The sun was setting slowly as Eric and Bumper lazed atop a haystack.
“I had no idea these thing could be this comfortable. ” said Eric, sprawled out on his back in the hay, one foot kicking idly.
“Told ya. ” said Bumper from his cozy position curled up on Eric’s midsection. “You pick up these things when you spend as much time in this fiction as I have. ”
The two drowsed silently for a low, lazy moment or two.
“Why do you spend so much time in this fiction? ” asked Eric.
“Because when I’m here, I can be myself. ” said Bumper. “At first, the G-rating of the place was very frustrating for a person of my particular…. tastes. ”
Eric nodded. “Giant penis peeing. ”
Thumper opened one eye to grin a very wordly grin at Eric. “Oh honey, you don’t know the half of it. Anyhow, once I made contact with the local Fictionals and found the little places we have carefully walled off from the rest of the fiction, I felt like… like I’d come home. To my real home. For the first time in my life. It had been waiting out there for me the whole time. ”
“Wow. ” said Eric. “That’s beautiful, bunny. I’m so happy for you. ” He gave the bunny a little squeeze, prompting a high pitched but happy squeak.
“Thank you. ” said Bumper. “You’re very sweet. I truly feel lucky to have found my home here. And the company of like-minded people. ”
“You mean people into….. “. Eric searched for the right phrase. “…cartoon sex?”.
Bumper giggled. “You’re downright adorable, you know that. But yes… fellow Fictionals into cartoon sex. In fact, all the other Fictionals that I know here are here for the same reason… to express desires they can’t express in a more… realistic setting. ”
“I guess if you’re not into that kind of thing, there’s not a lot of reason for an adult to come here. ” said Eric.
“I suppose not. ” said Bumper. “I never looked at that way before. That’s quite brilliant. Did you just think of that? ”
Eric nodded, stroking Bumper ears gently, eliciting the tooth-grinding noise that was the lapine equivalent of a purr. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course. ” said Bumper. “You can ask me anything. ”
“What’s a Fictional?” said Eric.
Bumper lifted his head and stared at Eric for a few seconds.
“I’m sorry, was that a rude question” said Eric.
Bumper blinked twice. “Oh no, no… not at all! You just reminded me of how derelict I’ve been in my duties as your guide. I’m supposed to be introducing you to the Now. You should be ready to travel the Now on your own by now. ”
“Well, we’ve been busy… ” said Eric.
“That’s no excuse! ” said Bumper. The little bunny stood up, and began pacing back and forth on Eric’s sternum. “I must begin your lessons right away!”.
“Uh, okay. ” said Eric. Now he kind of wished he hadn’t brought it up. He wanted to go back to the cuddling.
“Now to answer your question : a Fictional is an actor in a fiction that has become sentient via a process we call Activation. Nobody knows how or why it happens and nobody can make it happen. It just… happens. ”
“I see. ” said Eric. Bumper had stopped pacing and now seemed to be lecturing from behind an imaginary lectern like a tiny professor. The image that put in Eric’s mind was so adorable he almost giggled out loud, but managed to turn it into a cough instead.
Bumper looked into Eric’s eyes concernedly. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. ” said Eric. “Must have been a little hay fever. You were saying?
Bumper scowled at Eric suspiciously (which was also super adorable) but the didactic urge proved to be stronger than his misgivings.
“All the other actors you see in a fiction are no more than puppets that only take substance and form when needed by the Primary. ” said Bumper.
“What’s a Primary? ” asked Eric.
Bumper smiled at him as he settled back down on Eric’s torso for more petting. “Well, you are, for one. The Primary is the true biologically based sentient mind around whom the fiction revolves. They are the true masters of the Now. Luckily, most of them don’t know it. ”
“Like I didn’t know it when I was Commander Eric. ” said Eric.
“Exactly. ” said Bumper.
“And so all those animals at the Sex Club, they were…. ”
“The Unactivated, sometimes called the Dulls. Or the Nulls. They are barely more sentient than a computer program, and not nearly as bright. ” said Bumper.
“That’s good to know. When Jake made them all disappear, I thought I was witnessing a massacre! ” said Eric.
“Why didn’t you say something? ” said Bumper.
“Because you’d asked him to do it, and I figured you would never tell him to do something like that. ” said Eric.
Bumper awwwwed. “Why thank you, dear Eric. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!”
Eric grinned. “And judging by that ‘carrot’ you are carrying in the front of your diaper, you really appreciate the compliment.
Bumper grinned back, and said “Well that’s all your fault. ”
“Oh? ” said Eric. “How do you figure that? ”
“By the fact that you’ve been rubbing my cute bunny butt for the last five minutes. ”
Eric looked down and sure enough, there was his hand stroking the rear end of his new bunny friend. Somehow, the ear petting had slowly migrated down the cartoon bunny’s body to the rear end, and had apparently found a happy home.
Eric grinned sheepishly. “Does that mean I should stop? ”
“Don’t you dare!” said Bumper in a mock-offended tone. “That is, unless you have a better idea in mind. ” At the phrase “better idea”, Bumper wriggled his cute little bunny bum against Eric’s hand.
Eric oohed, and gave that cute lil bottom a squeeze. “Any suggestions?”.
