The Beast, Pt. 76 (Chapter 18g)

I blink. It’s either moral indignation or the stim, but that line is an insult not to be borne. “Slumming it? Excuse me?”

“Oh, you know. Like, this party’s totally beneath me, but it’s kind of fun to just, like, see the gritty side of things, you know?”

She looks pleased with herself, this jumble of body parts that my brain refuses to resolve into a person, and I’m standing there like a robot unable to process the input I’ve just been given. “How the fuck did you get in here?” I finally settle on.

The mouth parts lose their smile. “What?”

I point, wave my hand around limply in something that might generously be called an accusatory gesture but is more likely a mild stroke. “You’re famous and you’ve got a body guard and you’re kind of socially repugnant. How’d you learn about this party? Why’d you decide to come here? Why did no one think it strange that you’re here, or recognize you, or some damn thing? Why aren’t you performing at a club right now?”

Cat Berry has no response. I half expect her to throw an arm up to block her face and hiss at me through fangs before dissolving into shadows and flitting out of the room, but she just stands there. I begin to wonder if maybe she’s the robot, but then I glance over at her body guard and see that his every muscle is tensed up, like a dog waiting for the order to attack.

Oh. She’s not not a loss for words in the face of my blistering condemnation. She’s trying to decide whether or not to have her gorilla kill me for my insolence.

“You know what?” she finally says after a few more seconds. I raise my eyebrows, eagerly awaiting the impending knowing of what. “You suck. No wonder you’re in here all by yourself. Come on, Aloysius.”

I watch her go, a probability cloud of vitriol and pop music. I stand there, saying nothing, and I am motionless until I hear the sound of something dripping, loud even over the sounds of music and partying filtering in through the walls. When I look down I see that my hands are balled into fists so tight my nails have cut the skin of my palms. Blood drips down my fingers, crimson dots on the tile of the fitness center.

I glance over at the auto-doc, but the screen is off, and that’s not really what I need right now. What I need is to get out of this damn room and get a drink.


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