The Fruit Machine 1: Discovery
Justin Wright has been pitched into a war he doesn't understand. He must rely on his wits if he's going to run fast enough to save his life.
RUN, RUN, AS FAST AS YOU CAN...
Justin Wright has no idea about his true history. All his life, he's fought to belong.
Overnight, he is pitched into a war that he can barely come to terms with. He must rely on all the wits he has if he is going to run fast enough to save his life.
The world as Justin knows it is shattered when he learns of a decision by the Guides, the governing body that rules all of Spero. Henceforth, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death, according to the new law "Protect the Innocent."
Warned by a concerned colleague, Justin must run, but he has no idea how deep the Guides have gone. He never knew how dark the world is; all he had seen of it was what is on its surface.
Now, appearances mean nothing.
"You know, Justin," she said, "I really admire you."
It wasn't even nine o'clock in the morning, so I wasn't fully awake yet. I stared at Sasha as she wrapped her long blonde hair around her fingertip. "I don't understand what you mean."
"Well, Kendra and I were at a meeting the other day"—she motioned with manicured fingers—"and some of the other managers asked about you. They wanted to know who you were."
I thought for a brief moment: This is when it's going to happen. Someone will ask if I'm in a pool and hire me.
Not a wet pool you swim in. One where you've gone through the steps to be qualified for a job. You've submitted your resume, had the interviews, and done everything you can do.
And then you wait.
And then you wait some more.
Such is the brilliance of the Guides, a world where protocol and rules matter. Where it can take years to get a job that gives you an in. You want a permanent job so bad, you can taste it.
"We said you were the gay boy in the office."
And it just all comes crashing down, doesn't it?
"I don't understand," I said again. I took a sip of coffee and eyed Sasha with as much of a glare as I could muster in the early hours of the morning. I am not a morning person, folks.
"Well, we told them that you were this really neat guy and that you were gay." Sasha smiled as she said the word gay, as if to show how understanding she was. "I think it's great that you're yourself, you know?"
"Well, it's always important to be yourself. There's no reason to be ashamed of who I am." Due to the strength of my professionalism, I didn't succumb to spitting in her face. Instead I opted to take another sip of my coffee.
"I just think it's wonderful. I mean, who knew all about the kind of world you live in? You have so much to be proud of."
I tried to take her words with a smile. After all, I'm kind of a geeky gay. There are a lot of us, but we don't get away without being noticed, for some reason. People always talk to us, sometimes when we wish they wouldn't. Especially when they talk for us.
If you are a model gay or a stand and model (or a stand and model 2.0: look but don't touch), or even if you were a metrosexual gay or a muscle man, then you have it made, because beautiful people can be charming. Charming people have it made.
There are more of us who just tended to blend into the background, though. I didn't mind too much. It's easier that way.
Of course, nodding and smiling can only get you so far in the world, right?
"Thanks," I said.
"I mean, who knew there were such things as...lesbians?" She giggled as if the word was taboo. "Have my eyes been closed all this time?" She laughed shrilly, and I chuckled, though there was no humor in it.
"We think you're just great," Kendra added. She delivered a glare that dared me to challenge her. It must have been the vitamin booster she had that morning, along with her wheat germ oatmeal. It must be lovely to be so healthy and such a bitch at the same time. Maybe being regular helped her to live a stress-free life.
"Thanks very much," I told them. There seemed to be nothing more I could say, so I walked away from them thinking that it might be too early in the morning to kill myself. I'd been trying for weeks to make a good impression, and Sasha and Kendra ruined my reputation in one conversation.
I wondered if it was too early to start smacking my head on my desk. Everyone needs a little concussion with their coffee.
I got back to my desk and sat, letting my head fall onto its surface with a loud thump. "Ow." I sighed again. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.
I should've known that things were going too well. The Guides thought I was the oddity, the outsider. It was only natural that I would have to fight for what everyone else had so freely. It had always been that way. Doing contract work is a real bitch.
I'd become the office fruit. After all, everyone has their role to play.
Jamieson has been writing since a young age, when he realized he could be writing instead of paying attention in school.
Since then, he has created many worlds in which to experience his fantasies and live out his dreams. He is the author of many best-selling works including Cupid's Delight, Starlight Starbright, and The Awakening. His best-selling Hard series includesHard, Hardening, Harder, Hard Glory and Hardest.
He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario with his his cat, Mave, who thinks she's people.