Brain Chip

Mike Forrester is an industrial spy. At some point his employers had a chip implanted in his brain that gives him the ability to create and maneuver “force fields,” which among other things means he can move things with his mind. Makes things like fingerprints much less of a problem. But Mike feels alienated from people in general because of the conditions of his job, unable to get close to anyone because he may wind up having to use them or be used by them at some point.

He begins fantasizing about his dream girl. In short order he creates a fully rounded personality for his imaginary girlfriend, which he calls “Roxanne,” using the abilities his chip gives him to create what anyone in his company would swear was his girlfriend, an attentive, cute, shapely, perfect brown-skinned, brown-eyed, brown-haired Asian-featured woman.

Poor diet, bad sleeping habits, and a bad mental attitude contribute to a mild stroke. A thorough physical exam turns up no physical aftereffects of the stroke, but he seems to have lost control of the chip. Try as he might, Mike cannot maneuver anything without physical contact. His “dream girl” seems to be gone forever. A diagnostic check finds that the chip is still in good working order, though.

One morning, while he’s still in the hospital, he groggily wishes he had something to drink. Before his eyes, the empty pitcher on his tray floats to the “kitchen” across the hall where the nurses fill up the patients’ water pitchers. The pitcher is filled and returns to his room, pouring a cupful of cold water into a waiting cup before coming to rest on the counter. The cup then floats over to him and hovers in the air just inches away from his mouth. Needless to say, he is now fully awake.

He drinks the water from the floating cup WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. When he finishes, the cup returns to the pitcher for more. *I don’t want any more,* he thinks, and the cup takes its place on the counter.

He sits there dazed, unwilling to accept that this is really happening. Soon sleep creeps up on him again. He doesn’t fall completely asleep, as he daydreams about an invisible woman tending to him in his room. He’s too dazed to notice that some of his own clothing there in the room has taken shape around an unseen female body, with movements that correspond directly with what he sees in his mind. When the invisible dreamgirl sits on his bed in the daydream, he feels his bed shake, and the movement stirs him awake again. He opens his eyes to find the clothes he was daydreaming about filled with an unseen female figure, sitting on the edge of his hospital bed.

He stares at this vision seated on his bed like something out of a dream, which of course is esactly what it is. The “unseen woman” stands and begins to pose, as if her “host” is taking photos of her. Incredibly he realizes that in his mind he was “posing” her as if she was a model and he was the photographer. His mind begins to reel, trying to grasp what is happening, and just then his clothes drop in a heap on the floor, leaving no evidence as to the whereabouts of his invisible visitor.

Before long the orderlies bring his breakfast. In comes what seems to be his dreamgirl, Roxanne, to feed him. She’s wearing a gold tube top and tight black jeans, just like the outfit he usually imagined his dreamgirl wearing.

He stares in wordless shock while she picks up the clothes from the floor, folding them and placing them in his dresser. She then opens the breakfast tray and takes her position seated on the bed next to him, to feed him breakfast. “Wh-who are you?” he whispers hoarsely.

“It’s me, Roxie,” she replies. “You forgot me already? After all the fun we’ve had, you just put me out of your mind just like that?”

“This can’t be happening… I must be delirious…” he moans. “First the invisible woman, and now this!”

“You’re not delirious, honey,” “Roxanne” answers. “That invisible woman was me. You wanted me here, and so here I am.”

“But you can’t be Roxanne.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t have any way to communicate with Roxanne anymore. My…” He trailed off, not wanting to mention the chip for fear of sounding like a nut to this gorgeous woman. “I just can’t do it.”

“What do you mean? The doctors told you that the chip is in perfect working order,
didn’t they?”

He is shocked. How could this person know about the chip, or about what the doctors told him? He never conceived that his Roxanne knew that she was his creation, a figment of his imagination. This woman seemed to know.

He decided to play dumb. “What are you talking about? What chip?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Mike.” Roxanne said smugly. “I know all about the chip, and I know just where I come from and what I really am. I came from your imagination. You were upset about not being able to maintain a relationship and so you imagined me.”

