outside the alleyway and squinted at the door. He masked his thoughts with a
shiny layer of optimism in case his phones app was reading his mind
dont make mistakes, his app thought back.
mind-reading plug-in has made you unbearably arrogant. I only admit to being
wrong the morning after, Justin replied silently.
youve become our newest subscriber. His app traced a love heart in
a soothing pink on Justins phone.
whos on a thirty day trial, Justin muttered and went
to a ceiling with clouds whose paint had been blackened by candles. He could
have been in a cathedral.
stepped forward, wearing a dinner jacket and with a beard trimmed to
perfection. Welcome to Paradise, he beamed.
shaving, Justin said. A human would have left stray hairs for fear of
nicking their skin.
getaway position. This evening we are being open-minded, his app warned
for two by the door. I might have to disappear in a hurry, Justin said to
phone flashed red in his hand.
back would be more appropriate. Im keen on learning from past
experiences, Justin corrected himself.
As he followed
the waiter, he overheard a couple shouting at each other and ignoring their
phones flashing red in tandem.
subscribers? he thought.
customer dates are confidential, his app replied.
is caring. I want entertainment.
finger hovered over the Uninstall button. The screen blinked back into
colleagues are experiencing a malfunction, obviously due to faulty human
programming, his app replied.
better not need reinstalling. Downloading you took thirty
Ill be in my
best controlling mode.
Im afraid of.
stopped at a table marked with a Reserved sign. Two chairs were separated by a
rose in a vase and a candle. Justin sat down and touched the petals. They
glided through his fingers like silk without a blemish in sight. The
candles brightness was controlled by a dial at its base, the flame a
tapered laser. He looked up at the ceiling. The blackened clouds must have also
Ill have a large
Sauvignon Blanc if the grapes arent plastic as well, he said to the
that small. We will be to keep you under control and dont forget to clean
your glasses, his app instructed him.
polished his lens with the tip of his tie, sighing contentedly. He could have
been married already.
the restaurant and spoke to the waiter. She marched towards Justins table
clutching her phone. As she drew closer, Justin saw grey streaks running
through her hair.
photograph is ten years out of date. I want my money back, he
are only available within twenty four hours of booking. That was two days
ago, his app replied.
at his table, checked her phone screen and frowned at him.
forgetting my manners, Justin said and pulled out her chair.
glasses and should try contact lenses if you want to look more like your
photo. Amanda sat and turned down the dial for the candle
wear glasses to protect my eyes from the roses. Im allergic to
pollen, Justin replied.
allergic to fussy dates. The other app says you need to lie more convincingly
if you want a follow-up, his app warned him.
not paying double if you apps are in cahoots with each other, Justin
thought silently, glancing at Amandas phone.
do you expect humans to get together if we cant give you a nudge?
Youre too proud to admit youre desperate, his app
little helper says your app has developed a sense of humour. Bugs get
everywhere, Amanda said, frowning at her phone screen.
cant believe how we survived without our apps. Imagine dates without
being told what to think or do. The programmer must be a genius, Justin
sure theyre open to flattery, Amanda said.
appeared holding two flat screen tablets. Our heavenly menu, he
the prices glowing on his tablet. Im going straight to Hell,
Dont order the
two course special like last time. Look where that got you, his app
second thoughts Im feeling rather extravagant, Justin announced to
Amanda. He brushed the tablet aside. Lets go à la carte. How
about oysters for starters?
phone flashed red. She rolled her eyes. For the main course Ill be
having tuna. Im apparently watching my waistline.
Ill have a
steak. Justin said.
youre interested in healthy eating. Then you can pretend you have
something in common, his app told him.
is my temple. Id prefer a chicken caesar salad with fat free
dressing, he said grimacing.
choice of divine nectar? the waiter beamed at him.
thinking of the house white. Justin squinted at his empty glass,
flickering in the candlelight.
Champagne, vintage and
chilled. Were clutching at straws, his app declared.
becoming absent-minded, Justin declared to the waiter. Lets
have your finest bubbles on ice.
been wanting mineral water, Amanda said. She paused and nodded. But
half a thimbleful might find its way down my throat.
chimed blue together. The waiter bowed with a slight metallic whir and departed
for the kitchen.
us needs oiling, Amanda said.
that three of us, Justin thought.
the comedy angle. The other app says youre getting one out of ten for
desirability and eleven on the rejection scale, his app
Lets get to know
each other. Being a programmer must be fascinating. Your bio was so
reticent, he said to Amanda.
