Fever

Amateur

Alice rapped sharply on the door, privately wishing she was anywhere but here. In general, working in Human Resources wasn’t that bad of a job; she liked to think of herself as being good at solving problems in ways that made both Future Technologies and its employees happy. But sometimes you couldn’t have it both ways. Times like those were filled with ugly confrontations, people shouting or weeping–or, on one memorable and terrifying occasion, hurling small objects across the room. Those were days when Alice had to be the villain. Alice hated being the villain.

For some reason, Doctor Claudia Burkitt seemed to draw those kinds of incidents to her. She seemed to enjoy them, in fact; Alice always felt like Claudia privately reveled in the tension between her and the rest of the staff in Research and Development. She never overtly showed it, though. Alice felt certain that part of the enjoyment to Claudia was the way she never did anything quite wrong enough to prove that she was being difficult on purpose. But whether it was part of some secret head game she was playing with her co-workers, or just the way that she was a spiky, arrogant–Alice vigorously censored the rest of that train of thought, knowing it wouldn’t help her one bit in the coming confrontation–whatever it was, Claudia’s file crossed her desk way too often, and in ways that usually led to unpleasant meetings. Alice always dreaded dealing with Claudia. She suspected the woman hated her, and was punishing her for some imagined offense by making her job difficult. And today was probably going to be the most difficult yet.

“Come in!” Alice heard brightly from inside the office. She opened the door to see Claudia sitting behind her desk with a sweet, cheerful grin on her face, dressed in a stylish floral dress. “Alice! So lovely of you to stop by,” Claudia said, beaming. She gestured to a small jar on the desk. “Care for a lollipop?”

Alice almost did a double-take. It took all her professional composure not to dart back out of the office and check the nameplate to make sure she was talking to the right person. “Um, sure,” she said, her brain functioning on auto-pilot as she pulled a grape sucker from the jar and unwrapped it. “Thank you.” Was this like that ‘Sliding Doors’ movie? Had she accidentally stepped into a parallel universe where Claudia was her best friend or something?

“Please, please, sit down,” Claudia said, waving towards the other chair in the office. “I got your email. You said there was something you wanted to speak to me about?”

Alice had just popped the lollipop into her mouth when Claudia asked the question. Awkwardly, she pulled it back out again. “Um, yes, Doctor Burkitt,” she said. “It’s about your research project.” Alice chose her words carefully. No point in antagonizing Claudia on what seemed to be the happiest day of her life. “Frankly, your supervisor has been having a very difficult time getting any kind of status report out of you. You’ve been spending company money at a fairly alarming rate–according to our books, you’ve already spent the entire year’s budget for your project, and it’s only March.”

Claudia looked contrite. Perhaps a little too contrite, Alice mused; she looked like a bad actress in an employee training film on solving disputes. “Oh, I understand completely,” she said. “I do wish Frank had come to me with these issues, of course, instead of having to involve you, but now that you’re here, let’s go ahead and set your mind at ease.”

Alice looked down at the file she’d brought, suddenly flustered. She pretended she was just sucking on her lollipop again, but she was actually scanning through Doctor Marlen’s reports at a frantic pace. Finally, she took the sucker out and said, “Um…Claudia, according to Frank–um, Doctor Marlen’s reports, he has tried to come to you with these issues. But you’ve been either sequestered in your lab–” Alice tried not to think about the number of confrontations she’d had with Claudia about her obsession with privacy, and her habit of installing additional security systems to keep her bosses from snooping– “or doing work at an off-site facility.” Which was strictly forbidden, too. “And you’ve been…a bit defensive in your emails to him.”

“Well,” Claudia said, smiling wryly, “let’s just say that I haven’t seen much point in explaining the details of my work to Frank. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he’s a wonderful administrator, and it is nice to have a supervisor who can understand the rudimentary concepts behind the projects he’s assisting with…” Alice mentally winced at every single veiled insult, while simultaneously being surprised that the insults were at least veiled this time. “…but he’s a bit limited in some ways. If I were to spend my time boiling down the ideas behind my new breakthrough to the point where he could understand them, I’d never have time to actually work on it.”

Which, once you stripped out the niceties of it, was the same complaint Claudia always had whenever Alice had one of these little meetings poker oyna with her. ‘Why should I have to justify myself to tiny little minds?’ She’d never actually added the ‘like yours’ at the end, but Alice knew it was always implied. If that was what she thought of Frank, who had a PhD in molecular biology, what could she possibly think of Alice’s MBA?

