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The Common Cold Market (F) - updated (04/09/2020)


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A sci-fi story about a future where the common cold is almost wiped out- but where it can still be bought if you know where to look.

It's about- if you had never had a cold in your life, and you suddenly got one- how would it feel?

Female sneezes, colds.


1. The Thief

Picture this: a cold, black void of space, punctuated by bright stars, a giant gas planet nearby with storms rippling over its red surface. This is a quiet corner of the galaxy. A place where space travellers come when they don't want to be noticed.

Look closer: now we see a battered-looking space station, with smaller spacecraft clustering around it like bees around a honeycomb.

This is the Intergalactic Bazaar- some simply call it "The Great Market". It's a space station where you can go to find just about anything. Yodanium metal, frozone explosive, alien eggs, quantum teleporter crystals- or just good old-fashioned guns. You could get them all here, for the right price- and even some truly special things that nobody will talk about openly.

This is what Kat was relying on. She was now in a small white shuttle, circling the space station and preparing to land.

"I am taking the shuttle down." said the navigation robot, in its bland voice. "Our landing site has been agreed- we will land on the sigma platform."

"Okay." said Kat. She went into the back of the shuttle to prepare her equipment, and first checked her appearance in the mirror. To look at, Kat was a slight woman, pale-skinned with a pretty face- someone who looked innocent, not very worldly-wise. This suited her purposes perfectly because Kat was a thief.

She had fallen into this life as a teenager, and found she had a talent for it. Over the years she had stolen many things: money, armaments, rocket fuel, precious metals. But this job was something new. Kat had been hired to steal the common cold.

She took out a small bottle of Martian perfume from one of the shuttle's cabinets and sprayed herself with it- it would help the image she needed to project- a wealthy woman, dressing down so as not to attract attention. By accident she inhaled the volatile spray, and felt an irritating but delicious tingling in the top of her nose. She hitched, and then sneezed.

"Hah-huh... haaah-CHOO!"

The sneeze felt so good. She had not sneezed for weeks.

Responding to the sound, the little standard-issue medical droid flew in from the cockpit. It buzzed around, scanning her, and then used its purple disinfection light to clean her and every surface where Kat's loud sneeze could have sprayed. No germs would survive.

The sneeze had reminded her to check the background of her mission again. She said, "Computer- tell me about colds." The computer's gentle voice answered.

"Hundreds of years ago, humans suffered repeatedly from the virus which caused the common cold'. This illness caused tiredness, coughing and sneezing, feverishness, but usually nothing more serious. However it still led to much lost productivity. Scientists tried to find a cure for many years, but did not succeed.
However, with the development of disinfection robots and immuno-booster tech, the common cold began to die down. Now, it is declared extinct on most civilised planets.

Kat rubbed her nose and said, "Now tell me about Coldists."

"With the almost total elimination of the virus" said the computer "The sensations of having a cold became something most people had never experienced. But this had an unforseen effect- there emerged a small minority of people who had a desire to experience them- to have a cold. It was a strong, internal desire- some call it a sexual fetish. The sensation of uncontrollable sneezing in particular was prized among them- more so since allergies were eliminated by similar tech. These people, these fetishists, were given the nickname 'Coldists'- and some report they have adopted the name themselves".

Kat's nose tingled again- but the medical robot's light-scan had cleaned the irritant from her nose, and she found to her frustration that she couldn't sneeze again.

"Now give me the mission briefing- about the space station- the Great Market."

The computer paused as it loaded the file for the task Kat had been hired to do.

"Some of the Coldists are rich, and willing to pay a high price for the experience of the common cold. Where there is demand, there will be supply. We have accounts that traders in the common cold virus can be found in the Intergalactic Bazarr- the so-called Great Market. But these traders are secretive, and we have been unable to discover where they get their viruses from. Your task is to go there, posing as a rich Coldist, and bring back a sample of the virus using the equipment we have given you. You know what we will pay."

Kat exhaled slowly- if she could pull this off, she would have enough money to set herself up for years. She could take only the jobs she wanted. It was worth the danger.

Her nose still tingled. She took out the perfume again and sprayed a cloud in the air, then took a big sniff. The tantalising tickle came back to her nose, and she inhaled, feeling the growing sensation of a big sneeze. The medical robot began fluttering around again.


Instantly the little droid covered her in purple light, but it hadn't been in time to stop her sneezes. Kat had always felt pleasure from sneezing- though it took her a long time to admit it to herself. People hardly ever sneezed now, it wasn't normal- unless they induced like she did. Was she unusual? Did other people do this?

"To cause yourself to sneeze- is- unwise!" said the medical droid in its high-pitched voice, flying swiftly away.

Kat rubbed her nose, and put on her jacket and belt. She checked the electro-card which held the large sum of money she had been sent... then checked the concealed sample tubes in her clothing- little vessels called 'technoflasks' according to her mysterious employer. This tech was new to her, and there would be no second chance if she made a mistake with it.

Without thinking too much about it, she picked up the Martian perfume bottle and put it into her bag. A good thief isn't superstitious... but what harm could a good luck charm do?

"Docking..." said the navigation robot. "Prepare for stationfall..."

Kat went back to the cockpit, sat down and strapped herself in.

2. The Guard

The shuttle touched down inside the landing bay. On its way in, Kat had looked out and seen the sides of the Intergalactic Bazaar space station- its metal plating was broken and hanging off in places, one module was full of holes and surely uninhabitable. But she supposed it didn't matter if this place looked like a wreck. People would always come, if it offered things that were available nowhere else.

She left the shuttle and the nav robot flew it back out to hover in orbit. Mechanics were bustling around in the hangar bay, repairing a run-down Plutonian fighter ship. A tall black man in a grey coat came over to her.

