Short Stories

Self Activated

May 19, 2015

This is a short story about what we have in store for us, future-wise. Our daily lives are influenced by many artificial things, helpful, though detached in some ways from humanity. It’s an earlier piece spawn by the notion of wealth and technology controlling our lives.

Bob

Self-Activated

         Lisa sat back in her sheer, clinging evening garment twirling a glass of her favorite syn-wine, watching her man undressed and undulate in suggestive poses to music playing softly in the background. He looked at her with eyes of total devotion never turning his gaze from her but tempting her to come closer. His focus was unwavering as he displayed his muscular body for her, flexing and posturing in what some might consider wicked ways. Opening his mouth, soundlessly licking his lips and pursing them with a look, he made it all too clear his intentions. This was not the first time her man had danced nor would it be his last, the delightful performance repeated at her whim.

She shifted nervously in her seat focusing on the man she had grown familiarly, lustful over. His body had a slight sheen to it, every muscle accentuated, rippling as he moved. Naked save one small piece of material covering her principle place of interest, he teased her beyond sensibility. His fingers played with the waistband of his thong, tugging and tantalizing her. Piercing eyes cut deep into the recesses of her unspoken desires her like a dagger, melting away every inhibition she might possess. She knew this striptease was a prelude to something more exquisite and physically rewarding.

Her man stirred emotions, enflame her imagination, programed to meet her expectations as men should. Could he read her thoughts, her wishes without uttering direction? Did it matter? It pleased her to watch him, yet made her a little anxious anticipating the culmination of carnal pleasures with this man. He was the perfect lover, so perfect it hurt to think too long about it, the dream of all women; he belonged to her and no one else.

She could clearly see his arousal as he danced for her, his excitement mounting, displayed, prominently as the growth beneath the scant thong slowly being edged towards fully exposed. He wanted her; it was clear to her that he would please her as he always had, endlessly, like no other man.

Warmth spread to the inferior regions of her body not so inferior in application, sending small electric jabs through her. Lisa’s breathing became deeper as she considered the possibilities advancing slightly forward to gain a better vantage point. From the edge of her chair she beckoned her lover to come to her, syn-wine spilling as she placed the glass on the floor. Her body was burning for him and she needed him. He was close now, Lisa unable to resist another second, wanting to feel his body against hers. There was no one to stop her, no one to tell her it was right or wrong, and no one to judge her. Her lover’s body was inches from her, Lisa extending a hand, stroking the muscle of his leg. Hard muscle flexed under the pressure of her fingers rippling, like a wild beast. He moved closer studying her with his eyes, agreeing to her needs and his assent to fulfill them. His hand reached out gently stroking her face, moving lower to slip the strap off her shoulder. It was only a matter of minutes before galaxies would flash inside her brain and her soul would leave this world on the endless trek to places unknown. Small waves of electricity tingled inside of her with anticipation.

In a flicker and popping noise the man was gone. The hard muscle evaporated into nothingness under her touch.

“Damn! Damn! Damn!” she screamed, a tiny chip clinked to the floor near her feet. “What am I doing to myself? Why am I torturing myself with a stupid hologram? And the damn thing is old and defective at that. I should have known better than to waste my credits on a used unit. I’m shaking like a leaf over something that isn’t even real.”

She pushed herself to her feet and walked over to the minute Holoconsole mounted on a wall nearby. She began pounding the gauge, which indicated total activation, though the image was no longer present.

She muttered, “I should have spent the extra credits and bought a new one; that’s what I get for buying something thirty years old.”

Frustrated she walked back to her couch, retrieved her wine and plopped down in a chair gazing at her ceiling. “So much for a relaxing evening of fun and games!”

Life in this century was nothing like the old romance novels her great grandmother had left her. Those ancient copies, refurbished and saved on memory chips, were a few left from a time long forgotten, a time before the war and violence of nature, which had changed the world forever.

“It’s fucking two-thousand, three-hundred, New Years Eve. And I’m here with a synthetic wine that’s not very good and a defective holosapien for company. Where are all the real men in this world? Damn holosapiens have spoiled my sex life! Ha, what sex life? I can’t remember that last time I was with a live man.”

The thought disturbed her more than she cared to admit because she truly could not remember the last man she had been with.

“Hell, I can’t be sure if there are any real men out there anymore.”

 

 

Holosapien

 

Many of the old stigmas against sex were replaced by more realistic views after a few centuries of social reconstruction, though some felt the lingering moral guilt associated with old religions. Sex was going to happen whether you made it good or bad, the only important element in this formula was controlling disease and the birth rate. These were minor problems once science dug in their heels to eliminate the fear of both.

