A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.



Chapter 3 – Beautiful Music

Tossing his work apron into the clothes hamper, Ethan set down his half empty Big Gulp, and flopped into the couch at one side of his bedroom. It wasn’t the biggest of places, but it was still free. Living at home had it’s advantages. His mom was cool about giving him his space, so long as he kept the place clean and did his share of the housework. It seemed like a pretty fair deal to him, especially considering she was willing to pay for his college tuition. It also meant that he could save much what he made working at Circus Dogs. Some of it went toward Aikido, but that seemed pretty fair too, seeing as he spent about half his life at the dojo.

He pulled the obelisk from his pocket. It was about two inches long, half an inch wide, and maybe an eighth of an inch thick. It appeared to be made of plastic, and he scratched his head trying to figure out where it had come from. Was it part of his car, that had broken off and fallen into his seat from the heat? He’d left his windows slightly cracked to vent the worst of the summer weather, but it was pretty warm nonetheless. Closer examination showed a feint seam near one end, like a cap, and when he grasped the top and bottom and pulled, the smaller piece came off revealing a metal connector. He glanced at his computer, then back to the device.

“USB?” He said to himself, wondering all the more how the strange connector had gotten into his car. He stood up and moved over to his laptop, checking the ports against the one in his hand. Sure enough, it looked to be a match. He flipped open the machine, waited for a second while it woke up, then found an empty USB slot and plugged in the device. Nothing seemed to happen, and he was just about to remove the obelisk when a new icon appeared on the screen. Apparently, the thing was some kind of storage device.  Clicking it open revealed two files, the first named, “ahjdaj” and the second “qwuye”. The first opened to a dialog requesting a “pass key”, which he didn’t have, and the second popped open his text editor and looked to be random characters.

Sighing, he sat back and shook his head. Computers weren’t his thing. His was a gift from his Uncle, and he really only used it for games, music, browsing the internet, and very rarely – actual homework. In fact, if not for a certain helpful neighbor, it would probably be still sitting in its box in the closet.

He glanced out the window, thinking. He hadn’t spoken to Shara at school in a while, maybe she would know what this was all about. It would also give him a legitimate excuse to call her, which was something that made him smile.

His next-door neighbor was about as different a personality from his own as he could ever hope to find, but as weird as she was, she was also completely sexy in a slightly Goth sort of way. The sometimes strange clothes and burly attitude hid a brain though. Shara was a geek’s geek. He’d tried to get her to go out with him a few times, but sadly, she’d never shown any interest. She was willing to be his friend and personal computer expert, however, and sometimes passed him bootleg games in exchange for an occasional ride to school. He wasn’t going to object, and it kept the door open, so to say.

He snagged his cell phone off the desk and dialed. She picked up on the second ring.

“You having DSL trouble again, Bruce?” She asked, as way of a greeting. She sometimes called him “Bruce” as in, Bruce Lee, because of his interest in the martial arts. A few moments later he saw her looking out her own window at him.

“Uh, no…” He stammered. “The internet is fine, but I do have a bit of a puzzle for you.”

“A puzzle?”

He turned in his desk chair so that he could see her better. She was dressed in what was a pretty mild school outfit for her; a white short sleeve blouse which was unbuttoned at the top enough to show a bit of her black bra, a gray pleated skirt – just long enough to pass the school prudes, stereotypical black-rimmed glasses, and a dozen or so bracelets of indeterminate composition. He knew at least a few were ribbon cables from some old computer she’d taken apart, because he had asked.

“I found some kind of USB thing in my car, and it has some weird encrypted files on it.”

She leaned forward a bit, greatly improving his view, or so he thought, and squinted at him between the houses. “A flash drive?” She asked.

“Yeah! I think that’s what it is, anyway. I couldn’t remember the name.”

“Wait… So you ‘found’ a USB flash drive on the street, and you just popped it into your computer?”