"Good moonrise, ma'am" he said with careful politeness. "I'm required just to ask a name and your ship's callsign."

"My name is Cassandra Yazari" said Kat, using the false name she had practiced, "And my shuttle is CY427-55-alpha."

"Thank you." said the tall man. "First time here? I can arrange a guide, for a price."

"It is my first time," said Kat- it would be foolish to say otherwise, the guard would guess. "I don't need a guide- but perhaps, some information? For a price." She briefly flashed her electro-card from her pocket.

The black man gestured behind himself. "Step into the office please."

Inside the guard's cramped office, the man offered her a cup of Martian coffee which she accepted. It was bitter and over-stewed, but not terrible.

"How can I help you today, ma'am?" said the guard, smiling. Having smelled money, he became even more polite.

"I came here to buy laser crystals" said Kat, "But on the way- I heard rumours. I hardly dared to believe them- but I have heard that this is a place where you can..." she lowered her voice, "Catch a cold..."

The man's eyes widened.

"Supposing you can- and I'm not saying you can- that is not cheap, Ms Yazari."

"Despite my appearance I'm a wealthy woman, my friend." Kat took out her electro-card. "Shall we say- one hundred credits for information of where I might catch a cold? Though the information had better be good."

The man leaned in close. "On the 26th deck- there are cafes, among other things. One is a place where Coldists go to meet and do business. You'll know it by the symbol of those who enjoy sneezing-" he whispered now. "A white feather on a blue background. The sign that you want their special services is a sneeze- but do not be too loud! Best is to stifle."

Hearing him speak about sneezing, even in a whisper, sent a shiver through Kat, in a way she still didn't feel comfortable with. This man knew more than she had expected about Coldists- assuming he wasn't just telling her lies for the money.

"Thank you." she said, swiping her electro-card over the guard's wristband to deposit the hundred credits. He nodded and smiled. Kat's heart was thumping with excitement, perhaps at more than just the mission.

Kat left the office, walked through the landing bay and stepped into the visitors' elevator. This one had a restricted range of destinations, printed on a piece of paper taped to the wall.

"Deck 1- minerals, metals and ore
Deck 2- animals, funghi and vegetation
Deck 3- computers and AI
Deck 4- spaceflight goods and reactors
Deck 5- armaments and accessories"

At the bottom someone had written by hand:

"For everything else, go to deck 5 and continue down."

Here we go, thought Kat, pressing button 5.

3. The Great Market

All Kat's senses were assaulted as she emerged into the armaments market deck. She had never seen a place quite like this.

People had set up stalls and huts all over the place; they were selling firearms, laser pistols, bombs, explosives of all sorts and many other devices of killing. The smell of gun oil, laser residue and frozone mingled in the air. Weapons displeased Kat- in her opinion, a good thief should never need one- but the smells were familiar to her.

She pushed through the crowd, looking from stall to stall. Moving among so many people made her instincts buzz- spying the chance to steal a wallet here, a weapon there; to slip an electro-card out of a careless traveller's pocket... the desire to pickpocket, like she had done so many times as a younger thief... but she was here for a bigger job.
Finally she found a Japanese woman selling laser crystals which looked of decent quality- she had to maintain her cover story, in case someone asked. She bought a mixed box of them, then headed for one of the elevators which could take her down to the lower decks.

Two minutes later she stepped out onto deck 26. It felt hot and steamy, and was filled with the smells of many different kinds of food. She started looking for the cafe with the sign of the feather; but there were so many cafes, this whole deck seemed to be filled with them- and food huts, even some bigger constructions like small restaurants.

She went looking- passing food sellers from many different planets and regions. She looked from side to side, then behind her-

"Oh! I'm sorry!" Kat had walked straight into someone hurrying past. It was a middle-aged white woman with her head covered in a black hood.

"It's fine-"

As the woman straightened her coat, Kat saw something unexpected- on a chain round the woman's neck was a tiny white ceramic charm, shaped like a feather.

Without thinking, Kat began to follow the woman through the crowd. It wasn't easy to keep track of her with so many people about, but Kat was experienced at following people, and the crowd made it less obvious that she was doing so. Eventually the woman came to a cafe tucked away in the corner of the deck. Kat stayed carefully back as the woman ordered a cup of Plutonian coffee.

The cafe advertised "Earthican food" with a plain black and white sign. There were quite a few people there, though only a couple were eating- the rest nursed drinks, or just talked.

Then, she saw it.

By the side of the counter, there was a picture on the wall- it was made up of nine coloured squares, each with a shape drawn on it. Most of the shapes were hard to make out, but the central one was clear: it was a white feather on a blue background.

She walked up to the counter, where a thin Asian man was serving. Her thief's instinct kicked in, and she noted that he had been watching her carefully, though trying not to show it.

"Coffee, and a hot chicken cake please." she said.

"Take a seat please ma'am." said the thin man in an emotionless voice. "I'll bring it over."

Kat took a seat at one of the tables, away from the other customers. She slipped the perfume bottle out of her bag and held it in her hand under the table. The thin man came out with her food and coffee on a tray, and placed them on the table in front of her.

"Thank you."

"Pepper, ma'am?" he said, producing a pepper pot from his apron pocket. "Some of our guests prefer to apply their own."

"Er- yes, thank you." she said. She had read, one night when she was poring over the computer's encyclopaedic files on colds and sneezing, that pepper was traditionally said to make people sneeze in Old Earth. Surely this cafe had to be the right place!

Kat drank her coffee, and ate the chicken cake- despite the mission, she was hungry and still needed to eat. When it was finished, she leaned down towards her bag pretending to look for something, and discreetly sprayed the Martian perfume into her face.

The lovely tingling feeling filled her nose again- she wanted to rub her nose but knew it wouldn't help, and anyway- it was important to sneeze now! But not too loud.

"Haah... hah-haah..."