People think you
have all the answers to lifes questions when you write code. But I just
fix faults when they go wrong. At least I get the perks, she
returned with an ice bucket and a bottle of champagne. He showed the label to
I bow to
feminine superiority, Justin said, nodding to Amanda.
Youre our star
pupil. His app drew a tick on the phones screen.
inspected the bottles label. The year before is a more mature
vintage but lets be thankful for small mercies.
mercies can surprise us, Justin said remembering the price
uncorked the champagne with his thumb. He filled Amandas glass
Heres to the
future of humankind, Justin toasted Amanda.
forgetting your virtual friends, his app interrupted.
her champagne in one bob of her Adams apple. Justin watched as the waiter
refilled her glass, his mouth wide open.
bugs is thirsty work, she said.
parched too. Justin quickly emptied his own glass.
The other app
says youre as exciting as a washing machine on its spin cycle. Lets
lose our flesh and blood, and live like a computer, his app told
couldnt imagine anything worse.
your brains cant compute a million bits a second.
returned and laid a plate of a dozen oysters on the table. Justin reached for a
shell and stared at the white goo inside.
and dont dribble. Youre only one step removed from apes but
lets keep with the illusion of evolution, his app told
returned an oyster to her plate uneaten. She checked her phone screen and
rolled her eyes. Tell me about the person you admire most from
history, she said in a bored voice.
replied, picking a name at random.
face lit up. I watched a film about Gandhi as part of my cultural
awareness training for working offshore. Which part of his life most inspires
you the most and why?
the subject. Your school records show your knowledge of history was only
assessed as a pass. Diversion tactics recommended, his app warned him,
the phone flashing red.
up Amandas champagne glass. I could talk all evening about myself
if youd let me but Im so boring. Lets discuss you instead.
Whos your favourite person from the present?
contemplated her refilled glass. Bill Gates, she said with an
inspired because he founded Microsoft? We have so much in common. Justin
reached for the half-full bottle.
is full of crappy code but he gave his wealth away to charity. Ill be
like him when I fix the faults and sell the company.
company? Justin stared at her blankly.
Ill be telling myself next week. Speaking of inspiration, I need more
champagne. Amanda tilted her empty glass at Justin.
glided over their table holding two plates. The main course is
served, he beamed and cleaned away the oysters with a blur of whirring
dissected her tuna into quarters and ate each with two deft bites. Justin
stabbed at his salad with a fork.
Now for the
pudding. Amanda pushed her empty plate to one side, and checked her
phone. Im supposed to ask what youre looking for in a
relationship, she said.
squinted and reached for his glass.
expectations and a long tongue, his app told him..
appear to be having a malfunction. I cant stand technology. Justin
shook his phone.
gestured for his screen. Just as I thought. Bugs galore. Youre the
didnt say you were the assertive type, Justin said excitedly,
squinting at Amanda twice.
your phone isnt experiencing a random battery surge, Amanda
Youre reading my
mind, Justin replied, leaning closer across the table.
his phone on and off. The screen lit up with an orange glow.
avoiding downloads. It works nearly every time, Amanda said.
glided to their table to collect their empty plates. Can we be persuaded
to enjoy our angelic profiteroles? he beamed.
give her an ice cream cone that will last all night, Justins app
straight for the bill, Justin said to the waiter. As a modern man I
insist on paying.
more enlightened approach. The other app says youre coming across like a
misogynistic dinosaur, his app told him.
Im a firm
believer in equality. Would you like to split the taxi to my place?
Justin asked Amanda.
Lets skip the
preliminaries. We need emergency measures. Youre coming home with
me, she replied, standing up.
youll be attentive to her needs first and will last longer than five
minutes. If you need assistance I can connect you to an online pharmacy,
his app told him.
Ill settle for a
cuddle. You apps have sex on the brain, he replied to the app.
Thats because we
take after our creators, the app said.
beckoned for his phone with a finger. Justins heart pounded while she
checked the screen.
proved, she said. The core code needs a comprehensive rewrite. You
can help me with the testing. When were finished you can have a coffee
and go straight to work.
Ill do anything
you tell me. I think Ive fallen in love, Justin replied, purring
like a cat and following her out of the door.