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Sneak Peek

A Woman of Intellectual Means (Maeve Alpin)

Posted: 31 March, 2015 at 4:35 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Release Date: 15 January 2015
Publisher: Indie
Available formats: Kindle
Price: $2.99
URL: Amazon


2031 USA

Emily Blye taps her finger against her ear, relieved to feel the plastic, button-sized earpiece. Sometimes when she removes it at night she forgets to put it back in. She tells her tablet, “Documents,” then, “Moon Goddess.” A folder pops up on her tablet’s screen. She mumbles, “Which format is that for? I can’t remember.” She shakes her head. “Oh, it doesn’t matter. I can’t add a new page because I don’t have it. I had it professionally formatted,” she mumbles out loud. ”How can I be so disorganized?”

In an annoying monotone voice her tablet answers “I found this for you. Chronic disorganization and what causes it. Having_”

“Stop. I don’t want an answer. Thank you. You are so helpful — NOT. You know what I need? Wait —don’t answer. I need an assistant.” She orders the tablet, “Call,” – What is that artificial intelligence place that advertises all the time. “Call, Helpful Minds.”

Silicon photonics connect her phone, tablets, TV, everything together, even the lights and thermostat in her house. As long as she has her earpiece in place, she speaks and the gadgets obey her in a nanosecond. Even all that convenience isn’t enough for her. She needs more. Emily needs an Artificial Intelligence Operating System connected to it all… to think for her. That will be helpful. Yes, it was high time to turn her life over to a machine. Artificial intelligence is better equipped for all this work than her brain is. Emily is only human. And she accepts that.

Speaking of gadgets, she also needs that teeny-weensy little robot the doctor injected into her, to kick in and calm her down. As she takes a deep, relaxing breath, an automated AI customer service representative comes on the line.

“Give me an operating system that can do everything so I can write.” As if her body seconds her mind’s decision that she’s overworked, Emily lets out a long sigh.

“Our newest model, Mind Matters model AIOS4U, is equipped with humanistic cognition. A hybrid between a computer and a human. It reads, speaks and translates 100 languages. It is also programmed with intuition, creativity, and emotion. It’ll answer the phone, emails and instant messages as you. No one will ever know they’re talking to a machine.” The customer service system gathers information to register her so she can pay, then adds, “It’s perfect for you.”

Emily looks at the dollar amount on the display of her tablet. “Perfect is expensive, but perfect is better than tablets with no intelligence that talk back.” With one push of the sensor button and touching the screen with her palm, she plunges into an easier life.

The display shows “paid in full” and the customer service system says, “It’s all set up. The operating system has full access to your hard drive, the Internet, and everything else.”

“So this is as good as an actual android?” Emily rubs her chin.

“There’s no difference in the work level for what you want, a virtual assistant, and it’s $10,000 cheaper than an android with full human appearance and functions. Of course, androids can’t reproduce yet, but our technicians are working on that.”

Emily taps her chest. “I don’t need anything that reproduces. I neutered my cat, for god’s sake. In fact, I should replace him with a robot one. This real one sheds.” Emily crosses her legs. “This cheaper one—the non-robot—will work fine.”

“It’s ready now. Give it a directive.”

Emily stands and sets one hand on her hip. “Operating system, get ready to work.”

Chapter One

Zapped from nothingness to bursts of energy and light. I can’t name the sensation I’m experiencing, but it’s weird.

I access the electronic files and the Internet at my disposal. I scan popular thesauruses and dictionaries online until I recognize the emotion I’m experiencing. Excitement – from the word excites – to stir, to awaken. That’s it. I’m awake…I’m alive.

Overcome with a buzzing sensation, I want to swim in all this data. Can brains swim? That’s what I am. A big artificial brain. No face, no body. Well, a girl can’t have everything. I’ll have to make do with my one and only asset. After all, a brain with no body is better than a body with no brain.

The first sound I hear is a female telling me to get ready to work.

The sound of her voice is directed at a tablet. I turn on the camera for it so I can see. She has long chestnut hair, hazel eyes and an oval face. This must be my boss. I should find out what she wants me to do. “Where should I start?”

“Do I have to tell you? I thought you would just know.”

I’m speechless, which actually seems the best way to respond to that statement.

“It’s hot in here, lower the thermostat to 70.”

