Authors: D. R. Rosier
Author: D. R.
Copyright 2016. This is a work of fiction.
Names, Characters, Places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination
or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or
persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights
reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without permission.
My name is Tony Sanders. The year is twenty-one
fifty-two, and the word is a paradise.
Marilynn yelled, “What the fuck are you doing now, are you
even listening? Look at me when I talk to you.”
Okay, so I lied about the paradise part, although it really
isn’t that bad. Except for maybe my wife. She was the one everyone
had wanted back in high school, the one I got to my utter misfortune. She
was still stunningly beautiful, unfortunately it was only skin deep, and when
we got married, we were way too young, which meant I was still thinking with my
dick at that time.
To be fair to my younger and hornier self, she wasn’t always
like this, just… most of the time.
I looked up at my very attractive wife, who was no longer
attractive to me at all. I can’t even remember the last time we’d even
had sex, wait… it must have been my birthday, two months ago.
“What I’m always doing Marilynn? Working. I have
a deadline coming up, just because I work from home doesn’t mean I can drop
everything whenever you think I should.”
I was a game program designer, specifically in this instance
the A.I. which handles combat play. Apparently I’d made the game too
hard, and was trying to dumb down the A.I. even more.
A.I.s in this day and age had some very basic
self-determination or awareness, but things like humor were over their heads,
and they were very unemotional and literal. Despite the paranoia of the
late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, there had been no doomsday
scenario. A.I.s simply did what they were programmed to do. Yes,
they might on occasion do more than that, had some freedom of thought, but only
within the parameters of their programming.
Save for my marriage, I also hadn’t been joking about the
paradise part. Humans at first had been a little paranoid that they would
lose jobs, the truth was in the end they did, but at that point it didn’t
really matter, because we technically didn’t need jobs anymore. My job
was more a hobby than anything else, although for my pains I did get more
credits to spend than those that didn’t work.
It was a simple concept, back before A.I. robots, humans
needed to work. If everyone tried to live off some government program,
then who would drive the trucks, or farm the land, or… all that other stuff
that made the world go around? With robots taking care of the
infrastructure, humans truly didn’t need to work anymore, except of course most
of us wanted to feel useful. So I was a programmer, enabling all those
professional gamers out there to feel a sense of accomplishment.
My wife on the other hand, was a harpy.
She growled, “You don’t need to work, come to the store with
I sighed, “You don’t mind the extra money to spend, I do
spend time with you every evening and night, don’t I? Besides, I hate
shopping, that’s what the internet is for.”
She huffed, “But I’m bored, I need to get out.”
I furrowed my brow, “And I need to work, so call a friend
She yelled, “I want a divorce!”
Wait, what? I looked up at her, and she had this look
of loathing on her face. I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised, we hardly
touched each other anymore. I needed to feel useful and work on the next
generation of software capability, she needed… a lapdog that would follow her
If that sounds judgmental I apologize, but it was the
truth. We’d married too young and we were too different, our wants and
needs just weren’t compatible now that we were grown up, and not fucking three
or four times a day to get over the rough patches.
“Alright, you got it.”
I was really proud of myself for leaving the word
off the end of the sentence.
She started packing while I sat there staring at her
thoughtfully. I really hoped she’d be happy, as far as the stuff, I was
sure it would get split up the middle, and I’d have to pay out half my
additional credits in alimony until she found another guy to marry, but the
peace would be worth it.
I turned back to my A.I. supported computer and looked up a
lawyer and sent them my details, and then ported my lawyer’s information to
Marilynn’s A.I. assistant so she could send it on to whatever lawyer she
hired. Hopefully the divorce would go smoothly… but knowing my wife I
really doubted it, she’d squeeze me for every cent she could.
Then I got back to the game design and went over the coding,
making a few tweaks that in essence lobotomized the program controlling the
enemy craft. I compiled it and was doing a simulated run of the game when
I heard the front door slam. Marilynn was gone.
