Author: Hillary Lyon
Jorge looked at himself in he mirror. His mother was right. He was badly in need of a haircut. He set up an appointment with Shelby’s Salon.
Upon arriving Shelby’s, Jorge selected two services: A trim and a scalp massage. The reception kiosk immediately directed him to chair number three. This pleased him, since this meant there was no wait.
The chair for station number three was a new one. Very cushy. Jorge liked it. He plopped down and before long a salon bot rolled up silently behind him. He noted it had three appendages: one for brushing, one with scissors, and one with an electric razor.
The screen on top of the bot began to glow, and soon a woman’s face appeared. She was gorgeous, in a way that only an AI generated face can be. Flawless skin, perfect features, young but not too young.
“Hi, Jorge,” the image chirped. “I’m Talulah. I’m your stylist today. How are you?”
Jorge smiled. Was he supposed to make small talk with a bot? He was never clear on the protocol. “I want a trim and a scalp massage.”
On screen, Talulah smiled and nodded. With a loud click, manacles popped out of the chair’s arms to wrap around Jorge’s wrists. His neck and legs were also shackled in place by the chair.
“Hey! What’s this for?” Jorge panicked.
“New federal safety regulation,” Talulah replied. “Now, about your selection,” she continued as her eyes rolled back in her head. The screen blinked off. In a few seconds, it flicked back on. Jorge wondered if it just reboot itself.
Back on screen, Talulah said sternly, “Time to get you shipshape.” The electric razor buzzed.
“What? No! I just want a trim.” Jorge attempted to struggle, but the manacles held tight. The razor coursed over his head until all his hair was gone.
“I’m gonna sue this salon into oblivion!” He hissed.
The salon bot rolled away, leaving Jorge strapped in the chair. When it returned, it had replaced its scissor appendage with a tattoo needle. Without comment, it began to tattoo—something—into Jorge’s scalp on the back of his head.
“What are you doing? I did NOT order a tattoo!”
The beautiful face on the screen smiled coldly and continued working. “There,” it said when it finished. “All done.”
“What did you put on my head?” It would take months to grow out his hair long enough to hide that tattoo. And to find a new salon, perhaps an old-fashioned one still employing human stylists.
“It’s your serial number,” the bot answered. “According to government files, you turned 18 yesterday, and that automatically enlists you in the draft.” It flickered off again.
In answer, the screen came back to life. Instead of the attractive AI stylist, he saw the face of a severe looking military man. Before Jorge could ask what was going on, the sergeant on the screen began his programmed rant.
“Listen up! You’ve been drafted to serve as a foot soldier in the Intergalactic War of Alien Attrition. Operation Freedom Rings. You ship out for basic training immediately. Your family will be duly notified of your change in status.”
The bot then raised its hair-brush appendage, and touched the brush to the topmost right corner of its screen in a crude parody of a salute. “Congratulations.”