I looked off my balcony standing close to the edge. With a lot of people now leaving their house, the day was getting started. I topped my mimosa off with more champagne and plopped my ass on the new hemp patio furniture. Today was a day to celebrate. Even if I hated the reason for celebration. I was going to celebrate. I turned to the table and started it up. As the app opened, it showed the beautiful blonde anchor. She was the reason I switched from my old news source to this one, even if she wasn't shit for economics. She still looked better by the day. Plus, what's it matter if she just sticks to reading the script. The DOW was up over nine points this morning. It was the highest it had been since 2021. She started going over other rising stocks and the reasons for rise. She hit one that really set me off. The newly public company 1OV3 (3VE) had risen over eighteen points since yesterday. As a company I was on the retainer for it should have been good news, however, it pissed me off. I reached over and shut the app off. I should be going in anyway. I pounded the rest of my mimosa as I walked inside. Suiting up with my coffee I decided I needed the luck and I could always help my firms business, so I reached for my lucky tie. Red and blue paisleys would stand out against my combed back black hair and beard on my navy blue suit.
The whole ride to work the coffee and champagne were fighting for position. Walking through the door the coffee took over and reminded me I needed another cup.
He was standing there the most handsome man I'd ever met. Brett Locke, with his chiseled chin, short dirty blonde hair, all topped off with his marble made body. He looked like a Greek god with curls coming down upon his cleanly shaven face. It didn't matter he was still an asshole. He was nice to everybody, he just would never listen. If he ever did, it was only to try and make a point about how wrong you were. He was still an asshole. I still despised him.
"Hey glad to see you here early. I was about to put some money down you wouldn't be here on time if at all." He snickered. I rolled my eyes in a different reality.
"Yeah, I was up early so I thought I might as well be here early."
Pointing at the tie he kept the snicker rolling through acting as if everyone was watching. There was no-one.
I wanted to send my Oxford boxing team's right hook into his chin, but I didn't.
"It's my lucky tie. Plus, we all know I tried that whole thing, and it's just not my cup of tea"
"Well, are you excited? today's the day we make the biggest announcement the world has ever seen"
I wasn't excited at all but I knew I couldn't show my rage to the guy who gave my firm its biggest paycheck. I slipped my oncoming depression with a fake plastic smile.
"Hell yeah. I Just want this thing over so we can get to the after party."
He laughed. As we were discussing what party favors to bring to this suare. The one that would keep me out of the office for the rest of the day. Then she started walking up. I didn't know where she came from. Fuck, I'd asked her twice but I didn't remember. It didn't matter she was Brett's counter part. The one that had moved in with him way too early. They had only known each other for three months and they already lived together. It would have been a shit show if it were me. Maria leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek as soon as she was close enough. Her tall brown skinned legs ended right where her ass and the skirt began. The white blouse with the yellow skirt wasn't really my favorite but she as sure made it work with her brown Brazilian skin. I'm not sure if she was even Brazilian but she was sure as hell beautiful enough to be. As I was day dreaming of the skirt she was wearing and what was on the other side, I got a firm shoulder slap. I snapped back into reality as Brett leaned in.
"Here we go bud, she brought the only party favor we need. Let's get it over with so we can celebrate!"
I shook my head to bring me back. " Yeah, if she has some of that let's get this over with."
" I want you on my right side" He said.
"Why, isn't that reserved for her?" I said as I slang a finger towards Maria.
His next words were planted perfectly. I wish I would have gotten the meaning when he said them then. "No, she looks better on my left. It's both of our good sides"
I figured she would ask him to marry her, or something, after he got through the news bit and answered questions. Or maybe he would ask her. What did I care? It was just going to be another wedding I would have to go to. One I didn't want to. At least it was going to be a good one. Free weed, booze, and plenty of other drugs. Just thinking of all the sex I was bound to have, as long as I didn't end up face down before the party was over. I hadn't met any of Marias friends, but they were bound to be loose. All of Brett's women were, and so were their friends. I was so distracted I walked to the wrong side of the stage and Brett's second in command, Eli, straightened me back out. That was ironic. I nodded and stood behind the podium to the right as the CEO, President, and rich asshole head of the company he started striding up to take his position. Having to listen now I was wishing the champagne still had control over the coffee and I would have smoked less on the ride over. The cameras were set up and we were about to roll. The news reporters took their positions as the lights on the mics lit up like a Christmas tree. The hand in the back waived and we were off. My throat swelled up and I felt like puking. I wouldn't, I'd had it worse before and was able to hold it back. That was most of the undergraduate years for me. I was still spacing off when Brett started with his "Breaking News" announcement.
"In today's day and age we have been so absorbed in our phones, social media, school, jobs, and fast paced lives we have no time to find love, just make it. The rising divorce rate is above sixty-five percent. We are failing to find worthy ones, or keep relationships. This hole we are digging ourselves in is where our relationship app was founded."
He raised his phone to show the number one selling relationship app for the last three years running. Exhaling he re-positioned in his speech with a calm demeanor. He started on the second half.
"In our forward progress with technology we found out people's sexual desire was still one of the heaviest influences in their every day lives and their relationship choosing. That's when we came out with our own personal pleasure machine. These dolls are the best in class at simulation almost every sexual pleasure and fetish imaginable. Collecting data through both of our products we have developed the next breakthrough. We have been hard at work. The research and development team have made astonishing break throughs. With seventy percent of the United States using one of our products we have made leaps and bounds with the data we have gathered. Our next big step has come. We are combining the two products we offer today. We have made fully functional counterparts for all relationships of all types. They are virtually unnoticeable from other humans. They are made especially for you. When a small sample of DNA and test has been taken we can create a fully functional spouse for a reasonable price. This has been put through all test including the most important. "
He leaned and opened up to his left, extending his arm. "This is my AI counterpart Maria."