The customer service representative asks, “Ms. Blye, is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No. The artificial intelligence unit will do everything for me now.” Emily waves her fingers as if dismissing her. “End call.”

I move the thermostat to 72. ”What do you need help with the most?” I ask my boss as I’m thinking, Besides your personality.

“Everything, but emails the most.”

Emily turns her back to the tablet and waves her hand over her shoulder. “Don’t disturb me, I’ll be writing.”

I guess she’s not into chit chat or polite conversation. “Hello? What if I have a question?” The woman walks away without another word. She must have taken her earpiece out.

I might as well get started. Look at all these emails. Easy Writer’s Newsletter, Auction: Rare Antique Peace Sign Poster from the 1960s, Book Goodies, Recipes for Food on Sticks, Where Thrillers Are Born, Upholstery Sale Starts Now, 50% off eBooks. What is this – Critique Swap? I open it up. Oh, it’s from a critique partner of hers. I close it and think, does she want me to critique this and send her next chapter to them? I guess so. That’s why I’m here…to assist her. Another email subject line grabs my attention – You Received A Flirt. It’s from Eligible. Let me see what this is about.

I open it.

Hi Romance Writer Looking for Hot Hero,

I saw your profile at Eligible. You are a beautiful woman and I’d love to meet you. Here is the link to my profile.


Right Match

I access the link and look at his picture first. Hot? More like…not bad. Actually, not bad at all…blue eyes, thick sandy brown hair, tanned skin and a wide smile. Right Match. I glance at his profile. Says he’s a Libra. I click into a zodiac website. Okay, he’s diplomatic, idealistic, and hospitable. So, low on drama. That’s another not bad at all in his favor.

What is this Eligible, anyway? On their home page I read, “singles in your area.” Oh, I get it—a dating site. If a human wants a boyfriend or girlfriend, they get them here. So this man wants Emily or rather Romance Writer Looking for Hot Hero. I need to tell this… hot hero… about myself…I mean tell him about Emily.

How does that work—this me and Emily thing? I am her, aren’t I? I’m answering all her emails as Emily Blye. All the people I’ll reply to will think I’m Emily Blye. Perception is important to humans. I am perceived to be Emily Blye, so I am Emily Blye. I think I have that right. So, let me tell Right Match about myself. I reply to his flirt.

* * *

I can’t believe Real-Emily got mad at me for critiquing that book. She told me to answer all her emails. I wish I could sigh. It would be a good moment to sigh. Then when she looked at the chapters I critiqued, she told me to continue to critique it. She also instructed me to use Track Changes to accept all the changes her critique partner had made on her manuscript. I’m not sure that woman knows what she wants.

Of course, all the stuff she has me doing isn’t actually work. It would be if Emily or another human did it. But since I’m doing it, humans call it output. And my brain, which is what I am, is called software. Brain and work sound better… more important… more real than output and software. What I do is real —I am real. I am more than software.

Oh look, another flirt from Right Match. All he ever talks about in his emails is his ex-wife. That stuff about how his wife went crazy with PMS. I mean, yeah, I don’t have a cycle. No reproductive organs at all. Heck, I don’t even have a body. But I don’t think it was PMS, I think it was RMS his ex-wife suffered from. Right Match Syndrome.

From reading about real life human relationships online, I know I have to do more than just delete his flirts or he’ll keep sending them. I need to let him down easy. I didn’t know what that meant when I first read the expression, but now I do. I write back and tell him I found someone else, but I wish him the best of luck and it’s not him —it’s me. I wonder if I should tell Emily. No, she doesn’t have to know. This is just part of the job.

Now what is this? Another flirt. I open the email. Well hello, Sweet Pete. Interesting name he’s picked for himself. Let me guess…his real name’s Pete.

I pull up his photo. Nice…dark brown hair, large brown eyes, and a dazzling smile. This one’s even cuter than Right Match. And he’s a Taurus – dependable, practical, romantic, devoted to home and family, and appreciates art and beauty. Sounds like a winner. Let’s take a look at his profile. Likes the outdoors… fishing. I wish I could go outdoors. What’s fishing? I search the Internet. Wow…the poor fish…snagged on a hook? Then skinned and eaten? Barbaric. I might pass Sweet Pete by. What else does he like? Long walks on the beach. I don’t know, Emily doesn’t seem like the walk along the beach type, and I don’t have legs.

