Here's an excerpt from my novel-in-progress: PORNOPOLIS. In this work of speculative fiction, a superbug has caused all vice industries to be constrained to Las Vegas, which has become a kind of industrial sin city and is divided into seven sections, for reasons you can figure. The main character is Suzanne Flesh, a reporter who works for a newspaper run by a military general. She has a drone for a BFF, connections in the subterranean world in which the real horrors dwell under the city, and in this scene visits Pornopolis, the part of the city devoted to manufacturing all things adult, where she meets one Mr. Offal, its dazzling kingpin.
Seen from the sky, the city was laid out in a circle. At the center, the tourist area held a roughly round shape. Fanning out in segments from there were the city’s seven districts, each focusing on a particular specialty--guns and weapons, food and alcohol, beauty and health, prisons and the judicial system, shadow banks and the stock exchange, the government seat, and the sex work and pornography business.
By mid-morning, Suzanne stood at the gates to the fifth section. The sign overhead read: PORNOPOLIS. It had been years since she’d been here. For the most part, the stories that she focused on took place in the metropolitan area downtown. The serial killer hunting prostitutes. The former journalist decapitating editors. The disgraced CFO with a penchant for robbing billionaires and whales.
A series of sound stages were contained in a massive structure with a curved roof, a former airplane hangar functioning as a manufacturing plant. There were no trees. Someone had killed them.
In the waiting room, she tried to focus on the messages from the General pinging her phone, but the framed images on the wall kept drawing her attention, the faces in them rearranging their features and expressions.
“Mr. Offal will see you now.”
From behind his massive desk, Offal smiled, a flash of brilliant white teeth against brown leathery skin.
“You know you’re always welcome on my sets,” Offal purred.
“Looks like business is booming.”
Offal chuckled smugly. “Boo-ming. China. Huge. Huge market. Developing countries. Exploding. Can’t get enough. Tell you a secret. Vatican City. Great customer. Terrific customer. Can’t say what they’re buying. Their appetite for it, I can tell you, is unholy. Africa. Big big market just now opening up. Very very into albinism. Albino girls very big right now. In Somalia. That’s the secret. Everybody has a niche. Every stomach wants a particular kind of meal. I find out their appetites. I supply it. The feeding trough for the masses' basest desires. That’s me. I’m the chef. I stir things up. That’s what I do. Before your time, the Daily called me 'the P. T. Barnum of smut.' Can you believe that. Very proud. Framed that. On the wall behind me. Without the technology, it goes without saying, I’m nothing.”
She’d spent the morning studying Offal’s file. A boy genius, he’d hacked into the World Bank at eleven and been recruited by the shadow banks not long after that. He didn’t have time to play chess. He was too busy playing checkers with hedge fund managers' heads, distracting them while he picked their pockets with spybugs and black drives. He was married to a profoundly surgically enhanced Ukrainian former pageant queen named Aleksandra. Rumor had it, he was one of the richest men in the city. He’d figured out how to turn a profit on chronic masturbators. He was at the gym every morning by five and drove an armored X-Hov to work. According to the dominatrix she had coffee with and whom he visited every Friday afternoon, Offal liked to be spanked as punishment for wetting adult diapers, the privilege for which he paid her $33,000 an hour. Suzanne had complimented the dom on her shoes and rued, briefly, the career path she should have taken.
“Dolores!” A comely blonde in an OFFAL INC T-shirt appeared. “Take Suzanne wherever she wants to go. My world is yours, Suzanne. Consider yourself my esteemed guest. Make sure to stop by the cafeteria. They do an amazing lobster bisque with truffle oil and capers.”
She followed the blonde to the stages.