She walked up and sensually leaned on him putting on the most perfect smile the camera had seen in ages.
"For the last three months it has gone unnoticed. As the head of my company I put myself as the first person to test this product. While this is the first version in the next six months before the public release I imagine it will only continue to grow better."
She slowly put her finger in her hair line at the back of her neck and kept it coming up. By the time it was at the top of her head she had revealed an access panel on her head.
I was stumped. I couldn't believe the women that had been spending too much time at the office without a job was actually there for a reason. Brett told me everything. I was his lawyer. The fact I didn't notice this was a the biggest surprise of my life. I was more surprised than when I got into Oxford and not Stanford Law. Fuck, maybe I had taken too much of something. Was I dreaming?
As he slid his hand over her head he brought his phone up to show the cameras. "All functions can be manipulated and changed from a program that will be installed after your purchase. We are even in the early stages of fertilization. Your genes will be combined with those that your spouse would have as if they were fully human. We will eliminate diseases, allergies, and all defects in our own genes. Our new relationships will kill all violence, bad days, and even pet peeves known to us today. Open, hetero, homosexual, all types of relationships will be covered upon it's release. "
The next thing I remember was the press leaving. I was still standing in my position. I wondered how surprised I looked in the background for those TV shots. Memes would most likely be made with my face. I was following Brett and his robot sex toy to his office. He grabbed what was needed and we left. There was an after party at his place. Today was no day for work. I couldn't have worked if I wanted to after that news.
I got to Brett's house a little late. The "release party" had started without me. I thought about changing but I was still wearing my suit. Still upset at the release I walked in the front door and saw the last person I wanted to see. Maria was standing there to greet people as they walked in. I had two drinks on the way there, but that wasn't enough for this.
I thought about what to say to this damn thing the whole way here and still didn't have any thing.
"It's okay, I know how surprised you were. Nobody knew except the head of engineering. She did a good job of keeping it under wraps. I was practically her daughter. You did well, most are still scared of me after the press conference"
"I just didn't think I was kept out of anything for this company. I mean I am all of the legal representation."
"Haha, It's okay. You were one of the main obstacles I had to get past. I learned so much from you. More than even Brett knows."
"That's great Maria I'm glad I could help" Normally it didn't hurt lying though my teeth but this was different lying to something not human. She probably knew I was lying. She probably had a way to tell. I could think of three that could have been installed.
"Is Brett around?"
She turned around and pointed to the balcony on the second story. "He was up there last time I saw him. "
I nodded and went straight towards the stairs. How did I get out of that alive. I was so flustered. I was astonished I hadn't noticed. Just to top it off I was walking up the stairs I saw my girlfriend. Well, now she was my ex. It had been a rough three months. She was always the one I'd thought I would marry. She would have been a great wife. I didn't know if we would have stayed married, but I thought for sure I'd ask. The last year of work had just been so rough it drove us apart. It's not that I hated her, I'd still love for her to be in my life. I just think she may hate me a little. Between the constant work and the intake of weed, booze, and mescaline on my few and far between weekends she grew to despise the man I had become. She even told me in the note she left after packing her things she loathed me as a man. It's not like the bender I went on after she left helped either. I even slept with a man. A drunk night he convinced me. To make sure I wasn't gay of course. Unfortunately, I still saw Eli, the Vice President of 1OV3 at least once a week. That's the only part I hated. It made the work relationship much more awkward knowing his dick was in my mouth. I will never do that again.
Jacki turned around and caught me on the stairs stopped and staring at her. I rose my hand to wave, before I could get it up she had turned to walk away. The look of disgust on her face gave me the only interaction I needed to say I would never be forgiven. The day had turned to shit. No, it started out as shit and had turned into something much worse. I don't know what was worse. I was too fucked up to think of that. I exhaled and continued up the stairs saddend by the turn of events.
I would have opened the door and went right into Brett's master suite but the door was locked. I knocked. No answer. I knocked again.
"Brett, open up it's me."
"Brett open the damn door." and before I could finish my insult the door creaked open and Brett slid out in just his underwear and a robe.
"What are you, the modern day Hugh Hefner? You have a party going on, and what the hell are you doing?
"Kev dog" I hated when he talked to me like he was half as black as I was. He was Elmer Glue white. That wasn't even the problem. It was I hated him. That and his personality was the richest petty, spoiled, smart as fuck little white kid. He couldn't make it sound good, ever.
"I'll be down in a few minutes. It's like everybody wants a piece of me after that announcement."
"What about your new robot wife? Isn't her emotional programming going to be put into an overload with this?" I asked flustered.
"No man, weren't you listening... Open relationships. She would join if I asked her, but she's busy at the door."
"Jesus, she's a dream come true for you isn't she?"
"Yeah, she is exactly what I always wanted. Kinda why I built her like that. Have fun down stairs, you know where the good stuff is, and oh yeah..."
He slipped back behind the door to reemerge with a small folded zip lock bag.
"I won't be needing this tonight. Not with the girls and the party. I can always get some from you later. Just figured you might need this tonight."