“I understand your point of view,” Alice said, once again trying to placate the temperamental genius. “But unfortunately, I can’t support it. You’re using company money, company facilities, and company equipment, Claudia. That means that the company has the right to know, and more importantly the right to approve of what it is you’re doing.”

Claudia stood up abruptly. “And they will,” she said, crossing over to the window. “I promise, Alice, soon enough this company will know exactly what I’m doing. And I guarantee, they will approve.” Alice blushed bright red as Claudia stood silhouetted in the bright beam of afternoon sunlight coming into the room; perhaps it was the other woman’s inexperience with dressing in something other than frumpy sweaters and utilitarian slacks, but she’d chosen a dress that was far too sheer for the office. The light passed through it in a way that made her look like she was wearing nothing at all over her underwear.

Alice must have coughed or something in her shock, because Claudia turned away from the window to face her. “Alice? Are you alright? You look flushed.”

“Um, I…” Alice clamped her mouth around her lollipop for a moment to hide her momentary consternation. “Nothing,” she said through clenched teeth. “Just swallowed funny.” She looked down studiously at her notes, more than a little embarrassed on Claudia’s behalf. The poor woman tried to dress nicely for this appointment, and the least Alice could do was not let her know how badly she’d failed. (Well, failed as far as propriety was concerned. There were quite a few men in the office who’d be pleasantly surprised to find out just how shapely Claudia’s body was without all those dowdy clothes in the way.)

She took the sucker back out of her mouth again. Still looking down, she said, “I’m sorry, Claudia, but we can’t operate on promises here. Especially not given your, um…past history with your colleagues.” She blushed even harder, making her face feel hot and tingly. She’d been trying so hard not to bring up all the other incidents in Claudia’s file, hoping that this miraculous stretch of calm politeness would last, but she should have known better.

“Oh, let’s not discuss past history, Alice,” Claudia said, patting her on the shoulder. Alice looked up sharply; she’d been so intent on not looking at Claudia that she hadn’t even noticed her crossing the room. “It’s so unfair, really, to put you in the middle of all this. You’re just doing your job, and Frank always has to come and ask you to arbitrate our little disputes? Honestly, if he was really performing his managerial duties properly, you wouldn’t even have to get involved.”

Alice shifted in her chair uncomfortably, not sure whether it was Claudia’s digs at Frank or her disturbingly extreme closeness making her feel awkward. Possibly both; Claudia acted as though she didn’t even know what personal space was. “Part of my job is arbitrating disputes between employees and management, Claudia, especially ones that seem intractable. I’m well aware of your contributions to this company–” She broke off, mentally kicking herself. Why did she have to phrase the ‘you’re both valued employees’ speech like that, knowing what a sore spot it was for Claudia? She braced herself for the tirade of abuse that was sure to follow.

“Why, thank you, Alice!” Claudia said, filling the sudden conversational gap. “It’s always nice to feel appreciated, especially when it happens so rarely.” She leaned down and gave Alice a brief hug.

Alice froze, unable to respond verbally or physically. The last time she’d mentioned ‘value’ to Claudia, it had caused a five-minute obscenity-filled rant about how she single-handedly saved this company with her research and got nothing but nit-picking complaints about her attitude in return. Now she got a hug?

Claudia looked down at her as she pulled away. “Alice, are you sure you’re alright?” she said. “You really do look a little funny.”

Alice stood up. “Um, I, um, I’m fine,” she said. Her face felt far too hot, now, and she was sure she must be blushing furiously. “I just didn’t expect you to take this so calmly.” She wanted to smack herself the moment the words came out of her mouth. The last thing she wanted was to admit that she expected Claudia to throw a fit. But Claudia’s behavior had left her so off-balance that she couldn’t collect her thoughts properly.

“Well, I do feel a little sheepish about that,” Claudia said, leaning back against her desk. Alice felt another rush of prickly heat against her skin; this close, under the bright light of the fluorescents combined with the sun, Alice could see straight through Claudia’s canlı poker oyna dress. “I suppose I’ve just been frustrated, you know? It’s a difficult situation, knowing you’re right but not having any power to control events. I’ve taken it out on you, but it’s really just anger over being so powerless.” She took a deep breath, causing her breasts to heave upwards dramatically. Alice never realized just how well-endowed Claudia was under those bulky sweaters.

