid past her effortlessly with a flick of its crescent tail, and she brushed her hand against its skin. Sleek, hard and so exciting to feel. The creature had a clear tigerstripe pattern along its grey back, breaking its pattern with darker lines. The overall look of it, the feel of it and the knowledge that this was one of the ocean's apex predators made her so excited. She stood up to the challenge and took hold of its tail as the shark flicked past her.
It was a male, which was soon evident to her by the sight of its claspers in her clear sight. She leaned her way further along the creature, who seemed to care little for her advances, until her searching hands ended on one of the penile fins. The shark arched its back and tried to joust her off of him, trashing about with its tail until it succeeded. One of the wild lashes of the beast slid along her thigh and down between them, slicing between the folds of her treasure and eliciting a loud scream of pain and pleasure from her.
She brought her hand to her lower belly which was so violently and so erotically touched, giving it a tender caress with her fingers, feeling the burn of that lash and the flame which burned even more fiercely inside her... Having little time for it before the male came for another pass. This time it seemed intent on attacking her, but she could flick herself with one agile roll out of its reach and underneath him, holding onto his pectoral fins and bringing herself up against his bellyside.
The shark's skin was sleek in one direction and rough in the other, and the firm grasp of her squeeze and the strong, determined flicks of his body as it swam forward made her breasts pin against that hide. She started rocking herself against him, feeling that burning in her pussy that she couldn't contain anymore. There was something so erotic and overwhelming about this whole experience that it nearly drove her unconscious with the rush she was having. The way her body ground to his, the rasping of his skin against her stomach, breasts and thighs was so wonderful, and the feel of that immensely strong tail flicking between her thighs made her moan out... "Ahh, you big fucking beast, I have caught you now, and you'll either f*** me like you mean it or just chomp at my ribs..."
Those seemed to be the alternatives as she held on for dear life. The shark raced in a broad circle, soon slowing down its pace as she kneaded her hips against him, the scent of a female in heat caught in his immensely keen sense of scent... She could feel its erection brush against her thigh now, one of the claspers swollen and pointed forward with a clear trail of creamy juice running from its tip in the water like a wisp of smoke from a cigar. This was the moment she had been dreaming about, this was the thing she had expected. She leant forward along the body of the shark, taking its snout between her hands and giving a kiss on its pointed nose. Not knowing whether it meant anything to it or not, probably the latter, but giving her expression of gratitude that it had chosen to mate with her. He took hold of her presented arm, grasping onto the armorsleeve with its teeth and rushed forth. The shark's body was arched over her and between her thighs, her free hand reaching to take hold of the tip of his clasper as it raced forward.