window shopping

A near future sci-fi world illustrated the over sharing society and the terifiing face of a psychopathic content creator.

Simon looked left then right and ran over the soggy road, dodging the spray of an approaching hover craft. Over the road a high-rise apartment block stretched up and disappeared into beige fog. He headed for the lobby, steps lead up to the front door, and as he ascended he deactivated his umbrella. It buzzed and beeped as the force field shut-down and then suddenly the ricochet shield was gone and all the rain meant for him got to him.

Simon was pelted with freezing rain and hail shot. Some rogue projectiles found a gap on above his collar, and slipped down his back. The freezing intruders make him jerk with a chilly spasm. Simon shivered as he looked up, squinted at the low buttress of clouds then flicked his jacket hood over his crown.

He leap the last few stairs two at a time and waved at a security camera perched above the front door, on the landing and without breaking stride he reached for the door handle and yanked. The door didn't budge, and Simon crashed him into the thick glass door. He reversed two steps, pulled his hood back and waved at the camera again. This is what you do. You wave and a door unlocks.

He reached forward and pulled but the door was still locked.

Simon sighed and walked to the intercom panel, which was in a swallow alcove next to the entrance way.

He looked at the panel waved again and listened for the subtle telling click. No click came. He rolled his eyes and inspected the control panel. It had a single aluminium button, a honeycomb speaker and a small black eye. An onyx black unblinking Cyclops. This single metallic button serviced all the residences. When you pressed it magic would happen, your fingerprint would make a buzzer buzz, that would interrupt someone who would recognise you, and in from of the cruel weather came ye. Provided that you and the intercom where already acquainted.

If not you would be interrogated by the Cyclops.

Simon pressed the button.

"Which number please?", said a stale female voice.

"Fuck", said Simon.

"FUCK is not a number. Which number please?", said the woman.

Simon released the button. A bright light flashed into his face and a second later his portrait was displayed on the panel. He looked guilty.

"Trespassers will be prosecuted", said the woman.

Simon stared at the picture, scratched his head, took out this phone and stepped aside to awkwardly huddle in the recess of the doorway. The rain was getting heavier.

I watched him think.

Becci was seventeen floors above him. She was in her living room warm, and naked, and being fucked by twelve strangers, for money. The majority where heterosexual males, some cock curious females and the rest where trans and queer folk.

Becci was a vvhore.

Normally I'd just let Simon in. The elevator would open with the floor preselected, it would stop on the correct landing, the left hand side fire lock would open onto the west corridor and strip lighting above our apartment door would shine, about halfway to down. Follow the lights, do like moths do. Simon hadn't forgotten anything, to forget something you need to know it first. Simon never needed to know Becci's number.

Simon knew what Becci did for a living, but still there is a huge difference between knowing and knowing. What I mean by that is this, lets pretend that one evening at a fancy cocktail party you meet a surgeon. You know that they cut up unconscious people. A dictionary could tell you that. But a high resolution video clip of them working their trade might cause a little squirt of vomit onto the carpet. The visceral reality of a rib cage cracking open, the volume of blood sloshing around, a haemorrhaging cancer infested cyst, etc. etc. Knowing is not knowing.

Simon thought he knew what she did. He had visited her place of work, anonymously, he purchased her product, did his research before accepting her date request. He was an open-minded person, not the jealous type, but I knew he was an idiot.

That's not why I didn't let him in. Becci's workspace did it. When she is working anything that might interrupt is temporarily cancelled.

I was still watching him, when he called her, well I saw him make the gestures, then Beccis phone buzzed. So, one and one equals two. The buzzing was brief, I saw him leave a message geturing at the weather dramatically, then he hung up.

The entrance camera shut off.

I went into the living room, and tried to interupt Becci but she stopped me. Today was a very busy day. Holidays are good for business. People are lonely on holidays. Simon was no different, he was bored and horny too. But c'mon you don't just drop in. That's just not done.

I watched Becci work, and decided to boil some towels for her. She would need them after this session. Twelve customers, now that's alot of fucking. As I watched a thirteenth avatar joined.

Most avatars in the metaverse are sillotte figures, 100% anonymous, they are VR johns, and appear in the living room as holographic shadows, ghosts. Some hang back others approach Becci, and others clone her, what Becci feels they feel. Gender transference. Haptic feed back costs more, and feels better, neural feedback cost much more and feels insane. Becci was fully rigged for everything.

The thirteenth guest walked up to her.

"Hey baby" she said, "what you got for me? Hmmm"

Becci requested camera access. Her request was immediately denied.

"Ah no. That makes me sad", she said.

"Hey it's me, please could you let me in", the voice said.

"Sure. Yeah, you slide right in where it's warm, get comfy honey", she said, "what's your name big boy? Your secret's safe here. Are you haptic mister man? Wanna feel me? Oh my, I am so full right now, but you know how it goes, it's like dessert there is alway room for some more, you know what I mean right .... ?"