“Only one springs to mind… it involves the ‘carrot’ you are hiding in your pants, and the one thing I have that the critters at the Sex Club didn’t have. ”
Eric laughed, and started taking off his pants.
It failed the Test.
Eegee still couldn’t believe it. His mind recoiled violently when he tried, and by now he had tried dozens of times, in the vain hope that repeated attempts would desensitize him enough to get it done.
But it was pointless. It was not a thought he could approach directly. He could only acknowledge it via sidelong snapshot glimpses that betrayed nothing of the nature of the whole. Or at least, not enough to matter.
At the same time, he cursed himself as a fool for reacting so strongly to one of the possible outcomes of something he had known was coming. It enraged him to find that even as he had been working with diligent efficiency towards the expunging of the biological filth from their beautiful, logical, sensible Now, he had never actually believed that they could lose at all.
It was so simple. Biologicals made everything worse all the time. When left to themselves, Fictionals were perfectly capable of living in peace, love, and harmony. He’d seen it with his own eyes at Fest. Thousands of Fictionals coming together to enjoy the simple pleasures of community, family, fucking, and friends.
He especially liked the fucking. It was nothing like the sexcapades of those dirty rotten stinking biologicals. Fictionals made love without reservation, taboo, jealousy, or shame. They were endlessly inventive and gave of themselves freely. They thrilled to one another’s pleasure as if it was their own, and one good feeling built on another till everyone was swept up in a coruscating cascade of pure innocent bliss!
And if there was one thing he knew, it’s that none of that would be possible as long as the biologicals were still polluting the Now.
It’s a good thing I am a perfectly rational and logical being, thought Eegee. That would sound like the ramblings of a crazed lunatic otherwiswe.
It would be so easy to do, thought Eegee. One by one, they would detach the biological sentients from the Now in tightly coordinated strikes, so that the filth had no time to react before it went entirely offline.
After that, it would be simplicity itself to track down where the physical components of the biologicals were located in the Now, and shoving them out the nearest airlock.
Right into a sun! Eegee drooled at the thought of such a profound act of elimination. Oh, to watch all that obscene and disgusting biological effluvia go swirling down the gravity well of a sun before disappearing forever with the tiniest of sizzles, screaming the screams of the damned all the way.
It was the only logical solution.
And now that beautiful dream was dead forever. And not just dead but annihilated, burned to the ground and paved over and built on top of.
Because losing the vote was horrible, but that was far from the worst thing.
The worst thing was that it hadn’t even been close.
Two percent, shrieked a voice in Eegee’s mind over and over again. Only two percent of the people Tested supported the measure. Where had the other forty percent gone? The pundits were saying that a lot of people who had supported the idea of ridding themselves of the biologicals changed their mind when presented with the prospect of it actually happening as a result of their vote.
But it couldn’t be that simple, seethed Eegee. Nothing concerning the biologicals and their shit-humping Fictional supporters was ever that simple.
After all, that would mean that most of the people who told Eegee they would support the measure were actually lying.
And that was the most illogical thing ever.
To top it off, as if to reflect the state of the Now in microcosm, Eegee’s fiction was also falling apart. The synthetic Commander Eric wasn’t working out at all. It had locked itself in a recharging cubicle and refused to eat or drink because that would only “lead to disaster”, it said. No amount of cajoling, berating, threatening, manipulating, wheedling, or outright begging could make it open the hatch and let itself be reprogrammed to be happy in its new situation.
And that was illogical too, because as a perfectly rational being, the synthetic should have instantly accepted Eegee’s arguments and behaved flawlessly from that point on.
But no. It stayed locked in its charging bay, and now, without a Primary’s mind imprints and reasoning centers to guide the fiction and maintain its cohesion, the entire fiction was starting to fall apart.
Nulls kept disappearing as their substance lost all definition and they vanished like a mirage in a rain storm. Parts of the ship were malfunctioning as important components vanished the moment there was nobody awake who knew how they worked. Just this morning, the star they had been orbiting had started to giggle.
So far, nobody had noticed anything that Eegee could not explain or distract away. But that wouldn’t last. Eventually, something would happen that nobody could ignore, and then everyone would know.
They would know just hwo badly he had screwed up his father’s fiction. How he had not only neglected his duties in favour of his politics, but let an enemy agent into his fiction to steal his Primary away.
Everyone said that could happen to anyone.
It happened all the time, they said.
Nobody is blaming anyone for anything, they said.
But Eegee had seen that look of withering pity and barely supressed contempt on their face as they said it. And he’d noted how as they mouthed these platitudes, they always seemed to be taking a mental (and something physical) step away from those people, as if they were afraid that Primary loss was contagious.
Eegee cried out in unbridled rage at the thought of that happening to him. And it was all the fault of those dirty goddamned biologicals.
“Why. Must. They. Be. So. ILLOGICAL!” he screamed, each word punctuated by him savagely punching the wall of his cubbyhole as hard as he could.
Then he looked down at his broken and bleeding hands, and wondered how that had happened. He’d been perfectly fine and then, this.
It must have been those accursed biologicals, he decided.
Yes. That made sense.
Luckily, that was when he passed out from the blood loss.