Stranger in a Strange Land

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maililing resident

said

Hi, I play a character called Mai-Li Ling. I'm new to SL/CD and I'm looking forward to play on here 🙂

I wrote a little something to sum up my first week wandering around Hathian, and serve as a character presentation at the same time. It ended up being a little longer than I had intended... sorry about that.

Don't really have any plans or directions for the character. Maybe once I get to know my way around the game and the server I'll make someone who's a bit more suited to life in Hathian, but for now, I thought some out of place character who's kind of useless at everything would reflect my own ignorance of SL and CD pretty well.

Short version, she's a posh, rich girl who took a few wrong turns. And for the brave souls, long version below...

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The young woman sat quietly before the kettle, her legs crossed, hands folded still on her lap, patiently waiting for the water to boil. She knew there was no one to see her, but she kept her back straight nonetheless. An old habit following years of incessant drilling.

As she waited, she took in her surroundings for the hundredth time; a run-down motel room that wouldn't even have held the contents of her wardrobe back home, a bathroom that lacked the basic essentials such as a bathtub, not to mention walls thin enough that she was getting increasingly familiar - and intimate - with the profession her next-door neighbor practiced with a string of different... gentlemen... on a nightly basis.

With the water sufficiently heated, she reached for the kettle and began pouring. Never before had she carried out a Japanese tea ceremony with a plastic kettle and motel cups. But the true transgression, she thought with an amused smile, was to use a Chinese tea for a Japanese pouring. Now that, would be utterly unacceptable.

But with no one to witness the crime, she found she didn't care very much. After all, this was America - a country where people mix Coca-Cola with Bombay Sapphire gin, she observed with an eyeroll. Barbarians. She sincerely doubted the locals would give her trouble for her breach of protocol, should she be discovered.

She turned her gaze out the window, looking past the wrecks of the decrepit cars and broken appliances that littered the motel's driveway - the police should really do something about all this filth, she observed. After the impeccable cleanliness of Singapore, and the opulent wealth of Hong Kong - at least the parts she frequented - she found it impossible to look favorably upon her new home.

It's not that she didn't like Western cities. On the contrary, she loved them! She raised the teacup to her lips, gently blowing the steam aside before taking a sip, a smile creeping on her features as she remembered being bathed in the eternal lights of Paris, strolling along the canals of Venice, and visiting the art galleries of Berlin.

Hathian, on the other hand, didn't appear on any travel agency's destinations of choice, and for good reason. For starters, there were no hotel chains worthy of the name, she observed somewhat dryly in light of her current accommodations. Nor were there any direct flights - she wasn't sure there even was an airport, now that she thought of it. There were no high-end fashion designers or reputable modeling agencies. Not even a yacht club or marina, despite the presence of a perfectly good beach, big enough to rival those of St. Tropez and Ibiza...

Then again, she didn't like either of those places, she reminded herself. Too many loud and boisterous jet-setter types. Just like Monaco with that princelet and his little casino. No, she much preferred Porto Fino - the people there were orders of magnitude more refined. No beach, she noted. Yacht access only. That explains it.


She had found one place that seemed like it could almost pass off as a fine dining establishment, but she hadn't tried it yet - no one had invited her, and to go alone would be humiliating. Then there was that little French café across the road from her motel. Sure, it was a far cry from the Parisian bistros, but the chairs were clean, the tables were neat, the presentation was good... it was enough to give her a taste of the life she missed so much. At least if she ignored the presence of the sex shop right next to it. Although what could be more Parisian than enjoying a coffee on a sunny terrace next to an anal beads sale?

The thought would be almost funny if it wasn’t a sign of how far she had fallen from grace. And though she would never show it, she was angry with her dad for it. She remained the dutiful daughter to the public eye, but in private, she inwardly cursed him for leading the family into such dire straits.

She wasn’t sure what had happened, or what the family business was, for that matter – something to do with investors, and banks, and project development, and portfolios… She shrugged. She didn’t care very much. Her role had never been to understand or to question, but merely to support. Look pretty, nod, smile, and agree. She carried out her duties to perfection.

Then there were these newspaper articles about corruption, fraud, money laundering, and things to do with politics. Her dad had said those were lies. She chose to believe him and not dwell on it. Frowning at the thought, she finished her tea and set the cup back down onto the table a little harder than she had intended. She didn’t want to think about her da- father. Her father. Whatever he had done wrong, if he hadn’t done it, she wouldn’t be in this… place. Waiting for the nightmare to end.