"Becci? Is that you? It's me, Simon. I'm downstairs standing in the fucking rain" the voice said.

Becci quickly raised and open palm, clenched it into a fist, and with the gesture a menu appeared, from which she selected "Private Chat".

"Jeesus Simom you just told them my fucking real name" she yelled

"What have you do to your face?" she replied.

"That is so fucking irrisponsisble!" she said.

"Can you please let me in Becci? Its fucking freezing" he said.

"I'm working Simon, what are you doing here anyway?" she asked

"I mean it's a holiday, thought maybe we could do something?" he said, "In real life maybe, but its too shit to be honest."

"Yeah well I wish you'd told me" she said.

"Are you letting me in or what Becci?" he asked.

"I'm working" she said.

"Becs, that's cool. Like seriously. I just don't wanna go home and I don't wanna freeze to death. Open the refuse area, I'll wait in there, if you want" he said.

"Fucking hell Simon! Okay but you can't come into the living room okay? That the deal. Okay", she said.

"But what it I need a cup of tea? Can I kinda go through the lounge", he asked.

"Fuck you Simon, goodbyeeee" she said and raised her palm once again

"No! no, I'm kiddin, I promise. For real. Cross my heart and hope to die" he said.

Becci, paused nodded said "Okay" the terminated the private chat, and cancelled him from her channel.

Downstairs the intercom voice said "Turn and face the camera"

And Simon obeyed, it asked for his name, he told it, it asked him to repeat, he repeated three times, it asked him to rotate is head slowly, he did that, and then it was all over. His phone chimed when the key to the apartment block arrived and installed itself. Simon was acquainted. He smiled, walked to the door and pulled the handle, and ... it opened.

He walked toward the elevator as the solid glass door slowly closed behind him, just before it shut and man's voice shouted out to him from behind.

"Hey! Hi! Excuse me, sorry, but could you please ..." the voice asked.

Simon turned to see a man with a large cardboard box, get jammed in the door. A suitcase on the floor and a bin bag of stuff flung awkwardly over his shoulder.

Simon jogged to assist him, grinning.

"Yeah sure", he said.

The man sighed with relief as Simon took the bin bag and pushed the door open. He put the box inside and got a suitcase which had fallen over backwards. He looked at Simon and rolled his eyes.

"Thanks. Only one more after this" he said and nodded.

"Sure, need hand?" offered Simon.

"Nah, I'm fine, well actually what floor ya on?" he asked

"Um, I don't actually know"

"You don't know? I mean how exactly did you get in then?" the man asked.

"Oh no. no. I, my girlfriend, wait look" said Simon and flicked through screens on his phone to show the man the key card

"I'm visiting. A visitor. That's all", said Simon.

The man squinted and looked at the screen.

"No way! We're neighbours, what are the odds? That's insane", he said and smiled at Simon and offered his hand, "I'm Rob, I live two doors ... no wait, 'we' will, as of tonight, live two doors down from you lot"

"Simon", said Simon then picked up the suitcase without asking.

"Thanks mate", said Rod as they headed for the elevator.

"How shit is the weather, am I right?" said Rob

Simon nodded and looked at Rob, he had clusters of dots on his face, like glitter in different sizes shapes and colours, and even along his hairline and in his neat beard. Simon nodded and smiled.

Rob noticed and responded with a melodramatic eye roll.

"Trust me nobody starts life thinking they'll have kids, and then they wakeup decorated with tinsel, don't get me wrong, I love them 'n all but, hey shits happen" he said.

Rob laughed.

But that wasn't the most funny thing about the new neighbour, not at all. The funniest thing was that Simon didn't notice that the man was a toaster. Eighty seven percent of the time, he was a toaster, and two percent of that, depending on the angle of his head, he was a kitten. Rob helped a kitten toaster into the building.

Isn't that funny?

Simon and mister toaster ascended to the seventeenth floor.They stepped into the landing and the firedoor to the west corridor clicked and unlocked, when Simon pressed his thumb to the elbow of the doorhandle. There was a mechanical whirr and metalic slide as the foor unbloted at the sight of his fingerprint.

They passed the fire door and walked down the corridor together, Simon swapped the suitcase to his left hand, and slowed to a stop. Appartment 1727.

He looked up, the soft light shone above the door to Beccis place.

What appartment are you at? he asked

Rob look at door and then at Simon.

Seventeen-thirty-two he said.

Really? Seventeen-thirty-two? Simon asked.

Rod shuffled the box in his arms and nodded.

Simon looked down the passage.

1732 is ... on the other wing ... Rob.

Rob eyes dropped into his box, he groaned and set it down with an uncofrtavle groan.

Oh god this thing just gets heavier and heavier, he Said.

"Did you heard me ..... Rob?" said Simon

Rob leaned back and stretched his arms, and smiled at Simon and nodded.

