Article: 288539 of talk.bizarre
From: "Nikolai Kingsley" <fendre@melbourne.net>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: dispenser
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 00:52:58 +1100
Organization: anarchartists
Lines: 93
Message-ID: <01bbdec5.cb2454a0$7e8610cb@kolya.warehouse.net>


His line, the one he delivered after clients were finished with him, was:
"Of course, I was not always as you see me now." It was a quote from a
film called "The Wrong Box", by a dissipated old doctor played by Peter
Sellers. Few of them heard him say it; they tended to lose interest after
climax, and none of them appreciated the subtle joke in the juxtaposition
of the name of that film and his current residence. Maybe they hadn't seen
the film.

It was true, though; once, he had been much more. Of course, he'd been
born a human; grown up in a creche, learned how to read and write, passed
through adolescence, had any number of partners of either sex as was
normal for an adolescent of his time. His creche had suggested he find
work in the security business, so he'd become an escort; gone through the
escort training program which had sharpened his responses, built up
muscle, given him the ability to think quickly in dangerous situations. It
was a shame that most of that behaviour had been encoded into the part of
his nervous system below his neck; two weeks after starting work for a
Corporation (he couldn't remember which one, now; they were all the same,
anyway) he was involved in a pitched battle, attacked by a cyborg from
another Corporation and decapitated.

He'd been wearing power armour at the time, and it was smart enough to
recognise that he'd been seriously injured; it returned to headquarters
under its own control. He remembered this period vaguely, the shock on
their faces when they told his suit to open and his head had fallen to the
floor and rolled under a trolley. They'd been able to save eighty percent
of his brain, and his head was intact from the neck up, so they attached
him to a support system, and later, to a cyborg body.

He was still working in security, and the new body was much more powerful
than his human one had been, but something had been lost  his sense of
timing, his reflexes, his escort training. He kept making
poorly-coordinated moves, running into things, on one occasion
accidentally releasing a clip of high-impact bullets into the back of a
fellow cyborg. They thought it might have been a problem with that
particular model, so they tried him with a few different types, but the
problem wasn't with the bodies, or with the brain that ran them; it was in
the fact that most of his skill had died with his old body.

He was relieved of duty and given an old, spare cyborg body. Its makers
hadn't taken any trouble to anthropomorphise it; it was a simple, boxy
bipedal model finished in boring, undetailed brushed steel. It bore an
unfortunate resemblance to the tin toy robots of the previous century;
square body with the same proportions as a milk-carton; tubular arms and
legs, boot-shaped feet and hands that resembled mail-gloves from an
eighteenth-century Spanish suit of armour. His head was attached to the
top, a startling translation from gleaming metal to pale flesh. On some
days  when he didn't get the awful feelings of having a phantom body  he
realised that he was lucky he even had a form that could walk around, pick
things up and use stairs; he'd seen some cyborgs that were no more than
boxes on wheels with a video camera attached to the front. On other days,
he felt too depressed to do more than stand around with his head flopping
lifelessly to one side, eyes dilated as his antique body pumped
antidepressants into his neck-stump.

His retirement money had all gone towards paying for that body, so he
couldn't afford the expensive retraining programs (the standard, cheaper
ones were dependent on his having at least a spinal column and an
endocrine system), and after a thankfully brief and disastrous period as a
stand-up comedian (he'd stand up and people would laugh at him), he had to
give up that body and take work in the only position left to him: a
fellatio dispensing machine.

His new body resembled one of those old soft-drink dispensing machines;
half of it was devoted to keeping him alive, and the other half was
devoted towards the refrigeration of the semen he extracted from his male
clients. The machine sat in one of the less-frequented railway tube
stations; his head sat on a rack inside the machine, in darkness (he
couldn't afford a media feed); he averaged four clients per week. It would
read their financial details from the buttons mounted on their wrists, a
hatch would open in the front of the machine and extrude a vinyl seat,
they'd sit in it, the seat would slide forward, pushing their genitalia in
his face and he'd blow them. The only reason he had this job was because
it was, apparently, too expensive to program a machine to do it; one day,
someone would find a cheap way to do even that and he'd be forced to move
again, god alone knew where.

Once a month a machine from the dispensing machine company would come and
collect the frozen semen (he'd once heard that it was used as an
ingredient in some popular snack food). He tried striking up conversations
with the delivery machine, but it was just a dumb robot with no more
smarts than a toilet. He wasn't allowed to strike up conversations with
his clients, and no-one ever responded to his shouts from within the
machine. Perhaps it was sound-proofed. Whenever things got really bad, he
had to tell himself that things could be worse; he'd long lost the ability
to imagine how, although he sometimes fantasised about perhaps getting
into sports, being an intelligent soccer ball.

In the meantime, he put on a brave face, sucked as well as he could and
then reminded them: "Of course, I was not always as you see me now."