Author : T Anthony Allen
I am not a pervert. And, I find it hard to accept I have to point that out to complete strangers.
Of all the planets I have been to, Verity is most disorienting. A city here looks much like any other, buildings everywhere, but the buildings are very much not designed to keep you out; they are built to let you in. And weather here is temperate, so no need to shut it out. I am told the architecture is set up for the convenience of machines, of which there are many. Adding to, or perhaps the main contributor to disorienting, buildings do nothing, no signage whatsoever, to let you know they have a purpose, or if there is a purpose, what is it?
Soon after arriving, I went looking for a place to stay. I asked someone where I could find a hostel and he pointed across the street to a wide open entrance. I went in, looking for anything hostel like. Walking thru short corridors that bend so you cannot see far ahead, I ended up in a living room that had no door. It looked to me like a living room but maybe it was a gathering place? I called out.
That came from another doorless doorway to another room. I walked in to find man and woman in flagrante delicto with gusto. They had no issue with my presence, asked if I wanted to join in, asked if I wanted to take pictures, bring friends, and apparently, my being there was potent aphrodisiac. The woman, Chelly, tried to say ‘so good to meet you’ but found it hard to say and even harder for me to understand with all the gasping, moaning and ‘oh gods’ interspersed. Meeting me can be an orgasmic experience. They were actually quite nice, very friendly, and thoroughly enjoying my accidental voyeurism.
Where I come from, you get stiff upper lip ironed on as soon as you are old enough to be ‘children seen and not heard’. It never goes away and you go through life never nodding, speaking to or otherwise acknowledging the existence of anyone else in public. That is not at all, no way even remotely, the case here. The first person I encountered on my hostel search was walking wobbly, singing as wobbly as he walked, and when he saw me he said ‘Hey buddy’ with a smile so joyful, I thought he mistook me for someone else. I figured he was just happy drunk before I realized everyone I met seemed to know who I was and soon enough random strangers made comments suggesting they knew why I was here, where I was going and what I was trying to find.
On Verity, everything is recorded. The city will start a thread that contains every conversation you engage in. The thread gets cataloged, and follows wherever you go. You can hold conversations serially with multiple strangers and they can all access your thread, regardless if it started a while ago and far away. Most people I meet only refer back to the latest bit for context, so not a problem, but a few are obsessively anal and go back to the beginnings. I identify them right off by the way they smile and look at me funny.
That is when I tell them I am not a pervert, despite the Peeping Tom title the city attached when it cataloged my thread.