Is it bad that I only felt relief? I’d lost her long
ago, this was definitely for the best…
My A.I. assistant brought a message to my attention, it was
a Facebook instant message from my friend Marcus inviting me to the bar
tonight. I took a moment to give it some thought. Marcus was
married to Gina. He also indicated Tom and Sara would be there.
This was something I hadn’t really thought about until this
moment, all of my friends were married couples, but now I was… separated and
about to be divorced. I wondered how out of place I would feel if I went
up there to hang out with them by myself, without Marilynn along. Or even
more awkward, what if Gina or Sara had sent an invite to Marilynn.
I sighed and said sub vocally, “Tell them I’ll be there.”
The A.I. did so. My desk computer was mostly for work,
it was still convenient in this day and age to have a full sized physical
keyboard for some things. But my A.I. assistant implant took care of the
rest. It was a small micro-computer implanted in the body, it actually
interfaced with both my vision and auditory nerves through nanites and wireless
In short, my A.I. assistant could speak to me, be used as a
phone, and even overlay a virtual view of a computer screen, or even a
keyboard. The A.I. could track my hand movement if I wanted to manually
type something out. It also interfaced smartly with the environment.
For instance, if I decided to watch television, it could
overlay a flat television screen on the wall that didn’t actually exist.
If I turned away from the wall, I wouldn’t be able to see it anymore, but I’d
still be able to hear it, exactly as if the television was real. That
didn’t replace real televisions of course, people still liked to watch things
as a group on a real screen, but it did make commuting or watching something
without distracting others more than possible.
The technology had an endless amount of possibilities, and
was especially useful for the blind, as it could overlay the real world over
the real world, essentially allowing a blind person to see. Of course,
that didn’t work if the nerve was overly damaged, but it did take care of the
issues where the eye itself was the problem.
Regardless, I’d decided to go out that night anyway, see how
it went. I really enjoyed my friends company, I would just hope it wasn’t
too awkward. I was only twenty-eight years old, so maybe I’d be able to
find someone else and move on quickly. I knew that thought was cold, but
honestly I wished the same for Marilynn, we were just stupid kids when we got
married and I honestly thought both of us had suffered enough.
I’d only stuck it out so long because my word meant
something to me.
There was another popup from my A.I. assistant. Oh
god, I hated these things. It said I won a contest, just by being on
Facebook. It had to be a scam of some kind. It was offering me a
new kind of A.I. assistant with breakthrough technologies, all I had to do was
agree to write a review after a month. I hadn’t heard anything about
A.I.s improving, they were useful, but despite a crude self-awareness were
still literal and uninspired.
A.I.s were my business, at least the gaming ones. I
was sure I’d have heard something in one of the many magazines I kept up
with. It didn’t even say what the improvements were, just asking me to
click accept or cancel with what looked like standard software terms. It
had to be a scam, but I shrugged and tapped accept on my virtual window and the
thing disappeared on me.
I waited a moment, but no new screen came up asking for a
shipping address, I was half convinced it was some kind of credit scam, but it
didn’t ask me for anything, much less my banking info.
I shrugged and got back to programming, I’d made the A.I. a
little too stupid, the game had gotten too easy. Perhaps it made me
boring, my soon to be ex-wife certainly thought so, but I thrived on this kind
of challenge and got so lost in the code that I’d completely forgotten about that
strange popup by the time dinner rolled around. I saved all my work and
ran backups before getting up and heading into the kitchen.
I cooked up a package of pasta, and some sauce with fresh
tomatoes. I preferred fresh cooked food to the packaged stuff you could
get from the store. The packages would cook and rehydrate at the same
time, it wasn’t bad or anything, just not as good. Plus, cooking was like
a second hobby, something I could afford to do because of my first hobby,
nothing tasted as good to me as a sauce made from scratch.
I grunted as I sat down to eat. I realized I’d have to
adjust to cooking for one person, I’d made too much. It was also too
quiet, not that I missed the nagging, just the interaction, so I had my
assistant queue up some random music. I may not be crying or angry, but
it was becoming apparent the divorce would still have a significant impact and
be a large adjustment in my life. I shrugged it off and ate, and then
packaged up the leftovers.
