The Sexual CompassMichael Reed / Humor / Science Fiction
The Sexual Compass
The Sexual Compass
First edition printed 2014
This edition 2017
Michael Reed asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
Copyright 2017 Michael Reed
Unmusic Books www.unmusic.co.uk
Proofreading by Darryl Sloan darrylsloan.wordpress.com
The street map is copyright OpenStreetMap contributors. See http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright
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About the author
Michael Reed is a freelance writer specialising in technology, gender politics and geek culture. He has written articles for magazines and websites such as RetroGamer, Linux User & Developer, Men's News Daily, Micro Mart, A Voice for Men, Den of Geek, Linux Journal, OSNews, OpenDemocracy and others.
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Part I - Susan, the mice and the men
Chapter 1 - Coffee, mice and sex
I'm going to tell you what happened when I first I heard about the mice. At that time, I was twenty-one years old and juggling single motherhood with studying for a degree. That morning, I had woken up early, a trade-off to have a few minutes with coffee before bedlam began. I had to make as little noise as possible to avoid waking Mum and Dad. To toe the line is a way of life when you live at home in your twenties.
I twirled down the volume of the radio before switching it on. I filled the kettle and quietly stirred the coffee, still operating like a maternal version of the Terminator following its program. Speaking of quietness, I would have thought it was still too quiet and cold for sex, particularly from the BBC, but sex was the subject at hand this morning.
The newsreader informed me: “Scientists in Manchester have announced that levels of insulin may regulate sexual orientation.”
Initially, some scientists had made this discovery in mice, and now, some other scientists had confirmed it in human beings. This breakthrough was exciting news, for mice and for humans, but I risked moving away from the radio to switch the central heating on. When I returned to my seat, the newsreader had moved on to another subject, the mice and their sexual orientation be damned. It was funny, as I always felt mousy when scurrying around in the morning.
Once the heating came on, the familiar knocks and bumps from upstairs began, and my day, proper, started. Fortunately, we lived in a house big enough to have two bathrooms. As usual, I took over the upstairs bathroom to get me and Tom washed while Mum and dad got themselves into gear downstairs. Tom had reached the stage where he could wash his own face and brush his teeth while I was in the shower. Mum would have breakfast set up by the time I got downstairs. We all ate breakfast together, something I had tried to avoid when I was a teenager.
My mornings, along with my life in general, did not exhibit a great deal of variety. Following breakfast, I'd say goodbye to Mum and Dad and do the nursery run. Typically, I'd then do a shopping run and return to the empty house for lunch and then coursework. At 3pm, I'd make the return trip to pick up Tom. By the time I got back to the house, Mum would be well on with the dinner, which was always a family meal. Mum and Dad would chat away while I fed Tom. After dinner, Dad would say, “Let's see what rubbish is on,” and disappear into the lounge while me and Mum would start loading up the dish washer and clearing up in general. We'd talk about nothing in particular; the trick was to avoid any deep conversation. Disagreements are potentially deadly in such a confined environment. Later, as a family, we'd watch some TV together, which made my inner-teenager cringe. After that, I'd have a bath and then a final hour of study before bed. The next day, we'd all repeat the whole thing. At twenty-one, I was stuck between being immensely grateful for what I had and shuddering at what life had been reduced to. Oh, the blandness. But put the violins away, for I do not deserve them.
The next morning, on the outward trip with Tom, the subject of mice and men was raised again. This time, the newsreader informed me that a spokesperson from a gay rights group had released a statement: “It seems unlikely that the complexity of human sexuality can be compared to that of a supposedly gay laboratory mouse.”
This shit was getting real.