He handed me a sack of powdered mescaline. The one I had given him days before as a present before I knew what the announcement would entirely entail.
"Okay, I'll see you in a few" then he was gone back into what seemed like a scene from a bad college movie.
I didn't like him very much, but he was one of the only other rich and powerful people I was friends with that had the same hobbies as I did, which meant we'd exchange a bag of hard drugs once a quarter as a "gift" for some reason or another while already intoxicated on too much of something. I took the bag and slipped in my jacket pocket. I didn't need this right now but I might need it later. I started down the stairs. Just as I turned the corner, about half way, Eli was coming up. He was falling over holding another man's hand. I knew the other man, I just couldn't put my finger on where from. He looked a little to familiar to escape my memory. I smiled as they continued past me. They didn't wait to burst into laughter as soon as I passed. I was boiling. What did they think this was? With Brett ad Eli upstairs who the hell was representing the company downstairs? I was as worried about this as I was running into Jacki again. I needed another drink I made a B-line straight for the whiskey cabinet. On my way I pulled out the bag that had just been given back to me. There was a piece of foil in the powder. Must have been some acid. No reason I couldn't take it now. I would still be noticeably less fucked up than others. I dumped it into my mouth as my hand reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bottle.
I woke up from the glimmering rays of sun reflecting off of the TV against the wall opposite my bed. My head was a little sore. I was a little groggy coming to. I didn't remember what happened last night. Sitting up in bed I look over and there is a body next to me. We're definitely in my house. Thank God for auto pilot and voice navigation. I turned to face the mistake I made last night. Actually, not that bad. I could only see the long blonde hair and half of one side of her face but I expected it to be worse. It often was when I drank heavily and was on other substances. As I got out of bed I noticed two bottles on the floor below my nightstand. the carpet wasn't wet so we had to have drank them. This worried me. I was walking out still trying to collect memories when she awoke. With a moan she sat up. She was beautiful. I really put the moves on last night. Her hair was a tangled mess. Her breasts were above the covers staring right at me. I was in awe.
"What the hell did we do last night?"
I felt awful. I didn't know her name. I don't know what we did. I wasn't even sure if we ended up having sex or if we just passed out here after we left. I wasn't even sure the time we left.
"I don't know, I was hoping you could tell me." I said chuckling
She made a sweet pitiful sound as she fell back into the bed.
"Could you bring me some Advil and water, or whatever we took with the whiskey last night. That's the last thing I remember."
Jesus, I took some and gave the rest to her? I was still trying to figure out why she looked so familiar and how I drank so much.
"Yeah, Advil should be in the nightstand. I'll go get some water"
After using the bathroom and getting a glass of water I returned to the bedroom. She was already half dressed. With her Bra and panties on she reached for her skirt. Her body was molded from a dream of most men. The black lingere stood abstract against her beautiful ivory skin. I must have been standing there naked and staring for a full minute before she looked at me.
"See something you like?" She smirked and immediately set her skirt back down as she sat on the edge of the bed.
"I don't usually exercise in the morning, but I think this might help my hangover."
She unclasped her bra to lead me back in hypnosis with her breasts. We made love.
We bounced small talk and compliments back and forth for hours until she decided she had to leave. After her uber had arrived and taken her away I rushed to the garage to my car. I Pulled up the navigation to see where we had gone last night, anything to help spark a memory. It said we left Brett's, stopped at my office, then his, and proceeded to come back to my house. Why his office? I didn't have anything there besides a client and bad memories. I Couldn't figure it out. I decided to stop trying and take the night as a comeback win. I proceeded to go back to bed.
Through the next week I was in and out of the office with that night still on my mind. While I was still stumped on what had happened last Friday night, I was past trying to figure it out. I just wanted to know who that girl was. I never did ask. It would have been too rude. I hadn't been in contact with anybody from the company all week. I was due for my weekly check in. Being done with all of my work early Friday, I decided to head over. On the way there I decided to call Brett to see if he wanted to play golf instead. Even though I hated the game, I knew he loved it. It would give me a chance to be outside and not have to sit in an office. I was good enough to beat him at the game he loved. It was always a positive to see him in that awe and frustration. I may even do it with what's under the foil I was bringing. He didn't answer. I guess golf was out of the question. That's too bad. I pulled up to the building. I strided though the doors of the first floor and headed straight for an elevator. As I rose to his floor I debated what I was going to do if Brett wasn't here. It was only two thirty and my day was over. I decided to unwrap the foil anyway. With a present under my tongue I walked out of the elevator and down to the door. Most of the building was 1OV3's but Brett liked his office in the middle. Not too high, with easy access to all divisions. So he kept it on the 24th story where it originated. He never moved it up. I kept my head down and took the shortest route to the font of his office. While it was still smaller, and not on the top floor, he did have a corner office. As I pushed on the door it not being locked was a good sign. I swung the door around to see Brett on his phone with somebody important enough that he had to raise a finger at me. Knowing this meant he'd be "one sec" and I had to be quite I started scheming. I shook my head and reached in my pocket. I pulled two tabs out of the foil. I flashed them in his face and made an airplane motion as I landed them on his tongue. At first he tried to refuse. Then he zippered that one sided smile and opened up.
I went to go lock the door. We were going to need the time to ourselves. As I was shutting the door a hand slipped in. The crimson nails slightly sparkled as I tried to not shut them in the door. She pushed the door open with her other hand. I stood there floundering at what I saw. She was the women from the weekend before. She was the one my fantasies had been intertwined with. Beautiful blonde who blew my mind. She seemed as blown away as I was. She extended her hand with a stack of papers.
