31,340 words; 79 pages
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With their own demise staring them in the face, the characters in Apocalypse Sex decide to do one thing: have the best sex of their lives. These stories include a range of settings, tones, and sexualities, but they share the feeling of freedom that impending death can provide. And, of course, they share the desperately intense kind of sex that you can only have if you think it might be your last.
In J. Daniel Sawyer’s “Buried Alive in the Blues,” a woman finds a speakeasy at the edge of the world, where she discovers the answer to her lover’s mysterious death, she witnesses a stage show that no one will ever see again, and she finds a new lover and a hope for redemption.
Elizabeth Coldwell’s “Expiry Date” imagines a world where debtors literally explode if they can’t pay their debts. A woman has 24 hours to find money or die. She has one last chance to have the sex she’s always been afraid to try.
Elizabeth Schechter writes “Darkest Night” from the perspective of a sentient ship’s computer who watches her captain’s love-making with curiosity and a little envy. When there’s a problem with the air onboard, the captain runs a simulator that allows him and the computer to do what she’s always wanted.
In the lighthearted “Invasion!” by Beverly Langland, Frank and Martha have always had a flirtatious relationship, but they’ve never gone further because Martha is married. When Martians attack Earth, Frank and Martha finally get their chance, and when they find a scared young girl, they get the chance to do what they’ve never imagined.
In “Fences,” by David Hubbard, a virus threatens the entire human race. The X virus can takes years to kill a person; it’s already killed Jeremy’s lover, and Jeremy himself might die any day now. Jeremy uses the time he has left to seduce the straight guy next door. It won’t be easy, but he has nothing left to lose.
When the apocalypse looms, you can choose to die or you can choose to live. In these life-affirming erotic stories, inhibitions are cast aside and fantasies are fulfilled as the doomed desperately search for a way to forget the world, and for sex to remember forever.
Excerpted from Expiry Date
by Elizabeth Coldwell
I was dead. I’d known that before I walked into my bank manager’s office and I hadn’t needed the man on the other side of the desk, with his wing-tip collar and his shiny shoes, rubbing my nose in the fact.
With my account balance standing at zero and no way of securing more credit within the next twenty four hours, I had effectively sealed my own fate. Once he had confirmed my demise, glibly thanking me for my valued custom while writing me off as someone he would never have to deal with again, the only thing I had to decide was how to spend my nine remaining hours alive.
I’d always dreamed of ending my days with one big blow out, but all I had in the larder was a can of chicken noodle soup, the heel of a loaf of bread, and a bottle of cut-price sparkling wine I’d been given on the last night of my most recent theater engagement by a management who clearly believed in sparing every expense. Still, it would be a shame to let even cheap wine go to waste, but I didn’t fancy polishing it off alone. I flicked through the address book on my phone, looking for someone who would be available for a midmorning drinking session. One name stood out: Marco.
Under any other circumstances, I would have kept well away from him. From the first time we had met, at a party on the east side of town, there had been a chemistry between us so strong that the air practically crackled when we were together. He was the type I had always been attracted to, with the glossy black hair and olive skin which betrayed his Italian heritage, and as I spoke to him on that initial occasion I was imagining how it would feel to have that full mouth of his trailing slowly down my body before pressing itself against my pussy. I was sure when we had sex the passion between us would be explosive. Only one thing stopped me acting on my lust for him: he was the husband of my best friend, and I had my principles. Today, however, I was in need of consolation. More than that, I wanted to spend some of the little time I had left with a hot man.
I dropped into my shabby apartment just long enough to grab the wine from the refrigerator. Of course I had no credit for a subway ticket, but it was a glorious spring day and I was determined to enjoy the half hour walk to Marco and Suzi’s place. For the last time, I waved to old Mrs. Majewski, who ran the flower stall on the corner, and turned onto Twelvetrees Street, past the diner and the grocery store and all the other places I would never visit again. It would have been easy to get maudlin, but what was the point? Would I really have done things differently if I had known my life was going to end like this? Probably not.
Marco and Suzi lived in a nice brownstone that was paid for by her six-figure salary as a corporate lawyer. Marco was a musician, playing bass in a band that gigged mostly on the college circuit. His career was about as successful as my own, but with Suzi’s income behind him, that didn’t really matter.
He flung the door open at my knock, greeting me with the big, wolfish grin that always made me melt inside. “Holly, this is a nice surprise. What brings you here?”
I pressed the bottle into his hands. “Here, open this. I need to talk to you.”
“Wow, that sounds serious,” he said as we made our way through to their big kitchen.
“It is,” I replied. I’d been meaning to break the news gently, maybe even in a light-hearted way, but staring into Marco’s dark eyes, I had suddenly realized this was it. There was no point kidding around. “I just came back from seeing my bank manager. I’ve got no credit left, and no way of getting any before my chip expires, and–”
“And you wanted us to lend you some? Sure. I may have to get Suzi out of a meeting, but–”
I shook my head. “No, I didn’t come to ask for a loan. I came to say goodbye. Marco, you know as well as I do it’s all over for me. My acting career is pretty much finished, and I just can’t keep living from hand to mouth anymore.”
He paused in the act of opening my bottle. “If you’re serious about what you’re saying, you need something better than this. Hang on a second.” Marco reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of vintage champagne. It had probably cost more than I’d earned in the last two months. “This should do it.”