There were still many religious pockets of resistance woven into the concept of open sexual relationship. For a few sex was still reserved for couples that married, though these groups tended to be obscure and underground. Zealots in favor of abstinence preached the damnation to the non-believer, few people listening, fewer caring.

The new religion, technology and the pursuit of pleasure were their god. There wasn’t any reason to abstain from anything, old taboos wiped out with the advances in medicine and social restructuring. That didn’t mean accessibility to an instant partner or companion would be forthcoming since artificial devices were now so perfect. Holosapiens were the easy mates; no courting was required just advanced programing perfected over several decades. Because of that relationships evaded the masses, too confused to know what they wanted and how to achieve it.

The new generation of holosapien was perfect; it was almost impossible to tell them from a real person. One hundred years before these things were novelties, like toys to impress friends, eventually replacing humans in the job market. At first they were only visual holograms but soon the ‘technogeeks’ were able to create a force field that turned the hologram into something that felt quite solid. A small chip was the only component required to activate the force field a remote device under the control of the owner. People loved gadgets and like this. And now they were everywhere and doing everything that real people used to do, displacing human beings at a frightening pace.

Industries found it cheaper to buy a holosapien than hire a human employee. You could work a holosapien for twenty-four hours a day with less maintenance and downtime than a real person. They would work long hours, never tire, never get sick or loiter in the coffee room, either. There was no bitching or complaining in the office; they were programed for problem solving and even had their own personalities built in if you so desired. More than half of the work force had been converted to holosapiens over the past hundred years or so, leaving many jobless humans in the wake living in squalor or moving to the Sanctuary where life had turned back the clock.

As sex partners, men could have perfect mates any size or shape they desired without the bother of human interactions, no begging, foreplay or whining. Women never had to be bothered with finding just the right man; her holosapien could be loving and faithful and meet her specifications. They could even have memory installed of a life with them built-in prior to the purchase. Their human masters could talk about the ‘good old days’ and their holosapien would remember and share the experience. Whole fantasies could be played out and changed when the human host became tired of it. But alas, holosapiens were more novelty than mate, lacking a soul that separated them from humans. For some people a soul was not necessary to enjoy the benefits of ownership.

In the early stages of development, holograms were used as gags and as novel displays for stag parties and general adult sexual activities. The girl who used to pop out of the cake was replaced by a hologram that would do anything it was programmed to do. The effect was only visual lacking the personal touch of touching, which was known to happen at stag parties.

A hundred years before, Brian MacPhee, a brilliant young man and force field engineer decided to investigate the possibilities of extending holograms into functioning devices used for humanitarian purposes. They could be used for dangerous work never putting people in harms way. A tiny chip was constructed to create a force field around the hologram giving it a tactile surface similar to flesh when touched. The original chips were larger and occasionally faulty due to human error. The newer ones were tiny hardly ever failing. The early holosapiens did have a surface to feel but was more like a tight balloon than flesh. Initial attempts were crude but opened up possibilities to other ideas leading to present day modern creations. One danger existed; when not activated the tiny chip could be easily stored easily in a pocket or drawer. Activating the chip while in those confined places proved damaging and painful as result of the powerful force field.

CyberHol was the first to introduce the touchable hologram, later to be renamed, holosapien. An adult novelty store Astro Babes purchased the initial sales rights with plans for making the device into a surrogate mate since holosapiens were anatomically correct and programmable. At first it was used as a sex toy and house servant, soon turning into a new industry, overwhelming the financial market. In 2206, CyberHol had the first Hologal on the market developed by Brian MacPhee, not a direction the inventor chose but rather a way to develop an expensive concept. A year later they introduced the Hologuy to capture another large portion of the market.

Frustrated men and women snapped them up like so much popcorn, the price steep. Early models could be touched but had limited interaction; their programming had not been fine-tuned at this point. The faces and bodies available consisted of a dozen separate models, identical in every feature. It wasn’t many years later that thousands of faces were made available to expand the client base; people preferred to have a holosapien that was unique. At first they performed simple tasks, providing minimal interaction with their owners, except with specific program adjustments. With a memory, the Hologal and Hologuy soon became more individualized, learning and reacting to their owners with surprising accuracy. More intimate solutions were initiated to make the holosapien functional in every respect.

