Gregson’s baggage was heavier than he was, and there was nothing but runway for half-a-mile.

“They call this a resort?” He asked.

“More like a health spa,” Tommy said.

“Not exactly the red-carpet treatment… Oh wait, it looks like we have company.”

Snowmobiles were digesting powder and kicking it up behind them like constipated roosters. Gregson recognized the female form, and at last, he relaxed. He was ready to be put in good hands. They wore yellow jumpsuits, ultra-thin, and Gregson mused, they must keep the body-heat in, among other things.

“We’ve been expecting you.”

Gregson looked at her as she got off. Her hips popped at an angle and her head tilted to the side like she was trying to understand him.

“Don’t try,” Gregson said.

“What?” Her blond hair was braided into pigtails that flicked in the wind.

Gregson couldn’t tell if it was real or fake. She was too perfect. “Let me get behind you. I need to warm up,” he said.

“That’s what I’m here for. Tommy, are you coming in, out of the cold?”

“I’d love to, but I have a flight plan to keep. Gregson.”

Gregson nodded. Mutual respect is like a mutual fund, there’s interest, there has to be interest, for a continuous investment; and Gregson had the feeling he would be seeing Tommy again. He looked at the other two girls. They weren’t as friendly as the one he sat behind. When he smiled at them, it took too long for them to smile back.

“What’s your name?” Gregson asked.

“Plenty, but let’s wait for formal introductions until we get inside. The Master is waiting.”

“The Master?”

“Yes; we do as he says.”

It was a concept so far away from the modern woman, it left Gregson wondering… There was another problem— Plenty was giving off too much heat. It wasn’t unpleasant—she had a hot body, almost too hot. The hanger they were gaining on was solid concrete. It reminded Gregson of an ammunition’s depo, similar to ones found in the Soviet Union before it fell. The doors opened and they entered. There was a red carpet, leading to stairs and a scaffolding where steam billowed into the air like a dragon giving off bad breath.

“Onions and Garlic; they’re a miracle remedy the Master believes in. Takes a bit of getting used to.”

“And what’s your name?” Gregson asked.

“I’m Play Thing 1 and this is Play Thing 2.” They both bowed in the Japanese style, giving Gregson respect. It was strange, even in a non-Western country. There was something odd about these women, they were too perfect—too much how a man wanted women to be.

“Now take off your clothes.”

“What?” Gregson asked.

“It’s for the steam,” Play Thing 2 said.

“Oh.” Gregson undid his cargo shorts, took off his shoes and shirt, and wrapped himself in the gee. The steam seeped into his pores like a drug. He instantly felt clean. A beer sweat came over him, similar to the asparagus smell or coffee percolation in the urinal.

“You smell good,” Play Thing 1 said. She kissed his shoulder and put her arm around his belly.

“You taste like alcohol and Chinese.”

“Those are two things I love,” Gregson said.

“And what else do you love?” She asked. Gregson noticed her zipper at the back of her neck. She had deliberately turned around and he started pulling, revealing skin, as soft and sensuous as his airbrushed imagination ever dreamed of.

“I see you have met Play Thing 1 and Play Thing 2,” a voice echoed across the room, with casual and commanding superiority.

A man in a business suite, with slicked-back hair and a predator nose walked out of the steam.

“I trust you have enjoyed our red-carpet treatment?”

“How did you know?”

“Let’s just say, I have eyes everywhere.” He looked at the blond beauties that stood in a perfect row in front of him, and the one who stood in front of Gregson with her top down.

“Um, I’m not sure I got them just right. Play Thing 1, come in for surgery tomorrow. Gregson, I’ll take you to your quarters, we have lots to talk about, but first I would like you to see my psychoanalyst.

The corridor was white, with no variation, which gave Gregson the impression that he had died and gone to heaven. It could’ve been heaven—there wasn’t much difference from how he pictured it.

“Here it is.” They stood in front of nothing. The Master put his hand on the wall and it opened. There was a twin bed, with an adjoining bathroom, and a window that looked out onto a launch pad where a rocket pointed to the stars.

“Do you like her?” The Master asked.

“Is she real?”

“We won’t know that until lift off in T minus 36 hours. Until then, I want you to get a mental checkup. Dinner at 5.”

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