Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Exit Reality1 Reviews
An AU in which the world seen in Back To Reality is the true reality.
"I'm not drunk!" a nasal voice yelled peevishly from the living room. Sebastian looked at Jake, questioningly.
"He is correct, sir," Jake replied. "I took the liberty of preemptively collaring your half-brother."
"Thanks, man," Sebastian replied. "Yeh did the right thing."
Sebastian showed Jake out, locking the door behind him, then walked into the living room. Billy lay on the couch, his shoes tracking State-only-knew what all over Sebastian's clean tan couch. Billy's expression was irate, and he held his arms crossed defensively in front of him. "I'm just fine, thank you so very very much."
"Yeah, but you wouldn't've been for long, would ya?" Sebastian asked, putting his hands firmly on his hips and looking down at Billy with irritation. His half-brother would not meet his gaze. Sebastian counted to ten. "Look," he continued, "the maid and the butler asked fer the night off after what you put 'em through. Can you take yerself to the bathroom and clean up? Can I trust yeh with that much?"
Billy nodded, sullenly, staring at his own feet. Sebastian shook his head. "When will yeh ever have a place of yer own? Clean clothing? A job? Maybe, I dunno, a /life/?"
"I don't want one," Billy snapped. "I don't want to wear a suit and go work every morning and ponce around like an arse. I like my life just fine."
"You don't have a life!" Sebastian yelled, letting it all out. What the hell. He worked too hard to keep it bottled up, and for what? To spare the feelings of that jackarse? "If it weren't fer me, you'd be bein' prefrontally rehabilitated by the Ministry of Morality, or dead."
"Oh, /thanks/," Billy grumbled to his navel. "I can't do your work. I never had what you had. I could never stand the sight of blood. It makes me faint. I don't have your way with people."
"Because you never tried to get it!" Sebastian hollered. "Yeh got the same mum as me! The same upbringin'! Whatever I got, you can get, as well, if you only gave a good damn, which yeh don't!"
"You're the younger one!" Billy yelled back, finally looking up to meet Sebastian's gaze with his bloodshot eyes. "Mum had me to practice on, so she could grow you up right!"
"I'm ten minutes younger!" Sebastian bellowed.
"It was the right ten minutes," Billy grumbled.
Sebastian sighed. "Look. Go. Get cleaned up. Then... get a life, you twonk. I'm not helpin' you out anymore." He walked out of the room, entered his workroom, carefully removed his jacket, hung it up, and sat at the table, breathing steadily. He waited until he heard the sound of running water in the bathroom, and settled down to his writing.
He only paused when his hand began to cramp. He shook himself, shivered, and yawned. The air tasted like early morning, and the house was eerily quiet. It had been hours since he sent Billy up to wash, he suddenly realized, and he ran up to the bathroom in a mild panic. The bathroom had been used; the tub was wet, and strands of damp white hair clung to the drain. Billy's grotty clothes lay on the floor in a pile. A trail of water drips led out of the bathroom and formed a spotty path on the carpet in the hallway. Sebastian followed it to his study. The path stopped at Billy's bare heels; drops of water fell from the ends of his scraggly, limp hair, hit his bony back and pale buttocks, and splatted on the carpet. Billy had opened Sebastian's liquor cabinet, and appeared to be drinking his way through it. Sebastian's twenty-year-old scotch was half-gone; an empty bottle of vodka stood next to a half-full bottle of Goldschlager and a three-quarters empty bottle of gin. Billy appeared to be working on the last, sipping from a tumbler and smacking his lips.
"Whatcha doin'?" Sebastian sighed, frustrated.
Billy spun around, guiltily. Sebastian wondered when was the last time he had seen the man wearing so little; his body displayed signs of the dissolute life he had chosen. His too-skinny shoulders were hunched; his pectorals drooped unhappily. His flaccid penis sulked in front of his testicles like an overdressed schoolboy forced to the front of a photograph by two fat aunts.
"Yer not gettin' drunk on my booze," Sebastian snapped, grabbing at the glass. "Why aren't yeh dressed?"
"My clothes... are... all grotty," Billy said, speaking with difficulty. He pulled the glass back, staggering backwards himself from the effort.
"You're drinkin' out what little brains you have," Sebastian replied, glaring at the hopeless mess of the man. His voice was becoming thick with upset. "You're goin' to need those, brother/. You think I can keep protectin' yeh? What's in it fer me, eh? I used ta love yeh, yeh know, but yeh just /wasted yer friggin' life, and I ain't goin' to be the one to care about it more than yeh do yerself!"
Billy's eyes were glassy with inebriated tears by the end. "You... don't mean that, Seb... Sebby, do you?"
"Of course I mean it." Sebastian made another grab, and this time took the glass. He cuffed Billy upside the head with his free hand. "I'm tired of this, yeh hear? Sick and bloody... fecking..."
