Cheryl awoke sweaty and hot, from dreams she couldn't remember.
Must have been good ones, though, she thought, for she was feeling quite randy. Her panties were damp-- and not just from perspiration. (There was plenty of that, though, because the humidity had risen in the last several June days and she'd yet to turn on the air conditioning.)
She slapped the alarm, headed to the shower and closed the curtain behind her. The hot water hit her solidly across the chest, refreshing her and washing away the saltiness from last night. It felt tingly on her stomach and breasts, and she was tempted to add some rubbing and stroking to the tingles, but she did have to get to work in under an hour, and there really wasn't enough time for that kind of indulgence. She inhaled the steam and began to lather.
* * *
The wire-frame drawing of the figure onscreen bent to the knees, tipping its head down slightly, arms parallel to neck in a manner suggesting worship. It still didn't look right to Penelope, so she selected the waist area and dragged the cursor across the hips, pulling them slightly backward.
Mmmm, much better, she thought. She clicked on Render, and sipped at her coffee while the powerful machine under her desk translated the position of the onscreen figure into something entirely more realistic-- and intriguing. Where transparent quasi-figures had been in the preview screen was now supple, toned, and even curvacious flesh. The kneeling mesh became a brunette with long hair, nude, and the object of her fixation became a blonde, similarly clad, legs akimbo, and arms beckoning. Much, much better. With this as a preview image, I think I'll get a bunch of new members.
Penelope ran a website which specialized in manufactured images. At first, she'd spent her college time and effort learning the ins and outs of placing figures in rooms, and having them interact with the furnishings in a realistic manner. This was harder than it sounded, as the three-dimensional environment took a different kind of thought process to manipulate on the computer screen. But she'd mastered the techniques soon enough, and moved on to animating scenes from novels-- A Tale Of Two Cities being the first. Well, the first chapter, at least. She'd grown bored at that point and switched to animating some more fantastic figures-- warriors fighting dragons, a huge wedding of fairies, and a witch's coven.
It was the latter which had taken her down her life's new path: someone online had been impressed with the somewhat... unorthodox... attire of the witches, and had asked if she ever did more erotic scenes. Penelope had never considered it-- these renderings, real as they seemed, were still a far step from reality. But as she experimented, she saw that despite the vaguely doll-like nature of the onscreen figures, skillful manipulation of the figures could produce surprisingly sensual imagery. Her website had been frequented to some extent before by other artists interested in computer-generated images, but after posting In Darkest Orgasm, the hit counter had reached six figures. At first she'd tried to save all the fanmail, but it soon became ridiculous to try. She was so impressed with the feedback she'd received (and, to be honest, intrigued by some of the suggestions she gotten) that she produced several more pictures in the same genre in short order.
She found that she enjoyed this type of work much more than the mundane stuff, but she was utterly shocked when a website visitor offered to actually commission a work from her. Money, for drawing naughty pictures on a computer? A week later and a hundred dollars richer, Penelope wondered how long this kind of scam had been going on, and a week after that she'd ordered a faster computer and a high-speed internet line to keep up with the new website she'd established for her more avant garde works. The first month's worth of memberships had paid for the upgraded computer, and memberships just kept going up after the Extravagant Orgy preview scene began to circulate on the internet. The second month not only paid for the apartment lease, but allowed her to pay off one of her student loans early.
She told no one, of course; the last thing she needed was on-campus publicity about this. She'd be beset with Campus Crusade for Christ and other idiots objecting to her presence, and simultaneously she'd end up with various crude offers from the men on campus (some of them from members of the Campus Crusade for Christ, most likely), if the emails she constantly received were any prediction. Plus, if the university knew about the extra source of income, they'd be lowering her financial aid significantly-- and while the extra income was nice, it certainly wasn't enough to finance her entire four-year education with. No, she kept quiet, and didn't even let the other girls she shared the apartment with in on the secret.