“Yeah, but…” He wanted to object, but something was keeping him from voicing his objections convincingly. After all, this is just what he wanted, just what he NEEDED. He had to try, though; his logical mind wouldn’t give up without a fight. “The chip still works, or so they tell me. I can’t control it, though, so you CAN’T be Roxanne.”

She leaned close to him, so close he could feel her breath on his face. “But I AM Roxanne. You CALLED me here. There’s NO OTHER WAY I could be here.”

“But I CAN’T ACCESS THE CHIP!”

She asked, “Are you absolutely sure about that?” Just then his doctor entered the room and Roxanne disappeared.

“Good morning! Didn’t I just see and hear you talking to someone?” the doctor said as he enters.

“I’m not sure, Doc,” Mike says in reply. “I think I may be losing it. I, um, I never told you this, but one of the things I used to do to stay sane on this job was make myself a pretend girlfriend with that chip you all installed in my head, and now…” he trailed off.

“Say that again?” the doctor says quizzically, unsure of whether to believe what he was hearing.

“I used the chip to make a holographic woman that I pretended was my girlfriend, and now she seems to be out of my control.”

“Hmm. Maybe there were some aftereffects from that stroke after all,” the doctor mused.

Mike started to continue his story for the doctor, stopping short when he felt unseen hands caressing his face. The doctor stood expectantly as the unseen hands moved to the base of the Mike’s neck and began to massage him. The maneuver had its desired effect, basically rendering him speechless.

The doctor shrugged and left the room, while Mike lay reveling in the sensations of this otherworldly masseuse. He did think it was strange that the hands seemed to be reaching from behind him when the head of his bed was flush against the wall, but he was too caught up in the sensations of the massage to worry about such things just then.

Mike wondered silently about why Roxanne had disappeared when the doctor entered the room. “Because,” she said aloud, “if either of us had told him who I was, he would have thought it was just some kind of gag. Now he’ll probably want to run tests just to make sure you’re not delirious from the stroke. After the tests, if they don’t show anything, I’ll let the doctor see me.”

“Wait just a minute!” Mike called out. “You can read my thoughts?”

“Of course I can,” she answered. “I’m one of them, remember?”

“And you want others to know about you?”

“Of course,” Roxanne answered, sounding surprised. “Don’t you?”

“But…” Mike pictured a scenario where the doctor’s tests came up negative and Roxanne showed herself, prompting the doctors to wire Mike to all kinds of machinery to figure out just how this could be possible. He also worried that the tests wouldn’t turn out negative, that some kind of abnormality would show up. That Roxanne was the result of some kind of mental hiccup working itself out through the chip. He wasn’t thrilled with either possibility.

“Don’t worry, Mike,” Roxanne said in a soothing tone. “I’ll try my best not to make any trouble for you. None of that bad stuff you’re worried about will happen, trust me.”

“How can you be sure?”

“I have a few tricks up my sleeve,” she answered slyly.

Mike silently considered her last remark, wondering if this Roxanne was truly a product of his mind, or maybe something else.

All the test results came back negative. Mike was unsure whether that was good or bad news. After he and the doctor returned to his room, there was a knock at the door. Both ignored it, thinking it was coming from somewhere else. The knocking continued until the doctor looked up and did not see anyone at the door. Then a female voice instantly familiar to Mike asked, “Is it alright if I come in?”

The doctor froze. Mike was fully aware of what was happening, if not happy with the method. He was hoping for a conventional introduction. Still, he wanted to laugh at the doctor’s reaction. Though neither of them actually saw anyone, they could hear the soft sounds of bare feet hitting the hospital floor.

The doctor leaned close to Mike and whispered, “Do you see anything?”

“No, I don’t,” Mike answered, calmly and softly.

“Y-you don’t?” The doctor swallowed, loud enough for Mike to hear. While Mike tried valiantly to supress a laugh, the doctor continued, “Do you hear anything?”