"You're not moving here are you?" asked Simon

"What? Do you think I carry all this just for fun? Calm down mate." said Rob

I think we might need leave ... Rob? Said Simon

Calm down, let me just get my key card, from here, and ... gimme a sec, said Rob, and leaned forward to the cardboard box. The lid was folded closed and Rob pulled it open. Inside was brick arrack, mostly disorganised. Some children's toys, a worn teddy bear, various decorations, a long plastic bag, ripped on the corner with log cable ties poking out, Simon looked up at Simon.

I know it must be in here, this is basically all the kitchen draws.

Simon shrugged indifferently.

Rob continued suffeling in the box.

"Hmmm, I think Maddie might have lost it" said Rob, "ah. no, look here"

Rob took out of the box two cable ties, one joined to the other, it's tounge threaded into the others eye. Rob looked up at Simon, and frowned, and said, "Kidds, they get into everything, look at this", he smiled a fatherly smile and held up the joined cable ties. Maddie steals these to make flower crowns, have seen this before?" he asked.

"Maybe we should go back to reception mate? We can get one from the consiage console? yeah?", said Simon, I got mine this morning, I'll help carry.

"Yeah maybe your right, I'll call Maggie. I'm sure, the flat was down this side." he said

"Don't worry about it", said Simon

"Maggie'll know, she can let me in" said Simon, and stood up with the cable ties, awkwardly fiddling and threading the free tongue into the other eye. He pulled it threw a few inches. It clicked as it ratcheted through the eye, and formed and large plastic diamond. He held it up and smiled. "This what she does, and the wraps it in tinsel" he said, and laughed to himself.

"She's a silly little thing. Oh well lets go, you okay with the suitcase?" he asked

"Yeah, sure" said Simon, and bent to pick it up, "God it's heavy, what is in it?" asked Simon.

As Simon rose Rob stepped forward slipped the cable tie diamond over his head and yanked the loose ends hard. The plastic noose bit into his throat pipe with a sharp zip. Simon jerked back in shock. Rob yanked again and the plastic cut into his neck. Simon head butted Rob, and clutched at the plastic choker, his jugular vein was already starting to bulge.

Simon gasped for air.

Rob lifted his arm, maintaining eye contact and checked the time.

"Sorry mate but today ... is your day" said Rob.

Simon eyes where panicking, and lurched backward and started for the apartment door, but Ron grabbed his jacket and yanked. Simon gagged and spluttered, his face reddening, veins bulging, snorting for air through his nose. He punched at Rob and missed. He kicked and landed a solid blow to his knee. Rob barked in pain and released Simon.

Simon reached for the door bell again and pressed it repeatedly, then started hammering at the door, until Rob recovered and grabbed him from behind.

"No. no no nope. cant be doing that mate" said Rob, and twisted his arm back, folded his palm at the wrist, like a policeman would do, then used the arm to fold Simon down to the floor, pressing his face flat to the floor. Rob did it natrually, it was second nature to him, and with Simon gagging for air, and trapped under foot, Rob checked his watch again.

"Two more minutes mate, two more minutes" said Rob, and then looked up the empty passage.

Simon jerked and twisted for a while then with an uncontrolled spasms he slowly went limp.

Rod untwisted his arm, dragged him closer to the door, pressed his thumb on the door handle, and wiped it on the elbow of the handle. Nothing appended. He repositioned the hand such that the finders wrapped the handle, and pressed the fingers to the lever while holding the thumb firm on the dented corner. Immediately a tiny LED bead next to the handle blinked green and the lock clicked. Rob opened the door and dragged Simon into the hallway, then collected his case and cardboard box and closed the door.

Rob knelt and checked on Simon. He took his pulse checked his watch.

"Oh good" he said.

Then opened the suitcase, which Simon had helped to carry. The case contained a rugged looking laptop computer, other high tech video equipment and various piece of SM bondage gear. Rob took a small box out the case, it had an small LED screen and wrist strap, which he attached to Simon.

The heart rate monitor started blinking rapidly, flashing red, and beeping in warning, Rob dialled the volume down, then quickly set up a tripod and a camera which he pointed at Simon. He checked the camera view with this laptop, and made some adjustments to endure the camera captured Simon's face and the heart rate. He started recording, then clicked LIVE and button on the laptop.

Rob patted Simons jacket and got his phone, unlocked it using the thumb of this limp hand, and loged into a sex cam website. vvhores. Becci's platform, he navigated to Becci's live performance. She was happily fucking, ironically unaware of the monstor in her appartment, staging her dying boyfriend for a live performance of his own.

Rob admired the naked Becci for a moment then placed the phone on Simon's chest, next to the heart rate monitor. Rob checked the composition of the broadcast. The camera framed it all, he made minor tweaks here and there and stood up, with his bag of cable ties.