Which suited her fine; it was one thing to draw this stuff, and collect cash from people who wanted to look at it on the net. And it would have been a difficult thing altogether to explain to another how much of the perverse work was inspired not by books, or movies, or even photos, but from the twisted depths of her own imagination. But if she were to tell them the method she used to get the poses just right... well, would her apartment-mates stay around if they knew she spent much of her time in her room naked in front of a mirror masturbating and making lust-faces at herself?
The rendering process was done at low resolution, and it was entirely satisfactory. A little too satisfactory, perhaps, as Penelope was now a bit distracted by the finished image. It wasn't entirely rare for her to get turned on by her own work, but the frequent masturbation sessions (all for work, of course!) tended to keep her hormones down to a manageable level. For some reason she really got off on looking at this one, though. Or, at least, she was about to. After starting the final high-rez render as a background process, Penelope called up the low-rez image, undid the drawstring on her pajama pants, leaned back in her seat, and began to "let her fingers do the walking"...
* * *
Linda finished downloading the song from ZKaamrZ and ported it out to her MP3 player. This band truly rawks, she thought; and on further reflection she sent copies of the song to a couple of her friends in the dorms. She once would have avoided sending such huge attachments to friends, since it would take like a billion years, but with the new high-speed connection this was a trifle.
Penelope's new high-speed connection, said the little inner voice that would have been her conscience, had she owned one; instead, she grinned at her duplicity. There were outlets in every room, and technically you could only hook in to the high-speed connection at one box-- in Pen's room-- but with the grey-market LoopOut box she'd bought, and that Skimmerz software she'd downloaded from a warez site, she could piggyback her own high-speed transmissions on top of her apartment-mate's without being detected (and, more importantly, without paying a nickel). Skimmerz even sent dialing noises out of her sound card to complete the deception, making it appear to the unaware that Linda just had some really kickin' dial-up which somehow downloaded miraculously fast. Skimmerz was shareware, but it was a fully functional demo so she had never bothered to purchase it. There were some annoying pop-up boxes now and then asking her to buy it, but she could live with that as long as the damn thing worked.
Which it usually did, but sometimes if Penelope was using her system at the same time, one of Linda's downloads would get corrupted, or a window would open with some fragment of what Penelope was working on, and then shut down a minute later. This last part was totally creepy; the first time it had happened, she'd seen part of Pen's history essay, but several times thereafter she'd peered in on some kind of porn Pen was apparently looking at. Sometimes lesbo porn, in fact, which gave Linda the wiggins, but she hadn't let on that she was aware of Penelope's questionable sexual preferences-- after all, how would she explain how she knew? At any rate, to save herself from further gross-outs, she'd soon enough found a setting called "Frame-Display Duration" in the Hacking Options menu and dropped it down to the minimum level possible, and the window problem had not recurred (though downloads still got corrupted now and then-- but what could you do?).
She was about to shut down the system when there was a knock at her door. "Come in," she yelled.
It was Cheryl, dressed in what Linda privately called her YuppieWear. The clothing boutique she worked for apparently made her dress "appropriately" (whatever that was) for work, and she was dolled up in a fancy-schmancy suit-- skirt, jacket, pantyhose, and all. In June. And she'd have to walk to the train stop in those heels-- hope she didn't have to run to catch it! In a way, Linda pitied her. She was the same age as her and Penelope, but she hadn't attended college because she hadn't been all that bright a kid. Which was no excuse, really-- Linda's high school record was hardly spotless-- but Cheryl's parents were dirt poor, and no college was forthcoming with financial aid to make up for it.
Anyway, Cheryl wanted what she always wanted: to borrow Linda's computer to send an email to one of her friends. Linda wished she'd get her own damn machine instead of freeloading on hers, but it wasn't that important, and it never took all that long, so she stewed about it silently. She gestured toward the chair, got up, and went to fix breakfast.
