“Cloudless Climes and Starry Skies”
by A. C. Quill
In the autumn of Jenna’s life, the opportunity arose for her to live on another planet.
She protested that she was too old.
The company said: you could be younger. They offered to pay for her to be totally rejuvenated.
Jenna had never seriously considered rejuvenation. But now she saw that she could put her lifetime of knowledge into a younger body, and grow that knowledge over another lifetime. That was appealing.
The transformation would be carried out onboard the ship, during the journey to her new home. The company promised Jenna she would hardly notice it had happened.
Jenna woke, and tottered down the metal corridor, towards the sound of chatter. The mess hall of the ship was full of strangers, youngsters. They looked like students, faces smooth and guileless.
A gangly young man greeted her: “Jenna? Is it you?” His voice was higher-pitched, but had the intonations of Professor Harris, the biology specialist.
These were her old colleagues, to whom she would have to put new faces. One by one, they identified themselves. Most were taller than they had been. Several were thin enough to blow away in a strong wind. Jenna squeezed her arms around herself, relieved she’d kept most of her mass. Everyone looked unfinished.
Elaine, Jenna’ closest friend on the team, had swapped her halo of white hair for dark curls. The geologist with fifty year’s experience now looked like a teenage tomboy.
Eyes were lingering on Jenna. She turned away, self-conscious. How raw she must look.
Then she noticed that Professor Harris’ gaze was frankly admiring, which appalled her.
Jenna began to realize that she was reacting very differently from the others.
Jenna retreated to her cabin, to accustom herself to her new-old flesh.
Curves on her flanks, which she remembered as double or triple dips, were single. It took less time to run a hand over her hips, and was less interesting. Breasts had shifted upwards, no longer hanging comfortably but shoving themselves out. Age spots had vanished from the backs of her hands. What else was missing? A long curve of curly hairs were gone from the insides of her thighs.
Jenna found herself crying. Mourning lost pubic hair? Ridiculous.
She took a first look at her own reflection, her eerie firm face.
“This is a turn-up for the books,” she said, and the phrase sounded foolishly arch, coming from that plump young mouth.
She sighed. She had work ahead of her.
It had always required some work to value her flesh, when others didn’t. Treasuring her fat, cherishing her age. One way to love her flesh, she’d found, was to touch herself enthusiastically. Fortunately, she’d brought a bag of toys (a significant proportion of her weight allowance for the trip).
Everything felt a little out of sync, at first. Some favorite spots now made her wriggle uncomfortably, other angles of approach were almost numb. But was that a physical change, or the shock of it all?
Thankfully, with a little nudging, her lust woke up, with delights and demands. From that point on, her basic reactions remained: five minutes of fierce delicious vibration, then a nice long pull with a canny curved tool on her G-spot, and everything lit up. Hot iron filings flowed all round her cunt. Thank goodness, the decades of practice hadn’t been wasted.
Afterwards, as she dressed again, she seemed to recognize more of her body: those were still her big feet and strong calves. She emerged, emboldened, to face the other crew members.
The mess-room was like the Marie Celeste.
Jenna was about to call out her colleagues’ names. Then she heard a moan, from behind cabin doors. Then a giggle, and a rhythmic thumping against a thin mattress. She moved from door to door. Enough cabins were loudly occupied to account for the whole crew.
It seemed that the rest of them had taken very well to their new bodies.
Such a misjudgment! Entanglements would cause problems, once they reached their destination. Jenna stamped off to the kitchen, to grumble and mix herself some cocoa.
“Hello, old thing.” Again, the voice had familiar cadences, but no resonance to it. It was Elaine, the tomboy geologist, with a wry smile. “How’s the orgy going?”
“For goodness’ sake, what happened?”
Elaine waved a hand. “They all sort of paired off – or trio’d off – and went at it.”
“Were they drunk?”
“Nope. Full of the joys of spring.”