"I can..." Billy interrupted, then hiccupped - from drunkenness or sadness, Sebastian could not tell. "I can pay, you know... I do it all the time, really..." He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Sebastian's. Sebastian was frozen with shock, and could only stand there for a moment as Billy grabbed his shoulders and stuck his tongue in Sebastian's mouth. The sharp, alcoholic taste of that tongue snapped Sebastian out of his immobility, and he pushed Billy backwards. The man stumbled and fell on his backside, then pulled his knees to his chest, looking mournful.
"Drunk an' disorderly ain't enough for yeh, is it?" Sebastian bawled. "No, yeh have to do... this! It's a damn good thing our mum is dead already, or she'd drop from a heart attack on the spot, you bastid! How could ya? After all I done for you!" Sebastian paused, his chest heaving, feeling weary and disgusted and spent. "Go to bed, you jackarse," he sighed, then stormed out of the room and into his bedroom.
Sebastian took his clothes off and put them in the hamper, then sat on his bed, his fists clenched. Damn Billy, and damn him. Their argument, Billy's action - Sebastian did not want to think about exactly what had caused it, but something had left him with an erection, and it stared at him stubbornly, refusing to subside. The more he tried to will it down, the more his groin ached, his foreskin retracting slightly, precome starting to form a drop on the tip. Hell, it was wrong, he knew it - the Minister of Intelligence would have him by the small hairs if this got out. But his butler and his maid were gone for the evening, and his curtains were perpetually drawn, and before he knew it, he was grasping and stroking. He gasped with guilty pleasure, moaning as he grabbed the bedspread with one hand, pumping desperately, wailing slightly as he came over his hand and his stomach, shuddering with delight.
The aftershocks passed, leaving him shaking and weak; as quickly as his body would let him, he dammed the come-puddle with his hands and trotted to the bathroom, washing it all off thoroughly in the tub. He dried himself and stumbled back to his bed, collapsing with a sigh. The situation was most definitely out of control. The best thing to do, now, the only sensible thing to do, would be to pass Billy over to the Minister of Morality for reprogramming. Hell, it might even work. Sometimes, people emerged from the conditioning sessions as better people and good citizens. Either way, it would be a blessing for that sot Billy.
Sebastian was exhausted enough to fall asleep without the help of a pill, but was plagued by dreams of Billy and their mum chasing him through a labyrinth of filing cabinets, guiding him to the center, where a naked woman with a whip smiled at him cruelly. He woke up in sticky sheets, and had to rinse them in the tub and hang them to dry. His maid must not see those traces.
Sebastian's plan to turn Billy over to the hands of the Department of Morality did not come to fruition. Duane Dibbley was waiting in Sebastian's office when he arrived at work in the morning. "Mister Doyle!" Duane chirped, flashing a piano keyboard's worth of teeth at Sebastian. Socially competent Duane was not, and he was not even a good enough computer programmer to make up for it. But all that Sebastian needed was data entry and database management, and Duane did that perfectly well. Since he had no social life to speak of, he did not mind staying late when necessary, and Sebastian appreciated that greatly. Employer loyalty was assured, because there was no way anyone else would want to hire the man.
"This had better be important, Duane," Sebastian said sternly, hanging up his overcoat.
"Oh, yes, Mister Doyle!" Duane was practically bouncing in his seat. "I want to ask for five years off."
"Five years!" Sebastian asked, incredulous. "What in hell...? Impossible."
"Oh, no, don't say that, Mister Doyle!" Duane said, his eyes widening. "I've been waiting for years for my slot in the Game!"
Something about the way he said that word made it capital. "Game? What Game?"
"The Red Dwarf total immersion game!" Duane grinned even more widely. Those teeth should be sold to a land developer for fencing, Sebastian mused. "It's the biggest thing ever! You go into an artificial reality and become someone else! It has the longest waiting list of any immersion game, but my turn's come up!" His voice squeaked with excited anticipation at the end of that sentence.
"You're going to become an unemployed someone else if you do," Sebastian snapped, sitting behind his desk. "A leave of absence for five years? What are you thinking? Or are you just, as usual, /not/?"
Duane looked down, mournful. "So the answer is no, Mister Doyle?"
"If you want to take five years off, you're welcome to, but you'd better give two weeks' notice of resignation before going in." Sebastian spread his hands. "What, am I just supposed to do all of the data entry myself while you're playing a game for five years?"
"Sorry, sir." Duane stood, picked up his lunchbox, and shuffled out, disconsolate.
A five-year game. What kind of desperate loser would play a game like that? Well, Duane, obviously. Sebastian could well believe that the man (and he used the term lightly) would want to be someone else; he wouldn't want to be himself if he were Duane. Or if he were Billy, for that matter.
Sebastian started his computer and settled down to work - but curiosity nagged at him. He started to read about the game.
