#FlashFiction: Re-Entry

Content warning, more R-rated than my usual fare.

The challenge: write a story that is all action. Here, I tried to layer action atop action.

—–

A moan escaped Annetti’s throat, turning to a growl as she struggled with the clasps on Jackson’s suit. Jackson made it hard on her by pressing his body against hers.

The shuttle bounced and threw them to the floor.

Jackson’s mouth found Annetti’s.

She pulled away long enough to say, “Re-entry.”

In response, Jackson slid his hand down along Annetti’s torso, hers free from its suit and now only covered in thin cotton tank and shorts. He reached the final clasp keeping his own suit attached, loosed it.

Annetti took it from there, pulling out the straps, while Jackson kissed her neck, bit at taut tendons.

“Not much time,” Jackson breathed into Annetti’s ear. He tugged at her undershorts, the effort obstructed by other body parts trying to pin them in place.

Annetti shuddered, though that may have been the shuttle moving around her. She kicked the final piece of Jackson’s suit aside.

A pipe burst in the cockpit, ejecting steam into the room. Had Annetti been there, instead of in the rear of the shuttle with Jackson, it would be over already.

She moaned again as Jackson’s kisses worked down her throat, his hands gripping her torso.

But then he stopped, looked into her eyes.

Annetti saw her own wild mix of passion and fear reflected in Jackson’s eyes. He quavered as he held her. “Are you sure?”

She answered with a furious kiss, pressing her lips against his, savage, consuming. Her body melted into his, while his body pressed toward hers, ever stronger.

They had played this game up at the station, this back and forth. Jackson with his words and his eyes. Annetti responding just enough to catch his attention but leave him wondering.

Now, as the shuttle heated around them, Annetti would indulge his curiosity.

She yelped as her hand touched the bulkhead. Jackson lifted her, clutching her with one hand on her shoulders, one on her ass. He kicked the thermal blanket to cover more of the floor.

The shuttle rocked, sending Jackson to one knee as he deposited her on the floor. Annetti tried to sit up, to taste his mouth on hers, but Jackson held her back, one strong hand on her collar bone while the other explored her waistline.

“Please,” Annetti said, breathless. Oxygen levels dropping or something else? “Please, now.”

She knocked Jackson’s restricting arm aside and clung to him, tasting the sweat on his chest and tearing at his shorts.

Jackson was ready, and he shuddered when Annetti grabbed him.

A shearing sound overwhelmed Annetti’s senses for a moment. She blinked and looked up at Jackson, also distracted by it.

“The forward inhibitor array,” he said.

Annetti did not care about that. She squeezed and pulled him toward her.

With a gasp, Jackson knelt over Annetti, who draped her legs over his hips. The inevitability at that point seemed almost too much to bear.

Jackson hovered over top of her, lips parted and breaths shaky.

A moment of silence passed then as the shuttle bounced up and out of the atmosphere for the last time.

Jackson pressed into her.

He parted Annetti with a deliberate pace, their pairing as inevitable as Annetti had never thought it could be.

Then Jackson was all the way inside her. Annetti let out a cry, a primal announcement to the world that she was still alive.

There was no time for holding back now, and Jackson moved with furious determination. Annetti’s body responded to his every movement, and when the shuttle jostled him to one side or the other, it served only to increase her sensation of him.

With Jackson sliding in and out, with Annetti grinding her hips against his, she almost did not notice the klaxon alarms.

A chill swept up and down Annetti’s body as Jackson pressed into her and held there for a moment, kissing her with terrified intensity.

The shuttle’s computer announced imminent decompression. If Annetti had not corrected their descent to such an extreme angle, they would not have even this short time together.

But Annetti did have Jackson, right now.

She twisted her hips, flipping him onto the floor. Annetti kept him inside of her while riding the semi-weightless momentum. Landing atop Jackson pressed him further than she had thought possible.

Annetti ground her hips against Jackson, running fingers through sweaty chest hair; it really was getting hot in the cabin now.

Jackson’s eyes bulged and his mouth opened in a silent gasp as they moved together.

With little panting breaths, Annetti took one of Jackson’s hands in her own and squeezed it.

The shuttle shuddered around them.

Past a stuttering breath, Jackson said, “I’m glad it was you.”

Annetti nodded. Her head shot upward as a flash of sensation lanced up through her. It quivered, threatening to tip the cup of pleasure and spill itself all over her.

More alarms rang out, more shearing metal tore away from the shuttle.
Jackson’s grip redoubled on Annetti’s hand, and he grabbed at her waist, no longer thrusting, just pressing as hard as he could.

The dam burst in Annetti’s body.

She screamed as Jackson filled her with his warmth.

She screamed as her body clenched tightly to his.

She screamed as the shuttle disintegrated.

—–

And now for the post-game analysis, brought to you by me. Because I wrote it.