He heard her sigh. “You’re an idiot, you know that, don’t you? Please tell me that antivirus software I gave you is still running?”

“Oh! Yeah, totally! So… what do you think?”

She sighed again. “Alright, I’ll be right over. I probably need to be sure you haven’t just hosed your bootloader with some trojan. Don’t do anything with it until I get there, okay?”

“Thanks, Shara.”

She hung up and disappeared from the window. Ethan stood there for a few moments, thinking that maybe he might try to ask her out again… maybe, when he looked at his room. He then spend the next sixty-two seconds in a mad ‘panic clean’, shoving most of the mess into the closet. He popped a couple of Tic Tacs in his mouth just as he heard his mom let the girl in downstairs. A moment later she appeared at his door, and he thought to himself that her outfit was way more sexy close up.

“Yo, Bruce, let’s have a look then.” She said, without even pausing as she squeezed past him and dropped into his desk chair. “Is this the flash drive you found?” She asked, pointing to the obelisk.

He nodded.

“So, do you eat random food you find laying about as well?”

“Huh?” He replied, a little confused at the question.

She glared at him over her glasses. “It’s monumentally stupid to connect an unknown storage device to your computer, Ethan. Seriously. It basically bypasses a lot of the built-in protections and gives a potential intruder user-level access to your machine.”

“If you say so.” He answered, smiling.

“You’re hopeless.” She said, turning back to the screen.

“I’m leaving for work, Ethan.” Called his mother from downstairs. “There’s leftover Jajangmyeon and some Gimbap in the fridge. I’m sure there’s enough for two if Shara would like to stay and eat…”

Somewhat ironically, Ethan’s mother was always happy to see him with a girl, rather than spending so much time at the dojo, and approved of their neighbor despite her somewhat unorthodox taste in clothing, not that it had ever helped him get a date.

“Thanks, mom.”

He heard the door close. Shara had her eyes glued to the computer as she carefully worked some magic to see if he had infected the machine.

“Your mom’s noodles rock.” She said without looking up. “Well, it doesn’t look like there was an obvious payload. No rootkits that I can see.”

“Is that good?” He asked.

She briefly made eye contact. “You lucked out. It’s not overtly dangerous. I can’t speak for the files though. Where did you say you found this?”

“My car. It was sitting in the passenger seat when I got in after work.”

She frowned. “And it wasn’t there before? Maybe dropped by one of your Kung Fu friends?”

“Aikido… And no. I haven’t had anyone else in my car in days. I would have noticed it sitting there. I couldn’t get into one of the files…”

“I found it. It’s encrypted, and is asking for a cryptographic key… from the look of it, a big one, 4k at least.”


“Four thousand kilobytes, lunkhead. Uh, think of it like a password.”

He brightened. “Like I use to log into my email.”

“Right, only this is a really long and random password.”

Ethan was thinking. “How long?”

“Huh? Maybe four pages of text, why?”

“Look at the other file…”

Shara clicked on the second file. “You wouldn’t put the decryption key with your encrypted file, that would defeat the purpose… what the hell?”

“You said random. Maybe they wanted this to be decrypted.”

Shara was scrolling through the random characters. “You know, you might be right. This doesn’t even look like compiled code, and the length is right. But, that would be utterly retarded from a security standpoint…” She was working with the first file again. “I’ll be damned. It is the key… It’s decompressing into a pair of files.”

“Well, what is it?” Asked Ethan, impatiently.

“Audio files… I don’t get it. Why would you put 4096 character encryption on a couple of audio files, then include the key on the transfer medium?”

“Audio? Like music?”

She nodded. “Maybe. They’re AIFF files, which is a lossless audio format.”

Ethan grimaced. “You keep using these terms that mean absolutely nothing to me… What is ‘lossless’? Like it can’t get deleted or something?”

