Visions of Cybersex II - Penthouse Serenade
WHAT WILL SEX BE LIKE IN THE FUTURE? ROSANNE VAN SPAENDONCK ILLUSTRATES THE second OF GONÇALO NETO'S CYBERNETIC FANTASIES.
The volotron slows to a halt beside the old fashioned driveway, a token of suburbian nostalgia and landing pad for the latest craze in automated personal aerial transportation. The man steps out of the shiny 3 blade vehicle as the rain starts dropping more steadily now, in sync with the rhythm of the NT-hood coming home to sleep. Opening the door to his deluxe condo, he places his plastic coat on the flexirail that gyrates near the entrance. Kaiser, the house bot, comes by and greets him with a bloop, before continuing his Thursday evening routine.
The man washes his face at the bathroom sink and looks at his enhanced reflection. He looks young and handsome in the TRU-mirror, although he cannot bring himself to smile. Sweeping his hand below the sensor, he turns the shading off and takes another look. This time, what he sees is not as pleasant: an old man’s face and two scars across his left cheek that will forever remind him of the day his future changed.
He enters the bedroom and powers up the mainframe. He chooses preset number 6 and the lights adjust to a dim orange glow as the speakers start trickling Nat King Cole’s Penthouse Serenade, a small gift after such a perfectly unremarkable day. He sits at the edge of his bed, now hovering slowly, keeping time with the song that fills the air, and looks through the window. The rain is falling heavily like his own interior self is finally branching out into the streets, into the landing pads of strangers and the glass of the windows of their homes. Inside most of them in this part of town, tonight there will be warmth and love, sugar and wine, the frantic sounds of comfort.
He hesitates, looking at the empty space beside him on the bed. With clouded eyes, the image he sees is nothing more than the blurry vessel of a past long gone. He tiptoes to the flexidrobe in front of him, slides the metallic shell down and reaches for the blue box on the top. Kaiser glides into the room and stops by the man’s feet, its pattern mimicking those funny creatures that used to amuse people in the early century v-logs. Kaiser whirrs and initiates the voiceware by himself. “Are you sure this is a good idea, Master? Last time you did not leave the bed for a week and I couldn’t refill the domotubes alone.” With one quick motion of his hand, the man silences the bot, and with another one it is gone.
The blue box stares back at him from the shadow of a memory that spellbinds him, despite all the hours of gridlock therapy, all the booze, all the anguish. Somehow along the way, his synapses got addicted. The man opens the box, picks one of the last remaining vials of Tech and swallows the solution in one quick swig. Slightly dazed, he opens the golden case of recorded M-sims and takes out the one marked “YU”. He then grabs the console stored neatly inside the box, a compact model he bought in Taiwan shortly before the accident. Punching the code in briskly, he takes a deep breath and adjusts the beam pole to his left. Sitting on the bed, holding the remote, he prepares to launch the routine. Tonight he is too tired for a stimsuit.
With a flick of the thumb all light dissolves, pushing him through the membrane and out into the velvet seat of a sports car. He sees himself driving along an empty road, the country fields breezing past as the smoke from a nearby Ecodenser rises slowly into the saturated atmosphere. They are finally far from home. Helen is by his side, the dark sunglasses hiding her eyes from the precious thin rays of sunshine that persist through the dark clouds ahead, recording the mood of the trip. She wears a blue woolen dress, black boots and a white scarf over her hair. Her hand is busy on his lap and he feels the exhilaration starting, threatening to make him lose sight of the empty road as he gets lost in the movement of her wrist. He grabs her hand and licks her fingers while giving her a sideways glance. She laughs and takes the sunglasses off, placing them on his face instead, shifting in her seat while he adjusts the video feed and shifts gears. The dress rides up as she lowers her head to his lap and the man lets his hand leave the security of the wheel and wander to the dangerous landscape of her lower back.
His eyes are still on the road, but his head is all over the place. His mind is fastened to the curves of her body. Each movement she makes has him stepping down on the pedal, one dirty inch at a time. She is the assurance of all he ever wanted, and her submission to this moment is as pleasurable to him as his pleasure is assurance to her. Moments later, his heart spasms his satisfaction into her mouth as the slow dance of death is approaching its zenith. In a blink of an eye they are overtaken by a reckless motor biker, forcing the man to swerve to the side of the road where the tree has been waiting for them their whole lives. His pain is now only starting, despite the red stain on his crotch and the confused stare of his wife’s shattered skull.
The man flicks his thumb and the simulation is no more. Nat still echoes in the empty surfaces of the room, the bed still hovers gently to the music, the rain still falls outside. Kaiser approaches the entrance of the bedroom and asks “Shall I bring you the cleaning kit, Master?” The man says nothing, just stares at the ceiling while the numbness creeps in again. Tonight, he decides, has been the last time.