NYC– you gotta love it, even at 5:30 in the morning there was a smattering of people out getting ready for the day.
“Hey buddy,” a man called out from a small shop, “You drink coffee?”
I looked down at my watch. I was plenty early for my meeting with the publisher.
“I do,” I said, “ But I must inform you, I have extremely high standards. I’m a bit of a connoisseur, you see?”
“Only the very best. You ever hear of Luwak coffee?”
“Isn’t that the coffee that passes through the digestive system of some sort of animal? Do you have that? ”
“Nah. What I got is better. Best tasting coffee in all of NYC”
I chuckled, “That, my good friend, is extremely dubious. “
“No. Really. Try it. If you don’t agree, it’s on the house.”
I entered the narrow building which housed his small dimly lit deli. Sometimes, against all odds, these hole in the wall places can surprise you.
Surprise me, it did. No sooner had I entered the deli then I received a painful blow to the back of my head.
First there was nothing but darkness and pain, then voices so faint they seemed far far away. When I finally was able to open my eyes, I was laying on a sofa in the waiting room of some kind of office. A young, fairly good looking secretary or receptionist or something knelt down next to me.
“Here,” she said giving me the water and two small tablets,”this will help with the pain. My name is Sanya. Let me know if you need anything.”
I gulped them down.
“Where the fuck am I? How did I get here? Whose office is this?”
The young lady went back to her desk and pushed a button. The door to the inner office buzzed and came unlocked.
“When you feel like you can move, go on in. She’s been waiting for you.”
“Who?” I demanded. There was no response. So after a few moments I entered the room. The woman in the chair was swiveled away from the door looking out the window at the city.
“Brian?!” exclaimed the woman as the chair spun around. “How are you?”
“Irritated. With a head ache. Who the hell are you?”
“We’ve met before, but I see you don’t remember. But then why would you. I was only one of a very large number of women you’ve -“ she paused.
“I’m not sure what verb to use here, “ she explained, “Known? Fucked? Screwed? Had your way with? You’re the writer, which one would you use?”
“What is this? Some kind of a shakedown?’
“No. No. It’s an opportunity. For you. Business”
“What sort of business knocks someone out and drags him across town for a business meeting?”
The woman ignored my questions. “You are the author of a series of extremely popular books. And I want to base a game on those books.”
I stood up to leave. “Call my agent.” I headed toward the door. “And I will be pressing charges for this.”
The woman stood up behind her desk. “I think not. Sit down Mr Jackson. I want to ask you a few questions.“
I stood at the door. A sharp pain was starting in my skull. I decided that sitting back down wasn’t such a bad idea. Maybe I’d find out what this bitch wanted.
“Here’s an interesting book “Giving him what he wants: How to be the perfect Girlfriend” by Ashley Burgette. Have you read it? I want you to tell me the truth now.”
“Not my kind of book. Sorry.” I laughed. No sooner had the words come out of my mouth then an intense pain ripped through my entire body. I was shaking.
“Oh, did I forget to mention that the nanobots in the capsules you swallowed are programmed to punish you when you fail to follow my orders. I asked you for the truth. Do you really think I don’t know that you wrote the book under the Nom de Plum of Ashley Burgette.
I shrugged, trying not to show how much pain I was in. “Nanobots don’t work this fast.”
“No, of course not. But since you have been ingesting them in your drinks for six months, most of the work has already begun.”
“The work? What is your problem lady.”
“I, and many other intelligent women I know, feel that this book you wrote, Miss Burgette, is an affront to women everywhere. “
“Then don’t read it,” I said, “All I know is that millions of women have bought the book. So somebody must like it. And I don’t respond to the name Miss Burgette.”
“I’m sorry. You’re right ‘Miss Burgette’ is much too formal. You prefer to be call Ashley. You do don’t you?”
I started to say ‘No’ but I could feel the pain begin again. “Yeah sure, you can call me Ashley if it floats your boat.”
“My boat? Don’t worry about my boat. I’d worry about your own boat if I were you. I think it may be sinking”
There was a strange sensation that started at my crotch and began moving through my whole body. “What is happening?”
“Ashley is such a pretty, feminine name, and just between us girls, you don’t look at all like an Ashley. So you know what I thought? I thought ‘Makeover time.’ You like that idea don’t you?”
I wanted to tell her to fuck off, but when I tried to the pain increased again.
“Can’t find the right words to express you appreciation? And you a writer and all. I think ‘Oh my god, that would be so awesome!’ sounds about right for your character in this little drama.
“Oh my god, a makeover would be so awesome!” I parroted. The pain subsided a little.
“And you know the best part? We don’t even have to go to the Spa. Those sweet little nanobots have been busy as little beavers working from the inside out. Now I need you to make some choices here. Blonde or Brunette? Breast size, that sort of thing.”
My body felt like it was being ripped into a thousand pieces and I was sweating profusely. I couldn’t say anything because the pain was so great.
“At another loss for words?” she whispered, “ As a fellow writer, I can sympathize. So look up at the screen. I’m going to put some photographs up. All you have to do is say ‘that one, please’ and point you see the choice you want to make. If you don’t make a choice, I will pick for you and your pain will increase. Hair color. This one or this one”
This went on for what seemed like forever. Hair color. Hair length. Height. Booby size. Booty size. Nose shape. Lips. Eyes. That one, please That one, please. That one, please. My body was on fire. And my mind was rebelling against everything. I fainted.
When I regained consciousness for the second time today. I was lying in a nicely made bed in what was definitely a girl’s bedroom. I stumbled up and into the bathroom. The reflection was of a young woman in her mid-twenties, long brunette hair, big hazel eyes, about five seven, wearing black lacy lingerie, stockings and garters. If it wasn’t my reflection it was definitely a girl I would have hit on. I had made all these decisions myself, though I didn’t have much choice. Except the Lingerie. No way I would pick out these things.There was a knock on the bedroom door, followed by a girls voice. “Ashley are you awake? I have something to give you, can I come in?”
I didn’t answer, but I saw the door open a little anyway. A blonde poked her head into the room.
“Ashley, you don’t know me, but you’re my new roomie, Bobbie . Your aunt explained everything to me. She left you a package.”
“What did she tell you?” The voice that came out of my mouth was – of course – a girl’s voice. “Do you know why I’m wearing this ridiculous outfit?”
“She said it was what you wear wearing when you fainted. I would have given you one of my nightshirts, but she said not to waken you. That you had been through an ordeal and needed sleep.Here’s the package. ”
“Thanks,” I ripped the top off the package though I had a strong suspicion I knew what it was. Sure enough, It was a book by Ashley Burgette – Giving him what he wants: How to be the perfect Girlfriend. There was a card sticking out of the book.
“Dearest Ashley. I am so thrilled that you have agreed to field-test the contents of your book for us while you are living in New York City. Your rent is paid in full for six months. You will find a credit card in your purse that will help you get established, but you will most certainly need some outside income. At the end of six months we will meet so I can meet your boyfriend and see if he thinks you have lived up to the book’s standards. Just think: out there in the city is the young man looking for the girlfriend of his dreams. And here you are. Hope you like your new sleep wear. I picked it special for you. It’s similar to the outfit in chapter 3, don’t you think? Keep in touch. Love, Your Aunt xoxoxo
End part 1