Shara snorted. “No. It means the audio format is uncompressed, and doesn’t lose any of the actual data. A file format like MP3’s on the other hand, is a ‘lossy’ format. It’s compressed to take up less space, but some of the fidelity is lost. It’s why you can get a thousand cheap MP3’s on your iPod, but they sound like crap on your expensive car stereo. Do you have speakers for this thing? I want to listen to this.”

“Nah.” He explained, as he reached under the desk. “Only headphones. My mom won’t let me pollute the rest of the house with my ‘rocky roll’ music. Here.” He handed her a pair of headphones and plugged them into the computer.

“Hey, these are nice.” She commented. “Another gift from your Uncle Jake?”

His uncle was considered the ‘black sheep’ of the family, which meant that Shara had liked him at once.

“How did you know that?”

She smiled. “No offense, but your uncle has way better taste in tech gear than you do.”

“Yeah.” He mumbled, dropping back onto the couch while Shara continued to work with his laptop.

“I don’t get it… These audio files are huge, over a gig apiece. And the bit-rate is insane. I doubt most standard players would even be able to handle them.”

“Bit-rate?” He asked, his face contorting from yet another odd computer term.

“Think of it like the level of quality. Your typical cheapo MP3 music file has a bit-rate of 128 kilobits per second, 192 for higher quality stuff, but both of those are heavily compressed. A really good audio CD is at maybe 1,400. Even professional sound studios, which are working with massive tracks and raw audio files rarely go much above 4000… This,” she said, pointing at the screen, her bracelets jingling, “is at nearly 8000 kilobits per second. That’s crazy, even if you had absolutely killer sound equipment and people who by some genetic miracle, could actually tell the difference!”

Ethan sighed and kicked his legs up so that he was laying nearly flat on the couch. Shara was cute when she went all geek on him, but it made his head hurt.

“I don’t…”

“Listening to this would be like watching an IMAX film on the two inch screen of your cell phone. All that extra resolution would be made meaningless.”

He frowned, but said nothing.

“Well,” she continued, “it looks like I can at least open them in your audio player. I think your laptop might be able to handle the throughput, so let’s see what these… Hey, it is music…”

“Isn’t that what you were expecting?”

“I don’t know what I was expecting; maybe a Dolby movie soundtrack, or the audio side of a satellite uplink… anything but music.”

“What kind of music?”

She was a little slow responding, her head bobbing slightly to some beat he couldn’t hear.

“I think I’d call it electronica, though that term is a bit broad. This is… more… techno… Maybe a little dance trance…”

Ethan looked over at the girl, who seemed completely transfixed on the music. She was leaning forward slightly, staring at his computer screen with an intensity he recognized. She’d gone into one of her geek zones. He’d have a hard time getting anything more than one syllable responses from her until she was done with whatever had caught her attention. He also knew it could be a while.

Not that he was at all interested in ‘electronica’ or ‘trance’ or whatever she was listening to. He was much more of a classic rock kind of guy. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, trying for the moment to forget that such an attractive girl was sitting in his bedroom. It didn’t really work, but he did drift off to sleep anyway.

In his dream, Shara was explaining how decreasing the compression ratio of his clothing could improve his Aikido tremendously, especially if he listened to hip-hop while he practiced. But it wasn’t working out, and only caused his keikogi to fall open. His hakama was long gone, which might have worried him less if he had been wearing anything else under it. It also didn’t help that the entire class that day seemed to be made up of the school’s female cheerleading squad. One of the smaller girls had just thrown him to the mat, pinning him flat on his back while she giggled and pointed to his groin, specifically his manhood, which was now exposed and in full salute for everyone to see. The entire class joined in on the giggling, but strangely, he wasn’t bothered until Shara appeared, looking down over him. She was panting lustfully as she rubbed her belly and whispered that seeing him practice was really turning her on, but she couldn’t go out with him because all he had to eat was leftover noodles…

Ethan’s eyes snapped open with a slight jerk, and he pulled his trapped wrist from under the couch cushion. He sighed, just glad that the daymare was slowly fading from his consciousness, when he looked up, his eyes going wide.

