Brian eased up from the beautiful redhead who was starting to breathe normally now. His cock slipped from her body and she moaned softly.
“Put it back in, Honey. I like feeling it inside me.”
Brian chuckled, though he wasn’t really all that happy.
“It won’t go back in, Martha. It was Martha, wasn’t it?”
The redhead breathed the words.
“Yes, I’m Martha. Can’t you do something to make it hard again? I thought all you guys could.”
Just once, thought Brian, just once I’d like her to be real.
“No, Martha. I can’t. In case you’ve forgotten, real men don’t work that way.”
The redhead sighed.
“Yes, I remember. I just thought you were…but I guess I was wrong. It’s OK, Honey. Really, it is. We’ll just wait a while and then I’ll do you.”
Brian knew she would probably be just as fantastic as she had been this time. They always were, but then, older women knew all the tricks, didn’t they? He rolled to the side of the bed and put his feet on the floor.
“I can’t Martha. I have to get to work now.”
“Does this convince you I need you to stay? I’m still so horny.”
The redhead pinched her left nipple, pulled her heavy breast into a cone and then shuddered.
Brian smiled. She was incredibly erotic. They were always erotic. Part of that was their perfect bodies. Martha’s breasts were large, but not so large they rolled off her chest and to her sides when she was on her back. They were firm mounds sitting high on her chest and her nipples were thick, long, and dark pink.
Her pussy was the same way, a soft looking slit from which her inner lips protruded just enough to know they were there. Once she’d become aroused, those inner lips swelled enough they stuck out even more, and all the little moans she made when he stroked a finger over them seemed real enough, just as did the slippery fluid that coated his finger when he slipped it inside her.
Brian didn’t want to tell her what he really thought. He wasn’t into hurting women, even mentally, but though Martha was a great fuck, she wasn’t what he was looking for.
“I’m sorry Martha, but as much as I’d like to stay, I do have to leave.”
“Will you come back? You’re the best I’ve had in a long, long time.”
“I doubt it. I’m flying to Chicago tomorrow and I’ll be gone for a week at least.”
“When you come back, give me a shout, OK? You have my cloud address, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
Brian turned back to Martha as he opened the door to her bedroom.
“Martha, how old are you?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Just curious. You’re pretty great. I figure it must take a while to learn everything you know.”
Martha smiled with her perfect pouting lips and perfect white teeth.
“I’m ninety seven and still learning. How about you?”
“Thirty five”, Brian said as he walked out the door.
Brian had met Martha in the bar he usually stopped by after work. He’d hoped she was one of the real ones, but he’d been fooled until he looked carefully. It was getting harder and harder to tell these days. The first ones had come with the manufacturer’s name, model number, and serial number embossed under the left hip. That had generated some user complaints so the manufacturers began tattooing the information on the inside of the outer labia of women and under the scrotum of men.
That had worked for a while, but there were still complaints. The manufacturers began using ink that was invisible except in ultraviolet light. For about a year they were undetectable. Then the secret leaked out. Brian had started carrying a small UV light in his jacket then and had spotted Martha’s model number when she’d asked him to lick her pussy. He’d stayed with her and the sex was great, but still not what he’d hoped for.
They called it “modern medicine”, but Brian thought it was more like “modern deception”. The first models went on the market in 2052 and cost several million dollars each depending upon options. Even with the cost, the GMFoChr subsidiary that developed the technology and was making them couldn’t begin to keep up with demand. Nippo-Seikishiba, an Asian company who had manufactured everything from microwave ovens to sea-going tankers prior to that reverse-engineered a dozen GMFoChr models. After making a few cost and performance improvements, Nippo-Seikishiba began manufacturing their own models. Other Asian, Indian, and African companies were soon in the business and were making every attempt to be the world leaders by slashing prices and adding options.
By 2060, nearly anyone could afford to have their conscious mind placed in the cloud and then transferred at will to the android body of their choice. Death, as was understood in the past, became only a memory of that past. All one needed to do was make a copy of one’s mind that was secured on multiple servers in the cloud and purchase the android of one’s choice before the real body failed. Almost overnight, the lifespan of every human became potentially infinite.
