Terry Fuller leaned back in his ergonomic chair as he placed the computer's cord to his temple. It easily pushed into the jack that had been surgically implanted there. Moments later, the internet beamed into his brain, leaving his overweight body in a completely relaxed state.
Within moments, he was standing before a digital mirror inspecting himself, making certain his avatar was perfect. Lose the love handles. Perfect. He could always claim he had recently gained the weight if anyone find out. Clear up that acne. Gone. If he ever got to meet a girl, he could use something to cover it up anyway, right? Oh, and some muscles. Those would be good.
He grinned as he checked himself out. The new Terry Fuller was strong, handsome, athletic, and had never so much as seen a video game or played chess. He was ready. Terry entered the wide world of the Internet and headed straight for a door marked, "Haptic Dating Network." The moment he touched it, his mind was flooded with information.
"Hi, I'm Jennifer. I like strolls on the beach, hiking, riding my bike, and reading. I'm a cat-lover…"
"This girl is out for some hot action. Mary loves to party and lives to dance. The only thing she loves more is…"
"If u want a bigger p3N15, gurlz can't resist our…"
He'd seen the profiles all before. Maybe not the exact ones, but they were all the same. For a moment, Terry wondered why the streets weren't filled with attractive people riding their bikes and hiking to parties all the time. And he wondered who actually fell for the herbal supplement ads. He scrolled the list in his mind faster, only looking at the first few words until one of them caught his attention.
"My name is Tanya. I'm a gamer."
Terry stopped and scrolled back to the entry. "A gamer?" he asked himself, his voice the only living noise in the dark room where he reclined. "Pic?" he asked. In a flash, there was a picture of an average girl. She wasn't overly attractive, but she was still very pretty. Somehow, that made Terry like her even more.
"This one," he said. The list faded from his view and he waited in blackness, feeling his heart beat wildly in his chest. Would she accept his invitation? He'd heard of some of the strange things that happened to people on haptic connections like this one. When your brain is connected, you're left rather vulnerable. Was this a mistake? Was it worth becoming a vegetable for a blind date?
Before he could second guess himself further, electrons flowed into his mind once more and he was standing in a waiting room with a couch, a TV, and some blankets folded in a corner. Standing in front of him was a girl in her low 20s with long hair the color of caramel and a shy smile. She wore Pink Floyd shirt, a skirt, and a pair of glasses. Terry stared.
"Hey. Is everything alright? Have you loaded or did your network drop?" she asked, looking a little nervous at him.
"What? Oh, no, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stare. I've jus never met anyone like you online before. Hi." Terry waved awkwardly, then sat down on the couch, patting the place next to him in invitation.
Tanya looked relieved and sat down beside him. "Oh good. Ever since I joined, people I talk to keep losing their connection," she said. "So, how am I different from the others?" She ran a hand through her hair as she turned to face him.
"Well.. you're… not perfect. I mean, you're genuine. No one on here is genuine. We all make ourselves out to be ideal."
The girl giggled. "'We?' So that means you're not being honest with me?" she asked him, her hand on his knee.
Terry bit his tongue as he looked into her inquisitive, incredible gaze. "All right," he said, and disappeared from the room. He returned a few seconds later, his avatar no longer athletic, but with every flaw he himself possessed. "What do you think?" he asked her.
She smiled. "Much better. You look like a gamer. Am I right?"
"How did you know?"
"Oh, I know my peeps. So what do you play? StarBattle 4D? Battlefront Tactics?"
Terry shrugged, feeling even more nervous than before. "Oh, a little bit of everything," he said. Her hand had moved from his knee onto his leg. She was starting to look at him with a playful smile.
"Oh, Terry? That is your real name, right?" He nodded. "Do you like any… other games?" Her fingers walked up his chest and soon she slipped one leg over his.
"I… I don't know. What did you have in mind?" Terry asked.
"Just some harmless fun. It's all safe here online, isn't it?" She winked at him and slid into his lap.
"Y-yeah…" he said, daring to put his hands on her hips.
"Well, me and my girlfriends have a site up. We'd love it if you would visit. I'll give you your own private show, too. You are older than-"
Terry pulled the plug from his temple and jerked himself into a sitting position in his dark room. He was panting and had to wipe the beads of sweat from his brow. "Damn those chat bots. They're getting way too smart."