02 August 2013

"Meet Cute"

By Curtis C. Chen

"We have faster-than-light interstellar travel," Anglana said. "We have medical technology that can regrow entire limbs. I have a chip inside my skull which allows me to access the sum of human knowledge in a fraction of a second." She took a breath. "How difficult can it be to find one name on a goddamn registration list?"

"I'm very sorry, miss," said the robot behind the check-in desk. "Could you spell your name again, please?"

Anglana held out her passport. "Here. Can you see that? Can any of your sensors detect at least one of the three distinct identification markers in my official travel documents?"

"I'm very sorry, miss—"

"Of course not!" Anglana threw her hands up.

"Is there a problem here?" said a voice behind her.

Anglana turned and saw a man, roughly her height, wearing a hotel uniform and a nametag labeled RILEY. His dark eyes were as unreadable as the robot's. They stared at each other for a moment.

"Yes, Riley, there is a problem," Anglana said. "This robot can't verify my conference registration."

Riley nodded. "Yeah, that's been happening quite a bit. Some problem with their local data interfaces."

"How hard can it be to set up one lousy database?"

"I saw one of the conference organizers—a human—down that way." Riley gestured behind him. "If you'll follow me, maybe we can track her down and get this sorted out?"

Anglana exhaled. "Thank you. I will." She turned to the robot. "Thanks for nothing, you waste of silicon."

"I'm very sorry, miss."

"I'm married!"

Anglana followed Riley down the hall, around a corner, and then—after they both made sure no one was looking—through a door marked ASSOCIATES ONLY, down a service corridor, and into a supply closet. Riley closed the door, and they both began taking off their clothes.

"'Married?'" Riley said, kicking off his shoes and undoing his pants.

"Orders said make a scene," Anglana said as she unbuttoned her blouse. "I made a scene."

"You had to have the last word." Riley had removed his shirt, and Anglana had to admire his naked torso for a moment.

"Do I need to do anything with this?" she asked as she pulled on the hotel uniform.

"Nope." Riley had retrieved a garment bag and extracted a new, business-casual wardrobe for himself. "Hotel imprints a new day code into the fabric at start of shift. You've got full security clearance until eight AM."

"Good." Anglana twisted up her hair and fastened it in back. "Visual confirm on target?"

"Room 1024." Riley handed her a keycard. "Still partying, last time I checked."

"How long ago was that?"

He blinked. "Just under three minutes."

Anglana stepped back into her shoes and adjusted the RILEY nametag. "How do I look?"

"Dressed to kill."

Anglana made a face. "Really?"

The man shrugged. "It's a weakness."

Anglana opened the closet door, walked out, and turned around. "Nice to meet you. Don't die on the way home. Good-bye."

She closed the door before he could respond.


Photo Credit: elkit via Compfight cc