The light of the sun faded away as my spacecraft plunged into the shadow of the moon. I was terrified for a moment, afraid my neutron reactor might not be enough without the vast energy provided by the sun. No turbo boosters would be available. No beta lasers. No easy escape. But the more I thought of it, the more a strange comfort enveloped my heart.
I told myself: I had always lived in the dark. Always been denied something great and bright and life giving. The dark side of the moon would be no different.
Maybe that was why I took these fool hearted missions. Missions that most members of the Star Corps would have laughed at and said no without hardly a thought. It was voluntary to put my life at risk in this way. Then again, all space travel was a calculated risk. It’s cold and dangerous in the void—and even more so in my heart.
My radio crackled. “Identify yourself.”
“This is Allison Rainbowhair of the Penetrator. I’m on a mission from the Star Corp, I—”
“Ally?” The responder gave me pause. I’d heard someone say my name like that before, but it was years ago on a dark, damp night, kicking legs hanging off a pier upon the Puget Sound.
“Sherry?” I swallowed, feeling my heart flicker. Her name felt wonderful to vocalize. “What are? How did you?”
“There’s no time! I can see your approach vector. Take the Penetrator in hard. We’re waiting for you on Moon Base Gamma.”
“It’s bad, isn’t it?”
A long moment passed, radio crackling with empty static. “It’s always bad when zombies move in.” The line went dead.
I shoved down on the controls and pointed the tip of the Penetrator at the tight hole of the docking bay. Once I was inside, it was clear other Star Corp members had taken on this mission. Half a dozen vehicles were docked within, their weapons and engines cold, power cores running at bare minimum.
I slipped into my skin-tight EVA suit, vacuum fabric tracing the curves of my body, caressing my breasts and hips and legs with gentle pressure. Two years ago, dressing like this would have made me feel embarrassed, self-conscience. I inspected myself in the mirror and marveled, the bend of my backside pristine in the thin, environmental suit.
“Now that’s a butt.” I twisted. “Wish it always looked like that.”
The vacuum fabric flashed to life, spewing pinks and reds from the lighted panels that covered it. My helmet slipped over my head, clicked onto the collar and sealed me in.
I took a rifle from the rack and hit the airlock release.
Among the shadows of the docking bay, black figures slithered and writhed. One wrong move and I would be just like them, a carrier of death, a 22nd century zombie. I sauntered towards them with my rifle lowered, determined to see this mission through.
“Put on a brave face,” I told myself.
Flash. Flash. My plasma rifle sizzled, cutting holes through anything bold enough to come too close.
More of them appeared, trundling about in groups ten or fifteen strong. It seemed that somehow, they had learned to live without oxygen, unlike their ancestors. I fired my rifle again, heading for the airlock into the base. Flash. Flash. They burned and fell smoking, got back up.
“Tougher than I thought,” I groaned, shaking one off my leg. I prayed it had not pierced the suit. “AHH!!!” I shouted, putting the plasma rifle into full auto mode, spraying into the oncoming flood of necrosis.
I tripped over a power connector and fell on the ground. Tentacles wrapped around my face mask. Death was near.
“No!” I heard a scream, and then, I was being drug across the floor. A moment later I was inside the base, a tentacle being peeled away from my helmet’s visor.
“Damn, I hate tentacle zombies,” someone said as my helmet lifted off. “Are you okay? Geez, girl, that was close. They almost made it through the fabric. And, if they had, there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’d be a unicorn, or another one of Cthulhu’s rejects.”
“Not the worst odds I’ve had.” I sat up, tossing back my rainbow hair. It had fallen out of my scrunchie in the fight. “Who are you?”
Before me, a girl in sexy power armor, unhelmeted, head topped with a tumble of luminous, red-hair, grinned down at me. She cocked her hip to the side and gave an arched brow, armor hissing with the movements. “Name’s Shelby Starshine, Corp rank 6. This over here is Clinical Size Clint, Chevonne, and Dave the Gunslinger.”
They too were wearing skin-tight suits just like me. All had beautiful, big butts. Butts so plump I wanted to pick them like peaches.
Dave gave me a rakish grin, toothpick flipping in and out of his mouth. Unlike the rest of the Star Corp members, his suit was shirtless, revealing a range of defined musculature. Calling it an eight pack would have been an understatement. “How ya doin’?” He lifted his belt and let it fall, rocking his hips a tiny bit while making a clicking noise. Clint rolled his eyes at Dave.
“All any of you ever think about is sex,” Chevonne said. “You’ll be the death of us all. That’s why I got married.”