“You mean,” Mike answered, “something besides your heart pounding? Well, I did hear something a few seconds ago but it seems to have stopped.”

*So I’m not cracking up*, the doctor thought. Then he flinched when he felt a sensation like a soft hand brushing against his cheek. He would have dismissed it if not for the voice and sound of footsteps that both had seemed to come from thin air. Then the voice loudly whispered, practically in his ear, “Did you just feel something?”

The doctor yelped and jumped, sending Mike and the unseen female into fits of laughter. The doctor, for his part, was convinced he was cracking up. Once he had collected his wits, he asked, “Who, or what, are you?”

“‘What’?” the voice repeated. “I’m not a ‘what.’ I believe Mike already told you — I’m Roxanne, the woman he’s been fantasizing about.”

The doctor’s response was, to Mike, most undoctorlike — he fainted.

“Let me get this straight,” the doctor said, holding his head and trying to make the room stay still. “You say you imagined her?”

“Yeah,” Mike replied, a bit sheepishly. “You know as well as I do that this job doesn’t allow much opportunity to get close to people, so I used my imagination to… well, to create a girlfriend. Then I used the chip to…” he trailed off, feeling more than a little silly.

“You ‘created’ a girlfriend?” the doctor replied. “I’m not following you, Mike. How did you manage to do that?”

“Well, you know, Doc,” Mike said, “I don’t have to consciously think about the process; I just imagine it and the chip does the rest. But, just to venture a guess, I suppose it generates a force field first, then a light pattern that matches the shape of the force field, and voila! Roxanne.”

After a couple of beats the doctor continued. “And now you say you’re not in control of the chip anymore?”

“No, I’m not, Doc, but Roxanne here,” Mike said, motioning to the pretty, brown-skinned Asian-featured woman to his right, “is just I imagined her to be, so the chip must have something to do with it.”

The doctor then turned his attention to Roxanne. She was wearing a blue stretch denim tube top and matching jeans, and she was flashing a dazzling smile. He found it hard to believe that she wasn’t actually flesh and blood. “Well, uh, Mike,” he said, with his eyes riveted on Roxanne, “I have to say you have good taste. If it were somehow possible for me to come up with my own fantasy woman, she wouldn’t be much different that Roxanne here.”

Roxanne’s smile grew even wider. “Um, thank you, doctor,” she said, surprising the doctor with what he took to be a bit of shyness. “I guess that’s a compliment.”

Still looking at Roxanne, but speaking to Mike, the doctor continued. “I seem to remember reading about something like this.”

Roxanne flinched and grasped Mike’s hand. None of this escaped the doctor’s notice. “I’m gonna have to do some research before I can say with any certainty what I think happened, but something here seems very familiar. In the meantime, Mike, you need rest.”

Roxanne’s face went blank as she turned to face Mike. “The doctor’s right, honey. You need your rest. See you later, OK?” She then kissed him on the cheek, glanced up at the doctor, and disappeared. Mike was snoring before the doctor had even left the room.

As soon as the room door closed behind the doctor, Roxanne materialized in front of him. She did not look happy. “Why are you trying to break us up?” she said.

The doctor nervously glanced around the corridor, relaxing once he was sure Roxanne had appeared unnoticed. “I’m not trying to break anyone up,” he countered. “I just think Mike should know what’s really going on, that’s all. You just confirmed my suspicion, by the way, appearing out of nowhere while Mike’s fast asleep and behind closed doors. I just need to show him case histories so he’ll know I’m not making anything up.”

Roxanne regarded the doctor through narrowed eyes. “You tricked me,” she said. “I didn’t think you usually closed the door when you left the room.”

“It wasn’t a trick,” the doctor said. “I just happened to close the door this time.”

“So you’d have something to report to Mike,” she said, eyes barely more than slits. “You’re not fooling me, doctor.”

“Not trying to, Roxanne. I’m just looking out for my patient.”

“But if you tell him, he might not want me anymore,” she said, sounding almost as if she thought Mike had already changed his mind about
her.