By 2062, android bodies were available for both short term and long term rental, so anyone could change body type, hair color, even gender on a whim. A woman whose mind was eighty six could have the body of a girl of twenty three. That mind would communicate with the android brain of the surrogate body either from the cloud or by being uploaded to the android brain. The mind would receive all the signals of the senses that would normally be present in a flesh and blood body, and would be able to control even the tiniest actions, both voluntary and involuntary, in the same manner as it had the real body.
These pseudo people continued to live in their former houses and do all the things they had done before assuming an android body. Many who had been workaholics continued to work at their former jobs and were great assets to their companies. It had been interesting to Brian to work with a beautiful woman who looked thirty two but had sixty years of experience. Marion had taught him a lot about the business. She’d also taught him a lot about how erotic a woman can be in bed.
Most of them preferred to spend their now essentially infinite lives enjoying things they’d enjoyed or wished they had enjoyed when their original bodies were younger. Gone were the retirement communities in Florida. They were replaced by beaches overcrowded with perfect, young bodies with no concerns about the affects of the sun on skin. Professional sports were dominated by androids with the strength and endurance of specifically designed twenty year old bodies and forty years of experience in the game.
Humans being human, one of the most popular pastimes was sex, and with forever-young android bodies, sex could be enjoyed without any fears of an unwanted pregnancy or disease.
Most minds had themselves loaded into androids of the same sex they had been in real life. A few chose the opposite sex. A few more alternated between both.
It was the alternates and opposites that bothered Brian the most. The true female, female androids were exciting and erotic, and he’d enjoyed the way they responded, but he’d never been anything other than a man with a man’s desires. He constantly feared being in bed with an android who later said her name was really Bruce or Jason.
The other thing that both excited Brian and bothered him was the perfection. There was no lack of variation in appearance, but that appearance was always perfect. Breasts were perfectly symmetrical as were hips. Labia might be different sizes, body to body, but on one body, each lip was a mirror image of the other. Faces were perfect in structure and skin tone, and no matter what the color or style, every hair was soft, supple, and shined as if it had just been washed and perfectly styled. They were exciting but also a little boring.
As a result, what Brian sought was an actual woman his own age, but it was like trying to find a diamond in a sea of broken glass. By 2065, there were more androids on Earth than humans.
Brian boarded the small, twin-engine plane for Chicago the next morning. His seat was in first class because so few people flew these days all the seats were first class. He was one of the dozen or so passengers on the plane and even that many was unusual in his experience. Since consciousness for a lot of people was in the cloud, travel had become merely a matter of removing that consciousness from the android body in location A and transferring it to another android body in location B.
That mode of transportation was essentially free, so corporations tended to hire employees with android bodies for positions that required travel. The only cost was the storage fee to keep identical android bodies in various locations. As a result, the airlines had downsized their aircraft, then downsized again until the company logo’s were painted only on planes carrying twenty or fewer passengers.
Brian knew there were probably a few androids on this flight. Some people just liked the experience of flying and continued to do so once they’d made the transfer. He studied the passengers as the plane made the trip from New York to Chicago.
The man in the seat beside him was probably an android, he thought. He looked to be in his early thirties but his smile was more like a leer. He saw Brian watching him and chuckled.
“I used to hate this flight because of all the screening and body searches and other stuff. It’s better now. They just scan me and I go right through, no body search or any of that other happy horse shit. I don’t even have to take off my shoes. Those were the days though. Used to make this trip twice a month. Knew all the flight attendants by name and spent the night with more than a few of ‘em. Those girls really knew how to fuck.”
The man nudged Brian with his elbow and chuckled.
“Best part was, you didn’t even have to buy ‘em dinner. That little attendant with black hair, I’m gonna see if she has a layover or not. I know her from when she was a flight attendant before. She was fifty when she had herself done. Car accident, if I remember right. That little gal hasn’t slowed up a bit, and with twenty more years of experience, she’s gotten even better. Tapped her hot little ass four times in one night a month ago. She can suck a cock like you’ve never had yours sucked before.”
Brian just smiled and continued watching the other passengers. He’d learned all androids have some telltale signs and he was watching for them.