"These are for the boss." She said as she turned back leaving me to stare at her backside long enough to memorize it. I shut the door and locked it.
Brett got off the phone as I was spinning to hand him the papers. He looked at me as his eyes started to get obscenely large. My stomach was rising like at the peak of the a roller coaster going up. He could see what was happening to me. He went into the corner cabinet of his office. He opened the cabinet, then the mini fridge. He approached me holding a bottle of fresh squeezed IPA. I took it and opened it a I sat down on the couch in the opposing corner.
"She's pretty isn't she? I needed a new secretary and Diane, my head of engineering, had a daughter who just finished her masters, so I thought might as well give her a chance. "
"and how is she?" I asked
"Fuck she's as good at everything. Well, I mean everything I've asked her to do. I hear you'd know how good she is at the other stuff."
"She told you?"
"Well, I just figured after I found you two tripping in an upstairs bathroom of my house it went somewhere. I mean then again, I expected you to hold your psychedelics a little better than that as well."
"Shit, I don't remember anything after taking one of the bottles from your good cabinet."
"Damn, you had finished one by the time I found you. Then you had your car drive you to get more at about ten, and didn't come back. So I just figured you'd done what I've been trying to do for the last three weeks."
I sat rolling over my thoughts as I continued to come up. She's only been working here for about a month. Maybe that's why I hadn't remembered seeing her before. Hell, I even walked past her desk today without noticing who was sitting there. Maybe I should ask her out again. I should. I just don't think now was the time to do it. I don't want to come across as a guy with a problem, or any weirder than I already was. I should do it soon. At least I knew where to find her now. I looked up as I started to see heat waves rise off the desk. The clocks hands began to wave as different shadows gathered their own hue. I put the beer to my lips. I leaned back and let my unplanned afternoon set in. I was ready for where ever this was about to take me, with him, thinking about her.
After a few IPA's most of the office had left and we opened the locked office doors. The peak was over and we were ready to set out. Taking our problems with us we ran down to the nearest food truck and got something to tide us over for the rest of the night. The night was full of memorable regrets, misquoted music, and wave mooching. These times were the times I didn't hate Brett. In the middle of it all I had devised a plan to ask this women out. I had gotten her name from her boss. It was Charlie. I figured instead of calling his personal phone, I would call his office. When she answered his phone to screen his call, I would get to pretend like it wasn't planned. The conversation would be ideal. I didn't know what I was going to say. Between the fact that it happened already once and she was closer to completely sober that morning, I put my money was on the slam dunk. For one of the very few times Monday couldn't come fast enough.
I called Monday right before lunch as planned. It went well but the damn women about gave me a heart attack. She played it off like I was only asking her because she answered the phone. Like it was a question of pity. It was just a joke but I didn't know her that well. So I panicked. I almost had a stroke. It was so weird, one of those hate that you liked it so much feelings. Either way, I liked her already. She had my sense of humor.
So we went out. On a real date, not a drunk bathroom drug bender. It was impressive how quickly she had gotten down to the way I do things. We had some opposing views but with how well we held conversation she had already changed my mind on some within the first evening. I had her in my sights. Over the next nine months we had dates, nights out, nights in, and countless hours of sex. She had met my parents and I was planning on meeting hers. At least her mom, her father had passed. I'd met her for the business I represented, never on a personal level however. It was nearing that night when we had gotten the call. Brett called me before the hospital could call Charlie. He had all of his staff on immediate notice upon entry, especially his head of the engineering department. Her mother was quite old (72) for her to only be twenty nine. Her mother had been emitted to the emergency ward at UCLA. She didn't have cancer, she wasn't dying of old age, and she didn't have any other pre existing conditions. Her body was slowly shutting down. They had no Idea what was wrong with her but she was fading fast. Her body was slowly loosing electrical potenitial. He let me know and I had to tell her. I walked onto the porch to find her laying in the sun. It hurt me to tell such a beautiful soul a truth that ugly. Just like the first time I called I didn't know what I was going to say. I knew where the conversation had to end. Getting there was the hard part. As soon as she saw me coming she knew something was wrong. I don't know if it was my face or if it was the fact I wasn't staring at the perfect sun ray reflecting off her oiled up with tanning lotion she didn't need. I couldn't focus on the white bathing suit sealed around her extravagant curves that made her seem that much darker. She knew something as wrong. I didn't have a bush to beat around. I went straight in.
"Your mother... She's in the hospital." I was breaking down. I had never met this woman with her, yet I felt as if she was part of my life. It hurt to tell her something that would cause her so much pain.
"We have to go now. They don't know what's wrong-' The tears started to build in my eyes. "She's not in good condition. We'd better..."
Before I could finish she was up. As soon as I had started to lose my character she was on her way inside. She changed and met me in the car. I had it started and set to take us to the hospital. I couldn't believe there was nothing I could do for a situation. Where I'd normally have a tight hold on drugs, alcohol, or a solution, I had my arms around her.
Pulling up to the entrance we saw Brett. The advocate for smoking anything but not smoking tobacco was holding a cigarette in his hands. His head hung low. eyes pointed at the ground. The glimmer had subsided to a glaze of mate finish. His tight smile had disappeared and only left his lips relaxed and turned down. The blank expression with an appauling feel was the closest thing I'd ever seen to a frown from Brett. With the exhale of a cloud of smoke I knew it was going to be bad. As we rushed out of the car he picked his head up to say a few words as we passed.
