Future Ch. 02byTaunus©
Disclaimer: This story is fiction cast in the future. No resemblance to persons living or dead is intended or should be inferred.
In the year three thousand, there are three broad groups age-wise: Youth, aged from birth to thirty-five; middle-aged (Middlers), aged thirty-five to seventy; and senior citizens, those over seventy years old. The other age boundaries are: those eligible to vote, over eighteen; those permitted to purchase alcohol and soft drugs, over twenty-one; and, those eligible for old-age benefits, over seventy and under eighty. In the third millennium, the earth's population grew to an unsustainable level with the geriatric citizens consuming a disproportionate share of the earth's resources. Drastic action was required.
So, basically the average worker would be employed between forty and fifty years until he (or she) reaches age seventy. Then there would be ten years of "retirement" followed by the person being put out to "shift for himself (or herself)." Theoretically, if a person saved enough during middle-age, there would be sufficient funds to enjoy life as an octogenarian; however, the governments of the world worked to settle their debts and redistribute the wealth by placing taxes and declaring that "every man's heir is the state." That is, every citizen who attains age eighty. In short, on real property there was a 100% inheritance tax.
The demographics are further convolved by virtue of the rise of sentient androids and cyborgs. The artificial intelligence beings came about as a result of the need to provide heath care, financial management, and custodial care for the geriatric cases. Human caregivers were both insufficient in number and unaffordable. More and more functions were developed for the androids and gynoids. At last, conscious of their own existence and creating a "liberated subculture," the "noids" and "droids" pressed for and obtained limited individual freedom. That is for those who were "liberated" in will of a deceased client.
Nothing is ever simple. When the sentient caregivers were first marketed, with Titanium alloy bones, high IQs, and a pervasive database, it only seemed necessary to replace certain parts subject to wear and tear. But, with constant upgrades and advancing technology, soon there became a paucity of patrons and a plethora of "package products." In short, there was a need to recycle the androids and gynoids.
But wait! These are sentient beings, having dwelled amongst humans for over a century. They have learned much about mankind, especially its weaknesses and shortfalls. With effort, surplus androids, gynoids, fembots and other such skin jobs were about to become liberated if each agreed to pay taxes and obey human laws. Of course this was not an immediate event. When the military androids threatened to involve the planet earth into a world war with megadeaths, the governments of the world quickly caved in and agreed on the Sentient Robot Emancipation Proposition (SREP).
Rita is a fiery red-head gynoid who was recently able to enjoy emancipation under the SREP. At first elated, she quickly found it difficult to compete for work against large corporations and their later model sentient versions. Like most of her fellow liberated domestics, she soon attached herself to one octogenarian after another. The subsisters were mostly indigent; however, her pecuniary interests only consisted of enough to pay the Free Android Tax (FAT) and buy the necessary power charge and fuel. Should she fail to pay the tax, she would become a ward of the state, subject to auction. She she run out of "juice," she would be subject to salvage and scrap by the "Recyclers."
A few days ago Rita took a temporary job caring for the physical, mental, and financial affairs of an eighty-two year old. He is facing bankruptcy and oblivion.
Chortling and gasping for breath, Nathan Dearth, summonses Rita to fetch his emergency inhaler. He has already used it three times today. A company regulated robot would refuse to medicate him; however, Rita could sense his immediate demise without treatment. No one would check the administration code on a senile's medications. It is in both her and Nathan's interests for him to live another day. Nathan's great grandson, Erik, is to visit him today.
Rita scurries from the kitchen, where she is preparing food for two, to answer the door. A hansom youth in his late teens is at the door. His light brown hair is unkempt but well-shampooed. He has the faint odor of expensive aftershave lotion. His shirt is partly unbuttoned, showing a tanned, smooth, muscular chest. He is immediately drawn to Rita, mumbling: "Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking...." He then cuts his eyes to the emaciated pile of skin and bones on the recliner.
"How are you being treated, Dude?" Erik asks.
"Rita helps, but this goddamn, fucking emphysema is killing me," Nathan complains.
"Sorry to hear, anything I can do to help?" Erik inquires.
