Waking up was confusing. One moment she was Chan-X, a boy hustler in the Red Gang; the next moment she was Sandra Chanelle, a lab technician at In-Sekt Corp. Sandra thought of herself as someone who gets stepped on. She had very little self-confidence – at the same time she had intense feelings that tore into her like sharp knives. Sandra found life to be inexplicable and difficult, but she learned to cope and gain some stability in her profession as a bio-computer technician. She helped refine the Inter-Scope, turning it into a practical device for tracking deviant behavior. Sandra mistakenly believed the device would give people more freedom by increasing safety, but the government took control and developed Watchers to spy on everyone. Sandra never received credit for her work. Dr. Stolmock, the department head, always took precedent. She thought he was a rabid chauvinist ever ready to pounce. He was devious with a dangerously high I.Q. Sandra was grateful that she was not Stolmock’s type – he preferred large tits. Sandra was small and mousy. She was never interested in developing her looks, but she always felt an unfulfilled yearning – she wanted love; no, she craved sex, unrelenting and ferocious sex. Sandra also wanted recognition for her contributions – it was a subconscious craving, bubbling like lava just below the surface of her waking life where she was a non-entity in a world of power-hungry madmen.
Sandra’s cravings helped in odd ways. She managed to earn a Master’s Degree in biochemical engineering. She was just shy of her PhD when she had to leave school to help her mother who was afflicted with Ovarian Cancer. There was a cure, but it was reserved for Red City Elitists with money & influence. Sandra’s family scrimped to get by – she managed to go to college because she consistently earned high test-scores – college expenses were paid by the Red City Endowment Fund because she signed a contract to enter Government Service upon leaving school. In-Sekt Corp was owned by the military branch of Government. Sandra was finally wide awake after her session with Chan-X. She still felt the frisson of exhilaration from the experience. Her life was bleak before she became Chan-X. Up to this point in time, she was simply a 43 year-old technician with no friends or lovers who did other people’s bidding, indentured to the Government with no future and no money. Miraculously Sandra was able to amend reality. She took the work she did on refining the Inter-Scope and advanced the technology by inventing a new, revolutionary machine called the Ocular-Nimbus (ON), a dreaming machine that allowed anyone to enter another person’s consciousness – in effect to become another individual.
Chan-X was a skinny teen who was a member of the Red Gang, an incestuous family of throwaways, lost and unwanted souls . There were no leaders. They believed in chaos and the unredemptive qualities of brutality and sexual abandon. Sex was currency. The boys and girls would sell one another to the highest bidders in order to obtain food, shelter, and drugs. They all bore the stigmata of the Red City — they were recognized as meat. Chan-X was clever and pretty. When he wasn’t tweaking or hustling, he spray painted large murals featuring his tag signs on the walls of deserted buildings. Early on he learned to defend himself using trickery as well as weapons. He didn’t like to fight, but he had to survive. He lived for the rush he got from sex when he was hyped-up on “Lush,” a new designer drug.
Sandra Chanelle was no longer … she was inside the device, the ON. She was in the warren where the Red Gang established a make-shift home, underground. The city sent tendrils into the caverns and Watchers were everywhere, but the gang cobbled together some abandoned smart-tech that confused the Watchers. Chan-X helped design the camouflage. The gang felt safe in the underground. Small Led lights illuminated the dark like sparks or star-dust. A few bonfires flared in the recesses … vents bored into the rocks released the smoke and deadly fumes from the industrial waste that collected in small stagnant pools. Chan-X was having sex with another man. A small spark that still registered as Sandra was relieved. She wasn’t ready to have sex with another woman, but any reservations were quickly dissolving as she became Chan-X. His body was taut and hard from living on the streets. His friend was older and tough. He wasn’t handsome, but he was strong … he knew how to use Chan-X and he was always willing to share the Lush, in fact he insisted on it — spreading the Lush — getting the suckers hooked on the Lush; then, making them pay for it. Chan-X didn’t care — he was in ecstasy — having a big man “top” him. His every cell seemed to explode in thunderous applause and streaming magma — that’s when Chan-X realized it couldn’t last, nothing lasts — eventually he’d have to kill this low-life dope pusher and retrieve his own sanity in another world, in another life. Sandra Chanelle snapped back. She was in the lab at In-Sekt Corp. Her ON device was safely in her home, but somehow she had become Chan-X without being ON. (to be continued)