He popped the cork and poured champagne into two long-stemmed glasses before handing me one. I didn’t drink the proper stuff very often; it had a tendency to make me giggly and a little horny, which was not a particularly good idea when I was alone with a man who affected me as powerfully as Marco did.
“Come into the living room,” he suggested, and I followed him, kicking off my shoes and making myself comfortable on the couch. He pressed the remote for his sound system and music began to play softly, my favorite track from his band’s first–and, to date, only–album.
I watched him as he wandered round the room. He was wearing a tight-fitting white t-shirt and a pair of faded denims that clung enticingly to his buns, and there was a day’s growth of dark stubble on his chin. For the thousandth time, I thought of how lucky Suzi was to have such a gorgeous man to come home to at the end of her long, long working day.
He came to sit beside me, a little closer than might have been prudent given how I felt about him. I could have filled him in on everything that had led me to this point, but he knew most of my story. He would have been in much the same position himself if he hadn’t had Suzi’s wealth to support him.
In the simplest terms, I was a victim of the change in the world’s whole approach to money.
It was carried out with the best of intentions, as these things always are. After the Great Slump of ‘, there was a general feeling that something had to be done to end the economic cycle of boom and bust forever. Attempts had been made to restrict the supply of credit and to end bad debt so many times before, but nothing had ever really worked. People would tighten their belts in difficult times, but as soon as their personal circumstances began to improve, they would be out flashing their cash again. Nothing was stronger than the urge to own more things and live a nicer lifestyle than your neighbors, even if that meant spending money you didn’t have and had no hope of paying back.
The solution was brutal but effective. Currency was withdrawn from circulation: no more crisp folding bills to bulk out wallets or shiny coins to get lost down the back of the couch. Credit cards followed swiftly behind, removing the temptation to spend now and pay later. They were replaced by a chip that was fitted into every citizen of spending age, inserted surgically into the fleshy part of the thumb. On it was stored all of the credit that person had, meaning bills could be paid and monthly pay checks uploaded at simple terminals, as well as at any branch of any bank. The chips were designed to shut down if they were tampered with, which helped to deter robbers from simply digging them out and stealing the credit. More cunning muggers tried to saw off their victims’ hands at the wrist, though without the electrical impulses that flowed through a live body, the chip was rendered useless.
And how did this device prevent people from racking up unmanageable debt? Easy. If there was no credit remaining on a chip, its owner had twenty four hours to find some means of topping it up–otherwise it would explode. Effectively, everyone had a miniature time bomb embedded in their hand, and if that did not encourage fiscal prudence, nothing would.
Sitting so close to the very masculine Marco, I was beginning to think of a way I could have topped up my credit, had I wished. In the past, I had taken shifts waiting tables at the diner on Twelvetrees Street to help me through the lean times. I knew that some of the girls I served there made a living by selling their bodies. They would come in for coffee and pancakes and apply another coat of strumpet red lipstick to their lips before going back out on the streets. Though they had never seemed short of credit, until now I had always seen their way of life as an option I would never consider. But if they ever had clients as handsome as Marco who were prepared to pay for a little afternoon delight, I might have changed my mind.
Had he ever seriously contemplated looking outside his marriage for sex? I wondered. With Suzi seemingly so wrapped up in her career, did she neglect the physical side of life with him? She and I had very few secrets from each other, but we never really talked about her sex life with Marco. I was always afraid that if the subject was raised I might say something that would reveal how attracted to her husband I really was.
“I don’t understand it,” Marco said, snapping me out of my reverie. “You really are prepared to just end it all?”
I took another sip of my champagne. “It’s for the best, Marco. Even if I get bailed out now, six months down the line I’ll just be in the same position again. And you and Suzi don’t need to worry about me. I’ve put all my affairs in order.” This was no lie. As I had no living family, any money that was raised from the sale of my meager assets after my death would go to charity; I had made that clear in the will that was sitting in a deposit box in my bank. Upon the termination of my chip, all the arrangements for paying my rent and utility bills would be similarly–if rather more painlessly–terminated. It allowed me to concentrate on more pleasurable matters in the time I had left.
“I still think there must be some other way out of this,” Marco insisted.
“To be honest, I’ve had enough,” I told him. “I’m tired of losing out on parts to girls who are that little bit younger and that little bit blonder than me. Tired of relying on residuals from a floor cleaner commercial they only air in Scandinavia. Tired of living in a world that judges your worth on whether or not you can afford to buy the latest shiny trinket you don’t really need. There’s just one last thing I want to do before I go.”
“And what’s that?” he asked.
“This.” I reached over and gave him a gentle kiss, the kiss I had been yearning to plant on his lips as long as I had known him. Instead I had always had to content myself with an innocent peck on the lips, knowing that Suzi was around and I had to behave myself.
Within moments our tongues were battling together, and his arms were around me, pulling me down on him so I could feel the bulge that was beginning to rise in his jeans, the bulge that proved he wanted me just as much as I’d always wanted him. Suddenly, he backed off. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” he asked. “What if Suzi finds out…?”
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With their own demise staring them in the face, the characters in Apocalypse Sex all come to the same conclusion: it's time to have the best sex of their lives. Inhibitions are cast aside and fantasies are fulfilled as the doomed chase down their deepest desires. With stories by J. Daniel Sawyer, Elizabeth Coldwell, Elizabeth Schechter, Beverly Langland, and David Hubbard.