As she began to hitch she prepared to stifle. She held her hand ready to pinch her nose between two fingers when the sneeze came.


Success- but no, the tickle came back and she had to sneeze again.

"Haaaah-MMMMPH! Haaah-MMMP-CHOOO!"

The last sneeze emerged louder than she had intended. Kat looked up, suddenly nervous. She realised the cafe around her had gone quiet and people were looking at her.

"Bless you..." said a voice. It was the thin Asian man again, suddenly there beside her. Kat jumped; people hardly ever managed to sneak up on her.

"I'm sorry!" she said, now flustered. "I must have- put on too much pepper!"

Now, she was sure she felt other eyes on her from the people in the cafe.

"I can only apologise." said the thin man. "Please allow us to apologise properly for causing you to sneeze. If you wish, I will take you to meet the manager." He gestured with his hand to a door at the back of the room. "Follow me please, ma'am."

4. Catching a Cold

The thin man led her into the back of the cafe, through a cramped office and into an old goods elevator. He punched in a six-digit code on the numeric pad outside the elevator door, before pausing and saying "You have the money, I assume?"

"Of course." said Kat.

The man pressed another button and the door slid shut. Kat felt her stomach flip with the sensation of going down very quickly. After a minute, the elevator stopped with a lurch. As the door opened she was greeted by a well-groomed middle-aged white man. He had a small, tidy beard and was wearing a white lab coat.

"Good moonrise, madam. Please forgive the rough journey down here. You must understand it is necessary to be discrete."

"Yes." said Kat, trying to take in her surroundings.

"I'm Doctor Roberts." said the man, beckoning her down the passage behind him. She followed, passing through a blaze of purple light which she recognised as a medical-purge scan. The technoflasks were supposed to be resistant to it- they had to be, she wouldn't get a sample of the cold outside otherwise.

The passage opened into a well-furnished waiting room, lit by electric lights in the ceiling. "Please have a seat on the couch."

Kat obediently sat.

"First, we will need to scan you for recording devices, I very much regret to say."

"Fine." said Kat, very aware of the tiny technoflasks concealed in her clothing. A little squeaking robot appeared and fluttered around like a hummingbird, casting a red light over her.

"All clear..." said Dr Roberts happily, as the robot flew away. He picked up a tablet from the table beside him. "Now, let us discuss your desired services."

"I- I want to catch a cold." said Kat. "I've never had one. The thought of it drives me crazy." The words sounded weird as she said them, though she realised now that this actually was something she wanted.

Roberts nodded calmly, pressing at his tablet. "Quite so- now, what interests you most about a cold- sneezing? Coughing? Nose blowing, or perhaps fever?"

Kat had not expected this question and faltered, but the answer came to her instinctively.


"Of course- well, as this is your first time here... perhaps we shall put you down for a sneezy cold, with mild fever."

"Yes- that sounds- ideal." said Kat, nervous but now also excited. What would it actually feel like, to have a cold? Would she enjoy it, even be aroused by it? Or was this a ridiculous thing to think about?

Stop it, she thought. This isn't your money and it isn't why you came here. You're here to get samples of the virus and then get out. Catching the cold is just business.

But oh, the thought of being uncontrollably sneezy for once... part of her that she had never fully acknowledged was threatening to take control.

"And do you want caretaking?" said Roberts.


"Caretaking? We can offer that extra."

Kat didn't know what the term meant, but was afraid of giving herself away as not a true Coldist.

"Yes. Yes please."

"Perfect!" said Doctor Roberts. He looked at his tablet and then told her the price; it seemed ridiculously high to her, but she paid with her employer's money with no objections.

"Please come with me..." said Doctor Roberts, "We have a room ready for you- but first you must come to the infection chamber, where you will catch your cold."

He led her down a corridor, past doors that looked like hotel rooms. From behind one of them she heard a loud woman's sneeze:


At the end of the corridor, Doctor Roberts opened a white door into a room with a glass chamber on one side, and a series of refrigerated cabinets on the other. A young Chinese girl in a lab coat stood working at a computer terminal. She couldn't have been older than twenty-five.

"Doctor Yin, could you prepare a sneezy cold, mild fever, if you would be so good?" said Roberts.

Without answering, the woman opened one of the cabinets on the wall, cold vapour drifting out around her. Kat could see that the cabinet contained hundreds of little glass vials, each containing clear liquid.

"Please drink this." said Roberts, offering her a small bottle of oily blue fluid. "It modifies your immune system briefly, making the cold come on faster."

Kat gulped the liquid down. It tasted disgustingly sweet.

"Sneezy, mild fever..." muttered Doctor Yin, looking around the refrigerator. "Ah- here we are."

She took out a vial and plugged it into a small machine beside the glass chamber.

"Please take your jacket off and step into the chamber." said Doctor Roberts.

Kat did as she was instructed, and the door closed behind her, then Roberts pressed a button on the computer console. There was a hissing noise and a fine vapour filled the air around her. Kat inhaled deeply, and her heart fluttered. No going back now... this was certainly different from picking pockets, or stealing crates of ore.

After a few minutes, a fan activated and the vapour cleared. Roberts opened the door of the glass chamber and Kat stepped out.

"Wonderful." he said.

"When will I start to feel the cold coming on?" asked Kat.

"Soon. Now let me escort you to your room."

Roberts led her to one of the rooms that had looked like hotel rooms- and it did on the inside too. There was a large bed, a table and chairs, a web-o-vision screen, and a door to a private bathroom.

"I'll leave you now. You'll perhaps want to rest."

After he closed the door, Kat undressed and checked the technoflasks concealed in her clothing. She had hoped some would have captured the cold virus when she was in the infection chamber, but not a single one had turned blue.

"Damn!" she said softly.

