"72 hours of immersion" (or, "Happy First-of-winter festival!")
This story features female, male, and intersex (futanari, hermaphroditic) as well as homosexual, pansexual, and heterosexual characters. This story is fiction. Any character's resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental. The word "kurouhd" is the term for intersex individuals who have the Psi-chromosome described in part four.
Part Five: Working festival
Well after midnight, I burrowed my freshly-showered body beneath the freshly-laundered sheets and blankets. I pulled up the thick quilt and took a deep, satisfied breath.
I had gotten Harkje and Qenefvere to agree to take a nine-day vacation with me in late August. We would go to southern Sweden, northern Germany, Denmark, and northwestern Poland.
Why had that been worth two hours of negotiating?...Shoot, why not say it? I'd fallen madly in love with Harkje.
In that case, why was I trying to get her girlfriend to come with us? The main reason was simple: I didn't want to "steal" Harkje from Qenefvere. I wanted the athletic, considerate, fine-ass blonde kurouhd all to myself, but I wanted to be open with Qenefvere and gain Harkje's love. Also, Qenefvere was attractive and funny, as well as level-headed and frank (and an exhilarating kisser). If I had to share Harkje with her, I could live with that. (A tiny part of my mind was mortified that I thought that. The rest told that tiny part to shut up.)
Exhausted, I fell asleep immediately. If I had dreams, they left no lasting impression.
Someone was rapping on my door. I sat up.
My abs and thighs punished me with soreness and I nearly fell onto my back again. I gritted my teeth and kept upright by hugging my knees. "I will be right there!" I called haltingly to whoever was at the door. I lurched to my feet. "Remember that sex is strenuous exercise," I scolded myself mentally. Even as I scolded, I smiled, remembering what had been the craziest night of my life. My slutty side hadn't been so indulged in years. Back then I had been an insecure, ignorant college kid; now I was an adult who knew herself and understood how to avoid the drawbacks of a wild night.
The room was chilly. The bed--with its down-filled comforter and soft blankets--had been so warm. I had goose flesh and hard nipples, but I wasn't sure whether I should put on my robe or not. I gathered it and draped it over my arm. I opened the door.
Ms. Garrikoet greeted me cheerily. "It is the last day of the festival," she said. (She was quite thoughtful; she knew I didn't speak the dialect well so she spoke slowly and clearly to me.) "We have a special dinner planned for it. Please come and eat with us at 1930."
"Thank you, I certainly will!" I replied.
When she had gone, I washed my face and hands, fixed my hair a bit, and looked at my folded clothing. Was it a good idea to get fully dressed?
For the moment, I decided not to put on pants, shirt, or lingerie; the solstice festival wasn't finished, after all. I put on my warmest socks (woolen) and I laid out my warmest hat, scarf, and mittens (cotton, cotton, simulated leather with faux fur). Today might be a good day to gather audio from townspeople so I could keep studying and practicing their dialect after I left. I had collected some scraps of conversation already, but I wanted much more, hopefully of archival quality. The pilot I'd hired was supposed to be getting me at 0900 tomorrow, give or take half an hour; so time was starting to run short.
It was likely that I was dehydrated somewhat, so I started drinking a liter of water while I assembled my recording equipment, tripod, writing implements, and bag of sex-related items. (I'd only gone through four condoms yesterday, because some of the revelers had used their condoms instead.)
After a cheese omelet and some toast in the dining room, I put my pack on my shoulders and left Ms. Garrikoet's nice warm house.
The town library wasn't large, but it had a few small rooms for reading; those rooms also could be used for recording. I wasn't sure who I wanted to interview first. Part of me wanted to speak to Dr. Tomassov immediately, but she was probably the most educated person in this community. To hear how the average townsperson talked, I would do better to interview ordinary people who had ordinary jobs. Of course, I also wanted to interview a child, preferrably an elementary school student. (Children are excellent indicators of what's important to the culture around them.)
As I strolled along the main street, I looked for familiar faces. I spotted a man--a blond fisherman of average height--who I was sure had been one of my festival-sex partners yesterday. He was dressed, but he didn't seem to be in a hurry to go to work or anything, so I approached him. I explained that I wanted to interview him to hear his talk and he was amenable; we went to the library and found a room for conversation. First, we introduced ourselves: his name was Bjadr. I quickly set up the microphones and then we talked. We spoke mostly about local matters: what plants grew here, what kind of livestock were raised, how the town leaders were selected....I learned that he was a guy who laughed easily; every time I used a word in a strange way, he laughed.