The moon base groaned for a moment, making everyone stare at the ceiling. The zombies were putting too much stress on the structure.
I peered past the Star Corp members. “Who’s the girl watching the hallway in the spandex fairy costume?”
“Oh her? Yeah, that’s Eleesha. And it’s no costume. She’s a fairy.”
Clint raised an eyebrow.
“A space fairy!” I raised my hands to cover my gasp. “But I thought—”
“No, the zombies didn’t get all of us,” Eleesha growled in reply, her rainbow wings and thigh length tutu glittering with anger. “They only got the one’s that mattered the most.” Her head lowered, a tear forming in the corner of her right eye.
“Then ain’t this a good time to be repopulating the fairies?” Dave suggested, spitting out his toothpick. “I’m properly engaged for the job. Let’s make it happen, Tinkerbell.”
“Ugh.” Eleesha scowled and shook her head. It seemed that the angrier she got, the more her rainbow colors glittered.
“Where’s Sherry?” I asked. “She radioed me on the way in.”
“On the other side of the base,” Shelby said, then licked her lips. “I can show you the way if you like.”
I felt my face flush with red. Shelby’s soft lips were glossy and beautiful, begging to be kissed. “Okay.”
“We go together.” Chevonne dusted off her pants and checked her spare ammo. “Main hallway, take a left. She’s in Dr. Olsakovsky’s office.”
“He’s the key to figuring this out,” Eleesha beamed. “Without him and his great knowledge…”
Shelby’s armor hissed and clanked as she repositioned herself. “The queen’ll lick humanity from the face of this solar system.”
I nodded. “Then let’s lick her first.”
The five of us rushed up the main hallway, Shelby in the lead, others behind, me taking up the rear. They fired their weapons into the flickering dark whenever something moved. I found myself getting lost in the undulating swish of their butts, in how their suits clung to them so well. Juicy, round, soft, firm. I had no idea. Why couldn’t we just go into one of these other rooms and see what they felt like? My heart pulsed to the rhythm of their steps. So many butts. All just as beautiful as any work of the Renaissance.
The more I thought about their butts, the more the sound of zombies grew louder. Tentacles were banging on the walls all around us like they were drums. The only path was ahead.
Bolts of plasma sizzled from the end of my rifle, sheering off tentacles as they closed in from the rear. One came within arm’s reach, I cracked it in the face with my weapon’s stock and shoved the barrel down its non-throat, giving it a new hole not to breathe from. Shelby whacked others with her weapon, squishy tentacles doing their best to try and pierce her thick armor. She pushed grenades down their throats and tossed them down a side hall. Black ichor covered her shapely, pneumatic legs as she started crushing the ones that came too close by hand, then stomping on the remains.
“Now that’s what I call having a crush on someone,” Eleesha commented, spewing butterfly rainbows from her fairy weapon.
Clinical Size Clint caught one of the zombies climbing up the ceiling beside me, and it fell dead on the floor.
“Thanks for the assist!”
He nodded. “Anytime, Rainbowhair.”
Our butts pumped harder. My thoughts turned darker.
A tentacle shot out from one of the side doors, clasping Dave around his eight pack. “Pterodactyls and ice-cream!” He fell to the floor, suction cupped arm dragging him away.
Eleesha aimed her fairy weapon, a line of green butterflies showering out the end. They were not as friendly to the target as you would have thought. The tentacle zombie fell dead.
“Aww damn,” Dave felt his stomach, his muscles. They were covered in blood. “I’m done. Please, someone end me now.”
“You might come back as a unicorn,” Shelby said, taking his hand. “There’s a chance!”
“But I might not. I can’t take that risk. Please, you’ve known me the longest.”
She unholstered her sidearm and pressed it against Dave’s head. His perfectly chiseled body slumped to the floor.
Clinical Size Clint began to sob. “The suit would have saved him! But damn did he look sexy shirtless. Why! Oh, why did he want to look so damn sexy!”
“That’s how we should remember him,” Shelby said, putting away her smoking weapon.
“At least they didn’t harm his butt,” I said under my breath.
“Come on! We gotta move fast!” Shelby waved her arm over their heads, steam shooting off her power armor. “Go! Go! Go!”
The remaining four of us dashed to the end of the hall, overhead lights flickering like a bad horror film.
“Sherry! Open up!” Chevonne shouted. “They’re on us.”
But the door didn’t open.
“Come on, please! I don’t want to die out here!” Clinical Size Clint shouted. “Unless there’s a way to up my unicorn chances. I wouldn’t mind being a unicorn. Do I get to keep the same anatomy down below? Please, tell me there’s a way to up my chances.”