This would seem like a good thing but the holosapien lacked one thing; they could not feel emotion or promote emotion, only respond to programming. For those intimate moments the device lacked physical warmth, an easy way to detect one. It was also very expensive and few could initially afford it.

Brian MacPhee lost control of the company through a hostile take-over soon after development of holosapiens as a work force. Away from the spying eyes of CyberHol, he continued to develop the holosapien and other devices to help humanity in different ways. CyberHol had blossomed into a huge company, commanding a corporate image exceeding the Big 5. In the struggling stock market, their stock grew at a rapid rate; many stockholders became rich over night. Soon the industry was driving the economy of the world and it appeared not to be slowing down. In twenty years the Hologal and Hologuy were replace with models that were far more sophisticated, staggering programming and abilities able to perform a multitude of tasks.

Holosapiens were perfect in every way. They had programming that could change their appearance; thousands of faces and body types could be activated with the tap. It did have its backlash, however. Although, CyberHol was doing well, the rest of the country was suffering from massive unemployment; people wandered the streets looking for any kind of work. Holosapiens were so close to humans, no one could tell if they were being replaced by a human or holosapien.

CyberHol was not ignorant of the complication and instituted an aid system to keep the masses happy, the system allowing people to draw a few credits a week in order to eat. A free drug was included that kept everyone in a euphoric state; people were lulled into a simple survival mode, not looking beyond their own front door. Most of the monetary gains went back to CyberHol, anyhow. They bought out several companies producing such things as transporters, communications and energy. It was suspected, if not well known, CyberHol had many world leaders in their back pocket keeping governments from intervening with the corporation.

 

Lisa didn’t care about the politics of the day only her diminishing private life; real relationships weren’t easy to come by, even casual ones. Every time she made friends with a man he turned out to be a holosapien. She literally couldn’t remember the last time she had been with a man. She was one of very few humans who had a job in the corporation, which made for uneasy security. She monitored the power console for the holosapien force, working at the local energy-company. It wasn’t a difficult job; it did require that she search for defective units and adjust power flows for the high peak hours. To her they were just numbers on a cyberscreen and nothing more. Transmitters were in orbit around the globe, repeaters mounted all over the city to ensure smooth, continuous operation of the holosapien units.

She worked with another woman until a year ago; the woman had been replaced with a holosapien to monitor a different area of the company. Lisa’s office was filled with people but she knew most weren’t human; everyone was so damn happy and that’s not the way things are in real life. Management was always trying to cut costs and eliminate human error in the workplace. She could understand why the Happy Worker Program for holosapiens was popular; smiles without complaints made managing a snap, no emotions to deal with only production. Her friendship with an attractive man turned against her; he, too, was discovered to be a holosapien, an enhanced unit for whatever purpose, very convincing.

However, there were ways to ferret out holosapiens. You could never kill or injure one of them; there was nothing there to assault. They could never be transported by molecular regenerative transporters, (MRTs); transporters could only transfer solid mass, molecular structure, which holosapiens lacked. Except for a tiny chip, holosapiens had no molecules. Attempting to transport them led to serious malfunctions. This was some safeguard built into it for tracking a valuable commodity.

Earlier units moved in a stiff unnatural manner; that had changed with the newer models, fine motor movements perfected the units able to pick up a pin without faltering or looking at it. That helped to detect who was human and who was not; holosapiens were able to do many tasks without looking. There were still plenty of the older chips around but they were being replaced at a rapid rate, the demands for better units growing daily.

Holosapiens didn’t need to eat or drink, their sensory abilities not programed for it or necessary. They could mimic eating and drinking for social purposes but it was not required unless programmed as a social interactive function. There were no moving parts to lubricate or fuel necessary to make them operate. These features saved time at the water cooler and eliminated breaks sleep. Presently, the cafeteria consisted of some dried-up sandwiches and a few CyberHol energy tablets for the handful of humans, not the gourmet food of years past.

The force field of holosapiens was strong too; you couldn’t move them if they malfunctioned or were set to do a job requiring completion without interruption. You still had to walk around them or get knocked down, though they did have sensors to detect things, avoiding you as they walked through the room. Another unsettling feature was the interface capability; more than one holosapien could occupy the same physical space at the same time. This allowed for four hands to work in the same area, increasing the amount of work that could be accomplished in a confined space.