He was looking at a tall blonde woman of about twenty five when she smiled sheepishly and fluffed up the mane of hair that fell down on her shoulders. That was her “tell”. A real woman wouldn’t have come on so fast, not if she didn’t already know him.
The short brunette didn’t fluff her hair when she saw him looking, but she did lick her top lip. She even smiled when Brian frowned, and then licked her lip again. No, she wasn’t real, not by a long shot.
The redhead in the second seat from the front turned to look at the rest of the passengers then, saw Brian watching her, and quickly turned back to her magazine. Brian smiled. Maybe, just maybe. He’d try to find out when they landed.
She was waiting at the baggage conveyor when he walked up beside her. She did smile this time, but then started watching for her bag. When it came around, she grabbed the handle and pulled, but couldn’t lift it off the conveyor. Brian stepped beside her.
“Need some help?”
“No, I’ll get it eventually. I don’t know what I put in there that’s so heavy though.”
Brian watched as she continued to struggle.
“Ah…I see what it is. Your bag is caught on the conveyor rail.”
Brian took the handle from the women, lifted the bag straight up, and sat it on the floor beside the woman.
“Thank you”, she said, and turned to walk away. Brian didn’t want to let her go before he found out.
“Miss, uh…if I might ask, where are you going?”
The red-head looked at him and frowned.
“Why would you want to know that?”
“I just thought if we were going in the same direction, we could share a cab.”
The red-head frowned.
“Yeah, and then you’ll want to share dinner and then bed, right?”
“No, I didn’t mean anything like that. I just thought you might like splitting cab fare, that’s all. It costs a fortune to get from O’hare to downtown.”
The woman smiled a little.
“Tell me about it.”
“So, you’re going downtown too?”
The red-head smiled a little more.
“Yeah. I’m staying at the Palmer House.”
Brian couldn’t believe his luck. The Palmer House was expensive, but it had been the only place he could find a room on the short notice he’d been given for this trip.
“That’s where I’m staying too.”
The redhead raised her eyebrows.
“Really, or are you just saying that?”
“No, really. I’m in sales and got this rush assignment to call on one of the architectural firms here. They’re designing a new corporate headquarters for Nippo-Seikishiba in Atlanta and my company wants them to specify our door and window hardware. I only found out about it yesterday and The Palmer House was the only hotel within walking distance of their office that had a vacancy.”
The redhead twisted her lips as if she was thinking, then said, “I’ll believe that when I watch you check in. Let’s go.”
She was silent on the way from O’hare to The Palmer House and Brian didn’t attempt any conversation. He couldn’t figure out if she was real or just an android who seemed to have an attitude. Some did. The body might have changed but the mind was still the same mind. There was only one sure way to tell, and he was pretty confident he wouldn’t get to find out that way.
They checked in at the ornate hotel desk, and the redhead smiled when she saw the desk clerk hand him a key card.
“I guess you were telling the truth after all. I’m sorry I doubted you, but I’ve heard more stories than you’d believe.”
“I can imagine why.”
The redhead smiled again.
“And why would that be?”
“Well, you’re a beautiful woman for starters.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say. The next thing I know I’m feeling their hands in places I shouldn’t be.”
“You don’t like that? I thought that’s why women chose the bodies they did.”
The redhead frowned.
“If I was one of those…those things, that would probably be the truth, but I’m not.”
“You’re not an android?”
“No, and I won’t ever be. That’s just not normal. I don’t suppose you agree though, do you?”
“As a matter of fact, I do. I’m not one either.”
The redhead looked him up and down, then stuck out her hand.
“I’ll take your word for that…for now. I’m Jesse, Jesse Downs.”
Brian took her hand gently and then winced at her grip.
“I’m Brian Hastings. Pleased to meet you. Since we’ve been introduced, could I invite you to have dinner with me?”
“You just did. Now you need to ask if I’ll accept.”
“Well, will you?”
“This isn’t going to turn into something more, is it?”
“No. I’d just like talking with a real person for a change. That’s all that’s going to happen.”
Jesse looked at him for a few seconds and then smiled a little.
“Normally, I’d tell you no but at least if you’re along, those things that call themselves men will probably leave me alone. I’ll meet you in the restaurant about six, OK?”