She showered, then made herself some Old Earth tea and sat watching trash on the web-o-vision. She was beginning to feel achy, and heavy- and the top of her nose felt warm. She must be tired- or could this be the cold? She was reaching for her tea, then without expecting it, she sneezed suddenly.


Where had that come from? She never sneezed without a tickly feeling giving her a warning of it coming- and most of the time she didn't sneeze without inducing. This must be her cold coming! She was excited- but at the same time, so tired. Her instincts told her to stay alert, but her joints ached and she wanted sleep so badly. She sneezed suddenly again, quite harshly.


She would have to rest. She gathered the bedclothes around her and fell asleep.

To be continued...

Edited by Heathcliff
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Awesome!! The set up is so great. I love how much thought you put into the background and all the delicious details 🤗 This really seems like the beginning of a truly wonderful story and I hope you'll continue it soon.

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5. Fever dreams

Kat woke two hours later feeling dreadful.

She felt worse than she had ever felt. She was shivering, her nose felt like it was packed solid with something- please stop- she didn't want to imagine anything about a blocked, mucus filled nose...

She found a box of tissues in the bedside table- another relic from Old Earth, and also a drawer filled with soft handkerchiefs. She blew her nose and shivered. She felt so tired.

A tiny tickle appeared at the top of her right nostril. She rubbed at her face but it spread until her whole nose was tingling, and she needed to sneeze. She raised a tissue as she began to hitch.


She had signed on for this. Why? Kat was shivering, and scared. The fever had come on immediately- so suddenly. Her whole body was shaking.  Kat started to cough- she couldn't help it. Maybe all colds were like this.

She felt so hot- boiling hot suddenly. Coughing and sniffing, she took off everything except her underwear, and then got into the bed. But it didn't help much, she was still shaking.

The itch  at the top of her nose tingled, like a pile of leaves where a match had touched it, blossoming into a fire. She felt a sneeze coming. Kat's breath began to gasp, as she shivered. She wrapped herself in the bedsheet and sneezed violently into it.


She thought the sneeze might make her feel better, but it didn't. Her head was spinning and she felt unspeakably sick. God help me, she thought, I shouldn't have taken this job. I'm not strong enough to have a cold- I need to sleep.

She tossed and turned on the matress. She sneezed once more-

"Ah- AhhhhTSHOOOO!"

Then massaged her nose and managed to slip into sleep.

Into sleep.


Katherine woke and picked herself up from the floor where she had been lying. She was in a brightly lit room, not unlike one of the rooms where she had been at school. In fact, it WAS one of the rooms where she had been at school.

A tall skinny figure stood over her, patiently waiting for her to move.

"This is your chance to shine!" said the thin Asian man. "I could give you straight A's, but take this feather and make everyone in the market sneeze..."

"But I can't..." said Kat.

"What are you talking about?"

"I... can't... do that..."

He changed into a fat white man who snarled at her.

"I said forty kilos! Forty kilos of rocket fuel!"

"No you didn't... please, my nose tickles..."

"I'll kill you." said the fat man. "A thief is worth nothing. And you are nothing."

"No!" she shouted, though her voice had somehow gone. In the dream, big black clouds approached, and churned, finally opening into a circular hole which showed a man's face.

"No, no..."

"Kathy!" said the man's face, "Kathy! What the hell can we do with you?"

"No!" moaned Kat, "I'm sorry, Dad."

"Kathy! Why the fuck can't you stop taking things that don't belong to you?"

"Please dad, I'm sorry..."

"You nasty girl! There is only one thing I can do..." Through the dream-cloud, she saw him raise his fist, she could almost smell the tobacco on his breath...

Her father slammed his fist down in a blow that would surely kill her.

"Help me! Help me please!"

Kat squirmed and thrashed around in her bed, and the door opened.

"Ma'am can I help you? Please, can I help you?"

"Aaaaah!" screamed Kat, waking up covered in sweat.

"Please..." The young man held her arms, though she was flailing all over the place. When she had calmed down he said:

"Ms Yozari- are you ok?"

"My dad was here... oh, I'm gonna sneeze..."

Kat began to hitch, but the young man took a handkerchief from the drawer nearby and gave it to her.


"Bless you." said the young man.

"Oh, excuse me..." said Kat. And then her eyes locked on him- as she began to shiver again.

"What are you doing in my room?"

"Madam," said the young man, looking at his shoes as though he was very embarrassed, "I'm your caretaker! You paid for care-taking... I'm part of that service."

To be continued.



Edited by Heathcliff
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6- Adam

Kat gasped as the last thoughts of the nightmare left her. As her vision cleared, she stared at the young man who had woken her up,

"Who are you?" she said, drawing the covers up around her breasts.

"Ma'am, please!" said the young man. "I'm your caretaker. I'm paid to take care of you while you have your cold." Caretaking... yes, she had bought it from Doctor Roberts, not knowing what it meant.

This man was so young- he couldn't have been beyond his twenties and he looked very nervous.

"What is your name?" Kat asked, then began to cough.


"What is... caretaking?"

"It- is another person attending on you, and looking after you, while you are sick. I thought you'd- already know."

"I'm new to being a Coldist..." said Kat. She shivered again; she felt very unwell. "I don't like the idea of you coming into my room..."

"I'm... I'm so sorry..." said Adam. "I haven't done this for long... I'm sorry, I've screwed the whole thing up!"

He looked close to tears. Kat felt bad, at the same time pulling the duvet around herself. She felt tired and shaky- but also she felt another desire- for another person. It had been so long since she'd slept next to someone. She didn't want sex, just now- she wanted the feeling of another human body close to hers. And oh, how she needed sleep.

"Adam," said Kat, shivering and sniffing thickly, "Would you lie down in bed and cuddle me?"

The young man gasped and his cheeks blushed a rosy red.