She hoped she wouldn’t have to wait too long. And although she didn’t particularly wish it, she knew it was only a matter of time before her mom found herself a new, rich husband. Once she did, the money would flow again, Mai-Li would be able to return to civilization, and everything would go back to normal. The way it was meant to be. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time her mother… jumped ship.

Until then, she would have to keep her head down… or high… she wasn’t sure which was more appropriate, but either way, she would need to find a way to last until Prince Charming deigned to appear and fill the holes in the family finances. Amongst others, she observed dryly.

She didn’t like the idea of getting an occupation. A job, as people say. She had spotted a nail salon, a beauty parlor, the little French café, a restaurant, and a bed and a breakfast. All places in which she would blend in without effort - at least as a customer being pampered by attentive staff. Never had she considered reversing the roles.

Then there were the establishments around the gas station. Although the burger place was out of the question – better starve than be seen handing out fast food junk - the pizza place might be respectable enough, so long as the owner is from Naples, of course, and a library would have been honorable, but upon realizing it was a comic book store, she promptly dismissed such notions. Which left only the bakery, but that too was dismissed - her figure would never survive the temptation.

There was also this modelling agency… Andaman-something, near the gym. Back in Asia she would never even consider it, but here… far from the constraints of home, what was the harm in doing a few risqué pictures? Nothing so low class as truck stop calendars, of course. But when done right, such things can be tasteful. And she could always hide her face…

She gave an annoyed click of her tongue as she rose from her chair and made her way to the sink to wash her teacup. She didn’t like to think of such mundane matters as money and jobs. Luckily, she had some time to consider all options. Though the money well had run dry and she was technically cash poor, she still possessed a small fortune in jewelry, gemstones, fur coats, designer shoes, and high-end clothes. Enough to last her a lifetime if she was frugal and wise with her expenses. But to her credit, she was self-aware enough to know that she was neither of those things when it came to money.

Satisfied the cup was clean – spotless, rather – she set it down on the edge of the sink to dry, noting to herself that eventually she would need to review her spending habits. Of course, she was hoping her mother would… find greener pastures… before it got to that point, but if she didn’t, Mai-Li considered with some dread, even selling all her possessions wouldn’t last her a year at the rate she was going!

She had already left a string of tips worth double or triple the value of the items she was buying throughout town - although she had to admit it wasn’t so much out of a sense of kind-hearted generosity, as much as it was to avoid dealing with the inconvenience of sorting through spare change. Still, if people wanted to think of her as a charitable patron with a heart of gold, she wouldn’t argue…

In the past, she usually had her bodyguards carry her cash and deal with the trivialities of paying for whatever took her fancy at the time. It had been a little game to her – she would get herself the most girly handbags and purses she could possibly find, and have her big, burly, and masculine guards in their impressive suits carry them and follow her around public places. They were far too wise to complain.

But in the absence of her loyal bodyguards – or maybe not so loyal, she pondered quietly, considering they had all vanished along with the family assets – she had been reduced to carrying her own bags and paying for her own purchases. It had been amusing at first. A bit like playing monopoly when she was younger. But the novelty had quickly worn off.

For one, she found she hated coins. They cling together and make noise, they’re heavy, there’s always too many of them, and they take so much room in her purse! No, she didn’t like coins, so she tended to just wave them off. Papers bills were far more convenient, she thought, but of course, the Americans had found a way to complicate things for no good reason…

In most countries, bills vary in color and size according to their worth – small and dark bills are for cappuccino lattes, whereas big and bright bills are for diamonds. Simple, convenient, and efficient - the definition of elegance. But the American dollars are all the same size and color, which just makes everything needlessly confusing. And if the manner in which the locals tended to look at her was any indication, the habit of laying out the content of her wallet on shop counters to sort through her bills, may be one she might have to grow out of…

She examined her bracelets, making sure she hadn’t gotten them wet while washing her teacup, a delicate finger tracing the outline of the Burmese sapphires embedded into the silver frame. The very same bracelets she had tried to sell at the local pawn shop, she remembered with a scowl of annoyance.

Setting foot in that place had taken all of her resolve. Armored in her sunglasses and a scarf over her head to ensure no one would recognize her, she had finally summoned the courage to enter the pawn shop and endure the humiliation of offering her bracelets for… a pittance. Barely enough to escape her seedy motel in favor of a few nights at the bed and breakfast, and maybe even a massage and treatment at the local spa.

The price the Japanese man behind the counter had announced had been far below what she had expected to receive, but not wanting to appear for anything less than what she was - a lady of means - she had forced a smile and agreed. After all, haggling and bargaining is for carpet salesmen and insurance brokers. She remembered reading that in some French novel she had been forced to read while in school. She didn’t remember the book, but the lesson had stuck.