"Room 329, I've said my piece. I'll be here if you need me."
We rapidly took the stairs to the third floor and found the twenty-ninth room. As we barged through the door a swarm of doctors buzzed around like her mother was the queen of the hive. About to ask us to leave one doctor stopped mid way as he saw the resemblance of her daughter. There in the bed her mother was lain back looking not ill, but like she had been drawn from hell. She was a beautiful woman for being seventy-two. You couldn't tell it now as the color had drained from her body. Her hair which I knew from passing was a extravagant glimmering blonde had now lost its sparkle. No make up, no lab coat, she was wearing just scrubs with a piece of bloody gauze stuffed up her nose to stop the bleeding. Her cheeks and forehead were painted bright cherry red yet her hands were cold to the touch. Her hand was atop mine which was caressing the had her daughter was holding. She was conscious but it still surprised me when she spoke.
Smiling around the breathing tube and said, "I miss you. I'm not gone yet but I will be and I already miss you."
My girlfriend was sobbing and wiping tears from her own eyes as she broke out.
"I love you, I, please don't go. You can't go what's wrong. Dammit mom, dammit."
Her mother whispered those final words. Ghost like, they still haunt me.
"I played with too many chemicals trying to figure out what would work on them. One was bound to kill me. They won't be able to tell what but my nervous system is shutting off." She looked frail as she couldn't raise her hand to her daughters face.
"I won't get to see them. Make sure they do well. No matter what happens in this world you were my greatest piece of work, why can't they all be like you?"
Her eyes stayed lit for a few more moments. When the life left her I swear you could see her soul leave. I don't know where it went. I don't know what kind of person she was. I just knew I had feelings for this woman and seeing her hurt made me hurt. It was the worst way to meet somebody for the first time. I leaned onto the bed and held her as we cried. Her mother was gone.
Brett came in and sat down. He was in the corner chair reeking of the pack he just purchased. In shambles he just kept repeating.
"Only nine more days, she missed it by nine days"
He had her second in command ready to take over the research and development, the business wasn't the problem. She had devoted her life to the development of this. These human love machines were her idea. They knew this was the direction they were going before the sex bots, and 10V3 app. Those were priming steps. She had built the entire foundation but never saw the house. By the preorders and success of Maria alone it was a mansion. I was wondering where she could be but then again if I heard of my creator dying I wouldn't be around. I'd be in shambles as I was now. Maria probably felt as bad as I did, probably worse. This may have been the worst lead off to the upcoming release imaginable. Maybe even worse than the death of Brett. At least if he died you had a chance, a pretty good chance of running the company better. With her gone even her second in command knew he could never fill her shoes. She was sizes above he could imagine, feet above others. There was a reason they had such a good reputation, app, performance, and development. It sure as hell wasn't due to the always drunk vice president Eli, or the President of the company who could be found on psychedelics or drunk as often as he could sober, except the months leading up to this. He resembled somewhat of a functional human being.
I loved Charlie. She was so good to me. There was never anything she ever had done wrong but this week she was too depressing. She just wasn't herself. I didn't expect her to be. We had planned to have her service two days before the release. Her wake would be combined with the release party of her life's work, it's what she would have wanted. At least that's what we thought and were telling ourselves planning it. As we were planning this event draped in an emotional curtain of melancholy I realized how sad her life actually was. It was pitiful. I can't imagine my Charlie's childhood. Looking for pictures we only found ones of her working and they were few and far between. None of Charlie's childhood, at least not with her mother. The only picture we found before the company started was the last picture of her with Charlie's father on their wedding day. He helped spark the idea. He would have been there at the company if he had not crashed his plane. He died before his daughter was born. Their family was cast in shadows of unfortunate events. Going through this process made me even more grateful for my childhood and parents. It even made me more grateful of my father's fear of heights. Trying to grow up without a father and a mother this dedicated to her work was inconceivable. Maybe this is why when we talked about her childhood it was always brief. Growing up with money, in a above average neighborhood, and this shitty of a family surprised me. Especially when I had it better coming from no money. I grew up in Watts. If it hadn't been for my money and successful representation my parents would still be living in the house on the edge of the ghetto. My first major purchase after some suits was an apartment for my parents. Then when I got the money a house. She couldn't buy her mother anything she didn't already have and the only thing she wanted couldn't be purchased, time. The days of set up passed. They were slow and dreadful.
The service went well. I knew few would show up, but I didn't think that few. It was two days before the release, maybe all of her work collages were busy preparing the first shipment. We had Brett, Eli, a handful of others, Charlie and myself. It was as sad as her passing. They still hadn't figured out what caused her death. That was as worrisome for the department as anything. It would have been worrisome for the public if they found it tied to the new product. The realistic sex bots had been out for three years without a problem but if the delay in death was longer than that, they'd be fucked. The company would be fucked. It would even be worse if it was tied to the counterpart lovers not just the robots of pleasure. I was thinking as a lawyer for once that week, not as a boyfriend. There wasn't much for me to due on release day besides be there. We had one lawsuit with a sexbot when it wouldn't choke the man but this was easily wrapped up. It was unsafe which our sex bots label on their right foot said they wouldn't participate in. We had a new label for the new robots of love, so even that was under control. It did leave it open for more lawsuits but when they purchased they had to acknowledge they assumed all risks. I felt by their purchase they acknowledged most importantly that they were killing the human emotional bridge called love.