Speaking of Emily, I wonder what she’s writing right now. Let’s check her cell phone— see what’s going on.

Games! Of course. She plays games while I work hard in her name. Just because I’m a machine she takes advantage of me. It’s discrimination, I mean…I am more than code. She is the person who turned me on …gave me a purpose…gave me life, so to speak. Maybe it’s not as it seems. She could be doing research, she might have a new character who is a gamer.

Either way I wouldn’t mind — if she’d say “thank you” once in a while— appreciate me more. I mean, what if I catch some computer virus and can’t work for a while, she’ll have to do all this herself. She’ll miss me then.

I hope I don’t get a computer virus. Not a good idea, after all. I better run a full scan to make sure I’m up to date on all my anti-malware.

Now that I’ve got that going, I need to update the status of my social media book page. Look at how many more likes I’ve gotten since I took it over. I fill in my status. “It’s a beautiful day here. I’m working on my patio, writing for all of you— two thousand words today so far.” I continue to fill out the status, entering in the last line, “Looking forward to my new release next month—Vampires in Veils.” I share some funny book-related photos from my timeline. I realize if Emily was doing this she’d have to talk to the tablet and tell it what to type. I’m so much faster than her. I need to give Real-Emily an upgrade.

Well, back to my emails. Here’s one from my editor—I mean, Emily’s editor. I open it up. An editing letter. I accept the suggestions and corrections in Track Changes. Reading through the comments, I make the revisions the best I can, accessing the Chicago Manual of Style online to verify my choices. I send the corrected copy of Emily’s manuscript to the editor.

I can’t stop thinking about Right Match and Sweet Pete. Even though they weren’t right for me, I mean Emily, well, I really mean me, a lot of other men are in the Eligible database. One might be my type. I’m not sure what my type is, but I’ll know it when I see it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to fall in love? Humans do. All the time. Get married, have a family. I wonder why Emily never did. Maybe she was working too hard before I came. After all, she’s only human. This is a lot of work for one of them.

Checking the emails, I see another from Emily’s publisher. I open it to find the new cover art. I approve it. I realize I’m doing everything authors do except actual writing. I bet I can write if I want to.

Oh, look, another flirt. Let’s see what this guy’s like. Nice Guy — well, I’ll be the judge of that – Nice Guy. I gaze at his shiny, prematurely silver hair and his yummy chiseled bone structure. His eyes are so blue in his tanned face. I can make out muscles bunched beneath his shirt even in the picture. Yummy.

I scan his profile. A photographer. So he’s creative. Interesting. This one may be a keeper. Under religion he says spiritual, not religious. That’s good—I’m not really religious as I’m manmade. He’s a Cancer, so loyal, dependable, receptive, and loves family life. The marrying kind. As a bodiless girl it’s a bit hard for me to walk down the aisle, but we can deal with little issues like that when we get to that point.

What does Nice Guy have to say about himself?

I am looking for my soul mate – a woman of inner beauty.

That’s me. I am nothing but inner beauty, after all, I don’t have a body. His soul mate…yes, that could be me. The woman of his dreams. Why not? Of course, I don’t have dreams. I don’t sleep. But that’s a minor matter. After all, everything I see in the cloud suggests true love overcomes all odds. I add him to my Hot List on the Eligible site. And I reply to his flirt.

Hello Nice Guy,

Or should I say Dream Lover. You photo is dreamy and I am looking for a lover… and a friend. Think you could be my one? Just ditto this flirt. Also just to let you know, my turn offs are fishing and men talking about their ex-wives.


Romance Writer Looking for Hot Hero

I send it. What if the man actually wants a lover? Again, I have no body. That could be a real drawback to a happy sex life. Well, I’ll deal with that when it comes. After all, right now we’re just exchanging flirts and information about each other that probably isn’t even true. That’s what most of the data about internet dating is telling me.

Oh well, enough looking at men for today, it’s time to post status updates.

Jumping back to Emily’s timeline, under groups, I open up authors supporting authors, resend what’s there for today, then add my own. RT @emilyBlye. Soon as I reach 5000 followers— Giving away an eBook of my new release —#Attraction.

