I wove my way through the bright allure of market stalls, and the seductive scents of cafes. She was near now. My com told me she liked chocolate violets, so I stopped at a chocolatier’s to pick up a bag. Any speciality you wanted, the market had it. I wondered about flowers. Lilies, were her favourites, again according to my com. No – flowers would be overdoing it.
The GPS told me she’d left the market, and was walking along the canal bank. I just had to find her. You don’t pass up 86.7% compatibility. And that was just overall: our reading purchases overlapped by a whopping 92%, and leisure activity spending by category was 88%.
I need the chase, and Camden Lock was always good hunting territory for me. I’d already by-passed possibilities in the high 70s and one at 81.2%. But he was male, and I lean more to women. Still, he had been pretty. I hadn’t been immune to the smooth brown skin and smouldering eyes, when I checked him out.
When I turned onto the towpath, I knew I’d been right to pass over smouldering eyes. She was just ahead of me, disappearing into the darkness below a bridge. I saw a mane of blonde hair tumbling in ringlets down her back. I love blondes. There was a seductive sway to her hips, and long legs all the way up to the denim tight arse. To be fair, her legs could be judged a little too thin. I appreciated meat on a woman. But I definitely liked what I’d seen so far, as the towpath took a bend and she disappeared.
I wondered why she was walking the towpath. There were no commercial outlets here. There was something vaguely ungrateful about not consuming. Consuming was how you contributed to society. After most of the jobs were automated, grants from the Administrators replaced salaries. Most of us had become consumers rather than workers. I was quite proud that I qualified for a category B grant, because my tastes included the arts, and most artists and theatres hovered always on the edge of redundancy.
I put on a turn of speed, and caught up with her.
‘Hi there,’ I said, ‘chocolate violets for the lady.’
When she turned, I felt a surge of disappointment. Of course, she hadn’t included her appearance on her profile. Lots of people don’t. But still, from behind she’d looked hot. Her face was foxy, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean really, like a fox, thin and drawn into a snout, with a kind of feral alertness about her eyes. Her breasts were pretty good though.
‘Sorry,’ she said. ‘I don’t like chocolate. I’m allergic to it.’
‘But your consumer profile says chocolate violets are your favourites.’
She chuckled and took a step towards me. ‘The profile is a lie. It’s fake.’
‘How? I mean, I didn’t know you could do that. And why, why would you want to fake it?’
‘It’s easy enough. It’s all digital. You can rig a relay to transmit anything you like. I don’t have an implant. As for why, that’s easy too: privacy. I’m a person, not a consumer. You are too, did you but know it.’
None of this was going as I’d intended. I should have just pulled up a chair at smouldering eyes’ table. I wasn’t sure whether it was legal not to have an implanted com. In any case, she felt wrong, disquieting.
‘If I want privacy, I go to a shield,’ I said
‘And pay the admission charge to the shield, registering that as a consumption preference? I want my preferences to remain my business, not marketing data.’
It felt wrong, and dangerous, but it was exciting too. Her canine features were beginning to seem attractive to me; what the French call ‘jolie laid.’ I was beginning to wonder just how unusual and illicit her tastes might be.
‘And what are your preferences?’ I tried to keep the leer off my face, and out of my tone.
‘Subverting the system,’ she replied with the most captivating laugh. ‘Zapping the citizenry. My relay picked up your profile from your com, and when you locked onto me, adjusted what it sent out according to your profile.’
I had to laugh. ‘No wonder it was 86.7% compatibility then.’
‘I could as easily have made it 96.7%, but somehow that wouldn’t be so believable.’
’So who the hell are you really?’
She laughed again. ‘To know that, you’d have to get to know me; in the old fashioned way. Not my data, but me.’
I was confused. ‘But we might not be compatible.’
‘Well that’s the fun,’ she replied. ‘It’s all in the finding out.’
This time, her laugh scared me.