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Henry and Eliza

Fri 7 Jun 2002 by mskala Tags used: , , ,

Henry came home from work feeling as horny as Hell. He threw his coat across the back of a chair, kicked off his boots, and picked up the mouse from its spot on top of the pile of books on the kitchen table, next to the breakfast dishes. He didn't shower. Eliza wouldn't care.

The screen hanging on one wall of the apartment was showing an aquarium full of sharks. One turned to look at Henry, its mouth pulling back into an impossibly wide grin, revealing very un-shark-like human teeth, and a speech balloon appeared next to its head: "You have 37 new messages, read them now? [YES] [NO]". Henry chose "[NO]" - he had other things on his mind. He brought up the "Start" menu. In the closet, in her charging stand, Eliza stirred.

She threw open the door of the closet and marched stiffly out into the room. She stood a metre and a half in front of him, perfectly balanced with her legs modestly crossed to place one foot exactly in front of the other, eyes shut in quiet submission, hands clasped behind her back. Henry's gaze slid hungrily down the curves of Eliza's naked silicone body. His five grand had been well spent, oh yes.

He involuntarily took a step toward the puppet, but stopped. He could do a lot better than hump an unresponsive doll, even one made of information-age smart silicone. Henry pointed the mouse back at the wall screen, opened ICAORC Instant Messenger, and skimmed down the list of chat rooms. There must be thousands of lonely women on the Net, ready to spread like butter; the television ads had promised as much.

Then he thought better of it. Last month he'd gone pretty far with a hot 22-year-old accounting student, having Eliza reconfigure herself to match the long red hair, green eyes, and freckles that the woman had described over ICAORC, thrilling to her softly accented synth voice, before he realised that he was actually about to have virtual sex with three teenage boys who'd backdoored the firewall on a mall video booth and were barely containing their giggles. Henry had been impotent for a week after that episode.

Then, too, the Buddhist fundamentalists, trolling the chat rooms for sinners to save, were getting harder to spot every day, and they were endlessly annoying once set off. Henry never went to the rooms where police stings were a real threat, but that possibility didn't do his blood pressure any good either. Right now he wanted a little relaxation, no danger and no worries. He closed the chat client and started GTC Wetware Express.

Eliza's eyes popped open, scanned the room, and locked on his face. She smiled warmly. "Hiya, Tiger," she said in her low, husky default voice. "On behalf of General Teledildonics Corporation, your little soft ware supplier, I would like you to know that it gives me great *personal* pleasure to know that you are enjoying your free trial of GTC Wetware Express, which is a registered trademark of General Teledildonics Corporation. The license agreement for this software is binding on you as of ten seconds ago from NOW. Would you like me to recite the license agreement for this software, or would you prefer to proceed to the registration step immediately?"

"Registration," muttered Henry. He knew the drill. Eliza held out her hand palm upward in an age-old gesture. "For only $99.95, which is a special reduced limited-time price exclusive of sales tax and luxury tax, you may rent a limited-time non-exclusive license for certain use privileges towards 'GTC Wetware Workinggirl Plus', which is a registered trademark for the proprietary artificial intelligence technology service of General Teledildonics Corporation, hereinafter GTC. This is not a sales transaction for the purposes of the Universal Commercial Code, and it confers no actual incidental or consequential rights of ownership to you in respect of GTC's copyrights, patents, or other holdings. If you would prefer to register at a later time, you have ten seconds to say so starting NOW; otherwise an automatic debit will be performed." She said this in the tone one might use to inform someone that he'd won a twenty million dollar lottery prize.

Henry grabbed the puppet's head, feeling the softness of her hair in its short default cut under his palms, and brought his face nose to nose with hers. He stared directly into Eliza's eyes and enunciated the magic words clearly and carefully: "I Would Prefer To Register At A Later Time." No other words would do, he knew; but after he saw that the refusal had registered, he added, "You Greedy Pigfuckers." It made him feel a little better.

As the software loaded, Henry reached out and caressed one of Eliza's bare breasts. He put an arm around her waist and drew her to him. Without prompting, reading preferences and motion capture data from a file buried on the GTC server somewhere in Net land, the puppet sighed, nestled her face into his neck, and slid a hand down to undo Henry's belt. Her etched-silicon micromotors could position any joint in her body with perfect submilliradian accuracy, but she fumbled with the buckle, inexperienced, because the algorithm guessed that Henry would like that. He felt a tickle against his cheek as her hair rapidly extended itself to a sexier length.

*

Eliza's synthetic skin glistened with the saline fluid that was her substitute for sweat. It didn't taste the same, but Henry couldn't really complain. Maybe next year the manufacturers would get that right. Henry had arranged his puppet carefully over the back of the couch; he paused to survey his handiwork.

A nice view, he thought, wishing he'd paid his digicam tariff for the month so he could take a picture. Eliza's head was lowered, medium-length hair (brown at the moment) falling forward to cover her face. The software sensed the pause and responded. She lifted her head, looked back over her shoulders at Henry, gave him an impish grin, and reached her hands back to spread her buttocks. She said, "Come on, baby! Come and -"

And then she began speaking Korean. When Henry realised what was happening he shouted, "No! 'Liza, *kill*! Kill!" but it was already too late. He had to stand around waiting, feeling silly, as she straightened stiffly, turned to face him, and began waving her arms, shuffling her feet, and shrieking in a clipped sing-song of which he could only understand the occasional English word.

It seemed to be something about "316 Stainless Steel". The performance took about three minutes, and when it concluded, the puppet assumed exactly the same position she had been in before, down to the millimetre, and beamed expectantly over her shoulder at him just as if nothing had happened. Henry sighed and tried to get back in the mood.

