The building is not imposing from the outside but inside he sees that the interior is an atrium with maybe seven or eight floors. All around, as one looks up, are balconies. Like at TrapCo, he sees a naked girl, and then another, but they are not running, they are walking. And handing papers to clothed men and women. Also, he doesn’t see any numbers on their butts, or over their breasts.
“Let’s go out back, to the cafe. There are a couple of people I want you to meet.”
They go out the other side and are once more outdoors. Some older people, heavily clothed in coats, hats and boots, are sitting at tables. The menu appears to be hot coffee, soup, and sandwiches. It is odd to have an outdoor cafe open in winter, but that is not what grabs Sam’s attention.
It is like when he stood open-mouthed upon entering TrapCo, but this time he stands transfixed for a full minute. Apokni watches his reaction with twinkling eyes.
There is another building out back, just as high. Connected by zip-lines in the higher stories. A naked girl, one hand up on the grip, a big envelope in the other, zips from the sixth floor of this building to the fifth floor of that one, one leg extended. When she approaches the far ledge, she grabs it with her leading toes and hops in through the window. The dim form of another girl, not so well illuminated because she is far away and on the top floor, slides from the far building to the near one. This one is carrying a little box.
Now Sam notices that there is a third building to the side. With another series of zip lines, each carefully spaced so as to not touch.
On the ground there are rivers of ice connecting the buildings. A girl somehow “skating” on her bare feet slides by and waves at Apokni. She has a bag in one hand, looking like an old-fashioned postal bag, and on her pubic hair are two little clips which fly up and down with her graceful one-foot glides. As she passes Sam sees that the clips are holding thumb drives. Another girl emerges from the exit near them and with a running start starts on the second river. One river is roped off, with a lawnmower-sized Zamboni slowly doing its job, driven by a naked girl sitting on top.
The grounds are well lit now that it is dark, and with the sparkling ice and snow cannot help but look magical. It seems unrealistic for nudity, though Sam suddenly realizes there’s no wind and he doesn’t feel cold.
He finds himself seated at a table next to Apokni and two heavily clothed people. The older one, a man, is Francois Bolton -- “Frank, to you”, he says with a genial handshake. The woman, about age thirty-five, with darkish skin, is Marie-Lisa Suchy. They are wearing business suits under their coats. A waitress appears (clothed), who they call by her first name and they order tea, with Apokni adding a croissant.
Sam looks back at the girls skating on the frozen rivers, and up on the zip lines.
“How -- do they do that?”
“We’re all strong girls,” Apokni says. “You already knew that.”
“How do they -- skate? In bare feet?”
Apokni brushes the snow off her toes and Sam notices that her toenails have been carefully serrated. “It takes some practice, but our toenails can be used like skate runners. The important thing is to stay on the far edge of the foot and then turn in to grab the ice with each glide.”
“But -- don’t your nails wear out?”
“Human nails are 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale,” Marie-Lisa explains. “Ice is only 1.5. Nails are harder than ice.”
Frank laughs. “Welcome to our project. With the help of Blanke Schande, of course.”
Sam looks around the table, the two clothed and one naked. “All I can say is, Wow.” He looks at Apokni. “How can you stand being naked -- how can all these girls stand being naked out here like this?”
“We can’t stay out all day. But a few minutes outside zipping, or skating, is easy. If we want, we can go in for a hot shower break.”
The four of them sit in silence for a moment, sipping their teas. Apokni wolfs down her croissant. Aware of Sam staring at her, she says, “Our metabolism is revved up, so we eat a lot.”
“You don’t look fat.” He allows himself to bend down a little to see her bare butt planted in the chair. “You -- Mailgirls -- don’t have numbers on you.”
“It was considered degrading. Everyone here’s first-name basis anyway.”
Another short silence and then Marie-Lisa says, “You must have a lot of questions.”
In fact, Sam has several, now that he has somewhat recovered his wits. “Why -- Mailgirls? Why do you have to have so many things delivered? Why can’t you just email?”
He was expecting Marie-Lisa or Frank to answer this but it’s Apokni. “Some things can’t be emailed. Blueprints, etcetera, are better in hard copy. Also consent to email forms. And there’s been a massive hacking problem, worldwide.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“In some countries they don’t want it generally known,” Frank says. Sam thinks of the tight-lipped Mamie Grant. Frank continues, “But all kinds of messages are being delivered manually now. Our agency deals with getting bids, procurement, contracts, as well as maps, building layouts, and above all, payment information. We don’t want that getting hacked. And the people we deal with appreciate the better security. It gives us a competitive edge.”
“Also, by keeping everything offline we protect personal information,” Marie-Lisa says.
“Why just Mailgirls? Why not have -- guys -- doing it too?”
“According to the research women are better able to stand the cold, and also are more adaptable for TBU.”
“So why do you have to be naked? And what’s TBU?”
Apokni shifts a little in her seat, then to Sam’s surprise her left breast jerks up and then relaxes. She smiles and reports to Frank, “Jill wants me to take over tomorrow morning. Fine with me.”
“That’s good,” Frank says. “It’s about time we got a Mailgirl in that control room on a regular basis.”
Sam says, “What? What’s TBU? And what did you just do?”
Apokni stands up in front of Sam, so that her lush pubic hair is almost in his face. “TBU is Total Body Utilization.” She bends down a bit and holds her breasts out to his face. “I can isolate my pectorals, and I just said ‘yes’, which is one jerk. I’m left-handed so it’s my left breast. Two jerks is, ‘no’. See the ring? It’s a transducer.”
Sam gulps, feeling awkward. In the past Apokni holding her breasts out to him would have been a sign to suck her nipples, but now, in front of people . . . Yet he sees that indeed there is a little ring around her nipple, almost hidden behind the cold-stiffened nub.
She stands back up and Sam says, “But how did you get the message?”
“It was in code. There’s a cap on my cervix that buzzes. Actually, my piriformis muscle. Hard to explain.”
“Mailgirls have developed their own language,” Frank said. “It’s very efficient. It has to be. We have only six here, and they have to deliver hundreds of items a day, files, packages, even simple messages that used to be emailed.”
“We also speak with our clit rings.” Apokni brings her crotch right next to Sam’s face and opens her lower lips -- is there “steam” coming from her hot internal moistness as it’s exposed to the cold? There is another ring there, at the base of her little clit, nestled against her labia. She makes it jump three times and Sam flinches in surprise.
“No -- I didn’t mean that --!” Who is Apokni speaking to? Now her whole body trembles, under internal and mysterious multiple assault. “Oh -- oh --” Sam recognizes this reaction. Apokni is one of those girls who undergoes a full body flush at such times. She staggers back into the chair and her hips jerk up and down. “OHHHH! OHHHH!” It is part orgasm, part laugh. Frank and Marie-Lisa exchange tolerant smiles. Jolt after jolt, then a couple of irregular ones. The naked girl recovers and grabs a sip of tea. “I’ll get them for this,” she says cryptically.
Now a Mailgirl, skating toward them on a river, slows to a stop by dragging her serrated toenails behind her. It’s Suzie and she unclips two thumb drives from her pubic hair and fastens them onto Apokni who spreads her legs to make her pubic hair accessible. Apokni, getting back to sitting upright, tells her, “I’ll wait until I get the transfer from Kay,” whatever that means.