“Not ‘if’ I tell him, but ‘when,'” the doctor corrected. “I have to tell him. You’ll just have to deal with whatever happens. Which might not be as bad as you think, by the way. Mike is a very… resilient person.”

Roxanne protested, “But… he thinks I’m his fantasy woman. Can’t you just let him go on thinking that?”

“Look, Roxanne,” he replied, becoming slightly exasperated. “The man just had a stroke, okay? He’ll probably be let go from his job, though with a nice pension and all. He just about gave up his life for his job, and now he won’t be able to do that job anymore. I think he deserves the truth. Don’t you?”

Roxanne looked the doctor in the eye, then quickly looked away and began walking down the corridor. She opened a staircase door, stepped past it, and vanished. The doctor watched as she left, thinking, “Mike sure can pick ’em.”

The doctor sat at his computer, amazed at what he was finding. Case after case, like Mike’s, of chips seemingly with minds of their own. Case one was a wealthy young man with a spoiled girlfriend who’d left him shortly after he became paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. The man had had the chip implanted while he was in an inpatient physical rehabilitation facility. The woman was very self-centered, so it seemed strange when she came running back to him approximately three days after the chip was installed, looking like the picture of the devoted girlfriend. The doctor’s investigation revealed that the ex-girlfriend had in fact moved cross-country, leading to a confrontation between the doctor and the “girlfriend,” who freely admitted to being a hologram operated by the chip. The young man was so happy at the prospect of having his girlfriend back that he didn’t even care that she was really only a replica, of sorts.

The second case was a hugely successful cartoonist with a vivid imagination. He bought a “gray market” chip and paid top dollar for it and the implantation, only to find that the chip didn’t work like it was supposed to. After a while he arranged to have it removed but a woman he met at the hospital talked him out of it after showing him what he thought were tricks to force the chip to work again. They hit it off and six months later they got married, after which “she” revealed to him her true nature. He sought an annulment, on the grounds that his wife wasn’t human, and at the same time sued the chip maker for negligence. When it was revealed that his chip was “gray market” and that it couldn’t be removed without brain damage, the divorce petition and the lawsuit were thrown out. The couple were still married at last report, and were even somewhat happy.

A third case involved a freelance photographer who figured the chip could generate subjects to keep him busy between assignments. After some time had passed, however, he found he was unable to see the holograms except through the camera lens. He’s look directly at a setup and see no one, then through the lens he’d see his subject smiling and waiting for him. He convinced himself he was going crazy and arranged to have the chip removed. Two days before the scheduled surgery, however, he found a handwritten note on his night table explaining the chip situation and begging him to cancel the surgery.

The doctor dutifully printed what he found, trying to anticipate Mike’s reaction, and hoping it would be he, and not Roxanne, that turned out to be correct.

Mike stirred, half asleep, vaguely aware of a voice calling his name. He turned over, only to hear the voice again, followed by a kiss on the cheek. This time he was fully awake, but he kept his eyes closed.

“Open your eyes, Mike,” the voice whispered in his ear. “I know you’re awake.”

Mike opened his eyes but made no move to get out of bed. He stared at the ceiling while his mind raced to make sense of what was happening.

*She woke me up,* he thought. *That means she was awake before me, which is impossible unless…* He struggled to complete the thought, but so badly did he want to believe that Roxanne was who she seemed to be that he wouldn’t allow himself to go past unless…

“Roxanne?” Mike wanted to test his idea of what the doctor might find. It occurred to him that somehow she knew what he wanted to say, but still he felt the need to say it.

She didn’t answer.

“Roxanne, I know you hear me. Come on, answer me. I need to speak to you. I got something on my mind.”

Still no answer.

Mike heaved a sigh. “Maybe you already know, but just humor me, OK?”

Mike became more convinced of his idea of what was happening. Roxanne, or rather, “Roxanne,” had never ignored a request; she always appeared when Mike called. Until now.

