Cordelia Showers

Barb is on the floor of her apartment doing push-ups, huffing heavily, when Cordelia comes in through the front door (and only door, to be honest).

“Not this flapjack again,” Cordelia says.

“Two hundred and forty-seven,” Barb grunts on the push up.

“You’re a cyborg,” Cord says. She steps over Barb on the push down, and heads for the locker on the far wall, which in a ten foot by ten foot apartment isn’t very far at all, really. “You don’t need to exercise. Lubricant and ball bearings, that’s all the health regime you need.”

“Helps me to concentrate,” Barb grumbles, and pushes up. “Two hundred and forty-eight.”

Cord sends her passcode to the locker, which hums busily a moment as it locates her particular box amongst the others belonging to the eleven other tenants of the apartment, then lazy Susans it behind the plasteel wall and opens the security panel for her to access it. “You’ve got chems for your meat brain. Concentrate with that,” she says. She unbuckles her holster and puts it and her zap gun into the locker.

“Two hundred and fifty-one. Bad for your brain,” Barb huffs. “Natural’s better. More gooder.”

Cord taps the locker’s screen and the panel closes. “More gooder? Are you even hearing yourself right now?”

“Hearing sure. Two hundred and fifty-three. All sure. Great sure.” Barb grunts like a synth hog on the ups, exhales like a thermal exhaust on the downs.

“And for holy flapjack,” Cord exclaims, raising her hands to either side of her head, “why are you making so much flapjacking noise? You don’t even have lungs!”

“Noise helps me concentrate. Two hundred and fifty-six. Focus on the burn. Two hundred and fifty-seven.”

“There is no burn,” Cord says. “If there is, you need to go to the Repair Care and get it looked at.”

“And I have lungs. Two hundred and sixty. Just synthetic.”

Cord unstrips the tabs on her worksuit and peels it off. “Plus you’re in my shower,” she says. She stuffs the worksuit into the refabber slot by the locker panel.

“Almost done,” Barb says. “Two hundred and thirty-five more to go.”

“I’m not waiting for you. I’ve got chunder gonk on me from a deadbeat I had to zap today, and I’m not going into my crypt until I wash that flapjack off.”

“Go ahead. Two hundred and sixty-four. I’m good.”

Cord makes a rumbling growl of frustration that only a higher quality SpeakBoxx can make, and steps one foot over Barb, straddling her. “This is idiotic,” Cord says.

“Two hundred and sixty-six,” Barb says.

Cord raises her hand to the shower control pad by the front door, and it hums to life. She glances at her wrist, checking her available credits on the display there, and then decides to flapjack it. It’s been an obnoxious day and Barb isn’t helping. She’s earned the right to a quality shower today. On the panel, she taps the deluxe option. Expensive but worth it.

A light mist of BoomBoom ChemKleen drifts lightly down from the ceiling port at her, and Cord closes her eyes and tries to relax. Not easy, with Barb at her feet, grunting, wheezing, and two hundred and seventy-threeing, but she does her best.

The misting stops, and then three jets of colored foam shoot out onto her from ceiling nozzles: red, white, and blue. Cord holds her arms out and twists and turns as best she can, trying not to trip over her irritating Barb of a roommate.

“Two hundred and eighty.”

A panel in the ceiling slides back, and the segmented GonkWarsh arm lowers. The arm whirs and spins, finding a good angle on Cord’s foamy form, and starts blasting her with fresh ChemKleen. The colored foam and deadbeat gonk runs down Cord’s body, dripping onto Barb beneath her, and disappears into suction drains as it hits the plasteel floor of the apartment.

The deluxe option brings a gentle anti-corrosion hot waxing spray to the table, and that’s what Cord brought out the big credits for. She raises her arms above her head, letting the GonkWarsh do its thing, luxuriating in the heat and waxy goodness.

“Three hundred,” Barb grunts.

The GonkWarsh sputters to a finish, and contracts itself tightly as it is lifted up through the ceiling panel, its job complete. The final cycle is next, the DryFlare, and three warning beeps sound through the apartment’s speaker system. “Close your eyes,” Cord says, more reflexively than out of concern for Barb’s optical sensors. They’re high enough quality; a few hours of flare blindness never killed anybody, unless they wandered off into traffic or something, at least.


The melodic wash complete tune tinkles out, and Cord opens her eyes again. For just a fraction of a moment, she is enveloped in the mental and emotional warm and fuzzies, her shower and hot wax having been the perfect capper to her work day. She has just enough time to feel a satisfied and relaxed sigh start to build up in her SpeakBoxx, just the barest hint of a complete and total system balance, and then everything crashes and burns as Barb bobs up from the floor in front of her, like a cork exploding out of a champagne bottle.

Deluxe shower,” she says, absolutely no longer out of breath, grunting and wheezing not in the slightest. She runs her fingers over her shining, waxed, and marvelously clean IRLskin. “Very, very nice, Cordelia.”

“What?” Cord says, looking at Barb’s gloriously clean, majestic glowing red hair, something that would be the envy of any VerpNet advert model.

“I would have been happy with a quick rinse,” Barb says, “but this is…” She makes the universal chef’s kiss fingers-against-the-lips gesture. “You’re a real princess among cys.”

“You flapjacker,” Cord growls. “That was my shower you were stealing.”

Sharing,” Barb says. “Not stealing.”

“I’m going to unplug you while you’re sleeping,” Cord says.

Barb raises her arm and taps the front of her wrist, bringing up the time display. “Can’t right now,” she says. “My shift starts in twenty, so I have to get a move on.” She taps the closet panel on the other side of the front door from the wash panel, and the closet slot spits out a folded black worksuit in her size. “You’ll have to murder me tomorrow.”

“So much wrath,” Cord says. “I have so much wrath for you, Watermoth.”

Barb shimmies into her worksuit. “Watch out, Cord. That hydraulic tubing above your eye is starting to bulge. Your pressure’s gonna blow if you’re not careful.”

“Going to unplug you, disassemble you, and stuff you into the refabber.”

Barb ties her hair into a quick ponytail, then grabs her zap gun and holster from the locker. “Physician, calm thyself.” She grabs her boots (her unapproved by BoomBoom Corporation footwear, mind you), and steps barefoot around Cord to slide open the front door. She stops halfway through the doorway, and turns back to Cordelia. “You know what would relax you?”

“Shut up,” Cord says.

“A really hot shower,” Barb says, grinning from ear to ear. She gives Cord a quick two-fingered salute, then slips out of the apartment, and the door slides shut behind her.

Cordelia stands in the center of the living room for nearly a full thirty seconds before she turns the volume of her SpeakBoxx to maximum and screams loud enough to rattle the panels of the apartment’s dozen sleep crypts in the walls around her.

Flapjacking Barb.


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