There’s just something about writing sex.

It isn’t easy.

Part of the reason it’s not easy? A careful balance must be achieved between proper description of the physical motions involved and the circumspect metaphorical interpretation of the act.

Unless you’re writing for some bizarre medical textbook that requires a play-by-play of the intercourse, you don’t want to get too specific. You don’t want to become the Tom Clancy of sex scenes, describing just how many millimeters of what body part were enveloped by the other. You don’t want to use too many terms like ‘flaccid’ and ‘turgid.’ In fact, if you follow the advice of some seasoned sex scene writers, using terms like that calls for immediate evacuation and reassessment.

Also, you also can’t afford to get too general. Speaking of “two people’s passions intersecting” is certainly a colorful phrase, but what does it mean? Most people that have had sex will probably figure out what you mean by “the lovers became one,” but even that is a bit of a cop-out. Who is doing what to who?

Plus, the physical act of sex, real sex, is sweaty and messy and funny and breathtaking and frustrating and, at times, hairy. Using language to capture all of that without going too far or too vague seems a nigh impossible task, especially to us amateurs.

But sex scenes can be important. So much of human motivation ties into the sex drive that leaving it out of a story can potentially rob it of its impact. Obviously, a lot of this comes down to understanding the story; knowing when to omit it or gloss over it is just good workmanship of the authorial craft. Knowing your audience is also key: do they expect a three chapter raunch fest in the middle of the murder mystery or will the slightest mention of milky thighs lead to a mass recall of your book?

Ultimately it comes down to the story. Your story. What is right for the story you want to tell?

I am a bit squeamish about sex scenes, because I am an American who was raised in a largely conservative, religious environment. My understanding is that a lot of American culture is finicky at best about open discussion of sex, though I suspect that is a changing trend. Therefore, the times that I read something with sex in it as a younger person, I had dual motivations: one side proclaimed that I must shut my mind to this abominable material while my glands insisted that absorbing every bit of sexy material was only right. Doubtless, psychologists and sociologists could have a lively discussion on the effects of a childhood exposed in any way, shape, or form to sexuality, but sex scenes did have one definite effect: they drew me into a story that might have lost me otherwise. (I still remember one book with an almost entirely forgettable plot up until two of the characters, young people apparently on opposite sides of the conflict, met in a moonlit swimming pool and… activities ensued.) Maybe using sex to tie things together is not morally or ethically correct, but it is certainly successful at times.

I wrote this particular story as a response to yet another flash fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds blog. I like doing those because I often use them to stretch beyond my comfort zone. This one says to write a story entirely consisting of action, front to back. Our host suggests a few different types of action that could transpire, and I thought he was joking when he suggested ‘fucking’ as a viable choice. Then my wife read the prompt and insisted I give it serious consideration. Heidi is good at helping me push out into new realms… sometimes too good (read: annoying). So I did think about it, and Mr. Wendig is right (of course), that having sex (or any of its many variations) is indeed action, and further that a satisfying sex scene could probably fit into a thousand word story.

But since I kinda sorta hate myself, I decided not to be satisfied with mere coupling. I mean, every day, millions upon millions of people have sex. It’s exciting sometimes, tantalizing no doubt, and surely fascinating in its own right, but sex is also sort of common.

That’s why I decided to add some other action to the story.

Because one of the big things in this particular 15-second slice of pop culture is “a film by Michael Bay, starring Explosions,” I decided to throw a few explosions in my story, too. And not just those type of explosions, wink wink nudge nudge.

I do wonder if my backdrop fell too far into the background, covered by the sex, but at the same time that was the point. Our, er, heroes want each other, this is true, but it took an extreme situation to bring them together. To me, this avoids some of the ickiness inherent in stories like Speed, wherein our esteemed heroine falls for the SWAT officer who saves her, apparently due in large part to the overstimulation of her amygdala in his presence. (And where is he in Speed 2, praytell? I think this says a lot about the nature of their ‘relationship.’)

[Important side note: I just learned something astonishing, reading the Speed Wikipedia page. Joss Whedon was called in at the last minute to help fix problems with the script. He actually removed an overwhelming glibness from Keanu Reeves’ character, turning him into more of a polite straightman, to make him more earnest and real. Joss Whedon of the every-character-a-smartass school of writing. Who knew?]

So anyway, this was a ridiculous story that I enjoyed writing. It is also one of the stories in recent memory that benefitted most from editing. I know that some in my audience won’t appreciate the fact that I wrote a sex scene, and one involved with a clearly unmarried couple, but I think, in the end, that this exercise will prove worth it for the learning experience, even if it turns out that I never write a sex scene ever again in my life.

To be fair, I wouldn’t count on that being the case. When used wisely, they can work.

I hope to be wise in my decisions.

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