Alice knew she must be beet red by now; her whole face felt like it was boiling from forehead to chin. “I, um, I mean it’s nice of you to say that,” she stammered, waving her folder back and forth to fan herself, “but it doesn’t really resolve–” She broke off sharply as Claudia took a cherry lollipop from the jar, unwrapped it, and slowly, sensuously ran the tip of her tongue all the way down its side.

“I’m sorry,” Claudia said between licks, “you were saying?” Alice honestly didn’t remember; every inch of her skin felt like it was burning now, and her head swam as she watched Claudia work her tongue over every inch of the sweet surface. It shone and gleamed wetly wherever she licked, and Alice waved her folder back and forth even harder in an effort to cool off her feverish skin.

“Saying, um, yes,” she said at last. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she concentrate on anything but the way Claudia…the way Claudia uncrossed her legs, then teasingly crossed them back over each other so that Alice couldn’t help but look all the way up their length to the place they met. The way Claudia’s panties were so light and sheer, just like the way the dress was light and sheer, and Alice could see her dark pubic hair right through the layers of fabric. She could imagine it tangled and matted with the dampness of her arousal and it would…it would taste…

Alice shook her head sharply, blinking her burning eyes again and again. “I was saying, I…I’m sorry, I can’t let you just…” Just stand there, teasing with that body and that tongue and that voice and she felt flushed and hot all over, so hot every time she looked at Claudia and Claudia was so hot every time she looked at Alice, and Alice didn’t know what was going on but she had to get out of here now, before she did something foolish like kiss Claudia, tasting the cherry sweetness in her mouth and feeling those breasts press against her and oh fuck, she couldn’t get it out of her head now, the fantasy making her dizzy and feverish and it was so hard to think, the room was spinning and her head was spinning and she couldn’t find a way out of the thought that–

Alice stood up abruptly. “I have to go,” she said in a tiny voice. She didn’t dare say anything more, not with the heat of her body increasing with every pounding, throbbing beat of her heart. She clutched her folder tightly in her hands as she staggered towards the door.

Behind her, she heard Claudia’s voice, thick with triumph. “Always a pleasure, Alice,” she said. “Come back anytime!”

Alice slammed the door shut behind her without responding, walking as fast as she could away from Claudia’s office. She somehow couldn’t believe she’d managed to get away; somehow, she expected Claudia to have locked the door so she could ravish her…and Alice wasn’t sure which of them would be the ‘she’ and which of them would be the ‘her’ in that sentence. Even now, her body felt like it was burning up with sexual heat, and the corridor seemed to sway in her field of vision as she tried to banish lustful visions of Claudia’s tongue finding her nipples, Claudia’s fingers on her clit.

Frank came around the corner, and she almost stumbled into him. “Hey,” he said, catching her as she lost her balance. “How’d it go with Claudia? I expect she must have been ready to shit bricks when you told her that she had to have all her research materials on my desk Monday or else…” He trailed off, peering at her curiously. “Alice?” he asked. “Are you alright? You don’t look so good.”

Alice felt the heat spiking even higher, the dizziness cresting in wave after wave as her head swam with random, disjointed images of Claudia. “Oh, thank God,” she whimpered, feeling her legs give out from under her. “I thought I was falling in love…”

Then she collapsed to the ground and passed out.

*****

Alice dreamed fever dreams. They blurred the edges between dream and nightmare, each dream reflecting the delirium in her waking mind and the burning, relentless heat in her body. She dreamed of being back in the office with Claudia, and the heat of her skin burning away her clothes so that she stood naked and helpless in front of the other woman. Claudia looked so deliciously cool and refreshed in her sheer dress, but when Alice touched her, she felt so sticky hot and wet and then…

Then the dream melted away into another, one where she was in bed with Claudia. But the laws of perspective seemed to warp and melt in an endless, sickening haze until either Alice had shrunk down to a tiny doll or Claudia internet casino had become a giant. She was so much smaller than Claudia, powerless next to the other woman, and she wasn’t sure whether it was erotic or terrifying when Claudia grabbed her and jammed her feet-first into Claudia’s cunt like a dildo. But Claudia’s pussy was so hot, so hot that it felt like it smothered her with burning, aching, feverish heat…

