Safedates part deux

“You get used to it very quickly. I married last year, and my
husband and I prefer our surrogates to each other.” The doctor
smiles brightly, unaware of the nauseating effect of her statement.
“The skin feels like human skin. The only difference between a
surrogate and a human partner is that a surrogate won’t give you
HIV2 or any other STD.”

I don’t know if I could use one,” Ariadne begins. The doctor
raises an imperious hand.

“Certainly you could. I see that you are a software designer
for Infocom. You, of all people, should not behave like a
Luddite.” She ushers Ariadne out of her office. “The reason I
asked is this: because you are officially quarantined, the Health
Department will give you a voucher for a surrogate. There are
prototype shows every Saturday.”

“I don’t need a voucher. I have plenty of credit.”

“Just think about it. The voucher is good for five years.
You can use it to purchase a less expensive model, or as a discount
on the more advanced types.” The doctor smiles. “I recommend
Safedates, Ink. I see in your file that you do some programming
for them. Safedates offers the most advanced models, and they are
the original company. If you use the voucher and your employee
discount, your surrogate won’t cost a penny.”

“I’m familiar with the products.” Ariadne comments wryly,
closes the door behind her as she leaves.

That was six months ago. Ariadne’s original distaste evolved
to curiosity. She is hungry for intimacy, the casual touch that
can flare to passion in an instant.

So now she is here, with other well-groomed women, waiting for
the show to begin. There are four showings divided by orientation:
gay or straight, male or female. Conversation between the Buyers
is limited and sporadic. Although almost everyone uses surrogates,
most don’t like to see people they know in the showrooms.

There is no stigma attached to the use of surrogates. Indeed,
single people who do not are suspected of unsafe practices and
avoided, if not quarantined as a precaution. Because the various
prototypes offer specific services, most men and women don’t like
to publicly announce their sexual proclivities.

The amphitheater is prepared for the spring showing. Soft
music emanates from speakers tastefully hidden behind papered
walls. Deep chairs are set a discreet distance from each other in
descending rows. Because she is management, Ariadne has the
privilege of a front row seat. Vents waft perfumed air on the
customers. Research has shown that scents like this one improve a
client’s mood, make her more apt to buy expensive merchandise.

The woman next to Ariadne now speaks with someone on her
right. “Quarantined,” Ariadne hears the hiss as the woman jerks
her head in Ariadne’s direction. Most here by choice, not
necessity. It is considered irresponsible to have sex with a human
outside of marriage or homosexual bonding.

The amphitheater’s lights dim as the prototypes glide onstage.
Ariadne is impressed with the liquid grace with which they move.
The first model steps forward into the spotlight. “I am model
number 345-668. I am programmed in Swedish and Shiatsu massage and two hundred methods of seduction. I engage in light banter, as
well as prepare and serve five hundred gourmet-standard meals
listed in your catalog.”

A pleased murmur rises from the crowd. The model’s appearance
is impressive. Muscle groups that mimic a bodybuilder’s move
silkily under skin that feels like a man’s. The facial features
are unimportant as they are altered to suit the customer’s taste.

The show is a long blur of models promoting their features:
designed to dance, leap, entertain, please sexually five hundred ways,
sing, speak, argue, apologize, rub your feet, execute wishes, love only
you, and appear to enjoy every moment.

Ariadne thrills to the voices. Her specialty involves voice
activation and communication. Her work detaches her from the other
Buyers: she knows these sleek imitations are machines executing an
intricate series of commands, despite the voices full of emotion
and humor, the eyes sparkling with programmed charm.

Ariadne fills out the order form. She clicks on model 625-389, names it Robert.  625-389, or Robert, will cook like a chef, argue like a lawyer, discuss politics from a liberal bias. She determines he will have dark, curly hair on his chest and pubic area; clicks blue eyes and shiny black hair for his head. He will have a standard sexual repertoire with openness to mild kink. He will have a trace stubble to graze her cheek. He will have an off button. His mouth will taste like apricots.

Payment is automatic. She had surrendered her voucher at the
door.

The net is a forum for debate. Ariadne sits before her home
monitor, composes a question for the bulletin board:
IS A MACHINE AS GOOD AS A MAN?

 

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in fiction, Sexuality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Safedates part deux

  1. Rhonda says:

    He will have an off button? Can this be? Can one be installed on a flesh model? Even if his warranty runs out? 😉
    Can’t wait to see where this goes….

  2. Kyle says:

    fantastic bit of sci-fi there susan – raises some interesting questions too

  3. nelle says:

    Such a vision of the future, and a question which one day might well be asked. Seventeen years out of the past, I’m glad you saved such a precious creation.

  4. welcome to our brave new world, glimpsed 17 years ago! I like the specs for Robert.
    argue like a lawyer, discuss politics from a liberal bias ……I would simply add, and know when to shut up before He is shut off!

    • Oh, that off button was such a cold touch, shame on my 27-year-old self that could think of it! The ultimate in objectification, if we were discussing humans, and not toys. I do like the ability to argue and the politics, though–oh, and yes, the apricots 🙂

  5. doncarroll says:

    like this – a little longer than i expected though and some bones to pick i see.

  6. Green Speck says:

    Quite an impressive futuristic view 🙂

  7. Pingback: Safedates part 3 | Susan Daniels Poetry

  8. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    I like this and the subtle humor of it. It does remind me of Aldous Huxley a little bit, but by no means as an attempt at mimicry.

    I can see more now why the story is dialogue driven and it does give off an ominous feel.

    • Thank you–it does–the coldness is intentional 🙂

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        It works. That is partially why I am interested in how you paint your scenery. But one reason I am interested in greater depth of detail in the setting is because it seems like the story could be expanded into a novel or novella.

        • It could–it very easily could–I will have to try to imagine the scenery–before it was all just brushstrokes.

          • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

            It just seems to me like the story could be fleshed out in a longer format like a novella (as you mentioned) or be diced up a bit. Maybe the action of a short story could focus primarily on what is going on in Ariadne’s house?

            It’s a thought. . . but then again, short story don’t have to be short either.

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