"I- I-" he seemed unable to speak. "I- don't-"

Kat felt a blow in her stomach, along with the shivers of her cold. She pulled the covers up around herself.

"Oh- so you don't want to... that's ok." She suddenly started to hitch, before a massive sneeze towards her pillow.

"Ah-- hah-hah-HAAAACHOOO!"

"Oh, bless," said Adam "And- it's not that I don't want to. But the rules- what Doctor Roberts says..."

"Screw Doctor Roberts." said Kat. She was starting to shake- the fever had come back.

Adam took her by the arms and tucked her back into the bed. He made to go but Kat put out a hand and grabbed him.

"Adam, please stay and sleep here."

The young man looked frightened and excited- and his slipped off his clothes and laid down in the bed next to Kat, cradling her in his arms.

He kissed her timidly, as she shivered. Soon Kat fell asleep again, against his skin.

To be continued...

Edited by Heathcliff
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7- Tea and Television

Kat woke up alone, feeling achy and cold. She had been dreaming about something- she was walking through a vast hangar, the cargo bay of a spaceship. On great shelves all around her were goods of the most valuable kinds- moon-gold, exquisite neural net boards for big AI engines, twinkling green and silver. She had been hired to steal something... but she couldn't remember what it was, and the ship became hot, then cold, and she panicked...

It was the cold, she was sure- making her dreams this bizarre and frightening. She buried herself under the bedsheets- but the fever had subsided for now.

Suddenly she thought- Adam! God, she had asked Adam to sleep next to her! This was dangerous- the cold had made her feel so vulnerable and clouded her judgment. She made it a rule never to show her real self, to show true vulnerability on a job. And now she had broken it.

Kat sniffed. Her nose was so stuffed- it made a thick sound. She sniffed harder, and little tingling sensations spread through her nose... Oh no, she thought, as her breath trembled... I'm going to sneeze! Please, not with my nose so blocked. I'll just make it go away.

She rubbed and squeezed her nose, and the itchy feeling seemed to die down. She needed to find a tissue, or a handkerchief- something from the drawers of objects that had clearly been provided for this purpose. Old Earth relics of colds, tissues, handkerchiefs, menthol rub and lemon drink. She had spent many hours reading the history of such things on the computer.

She got out of bed and remembered she was naked apart from her underwear. The room was temperature-conditioned, but still she felt cold as the air touched her skin, and shivered. She needed something to wear. Kat went to the cabinet and began to look through the drawers- tissues, handkerchiefs, medicines- now she found what she was looking for. A drawer with clean, soft pyjamas, in different sizes.

She looked for a set her size, then sniffed again- and suddenly the tickle in her nose became enormous. She could barely breathe except to inhale for the coming sneeze.

"Haah-huh-haaah- AHHH-SHOOOOOO!"

Oh, God- the sneeze had been messy. Her nose felt wet. She struggled to find a tissue from the other drawer, but her whole body seemed to be preparing for another sneeze she could feel. Tingles filled her nose again, and she felt it taking her over. There was no way she could stop the sneeze.


These messy sneezes were so disgusting, she thought- but they felt so satisfying. She found a box of tissues, and wiped her nose. She needed to blow it, but a sudden compulsion made her not want to remove the possibility of more sneezes. A good blow would remove the tickle, and she didn't want that yet.

She felt a sneeze building, slowly... she had time, for this one, to enjoy the sensation. She felt it coming as she put on a pair of pyjamas, the feeling in her nose getting stronger, closer to the inevitable moment when she would suddenly feel that huge inhale, and the explosion as her nose got more tickly than she could stand.

She held a tissue ready, and sneezed massively.


The tissue was soaked, but she felt amazing relief. The tingling, buzzing itch was gone for now. Her body still ached, a warm, gentle pain through all of her joints. She hunted around in the chest of drawers again and found a packet of tablets labelled "Numbofen". Kat was fairly sure this was an old brand of painkiller. Usually she wouldn't have swallowed any old pills she found in a drawer, but the set-up here appeared genuine, in the sense that these were real Old Earth items that people needed when they had a cold. She went to the sink and swallowed two pills with water from the tap.

As she went back into the main room, another sneeze caught her by surprise. The cold seemed to have made her nose so sensitive- even a quick breath could tickle it enough to cause a sneeze.


Her sneezes seemed to be getting louder too. When the itch was so strong, sneezing harshly and loudly just felt more satisfying. And there was nobody here to hear her.

As if on cue, there was a knock at her room door. Kat moved into the bathroom- despite how she felt, her thief-sense was still there. This could be someone hostile. If they discovered what she was here for-

"Ma'am, can I come in? It's me..." said a voice nervously. "It's Adam."

Kat sighed and opened the room door. Adam looked jittery- Kat remembered that last night he had lain down next to her, pressing her naked breasts into his chest. Kat had long ago stopped being shy about her body; some men always seemed to think about sex, and she viewed that as a weakness. A convenient weapon if you wanted to steal from them. But showing her own vulnerability to a man- no, that was not something she ever liked to do. Just seeing Adam made her ashamed.

"Good morning, ma'am." said Adam. "I'm here to take care of you, it's part of the service."

Kat was about to ask him to leave, say that she didn't need taking care of- but then remembered that a true Coldist would probably want this, and she had paid for it.

"Thanks." she said, sniffing hard. "About last night-"

"I'm sorry." said Adam. "I shouldn't have- I'm so sorry-" He looked so upset that Kat felt a rush of affection for him in her stomach.

"Adam, you didn't do anything wrong. I asked you to get into bed with me. It's just..." she found it hard to continue. "This is- my first cold. I'm finding it difficult to cope with being this- weak."

"You're not weak." he said immediately.

There was something behind that remark, she thought- but what? Before she could think anything more, Kat was overtaken by another unexpected sneeze. As she hitched she tried to warn him.