As Brian lay in his bed that night trying to fall asleep, he smiled. Dinner had been really nice. Jesse hadn’t talked about sex even once and that would have been unusual if she was an android. They’d talked about his job and about a dozen other things, but not sex. That had convinced him she was probably the real woman he sought. It wasn’t a certain thing; it wouldn’t be certain unless his UV light confirmed it, but she was as close as he’d gotten to a woman who seemed to be real.
He’d walked her to the elevator and said goodbye when the elevator reached his floor. She’d thanked him for the conversation over dinner and said she’d had a good time. He’d never been thanked before for just talking.
The next morning, Brian dressed, ate the breakfast room service had delivered, and then started for the offices of Brunning, Marks, and Associates, the architectural firm, for his appointment. Fifteen minutes later he was in the elevator and on his way to the conference room on the sixtieth floor.
When he walked into the conference room, he was met by the smiling faces of the architects working on the new corporate headquarters for Nippo-Seikishiba and by Jesse. He made the round of handshaking and business card exchange, finally coming to Jesse at the end of the line. She smiled sheepishly when he offered his hand.
“I’m the project manager for the new headquarters in Atlanta. I didn’t tell you last night because I didn’t want you to try to sell me on your hardware.”
“It’s OK. I wouldn’t have tried that, but it’s OK. I had a nice time just talking.”
Jesse’s smile seemed genuine this time.
“Well, let’s see what you can offer my company that’s better than any other company’s.”
For an hour, Brian went through the presentation of his company, their goals, and why their products far out-paced that of the competition. The architects sitting around the table nodded at this or that point, frowned at others, and then began asking questions. Brian thought he answered all the questions to their satisfaction because after another hour, they were all smiling. The last question came from Jesse herself.
“Mr. Hastings, your products do appear to be better in some respects than your competition and at least equal to them in the rest. I do have a budget to meet though. How does your pricing compare to your competition?”
“Well, Ma’am, it depends somewhat upon the size of the order, but we’re more than competitive relative to price.”
Brian tapped his hand-held cloud interface and a page of numbers appeared on the projector screen.
“We have calculated a cost for the hardware for the entire building based upon the preliminary drawings we received. Of course, should the design change, the pricing could also change, but this is our quote for the various components required along with our estimate of the installation costs based upon the labor rates in the Atlanta area. On the bottom of the page are the mean time to failure curves for our products and similar products from our competition. All testing was done by a third party, and the results demonstrate the reason we can offer a warranty twice as long as our competition.
“If only the initial hardware cost is considered, our price may be somewhat higher than our competition. When the installation labor savings and long term robustness of our designs are considered as a total lifetime cost, our pricing is more than competitive.”
Brian felt good about his presentation, and felt even better when he saw heads nodding around the table. Even Jesse was smiling. The chief architect for the project cleared his throat.
“Mr. Hastings, that was a very impressive presentation. We have to discuss the hardware selection among ourselves and with Miss Downes before making a decision. We’ll have that discussion over the next few days, and get back to you with our decision. I assume you have the production capacity to furnish the required hardware by the delivery date on the request for quote?”
Brian assured him they would deliver on or before the required date and pointed out that the terms of the request for quote stated there would be a two percent reduction in payment per day the order was late.
“We would not have quoted were we not certain of making your delivery date. I’ll leave one of our brochures with each of you. In it are the projects for which we’ve furnished hardware and the actual delivery date versus the planned delivery date for each. As you will see, my company has never missed a delivery date and has delivered early on most projects.”
Brian packed up his presentation materials and then made the round of the table shaking hands again. When he came to Jesse, she grinned.
“The way you talked last night, I thought this would probably be good. It was better than I imagined it would be.”
Brian smiled back.
“Then maybe you’d have dinner with me again tonight? No talk about today, just dinner?”
“I’d like that. About six in the lobby again?”
As they sat at the table finishing a last cup of coffee, Jesse smiled.
“I’ve been wanting to ask you a question since last night. I hope you’ll give me a truthful answer. Why didn’t you try anything after dinner?”
“I’m not sure what you mean. I said we’d just have dinner and talk.”
