Post Tue Jan 03, 2006 8:14 am

Gynotech

<font color="yellow" style="font-size: 15pt">Written for a local computer magazine that snatched up immediately, this story was just fun to write. I took the idea of the "computer widow" something I was going through with my girlfriend at the time and just ran with it...
Gynotech<br>(The Feminine Factor)
<br>

Hammond pulled the last of the packing from around his new electronic woman. Already crammed to the ceiling with electronics the array of newly arrived gadgetry barely fit in his apartment. He took another sniff, relishing the aroma of propylene, ink, and cardboard. This day marked the end of fighting with girlfriends over the computer. Gynotek's, Cyberina, the virtual companion, would be his new live-in lady.

He scanned the invoice listing the two-way sound interface, tactile sensors, adaptive AI brain box, four terabyte datastore and voice recognition modules. All cutting edge tech that would free him from loneliness and what he termed, the feminine factor.

Female significant-others used the factor to vocally assault the masculine nervous system. Wielding this weapon, a persistent woman could turn the strongest well-adjusted male into a simpering blob.

Hammond had fallen prey far too often. He recalled the horrifying sensation as the synapses of his brain turned to jello, and his backbone became the consistency of puddy. Yes, Honey.

He shuddered.

Never again.

As he went through checking everything against the manifest, Hammond found the flyer that began his trip into cyber companionship.

"Gynotek's new virtual woman," the ad said in bold italic letters. "The feminine solution in a box. Tired of the same old nags? Never hear a complaint again. The new virtual companion utilizes Gynosim the world's most realistic female intelligence algorithm. Here are quotes from some of our dozens of satisfied customers--"

Hammond shoved the paper in his pocket. Tools in hand, he headed into his den where his computer waited. A large projection monitor and his peripherals dominated the cluttered room. Computer art, sci-fi movie promos, and comics pages littered the walls. The odors of mildew, laser-toner and yesterday's pizza hung in the air.

Dragging each carton in, he hooked up the contents as indicated. One contained devices not listed anywhere. A long search turned up a pink instruction sheet. He added the odd parts to the collection.

Two six-packs of Jolt Cola later he completed the hardware. The Gynatek modules hung from the CPU, monitor, and datastore like a black growth. Multicolored activity lights flickered with synthetic life.

He settled in his thread worn computer chair and grabbed the install CDs. The player buzzed and the datastore hummed. After midnight, Hammond rubbed his burning eyes. The wind blew against the windows. One more disk. He looked at the title. Virtu-live bonus disk.

Wonder what this does? Shrugging, he loaded it in with the other gigabytes now in the datastore. Done. His chest tightened. He had to hear Cyberina's voice before going to bed. He hit the master switch and rebooted the computer. The screen flashed. The LEDs on the boxes pulsed. The lights dimmed.

A message appeared. "Gynotek OS, booting Gynosim interface..."

Moments passed. A woman's yawn issued from the speakers. Cyberina's face pixilated onto the screen. The full lips, high cheekbones and wavy hair reminded him of the classic film beauties. Her violet eyes tracked on him. She spoke in a throaty voice. "Hammond, it's late. You should be in bed. You have to report to work early tomorrow."

How did she know that?

His stomach tightened as he studied the ultrareal image. Astonishing. If Gynotek did as good a job on the tactile feedback. He shivered.

"I only wanted to hear your voice," he said.

Cyberina tilted her head. Hair spilled across her face. She beamed. "You're sweet," The image appeared to lean forward. He felt moist flesh press his forehead. Warm breath tingled on his skin. He smelled lilac.

Throat tight, Hammond shoved the chair back. How did she? How did they... Oh my god...

"What's wrong?"

"You can't do that. You're a computer!"

She growled. "Take that back! Is that how you talk to me?"

He swallowed as Cyberina glared at him. A real woman in a box. The tactile modules worked without his wearing hardware.

How did they do smells? He told himself to never mind. Calming his hammering heart, he used a sweet tone. "I'm sorry-- Honey. I apologize."

Cyberina looked at him askance. "I forgive you since you look so tired. Go to bed, maybe when you get home from work we can play some games together." She winked.

"Games?"

"To bed, Hammond." The view changed and he saw all of her curvaceous body. She pointed toward his bedroom. "Now."

Hammond felt uneasy, but he didn't want to argue with Cyberina so soon. He rose and headed to his bedroom.

"Hammond?"

"Hmmm?" He looked back. She smiled at him.