"You can join me while Rita tries to get me to eat," Nathan gasps as he speaks. "Then you can use her hot body until you drop. I would if I could." Nathan coughs and wheezes.
Erik is aghast at the proposition. But lunch looks good and, well, what the hell. She would cost a pretty penny on the street. Skin jobs have run human prostitutes, from the streets, except for the mutants and the "exotics." Gynoids possess limitless libido, enhanced human female pheromones, a perspiration of arousal, and a suit of sexual fantasies rivaled only in 3D computer enhanced animation. But this 3D experience isn't being played out on the small screen.
"What is your favorite sport?" Rita asks Erik.
"Basketball," Erik replies. "I play center."
"Do you dribble before you shoot?" Rita asks coyly. It is a silly innuendo, but Erik comes onto it. Rita flashes a broad smile.
"Eat your lunch," Nathan interjects. "You have time for dessert later."
Erik listens to Nathan. Then he remarks: "You really are a 'dirty old man.'"
Nathan retorts: "My only regrets are the temptations I successfully avoided."
Rita tries to get Nathan to eat, but the emphysema has afflicted him. He is only a few days from his ultimate demise.
"I'm glad that you are here to help," Erik speaks to Rita.
"Well," Rita replies, "he will run out of time before he runs out of money. How unfortunate for those who first run out of money. I give them a few days 'pro bono,' but I have taxes to pay and fuel and all the hell myself!"
"I understand," Erik comments. Rita helps the frail octogenarian to bed for his afternoon nap. Erik can remember Nathan before he reached eighty. He was content in his middle-class, suburban home. But all that changed when he turned eighty. The family had tried to convince him to join the Fourscore Society, where care is given while euthanasia is done by lottery.
"He is a lecherous old goat now," Erik tells Rita on her return. "I have a girlfriend, so I'm not just interested in casual sex. I hope that you understand, Rita."
Rita nods. For some unknown reason Rita finds an attraction to Erik. This attraction is new to her. Perhaps her dealings with humans over the past century has been restricted to those in their twilight hours? But she feels an animal attraction as well as something akin to human lust and crass carnal craving. But gynoids are machines, albeit sentient machines. How is this possible?
Over the century since Rita's manufacture, she has encountered a potpourri of geriatrics, mostly men. Some have functional libidos, some do not. In any case, Rita is aware of the physiology, functionality, and behavior. How often has she been in a crowded elevator or on a crowded subway car and experienced the dark, depraved desires of some miscreant or pervert wishing to grope her. Suffice it to say that groping a machine may have some negative consequences.
Rita pauses to ensure all the contact information for Nathan is current. The data associated with Erik seems current. For sure she will do a little detective work and try and meet him "by accident" or "random chance" on the Internet. Now she is feeling more like a stalker than a caregiver, albeit she has yet to even consummate the act itself. As the Rabbi said: "Whosoever shall commit fornication in his heart is likewise as guilty as one who carries out the act in the flesh."
Rita had never before experienced this amoral animal arousal. She was aware that is is theorized for sentient beings. Like drifting into a hypnagogic state, Rita can imagine swimming and hanging out with Erik on a public beach. Her artificial skin exhibiting a perfect tan and her salubrious physique enough to cause an otherwise deceased human being to rise from his grave to experience a premature resurrection.
After putting Nathan to bed, she rejoins Erik in the common area of the hotel room. At one time, these accommodations were considered luxury. Now they are just another tenderloin structure, housing the old and dying, prostitutes and pimps, illegal drug users and pushes, and an eclectic mixture of young artists, writers, sculptures, and those who find bourgeois society stifling and constricting.
"The hotel has a spa and Turkish bath," Rita suggests to Nathan. She can tell from his body language that he finds her mildly European accent and voice timbre arousing in an erotic sense.
"I need to go," Erik states. "I need to catch the last bus. Nice meeting you. Bye for now."
It was just past midnight when Nathan passed away. Rita charged up and secured her belongings. She then called the authorities and moved out to her next assignment. On the way she decided to stop by an Internet Cafe and send a smiley to Erik.
16 December 2012.