“I know you said that, but most men would still have tried. They always do.”
“Well, Jesse, those men aren’t real men. They’re only interested in making themselves feel good just like they did before they transferred to a new body. A lot of them get some pleasure out of doing the same for the woman I suppose, but most are just out for the thrill of bedding a woman, or what passes for a woman anyway. A real man wants more with a woman than just good sex. I couldn’t do that with a real woman, and I think you are.”
“I take it you’ve been with one of those..women.”
“Yes, I have.”
“You didn’t like it?”
“The sex was fantastic. The rest was disappointing.”
Jesse raised her eyebrows.
“Well, there wasn’t any sort of bond between us. It was just her wanting me and me sort of using her, not using in a bad way, but using her to make myself feel good. I didn’t feel anything for her before or after and she didn’t feel anything for me. That’s what was disappointing, the lack of feelings.”
“And you think a real woman would cause those feelings between the two of you?”
“If she was the right woman, she would.”
“A lot of people would call you an old-fashioned romantic.”
“Yes, they would, but it’s how I really feel. I think humanity lost a lot of its humanity when we started creating android bodies. By taking away the limit on human lifespan, we also took away the need for commitment between two people.
“If you don’t find one you like today, there’ll be another one tomorrow. If you get tired of sleeping with a blonde, you can find a brunette. If you’re not satisfied with the size of a man, there will be another out there bigger or smaller. It’s just not what life is supposed to be. There should be caring about what each feels, caring about them enough to stay with them no matter what, and not just how they are in bed.”
“That used to be called ‘love’. Do you think it still exists?”
Brian sipped his coffee and then put down the cup.
“I think it can between two real people. I don’t know if it can between androids or not. What do you think?”
Jesse pursed her lips and her brow wrinkled a little.
“I’m not sure either. I suppose it could. They do have the minds of actual people and actual people used to fall in love. I’ve never met one who was into the commitment thing, but I suppose they do exist somewhere. I could never love an android though. It would be like falling in love with my toaster.”
“I never thought of it that way, but you’re right. I guess we’ll both keep being disappointed until that special someone comes along. I wish they’re hurry a little though.”
“Maybe that special person is closer than you think.”
Brian looked at Jesse. She was still smiling and he noticed she was fiddling with her hair. She’d never done that before.
“Jesse, are you saying we should find out?”
“Maybe, unless you don’t like me enough.”
He kissed her in the elevator to her room and the kiss left him tingling all over. Androids did kiss, but it didn’t feel the same. It would have been hard for him to describe the difference, but it was there. Maybe it was the way she gently stroked his hair or the way her mouth moved against his. Maybe it was the way she pressed her body into him.
Jesse opened the door to her room and Brian followed her through the doorway. Jesse closed the door, locked it and flipped the security lock into place, then smiled.
“I don’t ever do this. I hope you’ll take it for what it is. I like you Brian. I like you a lot.”
Brian didn’t say anything. He just took Jesse in his arms and kissed her again. Jesse wrapped her arms around his neck, pressed her breasts into his chest and gave herself up to his lips and to the hands that caressed the small of her back and her hips.
When she gently pushed away, Jesse smiled.
“Undress me, Brian.”
His hands were steady as he unbuttoned Jesse’s blouse, but his mind was reeling. Had he found her, the real woman he’d looked for so long? He was further convinced he had when he eased the blouse from her soft shoulders and laid it on the chair against the wall. Jesse’s breasts weren’t perfectly matched. Her right breast swelled provocatively from the cup of her bra. The left on didn’t swell quite as much.
Jesse unzipped her skirt and then whispered, “It can come off now, up, over my head. My butt is too big for it to come off over my hips.”
Brian lifted the skirt by the hem and then teased himself as he slowly lifted it. Jesse’s slender thighs were exposed first, then the black of her lace panties and then her smooth, flat tummy. Brian pulled the skirt up the rest of the way and then laid it on top of Jesse’s blouse.
Jesse began unbuttoning his shirt when Brian released the hooks of her bra. She pulled his shirt open at the same time her breasts slipped from the bra cups, and then pushed her breasts into his chest. Brian felt her nipples touch him before the softness flattened against him. He didn’t have to look to see those nipples were stiff.