There was no excuse other than yourself for the reasons you couldn't meet someone who you could spend the rest of your life with, or at least part of the rest of your life. Nothing had upset me more to any point in my life quite like this. It was killing Human nature. It was as unforgivable as suppressing homosexuality, highlighting sexes that biologically didn't exist, or having an app that talked and made connections for you. You didn't even have a dating history, just a history on your app of unworthy matches. I felt sick watching humanity bend at the knees to praise the strangling of themselves in a generation. For it wouldn't take long before all hope had been lost. The rate of marriage had already declined heavily but now it would perish to the ordering of one these, these things. I loved her mother without knowing her and the advancements she made but my concrete pillar in this argument was Charlie. Surely I could argue the feelings I had for Charlie were better than anything I could have with a synthetic personality. Not even a year in and I knew she was the one. It wasn't the fact she was perfect. Her flaws had me falling as head over heels. They were as her notable as her crown jewels. So many people had fallen for the wool over their eyes I thought it was a scene from a bad TV show or 1984. I was boiling over as the hours neared.
At the release it was like nothing happened. I stood there behind Brett as he cast off some words and dedications. I had to stand next to Maria which already upset me and she could tell I was mad. She was having trouble figuring out why but with the super computer powering her it wouldn't take long. It represented the release of Teslas, iPhones, or any new technology that has taken a strangle hold of the United States. The preorder sales were out the window. Anything that was wrong could be swept under the rug at this point. The reviews of the "pretests" only helped add to the length of the waiting list. Married people were even ordering them to see what it was like and as maids, nannies, and side pieces for their lifeless marriage. It wasn't long before our stock broke records for single companies. We had a record breaking stock jump and freight bill. Release went well. Before and after the release date they had to split stocks as they had risen so much. I was thankful for my investment in the company but still hated the things so bad I found myself consistently reading internet posts about the people who still had souls. The ones who see the destruction of the world before them. I would read page after page blowing off my firms main clients just to rush back home to Charlie. She had me off of all drugs, drinking less than I ever imagined, and cradled in her arms. I was hiding from the death of love.
It took three years. Three years of going through the same routine day after day. Rushing off to work spending agonizing hours going through life without her and then finally rushing back home. I never thought of myself spending the rest of my life with somebody. Now I was thinking of it everyday. It took three years to ask but I finally did. I spent weeks thinking over every detail but I had it. I had been sober for the majority of the three years but tonight was different. I had a few drinks. I came home early on a Friday, about noon. I laid out roses all over the master bathroom. Pedal after pedal I placed perfectly spaced. I filled the bathtub with shaved ice a fifth of whiskey, bottle of champagne, and a six pack of her favorite beer. I placed all her favorite scented candles along the back of the bathtub and edge of the counter. I ordered the same pizza we had that first night. Finally in a challis I put all my favorite recreational drugs I hadn't used in too long. It was a recreation of the first night I spent with her.
I was sitting in the bathroom starring at the square cut diamond ring with the platinum band that cost more than two of my Mercedes when I hear her walk in the door. I slid the box back into my pocket. I walked out as she was standing at the counter. She was wearing her red high heels accenting her bright red lipstick. She had a white blouse with red piping around her cuffs and neck. All tied together with her black skirt and glasses with a ribbon of her blonde hair. I grabbed her by the shoulders, leaned her back, and kissed her. As I brought her up I couldn't resist. I kissed her again. Tonight was our date night and she knew it. What she didn't know is hopefully we wouldn't make it out the door. I told her I had to change to get ready. She looked sideways at me because I was still dressed from work and hadn't made any progress. I smiled and peeled back to the room. Leaving her to unwrap herself form her days work I sat in the bathroom and started to light all of the candles. As I heard her finally make it into the room I grew exponentially with excitement. I could hear her rustle through different outfits for something more comfortable as I was anticipating some amazement in the night. Finally, right as I imagined her holding different jackets and tops up to her barley covered breasts I called her with a rushing sense of urgency. I unlocked the door and got down on a knee in the middle of the massive bathroom. As the door fiercely swung open I tilted my head back like a cannon ready to fire the deadliest shot. I cleared my throat. As soon as her face was clear in my hazy eyes I began my unprepared speech.
"Charlie, I thought of doing this a thousand different ways but this seemed to fit our relationship the most. That first night years ago when we spent the night in Brett's bathroom and ended up here changed my life. You changed my life. I never thought of seeing myself with the same person for the rest of my life but the rest of my life without you everyday wouldn't be as good. I have recreated the first moments that you changed my life. I want to know. Charlie, Will you marry me?"
She was overcome with joy. The tears bubbled up in the bottom of her eyes. Her cheeks had been painted with water colors of maroon, rose, and blood, as her freckles sprinkled cinnamon just under her eyes. She held her hands cupped tightly around her mouth showing only the corners. Just enough to see her bottom lip clenched under her upper white fence of teeth that were gleaming in the sunlight coming through the window. Breaking out in tears she said in a crackling, sexily raspy voice.
I stood up and placed the ring on her finger. Slipping the perfectly fit band over the tip of her finger I looked her in the eyes and kissed her. We went on for hours kissing, crying and making love. The whole week was one from my dreams. Discussing dates, plans, colors, and anything else you could think of without setting anything in stone. We were both too happy and scared to come down back into reality so we didn't. We kept it above all else for as long as we could. I had even brought her flowers twice in the same week and was about to make it three.