Shara was standing over him. More startling was the fact that she was rubbing her belly and panting, just as she had been in his dream. Her face, however, was a mask of almost painful desperation. She appeared to be sweating profusely, and her eyes had a nearly feral intensity to them. She was still wearing the headphones, and he could just make out a rhythmic thumping coming from behind the tiny speakers.

“Uh… Shara?”

Instead of responding, her eyes glazed over a bit and she brought her hands up to the buttons of her blouse. Stunned, he watched as she quickly popped each one until she needed to pull the garment loose from her skirt. Once free, she peeled it over her shoulders and dropped it to the floor.

Ethan was having trouble believing he was seeing the situation clearly. It certainly looked like his previously uninterested neighbor was stripping down for something a lot more personal than noodles. The openmouthed way that she panted over his prone body would be pretty convincing in any other situation, but Shara wasn’t like this with him, ever.

He blinked his eyes several times, and then pinched the back of his hand really hard. He wasn’t dreaming, but Ethan still wasn’t convinced that the girl had somehow had a complete change of heart about him in the span of a few short minutes.

“Shara, are you sure you…”

Crouching down, she reached for his belt. He saw her lick her lips.

“If this is some kind of joke, I swear I’ll…”

She pulled down his fly and was nervously reaching into his pants, her thin fingers sliding over the firmness of his very hard erection with an almost surprised fascination.

“Okay, not a joke.” He gasped, sweat forming on his own brow. “Hey, can you even hear me?” He reached up and placed a hand to either side of her head on the headphones. With a small effort, he tilted her face up so that she was looking directly into his eyes.

“Is this what you want?” He asked again, a bit louder.

She swallowed a second time, then nodded. “Y-yes! Please…”

He started to take off the headphones, but she stopped him. “Leave them.” Then, her breathing deepening, she returned her attention to the bulge in his boxers.

“Oh god…” He exclaimed, as she grasped the top of his jeans and underwear together and yanked them down to his upper thighs. Then, standing, she put her hands under her skirt and eased her panties over her hips, stepping out of them even as she stepped out of her red and green mismatched sneakers. She wasted no more time, but climbed right on top of him on the couch, straddling his thighs. She met Ethan’s eyes once more, and for a brief moment she seemed almost dizzy. But then she was reaching under her and her fingers curled around his shaft, lifting him.

“AH! Holy shit!” He exclaimed as he first started to enter her. He was amazed at how wet she was, and not just her sex, but all along her thighs, as though she had been literally dripping with arousal. He barely had time to appreciate that fact, however, because she was already moving atop him. He saw her almost unconsciously reach behind her and pop the clasp of her bra, pulling it off and tossing it absentmindedly to the floor. He had no idea what to do with his hands, so he simply reached up and smoothed his fingers over the points of her nipples, mesmerized by the smooth softness of her breasts.

Shara’s face clouded into agonized ecstasy almost at once as her pleasure quickly built. Her clipped gasps of joy were like a tonic to Ethan, who had only dreamed of what the girl sounded like having sex. Now, to have her actually bucking atop him with increasing vigor, he fervently hoped he could hold off his own orgasm long enough to appreciate the incredible noises she was making.

“Oh! Oh! Ahh!… Yess! Oh god… Ughn! Ughn! AH! UGHNN! UGHNN! AHHHH!”

Her pace suddenly slowed, her body tensed and arched back as she shivered into violent ecstasy. He felt her flower clench him, and he could hold off no longer. Like a freight train, he grunted and joined her in twitching orgasm, clutching her small body to his as he came.

It was several minutes before he could do more than try to catch his breath. Shara was laying on his chest, her breathing slow and shallow.

“Shara? Hey, are you okay?”

He slipped the headphones off when she didn’t answer.

“Yo, Whelan, are you in there?”

To his surprise, the girl was out cold.

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