Jesse fumbled with his belt, so Brian unbuckled it, then unsnapped and unzipped his pants. When he turned loose of the waistband, Jesse pulled them down to his ankles and then let her hands stroke up his legs until they were on the waistband of his undershorts. She looked up at him, grinned, and then pulled the undershorts down over his rigid cock.
She stood again as Brian kicked off his shoes and stepped out of his clothes, then grinned again as her fingers circled his cock.
“We should be in bed, I think.”
Jesse turned and walked to the bed, then pulled the blanket and sheet down to the foot and laid down on her back. Brian was smiling when she looked up at him.
“Brian, you’re smiling. I’m not that great.”
“Yes, you are. You’re not perfect. You’re a real woman.”
“Then come show me how a real man treats a real woman.”
She lifted her hips when Brian rolled the black lace panties down her hips, and then held up her legs so he could slip them off. She shivered when Brian stroked each leg from her ankles to her thighs, and then opened them as he stroked higher.
Brian thought about his UV flashlight and then decided there was no need for it. Jesse’s breasts were visibly different in size and her nipple beds were as well. Her ass was wide, just as she’d whispered, and her inner thighs weren’t as slender and muscular as the androids he’d been with. When he looked at her pussy lips through the red hair that covered them, he couldn’t see her inner lips. There were just her outer lips, slender and tightly closed together. Jesse was real, and she was making him want her more than he’d ever thought possible.
Brian stretched out beside Jesse and kissed her again. She moaned into his mouth when his hand found her left breast and he felt her hand stroking down his belly. She touched his cock at the same time he circled her taut nipple with his fingertip. They both caught their breath then, Jesse because he’d just lightly pinched her nipple and Brian because Jesse had just wrapped her fingers around his cock.
Jesse held the back of his head when Brian moved his mouth from her lips to her right nipple and sucked gently. She moaned when he lightly pinched that nipple between his lips, and he felt her hand begin slowly stroking his cock. He kissed, then pinched her left nipple, and Jesse moaned again.
When Brian let his hand trail down her smooth tummy, Jesse stroked his cock a little faster and then gasped when he cupped her mound and pussy with his hand. She gasped again when he slipped a fingertip between her pussy lips and stroked up.
She was wet between those lips, and as Brian massaged the small inner lips hiding inside Jesse’s outer lips, she got wetter and slipperier. It was different than the android women. They were wet and slippery too, but the feeling was more like the artificial lube it was. Jesse’s wet lips seemed to wrap around his finger and she was a little sticky as well as slippery. When he slipped his finger inside her entrance, he knew she was different. He could feel her outer lips catch on his finger and then slip away as it went deeper.
Brian stroked that finger in and out until he felt little resistance, then added a second. Jesse caught her breath when it went in and then pressed his face into her left breast again. When Brian sucked that nipple into his mouth and then pinched gently with his teeth, Jesse moaned and her tummy rolled under his arm. He felt her pulling on his cock and then heard her whisper, “Brian, I want you now.”
Brian didn’t comply right away. He found Jesse’s clit hood and stroked beside it. Jesse began to lift her hips with each stroke of his fingers then, and her breathing became faster. After a few more strokes, he rolled the hood back from her small clit and brushed his thumb over the little rounded tip. Jesse groaned.
“Oh, God. Now…I want you inside me now.”
He entered her slowly, letting her adjust her body position to allow his cock to slide inside her without much resistance. Jesse panted a few breaths when he eased his cock past the tight spot just inside her entrance, and then moaned when he sank into her wet, clasping depths. He felt her hands on his back and then on his ass as she pulled him down.
She felt different on the inside too. The android women were tight and stayed that way. Brian couldn’t last long unless he kept his strokes slow. Jesse opened a little as he stroked his cock in and out. The sensations of her rippled passage were enough to keep his cock rigid and to slowly increase the tension he felt building, but not so tight he couldn’t control himself.
Jesse wasn’t talking to him either like android women always did. She had her face turned to the side, her mouth was open, and she was starting to breathe faster. From time to time, she’d moan and he’d feel her hands on his ass pulling his cock in tight or on his back and pulling his chest down onto her breasts. He could feel the tension building in her body as well.
