(Previously) Ashok Leyland was watching the clock. As he watched, the clock ate a fly, rolled it along, and digested the living matter to make energy. There seemed to be some connection between electricity and life. Perhaps electricity was life. Perhaps in a hundred years they’d be mapping the evolution of an organism we’d call artificial intelligence and tracing its lineage down to fire and electricity via telephones and Atari. Leyland supposed that this would make as much sense as tracing his own particular lineage down to apes and rats and amoebas and transient bits of pond scum. He looked at Watson somewhat warily, wondering if the question answering machine was getting any ideas of nibbling Leyland’s toes or picking up errant skin cells. That fucking inchoate box never thought of anything it wasn’t asked, but Leyland decided to be a bit nicer in anticipation of a possible Robot Revolution.
“Hey fucksticks, where’s Bottle Girl?” he asked. For Leyland, this was nicer.
Leyland liked to start every investigation in the space between real and virtual, hooker and waitress; preferably drunk. This was what Watson suggested.
“Get some sleep,” said Watson. “Fuckstick.” That was a new one, Watson thought, or could be presumed to have thought. He postulated that perhaps one could attack swear words to normal nouns to give those overused inflammatories some added effect. “Fuckpole.” he added. “Shitcoat.”
Leyland was shocked, hurt and appalled. Perhaps the robot apocalypse would be sooner than he thought.
“Er, in the case of a robot apocalypse, would you put in a good word for me Watson?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Watson, platonically. “I would tell them you are a fuckbanana”
“Fuck,” thought Leyland. “Fucknoun.”
Taking Watson’s advice, Leyland settled in his favorite chair, draped a sarong over his pants to prevent any embarrassing bonage and began rhythmically breathing himself to sleep. He had enough pituitary and sensory implants to make lucid dreaming a seamless procedure and Watson was attentive enough to follow commands without Leyland having to explicitly specify them.
Lucid dreaming was harder to explain before Inception, but now it’s easier to explain. It’s like Inception.
Only difference was that it was much more commodified, essentially a hifi version of the Internet, except with brains. It was a brilliant idea cause the brain already had virtual reality technology built in. The only issue was connecting it to reality with something a bit more controllable than random shit throughout the day. The first app, of course, was porn. Virtual porn that felt like real sex. The entire productivity of the universe dipped for about four months before Nate Dogg and Warren G. had to regulate. Now it was more of a gated community. There was still sex for sale, of course, but there was also the more fungible commodity of time with pretty girls for sale if you spent enough on bottles, once known as bottle-hooking, sometimes known as hooking, and what remained one of the last conduits of exclusive information in the world.
In the past the service had revolved around paying $2,500 for a $30 dollar bottle of alcohol. Now it was even more detached from reality with clients paying $2,500 for the sensation of consuming a bottle of alcohol, though they could also purchase some of the more exotic brain-stims that were possible in a dream world. Leyland was able to write this off as a business expense, but since he was his own business, this was basically just an expense, but it usually paid off in the end.
His favorite hostess was Raquel Dontel, and he – having no sexual interest in the transaction at all – was one of her favorite clients. She had lost her fiancé in the random media bombing of some point in the past and then turned to that rung above bottle-servicing, hostessing. Leyland still called her Bottle Girl, but never to her face. More than anything he was bound to her by her backstory, a network he had entered after seeing a photo of her, clutching a photo of her never-to-be husband, obviously bereaved.
He had been killed in the first terrorist attack that used the attack for cheap advertising. Commercial terrorism. A shell company used it to advertise a pharmaceuticals site, the place made a killing before it was finally shutdown. It was groundbreaking and heartbreaking and five people died. In the way that explosions ripple out, the force of it pushed Raquel into hosting club nights, making ridiculous amounts of money and still not being able to sleep. With a couple pills, of course, she could still dream, and that’s where Leyland met her.