"Aaah-haaah... 'scuse- me!"

She turned around just in time as she sneezed loudly.


"Bless you!" said Adam. "That was a big sneeze!" He was smiling now. Kat wiped her watery eyes, and thought again about how handsome he was. But she was starting to shiver again.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I feel so- shaky."

Adam reached out tentatively and put a hand on her shoulder. She sniffed. For a moment they just looked at each other.

"Maybe you should stay in bed today ma'am." said Adam, blushing and turning away. "You're not well. Er- would you like some tea?"

Kat smiled, and sat back down on the bed, pulling the covers over her legs.

"Yes, tea would be nice."

Adam busied himself with the brew-flask, making a pot of Old Earth tea.

"Adam..." said Kat curiously, "Aren't you ever worried about catching a cold from the- guests?"

"Oh! I've had so many, I think I'm immune now." said Adam, laughing. "Though when I first arrived it did get to me... sometimes I could barely breathe without sneezing."

A jolt of arousal hit Kat. Adam sneezing helplessly... now, that was a beautiful thought.

Adam brought her over a cup of tea. She sniffed, and sipped it. The warmth of the drink felt wonderful.

"Will you stay and have a cup with me?" she said, patting the bed. She half-expected him to refuse, but Adam smiled and poured himself a tea. He sat on the bed next to her, but took care not to touch her.

"So..." said Kat, sipping her tea, "What do people usually do here when they're sick?"

"Various things..." said Adam. "Watch web-o-vision?" He picked up the remote. "Shall we see what's on?"

8- The Urban Spaceman

Adam pressed the power button and the web-o-vision screen lit up. He bagan to flick through the channels.

"News?" The screen showed a hovering platform upon which was the United Galaxy president, addressing her senate about the Martian tax scandal which seemed to roll on and on.

"No, I'm feeling too vulnerable for that." said Kat.

"An old wild-space movie?" The screen changed to show men in silver space suits, levelling enormous laser rifles at each other.

"I know what you're thinking." said one of the spacemen on the screen, "Did I fire a high energy blast, or a low energy blast back there? Well, the thing is- in all this excitement... I kinda lost track myself. But considering this is a blue-crystal protonic laser cannon, and would vaporise your head in one shot... you've got to ask yourself- do I feel lucky? Well- do ya, astronaut?"

"Nah..." said Kat. "I've never liked those movies. I didn't- aaaAAAAH-"

A sneeze came upon her so quickly she didn't have time to put her cup down.


The force of the sneeze caused her to spill tea on the blankets.

"God, I'm sorry," said Kat, sniffling.

"Bless you! I know, sometimes sneezes just happen out of the blue like that." said Adam. "I-" without thinking, he had put his hand on her arm. He quickly took it away.

"It's fine." said Kat quietly. She put her cup down on the bedside stand. Desires that she had suppressed for a long time came bubbling up. "Adam... would you put your arm around me as we watch web-o-vision? Nothing more than that. Surely that comes under the definition of care-taking."

Adam went to the chest of drawers, took out a tissue box and took out four tissues.

"If I'm going to sit close to you, I think I might need tissues to hand." He sat back on the bed and put his arm around Kat. She took a tissue out of his hands, and blew her nose. She would have been embarrassed about doing something like that before- but she was beginning to feel worryingly safe around Adam. Feeling safe put you in danger- you let your guard down. But she was still hot, tired and sick- perhaps it was okay.

Adam changed the channel again and the screen showed a kids' show, with a little spaceman puppet with big eyes and a smile on the front of his helmet. He got into his yellow rocket and gave a thumbs-up before flying off into the indigo-coloured sky.

"Oh my god..." said Kat. "The Urban Spaceman!"

"What?" said Adam. "Have you seen this before?"

"I always used to watch it when I was little... I haven't seen it for years..." A tickled suddenly flared in her nose. "Ooh... sneeze!"

As Kat began to hitch, Adam gave her a tissue.

"Haah-haaah... HATTCHOOOO!"

"Bless you!" said Adam.

"Thank you."

"Well, shall we watch it?"

"Yeah!" said Kat. The theme tune started- it had been so long since she had heard it but it was so familiar. The little spaceman stepped out on top of his rocket and began to sing.

"I'm the Urban Spaceman,
I'm intelligent and keen-
You know what I mean!
I'm the Urban Spaceman,
As a friend I'm second to none,
I'm a lot of fun!"

Kat softly began to sing along, and Adam laughed.

"I always have adventures,
I fly the extra mile,
If you're feeling sad and blue
I'll make your frown a smile!"
I'm the Urban Spaceman, baby,
But here comes the twist-
I don't exist!"

"I don't exist!" sang Kat. She suddenly felt happy.

"Hello, friends!" said the little puppet spaceman, stepping down from his rocket. When he spoke, the front of his space-helmet opened like a mouth. It was ridiculous, but Kat remembered it being incredibly cute. She remembered being a kid- getting away from her dad, and watching this.

"I've been out on my space adventures... but I'm feeling a bit ill. I'm under the weather!" A little puppet sun and a thunder cloud appeared over his head. "No! Don't be silly! Not under the weather like that. I mean, I think I've caught a cold."

"Oh-" said Kat. "I've seen this one before. I remember it."

"I feel a bit woozy... a bit wheezy... and a bit... sneezy!" said the Urban Spaceman.

"Are you okay?" said Adam.

"Yeah..." said Kat. "I think so. This was the first time..." and she knew now it was true. "Watching this show... it was the first time I knew I liked sneezing and colds. It scared me a bit."

"Oh no! I... have a big tickle in my nose!" said the Urban Spaceman. "I need to find my handkerchief! But where is it? I can't wait too much longer to sneeze!"

