With a sigh, Corinne settled into the hard plastic seat on the Brooklyn-bound C local. She had given it a quick wipe with her towel, just in case, but it seemed clean.
Next to her, a woman was breastfeeding a serene infant while grading papers.
As the train pulled out of the station, the voice of Stevie Nicks in her headphones duetted with the creak and whine of the rails. She tried to let the song wash away the stress of the workday.
Glancing around, Corinne spotted a slightly pudgy, nondescript man in a grey windbreaker kneeling on the floor of the car, giving a blow job to the dapper, silver-haired gent in one of the seats across from her.
Next to them, a slender, very dark-skinned woman dressed all in red played a portable video game.
She leaned back in her seat, letting her head rest against the plexiglass cover of the ad behind her, and her eyes half closed as the chorus surged in her ears. Off to her right, a cluster of teen girls who looked to be coming home from baseball practice hooted and hollered over a video on someone's phone.
The nondescript man bobbed his head on the silver fox's cock. The seated man, eyes lidded with pleasure, was really quite attractive, Corinne thought. She checked out his earrings. Interested in men only, she saw. Oh well.
Not that she was looking right now, of course. She didn't really do that sort of thing. Not usually, anyway. Her own earrings were set, as on most days, with the little red "not interested" signal.
But there was no harm in peeking, she thought.
He looks like a gallery owner, Corinne decided. And the nondescript guy works at a bookstore. She'd always enjoyed making up little stories about random strangers on the subway.
The woman in red? Maybe a photographer? Wait, could you even wear such bright colors while taking photos? She'd throw red reflections all over her subject.
A few seats down, a stout woman in a fine business suit with an elaborate updo of colorful braids slid her sunglasses up her face to rest in her hair, and caught the eye of the man sitting across from her, who had gotten on at Corinne's stop.
The woman flicked out her middle finger in his direction — the universal invitation to fuck. Corinne saw a series of quick hand signals flash between them, and then the man rose from his seat and sat next to her.
He was tall, with broad shoulders and dark eyes, built like a blacksmith, wearing the uniform of an office-building security guard. The businesswoman kissed him, reaching a hand into his lap to run her fingers along the bulge in his jeans.
She hooked one leg over his, granting him access to slip a hand up her skirt.
Next to them, a bored-looking woman with a stack of shopping bags on her knees flipped through something on her phone.
The train began to slow as it pulled into the next station, and Corinne saw the nondescript man stand up. The silver fox offered him a handkerchief, which he took with a grin. They shook hands and went in for a quick kiss.
The nondescript man quickly washed up at the little cleaning station by the nearest door, and then, adjusting the messenger bag on his shoulder, slipped out onto the platform as the doors opened.
Those little sinks on every train car had been a great upgrade, Corinne thought. Good on the city council for actually getting something useful done.
It had been five years since the Metamorphosis. Almost half of her adult life, she realized. There had been some real Wild West stuff early on, but people had adjusted, and the kinks, so to speak, were being worked out.
People still debated what the cause of the Metamorphosis had been. Aliens? God? Humanity's collective psychic energy?
Whatever it was, one day everything had simply been different. The world they had always known, of wars and cruelty and hatred, had melted away. People had found that they just didn't want to murder each other any more.
It wasn't only humans that had been affected. Infectious disease had vanished. Viruses and bacteria now lived in comfortable equilibrium with their hosts, no longer growing out of control.
In a broader sense, those were the big, important parts of the Metamorphosis. But the thing that had affected Corinne's daily commute the most was the fact that people had suddenly lost almost all of their sexual inhibitions.
She could still remember the old days, riding the subway to and from work in grumbling, tense silence, surrounded by tired, unhappy people avoiding each other's gaze.
Then the Metamorphosis had come, and suddenly, no one could quite remember why they would previously have been mortified to be seen sucking cock at rush hour.
Or, perhaps that wasn't quite it, Corinne thought. Since the Metamorphosis, she had sucked a cock or two on this train, under the watching eyes of a hundred passengers, and it had definitely made her blush bright pink with embarrassment.
The heart-pounding, stomach-lurching sense of terror, of making oneself so vulnerable, so publicly — it wasn't gone, it was just strangely harmless nowadays.
Sort of like the difference between eating spicy food and actually being burned.
Security Man had lifted the businesswoman into his lap, and she was now riding him, one arm thrown back around his head, moaning joyously, leaning back into his strong arms and letting the cares of the day fall away. One breast had been popped free of her polka-dot blouse and Corinne found her eyes following the dark nipple as it bounced in time.
Corinne imagined wrapping her lips around that nipple, feeling the businesswoman's hot breath in her hair.
She pushed the thought away. Normally Corinne would have a book to read, but she had finished hers on her lunch break, so her only distraction was her headphones. She turned up the song and leaned back in her seat again.
An elegant, sharp-boned young pregnant woman a few seats down was deep in a book of her own. A romance novel, one of those ones where almost the whole cover is just a closeup of rippling abs. Her face was flushed.
The men sitting on either side of her made eye contact. The one on her left, a strong-jawed thirtysomething with tousled hair, stubble, and trim dark clothing, whispered something in her ear. Her eyes flicked to his, and she nodded. Then she went back to her reading, pushing a wisp of blonde hair back up in the direction of her loose top-knot.