And then it was the two of them in a sauna together, but Alice couldn’t move. Claudia had bound and gagged her, Claudia’s fingers had found her pussy and were teasing her relentlessly. It felt so good, so right, so sexy, but she couldn’t take it anymore, she couldn’t take the heat, and she tried to beg Claudia to stop but it just came out as a muffled gasp of arousal until Claudia frigged her to orgasm and she felt the wave of heat crest and she was burning up, burning up with fever and it wouldn’t stop, the dreams wouldn’t stop, they kept coming the way Claudia kept her coming…

Alice awoke in blessed darkness underneath cool sheets. She shivered uncontrollably despite the feverish heat, her body somehow managing to feel freezing and burning at the same time. She hugged herself underneath the bedding, realizing only then that she was naked. “Wh-where am I?” she asked, stunned at the weakness in her voice.

“In the infirmary,” a woman’s voice responded. “They considered moving you to a hospital, but there are already twenty-five other people down with your symptoms, and more with every passing moment. They’ve decided to quarantine you all for the time being.” The voice sounded achingly familiar. “I technically shouldn’t be here, but I decided to sneak down and take a peek at my handiwork. Just to see how you’re coming along.”

Alice whimpered out, “Claudia?” She tried to sit up, but the room was still spinning nauseatingly. “You…did this to me?”

“I did tell you I’d had a breakthrough,” Claudia replied. “It just wasn’t the one you were paying me to have.” Alice could picture the other woman’s face, and the smug, arrogant smile she’d have on her lips. Her soft, ruby-red lips…

“Don’t…I don’t understand,” Alice said, her voice shaking with effort. She still felt so weak. Just thinking felt exhaustingly difficult. “How…why…?”

“Don’t take this as a shock, Alice,” Claudia responded, “but I’m not exactly surprised you don’t understand what’s going on here. Frank’s got a background in RNA transcription, and even he wouldn’t begin to understand the complexity of the retrovirus I engineered. You wouldn’t stand a hope in hell of picking up anything other than the ‘For Dummies’ version.”

Alice heard Claudia’s chair squeaking as she moved it, and realized that Claudia must be sitting right next to her in the darkness. The understanding sparked another wave of heat up and down her body. “But if you’re asking about the mundane details,” Claudia continued, “the lollipop I gave you actually contained the virus, mixed into the sugar as it crystallized. When you licked it, the sugar dissolved, the virus got loose, and it penetrated the mucous membranes in your mouth to get into your bloodstream. Elegantly simple, if I do say so myself.”

Alice had to admit, it was clever. Cruel, but very clever. “But…why?” she asked, her voice trembling. Not just with exhaustion this time, but with something else, something even Alice couldn’t quite define. Sorrow? Shame? Alice wasn’t sure; she only knew that she felt strangely, indefinably hurt at the thought of Claudia trying to kill her. “I know you don’t like me, but I never thought you’d do…this.”

She felt Claudia’s hand gently stroke her forehead. It felt surprisingly good. “Oh, Alice,” Claudia said, “I told you back at the office. I don’t hate you. I hated the situation I was in. I hated that someone so self-evidently inferior–not bad, you understand, just inferior to me–had power over me. But now all that’s remedied, and I can appreciate you for what you are.” Claudia’s hand moved down to caress Alice’s cheek. “Attractive, well-organized, sexy…”

Alice tried not to feel a warm glow of pride at Claudia’s description of her. “Then why…why the virus? Why did you try to…” She choked back a sob. “…kill us,” she finished in a small voice.

Claudia laughed. “Kill you? Oh, it’s not fatal, dear. The fever, the chills, those are just side-effects. They’ll pass soon enough.”

“Then what…?”

Claudia pressed a finger to her lips. “Shhh, little one,” she said. “Questions aren’t the best use of that pretty tongue of yours.” Alice felt the mattress shift, and realized that Claudia had climbed onto the bed with her. “I’ve got something much better for you to do with your mouth.”

The mattress shifted again, and suddenly Alice felt her face surrounded by the warmth of Claudia’s skin. She felt slick, warm flesh pressing against her mouth, and no sooner did she realize what it was than she began to lap at Claudia’s musky slit with an aching, instant devotion. “That’s right, pet,” Claudia husked out, her voice shivery with lust. “Mmm, been waiting for this for three days now, ever since you left my office.” Alice was stunned to hear how long she’d been out, but she didn’t let it distract her from licking Claudia’s pussy.

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