 

 

Her holosapien lover on the blink, Lisa plopped back into her chair and proceeded to finish off her favorite syn-wine this New Years Eve. The wine had not change her disappointment. She was still sexually aroused but gave the idea up once her holosapien crashed. At the age of thirty-one, she was at her peak as a woman. She wanted someone in her life, someone real; someone who wasn’t necessarily perfect like all the holosapiens she had seen. She pushed herself off the chair and started for the bath. That usually relaxed her and also took away the yearnings she felt. A bath was an extravagance using more than her allotment of water, an additional charge for the overage. She didn’t care.

“I need to get away for awhile,” she said out loud. “This damp gray city is depressing. I’ll go crazy if I don’t get away from it for a while; a trip might help. Who knows? I might even find a real person. Unlikely!”

She laughed as she removed her clothes and slipped into a warm bath. Water was a luxury, sources of clean filtered water outrageously expensive.

“Hmm!” she cooed as the water curled around her body. “I can’t afford to keep soaking in this tub. I’ll run out of credits and have to dip into my savings.”

I’m due some sick time, she thought. At least the corporation still allows us that. Maybe I’ll just take off for a few days and soak up some nature; the Island Sanctuary is nice but a little too hot, not much to do either; at least its not so damn damp all the time. Maybe the Countryside Sanctuary; it should be pleasant there this time of year, without the icky humidity.

 

Lisa was thinking about the, Countryside, the North American Sanctuary not far from her city. She had been there a few times but mostly for business purposes. There were transmitters along the border of Countryside, which she periodically needed to check expiration dates for her company. She remembered it was rather pleasant but a bit backward in technology. Of course, that was the reason for the place to begin with. It would be good to get away at any rate, technology not being too friendly of late.

The next morning Lisa reported in sick, a simple guise to avoid long explanations. It was a simple matter of pressing a heat-activated button on her console to report her absence; there was no real boss to accuse her of lying. Communications other than an acknowledgement on her cyberscreen was enough.

She wondered if it would be faster to be transported by MRT but those things scared her. The idea of scattering her molecules all over the countryside to be reassembled elsewhere was disturbing. She could end up inside of a cow or something. There had been accidents in the past with MRTs. They weren’t reliable enough for her comfort. There may not have been any accidents in years but the potential always loomed; she was not the sort to take chances.

“An air shuttle will be just fine, I suppose,” muttered Lisa. “They’re fast enough; it will take longer but I can relax and get into the mood during the trip. It’ll be good not to be staring at a screen all day.”

Her habit of talking to herself was one that didn’t bother her. So few humans interacted with her, speech was generally wasted on holosapiens that were programed with instant, inane responses.

The doorman at her apartment building smiled and greeted her with his customary politeness. His immaculate uniform suggested a well-ordered and efficient employee.

“Good morning, Miss Fields. Are you walking or should I call for transportation?”

“No, I’m not walking and yes Rodger, I need to go to the air shuttle terminal,” she sighed. “I’ll be gone for a couple days. Have someone water my plants. Also see if you can get someone to come and fix my holoconsole while I’m gone. The thing is on the blink again.”

Rodger spoke up dutifully with a smile, “I can do that for you Miss Fields. It is a workday and you do not look ill. Should I call a doctor? May I get you something from the drug exchange? How about a massage? Syn-chicken soup, perhaps?”

“Rodger! Just get me transportation and shut up. It’s none of your damn business anyhow. You’re not my mother.”

“As you wish, Miss Fields,” replied the doorman with that same stupid smile.

Holosapiens were driving Lisa crazy, always polite and never seem to quit asking about what you wanted. Rodger did his best but had irritating programming that smothered her. She much rather preferred the old human doorman who slept on the job. It became quite a game for her to sneak out and not wake him up. He had been replaced a few months before by a holosapien; Rodger never slept. Sneaking out just wasn’t any fun anymore.

At the air shuttle terminal Lisa waved her hand over the pay station to buy passage. Everyone had a small ID chip embedded in their right hand. The ID chip had been mandatory fifty years ago for every living person in the world; babies had them installed at birth. The display at the terminal also reminded her that this was a workday. Angrily she punched the confirm key on the display. It automatically deducted the credits from her savings and produced a green light for her to board.

The whole operation was overseen by holosapiens who smiled and said. “Have a nice trip, miss.” The temptation was too great to tell them to piss off but Lisa never did. They were older models and moved stiffly as they made friendly comments about inane things. She paid little attention to them or the other passengers as she boarded. Several of the individuals seated had silly smiles and a vacant look; just her luck to be on board with a bunch of holosapiens. She supposed the holosapiens were headed for a different destination since the Countryside did not allow holosapiens, a long-standing provision of all sanctuaries.

