"Wait." Shakira pointed again as she parked in front of the house next door. The driveway and the area in front of their own house were packed with cars and trucks – none of which she'd ever seen before. "What the hell? They're having a party? In our house?"
"Blasting the whole street with shitty music." Otto looked at Shakira. She turned to gaze back at him and both of them spoke at the same time.
"That fucking hillbilly," Otto added. "I wonder if anyone's called the cops yet."
Shakira shook her head and got out. "Just what we need." She reached into the back seat, grabbed her bag, and waited for Otto.
He picked up his bag from its spot beside hers and headed for the house, looking over his shoulder in time to see Ramirez park her car behind Shakira's Humvee. Ramirez, Kim, and Hiro got out and followed him and Shakira.
"Jesus Christ," Ramirez muttered. She pointed her cigar off to the left. "Look at that dipshit."
Otto turned and caught a glimpse of a fat guy wearing a football jersey – and nothing else – staggering across the lawn, staring at the ground as if searching for his missing pants and underwear.
Otto looked away quickly. "Augh! My eyes!"
Shakira scrunched her face up. "Oh, no, I saw his ass!" She grimaced. "His horrible, misshapen ass!"
"I know. Gravity has definitely taken a toll." He shook his head and continued on to the porch.
"Gawd," Ramirez drawled. She shuddered and held her left hand up to her eyes like a horse blinder. "It reminds me of the kind of stuff you'd see on Torchwood. Like … repugnant, alien meat curtains."
Shakira snickered and clamped her free hand over her mouth.
"Eww!" Otto spasmed, as if he'd just found himself covered by spiders. "Thanks for that. I may never be able to get a hard-on again."
"Puberty, remember? You'll recover soon enough." She nudged him. "Well, don't just stand in the doorway. Let's go survey the carnage."
Otto pushed the door open and stepped forward, wincing at the sudden volume of the … music. He sometimes liked it loud, but only when it wasn't something that made him worry about devolving seconds after it violated his eardrums. He caught a line that sounded like, "If Ah wuz you Ah'd fall in love with me," before he could tune it out. A cacophony of shouting voices, laughing, and occasional screaming and whooping was audible under the aural torment thundering from the speakers under the wall screen.
Is this for real? Otto stared, slack-jawed, at the partiers as they mingled. I hope it's just a put-on for the show.
"I hope they don't spill any of that beer on the carpet. Or vomit on it." Shakira rolled her eyes and headed for the stairs. "I'm gonna lock myself in my room until this is over."
"Hey, yer that Otto Fell … Flatus … Fellini … "
Before Otto could turn around, a beefy arm landed around his shoulders, almost knocking him over. His nose was overwhelmed by the stench of cigarettes, beer farts, and crotch. He kept his head pointed forward; in the corner of his eye he could see a hickory shirt and a cowboy hat, and that was all he needed to know about the lummox who'd suddenly started manhandling him.
"Oh, no." Ramirez sounded as if she were trying not to laugh.
"What'n the hell's yer name, again?"
"Otto Fellatio." And if you value your testicles, you'll let go of me right now.
"Haw haw haaaaaw! Yeah!" A sausage-like finger prodded Otto's chest. "Hey, you really mass … masserbate a lot?"
Otto arched an eyebrow. "Dude. I'm thirteen. Hormones raging. No girlfriend at the moment. So what do you think?"
Somewhere behind him, Ramirez laughed. "Atta boy."
Otto prodded the lummox's ample gut with his index finger. "Say, have you ever ejaculated so hard that it made you cry?"
Ramirez burst out laughing. "Oh … Jesus!"
The lummox froze – well, semi-froze, swaying a few inches back and forth while staring blankly at Otto.
Heh. Look at the gears in his head grind to a halt. Awesome. Otto slipped out from under the guy's arm and walked after Shakira, who'd stopped to watch the brief exchange.
"Hmm," Kim said as she, her mother, and Hiro followed him. "Have you?"
"Every day." Otto grinned. "It's better than heroin."
Ramirez muttered something that sounded like, "Ehhhnng. Well, whatever keeps you off drugs, I guess."
"Just keep watching the live stream," Shakira said. "You'll get used to conversations like this."
"Marvelous." Ramirez took a slow look around the room. "When Jack and the girls get home, Dale's gonna have some explaining to do."
"There's something really off-putting about that guy," Otto said. Which is probably the exact reason he's here.
"I'd say it's pretty much everything about him." Shakira started up the stairs.
"Well, for one thing, he seems like the kind of guy who gives his penis a name."
"Wouldn't surprise me."
"Say, Otto," Kim said, "if you were that kind of guy, what would you name it?"
Shakira stopped in her tracks. A wide range of horrified expressions crossed her face in a matter of seconds before she shook herself out of it and charged up the stairs. "That's it. I'm pulling the ripcord. Goodnight, everybody."
Otto ended up being one of the characters I have the most fun writing. From the beginning, he was intended to be very much not the usual arrogant-hacker type or "wise beyond his years" kid like Wesley Crusher, and also very different from the kids I went to school with when I was that age. He's smart, certainly, and has a lot of common sense and a level of maturity most kids his age don't have (at least, going by my distant memories of growing up), but he isn't condescending toward other people. And he's pretty Zen about his raging teenage hormones, which is also very much not what I remember from being that age, myself.
There's also something else going on with Otto, which is hinted at throughout Load and this novel, with his recurring dreams that feel more like memories of past events, and some rather extraordinary abilities he discovers in the sequel, Project Revenant. He may not be entirely what he appears to be ... and he's barely beginning to understand that.
And, as he demonstrates above, Otto Fellatio takes no shit.
Fifteen Minutes is available for $4.99 from Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo.
Project Revenant has been submitted to Baen Books and is awaiting a response.