The Connection
by Bud Sparhawk and Ramona Wheeler

I nervously walked the dawn. I'd been without my connection for fifty-eight hours, but it felt like fifty-eight years of colorless, emotionless need.

Fifty-eight hours, going on fifty-nine; damn it, damn it, damn it! My need for connection was so intense that it overrode companionship, food, warmth, and even sex. My connection. All that mattered.

Fifty-nine hours. I clenched my fists. I walked faster, trying to suppress the screaming need, but failing miserably. All I wanted was that connection.

People were counting on me. I couldn't face them now. Not when my need was so intense. Just to be connected for an hour, an hour of pleasure, an hour of delicious sensuality and I could once again be a loving, thoughtful mother.

But not now, not while my implant throbbed relentlessly; obsessed, unbending, remorseless, and crying for connection.

At sixty-two hours I was sitting in my chair, plug in hand. My insides quivered with anticipation. My nerves tingled. An hour, just an hour more.

Somewhere upstairs the kids were stirring, getting ready for school. I should be with them, not waiting to plug in. I wanted freedom. I lusted for the plug. I hated this. I loved it.

I hadn't always been like this. I'd had a steady job, good income. Then Helene said I'd feel better about my work if I got an implant. 'Just give it a try,' she'd said so innocently. 'You'd be surprised at how good it makes you feel. Company will pay.'

It was a lunchtime operation, hardly an hour to wire my pleasure centers, and the med tech gave me a two-minute connection; a rush beyond imagining! There was no turning back from that.

The next morning I plugged in as soon as I was out of bed. By week's end I was riding the ecstatic waves of my implant. The company's connection held the key to all the pleasure in the universe.

At sixty-two hours, fifty-nine minutes, and twenty-four seconds I stared at the shining tip of the plug as I drew it to my implant. The voices of the kids faded from my consciousness. I had no choice. I hated this. I loved it. I could be strong. I was lying.

I connected. It was almost sexual, this anticipation of pleasure to come, this act of sweet submission.

But there was no rush. No contact. I stifled a scream and frantically checked the clock. I was early, that was all. Thirty more seconds until eight AM. An eternity.

The monitor screen came on. I felt that first tingling surge. I lusted for more, but, at the same time, I knew that by five p.m. Friday I would hate this damned, horrible, wonderful connection.

'Monday morning work downloading, darling,' Helene said deliciously, seductively, tantalizingly. 'Two hundred and thirty-four case-files ready for processing.' Two hundred and thirty-four hits, each providing an orgasmic rush. I started work with a sob of relief.

Connected.

The End

Story Copyright © 2007 by Bud Sparhawk and Ramona Wheeler. All rights reserved.




About the authors


Bud Sparhawk's stories and articles have appeared frequently in ANALOG, Asimov's, and other US magazines as well as anthologies, two more of which will appear later this year. This autumn his first published novel will appear. He has been a three-time finalist (1998, 2002 and 2006) in the SFWA Nebula's Novella category. More (and possibly too much) information may be found at http://sff.net/people/bud_sparhawk.

Ramona Louise Wheeler is best known for her 'Ray and Rokey' science-fiction series published in Analog SF magazine. The Ray and Rokey stories were published in 2003 as a single collection, HAVE STARSHIP, WILL TRAVEL, by Wildside Press. Wildside published the first Ray and Rokey novel, A CHANCE TO REMEMBER, in 2005. Wheeler and Sparhawk began their collaboration at PhilCon, the SF convention in Philadelphia, in 2000. The pair have written several short stories together; 'The Connection' is the first to appear in print.

Wheeler also writes nonfiction work on ancient Egypt and comparative mythology. Her website, WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN, (http://hometown.aol.com/tokapu/) has been a popular resource since 1994, providing her own translations of Egyptian texts, as well as the only horoscope based on the ancient Egyptian calendar. WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN, A MODERN GUIDE TO THE RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY OF ANCIENT EGYPT and its companion volume, MY DAILY HORUS SCOPE are published by Wildside Press. Her books are available at all major online venues.

Her latest fiction projects involve a series of novels set in an alternate history, in which Egypt, rather than Rome, became the primary influence on Western civilization. She lives in Massachusetts with the requisite number of cats, and has been married since 1971.