The clear window next to her seat gave a good view of the city. A few old brick and steel building peeked out between the modern buildings. Lisa thought how different it must have been hundreds of years ago. People were all real; buildings were constructed by real people. In those days they needed to have skill in order to do so. What a concept!

The air shuttle moved quietly from the dock, slowly maneuvering through the air spaces of the city. There was lots of traffic and speed was impossible until they left the city air space. “It doesn’t seem real from here.” Lisa muttered with a sigh.

“No, it doesn’t,” returned a man sitting close by. “Looks like a cyberscreen image to me. Of course, I don’t look at my screen much these days; there’s too much to do to waste time on visuals.”

Lisa turned toward the man, before answering, “You don’t travel much; do you? I never look anymore; I guess I’ve lost that wonder, too many trips around this place.”

“Yes, I have to admit this is only the third trip I’ve taken out of the city in the last ten years,” continued the man. “I’m thinking of staying in the Countryside Sanctuary, permanently with part of my family. I was processed in my job and needed change anyway. But I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested with all the gory details; I imagine it’s just a boring story to you.”

Processed was a term used to soften the stigma of being fired or laid off. It meant the same thing but there was some pension for those having worked any reasonable amount of time with a few perks thrown in to lessen the adjustment.

Lisa perked up; she turned to face the man, now looking at him with renewed interest. “I don’t think it’s boring. I work in an office for hours, boring as acid rain. Where do you… excuse me, did you work?”

“Oh, I spent the last five years working as a resource manager with CH Power. I used to work for CH Development before then, designing and quality control. Spent about seven years there.”

CH was, of course, CyberHol. Almost everything was connected to CyberHol in one way or another.

“Interesting! I work for CH Power too or at least I do for the moment. You never know when you’ll be replaced by a holosapien,” responded Lisa with interest. “I’ll bet you were replaced with a holosapien; they do everything today. I think it’s only a matter of time before they update my section with new models, perhaps even me. I will no longer be necessary.” She hesitated, not wishing to pry, “Do you know someone in the Countryside?”

“Like I said, I have some family, a brother and sister in-law. They manage to farm and produce what they need along with a couple kids. Their pensions aren’t enough to buy much of anything but they get by and seem to be happy. I doubt they would have been able to survive if they stayed in the city. Everything is just too expensive with the price of water and environmental air purification systems. Of course, there isn’t a lot of room for the people in the city who don’t actually work there.”

“I know,” returned Lisa. “It takes me most of my credits to keep my apartment. But it’s close to work and I hate to travel in the air traffic gridlock; I won’t walk in the awful dampness of the city, too much to bear on foot. Transporters, ha! There’s no way I’ll use a transporter to get to work. I’ve heard too many horror stories about people not getting there in one piece or not getting there at all, too many accidents to make me feel comfortable. Between the expense and danger I’ll just fly like everyone else. Maybe some day they’ll work the bugs out but for now, I’ll leave my molecules assembled the way they are.”

“I understand how you feel; I refuse to use them too. I guess I’m a little old fashion; I was raised that way. By the way my name is Andrew. I hope I’m not bothering you; I don’t talk much to people, most chat with holoconsole via numbers, pretty dull stuff.”

“Lisa is mine, nice to meet you,” she replied, extending her hand. “No bother at all. I’m a little bored with my own city life stuff anyhow.”

As they shook hands Lisa notice that his hand was warm and inviting, with an emphasis on, warm.

 

Can this guy be for real, she thought? I couldn’t be that lucky. Well, Lisa girl you better get more information before you make a fool of yourself again, though he seems human. If he is, I’ll have to hold onto this one or I’ll be spending the rest of my life having meaningless sex with a projected force field.”

 

She needed to fish for a few more details to cinch her suspicions.

“Well, Andrew I bet your wife or girlfriend will be joining you soon. I imagine you’ll be staying together when you get there.”

With a slight smile, he replied, “No, actually I don’t have either. I never had the time and was never interested in having a hologirlfriend, either. Like I said, I am a little old fashion. There aren’t many real people at CH anymore, so chances of a wife were slim to none. I suppose it’s just a sign of the times, pity, actually. For now, that’s all going to be behind me. My brother claims I can find plenty of eligible women in the Sanctuary, not that I’m eager to get too serious for a while.”
Lisa’s heart jumped, already squirming in her seat with thoughts of a real man. His manner was neither stiff nor programmed, a good sign. Even the newer models had key phrases that were dead give-a-ways. His smile was genuine; it changed with each subject, impossible for a holosapien, since they tended to be linear 8n their response. He was too imperfect and yet perfect in so many other ways.

