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Hill's Fourth Harmony

Read Chapter 4

Chapter 5

I made my way to my office to switch out the slate grey jumpsuit I'd been in for the last few days. The pushplate flickered green briefly and the maglock built into the doorframe relented without a sound. My office was presently configured to simulate a rolling field of wheat. The sun was following a light grey arc with the time ticked off in regular intervals. My chair was the only other artificial element betraying the true function of the room. The artifical sun was nearly indistinguishable from the true sun. I delighted in the warm feeling on my face, and the sound and feel of the wind rustling wheat drying in the sun.

I went to the nearest wall and traced a few symbols. The sun rocketed across the ceiling and disappeared, then the whole scene melted and faded to white at the same time. Within a matter of a few seconds, I checked my messages and was notified that there were only 3 urgent news bulletins that I wanted to know about. I swept the headlines and they were all mission related, and thus ignorable as the debrief had already given me what I needed to know. Learning more about what the papers were saying would be a liability because they write compelling fiction into the facts. I’d forget which was which.

I tapped my fingers in a sequence that anyone watching would recognize as a phone call. The far wall of the office faded into a display the corridor in front of Dawn’s office. As I waited for her answer, I tapped up a cityscape onto the other walls.

Rapid fingerprint scanning allowed for a whole series of context sensitive commands to be issued with only a few taps and traces of the finger on the wall. You had a different base operation for each finger on the first tap and then context sensitive menus for the second tap. The control scheme had become nearly ubiquitous. Consoles and terminals were accessed by placing all fingers on the screen at once. It simultaneously logged you in securely using a combination of all ten of your fingerprints and calibrated itself for each of your fingers. Special MMI inputs were available if you were unable to use your hands, but this was more infrequent as time passed. The only people who didn’t have fully functional hands were those that suffered degenerative brain diseases. Other issues of missing limbs had been solved almost a decade ago using a combination of nano and bio logics.

The image of her door faded from the far wall and in faded a sitting parlor in burlesque style complete with stale cigarette smell and bad lighting. I smiled at the joke, and broke the connection. I didn’t want to leave a message, and despite the care she put into her waiting area, I didn’t feel like losing the time. I walked into the office and as I approached the far rear corner the wall faded away to reveal a portal into the dressing area.

The dressing area and bathroom, to the uninitiated, looks like a dead end corridor. Both had been functionally combined and called a Personal Facility Chamber. Everyone called it the PF for short. I tapped the wall. My wardrobe appeared, or at least the clothes I had bought the rights to. You only really had 3 sets of physically different clothes, the distinction between which was negligible. One set was base underclothes (shaped like short pants and a short sleeve t shirt). One set was base overclothes. The final set was a duplicate of base overclothes. You had 2 sets of base overclothes in the event that the weather was too cold, in which case you wore more than one set at a time. Clothes were made out of a special nanofabric. All that was required to change outfits was to tap on the piece of clothes you wanted to wear from your digital wardrobe. Lasers scanned up and down the length of the garment and in a matter of moments, they reprogramed or “tuned” the clothes you had into the ones you wanted. The underclothes resonated at a different frequency, and could thus be “changed” without changing your overclothes. A peculiar sensation I can assure you.

The only time you bought new “base” clothes were due to a dramatic change in physical size (base clothes have nearly a full two feet of variability possible with programming alone), or if your clothes were damaged. Clothes were cleaned by minimizing surface area and short micro pulses of the laser. This is coincidentally how people cleaned themselves for the most part, unless you spent the money to visit a spa in which case you could actually get an old fashioned bath in real water.

I tapped the wall. The wardrobe turned translucent and the background faded into the area outside the building. It was seventy degrees out, and dusk. I selected khakis and a mustard colored button down from the wardrobe and ticked the box that requested a body cleaning and haircut.

Laserlight bathed my frame as my grey jumpsuit curled and shrank like melting plastic into rubberesque ropes that clung tightly to my skin. Vents opened beneath my feet. The vents blew air up from the ground and were sufficent enough to blow my hair up until it was sticking straight up and whipping in the wind. I learned at a young age to lean back so that the jets don’t blow into your nostrils. An orange burst of light and my hair was trimmed to length. Beams positioned higher in the corridor vaporized the hair as it rose from the trimming. The jets ceased.

I tapped the wall for the toilet. A metal slab rose from the floor and assumed the shape of a chair. I used the toilet and as I stood up the slab had already started decending into the floor. By the time I got back into a standing position both the toilet had receded into the floor, its contents atomized, and a light cologne passed in on a breeze from the air vents.

Blue laser pulses and a few calisthenics later, my body was feeling clean as a whistle. My clothes grew back from rubberesque ropes to the clothes I had selected from my wardrobe. They felt like the softest cotton and the lasers had tailored them to accommodate my slight (5-10 pound) weight loss from the week of “space travel.”

The wall flashed a message asking me if I wanted a shave. I tapped yes and closed my eyes. Three orange pulses later and I walked back into my office.

A bird was lazily flying around on the walls of the otherwise completely white room – someone had left me a message. I tapped the wall again. The bird faded away and I went in to check my messages. Dawn’s nearly nude body appeared on the wall minus the third and, considering her state of undress, most exciting dimension. The recording was an invitation to dinner, and an apology for missing my call.

A few taps later and I found her office “adjoined” to my own. Her’s was configured to look like a beach, including the salty smell and the sound of the crashing waves. She lay there on the “sand” in a shred of shiny hunter green cloth that was supposed to pass as a bathing suit these days, but to me seemed to look more like a pair of green rubber bands hanging from the shoulders and meeting only enough to cover her sex.

She slowly stood up, the sea breeze tossing her shoulder length brownish-red hair back and away from her face. To this day I’m not sure if the ocean simulation she had bought intentionally matched the ocean to the color of her eyes or not, but the effect was stunning none the less. It was hard to tell which was contained by of which. She walked closer to the wall. She was shorter than me, but not by more than a couple inches. Her lips were full and lush and almost always wet, looking ready at any time to give and receive a kiss.

“Nice suit

“Thanks, My sister got it for me while we were out. Let me change up and we’ll get going. Where do you want to go?”

“Anywhere, so long as it’s not syntho.”

She wrinkled her nose. “You really want to wait that long?”

“It’s only an extra half an hour, and real food tastes better”

“I’m game”

“Tell me about it” I snickered shooting her the eye of innuendo.

“5 minutes. Lobby. See you then” she winked and the whole scene faded out.

Read Chapter 6

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