Shelly fastened the supple face onto her cranial mounts and combed the strands of implanted hair over its edges. The past few years had seen a sharp decline in the effectiveness of her rejuvenation treatments. She now had to inject nanofluids each night before sleeping in an anti-gravity capsule just to retain what little skin was left on her skull. It will help with the ‘sag,’ the salesman had said. But her aging body needed more than a reprieve from gravity.
With her skin suit on and her new face applied, she queried her digital assistant. “Projection time?”
“9.7 hours,” the male computer voice echoed from her prep chamber.
“Ugh. What time will it expire?”
“Expiration calculated to occur at 6:23 p.m.” She sighed, but sobs soon followed. Her optical replacements manufactured saline. At least the tears tasted real. She remembered that much. She rubbed a finger across the tip of her artificial nose and pain seared her nasal cavity.
“Break detected,” the computer said. “Repairing.” A robotic arm raised from the counter and began removing her mask.
“Stop. Leave it.” The arm halted, then retracted. “Ring my date. Voice only.”
“Contacting Fleming, voice only,” the assistant announced. A hologram of a dark-haired, handsome man’s bust appeared in the middle of the room. His face remained expressionless, but the image followed her as she rose from her vanity and seated herself on the sofa. Shelly rolled her eyes. Flyboy Fleming, he called himself. A ridiculous alias. The young ones were stupid, but usually handsome.
“Well hullo you,” he answered.
Shelly paused. “I usually don’t make contact prior.”
“Can’t wait, can you?” The arrogance. It had lost any sexiness decades ago.
“You have no idea.”
He offered a mocking laugh.
“Not sure I can wait til seven. How about you come here right at six for something special? We’ll eat once we’re famished.”
“Your place? Wooooot! I’m in. Shoot me the hex point and door code. I’ll be there.”
“Sure you won’t regret it?” she asked playfully.
“You don’t scare me,” he answered.
“We’ll see… you at six sharp, flyboy.” She waved a hand, ending the call.
“Send location and grant access to Fleming. Allow entry today, near 6 p.m.”
“Done,” the computer voice answered.
“Resume repair,” she said. The robotic arm went to work on her nose.
6:17. The idiot was late.
“Visitor arriving,” the computer announced.
“Open,” Shelly said.
Fleming came in, dressed in a ridiculous pilot’s outfit. Shelly didn’t care. She pressed her lips against his. They kissed for a moment before collapsing on the couch. She glanced at the clock. 6:22. Any second now.
At 6:23, Shelly’s face began to erode. Patches of hair stuck to Fleming’s hand.
“What the hell?” he shouted, springing from the sofa. His revulsion was barely noticeable over his screams.
Shelly stood, peeled off her skinsuit, and laughed. It was the most rejuvenating thing she’d experienced in years.
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