 

Yes, yes, yes, she thought. He’s not half bad looking from where I sit. I wonder if he’s got a cute butt? Stop it, girl. You’re getting out of control.

 

“I don’t want to bother you with my dull conversation, uninteresting family and such, though I do love them. I’ll just be quiet and let you enjoy the trip,” continued Andrew, leaning back towards his window.

Lisa couldn’t figure out what to do next. She didn’t want to appear too eager but she didn’t want to blow her opportunity if there was a chance of getting to know him, a real man, one, that isn’t programed. After several minutes of gazing out the window, Lisa leaned over tapping Andrew on the shoulder.

“You know, I really don’t have any place in mind to spend my time in the Countryside; this was a sort of spontaneous decision on my part. Maybe you or your family could offer suggestions where I might stay or visit. I’ve been told of places people never get to see without a local guide.” As a quick after thought, she added, “Maybe we could see some of the sights together unless that would disrupt your plans. I’ve never taken the time to see nature when I’ve been there, always business, business and more business. It would be nice to have company unless you’d rather not have a tag-along; I’d understand completely.”

Lisa cringed at her last words, fearing her enthusiasm chill this man’s interest in her.

 

Lisa, girl! Easy, girl, she thought to herself. The guy might not be attracted to some mouthy woman on a shuttle. Oh, God! I never thought; he could be gay and me making a total fool of myself.

 

“That might be nice,” responded Andrew with a smile. “I have no plans yet; my itinerary is wide open. Ha! Itinerary indeed, I sound like some big executive. I’m not, really. I do know of several delightful spots we could go, quite beautiful and very different from the city. A few are close to my brother’s place, still untouched by people or the persistent holosapiens. I’m glad they don’t let those devices in; it’s enough to deal with them in the city.”

“Yes, I know what you mean,” returned Lisa with hope blooming.

“We could go camping and spend a day or two in some of these places, if you like. Several of them are less than a days hike. If not, there is plenty to do in town near my brother’s place; it’s rustic but a little like visiting a museum at times. Of course, you know they use horses as transportation, a little like the stories about life in the nineteenth century. I have a small collection of books from that era; some are reprints but all of them on real paper. I enjoy holding them in my hand; they’re quite different from staring at a miniature screen.”

“Yes, I agree, though I haven’t had many opportunities to read a real book,” she replied.

“As for a place to stay,” he continued. “I’m sure my family will be more than happy to put you up. The house is pretty big with a few extra rooms, lots of windows and light.”

Lisa was about ready to jump out of her skin. Was this too good to be true? Andrew was a nice looking man, nothing like the defective holosapien in her apartment that continually malfunctioned, adding frustration to disappointment. Andrew was well built but not the usual macho build of the holosapiens studs that were designed to entice women. He had imperfections; you never found that in holosapiens. The flaws weren’t bad things, just slight differences in facial structure. His nose wasn’t quite straight enough or a jawline was slightly different on one side. She noticed that he was right-handed; holosapiens used both hands with equal ease and dexterity.

“I have an empty seat next to me, Andrew. Why don’t you come and join me; we can talk. You can sit next to the window if you want. I don’t care that much,” offered Lisa. “I would enjoy a little company, been living alone for too long and get starved for conversation.”

 

God, she thought. Can I be anymore obvious? This guy is going run for his life and I really can’t blame him.

 

“That would be nice, Lisa, don’t mind if I do. But you have to promise me no talk-shop; CH Power is not one of my favorite topics of late, too much focus on corporate development and money; nothing has changed in that respect. I’d like to be myself, dodge all this business chatter. And by the way, please feel free to call me Andy; Andrew seems so formal and businesslike.”

He smiled at her, adding, “My mother used to call me Andrew when I was in trouble.” He laughed. “Andrew, Benjamin, Collins, she would yell. When I was a kid, the sound of my formal name, made me want to disappear.”

“Whatever you like, Andrew, errrr, Andy,” she purred. “Just shut me up if I get too chatty; it’s been awhile since I’ve talked with a real man. Holosapiens don’t usually have conversations about anything, except work. I’d love to hear more about you. Did you enjoy working for CH Power?”

 

Oh, God, she thought. What a geek I am. Here he says he doesn’t want to talk shop and the first thing I ask about, his, work. Ugh!