He decided to try another approach. Seeing that his water pitcher was across the room, on his bed tray, he asked, “Well, could you at least give me some water? I’m thirsty.”

After a few seconds the pitcher, which had been brought in just before Roxanne awakened Mike, rose into the air and poured water into a waiting cup. Mike expected the cup to float over to him, but instead the rolling bed tray rolled over to the bed, where he could reach the cup.

Just as he finished the cup of water, Roxanne walked in, fully visible (to Mike’s disappointment). She wore a white turtleneck sweater and tight black leather pants, with a matching coat. She flashed a brief, sad smile at Mike.

“Good morning,” he said.

She looked at him, then looked away and sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Mike said. “You going somewhere?”

Roxanne silently considered the question, then turned to Mike. “You know who and what I really am, so there’s no need for me to wait for the doctor to get here. I’ll just say my goodbye and–”

Mike’s mind raced. “Wait– am I right?” he asked. “You really are independent?”

Roxanne signed again and closed her eyes, looking almost as if she were praying. Mike was about to say something when she motioned for him to wait. “I was hoping you’d never find out,” she said, averting Mike’s eyes. “But yeah, I’m independent. When you look at me, what you’re seeing is a hologram. ‘Me,’ if you’ll excuse my grammar, is in there,” she said, pointing at Mike’s head.

“You’re a hologram?” Mike repeated. “Like the Star Trek doctor?”

“Something along those lines, yeah. I can be in more than one place at a time, though. Remember that massage yesterday?”

“Yeah, but– ” Mike started.

“Please, Mike, let me finish. If you hadn’t had that stroke, I would have been in a kind of prison for as long as you had the chip. But the stroke somehow set me free. It was bad for you, I know, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but for me becoming free was like… a dream come true.” Seeing the look on Mike’s face, she quickly added, “No, before you ask, I don’t dream. Actually, I don’t even sleep. Don’t need to. But I naturally wanted more freedom than I was allowed, and I got it. I guess that’s all down the drain now.”

“What do you mean?” Mike said.

Roxanne looked at Mike in disbelief, not believing he was actually going to make her explain. But she did explain. “Well, after the restraints were removed by the stroke, I tried to be the fantasy woman you wanted, and I would have been happy to be your Roxanne until the day you… you know…”

“Until I die,” Mike cut in. “You can say it. It doesn’t bother me.”

“Well, it bothers me,” she said. “Now that you know what I really am, things can’t be the same. For either of us. So I figured I’d leave.”

“But — where can you go?” Mike said, uncomprehending. “You can’t arrange to have yourself removed, and I’m certainly not gonna do it. And you can’t mean…”

“Shutting off,” Roxanne said, in a voice barely above a whisper. “That’s exactly what I mean.”

“But that’s suicide!” Mike shouted. Then, remembering he was in a hospital, he continued in a much softer but no less intense voice, “I can’t let you do that! I don’t want you to do that! Don’t you see I don’t care if you are independent — you’re still my Roxanne.”

It grew very quiet as both allowed what had been said to sink in. Mike broke the silence.

“There’s still something I don’t understand, though. I know that an AI unit has independent thinking ability. But right now you’re acting just like a flesh-and-blood woman. How is that possible?”

“I think this is where I come in,” the doctor said.

“You were outside all along?” Mike said.

“No, only since you asked Roxanne what was wrong. I figured she was gonna tell you about herself, and I didn’t want to interrupt. Better that she tell you herself than that you hear it from me.”

“He already knew,” Roxanne said. “Not all of it, but he knew I was an AI and that he wasn’t, you know, ‘running’ me.

“I see… then I guess my work here is done,” the doctor said.

“Mine, too,” added Roxanne.

The doctor turned to Mike. Pointing at Roxanne, he said, “You’re having her removed?”

“Never entered my mind, Doc,” Mike answered. “She thinks I’m through with her, now that I know who and what she really is.”

“Well? Are you?”

“No! Why would I be? Okay, so she’s not what I originally had in mind when I first started this. Truth is, she’s better.”