He reached between her legs, which parted slightly. The man on her other side pushed her cute floral-print maternity dress up her thighs. Their hands met inside her panties. Her lips were parted, and she was breathing shallowly, eyes still running down the page.
She began to rock slightly as the thirtysomething guy circled her clit. The younger man on her right, clean-shaven with a denim jacket and a burst of dreadlocks, fucked her deep with a pair of fingers.
The doors opened again, and more commuters poured into the car, which was beginning to fill up. One guy who came in had his dick out. He was arm-in-arm with a grinning, disheveled non-binary person, who resumed an obviously just-interrupted makeout session as soon as they settled against the opposite door.
The businesswoman said something to Security Man, and he lowered one of his hands to the dark curls peeking out where her panties had been pushed aside to make way for his cock. He found her clit, and she gasped.
Then a cluster of lawyerly-looking people with briefcases gathered around the pole in front of Corinne, continuing some jovial sports argument from the platform outside, blocking her view.
She could still see the pregnant woman, shuddering with pleasure as she continued to read. The men withdrew their hands, and she kissed each of them on the cheek before returning her attention to her book.
Corinne became aware that she was squirming a bit in her seat.
Ah, what the heck, Corinne thought. I've got another half-hour on this train, why not have some fun?
She reached up to her left earring and clicked a bead into a new position.
There was a constant debate these days on propositioning etiquette, and people in different places had settled on different ideas. But in New York, where folks still had a strong cultural resistance to actually talking to strangers, the earrings had caught on in a big way.
Everybody got one now when they turned 18, and by changing the design you could signal not only whether or not you were looking for sex, but also your pronouns, sexual likes and dislikes, and more.
Setting your earring from "not interested" to "looking" while in public was a very strong signal indeed, and a couple riders looked over at her curiously.
Corinne didn't think she was particularly attractive, but she could get her fair share of hungry stares. One subtle difference she had noticed since the Metamorphosis was that people had become a bit less hung up on looks.
Nowadays, more value was placed on whether you made a bit of an effort to look and smell decent. Thankfully, since the passage of universal income and housing, it was becoming a thing of the past to meet people on the subway who couldn't afford access to a shower or fresh clothes.
But even among those who took that sort of access for granted, the new era had brought with it a higher level of attention to personal presentation, a change Corinne could only applaud.
Corinne caught the eye of a cute stranger who had been touching himself lightly through his jeans. He had on a nice short-sleeved dress shirt and bright fuchsia glasses. He wasn't huge, but he looked like he could do a push-up. A graphic designer, Corinne decided. She flipped him the bird, which he returned eagerly.
She stood briefly to let him scoot in behind her in her seat, where he laid a clean little towel. She wiggled her ass against his hard-on as she settled back against him, his hands on her waist. He brushed his fingers gently up her sides, and kissed the back of her neck. She turned her head and found his mouth.
"Mmm. Would you scratch my back?" she whispered. He indulged her, pushing the back of her shirt up to drag his fingernails deliciously down her spine. She arched against him like a cat, fumbling with his fly.
Freeing his dick, she levered herself up into his lap and positioned herself above it. She worked her panties out from under her skirt, and quickly stuffed them into her purse.
He was rubbing his cockhead up and down her slit now, teasingly, covering himself in her wetness.
Corinne became aware that a blue-haired woman with a strong nose and a cute little double-chin was standing directly over her, hanging an arm from the pole above her seat. She looked to have just come off a shift at a department store.
"Hi," the woman said, smiling shyly, raising two fingers around her lips, an offer to give head. Her earrings marked her as a submissive, and she wore a leather collar, as well as a harness that distorted a crisp white blouse around her breasts. She looked first to Corinne, and then to the maybe-designer.
Corinne took the woman's hand, and the man took the other. She knelt in front of them, and took the man's dick in her hand, engulfing it in her mouth.
She found Corinne's vulva with her other hand, parting the lips with her fingers as she worked over the cock. Then she let it pop free from her mouth and maneuvered it to Corinne's entrance.
Corinne sank down onto it with a satisfied groan. The designer held her by her hips, and began to rock into her. The submissive woman's mouth came down on her clit, and Corinne heard herself make a very undignified sound.
It was a Prince song on her headphones now, and she found herself grinding to the beat as she found a grip in the department store lady's brightly dyed hair, guiding her just so.
As Corinne became fully aware of her surroundings again, quivering in the possibly-designer's strong arms, she felt his spent cock drop out of her, and the submissive woman took it in hand again, leaning back in enthusiastically to clean the two of them off, lapping away at the come dripping from Corinne's slit and down the man's softening shaft.
"Always lovely to meet such a good little slut," Corinne said, caressing the woman's cheek, brushing back a strand of hair.
Then, "Oh shit." Corinne looked up. They were approaching her stop.
She stood, straightening her skirt. She still didn't have her panties on, but hopefully, thanks to the submissive's efforts, she could make it home without too many fluids dribbling down her legs.
She made her way to the door, turning briefly to give them a wave, and, with a spring in her step, headed for the stairs.