"Can I help?" A little green puppet with googly eyes popped up from behind the rocket.

"Allie the Alien!" said Kat. Without thinking she slipped her arm around Adam's chest.

"I say, I say, I say!" said the green puppet. "You don't look very well. In fact, you look like you're... going to sneeze!"

"I- am!" said the Urban Spaceman. The music in the show changed, as though his building sneeze was an emergency.

"Well, you can't sneeze without your handkerchief!"

"I know!" said the Spaceman. "But I can't find it!"

"Well, did you look in your rocket?"

"Yes, I- aaaah! Did- oh please, hurry!"

"Did you look in your pocket?"

The spaceman-puppet, now apparently panicking because of his oncoming big sneeze, suddenly pulled a red handkerchief with white spots from his pocket.

"Oh! Just in time!" he said. "Aaaah.... AAAAAAH..... CHOOOOOO!"

"Bless you!" said Allie the Alien. "What a big sneeze!"

"Excuse me, boys and girls." said the Urban Spaceman. He blew his nose with a comedic honking sound into the handkerchief.

"I'm afraid it's time to go!" said Allie. "We can't go on any adventures today. He needs to rest."

"Yes..." said the spaceman, sniffling, and blowing his puppet nose again. "I do! Allie- can you close the show, while I get tucked up in bed in my ship?"

"Of course- now you make sure you get lots of rest, and make sure you have tissues or hankies- because you might need to sneeze."

"I will."

The spaceman went inside his ship- or to be more accurate, the puppet simply disappeared behind the back of the crappy-looking set.

"We all have to be very quiet," said Allie, "Because the Urban Spaceman needs to sleep. But we can sing the song quietly... You can sing quietly, can't you?

I'm the Urban Spaceman,
I'm a shooting star at night,
Shining so, so bright.

I'm the Urban Spaceman,
I explore the stars above,
I sail in search of love.

I always love my family,
I always love my folks,
Through war and waste and poverty
I just respond with jokes,

I'm the Urban Spaceman, baby,
And here's the deal,
I'm not even real."

Adam frowned. "That was a kind of weird song to end the show on." He looked round at Kat, and realised she was crying. "Are you okay?"

"I'm so sorry!" Her nose was running and her face was wet with tears. "It brought back a lot of memories."

"What is it? Can you tell me?" said Adam.

But she couldn't. Kat felt very ashamed.

"Please go away."


"Don't you have other people to be seeing to?" She said, shaking off his arm. "Other women with colds that you need to cuddle?"

"I- I'm sorry I offended you." said Adam, getting up and going to the door. "I'll check later that you're okay."


When he had left, Kat lay in bed and started crying again, thinking about the childhood she should have had. And what her feelings for Adam could possibly come to.

She got up, unsteady on her legs and checked the technoflasks in her discarded clothing. More than half of them were now blue. Her uncovered sneezes must have spread the virus around the room. Soon she could leave this place if she wanted.

But now she wasn't certain of what she wanted at all.

To be continued.


If you've read this far, and you want to know the tune- the Urban Spaceman is a real song, by the Bonzo Dog Band:


Edited by Heathcliff
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I want to say, thank you very much to everyone who has commented. I really appreciate it.

It feels like for years I've just been making negative contributions to the forum- and this story made me think I can still write and be positive about it.

I do intend to finish this soon, and thank you for reading.

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Okay so like.... I'm usually on team induced and team allergies.....


I find myself scooting toward team colds because of this.  Please do write more, when your muse strikes again 😁



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Oh, I love it! I've imagined something similar, a black market for cold fetishists. Nicely done, looking forward to the next installment!


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8 Kat on the Run

"I'm the Urban Spaceman, baby, and here's the deal,
I see everything you steal.
I'm the Urban Spaceman, Kathy, and here's the twist,
When I'm finished with you

"Aaah! No, no!"

Kat shouted as she woke up, hot and drenched with sweat, then clamped her hands over her mouth. She was sweating and shuddering.

As the world flowed quickly back around her, she became aware again of the room where she was lying in bed- lying, laying, telling lies in bed. Deep down in the great market, in the space station where so many people converged to buy and sell. Deep down where she had caught a cold, and was feeling icy and feverish and her nose was dribbling, and her chest was achy, and her whole body was achy too.

And there was Adam- oh, God. She had shown herself to be so vulnerable in front of him. She couldn't stay here, it was the right time to leave.

Kat rose from the bed and felt a momentary diziness- but it passed. She shivered- she was wearing only her underwear, and found her singlet, trousers and jacket on the floor. She had to check for the- the...

She sweated and tried to remember. Come on, Kat...

"The technoflasks!" she said quietly. She turned up the hem of her singlet and looked at the tiny vessels stiched into the lining. Now, they were all blue. She could go.

She gathered up her posessions, and was interrupted with an enormous sneeze. She could only turn to the side to prevent spraying her bag.


Her nose was wet, but no time to wipe it now. She got to her feet and stumbled slightly, but steadied herself and then opened the room door. The corridor was quiet- cold and metallic, very much in contrast to the room that was like a hotel room, where people stayed to experience their colds.

Soon she would be out of here, and she could forget about the whole episode, she thought as she walked down the steel-lined passage. All she had to do was find her way back to the lounge where Doctor Roberts had first brought her in, and take the elevator back up.

"Aah... AAAH..." Kat began to feel a sneeze coming on. It's okay, she thought, you can do it quietly. She got some tissues ready in her hand for the oncoming explosion- but she had to stifle.


The big sneeze made her whole body shudder. She wiped her eyes- oh no, but she wasn't done-


Kat stumbled again. Don't let me fall, she thought, I'm fine- if I can just get out of here I'll be fine- oh, why is it so hot in here?

She arrived in the main lounge, where the oily Doctor Roborts had sat her down on the sofa and offered her the cold- it must be no more than a day and a half ago, but it was crazy, it felt much longer.