I didn’t have to clean up at least, there were cleaning
robots in the house that would take care of that.
I went into the bathroom and shaved before jumping into the
shower. I felt good and I was ready to get out of the apartment now that
my work was done. I pulled on a pair of smart jeans and shirt, and waited
for them to adjust to my body.
I subvocalized as I walked out the door, “Lock up, and set
The A.I. replied with a visual message that it was done, and
I jumped into the elevator. It was only about seven thirty when I walked
out of my apartment building onto the streets of Chicago. I skipped the
mass transit system, and decided to walk the three blocks to the local
pub. I was in good shape, and worked out at home often, but it was nice
to walk the streets as well, at least it was in springtime.
Not that the smart clothes wouldn’t keep me warm in winter,
or cool in summer, but the air felt crisp and fresh as opposed to
conditioned. There were a number of electric cars and buses on the
streets, as well as in the air. The skyscrapers surrounded me, and I
people watched on the way to the pub. A number of people were lost in
whatever their A.I. was showing them, I preferred a minimal overlay, but some
people were lost in a virtual world in this day and age.
Perhaps they saw a trail in a forest, or really anything the
imagination could conceive. I thought that level of alternate reality
wasn’t really healthy. Most people believed the same, and those were the
ones that would meet my eyes, nod, or in some other way indicate they saw what
was actually around them.
When I reached the bar I pulled open the door and went
inside. It didn’t take long to figure out I’d made an error in judgment
accepting the invitation, when I spotted them sitting at one of the larger tables,
along with Marilynn. Apparently she got an invitation too. I
considered backing out but they all saw I was there, so I walked over.
Marcus and Tom gave me an apologetic look, their wives
looked at me with narrowed eyes, which made me wonder what Marilynn has been
telling them. I ordered a beer through my assistant which could interface
with the bar’s A.I. and actually pay for it as I sat at the table.
“Hey guys,” I tried for nonchalance.
The robot waiter came over and gave me my beer without a
The next hour was probably one of the most awkward in my
life. It became clear Marilynn wasn’t nearly as forgiving, and she did
want me to be happy and move on… it seemed more likely she wanted me to
suffer. The only reason I didn’t just leave right away was because Marcus
and Tom were good friends.
Marcus was a programmer like me, Tom was sort of a… manager
type. He would get people like Marcus and I together to work on projects,
almost like an agent. He wasn’t actually a boss, more a networking facilitator.
I’d been good friends with both for ten years, I wasn’t ready to give up on
them like my marriage, but it was equally apparent Marilynn wouldn’t be giving
up Sara or Gina.
It was an awkward impasse, and our friends were stuck in the
middle of it. Perhaps Marcus and Tom could meet with me for a few beers
for a guy’s night, but I wasn’t sure if something like that could actually
happen. They’d be right to make their wives a higher priority.
I was a little unsteady from all the beers when I got up
after a couple of hours, and made my excuses. I wasn’t really ready to go
home either. Apparently my life was going down the shitter whether I
wanted it to or not. I’d try, but I had a feeling I needed to find some
new single friends. I left the pub and walked the opposite way from my
apartment, I admit I was feeling a little sorry for myself.
I didn’t want to go home to an empty place, knowing the
harpy was going to wreck not only our marriage, but the rest of my life as
well. I knew that wasn’t fair, they were her friends too and she didn’t
want to lose them anymore than I did. But fuck fair, I wasn’t in the
I walked into the next bar I saw, Lynch’s, and took a seat
at the bar. It was an Irish place, a lot of green, and I figured when in
Rome… so I ordered a coffee with a shot of Jameson’s and whipped cream.
The band was pretty good, they had that Gaelic sound to them, and there were
even a few pretty women to look at doing that Irish dance with the leg
movements. Step dancing, I think it was called. I was feeling
pretty good actually, the Jameson’s and coffee had left a pleasant tingling
burn in my mouth, throat, and stomach.