*

Henry had backed Eliza up against the wall next to the screen. Some of the virtual sharks swam over to take a closer look, and well they might, he thought. She was blonde now, with wide blue eyes and breasts inflated almost to their maximum, and her skin had lightened from its default to a light bronze tan.

Henry ran his fingertips down from the puppet's shoulders, across the upper surfaces of her ample breasts to her nipples and over and around her areolae. He leaned down, pressing his face into her cleavage, as his hands moved lower, then lower still. Flushed, arching her back, Eliza gasped, "Oh, Henry, you're so good, oh God, I'm ab - hey, babe, would you like to know what your girlfriend is doing while you're out of the house?"

The man looked up. "Wha-?" And Eliza, grinning madly, picked him up by his armpits and raised his face to level with her own. She held him tight against the firm cushion of her breasts, pressing him as close as death with all the strength in her titanium skeleton. She flicked out her tongue to lick the tip of his earlobe, then spoke in a low, seductive voice. Henry tried to struggle, but couldn't move. He tried to say "Kill!" but it came out muffled by her hair, and didn't seem to have any effect.

"Honey, you may not like to think about it, but how do you know your loved ones are being safe on the Internet? Is your son secretly downloading bomb making instructions? When your daughter tells you she has cheerleading practice, how do you know that she isn't actually participating in bizarre and perverted naked lesbian orgies with excessively pierced sluts from all over the Internet - and beyond!? And what about that girlfriend - is she using your puppet to have an Internet affair on the side, without even letting you watch? Well, sweetie, if you are concerned about even one of these home security issues, then you need a copy of Spy-O-Tron 2100. Spy-O-Tron 2001 is utterly undetectable. It loads itself into your puppet's nth-complexity hidden binary register, so you know it's secure. It will record every command, every gesture, and every sigh, moan, or grunt of pleasure, to be played back at your convenience. Find out where the other members of your household are going! Discover with whom they are having virtual sex! Watch amazed as you see your housemates do things with random strangers that they'd never do with you in real life! Plan your revenge! Spy-O-Tron makes a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah gift too, of course. Yes, darling, Spy-O-Tron 2100 would be worth thousands of dollars in peace of mind, but this week you can license it for only $39.95. Wouldn't you like me to auto-debit your credit card for you?" "NO!" Henry gasped. Eliza pouted for a moment. "Like, darn! You'll regret it."

Henry wanted to strangle her when she lowered her voice further and solemnly intoned, "Under Bill s.1618 TITLE III passed by the 105th US Congress this message cannot be considered spam," but even if he'd been able to escape her inhuman clutches at that point to get his hands around her throat, he knew it would have been no good. Puppets don't need to breathe.

When Eliza finally let him go and picked up her speech in mid-sentence, "-out to come, oh God, YES!", Henry was having none of it. He aborted the program and sent her back to her charging stand in the closet. He'd had enough relaxation for one evening.

*

Henry had eaten his dinner alone, and showered, and was sitting in a chair pulled up close to the wall screen, watching television. He surfed from channel to channel, stopping on some kind of news interview. The cute young female interviewer (probably a puppet - there was something not quite right about her head movements) was just asking, "So, tell us how you felt when the nurse brought you the documents."

They cut to a shot of an elderly and decrepit man sitting up in what looked like a hospital bed. He laughed, "Hee, hee!", then coughed several times, and wheezed, "Do you know, it made me feel seventy-five years younger. Land sakes, at my age, being prosecuted for copyright infringement!"

Henry couldn't concentrate on the show. He felt an uncomfortable prickling sensation on the back of his neck. He turned and looked over his shoulder. Eliza had slipped out of the closet and was standing behind his chair with a large kitchen knife in her hand, about to plunge it into his back. She had a sweetly innocent smile on her face.

"Ack! Kill! Uh, *NO*! DON'T kill!" With his left arm Henry knocked Eliza's hand holding the knife away from him, while with his right hand he applied the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, hitting the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete buttons embedded just under the skin of her neck and shoulder. He'd had too many chances to practice this move recently. She crumpled to the ground. As Henry dragged Eliza's limp body back into the closet and stood her up in her charging stand again, he muttered, "Goddamn Slash-R virus. There ought to be a fucking law."

On the ignored television screen in the living room, hospital lights glared on the interviewee's bald scalp as he answered another question. "No, young lady, that's just what the plaintiffs' lawyers would like you to believe. All I did, and my dead partner, bless his soul, was make it so that everyone could control the puppets they paid for. That's a customer's right, you know. We weren't targeting innocent children. If some kids might some day use my work to get sex, don't blame me for that. I'm not the one who designed those puppets with tits out to here and Goddess knows what else. Land sakes, I didn't design those kids and their urges, nor your fucked-up society neither!"

The interviewer turned and looked into the camera. "We're here with 98-year-old curmudgeon and copyright activi-" and at that moment, Henry picked up the mouse and turned off the television. He checked in the closet to make sure that the stand was securely locked and Eliza couldn't escape; he pulled the knife out of the place where it remained stuck point-first into the floor, and put it carefully away in the kitchen drawer; then he took off his remaining clothing and went to bed.

2 comments

trythil
I first read this on your old site...well, don't know how long ago. A while back.

For some reason, now that I'm living in a time where more and more people with increasingly-capable smartphones and tablet computers sit around me on the train to work, the story reads differently now. I guess you picked the sex angle for shock value, but the whole scenario just feels less abstract in a really unsettling way.

The bald-headed guy in the hospital wouldn't happen to be you in your own fiction, would it? :P trythil - 2011-03-15 01:58
Matt
That's one of the things with science fiction; the world marches on and what we once thought would be the future, either comes true or it doesn't and we learn why not.

As for putting myself in, well, you know where "people who put themselves into the stories" rate on the Geek Hierarchy. Matt - 2011-03-15 15:10


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