The second short story from the Digital Taxidermy - Storytime Collective
The pleasure pods have been a very marmite proposition for most people (for those non UK members out there, marmite is advertised as ‘you love it or you hate it’). The original release on Valentine’s Day seemed to strike a chord with some and absolute horror with others. We are very happy with this; it is our firm belief that if someone hasn’t been upset then as an artist you have failed at your job!
So when Rik approached us with his outline for a story that would breathe a little life into these dens of inequity we gave him all the support he needed to knock out the next story. While not explicit we hope it hits a chord with you.
The tangled web
Each of these stories at the moment are jumping off from the last either a character or event that leads to the next location. This will allow not only use to build a cohesive picture of the god forsaken world we have created but also help you guys dive right in and walk the streets and experience the jolly fine dystopia through your own rose tinted goggles™.
So without further ado we will jump into the story.
Shake 'n' Shakes
Dean swooped onto the neon sidewalk in his small but highly sensible Paisley efficient automobile, the whirring devices on the roof flashing, beeping and spinning as it powered down. Cautiously he stepped out and looked around. Didn’t seem to be anyone around. It was late, to be fair. Even by his standards.
Pretty sure he hadn’t been followed. You can never really tell in this city though.
He crossed the street quickly to Shake ‘n’ Shakes. The local hang out, if not his favourite. At least the cloudy sky had held off on rain.
It was still warm despite the hour. It was always warm.
With a final glance all around, he approached the kiosk.
“Citizen 5163937, we are pleased and honoured to service you again.” The droid looked up quickly and attentively at him. Sometimes you could swear those things were alive. Always the same hauntingly familiar, female voice.
“Would sir like his favourite stimulation this evening?” It’s voice encapsulating human intonation perfectly, almost motherly. “Or perhaps something new? We note from our records your last visit was 3 days, 8 hours and 32 minutes ago and lasted a mere 1 minute 42.3 seconds. Perhaps your last visit was... unsatisfactory?”
The pause…left you so full of longing you could almost fall into it, he shook his head. Turing Too have really come a long way since their early Russian bots!
“Erm” Dean cleared his throat. “No it was fine. Just been busy.”
“We are very sorry to hear of your plight here at Shake ‘n’ Shakes, citizen 5163937. Perhaps an old classic like ‘She loves me, she loves me not’ would help this evening.”
“Yeah ok, whatever” his enthusiasm was already being drained by the well-meaning droid.
“So that’s the shake, and what about the shake?” It was doing its best to sound funny.
“Yeah, got any vanilla?”
“May I recommend the chocolate sir? An improved recipe now 47% less bitter!”
“Yeah ok” Dean deposited some chits in the slot.
He heard the hatch on his right open with the familiar sound of released air pressure. It was soon followed, prosaically, by the scent of hedonism, disinfectant and surprisingly, home-made jam.
He turned around only to jump out of his skin at the guy stood right behind him.
“Woah, hey, back off! Hey wait, sorry, Brad? That you?
“Hey! Well! If it isn’t old Deano. How’s it going my man?”
“Yeah, same old in this city isn’t it? Run in a gang or slave for the corps”
“Ha”, the guy chuckled. “Ain’t that the truth? Anyways, still paying top creds hanging around this place?”
“Err, well you know” he sounded as embarrassed as he felt. “Guy’s got needs, hey?”
“Ha ha yeah we all have buddy, but, not got yourself a pair of goggles yet?”
Dean looked quizzically at his old friend.
“No what’s that? Don’t hear about too much when you’re under the radar.”
Brad chuckled again. It was such a comforting little laugh, Dean thought.
“Oh wow man I’m going to blow your mind! These rose-tinted goggles™ are the thing man! Look, check mine out.”
He fumbled in the pocket of his trench coat for a second.
“Here, check these out” he said, as he passed the strange device to Dean.
He eyed them with suspicion.
Sorry, how are these things better than Shake ‘n’ Shakes?” He was not sounding convinced.
“What do they do exactly?”
“the rose tinted goggles, yeah?” Brad was still sounding enthusiastic.
“You put them on and they just make everything look way better!”
“Is that so?”
“For sure man! You couldn’t wander around with them on permanently; the guy about to kill you will look like your best mate. But the real beauty” his voice lowered and his eyes gleamed at the oncoming thought.
“Is paying the fine ladies of the south quadrant a visit.”
“Oh! Ouch Brad. I’ve never been down there, but heard it’s awful.”
“Ha Ha yes my squeamish friend. It’s not so bad. Go to a licenced place, they guarantee they’ve definitely got no more than 2 diseases! And you just strap your goggles on, and you’re suddenly with the hottest woman in the world! Man it’s amazing!”
“Ah, I don’t know Brad. As bad as my lot is, those women have it pretty bad”
“Pah! Going soft as the years eat you hey? Sutha’s been in your ear too much hasn’t she?” He grinned.
“It’s not like that” Dean shot back sharply. Though he instantly softened.
“She’s got eyes for someone else” he sighed dejectedly.
“All the more reason to come over then!” Brad exclaimed.
“Come on, I’m heading there now me self.”
Dean paused, he knew this wasn’t right.
Just then a pimp-mobile landed next to them. The door hissed open immediately.
“Hey watch out you two!” The man’s tone was far gruffer than his appearance.
He strode confidently up to the droid and deposited something. Got back in the car and was off again.
“Wow” exclaimed Brad.
“Don’t see too many high rollers around this place so you?”
“No” agreed Dean.
“Wonder what he was doing?”
“Ah, who cares. So,” Brad gestured.
By Rik Holden
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
(C) 2020 Richard Holden, Digital Taxidermy – Storytime Collective
All rights reserved.
This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review with full accreditation.