In a not-so distant future, a group of scattered souls grapple with their place in the world, and soon discover that their time may be running short...

Content warning: Please note that the following work of fiction contains references to sex and violence.

The bar was thinning out and Vince, on his fourth or fifth drink, took advantage of both the mental and physical space he was so rarely afforded. No meetings to prepare for, no flights to catch, just an investment deal to turn over in his head and a Manhattan with the promise of no hangover in the morning.

He thought back for a moment to simpler days when he used to stay out past 2am with his old college friends. Christine, Arush, Thomas… Marta.

Sure he didn’t have the money or recognition then, but life was carefree and full of energy.

At least until rent was due at the end of the month…

“Hey,” a soft yet bold voice broke Vince’s thoughts. He turned slightly to find the waitress he’d met eyes with earlier leaning forward into the table, her cleavage slightly exposed.

“Hey,” he responded with a smile.

“Do I know you from somewhere?”

“It’s possible.”

“You were in that film Pangloss, right?”

He found her teasing words scintillating.

“That’s right,” he responded, “I’m Joshua Gevan.”

She laughed. “Well Mr. Gevan, I’m Felicia. But you can call me Fey.”

“Vince,” he said, setting down his glass.

“Vince is definitely better than Josh, it has edge to it.” She pulled in closer to him. “You know, I was starting to think your friend would never leave.”

“He certainly knows how to draw out a conversation.”

She brushed aside a strand of her short, black hair from her face. Vince noticed a faint tattoo, a short series of binary numbers on the right side of her face. Definitely not something he would have chosen, but who was he to judge?

“So Vince,” Fey continued, “my shift’s basically over. You wanna go have some fun?”

“Sure. Where?”

She seized his hand and casually led him to the back. They walked into a mostly empty room, with a few unused shelves, and she closed the door behind them.

“I don’t get the point of storage rooms in places like this,” he laughed. “Is anyone really keeping shit back here?”

“You know the answer to that,” Fey replied. “Some people want to make the experience as real as possible.” She pulled herself toward him and kissed his lips. Vince reciprocated with fervor.

“Tell me,” she said breathing heavily, “do you look anything like your avatar?”

He kissed her cheek just above the tattoo. “Of course I do. You?”

She smiled, but dodged the question herself. “You know,” she said, “we could do some fun, nasty things tonight… but then again, you’re a pragmatist, aren’t you?” She pulled her forehead to his and both of them suddenly cried out as they were hit with a fierce wave of pleasure.

“What… what the hell… was that?” Vince asked between breaths? “It was amazing…”

“Sometimes it pays to have a little knowledge of the system,” she said, moving closer to him for another round.