Jesse began rocking her hips up and into his strokes and he felt little contractions gripping his cock when he kissed her. She moaned into his mouth again and he felt her nails dig gently into his back. Jesse pulled her mouth away from his, gasped, and then murmured, “Don’t stop, Brian…I’m so close…so…Oh God…so close.”
A few strokes later, Jesse dug her heels into the mattress and began arching her body. She caught her breath, then panted, then arched higher. A tiny cry burst from her mouth and her hips began rocking up and down. Brian let himself go and gasped as spurt after spurt raced through his cock and splashed inside Jesse.
Jesse slowly eased back down on the mattress and pulled Brian down on top of her as she did. She wrapped her arms around his back and held him tight as little contractions continued to massage his cock. She giggled when he finally slipped from the velvet embrace of her passage.
“I thought it would be good with a real man. I just didn’t know how good.”
Brian kissed her on the forehead.
“You’re more woman than I ever expected too.”
Jesse hugged him a little tighter.
“I don’t think I want to stop doing this with you.”
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.”
Brian stayed in Chicago for four more days. It took that long for Brunning, Marks, and Associates to sign the contract specifying his company as the supplier for all the door and window hardware for the new Nippo-Seikishiba building. He was surprised by an addition they insisted become part of the contract. They would specify his company on one condition and that was he would relocate to the Atlanta site immediately and live there until the building received a certificate of occupancy. He’d called his boss before signing the contract and told Jack about the added clause. Jack had just laughed and said he’d pay for an apartment and Brian’s other expenses if that’s what it took.
He asked Jesse about the contract addition that night at dinner. She smiled and looked down at her plate. “I just thought if you were there, things might go smoother, that’s all. Well, that’s not all. I think I…remember what you said that night about people caring for each other?”
“Yes. You said it was called love.”
“I think that’s how I feel about you.”
Brian reached across the table and put his hand on Jesse’s.
“I don’t know what love feels like, but I know I don’t want to give you up.”
Like the concept of love, the concept of marriage seemed old-fashioned and romantic to a lot of Brian’s co-workers, but he married Jesse anyway, six months later. They found a bigger apartment in Atlanta, and after a honeymoon to Florida, they set up housekeeping. The building for Nippo-Seikishiba was built according to schedule, and Brian got two more surprises when the codes inspector issued the Certificate of Occupancy. The first surprise was a ten percent bonus for his efforts. The second was his appointment as the manager for a new office in Atlanta. There were new buildings going up all over the South and his boss wanted Brian closer to them than New York.
Jesse also had a surprise for Brian, but it was a surprise she’d keep to herself for a long, long time yet. She was more than just the project manager for the new building. She was the prototype for a process Nippo-Seikishiba had been working on in secret for almost forty years.
Artificial body parts generated by the 3-D printing process had been on the market since the late 2020’s, but were always made from plastics or metal. The secret process Nippo-Seikishiba had finally perfected was printing not just body parts, but an entire body, and it wasn’t plastic or metal. The body was printed using living tissue of the appropriate structures laid down layer by layer. The body became “alive” when the medulla portion of the brain was programmed to regulate heart rate and breathing. The remainder of the brain was there and awaiting the installation of human memories and learned controls from an actual person. The resulting body was just as real as if it had grown from the normal process of cell division because it was made of exactly the same materials.
Jesse was thirty and was named Julie Dixon when she was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. When she told her supervisor at Nippo-Seikishiba she had about six weeks left, he just nodded and said he was very sorry. A week later, she received an invitation to a meeting in a part of the building she didn’t even know existed. The invitation was signed by the president of Nippo-Seikishiba.
She had asked her supervisor about the invitation, but he just shrugged.
“I don’t know Julie, but if the president of the company wants you there, you should go.”
The meeting was surprisingly short given the subject.
The president of the company, a man she’d seen pictures of but never seen in person, smiled and asked how she was feeling. She had replied she felt as good as the doctors said she could expect to feel. He then asked her a question she’d had to think about for a while.
“Miss Dixon, if it were possible for us to make you healthy again, would you be able to keep that information from everyone else, even if it meant you would lose your life if you did not reveal it?”