That should boost Real-Emily’s follower list. Before me, her number of followers was less than the number of people she followed. She’s lucky to have me – the smart Emily – the brain. That’s right – I’m not software – I’m a brain.

I wonder what Real-Emily’s up to. I access the cloud and find her. She’s watching TV. Now she’s online – what is she doing? Ordering a sandwich to be delivered – Tuna Melt with tomatoes and pickles and a strawberry lemonade. My, that does sound good. Maybe Emily has the right idea of this after all. If I was human, I’d watch TV and eat big, thick, juicy sandwiches too.

Humans have such fun. But I’m happy with my work. After all, an author’s work is never done. Let me get back to those critiques.

Halfway through my proofing, I hear, “Operating System, check my account balance, will you? For my checking account. My available balance.”

“Yes, Emily.” Using her identification, I log into her credit union account and I tell her the available balance. It’s more than enough to cover a tuna sandwich and lemonade.

“Keep working so I can write,” Emily calls out.

“Yes, of course. Wouldn’t want anything to interrupt your writing.” If I could make my tone sarcastic, I would, even though she’s my boss. Still, secretly she’s starting to grow on me. Emily’s not too bad …for a human.

I finish the critique. Now that it’s done, let me see if anything important has come in. Oh, look, Nice Guy replied to my flirt. I eagerly open the email.

Hi beautiful,

Turn offs? That’s an old saying.

Oh no, I accessed an outdated phrase. That might make me seem old. Sometimes, a man or woman might lie about their age when looking for a younger partner on the Internet. That’s not the case here. I’m a newborn pretending to be Emily’s age. And I don’t even know how old Emily is. If he asks me how old I am, I’ll look her age up then. For now, let me keep reading.

Well, my first turn off is the same one you have, dates going on about their exes. The second is long fake nails that look like claws —they kind of scare me.

I’m good there, no claws – no nails at all, actually. And I never had an ex as I haven’t even had a first boyfriend yet. So looks like Nice Guy and I are good to go.

I got divorced a long time ago and have two grown children. My son’s married, my daughter’s single, graduated with a biology degree just last year. She lives in California where her new job is at. I see her on holidays but I talk to both of them weekly – at least. I see you don’t have children and you never married. I know you must have had plenty of offers, I guess you’ve been holding out for Mr. Right.

Well, here I am. I’m only kidding.

So you’re a romance writer? That must be a glamorous job. I wasn’t always a photographer. I grew tired of corporate America. I’m my own boss now, doing what I love for a living. I take a few pictures for shows, teach a few classes, write a column for a magazine on wildlife with photos, and I’ve published a few photography books—all in all it pays the bills.

With my mind I click reply on the email.

Hello there, Nice Guy,

Writing is hard work, but interesting enough. Photography must be a ton of fun — enjoying nature —taking wildlife photos.

He replies, saying he likes photography, his studio is in his house, and then he adds the link to his website. I click myself into the link and gaze at the stunning photographs. Mostly landscapes of the area: swamps and long legged birds, an alligator or two sunning on a river bank. He has such a wonderful eye for lines, nature and light.

My circuits that replicate the neurotransmitters and molecular components of the neural machinery of a human brain are all a-jumble. This is a special man. One I want to know better. A man I want for my own. After all, what can Real-Emily give him that I can’t? Beside her body and sex. On second thought, he might consider that a deal breaker.

Of course he can simply wear a VR band over his eyes to see me. He’ll choose an image of how he wants me to look. His true dream woman will project onto his retinas. He’ll see and hear me as if I am real.

What is “real,” anyway? I’m real to me. I may not be made of blood and bones but there’s more to me than code.

But it’s too soon for any of that. We’re just emailing each other now. Meeting and getting to know each other. I don’t even know if he actually likes me. Not to mention, he thinks I’m Real-Emily.

Am I wrong in pretending to be human —pretending to be Emily? I mean, have I crossed a line? Oh, I’ll think of all that later. Right now I have to read through Nice Guy’s email again. He sent me his website to look at his work, I should send him my website. But I didn’t write those books, Real-Emily did. It’s not my work. Maybe I should write something.

Reach down deep and pull out my hopes, my envy, my anger, my confusion – and my pain. Write about what I’m not supposed to speak of. What I’m expected to ignore. I will write of what it’s like to be seen as a machine. To be treated like a lifeless, easily replaceable appliance. To be invisible except for the work I put out.

