Last week on the TerribleMinds.com Blog, Church Wendig asked the community to leave a three word prompt behind which would later become one of ten randomly chosen prompts for the week after (i.e. this week).
Of the ten prompts, which can be seen here, the challenge was to choose one, and with it use it as inspiration towards a 1000 word piece of fiction.
I could have happily chosen any, however the one that caught my attention was “Discount Skin Ticket”, which to me had many meanings. The one that caught me the most was another term for a cheap strip tease (as in, the discounted ticket to which one could witness some naked skin).
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you “Discount Skin Ticket”:
When I opened my eyes to a dim blood-red haze, the reek of cigar smoke, and the hum of cheap perfume, I knew I was in a strip club. I couldn’t remember why or how, but I knew for sure. I had never been to one before; this was my first time, and yet I didn’t feel excitement, fear, shame or even curiosity. Fantasy wasn’t what I needed right now, and I most likely owed thanks to the syringe next to me, labelled “Emotexoline”.
It was an emotional inhibitor drug. It is used by the police and army, Wall Street bankers, the president, and what little more I knew was that my bloodstream was slowly diluting it, with every heart beat and tick, through every crease of my mind and soul. That, and I knew large doses were fatal, but I seemed fine.
“What do you think of the music?” I asked myself quietly, just to break the ice with my new zombie self. I needed to know, and as I lay listening to the dull ambient beat of a generic bass boosted progressive-trance song, I decided the floor of a strip club probably wasn’t the best place for me to lie down on.
On closer inspection, as I tested my legs beneath my weight, the room looked no different from ground level; as empty as a tomb, with not a person in sight. Damned shame, I thought, as I’m sure this place is called the Pomegranate…
…because it was so seedy.
I did that face scrunching smirk that often comes with a terribly awesome joke amongst yourself. It was good to know the Emotexoline hadn’t affected my humour. Just a damned shame nobody was around to hear.
“Please sir, take a seat”
I turned without shock to see something unusual; a doctor. A male doctor, at that, with clipboard, glasses and everything. Surely, I thought to myself, this was all completely normal, even though a lady in a doctors uniform would be more fitting to the environment, but all seemed fine, nonetheless.
“Urm… hello” I started off politely. This garnered a raised eyebrow from the doctor, which wrinkled his bald forehead like leather.
“Hello. Please…” he replied “…take a seat”
“Where am I?” I replied, rhetorically. That raised eyebrow returned, before the doctor scribbled on that clipboard of his, before asking me again to take a seat.
I thought to myself again, and no… I wasn’t feeling fear, shame, or even curiosity. All seemed fine as a leaned back in the sticky cherry red, PVC lined sofa behind me. But all seemed fine. I wasn’t afraid of why the sofa was sticky, or why there was a need to have it covered with plastic. Everything was just fine.
“So doctor…” I said, looking up to him, with his white lab coat and his wafer thin spectacles. “…I seem to have been injected with Emotexoline, and I am in a strip club. Why would that be?”
“I see the serum hasn’t affected your eyesight” he replied with an oh-so remarkable amount of condescension, before jabbing again at that clipboard. “However I am concerned by your short term memory”.
He flicked through the papers in his hands, all whilst stabbing me with a piercing gaze, sharp enough to kill. I thought it must be strange to feel that, being an emotionless zombie and what-not.
He drew a piece of paper from his hands, with a lovely type-font and big bold words saying “Waiver” across the top. The tiny paragraphed text beneath it looked boring, so I focused instead on the signature at the bottom.
It was indeed mine.
“The agreement releases Emotegra Inc. from all liability” the doctor read, “relating to injuries that may occur during the drug trials for the purposes of testing a new formula of Emotexoline in exchange for a 24 hour booty call at a strip club or gentlemen entertainment establishment of choosing by Emotegra Inc”
He paused, peering over the clipboard and to my face, again with a stabbing gaze.
“Wow” I laughed. “That is… erm… wow?”
Before I could string a sentence together without sounding like an idiot, the doctor took this as opportunity to jot down, whist talking aloud “Loss of vocabulary… mild asininity… inanity… anything else to say?”
“Erm… yes!” but to my astonishment, I had nothing else to say. Maybe it was a natural reaction to being called an asininity, but as I saw his hands adding more notes, I said the first thing that came to my head.
“Well… this may be the Emotexolin speaking… but I never knew you could use “booty call” in a legal disclaimer”
The doctor chortled, before continuing “Potential brain damage… talking nonsense… more interested in the waiver than the…” he paused “…booty call”
“Now wait a minute” I protested. “If the sober me signed a piece of paper risking health and soul for a few hours of pole dancers and strippers, then at some point today I will want pole dancers and strippers!”
“Indeed you will, sir, just please be patient. I assure you. But…” he added. “But as the waiver says… and I quote…”
He readied the paper with a whip of his wrist and a lick of his tongue. His head wrinkled again.
“By signing below I forfeit all right to bring a suit against Emotegra for any reason. In return, I will receive a free 24 hour booty call upon providing a blood test and full psychological evaluation to confirm that the drug has completely left his, or her, system”.
The doctor gazed back over the clipboard with eager eyes.
“I will also make every effort to obey safety precautions as listed in writing and as explained to me verba-“
“HA! I don’t think so” I peeled out of the sticky cherry sofa to my feet, not just to get a better look of the doctor behind his papers and notes, but to see what I was legally entitled to.
“You have failed to provide me with a written list of safety precautions, doctor! So consider me unfit for this drug test, please” again, I felt obliged to be polite. But I was right. With my diminished emotions, and lack of interest in the purpose of the building I was standing in, all that I strived for was being correct. I didn’t want to be here, but neither did I want to leave, but it made sense to do this correct, whatever this was.
The doctor smiled behind his clipboard.
“Why yes, you can see this written list later…
…on my back”
“Oh” I replied “That seems… fine?”