Author: Steven Sheil

Vera exited the Ambassador Suite and activated the vacuum seal, ready for the next guests. The moment the seal was complete, she felt the pulse in her temple that indicated that her work schedule had been updated. COMMODORE SUITE, EAST WING came the order, directly into the forefront of her thoughts. She nodded her head to dismiss the notification, and started on her way to the other side of the hotel, following the route-map overlay that appeared in her left eye.
Her cart hovered beside her, moving with a steady hum in time with her steps. Some of the other maids named their carts like pets – Oscar, Buddy, Lucky, Coco – but Vera never had. The cart, with its compartments full of cleaning products – bleaches, germicides, Tucker and Co’s LeaveNoTrace™ (“the only way to lose that DNA!”) – was just a tool. She had no sentimentality whatsoever where it was concerned.
As she turned the corner at the end of the corridor Vera saw Michael – one of the other maids – approaching, his own cart (“Bellaroo”) hovering beside him. The terms of Vera’s employment allowed for a thirty-three second long personal interaction for every four hours of work and Vera, having seen no-one since beginning her shift 3 hours ago, and loathe to forgo her contracted entitlement, decided to engage him.
“Tough morning?” she asked.
“Overpump in the Starlight Lounge fleshpool caused a glut,” said Michael. He looked exhausted, “Taken three of us till now to get it contained.”
“Sounds like quite a job,” said Vera, who was practiced at avoiding any language which might conceivably be interpreted by the cart’s auditory monitoring system as being critical of the hotel. She raised her eyebrows in sympathy instead, and Michael gave the shortest of knowing nods in reply.
“Yes,” he said, “It was.”
With the interaction over, they both moved on, Vera praying that the fault with the Lounge fleshpool hadn’t spread to the Suites.
The fleshpools were the central attraction of all Bodell Fantasee Hotels. Employing the latest in IET (impulse-extraction technology) and combining it with SLF (synthetic living flesh), the pits were circular tubs recessed into the floor of each suite. On arrival, the pools would fill with SLF – which could then be animated by the IET implants the guests received on arrival. Any desire could be manifested in living flesh – any number of hands, eyes, mouths, genitals, any type of skin, fur, pelt or hide. Endless arrays of mindless, powerless beings, all subject to the whims of their creators.
Vera reached the Commodore Suite. As she went to unlock the door, it opened, and she came face-to-face with the departing guest, a man in his fifties, immaculately dressed, greying hair wet from a shower. For a moment his eyes met Vera’s, and she saw a spark of something – shame? – before he quickly looked away and breezed past her as though she wasn’t there. Beyond him lay the room and the remnants of his desires. Vera sighed and led her cart inside.