At the end of half an hour, I thanked Bjadr for his knowledge. He shook my hand and left. I sat and gathered my mics and computer.
Weak, fleeting winter sunlight had crept into the room while I had interviewed the first local. This would probably be a good time to interview a child, while the sun was shining.
...Hold up. Would the natives be offended or suspicious if I walked around naked, looking for an elementary schooler for a 30-minute private interview?
Maybe nobody would think it was weird at all, but I didn't have a lot of time to find out. With regret, I decided to skip interviewing a child on this visit. When I came back (and it wasn't festival time) I would talk to a kid. At present, finding a woman or a kurouhd for my next interview was the smartest thing to do.
I had talked about anthropology with Qenefvere and Harkje last night. Qenefvere had mentioned that a couple of her family members lived and worked at one of the shops in the town's enormous main building: specifically, the manicure/pedicure, hair, and tanning salon. Qenefvere had implied that they'd be willing to talk to me. That was as good as any lead I had, so I left the library for the moment, consulted the building directory, climbed the nearest stairs to the second floor, and walked down the long corridor.
I was two doors from the salon in question when I heard booted footsteps behind me. I turned and saw a short, thicc kurouhd exiting the door of the nearest shop. Identifying this habitual tanner as kurouhd was easy; she was wearing black mid-calf boots and an intricately-cabled black balaclava and that was all. Her very short hair was shiny metallic blue and she wore almost no makeup. I remembered her from my last festival tryst of the night before.
"I was hoping I'd see you again, pretty woman," she said loudly, approaching me. (Knowing quite a few languages and dialects, I have developed a facility with them. It comes in handy!) "Have you got ten minutes for festive coitus?"
"Sure--safe sex, please," I responded.
She grinned, reaching a gentle hand toward me, touching my left side above my hip. She said, "See this scar, beautiful woman?" She indicated a straight, light pink line about 10 cm long, five or six cm above her penis. "I had a certain operation after my third child. And I have no diseases or conditions. And I would love to feel you--just you. Please?"
My tummy trembled. For a long moment, I just looked at this kurouhd I had met only a day before. I didn't want to do it. In this epiphany, I realized that I wanted Harkje to be the first (perhaps the only) kurouhd or man to fuck my pussy without a condom.
But Harkje had told me on the first night of the festival that no reasonable sex request should be refused and this request was reasonable.
I had thought that I had been wild last night. No, I'd still been on my guard, feeling secure and detached and self-satisfied.
I'd been pretending.
The kurouhd with the tanned skin and blue hair trailed her fingers to my arm. She'd noticed my pause. "That is special to you?" she asked. "Condom use is fine with me."
"But in this festival's spirit--you made the request."
"The festival is about joy! Pushing people is not fun," she said, looking at me closely.
"Wearing a condom when you didn't want to is also not fun," I said in answer. "It's fine; you aren't pushing me at all. Shall we head outside?"
"We can stay indoors if you want to be warm," said the shortish kurouhd. "I have a very comfortable sofa in here." She gestured to the door behind her; the suite of rooms was a daycare facility. The children were gone, no doubt because of the solstice celebration.
I took her hand. She led me into her office. "I'm Jlena," she said warmly, closing the door behind her.
"Pleased to meet you again. I'm Xi-Lin," I replied.
"Lovely name!" murmured the blue-haired kurouhd. She kissed me and maneuvered me toward her sofa. It was covered with a huge dark red sheet.
She was considerate, but also very eager; I felt her penis poking my hips and my mound while her mouth massaged mine. One of her hands had landed on my ass, now it started to fondle and grasp.
Jlena was only two or thee cm shorter than I. Her lips left mine for an instant and she looked right into my eyes. She said quietly, "I'll make you feel wonderful."
Her other hand had been on my hip bone; it traveled lower and tenderly rubbed my hot vulvae. She sat on her deep couch and pulled me with her. In this position, kissing was a little awkward because I had to bend forward now that I was straddling her thighs. The solid head of her penis prodded my groin. I reached down and guided her dick to my vaginal entrace.