* * *
Penelope admired the abrupt curve of the kneeling woman's calf, following it up to the back of the knee and on to the firm thigh. The panties, just wisps of dark blue satin, were barely enough to conceal her ass, and this teasing vantage made Penelope squirm against her palm again. The crotch of the pajamas were soaked with her efforts, but she didn't mind at all, feeling as good as she did. She thrust one finger inside herself in a shallow stroke, and used her thumb to manipulate the hood of her clit in a slow building circular motion, and she could feel the tension build as she shifted her gaze up the kneeling back to the slight bend in the neck, where the brunette woman's face pressed against the groin of the other girl, hiding both from view-- but this too was tantalizing. The circling motions rapidly escalated in speed, and as she felt her climax swiftly approaching she took a look past the blonde's stomach and breasts, and into her blankly staring eyes, slightly narrowed with desire.
This sent Penelope over the edge, and she stuck an extra finger into herself as she came hard onto her chair.
Slowly, deliciously, she felt her fingers leave her, and her pulse slowed a bit. Whew, she whispered, with a surprised smile. I think I'll be doing more with these two models. A lot more...
* * *
Cheryl was early for work; the email she'd sent had been quick, and she'd had plenty of time to get to the train before it came downtown. Her manager wasn't in yet, so she got out her key and opened the back door from the alleyway behind the store. The Tuesday truck had apparently shown up last night after she'd finished her shift, and the night girls hadn't bothered, so she started opening boxes from the vendors to check them into inventory. Some new summery fashions were here, and though she thought several of them were mistakes that should never have been produced, let alone purchased, she was impressed with a couple of the new micro-minis and stylish new tank tops. Her shift hadn't officially started yet, anyway, and there was no one else in the shop, so she grabbed a powder-blue skirt and a top and went back into the changing rooms to check out how they'd look on her.
She took off her jacket and skirt, and stripped down to her bra and hose. The top looked like it was a little snug on her, but sometimes tight was better. She grinned. She pulled the skirt up her long legs and fastened it around her waist. The skirt was brief, but it kept everything covered that should be covered. Barely. She grinned again over her shoulder as she checked out her butt in the mirror. Wouldn't Ted love her in this.
She pulled the outfit back off, and wondered how much she'd have to throw down for this outfit. She could check the books later, but if you knew what to look for in the SKU number, often the manufacturers had price information encoded within. She turned over the vendor's sticker, and saw 11097 12825, which meant that...
shadowy room, raven head of hair nestled between perfect creamy legs
blonde head thrown back in ecstatic abandon, mouth half open, eyes half lidded
... meant that... whew! Where did that come from?!? Should have frigged-off in the shower this morning when I had the chance, she thought. I'm daydreaming about some pretty wicked shit. Anyway, the SKU was
brown nipples pressed against the floor, ass raised in the air
lipsticked mouth eagerly raised to upper thigh
... damned useless to me with sex the only thing on my mind right now! Fine, screw it, my concentration's shot. I'll look up the price later in inventory. I need to take a trip to the little ladies' room to take care of some important business...
* * *
Linda opened the door to the apartment way too quickly on her way in. She didn't care too much what Pen and Cheryl thought of her, but for some reason she didn't want them to see her like this. She tried her hardest to close the door quietly, but she couldn't hear over the thudding of her heartbeat whether she was successful or not. Fuck it.
She tiptoed into her room as best she could, deciding halfway there to remove her shoes to be quieter. That idea just ended up with them clattering on the hardwood floor, so she just ran the rest of the way and closed her door.
Though it was after midnight, she wasn't a bit tired-- yeah, a little Crystal would do that to you-- so she checked her email. Some stuff from Kevin and from Darcy, dated... my god, was that today? Then that meant... soccer tryouts tomorrow! She needed sleep, and she needed it now, but lying in bed would do her no good, she thought desperately. She had been in this state before.
