21st Century Love
by Hailie Andersen.
Mankind created Bots in our image. We wished them along. Soon we lost control of our creations.
Singles’ Quarter, Saturday, February 14th 2054
Zohrea’s Online Registered Thoughts – Log entry #1
I got a package delivered to the doorstep of my new home this morning. It is huge, about my size and a half. It is my Guardian. He is supposed to guide me through the transition. If I do not find love the natural way, my Guardian will become my only companion for the rest of my life.
Sex is up to me, and it is only an option of course. There is no obligation.
Although I hear most humans give in to the temptation.
I checked online. This fact has been confirmed by the nation wide consumer survey related to Guardian use. 83% of Singles consume their civil union, once they turn 20. 79% of those even tried it out with their GuardianBots, before they reached the deadline. 13% of them declare having felt something for their Bot, as soon as they opened the delivery package. And the numbers go on and on…
I take a deep breath. I have been starring at the box all day. Not knowing whether I should open it and discover the face of my potential mate, or if I should just leave it there for one more year, until he gets out on its own, and forces its presence into my life. I am both curious and scared.
Since I am not sure yet, I cannot make up my mind. Instead, I decide I should just keep unpacking the rest of my stuff and come back to it later. Moving in a new place is always a hassle. We moved in and out again quite a bit with my mum over the years.
Valentine day. Today is Valentine day. I just realised. I am about to spend one more lovers’ day on my own. Trapped in my solitude, while most of my friends are building up their lives, patching up their future by gathering and arranging together lovely moments like this one should be.
I do not know why I have not found anyone to partner with in high school. I have had opportunities, but I never seemed to really be receptive to them. I felt that something was always missing from the prospects I encountered.
Most people give in to the norm and assemble. I do not know why I keep resisting the norm in every way. I need it to feel special, just like it was for my mum and dad. Butterflies in the stomach, sparkles in the eyes, electricity in the touch, and everything. It has never felt that way to me though. So I did not cave in, I did not settle. I am still not settling.
I am resisting the urge of opening that box.
High school has been over for almost eight months. I downloaded the stats. I know my chances of finding my matching individual have been decreasing exponentially for 8 months already. That means they are close to none already.
I can hear people screaming down the street. These neighborhoods are the incarnation of the unrest. It is desolate. People are desperate. Once we leave high school, all we have is two years, starting from our 18th birthday to find a suitable mate. Less than 1 per cent of us do. I am telling you, numbers like those drive people crazy. Even I do not know how I will feel, who I will become in a couple of months.
I look out the window. Bars are sheltering me from the moving shadows. My door is locked, and I am about to step into my safe chamber to let my mind and body drift to slumber.
I go to bed and close my eyes. I lie down awake, and skip through music, songs that soothe me. I scroll through the usual. Nothing inspires me. I log into the radio, hoping it will make a difference. Soon after I surrender to sleep.
I stir awake to a blasting noise. Someone must have entered my house. I hear banging on the door of my safe chamber. Someone is trying to force their way in through that door. These parts really do deserve their trashy reputation. My second night here, my house gets broken in. It should not be believable, yet it is. Worse even it was predictable. I was expecting it.
I try to reassure myself. They should not be able to get in, no matter what they do. This is a safe, only a Guardian could tear through this metal and Guardians would not do it. They are sworn to protect humans. They cannot harm us. The sole purposes of their existence are to satisfy our needs, keep us safe and sound, and assist us through our transition, and beyond.
They are still banging on the door. It is stressful. The room is equipped with a user’s safety access code. I dial it down. I get instant access to cameras all over the place. My house is outrun by strangers. Mostly male accompanied by their Female Guardian Bots. They should not have entered.
I state my situation, and name my request “My Guardian has not been activated yet. I need to get rid of violent intruders in my house.” The user’s safety guide simply states, “Activate your Guardian Bot, or your insurance will not cover your loss.” I add in that I do not feel ready to meet my Guardian. Then the safety guide app crashes out instantly. Leaving me totally alone to fend for myself.
According to the digital guide, my situation cannot be faced. It has never been encountered before. There is no protocol in place.
A red alarm flashes in my room, urging me to start up my Guardian and let him deal with the situation. The only way there is.
But I am not ready to open that box yet.
I hear the door creaking dangerously. It is about to give in to the pressure of the constant hammering.
All I have to do to be safe again, is to wholeheartedly wish for the box to open to get it started.
I look at the box at the other side of the house through the surveillance screens. There is now a swarm of hungry males moving around my house.
They got in my room. They reek of booze and sweat. One of them grabs my arm.
I give in to the urgency of the situation and sincerely hope for my Guardian to start up, hoping it is not too late.
Seconds later, I see an athletic figure waltz in, and kick out everything in its wake.
There are fits being thrown around. It goes so fast. It is all so violent that I would rather just close my eyes. But I realize I cannot. I cannot take my eyes off the humanoid figure that just stepped in.
Minutes later, all the intruders are either lying down on the floor or running the hell away.
The tall machine walks up to me, and offers its hand to shake. It says: “Hello Zohrea, my name is Jalil. I am your Guardian.” His voice is soft and gentle.
I am still too shocked to properly answer, and simply say “Hey”
Then I add, “Can you stay next to me tonight? I do not think it is safe for me to be alone at night in this place, at least not tonight.”
Jalil simply nods his approval, and looks at the hand he is still holding out for me to shake.
All I remember is the warmth of his brown eyes, and the softness of his skin.
I sit on the edge of my bed. As if reading my mind, Jalil sits on the armchair beside me, ready to start his watch, as I lie down, close my eyes, and drift to sleep.