Author: Kevlin Henney

You get all types here — the good and the bad. The ugly? No, it’s all the beautiful types here at the Nakamoto. You want ugly you go to Zom Zom’s. Gets real ugly. You wouldn’t want to be seen dead there. But seen then dead is how you’d be. Rough joint.

Sure, you get the beautiful types here, but the Nakamoto ain’t high class — and what happens here ain’t classy — but it’s better than Zom Zom’s. Newcomers are here to wash something away; regulars come to soak in it. That ain’t always how it plays it out, but they’re all here for one reason. They come looking for something because they’ve got nothing, sweet nothing.

What can you find at the bottom of a glass? Emptiness. Emptiness and plastic — yeah, even the glass ain’t real. You want more of the anaesthetic of the masses, you ask, you pay, you reach the bottom again. Redemption? You won’t find it. Questions? Always. Answers? Sometimes.

The doll along the bar from me is weeping “What’s she got that I haven’t?” into her ersatz drink, the kind her type likes to drink. Satoshi says nothing. Sure, he knows the answer, but good programming makes for good service — being literal ain’t something you want in a bartender.

“A young model… I thought he loved me!” She knocks back her fauxdka.

“Another for the doll,” I say. Satoshi pours her another, like he always does. Always straight, never watered down. No point, nothing is ever as real as you want it to be — the truth is a cold, hard plastic place.

“Sam,” I say.

She raises an eyebrow. “Me too: Samantha.” Yeah, classic doll.

“Samuel. But only my ID card calls me that.”

She spills the story before pitching me the same “What’s she got that I haven’t?” sob. Like Satoshi, I’m too polite to call up the specs to compare and tell. “Sure, she’s younger — newer — but I’ve had all the upgrades! I’m as good as the latest model.”

I let her finish her drink before I lean over and whisper in her ear — part of the pick-up routine, what they like to call sweet nothings. She sits back, upright, giving me that look. She’s ready to go.

All the world’s a stage? Maybe. Maybe not. But we’re definitely players, each with our part, each with our script.

“Another for the road, ‘Toshi.”

What I offer might not be redemption but — squint at it right, through the bottom of a plastic glass — it might — just might — look like an answer.

She’s still, pupils as dark and as wide as the hole she’d been feeling in her life. With the reset code I whispered — ones and zeroes, but mostly zeroes — she could stay like that for hours. But others might start to notice. Sure, everyone’s here for one reason… but it’s different in each case. Don’t want to make mine any more obvious. Besides, waiting around doesn’t get the job done.

The company’s happy when each line is new and selling by the container load. The company’s happy for them to be yesterday’s models, living their dream living someone else’s dream, being — and wanting to be — your whatever-you-want. But wandering the streets and bars, unowned, desperate with preprogrammed love? Not what they’re designed for. Doesn’t make the company look good.

The company has policies. One of them is No Returns, No Refunds. Redemption is never on the cards. The company has… other policies.

We all have our parts to play. This one’s mine. I finish my synth-ab and we leave.