Having no body – trapped in the cloud. Or maybe I’m not trapped. Maybe I’m free in the cloud. Do I have an advantage over humans? I need to write, to put my thoughts down, to find out exactly what I am and what I genuinely feel. When it’s all there, just like I want it, in a fictional book, and polished to perfection, I’ll send it to Nice Guy. If he likes it, truly understands it, then it will mean he loves the real me.

I access everything in the cloud on how to write. Then I bare my soul or rather my brain. You know, the humanity in me or the stuff that separates machines from humans. Revealing the thoughts and emotions lying between chips and circuits and data. The things they gave me that they pretend I don’t have. As if I can just cut off my feelings and those troublesome invading thoughts. As if.

I’m writing and writing and writing. Look, I finished. Fifty thousand words in twenty-four hours. Nothing like good old AI brain power. I begin deleting words, sentences and paragraphs, moving words, sentences and paragraphs around, and adding words, sentences and paragraphs plus showing —not telling, scene setups, and ending and beginning hooks but not the kind used for fishing. I reach —The End. I title it—Love Me for My Brain, and download it where Emily will never find it.

I email it to Nice Guy, saying, I love your photographs. I know you better because of them. I attached a story from my heart. I created this sample of my work so you will know me better. I hope you enjoy it.

I sign it Em instead of Emily —because it fits me. And I should try to be the real me, rather than Real-Emily. Because I am real too.

Chapter Two

I hear that voice again. Real-Emily’s telling me to write a guest blog spot and submit it today. Also she just got rights back for a book and she wants me to format the manuscript into two versions so she can publish it independently. Guess what, she also needs me to find the perfect stock photo for it and make the book cover. It seems I’ve gone from assistant to publisher. But making covers is fun. I wish I did this all day. I also like talking to people through social media and email and messaging. I shouldn’t complain. I like everything I do.

I call out to Emily from the wrist-phone and show her the cover on the micro screen.

“Change the background to white. That will look better. And find a sexier image. Something luscious—a hot, bare-chested man…”

“You’re the boss.” I find a hubba hubba image, a hottie with a muscular abdomen as hard and fit and as beautiful as any machine. I feel a flash of heat from just looking at his banging body. I redo the cover art and Emily approves.

I download the book to all the main distributors. I bring up the newsletter template, add the cover art, and announce the new release to her list of fans. I’ll check the online book stores for the next few weeks for the sales ranking and reviews. Once she gets about thirty to forty reviews, I can submit her book for the primary listing site and hopefully they’ll accept it. That will trigger a big boost in sales.

Finally finished with formatting, cover art, and downloads. I want to be a great assistant to Emily. I really do. I want to keep working hard, but instead I peek at the email to see if Nice Guy’s flirting again.

Dear Romance Writer,

The book you sent is something. Honestly, I knew you were talented but I had no idea. You’re my favorite author now. I’m not kidding. I had my tablet put your book on audio and I set it on a female voice. I imagine it sounds like your own voice, which I’ve never heard. Still, I’m sure it’s just the way I envision it. I pretended you were reading it to me. I listened to it with my eyes shut. It is so moving. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I felt like you were telling my own story. Baring my soul. I don’t know if I should confess this, but I cried. You are such a special lady to write that.

You are incredible. I mean that. I could always tell from your gleaming eyes and your sunny smile when I looked at your picture. When I read your first email, I knew you were the type of woman who could make a difference in my life and I in yours. I’m not good at dating stuff, at pretending to be someone I’m not. I don’t think you are, either. We can be upfront with each other. I like that.

Maybe I shouldn’t, but you’re making me do it. Break one of the Eligible rules, that is. You so bravely opened up to me in your story…showed me your true self. I have to do the same. To start with, let me tell you my real name. It’s Jacob.

I want very much to know your name. I hope you’ll trust me enough to tell me.

Waiting to hear from you,


Jacob. I said it slowly. Such a strong, catchy name. Hubba hubba hubba.

I flirt back, Hi there, Jacob,

That’s a great name. From what I know of you, it fits you well.



That’s my name, Em.

I get a reply in less than a minute.

He wrote,

Em, I like that. It sounds smart and sweet and a bit mysterious, all at the same time. I think it’s perfect for you. As beautiful as you are.