“There isn’t,” Eleesha replied. “At least you aren’t a fairy. Our chance of unicornification is zero percent.”
The door ahead cracked open. The zombies were at our heels. I switched my plasma rifle to full auto and sprayed the oncoming flood. They didn’t slow at all, the winding mass of tentacles closed in.
“Come on! Come on!” Shelby said. “Open that door.”
Blessed light poured into the hallway.
“Get in!” Sherry shouted. “While you still can.”
We piled inside the lab but the door wouldn’t shut.
“Damn it. Everything in this place is broken. We should have just nuked it from orbit.”
“It wouldn’t have killed them all,” I said, raising my weapon to point it at the opening. I pulled the trigger three times, bolts of energy slicing zombies in two.
Shelby raised the butt of her weapon, and with the strength of her power armor, crushed a large one pressing itself through the doorway, reducing it to a puddle of gore.
“What do you need?” Eleesha turned to Sherry. “I have fought them before. I have a few tricks up my sleeves.”
“I need time.” Sherry tied her hair into a quick bun. I could see her neck beyond the popped collar, see the tattoo she hid from everyone. “Just a few seconds. All I need are a few seconds.”
“Okay.” Eleesha stepped back out into the fray.
“Don’t be stupid!” I said. “You’ll die!”
She gave us all a wink and blew a kiss, lifting her back leg, wings fluttering. “I was prepared for this, Alliboo. All fairies are ready to give their lives to save another. It’s our code.”
Sherry fumbled with the controls, pulled wires out of the wall. “I just need to reroute the… wait… here…” Butterfly plasma discharged in the hallway. There was a flash of rainbow light, zombies screeching so loud my eardrums wanted to shatter, and then silence.
“Eleesha,” I said, holding out a hand. “Eleesha…”
Sherry tied two wires together and pressed a button. “There we go.”
The door swooshed shut.
“She’ll never be a unicorn,” Clinical Size Clint lamented.
Shelby put a mechanical hand on his shoulder. “But you might.”
This seemed to perk him up.
“Can someone disinfect me?” Shelby shouted. “I’m covered in zombie blood!” A lab assistant came forward with a table high bottle of Purell.
“Can I get a squeeze of that?” I stuck out my hands. As my palms turned cold, 99.99999% of the bacteria being killed, I looked over at Sherry. She was not wearing the same skin-tight EVA suit the rest of us were, but rather, a pipeish pinstriped pant suit. She wore a yellow tie and a pressed white dress shirt, black wedges and a single, white rose pinned to her lapel. Something about this look was quite French, but I couldn’t say how.
“Dr?” Sherry asked. “It’s safe. Go ahead.”
Dr. Olsakovsky was leaned against the wall, arms crossed, lab coat hanging. He took a drag off his hand rolled cigarette, holding the smoke in his mouth for a moment before blowing it out his nose.
“Can I have a puff?” Clinical Size Clint asked.
The doctor obliged, then readjusted his glasses. He was a beautiful specimen of a man in his late thirties, salt and pepper hair close cropped, a bushy mustache resting on his upper lip. The look he gave me implied that he was just as starved for love as the rest of us. Maybe even more so.
The sexual embargo on Earth had made life hard.
“Have you met my staff?” He waved a hand across the room. Sherry stared at me as he made his introductions. “This here is Jonus and Silvia. Toni and Johann. My head biologist and zombie expert, Kim.”
Kim shot past Sherry and extended a hand to me. “We’ve met before!”
“We have?” I wasn’t so sure. I’d have remembered a cute half-pint like her.
“At the academy, I was the one that accidentally puked on you at the second-year party. That, and, well, I was in your astrophysics class.”
I shivered at the recollection. Pickles and Heineken didn’t mix, despite their matching colors. “Two memorable events. You’re looking—um—great.”
“Thanks,” she said, averting her eyes and rubbing her neck with a free hand. “You too, that EVA suit looks great on you, really brings out…”
“Her ass?” Shelby leaned to the side, taking another look. “Damn.”
I wanted to hide my face but tossed my rainbow hair back instead. That should show Sherry how it is. I wasn’t the one who had backed off when we became so close, that was her. How very un-French of her.
Sherry’s expression went hard.
“Okay Okay. We cannot be having much time,” the doctor interrupted. “The queen is here on Moon Base Gamma, this we know. You must stop her, yes? That is the only way to save the human race! If she gets off the Moon Base and back to Earth all will be lost. Doomsday.”
“But where is she?” I asked, stepping forward. “We just came through a gauntlet of groping nasties.”