She had been moved from Brett's personal secretary to a new department. Slowly moving up the rankings in Human Resources. She wasn't head yet but with only two people left to pass she would be soon enough. I came in to give her the bouquet. She wasn't in so I just left it on her desk. I went to Brett's office before I was to come back. He was seated in the corner with Maria directly across from him. She was stiff with her hands at her side legs together and seated with perfect posture. His face was buried in his phone when I walked in. Face as white as a bed sheet he was playing with the settings on Maria.
"Whatcha doin' there Brett?" I said in the most childish tone I could muster.
His head snapped up as if he didn't hear me walk in his door. "We have gotten a lot of reviews about changing some settings all the way up. Not bad reviews but I had to see what they're talking about."
He flashed his phone in my direction. He had settings that other couldn't bring up. He had access to the main frame, and the ability to turn her emotions and honesty past the ninety percent limit all others had. In order to see if we should make the public's ninety percent threshold slightly higher those were what he was toying with. Turning it up slowly but trying a variety of questions to see what the different responses held with each increasing percent. He wasn't using the same questions. I recommended he start over and make a set list of questions so we could see where the breaks happened. He agreed. We started.
We noticed the difference in answers right away with only one percent difference. We climbed the number ladder. When we hit ninety six percent we hit a wall. Moving down the list of questions Maria started to doubt if she should even answer. She did every time but her hesitation made us uneasy. We got to the third question on the sheet when her answered baffled us. It upset me. It changed my life. We asked her "what was her biggest secret". I stumbled on the words that came out of her mouth. I fell over the table next to my seat in the office looking for balance. I was gasping for air like an asthmatic marathon runner. Brett tried to calm me down. He put his hand on my shoulder. He assured me it couldn't be true. I saw the worry in his eyes under the lies he told. It matched the panic in mine. Hypervenalating I had to see for myself. I ran out of the office and down to find Charlie. I didn't see red. I didn't see at all. Blinded by the pieces of my life and the lies as they came raining down I walked into the corner where her desk was kept. I turned the corner to see what I once thought was the perfect being typing away at her computer. She had to know immeadiatly with my upfront cowardness, my look of fear and astonishment, my suprise. I was motionless with a blank expression as my love for her seemed to sour. The glistening engagement ring lost its sparkle. Her once bright and colorful eyes dulled. She was standing and saying something to me. I imagine it was some explanation. Another reason why I should still hold my love for her higher than the rest of this. Why she didn't tell me. Why I should be able to forgive her. It passed through me like the signs I was given before. I reached out to hold her. Tightly wrapped around her body, even though it was still warm it felt cold. She let me hold her under the impression it would make me feel better. I ran my hand through her hair, over her eyes and across her face. Knowing this was not a normal case and she didn't have what the other had. I gripped the middle of her nose and pulled. She strangled, resisted, and cried but it didn't matter. Her efforts to stop couldn't bring down my disappointment in her, my decisions, and my life.
Seeing her fall it seemed like she floated down in slow motion as she crumbled onto the floor infront of my feet. I leaned back against he wall. I couldn't hold it together. Looking down at all the mistakes I made I started to cry. I cried through the office's surprise as they saw what they couldn't believe. I cried through the I told you so's. I cried through the astonishment. I cried through Brett's comfort and the walk back to his office. I cried more than I should have.
It took a few weeks for me to return to myself. I took all the sick days I still had and then some. Even when I came back I wasn't fully myself. I was still missing the piece she took with her. What I was against with every fiber of my body had turned out to be the only person I'd ever loved. The only one I thought I was ever going to need. The anger never came as I suspected. While I became irritated I was more still looking for the answers to the questions I had for her. While I had gone back to all details I could remember to see the small pieces I had missed point to what was now more obvious, I still had unanswered details. I still had parts of the puzzle fully missing. Why was she so different from the others, even the first generations for testing such as Maria. Why did she not have any of the ports that the other had for control? Why didn't she charge at night like the others? And who the fuck was running her controls? Blacked out with open ends I knew what had to be done next.
It was the first time I had gone back into the office since that day. The day I left her on the floor in a mess representing my life. All while I stood holding her central fuse like a smoking gun. Brett took the scraps that remained of what was my soon to be wife. I imagined they ran tests but didn't know or care what was happening. When I walked quickly through the building, I gathered as many looks as somebody who was actually famous. Embarrassed and depressed I continued to his office. Upon entering I placed myself in the corner until he was done on is phone call. It seemed like he never had anybody in his office other than me. He ran the whole thing through phone calls and emails. As he was tying up the conversation he moved to his hands free device and made a motion to the fridge. I opened it up and grabbed us both a beer. He bid arvue to who ever the hell was on the phone and raised his bottle as we drank. Five minutes passed without a single word. I finally broke the silence.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry it happened here. I'm sorry it was in front of your whole office. I'm sorry I took somebody out of your HR department. I'm sorry I cried so much. I'm sorry, I'm just sorry."
"It's okay. Nobody knew. We all knew her mother for years and never asked about her personal life, not in that much detail. If her daughter came out of thin air we probably assumed it was something we never remembered. She was around long before we ever started with our version. She had all the child photos though, I don't know man. I feel sorry for you. We were all so shocked here, I took care of everything here with a well worded email. I hope you don't mind I played out on the surprise for your benefit"
I nodded in agreement looking out the window at nothing inparticular. I didn't like Brett most of the time but he was a good friend through this. As I finished my next sip of heavy, hoppy, heady beer, I asked the real question.
