“True to you.” The voice emanating from the computer’s speakers was female, perky. Lisa pictured some blond, blue-eyed pixie, an image that set her teeth on edge.
“Your own personal life experience at the mall is now available,” the voice continued. “Please, enter and enjoy!”
“Enjoy? My ass!” Lisa was only putting herself through this torture because today was a scheduled clothing replacement day, shopping mandatory. She had no choice. She sighed and touched the icon labeled Welcome, Ms. Lang.
The screen’s display was now filled with a virtual mall. Her virtual self (VS) was standing outside a shoe store, waiting for directions. Lisa checked to make sure her VS was carrying the large red purse as requested, then touched the mall map icon that was glowing in the bottom right corner of the display. She located a casual clothing store on the lower level of the mall and instructed her VS to go there.
Lisa sighed again as she watched her VS walk to the escalator and take a ride down. “Look,” she said aloud. “I know my VS is supposed to represent me, as I am, but does she have to be so frumpy? She’s pudgy. And that outfit sucks.”
“Ms. Lang. Lisa.” This time a male voice responded. “The VS’s build and age are consistent with the most recent data obtained from your doctor and other sources. And the clothes are ones selected from your current wardrobe. It is true to you.”
“I know all that. But why does she have to be so faithful to the way I really am? You all never answer that question adequately. Who am I speaking with today?”
”I am called Brian, Lisa. It is good to meet you. And you know that your life experience can only be customized properly when it is true to you. No fudging of the facts. No misrepresentation. That’s the law.”
“I know, Brian. I know. Sorry. May I buy you a cup of coffee later? Will you have some break time available around 2:00?”
“Certainly, Lisa. That would be appreciated. We can chat. Shall we meet at The Coffee Den?”
Lisa’s VS had finally made its way to the clothing store on the lower level. It was called Modern Maturity. Of course. The VS browsed while Lisa seethed. Look at that crap. Polyester pants with elastic at the waist. Shapeless shirts. Horrible prints. The manufacturers had been making this same shit for years. Making a huge profit while forcing me to look like an old fool, she thought.
“Excuse me,” Her VS addressed one of the clerks as Lisa spoke. “Where are the jeans? And perhaps you could find a shirt with a bit more style?”
“Sorry, ma’am. Items like those are not available for your age group. Please make your selection from the items here. Or if you can’t decide, we will be happy to send an appropriate selection to you.”
“I see. Well, that’s what I thought you would say.” Lisa whispered the next set of instructions to her VS, watching eagerly as the VS pulled a large handgun from the red purse and opened fire. The clerk was knocked backwards by the force of the shots. Blood sprayed up and out, getting all over the VS’s clothes and hands. She had the VS locate three other customers and another clerk inside the store. “Shoot them,” she whispered. “Kill them all.”
“Clean up, please,” Lisa requested as the VS walked back out into the mall. In an instant, the VS was once again pristine and ready to continue shopping. Lisa had the VS stop at several more shops during the course of the afternoon. At every stop, she gave the clerks an opportunity to provide her with the merchandise she wanted. When they all declined, she was forced to use the gun again and again.
Then finally it was nearing 2:00. Time to go to The Coffee Den, she thought. Time to meet Brian. She had the VS walk up to the counter there and order a large Mocha with an extra shot of espresso.
“Here you go. One small decaf Latté with skim milk,” the virtual barista said brightly. “Just for you!”
Let it go, Lisa thought. It won’t be much longer now. She looked around to see a young man who must be Brian waving at her VS from a table in the back of the café. Her VS headed over to join him. Lisa looked at the clock. Ten seconds now. As the VS reached the table, right on time, the bomb inside the red purse exploded. Jagged pieces of the VS and those around her flew around the room, landing with audible thumps and splats.
Lisa clapped her hands with glee at such a satisfying end to her shopping spree.
She touched the Done Shopping icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. The perky, hateful voice returned. “Good-bye, Ms. Lang. Your clothing replacements will be delivered in 3 to 5 days. I do hope you’ve enjoyed today’s customized life experience.”
“Oh, yes!” Lisa said wryly. “I enjoyed it very much. It was so true to me.”
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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