"Sub-section co-sub-leader second-in-command Bullet speaking." The cyborg's voice was just as smooth and relaxed at his desk as it was in person.
"Jake. It's Sebastian Doyle." Sebastian tapped his fingers on his desk, uneasily. "I've requisitioned you."
"You have, sir?" The cyborg's voice betrayed only mild surprise, but he was incapable of anything more demonstrative. He would display only mild surprise if one of his bodily organs leapt out of his chest and decided to go dancing.
"Yes. I need your help. You're going to accompany me on a total immersion game. One of my employees won a spot, and I'm taking you and Billy with me. I think Billy might... enjoy it." The phones were all bugged. Citizens had to be observed, after all.
Jake was quiet for a moment. "Indeed? Perhaps I should discuss this with you first, sir."
"Oh, yes, of course. Come by my house at 1800." Sebastian hung up the phone, then opened up a file in his inbox and dialed his second-in-command. He had much to do, and little time in which to do it.
"Jake! Good ta see ya," Sebastian said, shrugging out of his overcoat and hanging it up on the hook on the wall. "We have a lot to do."
"Yes, we do," said a smooth, even voice. Langley stepped out from Sebastian's living room. He gestured to the cyborg. "This is Tony Grant, not Jake."
Damn the cyborgs, Sebastian fumed. "Thanks fer droppin' by for dinner, but I only have leftovers. I got a lot of work to do."
"So I hear." Langley fixed Sebastian with a disconcertingly intense stare. "I hear that you're taking a little time off, Doyle."
"Voter-Colonel, to you. And my time off is me own business. I got meself covered for my absence." Sebastian chafed at the delay; between that and worry over just what Langley was up to - in his own damn house! - Sebastian could hardly keep his voice even and his legs still.
"Five years!" Langley arched his eyebrows. "That is quite a lengthy leave of absence - Voter-Colonel. Might I ask why?"
"You might ask. And then you might go find somewhere else to be. Got a little light readin' to do at home?"
Langley's eyes narrowed. "I only have your well-being in mind, sir. We would all be devastated if something were to happen to you. But if you are, indeed, busy," Langley snapped his heels together and inclined his head, "I will leave you in peace." He snapped his fingers peremptorily, and the quiet cyborg followed him obediently out of the house.
Sebastian looked into the living room. Billy lay on the couch, asleep; Jake stood in the middle of the room, a vaguely worried look on his angular face. At least, Sebastian hoped it was Jake. "Oh, Mister Doyle, sir! I am so terribly sorry. They arrived three and three-quarters minutes after I did. They seemed to be surprised by my presence, but insisted on staying to talk to you."
"That's all righ'," Sebastian sighed. "I think he's just messin' with me. It's not important. Help me with Bill - I put a tranquilizer in his breakfast. We have to grab Dibbley and get goin'."
"Sir," Jake said, his expression still unhappy. "I don't understand the point of this exercise."
Sebastian sighed. "Look, we gotta do somethin' about Billy, yeah? I was lookin' through the information on this game that Duane wanted to play. Total immersion. Five-year run. I was lookin' at the characters you play, and one of them is this total anal-retentive order-lovin' discipline-junky type. I figger, if we can get Billy to be that man for five years - the habits will form, and he'll be used to bein' that kind of guy when he gets out. And if it doesn't work - well, I'd pretty much decided he needs to go to the Ministry of Morality anyway."
"But why do you need to accompany him?" Jake asked, worriedly. "This is a very long time to spend away from your duties!"
"I designated some people to take care of things. Divvyed it up and changed things around every year or so - I don't want any one fella to get used to my job, after all! But I can't let that guy stay there without someone to look after him, and I can't trust Duane. I can't trust anyone but meself."
Sebastian clapped Jake on the shoulder. "I need someone to look after /me/. I don't want to die one year in and have to leave! Who knows what Billy would get up to, then?"
"If you say so," Jake said, still dubious, as he took Billy's feet.
Sebastian took Billy under the arms, recoiling slightly at the stale-piss smell of his jacket. "Hey," Sebastian said, throwing a broad grin at Jake, "trust me." And oddly enough, he felt like grinning. He felt light on his feet, strangely energetic. It must be, he thought as he traversed the rain-spattered streets in his limousine, that he was finally doing something about Billy. That loser of a brother of his - he had been such a joy back when they were young, weren't they? But even at five, there seemed to be a desperation to Billy's fun, a sense that the universe was running on ahead and leaving him behind. Well. No matter. One way or another, he would take care of Billy, bring him to some kind of resolution. That thought, the idea that he was no longer an impotent spectator to his brother's fall, kept the smile on his face - all through the ride in the dark, through the registration, through the changing into baggy coveralls. As the headset came down, bringing the promise of release offered by another universe, one in which none of the Established Rules mattered, it covered as broad a smile as Sebastian had ever worn.