Shelby chuckled. “And the queen wasn’t with them or she’d have taken Eleesha out first. The queen loves to drink the blood of fairies.”
“Then what do we do to find her?”
“Ahh! That is for the best question of all!” Dr. Olsakovsky finished his cigarette and stubbed it out. “My research has uncovered, that if two people show on another the physical affection, it will draw the queen into the open.”
“So, when two people love each other?” I asked. “Is that what you are saying?”
Shelby took a glance at Clint, then at me. “What are you asking us to do, Doc?”
“I am believing the only way is for us to all make out,” Dr. Olsakovsky said. “As hard as we can! Put our very souls into the kissing.”
I coughed in a closed fist. “If that’s what we have to do. It’s what we have to do.”
Sherry rolled her eyes.
He slowly took off his glasses. “It is. We must work our way around the room, swapping partners till the combination is just right! It is like, what do you call it, square dancing? But with lips!”
Shelby kissed me first, putting a mechanical hand on my butt. The cold of it felt good as it caressed and squeezed, her steel pelvis pressed against my suit. I could taste the strawberry gloss on her lips, breathe the sweet air she was filled with. Her hair smelled of strawberries and conditioner. She eventually let me go with as saddened groan, a grin lingering on her face.
That wasn’t a bad first kiss. I had always thought it would have been someone else standing in this room.
Dr. Olsakovsky was next. He kissed me with less passion than Shelby had, but was no less interesting. The brush of his moustache prickled at my upper lip, making me giggle. Though it was nice to kiss such a strong man, I found myself wishing it was Dave. Hands on his strong lattice of defined abs. But Dave was gone. I squeezed the doctor’s butt and smiled.
“You are good at this. You must have had long hours of practice.”
Only with myself and the back of my hand, I thought.
Kim came next, and though I thought it would be awkward, it wasn’t. She was a comfortable sort, the kind of person you could sit back, have a few drinks with, watch a few movies… Kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss, till you ran out of spit. But sadly, there was no spark in the deep places of my heart. There was no spark with any of them. No stir in the percolator of my soul.
I kissed the lab assistants next, boy boy girl boy girl girl girl. The blond at the end wouldn’t hardly let me go, plunging her tongue too deep for my taste. It kind of made me want to gag.
“I really hope my husband doesn’t mind,” Chevonne said, joining in.
Dr. Olsakovsky responded, “We are doing this for to save the world. To save the world! He will understand, I think.”
Everyone who wasn’t kissing paired up and started making out, but for two.
The sound of smacking lips intensified along with the banging tentacles. Smack smack. Bang bang.
Sherry huffed, arms crossed, not liking what she saw. When it came her turn to kiss me, she spun away and started disassembling her rifle.
“Pass,” Clint said next, waving a hand. He spun to fix eyes on a slender blue eyed boy with a sweep of raven hair standing alone and nervous in the corner. “I see you’re without a partner. We can’t have that.”
They paired up.
“It’s having no effect,” Dr. Olsakovsky said, taking a breath from kissing Chevonne. “The queen is still disinterested.” He whispered, “Your husband is a very lucky man.”
Chevonne pushed him away and scowled. “Gross.”
Tentacles banged harder against the walls.
“They sure sound excited,” Chevonne commented. “A hell of a lot more than me.”
Dr. Olsakovsky checked the sensors. “Still no queen. It’s not working.”
I took a moment to look at the map, how the base was laid out. Through the back doorway there were two paths, one led back to the docking bay. The other led to the fusion core.
Windows in the lab began to shatter, writhing, black arms poking through.
Sherry shot up from where she sat, and clicked her rifle back together. “They’re breaking in. Stop now! Stop! Quit the kissing!”
Everyone followed her orders but for Clint and Johann. They were in their own little world.
“Dr., your plan will never work. You know why, it’s because—”
One of the doors slammed open and tentacles zombies swarmed in. Shelby was on them, bathing the portal in hot plasma. I cocked my weapon and moved in beside Sherry out of instinct. The table in front of us flipped over when the corner met my kicking boot heel. The zombies threw themselves against it.
“There is one other option,” Dr. Olsakovsky shouted over the chaos. “Get to the power core! We must set it to overload. Get to the—agh—” A tentacle shot through his throat. The doctor gurgled as he collapsed to the floor.
“Doctor!” Sherry said.
“No time!” I told her. “Shelby, clear us a path!”
She grinned. “My pleasure.” And thundered into the press of swarming zombies.
“Mother of God, there’s so many! I knew I should have stayed in Rocket City,” Chevonne said. “Let’s see if they like this.” She grabbed a tank of oxygen off the wall and tossed it into the hallway. As it spun into place, she fired at it.
