This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Palimpsest is a city that is home to a range of wonders but which is only accessible from our world via a convoluted route; specifically, you need to have sex with someone who’s been there, which will cause you to experience a visit to Palimpsest the next time you sleep. The first time you go, you and three other newcomers are brought together and marked before being set loose on the streets; when you wake up, a section of the city map will be marked somewhere on your body. This is the sign by which the underground community of visitors recognise each other; from here on in, you can only access parts of Palimpsest depicted on the bodies of fellow immigrants you have had sex with.
People have a range of reactions to this. Some flinch from it and try to forget all about the city. Others dabble to a limit extent but set firm boundaries. Still others become obsessed. Dotted around the world are small communities of visitors who arrange discreet hookups; some make an active effort to stop knowledge of Palimpsest becoming widespread for fear of the consequences if it became generally known. For many, sex becomes a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.