She'd have to try what that tweaker Benjamin Freemin had told her about, once: a double dose of Nyquil. She headed for the medicine cabinet in her bathroom, but she could barely get the cap off, she was humming so bad. She stood still a minute, concentrating on the bottle; reading the instructions, then the ingredients. Take a maximum of 2 tablespoons in 24 hours. High fructose corn syrup: 1.306 grams. That steadied her a bit, and she successfully cracked open the seal. She poured one, then two, then three... or was that four... nah... then four spoonfulls and knocked them back in quick succession, then brushed her teeth and lay on the bed without even stripping off her clothes. Was this going to work?
Apparently. She was snoring ten minutes later.
* * *
She was in a dimly lit room, and she knew where she needed to be, because she knew what 1306 was supposed to look like. She found her spot, but there was something wrong. She removed the something.
That was better, but she wasn't doing it right. 1306 flashed in her eyes, and suddenly she knew. Her knees hit the floor with an audible thud, but she kept her torso erect, and raised her head slightly, mouth open.
Better still, but there was still something missing for 1306. Or someone...?
* * *
Penelope had almost gotten back to sleep after Linda had made all of that racket coming in when she heard footsteps, and then something fall in the living room. Damn her, Penelope thought hazily. It's too late for this shit.
She got out of bed, threw on a robe, and then opened her bedroom door, headed for the living room to give the ass a piece of her mind.
Peace of mind was what she did not find.
In the middle of the living room, utterly naked, knelt Linda: eyes slightly ajar, mouth open, arms reaching. Her clothes were cast aside carelessly, but her pose looked all too familiar to Penelope: it was the third image she had uploaded to her website today. The one with the kneeling brunette servicing the breasts of her mistress. Linda appeared to have seen it, and even practiced holding her body just so to get the same effect. Any possibility that this might be coincidence was shattered when Linda murmured:
"Service to Her Superior".
Penelope shuddered. That was the caption to the image. Her secret was out.
"Um... what... I mean, Linda...?"
The other girl heard her and jerked a bit, falling out of the pose. "Mmmm?" Her eyes opened more, and she looked around a bit, gathered up her clothes, and wandered away from the living room, ignoring Penelope completely.
Penelope could do nothing but stand and gape, open mouthed, and before Linda was completely out of earshot, Penelope her mumble something which sounded like "Thirteen oh six."
* * *
"Are you okay?" Pen was asking her. "You look terrible."
"Feel terrible," she replied. "I... did some stuff at a party last night that I don't think I'll repeat." That was an understatement. She'd spent most of the morning with her head over the toilet. Dry heaves, in fact.
"Yeah, I heard you come in. Did you sleep okay?"
"I think so. Though apparently I got up in the middle of the night."
"Oh?" Pen queried. "To do what?"
"Well, from the evidence, apparently I went into my bathroom and yacked in the sink." Ick. Never again.
"Oh?" Pen looked uneasy. Good. Serves the bitch right for being so nosy. Linda smiled at her.
"Anyway, I'm off to soccer tryouts. You can come along if you want. There'll be some cute guys there from the Men's team..."
Pen shook her head. "Nah, I've got some stuff to do. Cleaning up."
Linda smirked to herself. Dyke. I knew mentioning guys would keep her away. "Well, okay. If anyone calls for me, tell 'em where I went."
Linda left the kitchen table, grabbed her purse and sandals, and took off out the door and down the stairs en route to the park, and evasion of last night's unpleasantness.
* * *
Penelope waited until she saw Linda walk out the front door and head toward the lake. Then she made doubly sure Cheryl had indeed gone to work that morning, and slipped into Linda's bedroom. She ignored the unsavory residual smells coming from the bathroom (thank goodness the window was open) and made her way over to Linda's computer. The screensaver was some castle in England or Ireland or somewhere by an ocean, and she moved the mouse to eliminate it. The standard desktop appeared: no password protection. Penelope shook her head. She knew Linda fancied herself technical, but her security measures were laughable.