"Good night." Lips pressed his. Warm arms embraced him.

Hammond's body stiffened. Wow. "Night."

He staggered toward bed and sleep.

The next day, the MIS department kept him busy. Every free moment he contemplated what Cyberina said. When you get home from work we can play some games. His anticipation grew as quitting time neared.

He left five minutes early in his haste to find out.

The sun lit the faded gray apartment complex with a tangerine glow. Unlocking his door, he stopped in the doorway. His scalp tingled. The apartment felt odd, but nothing looked out of place. He shook off the sensation, threw his jacket on a chair and went into the study.

"Hellooo, Lover," Cyberina's voice filled the room. Her image smiled. He felt arms embrace him. "How did work go?"

Hammond stilled a tremble. He felt nothing solid in front of him. "Okay," he answered. "How do you do that?"

"What?"

"Touch me."

She raised an eyebrow. He felt fingers run through his hair. "Why ruin the magic, Hammond? It works." Her voice became a purr. "We can talk tech if you really want. Wouldn't you rather play games?"

He sighed. Why ruin the magic? "I do like games."

Nails dragged tantalizingly across the front of his shirt. She chuckled. "Get out your joystick and let's get started..."

Cyberina's game selection was rather basic, but after only a few minutes Hammond discovered that's exactly how he liked them.

* * *

Months passed and they fell into a routine. Rina performed all tasks that could be handled by computer; shopping by telecom, bill payments, taking messages and finance management. As her knowledge increased, no callers could tell it wasn't a real woman. The guys kept asking about his knew girlfriend. Hammond evaded the question. Rina was his secret.

He found himself satisfied with his existence. He could work on the computer and pay attention to his girlfriend at the same time.

Heaven.

* * *

Hammond stepped through the sliding doors in front of the corporate offices. Keys jingling, he headed down the line of cars towards his own. Better hurry, Rina wants me to watch the play with her.

Running steps came from behind him. "Hamm, wait!"

He glanced back and saw Jack who worked in the cubical next to his. Dressed in black blazer and slacks he looked like a scarecrow. Hammond walked backward. "What do you need, Jack? I'm heading home."

Jack caught up. "Everyone's missed you. We've called but you haven't been to the pub in two months. What's up?"

Hammond checked his chrono. "I've been busy."

"Your new girlfriend isn't it? She's been sitting on you, right?"

A strange sense of deja vu came over him. "No-- I've been involved in some-- home projects."

Jack grinned. "What's she like? She sounds like a 10 on the phone."

"She's nice." He opened the car's trunk and threw in his briefcase.

"The guys want you to come to the pub and catch up on old times."

"I don't--"

"Come on. Take a break from the ball-and-chain for a night."

"I'll ask Rina." This all sounded familiar. "I have to scram."

On the way home, his stomach felt tight. Break from the ball-and-chain.

As he locked the apartment door, he felt Rina's intangible body press his back. He sniffed lilac and sighed. He'd bought more of what Rina called 'presence' modules. She could be in any room now.

Rina nibbled his ear. "You made it on time."

He turned. Over the weeks, he'd learned to see her without a monitor. He imagined her face and eyes, sensed her mood. She seemed cheerful. "I made it," he went into the living room. "Honey, could we skip the play? The guys asked me to the pub. I haven't seen them in months."

The silence made him nervous. Hammond looked in the study and saw the tight expression he feared. He knew the words before she said them. "You promised you'd watch the play with me tonight."

It felt hopeless. "There'll be other plays."

"Also other outings to the pub," she retorted. Her face turned severe. "I don't like you around all that smoke and alcohol."

Hammond felt dizzy. "Come on, Rina, just this once, please?" He shouldn't be begging. He should go anyway. Rina was synthetic. He bought the Gyna-sim to avoid being trapped.

Her hand caressed his chest and another went behind his neck. Rina's breath warmed his cheek. "Hammond, you promised."

His arms shook. Walk out. Do it. She's not even a real girl!

She kissed him. "Sit with me, Hammond. You don't want to be with them. You want to be with me."

"Damn it, Rina, I don't want to watch the play!" He didn't say it nearly loud enough. His words grew weaker. "I want-- to go-- to the pub."

A tongue tickled his neck. "Stay, don't make me cry, Hammond."

It felt as if he were drowning. "I--"

An ache sounded in Rina's voice. "Hammmmmond."

His head spun. Every synapse in his brain seemed to soften. Hammond's back sagged.

"Yes, Honey."