It felt good physically--very good--but I still didn't want to be doing this. I told myself that it was a festival. It was customary. This wasn't cheating.
Maybe it is a festival, part of my brain said: but you're you. To you, this IS cheating. She was going to let you off the hook, but no, you acted spineless....
As best I could, I focused only on the pleasure of my nerve endings and the rhythm of my sexual ride. I had as much time as I wanted to be disappointed in myself.
Jlena's hands on my hips felt small and hot compared to Harkje's larger, cooler hands. Jlena's penis--maybe not "wonderful" as she'd promised--did make me feel very, very nice inside! Conflicted though I was, I climaxed on her lap and bent to kiss her again. Her cock was not large, but she really knew how to use it; perhaps because she also had a pussy and knew where, how, and what a cock was supposed to caress in there. Pressure and friction massaged my most sensitive spots again and again. By herself, this experienced kurouhd pushed me to another zenith. Two orgasms!--plenty of people in the festival hadn't been able to deliver me one, even with helpers!
I wasn't feeling less guilty, but I was rueing my decision much less while Jlena's pelvis continued to thump against mine. I rode her enthusiastically, grinning so widely it was starting to hurt! A minute later, she tensed and shot her blanks: a whole magazine full, if I can draw out the metaphor.
"You aren't just beautiful," Jlena said, panting beneath me. "You fuck like a champion athlete!" Most of my anger at myself was soothed right then.
20 minutes later than I meant to be, I was standing at the door of Qenefvere's relatives' establishment, sweating only slightly.
A fairly loud chime sounded when I entered the salon. There was a tall, pale, black-haired woman in a comfortable-looking grey chair, getting a manicure from a timid-looking woman who was probably in her late 40s. The next customer station was open and an employee sat looking at her phone, ready for a guest when one arrived. Since it was the festival, I supposed that business was slower than usual.
The woman who wasn't helping a customer at the moment looked at me and asked if she could help me. I thought I saw recognition on her face, but I was sure (despite her smokey-eye makeup and navy blue lipstick) that she hadn't been one of my sex partners yesterday. Word about me was obviously spreading. That made sense; this town would rarely have strangers during their harsh, gloomy winters.
I approached the salon worker who had spoken. "I have talked to Qenefvere. Is she your relative?" I asked carefully, not wanting to seem rude.
"She's Thennerrok's daughter," said the employee, nodding vaguely in the direction of the timid-looking woman. "In five or ten minutes, she'll be done."
This worker had noticed I was naked; she probably thought I'd shown up to ask for Thennerrok for festival sex. My cash was running a bit low, but I decided to act less like a reveler. I asked heavily made-up woman for a quick nail trim and clear varnish while I waited. she brightened, put away her phone, and directed me to one of the plush grey chairs immediately.
A minute after my simple manicure was done, Thennerrok's customer also got finished. The freshly-manicured pale woman left the salon. Taking the initiative, I approached Thennerrok. When she looked at me, I saw a resemblance to Qenefvere; both had thin lips, widely-spaced eyes, and pointed little chins.
"I'm Xi-Lin," I said, extending my hand. She grasped it briefly. "I have talked to Qenefvere. Is she a relative?"
"I am her ihther. My name is Thennerrok," Thennerrok said. I had expected her voice to be rather high, like Qenefvere's was, but it was quite a bit lower and less assured. Apart from that, I also had not much idea what she meant by "ihther"--perhaps it meant adoptive mom, or step-mom, or something.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Do you have a few minutes to talk?" I asked, hoping that I sounded polite. I was picking up the feeling that Thennerrok was not eager for a conversation with a stranger, but I really wanted to interview her.
Lots of cultures have different nonverbal communication. Whether I was standing properly or maintaining eye contact correctly or whatever, Thennerrok's neutral expression relaxed into a small smile. "I will need two minutes to clear up my work space; then I will go with you," she said, or something quite similar.
Once she had things put away, she asked me where we would go. "The library, if you are comfortable with being recorded," I said to her.
To my surprise, she slowed and almost stopped. "No recording. I must insist."
"Yes, that is fine." I slowed as well and looked at her calmly, trying to show her that I wasn't going to try to coax her to do anything she didn't want to do. "I would like to take notes, though, if you are comfortable with that."
