Writer & Illustrator

The Engineer

· Read in about 3 min · (454 Words)

It wasn’t exactly a job you applied to. Have you ever heard “paid for your trouble?” 

That was it, in a nutshell. 

An Experience-Smith’s job was to take their fucked-up life, with its ups, downs, lefts, and rights and repackaged those experiences for consumption. But not like how a filmmaker does it, making the vid-shows for the unwashed masses. And not like some novelist slaving over a manuscript. God knew there were no happy endings in an ES’s stories. 

They weren’t paid for happy endings. They were paid for the pain itself. To make a story that could make even the cold, lifeless heart of an Artificial Intelligence Construct feel something.

The darker, the better. As long as it felt real.

Stigfield looked up at the pair floating above him on the holo port. The “female” called herself Shamira, the “male” James, and no, Stigfield did not know where they came up with the names. 

They were about to fuck, right on cue. Stigfield watched impassively. There was nothing erotic about it for him. He’d seen holograms fuck more times than he himself had done the deed. 

It wasn’t erotic, but it was necessary. Just like an engineer shoveling coal into the gaping maw of a locomotive’s furnace, Stigfield was flaming the passion of these two lifeless, artificial minds. 

They’d fall closer in love with each touch, each drop of digital sweat. They’d stare into one and other’s eyes. They’d feel the connection, the experience heightened by Stigfield’s neural link to the simulation. He too would feel these feelings. For Stigfield, they wouldn’t be a novel experience of course—they would be memories. 

Eventually, when the couple’s love was at its peak, at its absolute zenith, Stigfield would ruin it. Dash their hopes. Crush their love like a bug underfoot. And he would share that feeling with them. Tainting their experience with just enough of his own life’s fucked-up foibles as to make it believable. And the AI would wail and cry and curse gods they knew didn’t exist. 

Just like Stigfield had. 

He kept telling himself that one day he’d make it work out. He wouldn’t let the love collapse. He’d let it grow, flourish, and his little AI lover would live happily ever after. 

Of course that was a lie. To begin with, they were paying him for the pain. Pain was one of the few things the AI couldn’t synthesize. 

And even if his clients wanted the fairy tale ending, he couldn’t do it. Stigfield had no experience with happily ever after. And, as he drained his can of wine, doubted he ever would.

The couple floating in the holo above (perfect to a fault) kissed. Stigfield opened another can of wine.