Time felt much longer than usual. Kat was sweating more now. She tried to remember where the elevator up to floor 26 was, but her mind seemed to cloud over. There was the door to the elevator. But...

As Kat stepped forward, her consciousness started spinning and she fell onto the ground. She lay there, feeling undignified, for a moment. Lots of things were flying through her head, each too bright to ignore but too brief to understand. She tried to stand up.

"Who's there?"

There was a mechanical clicking noise, and a high-pitched whine. Laser gun enthusiasiasts would know it as the sound of a large laser cannon being cocked, ready to fire.

"I'm... I'm sorry..." Kat found it hard to speak. She was dizzy and felt incredibly ill.

"I said- who is there?" said the man, moving out of the shadows. He had a small beard- it was Doctor Roberts.

"I'm..." Kat's vision was dancing, she was struggling to speak.

"Doctor Roberts!" said a male voice. "Oh, thank goodness she's still here!"

"Adam?" said Roberts, suspiscially. "This- guest was your responsibility."

 "I know... I've come to check." said Adam. "I think Ms Yozari's cold is more serious than we thought. I'm sure that she might be persuaded to..." he attempted a smile at Roberts, "Pay extra?"

Doctor Roberts' expression barely changed, but Adam could see the greed behind it.

"Of course, please take her back to her bed."

Adam led Kat by the arm back to her room, and to the bed. She seemed half-asleep, and shivering. Clearly her fever had come back.

"Bastard!" she said.

"Ma'am" said Adam, "Why did you try to run?"

"I can't stay here..."

Kat stumbled again, she was so dizzy... she would have fallen but Adam caught her. He looked into her face as he gently set her back on the bed.

"Adam, please go away." said Kat, turning from side to side as she sweated.

"I'm afraid I can't." said Adam nervously. "My job is to look after you. And you're quite sick from your cold, Ms Yazari."

"Please call me Kat..." she said, hugging herself to try and conserve her own body heat. One minute cold, one minute hot, she felt she must be dying. "I'm Kat."

"Kat..." said Adam. His voice was soothing and made her feel better. Her vision was blurred- she saw a young, dark haired man, now impossibly tall, now ridiculously short. He took a small packet from the drawer and then went to the brew-flask. The sound of the boiling water hurt her head.

Adam came and sat down beside her on the bed, with a steaming cup.


Kat sniffed, her nose felt thick and blocked. Adam gently put the back of his hand on her brow. Her skin was much warmer than he had expected.

"No..." she muttered.

"Kat, I'm worried about you-"


"Kat- you're not thinking straight. Your fever has come back."

Kat looked from side to side, looking frightened.

"I couldn't get- out of here..." she said, through thick sniffs. "I'm scared."

"Kat?" said Adam. "I'm here for you."

Suddenly Kat reached out and put her arms around Adam's chest. She clung to him like a limpet, as Adam stroked her back. He felt the ridges of her spine, let his hands run over the back of her bra, and brought them up to the back of her neck.

"I feel... awful. I need to sleep." said Kat. Adam made a movement like kissing her, pressing his nose gently against her forehead.

He pulled the covers up over them, and they slept.


Kat shivered in her sleep, being aware of the warm back of a person she could cling to. When she woke, again it seemed that she had been asleep for days. She was shaking. Her common cold had affected her far more than she had wanted.

As she rolled over in bed she caught a delicious smell, even through her thick, wet blocked nose. Something like wheat, or grains, but burned. As she sat up in bed she drew breath in surprise. Adam was there, shirtless, with his beautiful chest on display, attending to the electro-kitchen.


He turned round, and rushed to the bed.

"Are you okay, Kat?" he fussed around her and gingerly touched her face; she shivered with pleasure, despite feeling unwell. "You looked ill. I was so worried."

"I'm okay." she said. "What are you- cooking?" she said, trying to remember the Old Earth words.

"Just some toast! Cooked bread. I thought it would do you some good, to have some proper food inside you."

"Thanks.I-ah- haaah...." Kat's breath became staggered, and she started to hitch for the sneeze.

"Oh bless you!" said Adam, looking around for a tissue. He finally found one, but it was too late.

"Aaaaah-TSCHOOOO!" Kat wiped her eyes, "Please give me the tissue,"

"Oh- here you go-"

"AAAAAATSCHOOO!" she sneezed very loudly.

"Oh, bless you!" said Adam. He put his arms around her as she sat in bed, and handed her the tissue.

"Adam..." said Kat, sweating and shivery, "Can we sleep for a while?"

"Of course, Kat..." said Adam. He got up and carefully tucked the shaking Kat into her bed, then when he was finally sure her illness wasn't too serious, he got into bed next to her.



Edited by Heathcliff
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I have really enjoyed reading this story Heathcliff - sci-fi sneezefics have been sadly missing from the forum of late :D Love how explosively the delightful Kat sneezes!

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  • 4 months later...

I don't know if anyone will see this.

I'm currently thinking of updating this story soon. This story is partly about us enjoying the idea of colds and caretaking. However, my intended end to the plot is related to someone wanting the common cold virus so they could attempt to use it as a biological weapon (though it does  not happen).

Given current circumstances, maybe we don't want a story like this. If you object, please let me know and I'll put it on hold.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I have personally been trying to separate what's going on in the world vs what is here so that I have some sort of sanity, so however you continue is fine by me! I really love where you've taken this!! Will Adam catch her cold?? 

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What's currently happening isn't the result of a bio weapon, and frankly we should be so lucky as to have something like the common cold, that is almost neber fatal, be the worst thing someone could use as such.

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I really enjoyed this fic and would love to see it updated / finished. I don't think the current crisis is very sneeze-related and so doesn't need to be heavily considered.

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