Author : Vanessa Kittle

Max stood looking out of his window into the night. He lived on the 50th floor of the Palmer building in New York. The rule was the higher the better, and while he was nowhere near the top, he was still far up enough to get above most of the smog. He could just make out the jeweled lights at the top of the wall that circled the city and protected it from the ocean. It was a lovely view that was worth the cost. Over half of Max’s pay went to the rent for his apartment. Max kept the servers running for Palmer holdings. Of course he had never actually met Harald Palmer, but he was good at his job. It was easy so he enjoyed the work.

His controller buzzed. It was Cara Wite, the Cara Wite, inviting him to a party that very evening. Sure, it was a mass message, but this meant that he was on her contact list! He would go of course. What would he wear? It had to be something special. Max screamed to the room, “Emily, I need you!”

A holographic representation of his life helper appeared in front of him. She looked calm and cool as always in her gray skirt suit. Max had an odd sense of pride in the professionalism of his helper’s settings. There was some very subtle sexuality there. He didn’t deny that, but it was buried beneath a layer of cool intellect. So many people he knew had theirs set like a teenage boy would, with a bouncy short skirt that barely covered anything and just a push-up bra for a top. “How can I help you, Max?” she asked.

I’ve been invited to Cara Wite’s party. It’s in two hours. What should I wear?”

Emily took off her glasses and put one of the ends in her mouth as she considered the problem. “Your new yellow suit and blue tie are the best selection. You will look very handsome, Max.” She smiled reassuringly to punctuate her suggestion.

As Max began to think about actually going to the party, a wave of dizziness hit him. He steadied himself by holding the back of a chair. “Emily, what will I have to do at the party?”

“There will be hors d’oeuvres and drinks. There will be music, accompanied by some light and voluntary dancing.”

Max nodded. That sounded all right. Then a terrible thought came to him. “What will I say at the party… if someone talks to me?”

“I’ll be right there with you if you need me, Max.”

“I know that but I can’t wait for your suggestion every time… or can I? Won’t that look odd?”

“Most of the people at the party are very similar to you, Max. I have analyzed their profiles from your invitation. I suspect they have similar concerns.”

“So you think I should go to the party?”

Emily considered his question for some time, before responding, “You shouldn’t go to the party if it upsets you, Max. Your blood pressure is elevated. Sit down and relax.” Max sat on his sofa. Emily spoke to him again in her most soothing tone, “No one will know you weren’t there. Send a message thanking Cara. The result will be better than if you went.”

Max suddenly brightened and stood up. He was able to take a deep breath. He smiled at Emily. “You are a genius, my dear,” he said. Then he asked her, “What shall we have for dinner now that we have the night to ourselves?”