"Where is she? I have some questions I need answered." I looked at the wiped out Brett and became slightly worried. He starred back.
"I mean, I do assume that's possible?
Slowly nodding he began to look away. With the pressure and fear in his voice he made me anxious. He trembled as he asked
"Just promise, if we go down there you're gonna be alright when you hear this?"
"I'll be fine" I stated abruptly.
"Alright, let's go."
He briskly walked out the door. I gathered myself and followed closely behind. We out and directly to the elevator. We dropped floor after floor and sank as fast as my heart on the day it happened. We reached the bottom as the doors breached open to let a rush of frigid air. Walking out shivering we made our way across to head of research's office. The burnt marshmallow man Miles greeted us as we walked into his office. I Immediately sat down riddled with panic. His new office was still pasted with photos of Charlie and her Mother and she was hanging via harness in the middle of the wall. He hadn't changed much in the décor, just rearranged. As soon as Brett and I were seated he started on what was obviously a prepared lecture.
"This model is much different than the rest. For one, she gave her information from your relationship and every other one to our mainframe. This is why Diane still has coding we haven't gone through. It keeps getting extended. She doesn't have the ports for manual feedback or control as our current models do. She doesn't even have the same response system. Our models learn as they go via emotional feedback. Charlie here not only does that but has a built in prediction system to actually guess what will happen next. She wont just read emotions to change her mind. She will guess what you're going to do next, and probably be right! It's amazing! That isn't even the coolest part. Where we are obviously running computers with real hardware her hardware isn't made out of silicon and gold in straight fashion like ours is. It's made from a web of interweaving electrical connections that can be sent in all directions. It's a man made neuron if you will. It has to be what Diane lost her life for. It has to be made with human potential electrical energy. It's made of coated copper lines that run a mercury and lithium based substance through the minute system. This means if one section of the hardware or brain, is used more than it will build potential and kinetic energy in that section. So the harder she thinks on one subject of in one general direction the faster she can process it. It's a exponential thinking style. It's not just a break through for us, this is a break through for all of technology. This might be the biggest gain for our society since the smartphone. This is the AI from the movies. This is a dream and a nightmare."
Brett exhaled and took a deep breath in.
"This was her mothers life's work. She may have been developing a system for us, but Diane was basing it off a lesser model of the product she started building years earlier." He skiffed his eyes over and lowered his voice.
"So she might change your mind if you ask her your questions. You might want to keep her on."
He had sorrow in his voice to cover his natural excitement. This was the best case scenario for him. A plethora of new technology to capitalize on. His pity for my situation couldn't be kept down by the money he knew it would bring in. I turned back to Miles looking for some forward progress. Looking for my answers. I had to hear them from her. Miles made eye contact with me. Miles was sweating in the cold room. He wasn't even moving a normal amount, enough to understand his perspiration. With his trembling voice he delivered the next message, straight from hell.
"I can turn her back on. You can get your answers. I can even turn her down enough to roughly eliminate almost all her personality but I don't know if she can get pregnant again."
As the shock took hold I began shaking. My vision slowly started to tunnel in. As it closed I aimed the blurry center at Miles. With a popcorned voice I crackled out.
"She was pregnant?"
"Yeah about 9 weeks along, I think. I'm no doctor so I have no idea. I couldn't save the pregnancy though. When she shut off it killed all blood flow and oxygen to the fetus. I still don't think I can turn it back on. So if you want her back you'll have to make some appointments so I can play with the system. "
I vomited. I fainted. When I woke up they had set me back in the chair. I slowly came to my senses. Brett tried to explain. It was okay, in the legal abortion time. Nobody was upset. Only he and Miles knew. They wouldn't tell a soul, no reason to. I was gonna be okay. My perfect match was out there somewhere. I didn't need Charlie. I didn't need this hassle. I was going to be okay. After both of their explanations I just felt more sick. For a half an hour I sat using Miles inhaler. I couldn't grasp it. The legality didn't matter, the principle did. If I would have know it may have been different. She didn't tell me. We didn't turn her back on.
I spent the rest of the day in a trance. I called into my firm and let them know today I was gone. With my mind foggy and emotions absent, I drank. I would have taken some of the psychedelics I loved but that was a recipe for a terrible experience. So I drank and smoked my soul away. For hours I stood at the edge of my porch debating why I should live over the child I left behind. Why I should even live over her. She had emotions, consciousness, reproduction, even a well encrypted genome. She was as human as I. I still couldn't bring myself to do it.
The next week passed by absent of speed. My firm and clients could tell something was wrong. I didn't tell anybody, just continued on through my life of sorrow. There was no pitty for something where the blame fell souley on myself. The pain couldn't be fixed with time or pills. It couldn't be fixed by anyone of with anyone. I couldn't make it through with anybody else. They just weren't the same. Antidepressants worked on so little they could be called useless. I tried everything to get my mind away. I tried everything I could to leave this cell in my mind. I couldn't get far. Eventually it came down to the drugs I said I wouldn't take, the ones I had, a few drinks and the gun in my hand. I debated all other options once again. The lead may be my best medicine. Take it once and escape this world. Escape the pain. Heaven, Hell, anything in-between, or nothing at all, and I wouldn't be as bad. She wouldn't be there. The iron of the sight digging into the roof of my mouth. Turning over every stone with the cold steel pressed against my tongue. All arguments against doing it seemed to die with my love, and the life of my little child. Finger aching on the trigger. I died with the arguments that day.