She opened the web browser, and started searching the cache for the name of her website, or anything which looked like it might be linked to it. Nothing. Perhaps Linda's deleted the cache? No, the cache file dated from over two years ago. She went to a search engine, and typed in a couple of relevant phrases to see if anything popped up in the autocomplete box... wow, this was a pretty fast connection for a dialup! Penelope wondered what kind of bandwidth she was seeing... 600 kilobits...? That couldn't be right!
It was then that she looked down under the machine and saw the ethernet cable. Ethernet? She followed it a foot or so to the rug, where it was hidden for ten feet of its run, and saw that it came out under the bed. Peering beneath, Penelope saw the telltale lights of a cable modem, and she seemed to recall from before Linda had moved in that there was a cable outlet right by where Linda's headboard was...
"What the hell?" Penelope went back to the computer and pulled up the network connection options window. One of the protocols which was enabled was new to her: Skimmerz. She opened the file window and searched for files by that name, and hit the jackpot. Skimmerz was some kind of executable; she avoided it, but pulled up the accompanying documentation file.
"Cheap-ass bitch is scamming my bandwidth." Penelope was pretty pissed off. This kind of violation was just like Linda. She'd racked up twenty bucks in charges on Cheryl's cell phone once and when caught had said she'd mistaken it for her own. Cheryl had given her the benefit of the doubt, but Penelope'd never been so sure... Now she sure as hell was!
The dumb thing was, Penelope would have been happy to share the high-speed connection with her absolutely free of charge if she'd have just asked politely. It wasn't like Penelope was hurting for cash or anything. For that matter, Linda wasn't hurting for cash, either.
Penelope sighed. This was giving her a headache. And she was still no closer to figuring out what the hell had happened last night. Could Linda have been sneaking into her room and using her connection? Unlikely; Penelope was a little more intelligent about security than Linda. Besides, she'd not been out of the apartment anytime in the last two days, and the scene Linda had been imitating had been rendered within that span of time. Puzzled, she dug deeper into the documentation. Just what does Skimmerz do, anyway?
Half an hour later she had her answer, and collapsed in peals of laughter.
Skimmerz was indeed allowing Linda to snag bandwidth from Penelope's supply, but that was only one of its uses. The damn thing was a cracking tool with a huge number of functions besides stealing illicit bandwidth. First of all, the thing had an elaborate trojan horse wrapped around it, and it had certainly been sending information about Linda's system to who knows where. Penelope disabled this immediately; if Linda was moron enough to do this to her own computer, that was fine, but it was evident there was some kind of access to her own system as well, so Linda got a free ride, there.
Skimmerz was also a packet sniffer, and although most of the functionalities there were disabled, there was one bit which intrigued her-- a check box called Frame Capture. Checking the docs, it turned out that Skimmerz would periodically sample the bitstream and if a file being passed was in a recognized format it would grab it and allow the user to display part or all of it. There was apparently a logfile which listed the captures, and when Penelope checked it, she finally found what she'd been looking for. All of the images she'd sent in the last couple months or so were listed under their filenames. So Linda'd been scanning her outgoing file transfers.
At first, Penelope had thought Linda must have been doing this on purpose, but when she checked the settings for the captures, it turned out that they were all set to the default values. All except the "Frame-Display Duration", which had been locked at... well that was interesting. The minimum setting was one frame, and that was what Linda had set it to. But the refresh rate of the monitor was 60Hz, so that was only one frame out of sixty every second; at that rate, you didn't even have time to look at an image. Technically, your eyes could see it, but your brain just wouldn't register it consciously...
Wouldn't register it consciously... Was that it? Linda'd had no clue why portions of Penelope's work had kept popping up, and instead of turning off the display she'd instead ended up dosing herself with subliminal messages? Leave it to Linda... but really, was that even possible? Then she remembered what Linda had mumbled before she'd gone back to bed: Thirteen oh six. Was that one of Penelope's filenames? She checked the cache for Skimmerz's frame capturing, and sure enough, 1306.jpg was one of the most recent images. Penelope had a pretty good guess what position the brunette would be in if she checked the files' contents. Knees to the floor, head raised to her mistress's breast...