But to complicate matters, the man had asked for her name. Thankfully, she was still on her tourist visa at the time - just another drifter waiting for her residency application to come through, and therefore had no valid ID to offer. The perfect excuse. She would sell her jewelry, get her money, and without a trace of it ever happening, it would be as though it never did…

The last thing she had expected was to be refused! She had been to Japan, and particularly to Kobe, enough times to recognize the tattoos on the man’s skin, and though she wasn’t particularly familiar with the… organization… she had met enough of its younger members in clubs and resorts not to mistake the ninkyō dentai, as they liked to think of themselves. So, when a follower of the extreme path refused her business on account of her legal status not being in order, she had been left stunned…

She looked around the motel room, for the hundredth and one time, her lips turning into a thin line of displeasure. She may have gotten to keep her jewelry, but she would have happily traded it away in exchange for a few nights of comfort.

At this point she hadn’t completely ruled out the option of just barging into the Magnolia Bed and Breakfast, tossing a ruby-encrusted gold bracelet or two onto the counter, maybe a pair of pearl or jade earrings as well, for good measure, and demand for a room to be made ready. Alas, that would betray the depths of her desperation…

Besides, now that her paperwork was in order, she would have to try again and suffer the indignation of returning to the pawn shop, of all places. After all, she had quite a bit of gold necklaces, rings, bracelets, and so on, which she didn’t like to wear anyway - Gold was too vulgar. Too nouveaux riche. A touch was fine, but just a tasteful amount, she corrected herself as her hand absent-mindedly rose to caress the gold choker wrapped around her neck.

Still, she much preferred silver. She found it far more refined and elegant. She would sell the gold little by little over time, and perhaps she would be able to maintain her lifestyle, or at least the appearance of it, until fortune smiled on her again. Maybe even delay getting a job.

In something of an uncharacteristic move, she had even shown the wisdom to keep her most valuable and expensive jewelry set separate, and hidden, from the others. Just in case. And there was that other set she had kept hidden too, albeit… for different reasons. She had the modesty to blush at her own impropriety...

Picking up the handheld mirror on the table, she examined herself for a moment, fixing imperfections in her makeup to shift her concerns from her troubles and… other distractions. Finding only a few flaws, she reached for her handbag and drew from it an elegant ivory case from which she removed a long and thin cigarette, and made her way to the small bathroom.

This wasn’t Asia. She knew she could smoke outside and no one would bat an eye. But old habits die hard, and back home, decent women don’t smoke in the streets like common hooke- escorts, she corrected herself. No need to be crude.

But in the West, the rules are different. She remembered the man at the Daily Grind smoking a joint behind the counter seemingly without concern, but most of all she remembered the boy trying to buy weed from him. Of course, she had pretended to hear nothing, and truth be told, she was more amused by the kid’s insistence than anything else. Still, to the barista’s credit, he had refused to sell to one so young.

Closing the bathroom door behind her, she lit her cigarette, feeling a slight pang of pain upon remembering the kid had mentioned being an orphan. She should have bought him something, she silently chided herself. An ice-cream, some candy, something…

She didn’t inhale. She didn’t like the burning sensation in her throat. She would pull on the cigarette, let the smoke fill her mouth, and then blow it out slowly into the aeration vent. It was an indulgence she allowed herself once a day. No more. Twice on the bad days. Never more than three…

It had been three on that day. She shut her eyes, allowing the memories to take clearer form in her mind. Other than the boy trying to buy weed from the barista – well, coffee-serving-man was a more accurate term than barista, she thought to herself – it had been a strange day.

She wasn’t accustomed to seeing people getting hurt. Even less so when it was as a result of violence. And when the victim was a member of the local police, it made things even less reassuring. But most chilling of all, was the nonchalance with which everyone treated the incident. As if a police officer getting… stabbed, or shot… she wasn’t certain which… was commonplace.

Being somewhat at a loss at the time, she had offered her scarf as a makeshift bandage to the trio of police women. The thought elicited a laugh from her. She couldn’t imagine that the Hathian Police Department had ever gotten to use bandages made of Manchurian silk before.

But feeling overwhelmed by the stress of being faced with blood, and injuries, and victims of assault - and damage to her scarf - she had promptly retreated back to the safety of the coffee shop. It had all been someone else’s blood, someone else’s injuries, and someone else who had been the victim, of course, but it had all been terribly stressful nonetheless...

All three police officers had been women, she noted as an afterthought. She wasn’t sure what to make of that. And foreigners. She had recognized the accents. A Russian bleeding all over. Typical. A German stoically doing her job. Obviously. And one whom she assumed to be Mexican, but most importantly, had avoided bloodstains on her scarf - a truly remarkable public servant.