Thennerrok looked at me for an extra instant. I don't think she was aware that I noticed her appraising glance. There was no point putting her on the spot. I must have done something to make her apprehensive. All I could do from this point was keep my face and my voice as non-threatening as possible.
The library was still open but Harkje was not at the front desk when we got there. She had told me that she was popular during solstice celebrations; I had expected that she would be elsewhere for part of the day.
As soon as I entered the small room with Thennerrok, I took a chair and asked her to sit to my left. My experience in interviewing paid off; Qenefvere's relative relaxed quickly while I asked and she answered.
We were close to the end of the conversation--four or five questions left to ask--when there was a knock at the door to the small room. I looked at the rectangular window in the door and saw a naked person who appeared female. Because the window was small, I couldn't see much of the person who'd arrived, but she was 185 to 190 cm, unless she was wearing some of the thickest-soled footwear ever. Due to the guest's height, I guessed she was a kurouhd. By this time, I was opening the door.
A whiff of vodka reached my nose. "Can we have some fun?" The newcomer asked in a bubbly voice, stepping into the room as soon as I'd opened the door more than a crack.
This person was talking mostly to Thennerrok, I realized.
I looked at Thennerrok's face. Resignation and a trace of disgust showed there--but as this interloper was rather good-looking and seemingly friendly, I supposed it was the tipsy voice and scent of liquor which were earning disapproval.
"We can, just wait a moment, Hagneth," Thennerrok said.
"For how long?" The tall visitor's voice was a bit whiny as she slouched into the chair next to Thennerrok's and across from mine.
"Ten minutes," said Thennerrok, her eyebrows lowering almost imperceptibly. I hadn't told Thennerrok that we were nearly done with the interview. "Ten minutes" was apparently her stock answer when Hagneth (with whom Thennerrok must have been familiar) was being impatient.
The tall woman sighed, but sat back and put her feet on the edge of the table, crossing her legs as she did. I noticed that her charcoal-grey boots were fashionable, with soles no thicker than average. I also saw that below her soft tummy she had a tuft of trimmed silver-brown hair above her pussy. Hagneth was a woman, not a kurouhd: a way-taller-than-average woman, with super-long legs and a light complexion.
I proceeded with Thennerrok's interview: I asked her what mainland-Scandinavian tv shows or movies she'd seen and whether she found them enjoyable. It turned out that she'd seen a few and they hadn't made much impression, but that she was a huge fan of Robyn, the pop singer. We talked about what Thennerrok liked about Robyn's music and why--and why she disliked most of Bjork's stuff--and I became aware of Hagneth's toes tapping idly against the leg of an empty chair.
I quickly asked about what plants Thennerrok had raised or tried to raise. To my surprise, Thennerrok mentioned that someone she knew had a greenhouse and had taught her quite a bit about gardening, including lettuce, radishes, peaches, and apricots! She explained that the because the summer sun stayed in the sky so long, the growing season was very intense, short though it was.
"You almost never come to the greenhouse anymore," Hagneth said suddenly, putting her hand on Thennerrok's arm.
Thennerrok grimaced. Shoot, they had some intimate history. They had been close once upon a time.
With a couple of questions about the school system and how far a villager would have to travel if she or he wanted to become a scientist in a specialized field, like aeronautics, I wrapped up the conversation.
"Thank you, Thennerrok," I said, putting away my notebook.
"Y-you're welcome." I straightened up and found her looking at me. "...Anything else?" she asked.
"I don't think so."
"You are naked; I thought for sure you were going to ask me for sex."
Uh-oh. It hadn't occurred to me, but walking around nude so that others wouldn't interrupt my data-gathering might be poor festival etiquette. Even if it wasn't, seeking out a particular person while nude and not inviting them to have sex might be rude. As I hadn't interviewed anyone yesterday or the day before, I didn't know.
"Would you like to?" I asked awkwardly.
"We can share you!" Hagneth said to Thennerrok, hopping to her feet now that my work was finished.
Qenefvere's ihther ignored Hagneth for the moment. "So you just wanted to talk." She was fiddling with her sweater and not looking at me, so I couldn't tell if she was relieved or disappointed.
Time to be frank! "I do not know the custom," I said, probably slipping on the grammar due to my nerves. "I do not want to be rude. I am sorry to have to ask, but should we have sexual relations, because I came to look for you while I am naked?"