Uncertain anymore what was possible or impossible, but pissed enough at Linda's idiocies to risk trying some mischief of her own, Penelope made one more alteration before she left. The default for "Frame-Display Frequency" was set to once per hour; Penelope cranked it up to once per minute, just to see what might happen... It was getting late, so Penelope closed everything she was doing, made sure the chair was back where it had started, and returned to her own bedroom. Mystery solved, and perhaps she'd have an opportunity to get back in some way at her annoying freeloader of an apartment-mate.
* * *
Linda didn't make the soccer team. She knew she was better than most of those bitches who had made it, but she hadn't been at her best because of the previous night's activities. That put her in a foul mood all weekend, and she sat around in a funk just downloading and playing music on her computer.
It didn't help that she was immeasurably horny for some reason, and that her boyfriend was at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament this week. She concentrated on the music and hoped it would go away, but nothing would stifle her libido and she embarrassingly resorted to something she hated to do: masturbation. She laid back on her bed and thought of Todd, and how it felt when he kissed her deeply and
from behind, licking around her shoulder blade, a smooth hand covering her mound as the full breasts pressed into her back
Full breasts at her back? Desire's Embrace. What the hell was that? 1204. Gross! She stopped fingering herself immediately, creeped out. She immediately washed her hands and used the toilet, trying to blot the offensive imagery from her mind. She wasn't entirely successful; it's not easy to not think about something, but she at least concentrated on an email she'd just gotten from a high-school chum:
How's college life treating you? I'm way glad summer's here, although I am working the whole time. My parents are being jerks, and it's like I have no choice--
1067 Have No Choice
long painted fingernails clutching her brown hair, guiding her face into the tufted fur of the other woman's cunt
Grrrr!!! Dammit, what the hell is wrong with me?!? She turned off the computer, put on her running clothes and shoes, and decided to use up her energy in some kind of useful way: she'd do two miles or so.
She studiously ignored the dampness between her thighs, and walked out the door.
* * *
Penelope watched Linda from afar in the next couple of weeks, and smirked to herself when she saw the girl driven to distraction by whatever images haunted her from time to time. Even Cheryl commented on Linda's extra "attitude" these days, though unlike Penelope she was entirely unaware that the cause was her unconscious bombardment once per minute with a sexual picture. Once or twice when Linda thought she wasn't looking she caught a glimpse of Linda absently stroking a breast while mouthing a number, her eyes glossing momentarily, or hiking a skirt up a bit too high when passing a mirror, hissing "Seducer" while looking over her shoulder at herself. To "help out", Penelope had re-uploaded all of the female images she'd done in the past year.
Linda would retreat into her room to sulk, or… do whatever… but Penelope knew she must be trying to distract herself with her computer-- which would obviously only make things worse! She was obviously at a spiritual low point, and Penelope almost felt sorry for her... but Penelope hadn't really had enough. To tell the truth, like most artists she was a bit of a voyeur at heart, and this was turning her on something awful! She masturbated much more often when composing her images these days, and realized while she was doing it that she wasn't getting off so much on the sensuality of the poses, but on the fact that she knew the poses would be in Linda's unwilling mind, and that once in a while (it had only happened twice since that first night), Linda would sleepwalk into the living room again to live out one or more of the scenes. Just the thought of watching her do that was enough to provide a week's fingerplay for Penelope. She'd even started changing the brunette model slightly, making her look a little more like Linda, and the backgrounds for the images started looking suspiciously like the layout of her living room. No, she couldn't give this up, yet.
In fact, she had made a point to go into Linda's room again yesterday, and bumped the Skimmerz "Frame-Display Frequency" up to once per second.