She brought the cigarette to her lips for one last drag, but finding it had already run out, she held onto it for a moment, scanning her surroundings for a way to dispose of it. There was no trash can, and she couldn’t just flush it down the toilet, that would be wrong… Finding no solution to her current predicament, she set the cigarette butt on the sink. She’ll deal with that particular problem later.

She turned to the mirror and released a heavy sigh. Not even a trash can. How had she been reduced to this? If her mom were here, the problem would have been solved – her mother would have put on her tightest and shortest dress, gone to the nearest, most expensive club, and within an hour they would have had a place to stay for the night. By next morning, they would have had a place to stay for as long as they needed… Which tended to mean as long as it took to find a bigger house. But while she would never criticize her own mother, the thought of following in her footsteps made her feel like… she needed a shower.

She slipped out of her clothes, ensuring they didn’t touch the bathroom floor, and folded them neatly on the edge of the sink. The toilet lid would have been more practical, but putting a designer dress on some motel toilet would be nothing short of indecent.

As she attended to her clothes, she remembered her da- father, had always said it was important to maintain good relations with the authorities. Hence the police commissioner’s frequents visits to the house. Chicken, white rice, and satay, she recalled. That was his favorite, and that’s what the house chef made for dinner every time he came over. A simple dish for a simple man- much to the chef’s distress, she remembered with an amused smile.

There were others too, like the governor. He hadn’t cared what he ate, but her father always made sure there were young, pretty girls around the estate when he was there. Once Mai-Li came of age, he started sending her off to the townhouse whenever the governor came to visit. The reason why hadn’t escaped her.

She may not have her father’s means and reach – former means, she corrected herself – but she thought a silk scarf given freely during a time of need may carry its own weight in due time. And failing that, there was that other police officer whom she had quite blatantly bribed two hundred dollars in exchange for his services speeding up her residency application process.

Or rather, the police officer who had quite blatantly accepted her bribe - her father would have insisted on that distinction. Still, she had a sneaking suspicion that the… gift… had been unnecessary, and that the officer in question had no idea what she had been talking about, but if it earned her some goodwill with the people legally allowed to carry guns, it was a worthwhile investment.

Once nude, she paused briefly before the mirror to examine herself. She couldn’t help her vanity. She knew it wasn’t an attractive quality, and she did have the decency to be embarrassed about it, but still, she thought she was beautiful, and she enjoyed being an object of desire to others. It’s why she had some work done, though she would never admit to it, especially considering she had spent a king’s ransom to make sure the surgeries would be discrete, subtle, aimed at accentuating her curves and her form rather than seek to change it.

It had all been done in secret, partly out of fear her parents would find out, but with them always on some business or pleasure trip somewhere, they hadn’t even noticed. Which was precisely what she wanted, but still… it was as hurtful as it was insulting!

She made her way to the shower, waiting for the last moment to remove her boots so as to not step barefoot onto the bathroom floor. In light of what she was hearing coming from the neighboring room every night, she shuddered to think about what may have happened on her own room’s floorings. She waited for the shower to heat up to a respectable temperature before stepping in, and released a satisfied sigh as she enjoyed the warmth of the water cascading down her flesh, shutting her eyes and allowing her mind to wander back to the past few days…

There was that other man she had met. The one selling chicken burgers in the big yellow truck. She had little taste for junk food, but she had still bought – and eaten – his burger, if only for the sake of making conversation. It would have been rude of her to ask him questions without buying something…

Still, perhaps she had been overly polite with him. Clearly, he had taken her for a fool with his stories about frequent kidnappings and missing persons, and… what was it? A baby eater? Baby killer? Something sordid to do with babies. She couldn’t remember the details. Regardless, he had quite clearly been joking. Baby eating. Ridiculous, she scoffed.

The people she met at Lou’s bar had been a little less fanciful. The bartender had been nice, she remembered fondly. Her tea hadn’t compared to what Mai-Li was used to, but still, it had come from the bartender’s personal stock, so she would never have been so indelicate as to say anything. Oh, and it had been given to her for free, she remembered as an afterthought.

There had been that big mechanic too. He had made quite a bit of fun at her expense, though she wasn’t certain what was so funny about not knowing how to drive when you have a chauffeur – after all, a chauffeur means not having to drive. As she saw it, her logic was flawless. But still, he didn’t seem like a bad sort. That, and he mentioned he was good at fixing things.

