Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Forwards0 Reviews
A look back at when the alternate Lister was still alive.
Holly was fecking nuts.
Rimmer looked at where Lister sat on his upper bunk, reading slowly and ponderously from the book that Rimmer had browbeaten him into agreeing to read aloud for the benefit of the unable-to-turn-pages hologram. He looked perfectly sane. Calm, with one leg crossed over the other, his back against his JMC regulation pillow, one stubby chewed-nail finger slowly tracing the words, the other hand twiddling his rasta plaits. It was Arnold smegging Rimmer who needed someone to keep him sane. Made of light, couldn't feel anything, couldn't touch anything, couldn't affect the world at all. Well, he could touch himself, and he had done damn well enough of that/. He couldn't taste, touch, or smell; if he kept /that up, he'd only have hearing left, and listening to the screeching cacophony Lister called music would certainly push him over the edge.
Rimmer put the brakes on that line of thought, and tried to listen to Lister read aloud. The man read so /slowly/, though, and in such a bloody flat voice... but Rimmer couldn't turn pages. He bit the sleeve of his iridescent red uniform and started to chew, knowing that he would guess what the word Lister was about to read would be when the man was only halfway through it, and would have to wait while Lister sounded it out... and then the next one... and then the next one. Even for monosyllabic words. Rimmer's mind wandered away from Lister's maddening reading style yet again, and he found himself looking at Lister's profile. It didn't help things. He knew that Lister had soft brown skin, and that he loved to be kissed on the cheek, and licked on the underside of the chin, but that didn't do Rimmer any good, did it? He was made of light, and light could not give blow jobs. Or receive them. He started to chew on his sleeve in earnest.
Lister noted the movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned. "Hey, man, what's up?"
Rimmer spat out his sleeve. "Oh, nothing. I just - can't stand the pathos. Of the story. Maybe you should stop for now." Considering that the book in question was Goodnight Moon, that might come across as a bit odd, but Rimmer was tired of it. How had Lister gotten into the Space Corps with the reading skills of a rank member of Congress? It would take forever to get him to the point where he could read Lolita at this rate.
Lister shrugged and put a scrap of lettuce from the evening's kebab in the book as a placeholder. "Righ'. Let's finish it another night. Hard work, reading."
"Yes," Rimmer muttered, lacing his fingers together and jiggling his leg.
"Yeh want to sleep in my bunk tonight?" Lister asked. Rimmer shook his head. It had seemed like such a sweet idea at first - sharing a bunk as they sometimes did before Rimmer died - but Lister inevitably wound up clutching in his sleep for the one thing that was solid - Rimmer's light bee - and hugging it, leaving Rimmer's projection three-quarters overlapped with Lister's body. Rimmer hated this reminder that he was dead and incorporeal. He'd rather sleep alone and be frustrated.
Lister shrugged and hopped down from the bunk, putting the book on the table. He bent down to kiss Rimmer on the cheek, moving too far and kissing him somewhere in the middle of one of Rimmer's molars. He had initially been very careful with his faux kisses, carefully guiding his lips to brush the edge of Rimmer's projection, but he had gotten less and less careful about that as time had gone on. Lister turned out the lights, because he could, hopped back into his bunk, wrapped himself in a blanket, and started to snore.
Rimmer sat at the table in the middle of their quarters, unmoving. Every time Lister did something he couldn't - like flicking a light switch, or wrapping himself in a blanket - Rimmer became more and more envious, until lately, it seemed he would choke on it. Not that it would matter, as he did not need to breathe anyway. Touch. Lister could touch. Could touch someone else the way he used to touch Rimmer. Some Cat-girl, some GELF-girl, eventually, would feel those short fingers ghost over her skin, would feel those full lips spread butterfly kisses over her cheek, would have a tongue that tasted of cigarettes run along the inside of her mouth, would have him sprawl across her back with his hands gripping her shoulders, pushing so deep that his balls would slap against her, rising to a rhythmic crescendo in harmony with his gasps as he came. Rimmer was now erect, of course, and he was damned if he was going to masturbate and pretend his own thin fingers were Lister's. He flopped face-down on his bunk, not in the least bit sleepy, and listened to Lister's irregular, liquid snores.
Where could they go from here? Earth? Earth was three million years away, the human race extinct. Nothing left of it but hardy GELFs, rogue simulants, one human male, and a projection of his ex-bunkmate. Lister was looking for a home. What was Rimmer looking for? All he had in life had been Lister and his dogged (if much-mocked) desire to become an officer. Now he just had his smegging mission. Keep Lister sane. That would not be his mission for long. As soon as Lister found his next lover - something better than unable-to-touch, unable-to-satisfy Rimmer - Arnie J. would be superfluous, wouldn't he?
As if he weren't already.
Rimmer lay awake long into the night. As he had done every night he had been a hologram. As he would continue to do, long after Lister found something Better Than Life. As he would continue to do, long after Lister died.