I decided then to stop drinking, I was majorly buzzed
leaning toward drunk, and didn’t want to cross the line. I still had to
“Hi, mind if I sit here?” asked a bright cheery voice.
It took me a minute to realize she was talking to me, and I
only caught on because I could see her looking at me from the corner of my eye.
I nodded at the chair, “All yours, I’m Tony.”
She smiled brightly as she sat next to me, “Aisa. Nice
to meet you Tony, what brings you here all by yourself?”
I took a moment to think about an answer while I looked over
at Aisa. She was very attractive, and thank god looked nothing like my
soon to be ex-wife who I thought of as tall and voluptuous. She was if
anything the opposite. Aisa was petite, maybe five foot four, but very
alluring. She had a cute face, was very pleasing to look at, and on the
high side of average beauty.
The exceptions to her average looks was her beautiful and
straight long raven hair, and bright piercing green eyes. Her body was
tight and in shape, I was by no means an expert, but I guessed she was a
thirty-two B, her breasts weren’t all that large, but they were perfect on her
petite but pleasantly curvy body.
She looked to be somewhere in her early twenties, I’d guess
twenty-two or maybe twenty-three. She had an open genuine smile on her face
that both reached her eyes, and was apparently infectious, because I found
myself smiling back despite my horrible night, I couldn’t help it.
Aisa was a strange name, but I liked the sound of it, the
‘Ai’ was pronounced I, and the ‘sa’ was soft. Sounded like ice ah.
“Nice to meet you too Aisa. I’d tell you all about it,
but I don’t want to bore you with my woes, want a drink?”
She reached out and touched my arm lightly, “I’d love a
drink, thank you. I’m also a good listener if you want to talk about it,”
was she flirting with me?
I wasn’t an ugly man by far, and knew I could pick up a
woman with a little work if I tried for it, after all, I’d walked away with the
hottest girl in high school hadn’t I? But I’d never had one falling into
my lap like this before. Maybe I was just drunk and reading into it, but
she seemed really sincere… and interested in my response, not that I was going
to bore her with my life anyway. I’d have bored myself to death talking
about the last eight hours, much less the pretty young woman in front of me.
It also occurred to me it might not be wise to pick up a
woman after being separated for less than a day, but I didn’t see anything
wrong with simply talking with her for a while, maybe even getting her number
for another time. Her presence was relaxing somehow, and my arm tingled
with pleasant warmth from where she touched me a few seconds ago.
I asked, “What are you drinking?”
She smiled and tilted her head a tiny bit, it was cute,
“Whatever your having.”
Well, I’d planned to stop, but what the hell, I ordered two
more Irish coffees. The bartender was actually a person, and made our
drinks. I guessed he must be the owner or something, since most service
jobs were not done by a human these days.
“So what do you do Aisa?” I asked, determined not to chase
her away with pitiful life story.
While I waited for her answer, I wondered what other
surprises were in store for me, other affects from the divorce I hadn’t taken
into account. Although, I decided it was worth it, we were both miserable
married, whatever it was it would be better just getting it over with.
I’d have to start a new life, but I just didn’t know what it would be yet.
Aisa shrugged, “I have a lot of hobbies, haven’t really made
up my mind yet what to focus on, I might not ever. I like gardening,
cooking, programming, and working out. I also like swimming, and my
guilty pleasure is role play video games although I don’t count that as a
hobby, it isn’t… productive, just fun. What do you do?”
I raised an eyebrow, “I work on A.I. programming, for
games. Recently I’ve been developing a space game, part shooter, part
strategy. I also love cooking. That’s about it though, how do you
find the time for all of that?”
She laughed and shrugged, “I dabble in all of it, I don’t do
the nine to five thing. I still get extra credits for some of it, but
that really isn’t important to me, I just like to feel… useful. I’m
between work right now though, new in town as well, still looking for a place