“Welcome to the Emotional Stability Center. My name is Molly, and I will be your hostess. What can I make you feel today?”
“I would like some male affection and some female desire.” Bob Hammer answered. She thanked him and went to prepare his order.
He stood there, looking around. The stability center did not give the slightest psychologist’s vibe he thought he would get here. It felt more like a stripping club, and he just ordered some pleasure. Well, he did request some satisfaction, if you think about it — the emotional kind.
Bob looked down at the palms of his hands and couldn’t remember the last time he shook hands or hugged someone else. He was a thirty-two years old, fit American guy. Why was he feeling this way? It was the year 2054. Nobody touched anyone anymore. Social Media was how people primarily communicated with each other outside offices. He was perfectly normal for adhering to society and keeping his hands to himself.
Touch has been completely detached from marriage, too. Whenever he felt he was ready to start a family, he would just file for commissioning one. The commissioning service would find him a person that wanted that too. They would both go to the doctor to get a DNA sample, sign some papers and voila, nine months later, you had a baby, and are legally married. Automating this process seemed so easy. He’s been living in this system for almost ten years now.
He did see other benefits, too. Signing touch off made sure that things like rape and physical violence didn’t happen. Yet, something felt off.
He shivered when he remembered that at work today, he almost tried to shake the hand of Daniel, his new coworker, before leaving for the weekend. Who would want a friend like him that goes to an emotional stability center?
“Sir?” Molly pulled him away from his thoughts. “Come this way, please.”
Bob followed her down a corridor, and they stood near a closed black door. Molly gestured towards the room and said, “this is the place. Swipe your credit card to open the door and come see me once you’ve had enough.”
Bob looked at her go and thought, “Definitely a stripper club vibe.”
He swiped his card and entered the room. It looked like the living room of a luxury apartment. Some sofas, a small bar on the side packed with snacks, beers, wines, a beautiful view of the city lights, some books, a TV, and board games — everything needed for a gathering with friends.
On the sofa, watching TV, there was a man and a woman. Bob knew they waited for him. They will be his friends tonight. The other stuff was just the setting to make them all comfortable. He came closer to the sofa and watched them. They stared ahead, unblinking. Once he came closer, they both blinked at the same time and looked at him with a surprised expression on their faces.
“Bob!” the man said. “Wow, how have you been?” he got up and gave Bob a bear hug. Bob held him tight and smiled. “I’ve been worse. Now it’s better.”
Bob was a thirsty man getting a glass of water.
“Um,” Bob turned to the guy. “It’s a bit awkward, but I have a question. will you hold my hand for a bit?”
The guy smiled and said, “Sure, bro. Sure.” and laced his fingers with Bob’s. Bob just wanted to feel the touch. To experiment. He yearned to shake hands and touch other people. The guy’s touch was familiar but too much to bear for too long. After a while, he released his hand from the grip.
The girl was talking at him. He wasn’t sure he understood what she was saying, but he knew what she was doing. She was beautiful. Her light-brown hair was streaming on her shoulders, and her green eyes were piercing right through his soul. Whenever she looked at him, she gave him a shot of whiskey and casually touched him everywhere.
Sometime later, she rested her head on his chest while talking to him intimately. The guy brought some beers and snacks, and they ate and drank.
Hours later, Bob found himself in bed with both the guy and girl, all of them naked. He remembered little, but from what he could recall, he had too much fun. Bob didn’t order male desire, only female. He got both and more. Was he going to be charged extra?
He dressed up and left the two, sleeping in bed. They were in a small room right next to the living room where they spent most of their time together.
He left the room behind and went to see Molly for checking out.
“I hope you had fun, sir” She smiled at him while processing his information. He thanked her and waited.
“Oh, I believe we have a small problem, sir.”
“It’s your credit card, sir. The payment didn’t go through.”
“What’s the amount? I may have a different card to give you.”
“Ten thousand five hundred and sixty-seven dollars, please.”
“Wait, what?! I didn’t plan on spending more than a thousand dollars here!”
“I’m sorry, sir. The nature of the activities that occurred in your room is your business. The computer recorded what was happening and charged you accordingly. You ordered two specific activities and got way more.”
“I don’t have enough money to pay that amount, miss. What should I do? Can I spread the payment? Write you a check?”
Molly pressed a button before answering. Then, she looked him in the eye and said, “don’t worry. We have a solution for people like you.”
She wasn’t smiling any longer.
A hand rested on Bob’s shoulder, and he turned. Two muscular security guys were standing behind him. The one closer to Bob sprayed something into his face, and he was losing consciousness.
As the security guys were taking him away, he heard Molly say, “this isn’t some stripper club, sir. We’re an honest establishment that expects payment for our services.”
“Why did you have that empty stare earlier?” The girl asked while lying with him in bed. She didn’t know that was the implant. It gave him all the knowledge about her and how to please her. It also updated him on how much he owed.
“It’s nothing, Grace. I’m just so glad to be with you!” Bob told her, and she kissed him.
He didn’t know what was worse. The fact he was trapped here until he finished paying his debt, or that he enjoyed every moment of it.
Definitely a stripper club vibe.