This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Monogamous

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.

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