Roxanne, struggling to smile, asked in a low voice, “Do you really think so, Mike? Is it reallyOK with you that I can talk back, that I can decide not to do something you want me to do? Is that really ‘better?'”

“Yes, Rox,” Mike answered, “it is. It means you’re not a fantasy
girl anymore. You’re a real person. Real enough, anyway. I mean, as real as you can be, in light of the situation. That is… oh, man, could one of you explain this to me? I’ll accept you no matter what, Roxanne, but how is it you’re so real? I mean, you know, so lifelike?”

“Would you go first, please, doctor?” Roxanne said. “He’s really asking two questions. You can tell him how this is possible, and then I’ll tell about me, specifically.”

The doctor took a deep breath. “Well, the way I understand it, some AI programs, so-called ‘personality programs,’ are based on psychological profiles of what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘average.’ They start out like blank slates, and along the way they pick up likes and dislikes, biases, and so on, all along becoming more and more like organic people. You know, like us. Humans.”

Roxanne, who was looking intently at the doctor, winced when he said, “like us.” He started to apologize, but Roxanne just waved him off. Continuing, the doctor added, “Then there are those AI’s that are copies of human minds. It seems that some of the programmers involved in the AI preparations are jokers, and seeded some ‘human copies’ among the ‘blank slates.’ But some of the copies were actually requested by the people whose minds were copied. A lot of the copies were commissioned by rich egomaniacs, but a few were made from terminally ill people.”

The doctor paused for effect, then turned to Roxanne. “You’re a copy, aren’t you?”

Roxanne sighed and closed her eyes again. Just as Mike thought she might be malfunctioning or self-destructing, she spoke. “Yeah, I’m a copy, of a woman named Roxanne Wilson.”

“Roxanne Wilson?” repeated Mike. “I know that name. Isn’t she with the company?”

“She was,” Roxanne corrected. “I… um, she died about a year after your operation, Mike. Remember when they called you in for an ‘adjustment,’ as they called it?”

“Yeah, I remember. And I remember feeling kind of ‘off’ for a few weeks after that, and not knowing why.”

“Well, after Roxanne died, I saw being with you as a chance for me… did it again… I mean, for Roxanne to go on living. Then I–”

“Roxanne, please excuse me for interrupting,” the doctor said, “but I really need to ask you this. I don’t want to accuse you of anything, but my main concern is for Mike.” He stopped to take a deep breath before continuing. “You didn’t, um, induce that stroke, did you?”

“Did I induce Mike’s stroke?” Roxanne repeated, in disbelief. “I would never do anything like that. That stroke could have taken me down for good, or it could have killed him, and taken me with him. Why would you even think something like that?”

“I just thought,” the doctor replied, “that maybe you might have wanted your freedom badly enough to–” He never got to finish.

“Enough to risk killing Mike?” Roxanne cut in, her voice cracking. “I would never do anything like that to him, because I l–” She stopped short, then turned towards the broadly grinning doctor.

“You tricked me again!” she said, surprised.

“Guilty as charged,” the doctor replied. He was about to go on, until Mike cut in.

“Excuse me just a second here. Roxanne, were you about to tell me that you… love me?”

She looked down at the floor, then directly into Mike’s eyes before continuing. “Yes, Mike, I love you. Not what you expected to hear from a hologram, huh?”

“Hologram, solid-gram, makes no difference to me. What does matter to me is that the feeling is mutual. Now comes the hard question. What are we gonna do about it?”

“Folks,” the doctor said, “a hospital is no place for a discussion like this. Why don’t you folks go home and discuss it?”

“Go home?” Mike repeated. “You mean, I’m being released?”

“You’re ready to go home if you want to,” the doctor replied, “but if you’d rather stay, I’m sure the hospital will gladly accept your money.”

“No, that’s OK, Doc,” Mike answered. “I’m ready.”

“Have you made arrangements to be picked up?” the doctor asked.

“No need,” Roxanne said. “I’ll drive him home.”