 

“Well, Lisa, work had its moments; I was very good at what I did, not that in matters. It’s in the past for me now. I’m still getting used to the idea of being processed, hard to imagine not going to a job anymore. But it will give me time for other things that I enjoy. I seem to have a little talent for sculpture and painting, a sort of the Cal Hohan of my time,” he related with a chuckle. Calidonius Hohan was a famous human artist of the twenty-third century.

“I haven’t done very much in the last ten years, a few paintings and a sculpture or two; there was just so little time to do the things I wanted. CH dominated my life; I hated it. But I have a large enough annuity from the corporation; I can live comfortably for many years to come. Maybe my art will bring in a few credits; you never know. At any rate I plan to do a little farming and help out my brother and his family. I still remember a few of those skills from when I was a kid. Farming is just hard work and lots of hope.”

“That is so interesting,” she replied. “I have no talent for art but do love to look at it when I can. The office holoart is so uninspiring, doesn’t seem to have any life in it, so blah. Actually, not many things at work seem to have much life, hardly any real people any more.”

“Human art is so rare,” she continued. “I understand the museums have locked up most of the human art in the storerooms, afraid to offend the tech-artists. A few of Calidonius’s pieces are still viewed but it’s mostly holo this and holo that. Depressing! What sorts of things do you paint or sculpt?”

“Oh, I don’t know, exactly,” answered Andy thoughtfully. “Maybe animals and human form; I was involved with the development of the holosapien form, you know. They used my sketches and models to create their final projections. Animals are hard to do since there are only facsimiles stored in projections. But I think I’d like to do some human body studies, real people instead of these altered perfect projections, maybe stone or some of the plastics to sculpt with. I’m tired of the just too perfect holosapiens and I’d like to explore the less perfect, more natural form. I think art is not a perfect media anyhow; it shouldn’t be. Symmetry is fine for some thing but real humans are not truly symmetrical.”

“I agree!” Lisa blurted. She clapped her hands over her mouth as she realized that she didn’t let him finish his thought.

He smiled and continued, “I think I’d like to work on species of animals that no longer exist and a few that are still among us before they are all gone. We, too, may be among the species that will cease to exist in time, CH making every effort to make that happen. At least I can create a record of those of us who existed. Wouldn’t that be something?”

“Andrew, ah, I mean Andy, I think that’s wonderful! I’m afraid I don’t know much about extinct animals but I’d like to learn; you’ll have to educate me. I’m sure you could show me a few things.”

 

Oh, God! I did it again! I don’t want to seem too eager; I’m blowing it, thought Lisa.

 

“I have a viewing chip of all the animals extinct and living if you’d like to watch them; we could watch them together,” he continued. “It’s been a hobby with me for several years, collecting and archiving them. My family has an old viewing screen in their home but I have an adapter to view the chip. The family doesn’t have much in the way of technology since the rules of the countryside forbid a good deal of it.”

“Well, errrrr! Who are you going to get to pose for your human body studies? Anyone in mind?” she asked.

 

No, no, no! I didn’t say that? Lisa thought in panic. Yes I did; I did it again! He’ll probably think I’m just a horny woman trying to get laid, which isn’t far from the truth.

 

“I really haven’t given that much thought, yet. My brother seems to think there will be models who will volunteer; I suppose I’ll investigate that when I settle in. I really want to find a model, who is natural with imperfections, nothing gross, though it might prove interesting. No more perfect specimens for me, too many of those over the years; they become boring after awhile.”

Lisa looked down at her breasts and thought how small and slightly uneven she was when compared with holosapiens. She had short legs, thickening at the waist, hardly the poster girl for CyberHol’s holosapiens. She would love to model for him, flaunting her slightly imperfect body. The thought of modeling gave her warm feeling inside, similar to when was aroused by her artificial holosapien but better. Of course, getting his clothes off would be another matter.

 

Stop! Stop! her inner voice, cautioned. Shaking her head in disgust, she looked back at Andy.

 

“I have to find a studio first,” he returned, while staring out the window of the transport. “My family have a large section of land and said I could use an old building in exchange for a little labor on the farm. I can also work the land near the building for my own purposes, too, grow a few things to eat. I’m really getting excited about the idea.”

“You are so lucky, Andy. You know what you want and have a plan on how to get it. I imagine you’ll be looking for someone to share it with? A nice looking man, like you can’t be alone forever; some lucky woman will snap you up,” uttered Lisa biting her tongue.

“A woman? Well, I don’t know about that. A relationship, a possibility, I guess; but I’m sure it will happen when the time is right, no rush nor do I feel the need to be there. There are a lot of things to sort out first; one thing at a time.”