The hallway exploded, black ichor splattering the walls.
“Go! Go! Go!” I shouted, and took Sherry by the hand. She did not resist.
As we were exiting the lab, Clint and Johann, snapped out of their reverie. But it was too late. The tentacle zombies fell onto them, ripping apart their bodies one limb at a time. I couldn’t listen as they died.
Our group made a run for the power core but in the fighting got split up. Sherry and I were alone. We made to turn back and find the others, but the path was closed off by a swarm of zombies.
“This way,” Sherry tugged my hand. Electricity flowed up my arm. It felt good.
We made a sprint and tumbled into the computer room. The door swished shut.
A moment passed and the sound of the zombies abated.
“I can’t believe you!” Sherry shouted in a whisper.
“Believe me how? What are you talking about?”
“That you would… and in front of me!”
I grabbed her lapels and put my nose against hers. “I was doing what I had to.” We paused there, lips nearly touching, moment pregnant with uncertainty. My heart pounded in my chest. I withdrew first, afraid of where this could go.
Love was illegal.
“Where are we?” I asked.
She brushed off her suit and fixed her hair. “The computer core.”
“This is where the real story is, isn’t it? Not just what the government fed us.”
I powered up the main computer.
“Don’t Ally! Please don’t! Let it go. You don’t need to know.”
“But I have to know.” I pushed the big red button marked KNOWLEDGE.
A video scrolled past with an old man sitting in a leather chair. In dry tones, he told the story of why love had been banned on Earth. After the third zombie apocalypse, the result of World War 4, the zombies had adapted, taking this new form. Tentacle form. Unlike the other zombies, who ate brains or flesh, that were drawn by sound or light or blood, these fed on love. They were drawn by love, feasted on it. It was thought that if their queen needed love to survive, that the easiest thing to do was to make it illegal to fall in love.
Humanity would starve the tentacle zombies as they starved themselves.
“That’s why we can’t be in love!” Sherry started to sob. “That’s why they banned touching butts.”
“To keep the tentacle zombies away?”
“It puts them into a frenzy!” She threw up her hands. “Look, all our friends did was share a brief moment of happiness, now they’re all dead! Dead I tell you! Dead! Dead!!!”
I shook her by the shoulders. “Calm down woman!”
“I’m sorry. It’s just too much.”
“If we’re going to survive this we have to stick together.”
“Then what do we do?”
I squeezed my eyes shut. “We have to make for the power core.”
“But the doctor was wrong, even if we blow the place, we have to draw out the queen first.”
I nodded and squeezed her hand, brushed my fingers against her cheek. “We’ll figure it out.”
She put her soft lips on my wrist. The zombies became louder.
“There’s no way out of here,” I commented.
The door swished open, not a zombie in sight. Instead, standing before us, was the bright light of a massive white unicorn, its mane flowing back on imaginary winds. It spoke with magic, “I’ll hold them off.”
“Clinical Size Clint?”
“No more. I have… transcended.” His lyrical voice redoubled.
“Let’s go Ally,” Sherry pulled me by the hand and we took off.
A roar of magic exploded behind us as Clint fought off the horde of zombies. Lasers cascaded from his horn like a gatling, sawing into their ranks.
“He got his wish,” I mumbled. “I hope the rest made it out.”
Sherry squeezed my hand. “Me too.”
We rushed into the control room of the power core, locking the door behind us. There was a finality as the latch clicked shut. We knew that no matter what happened, it would never open again.
Sherry went to the controls and started flicking switches. “It won’t take much to force the reactor critical.”
I watched her work and felt my heart flutter. The zombies started banging on the door, tentacles desperate. They knew something was wrong.
“It’s okay. I was the fool, the one who turned my back on you when we were in Seattle at the academy. I let all this get in the way. I should have told you that day what I still feel.”
“And what is that?”
She took my face in her hands. “That I love you, Allison Rainbowhair.”
And as the tentacle zombies banged against the door to the power core, hungry for human flesh, flesh that had tasted of love and happiness, Sherry and I met lips. Sparks skipped between us in such intensity I had never known. To hell with the law, I wanted nothing more than to be with her for the rest of my life.
The queen rose from her hiding place at the center of the moon, each moment moving a step closer. I felt Sherry’s love envelope me like living fire, the very essence of the sun. In only a moment, the ugly bitch was just outside the core’s window.
“Push the button,” I whispered in Sherry’s ear, lips brushing the lobe.
And in a flash of white light, the moon base, along with the zombie queen, was no more.