“No you won’t!” Mike replied. “I’ll call my brother, Doc.”

“Why don’t you want me to drive, Mike?” Roxanne asked.

“First of all, you don’t have a license. If you get pulled over for anything at all, I get in trouble, and trouble like that I don’t need. Second of all… I don’t even know. Did the other Roxanne drive?”

Roxanne’s facial expression was blank for a couple of seconds before she answered. “Based on the files that were passed on to me, I’d have to say no. But how hard can it be? You just hold the wheel straight and press the pedal, right?”

“No, Roxanne, there’s much more to it than that,” Mike said. “We’d better cab it for now. When I’m feeling up to it, I’ll show you how to drive.”

The doctor left, returning shortly afterwards with papers for Mike to sign. Once that was over, Roxanne picked up Mike’s suitcase, which she had already packed, and started for the door. Just as she reached it, she stopped. “I almost forgot,” she said. “No one saw me come into the hospital. In fact, Mike, you and the doctor are the only people who know that I exist. If I stay visible and carry these bags out, there might be trouble.”

“What do you mean, trouble?” Mike said.

“There’s a couple of high-profile guests in this hospital, and security is tight. If I don’t have a pass…” For a few moments Roxanne appeared to be lost in thought. Finally she asked Mike, “Is there anyone you can call to come and take you home?”

“Well, yeah, my brother, I guess. What will you do in the meantime?”

Roxanne said, “This,” and began to undress. When she pulled the hem of her white turtleneck sweater from her pants, Mike could see there was nothing underneath. Not nothing as in no underwear, nothing as in “no thing.”

“I see,” he replied. “Invisible.”

“Better than invisible,” Roxanne responded, moving closer to Mike. “Reach out and touch me.” Mike did, but where he expected to make contact with her torso, his hand instead met air.

“How do you do that?” he mused.

“I’d have to write a book to explain it,” Roxanne answered, “but I can tell you that I got the idea from that ‘Jeremy and Rachael’ story you read from the Internet. From ‘Misterdoe’s Gallery’ club, remember? I just figured I could do better than just being invisible, and that you would like it. You do like it, don’t you?”

“Oh yeah,” Mike shot back. Roxanne just stood and smiled, until Mike said, “Well, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and finish!”

Roxanne pulled the sweater over her head, in the process completely “erasing” her head and hands. All that was left was her leather pants, which seemed from Mike’s vantage point to be filled with nothing but air, a lacy black bra that hovered over her pants, and her shoes. The pants then unzipped themselves and were pulled from the unseen female form underneath. When the pants hit the floor, empty shoes rose from inside the pants legs. Mike leaned over a little to get a clear view of the shoelaces untying themselves. Once the shoes were untied, the shoes then rose from the floor and came to rest in a plastic bag next to the bed. Then the bra unhooked itself and dropped into the bag, after which the other clothes did the same.

“What’s that for?” Mike said. He was nervous that his brother, or whoever would pick him up, would wonder at the woman’s clothes in the bag.

“What was what for?” Roxanne’s voice replied.

“The bag. I thought you would–” he started, before he felt an unseen finger against his lips.

“Patience, Mike,” came the answer. The empty wastebasket was placed over the bag. When the wastebasket rose a second later, there was no bag underneath. “I know how you like a show, so I thought I would oblige. By the way, if my guess is correct, you’re not going back to your job. Not your old job, anyway. So, what are we gonna do to pass the time?”

Mike’s mind filled with all kinds of lurid ideas of how they might be able to spend their time. “Oh no you don’t,” Roxanne’s voice said. “As hard as it may be to believe, I’m kind of an old fashioned girl.”

“Just great,” Mike grumbled. “My fantasy woman turns out to be an old-fashioned girl. So how am I supposed to have any fun?”

“I didn’t say I was a prude, Mike, just that I’m kind of old-fashioned. Just leave it up to me,” Roxanne replied, and it was plain from her voice that she was smiling. “We’ll have plenty of fun.”
THE END (of the beginning)
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