“Oh! I’m sorry! How stupid of me! I didn’t mean to assume ___ well, you know, whether you like women or not,” Lisa awkwardly managed. “I just thought it might be a little lonely by yourself.”

 

Now I’ve really blown it, she lamented. He could be gay and I’ve embarrassed him. If that’s the case, he’ll avoid me like the plague. How did I do this to myself? Lisa, girl, you need to shut up and stop imposing yourself on this poor man.

 

“No, I do like women,” he said with a grin. “No apologies necessary! Just haven’t found one I want to spend a lot of time with yet; actually; haven’t been around very many real women in awhile. Now that I’m settling down, I’ll give more thought to having a companion. What about you, Lisa? Is there a person in your life at the moment?”

 

Not hardly, she thought.

 

“No, not at the moment. I did have an interest in a man at work; he turned out to be a holosapien. I felt completely stupid not to recognize the obvious; they make these things so damn real!” she said in frustration. “He was just a little too perfect; I should have seen it coming. He had memories of his childhood and everything. I hate that! It was very convincing; up until, I saw him standing in the same floor space with another holosapien shuffling paper together. I think it’s called spatial interfacing, still freaks me out to see them doing that.”

“I hate to admit it, but I was one of the people that developed that feature in the holosapiens,” reported Andrew sheepishly. “I’m sorry it bothers you so much. It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. I doubt you would be amused at some of the ideas CH wanted to introduce.”

“Like what, Andy?”

“Oh, CH wanted to expand the holosapiens into a more flexible product. Arms would have been able to extend further to reach around things and whole bodies could stretch to move things overhead. It would defeat the whole purpose of making them look human, too many real people would object. Besides, management of the force field chips were limited to extended reach or stretching.”

“Yeah, I can see where that might pose a problem, though nothing surprises me anymore,” she replied.

“Getting two force fields to interface was a lot easier to do and cheaper too. Now they are also trying to develop a super holosapien capable of going undetected in the human work force altogether, invisible at times. It will have feelings when visible and advanced emotional interaction. There won’t be many ways to tell, if they are not real unless they disappear. I wouldn’t worry about it, though. They’re years away from that and don’t have a clue where to begin. It’s only an idea they’ve been toying with.”

“Why on earth do they want to do that? It’s hard enough to deal with these stupid things as they are,” she answered.

“There is quite a rumble going on in the political world to stop CH from having a workforce monopoly; government wants to limit the number of holosapien units in each workplace. CH is promising to develop these super holosapiens and sell them to businesses on the sly; their profits will increase and the businesses will get a cheap workforce. There is no way for the government to know unless there is a general power shut down and all units cease to be activated; CH will never allow that,”

“God! That’s awful,” returned Lisa with a sigh. “I don’t think I could deal with that. Of course, I don’t know how long I’ll be working for CH anyhow, nobody does. I could be processed tomorrow if they decide so.”

“There was interesting aspect of my job,” he began. “Brian McPhee was the brilliant young scientist, who developed the holosapien and a few self activating chips we can’t figure out yet. They would click on without any warning or console control. They’re not threatening and can be directed verbally but we have tried to figure out what McPhee did to make them this way. That job is now up to someone else, which is unfortunate; I enjoyed the challenge.”

The two sat back and considered the thought of a world run by nothing but holosapiens. Their discussion lasted the rest of the trip, eventually drifting away from the subject of CH.

By the end of the flight, both of them felt a connection, pleasant and reassuring in a way. Andy was looking at Lisa with increased interest, Lisa not missing the signs. As their conversation blossomed, their hands touched. He took her hand and smiled. She melted but never missed a word he uttered. She was too embarrassed to admit it to herself; there were stirrings in her body when Andy touched her, strong and positive ones wishing more.

The shuttle landed at the air terminal; Andy leaned across and kissed Lisa on the lips, his eyes beseeching hers. She returned his kiss reaching out to hold his other hand, both drawing closer to one another. The spell was not broken until they had to be reminded to disembark by a smiling holosapien.

“Physical contact onboard air shuttles are prohibited under ordinance WR1169,” said the holosapien. “Please disengage and disembark the shuttle. Have a nice day.”

 

Andy had a calming smile on his face while Lisa collected a few things next to her seat.

 

Could this be it, though Lisa? He likes me and seems like such a nice man. I wonder what’s wrong with him? Maybe I’m trying too hard not to believe this is really happening.

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3 Comments

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