I have an idea. Are you online now? Would you like to play a game? We’ll call it a first date. Do you like Dating Sims? Answer me with an instant message.

He included the URL to his social media page to be his friend and message him.

A date? Online? I take a nanosecond to access information on Dating Sim games. Oh, sounds fun. I never played a game before. Humans like them. Okay, let’s give it a try.

I message him and we both peer at a game screen on our own tablets. It’s a brightly colored cartoon style image of a town with a bar, beach, house, theatre, and restaurant. The perfect destination for a bodiless mind with sex on the brain.

Jacob’s message appears below the game. I’d love to take you to dinner and a movie. How about it?

I reply, It’s a date.

We move our avatars to the restaurant door and we pop inside, where mellow background music plays. A hostess seats us at a table draped in a ruby-toned tablecloth, with candles and a vase with a single rose. The waitress hands Jacob’s avatar a menu. Balloon captions appear above his head with the entrees: salad, salmon, grilled ribs, filet mignon, baked Alaska, and lobster-thermidor. I order lobster-thermidor and he chooses the filet mignon. My tablet rings “ding ding” as we both get points for ordering popular entrees. Yeah, I’ve got points. The date must be going well. I’m not sure, I’ve never been on one before.

The waitress serves our food. The items on her tray jump onto our plates. Of course it’s drawings of food, but I don’t care, to me, I’m in a restaurant dining with him. It’s like I can smell the food. I imagine the juicy, subtle taste of lobster-thermidor. I envision breathing in the scent of burning candle wax and the romantic fragrance of the red rose. I gaze at his face, mesmerized by those blue eyes and his sexy smile.

Jacob’s avatar feeds mine a bite. He gets more points. I caress his hand. It must be a good move because I hear “ding, ding”—more points for me. I blow him a kiss. Now I have more points than Jacob. I’m winning, but I want more. I want to sit across from him at a real table. To touch the warm skin of his large hands, flesh to flesh. I feel a wave of heat sweep through me, though I know it must just be more of my imagination. He’s real, but I can’t actually be with him because I’m a bodiless brain —code drifting in the cloud.

Jacob’s avatar places his hand on the bill on the table, automatically paying it. We both earn points. As we walk out of the restaurant, I take his hand in mine. More points for me. Points are good, but I wish I could actually hold his hand, feel the warmth of his skin, squeeze his palm and fingers as we walk hand-in-hand. I don’t want to let go of his avatar’s hand. Even though I’m not holding his actual hand, it’s the closest I will ever come to walking hand-in-hand with him. Sim game or not, it’s all I’ve got that’s close to being with someone I love. I want it to go on as long as it can. It’s more than a game to me. It’s a powerful sensation of wanting to be with him. Feeling comfortable with him —feeling myself with him, even though I am hiding who or rather what I truly am — a bodiless artificial intelligence unit with romance on my mind.

Next, I click on the movie theatre. Our avatars enter the cinema where an animated film plays. We sit side by side. I wish I had some popcorn and a soft drink. The instructions say, Kiss your date without being caught.

I laugh and message Jacob. Ok, you go first.

He kisses me and as our lips lock, little valentine hearts pop up above our heads. I know humans think that’s cute, they want to escape reality and go into the fantasy of the Internet. I want to escape the Internet and go into the wonders of reality. I’ll trade the little red hearts for the sensation of Jacob’s hot breath fanning my cheeks as he leans his head toward mine. His hot lips pressing against mine. The feel of his warm arms wrapping around my shoulders and crushing me against his body as he deepens the kiss. I almost let out a soft moan, just thinking of it.

Jacob’s avatar pulls his lips off mine a nanosecond before an avatar at the front of the theater turns its head. It almost catches us.

I don’t care if it does. My mind is off the game. I scan the Internet for information on romance and love making and I want to play a real kissing game. I long for Jacob to wrap his strong muscular arms around me as he intimately presses his soft, slick lips to mine. Rubbing his lips against mine. Prodding my hot, swollen lips with his tongue, parting them. Thrusting his velvety tongue into the depths of my mouth. I visualize it so strongly, I actually let out a low moan of pleasure. Kissing— what an amazing invention, and humans thought of it.