She reached for her body lotion… groaning in disappointment when she remembered it wasn’t there. All she was going to get was the cheap motel soap and that… thing… they have the audacity to call shampoo. Her soft hair and smooth skin were a source of pride to her. She would need to remedy that situation…

She had intended to buy some oils and lotions from the massage parlor in town, but upon finding it, or rather, finding what street it was located on, it became evident that massages were unlikely to be their primary activity. She had been tempted to venture inside nonetheless, but upon noting the masseuses - if they can even be called that - seemed to be on their break, the problem had solved itself.

Besides, she had to admit with a faint embarrassed flush to her cheeks, that she had found herself somewhat distracted at the time. She had noted the strip club, which she suspected doubled as a brothel, and the porn shop right across the road. She would, of course, never allow herself to be seen setting foot into establishments of the sort, but she was no prude either, and she had always harbored a certain fascination for the more…  vulgar paths to pleasure.

…maybe if she dyed her hair or wore a wig…

She splashed water on her face and shook her head to clear it from unseemly notions. That was no way to behave, she chided herself. At least she had carried herself well on the day… walking down the street, she had maintained her composure, her back straight, eyes set ahead, moving at a leisurely pace, no slower and no faster than she would have anywhere else, treating her surroundings with supreme indifference – as a proper gentleman should the elements when walking in the rain, she thought in comparison.

Her scarf wrapped tightly around her - signaling she wasn’t here to partake - she had maintained the image she had been raised to cultivate. But privately, it’s not as though she had never secretly indulged in a porno on a lonely evening, or was above stealing furtive glances at the curves of her own gender, and she was most certainly not immune to the sensations induced by a hard cock…

She was suddenly ripped from her reverie by the sounds of her neighbor’s bed rudely slamming into the wall at a steady rhythm, accompanied by a series of moans and grunts. She blinked in surprise, looking towards the bathroom’s small tinted window. Still daytime. Someone was starting her shift early today, she observed with a disappointed groan…

Then again, maybe it was a blessing in disguise… Was it really too much to ask for a couple of hung studs to please fuc- to screw, the little harlot’s brains out and turn her into a drooling mess for the evening? Then maybe, just maybe, Mai-Li would get a proper night’s sleep for a change…

With the sounds of her neighbor’s latest romp in the background, she rinsed the soap off her body, pursing her lips not to laugh at the obvious fake moans. The gentleman, she noted, either couldn’t tell the difference, or didn’t care. Though it didn’t matter much to Mai-Li either in that particular moment - she could only silently spur him on to take his money’s worth… and much to her embarrassment, she couldn’t help but feel a trace of annoyance that her neighbor had gotten more… attention… in the past week, than Mai-Li had seen throughout her entire life, young as she may be. Quality over quantity, she reassured herself.

Not for the first time, she wondered who the woman was. What her story could possibly be. How does one fall so low, she wanted to ask. But upon realizing that the only thing separating them was the thin wall of their motel rooms, Mai-Li had opted to keep her distance. It was already far too close for comfort.

She suddenly felt a cold wave of hopelessness and despair sweeping down. Her breathing hastened, and within the blink of an eye she found herself on the verge of tears, terrified of the tomorrows to come.

Squeezing her fists tight enough for her nails to pierce the skin, she bit down on her lower lip until she drew blood, her chest rapidly rising and falling as she attempted to steady her breathing. She had to calm down. Crying was not allowed.

She wanted to scream, to weep, to plead... Above all, she wanted to be granted permission to fear and to agonize, the right to sorrow and loss, and the privilege of tears and rage.

She was tempted to allow herself to break and let the spray of the water mask her tears, the sound of the shower cover her sobs, the steam conceal her trembling form… She could just let herself fall to her knees and no one would ever know she had surrendered.

But she had spent too long in the shower… and the water turned frigid without the slightest warning! Her surprised yelp cut through the air as she hastily reached for the knob to shut the freezing water off - the neighbor’s bed ceasing to bang against the wall for a brief moment, only to unceremoniously resume an instant later without the slightest pretense of concern for her.

Rushing out of the shower, her reflection staring mockingly back at her, she grabbed the towel and whipped it open. Lowering her gaze… she came face to face with the cigarette butt from earlier, laying right there before her on the sink… Full of reproach. Taunting her. Yet another problem to solve. Another difficulty to surmount. Another obstacle to overcome. Another insult.

She flushed it down the fucking toilet.

December 13, 2020 at 11:19 pm
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Chong Diabolito

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December 14, 2020 at 12:20 pm
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Susan Dallas

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December 27, 2020 at 8:52 am
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su-pointe

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December 27, 2020 at 4:42 pm
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