It felt obscene to be talking about sex to someone as young as Elaine looked. “I’m glad I wasn’t around.”
“I rather wish you had been,” Elaine said, mournfully. “Not for sex! I mean, to have someone else to talk to…”
Their former camaraderie seemed to have survived their rejuvenation. Jenna leaned against the cupboards. “You weren’t tempted to join in?”
“Oh, no. Even the last time I looked like this, it wouldn’t have been my cup of tea. Speaking of which: tea?”
Jenna braced her arms, and pushed herself up to sit on the kitchen counter. She couldn’t have done that, before rejuvenation. A small solace.
Elaine tipped sachets into mugs of hot water. “You’re not smitten with all this?” she asked, carefully.
“I gave up so much. My home!” That gave Jenna a pang, at the thought of her cottage, now an early inheritance for her great-niece. “I thought I could bring everything I needed.” Jenna touched her forehead. “But I didn’t realize how much my body was my home.”
“We’ll get there eventually,” said Elaine. Jenna wondered if she meant self-acceptance, or old age, and which would come first.
There would be another two weeks of travelling, before they reached the new planet.
Jenna spent the time tormented by an entirely new fetish.
Visible veins. That was the first thing. How sexy were those slightly swollen lines, travelling the back of the hands? And then, strong bony wrists. Lines running from nose to jaw, framing the mouth to make it more succulent. And a face full of creases, a face that truly changed between being at peace or in ecstacy.
She looked for all these things in films, but most of the cast were terribly young, as well. She found herself looking up the last roles of famous actors, then abandoned that: too morbid.
The fetish spread to things beyond the flesh. Jenna felt excruciating desires for objects she’d left behind: second-hand tweed with rich tones and moth-holes. Yellowing paperbacks.
She’d owned an antique silk dressing gown, clinging and cool, which had slithered around wonderfully on her bare hips, when pushed by a lover’s hands. Hands with age spots, she thought, squirming in frustration, and visible veins.
Confined to a metal box without seasons, she thought of autumn, often. A misty walk through a great park, under pearl-grey clouded skies. Grandfather stags bellowing their seniority from deep in their massive chests. A heap of dry russet leaves, ideal to wrestle a lover down and pin them between her thighs.
Great trees. She put her back to the steel wall of her cabin and imagined herself pressed between a silver-haired lover and a strong old oak. Hundreds of years of growth in the trunk behind her. Imagine bracing against it, to meet a lover’s thrust…
Jenna didn’t turn her libido towards any of her colleagues. Their faces had no history.
The whole ship was so new, but felt perversely lifeless. Its shiny surfaces denied age, and growth, and thus denied life.
After a week, Jenna thought of a solution to her cravings. She took herself to the observation nook. It was the smallest space on the ship. Inside was a single porthole. Any window on a ship was an engineering risk, but someone had weighed up its worth for the mental wellbeing of the crew. It was good for them to be able to look out, to see the black velvet skies.
Through the portal glass, Jenna saw stars. Tiny white spatters on the darkness of space. Jenna locked the hatch behind her, lay down on the chilly kickplate deck, and pulled off her clothes.
With no lights inside the observation nook, she couldn’t even see her own body. Then her pupils expanded, greedy for a glimmer of light. Her torso appeared as a haze, a pale patch.
But that meant that the light from the stars was crossing her belly and her chest. Her nipples tightened, and her breath came faster.
Jenna told herself about the stars. Betelgeuse was 640 light years away. There was a star in Cassiopeia, much further off: 4000 light years distant. Some of the particles of light currently landing on her could come from the Andromeda Galaxy. They could be two and a half million years old.
Older than books, or silk, or trees. Half as old as planet earth. Old enough to satisfy her.
Jenna lay blissful on the cold deck, knowing she was being touched by the oldest thing in the universe.
A.C. Quill is a queer living in London, who writes both science fiction and erotica with a shoddy grasp of the mechanics.