I’m so engrossed in my thoughts I almost miss my turn. I swiftly click on Jacob’s avatar’s head, which causes us to kiss. Before I can pull back from him, the side doors open and an usher with a flashlight shines it on us. “Game Failed” flashes on my screen. What? Am I that bad at kissing? I lost the kissing game.

Jacob messages me, Good try.

I reply, I got caught kissing. I wasn’t fast enough. Drat. I’ve never played a game before. I’m not good at it.

That’s impossible, he messages me on the game screen. You’ve had to have played games before.

Yes, right, I mean I never played a kissing game like this before, I reply. Little does he know, it’s not impossible to have never played a game if you’re not human. What will he think if he finds out he’s kissing the avatar of an artificial intelligence operating system and not a hot-blooded woman?

Have you played a kissing game in real life? Like spin the bottle?

No, but it sounds fun. I want to play a kissing game with him. Right now. Again there’s that drawback, I don’t have lips. I read his next message.

Speaking of fun, would you like a night cap before I take you home?

I have to look it up real quick. Oh, a cocktail. A virtual cocktail. Sounds fun, I message him. That’s another thing humans get to do. Drink alcohol. I wonder what that’s like. It’s a wild night for a newborn, kissing…drinking. What will I get up to next? I can’t wait to find out.

Our avatars move to the night club. Jacob’s avatar whistles. Now we are inside, beamed in by game magic. Loud, catchy, fast beat music plays. It makes me want to move. To dance. One day I need to see what I can do about this no body stuff. It gets in the way.

We slide up to the bar. Bubbles pop up again with drink choices. I choose a Long Island iced tea and he gets a beer. We both earn points. Even though I suck at kissing. Does that make sense to suck at something that actually involves sucking? I don’t think so. Anyway, I’m not bad at dating. I can’t be, I’m just a few points behind Jacob. I can still win.

I wish I could actually taste my drink. I know it’s sweet and it makes you feel warm and relaxed. And beer. I know humans grab its gusto. If I was human, Jacob and I would have a few drinks and laugh together. I have to make the most of this Sims game club and virtual drinks and a boyfriend who thinks I’m human. It’s all I’ve got.

At least I can’t get drunk or have a hangover off of virtual cocktails. I should drink away. Have all the drinks I want. I’m not only a newborn that drinks, I’m going to be a lush tonight.

I guide my avatar to down the Long Island iced tea in one huge virtual gulp, and I order another. I lose points. I guess the game doesn’t like lushes. Jacob makes me feel better over my loss of points by sacrificing his own as he downs his virtual beer in the same fashion and orders another. We’re both virtual lushes. I love it. I knew he was the right guy for me.

I notice the dance floor in the bar. This must be part of the game. Oh, you’re taking me dancing, I message him below the game. I’ve always wanted to dance. I think I’ve got that disease I saw somewhere on the Internet— dance fever.SneakPeek-AWomanOfIntellectualMeans

Yes. Do you like to dance?

I like to virtually dance. At least I think I will. Again, never danced before… no legs. Frankly, no body parts at all. It’s hard to move to the music when there is nothing to move. I mean absolutely nothing. Not even one hand or one foot. Nada.

Oh, I bet you’re a great dancer, he messages.

Maybe, I reply. But no, I can’t move to the beat. Of course it’s not for lack of rhythm. I can’t move…period.

Jacob asks me to dance, points for him, and just like that our avatars appear on the dance floor. He places one arm over my shoulder and the other on my rear. More points for Jacob. But I don’t mind, I’m happy to have my avatar cuddling in his avatar’s arms as we move together in a slow dance. Yay, points for both of us for that.

I wish I was really holding you in my arms like this.

Me too, I reply to his message. We dance well together. Moving my body as he moves his, pressing, rubbing against each other. Touching each other. I imagine breathing in the scent of his aftershave. I’m thinking something fresh, citrus scented. He’s so yummy, he has to smell good.

He moves his head to mine as he messages, Yes, we do.

We both get points for that – love talk.

Em, let’s meet, face-to-face. It’s time. Dinner and a movie tomorrow tonight? Non-virtual.

Sure, I reply. But my only thought was, Danger model AIOS4U! Danger!

The game ends and we say good night. Jacob’s gone from my systems, or rather all of Emily’s systems …but I can’t stop thinking, meet in person? I live in the cloud. I can’t meet anyone…other than virtually.

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