After several minutes, she’d looked up at the man.
“I don’t want to die. If you can cure me, yes, I could. The option is to die anyway.”
She didn’t pretend to understand everything that followed. She just knew she was placed in some sort of machine and then went to sleep. When she woke up, she didn’t feel any different than before. She asked the older man checking her pulse what had happened. He smiled.
“You’re a very lucky young woman. We’ve been looking for quite some time for a woman like you.”
“What did you do to me? Am I cured?”
The man had patted her hand.
“No, Miss Dixon, you haven’t been cured. You will die in approximately five weeks, that is to say, your body will die. Your mind will not because a copy of your engrams has been made and now resides on four separate storage systems here in our research facility and four more in Japan. When your body does cease to function, we will place those engrams into the brain of another body. You will continue to live a normal life.”
“I don’t want to be an android, so you can forget it. I’ll just die.”
The man had patted her hand.
“We know how you feel about androids because we inferred those feelings from your personality analysis. That is one of the reasons we chose you. You will not become an android. That is the reason you must never tell anyone. You will become another living body, just as if you had never died. Would you like to see such a body?”
Jesse had been taken into a room accessed through four separate locked doors each requiring the swipe of the man’s ID badge and then a different password. Once inside, she saw a man and a woman lying on padded tables. Their bodies twitched from time to time.
“Are they alive?”
“Yes, very much so, although all they can do at the present time is maintain heart rate and breathing. They are fed intravenously. The twitching you see is from electrical impulses used to maintain muscle tone until they are animated.”
Jesse looked at the man.
“This is what I’m going to be? They don’t look real.”
“Why would you say such a thing? They are as perfect as we can make them based upon some rather extensive studies of human preferences.”
“That’s the problem. Real people aren’t perfect. If I’m going to wear a different body around, I want it to not be perfect.”
The man smiled.
“We can accommodate your wishes by making some changes to the process. What would you want to look like?”
“Can’t you make it look like me?”
He shook his head.
“No, no, Miss Dixon. If you were to suddenly appear to be in good health again, that would generate many, many questions, questions we are not yet prepared to answer. You may look like anything you desire other than your current appearance. Along those lines, you must also change your name. We have prepared a list of possibilities for which we have arranged the proper documentation, though you may take any name of your choosing. The documentation is relatively simple to acquire.”
She picked Jesse because it sounded strong yet feminine, and Downes because it was her grandmother’s maiden name. She also picked those names because the first letter of each was the same as her real name. She often abbreviated her name to just initials, and with Jesse Downes, she wouldn’t have to change that.
She had given a lot of thought to her new body, and finally listed her preferences and gave them to the man. He smiled.
“It will take about two weeks before you can review the results.”
She didn’t remember dying. All she remembered was slowly drifting away while her mother wept. Then, everything was a blank until she woke up and saw the lights above her. The same man leaned over her, flashed a little light in her eyes, and then smiled.
“Good morning, Jesse. How are you feeling?”
Jesse had lain there and tried to feel how she felt. She raised her arm and saw fingers approaching her face. She couldn’t stop them before they slapped against her nose.
The man chuckled.
“Your new body will feel different for a while so you’ll need to practice a little. We’re here to help you do that.”
A month later, Jesse Downs had walked out of the room in the Nippo-Seikishiba building a new woman. She still had a lot of work ahead to become accustomed to her new body, but she was happy she’d made the decision. What had promised to be a short life had become a life that would be long and hopefully filled with happiness. Before she left, she was notified she’d been hired as the project manager for the new corporate headquarters. Nippo-Seikishiba needed her close in order to monitor her progress.
Yes, she’d tell Brian about what she was, but only when he was ready to hear. That might be twenty years or it might be forty, but at some time he’d realize their lives were growing to a close. She’d tell him her story then and hope he’d chose to travel the same path she had.
If he did, they’d do so together. As the man had explained, her body was just as fragile as any other real body and would age at the same rate. Together, she and Brian would change bodies and be together for another fifty years or more. If he didn’t want to do that, she’d let things take their natural course. As Brian had once said, caring for another person enough to stay with them no matter what was what love was all about.