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A Warm Embrace by Mr. Bill (@SecureThisNow)

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  • A Warm Embrace by Mr. Bill (@SecureThisNow)

    A Warm Embrace
    by Mr. Bill (@SecureThisNow)

    “Get your Comfort Companion today!”

    Anita sighed as she thought about how aggressive the marketing had gotten lately. Every other ad on her phone and computer was about Comfort Companions and now it had made its way into her TV programming. The marketing machine certainly had her pegged, she thought with a little smile. A single woman with no one in the house to share it with. The price of success? Perhaps.
    She certainly could afford a Comfort Companion, and her friends kept ribbing her about it as she lamented about the onslaught of the ads recently.

    “Anita. The Comfort Companion is everything you *need* from a partner, but without the baggage!” quipped Darcee. This emphatic declaration from her closest friend was no surprise, as Darcee was one to enter and exit relationships quite often. Darcee had decided the rigors and protocols of the modern dating scene was tiresome. Always up for trying new things, Darcee had acquired a Comfort Companion shortly after they were released 6 months earlier.

    “Charles is wonderful! I get home and he rubs my feet, already has a bath ready for me, and then after dinner... let’s just say dessert is a sweaty affair. Well, for one of us. You really are missing out.“

    “Darcee, I have told you before... I am a bit uncomfortable with machines, I mean I can’t even really handle driverless cars that well.”
    “Oh honey, your Comfort Companion drives YOU.”
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    Anita tapped her finger impatiently on the dinner table. Her resistance to her friends constant needling about her lack of a Comfort Companion finally buckled when the company that makes them started offering a 100% money-back guarantee. A Comfort Companion would be customized and created for her. Not unlike a car, everything was configurable – hair color, eye color, complexion, and build.

    She blushed thinking back to the sales specialist reviewing her application, and all the questions she answered to customize her own model. She chose a “medium’ build – based on their description, it seemed like a reasonable fit, based on her previous sexual experiences. It all seemed so clinical in the store, but she still remembered stuttering a bit when having to decide on a circumcised or natural model. She felt a bit of guilt too, as all the follow-on questions seemed unimportant at the time – beard, no beard, five o’clock shadow, short or long hair... this was more about companionship right?
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    Delivery followed by final voice and visual recognition programming took most of her evening. The delivery technician had set up a relatively light pattern of life to start. Her Comfort Companion would do some menial tasks until she got used to its constant presence in her home. She decided to call it Fabio, as a joke really, because of the long hair she selected. It was a toss up between that or Valentino, and either one would get the desired reaction from her friends.

    One thing she immediately liked was how well her Comfort Companion cleaned. Anita had a pang of regret for not getting one sooner simply for the cleaning capabilities it brought. Darcee had glossed over that in her description of what it was like to have one.

    Fabio dutifully took position on one half of her bed and assumed a sleeping pose as expected. This awkwardness from being in such close proximity – it bordered on the limits of her personal space - slowly faded as she realized the barely audible breathing pattern had a very relaxing effect. She also may have detected a bit of warmth coming from the lifelike skin. She tried to stay focused on Fabio to see how long before it moved, but sleep caught up with her before she noticed any movement.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    She woke with a start. The weight of Fabio’s arm draped over her initially gave way to panic. It was only after what seemed like an eternity of her lying as still as possible did she remember it was her new Comfort Companion. With a deep exhale, she gently moved its arm back to its side.

    Anita described this event to Darcee later at work that day. Darcee could hardly keep her smile suppressed in an effort to appear concerned, but finally could not contain herself.
    “So that is it? All he did was drape his arm over you? When I got Charles, I could hardly wait to verify what I had heard about the Comfort Companion from everyone else. You know, that thing the commercials hint at – the *real* comfort that your new companion gives. And keeps giving, well at least until its batteries run down.”

    Anita rolled her eyes. “Is that all you can think about? I was hoping to have someone to cuddle with in bed, do some cleaning, and fill the empty space in my house. Not simply something to ride like a mechanical bull.”

    Darcee continued to grin. “It isn’t all I think about. OK, thought about. But after that first time...”

    “Oh stop it. You really are incorrigible you know?”

    “You will see what I am talking about, and soon I hope. And you better share details! Maybe we could even swap them someday!”

    “Gross! I can’t even believe you said that Darcee. Have you no limits?” Anita grimaced at the thought. She didn’t feel comfortable with bowling shoe rentals, much less sharing something like this.

    “Well, keep me posted and let me know if you have any questions about the ‘special’ modes the Comfort Companion comes programmed with.”, said Darcee as she walked back towards her desk.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    Anita’s evening followed the same routine as usual, although this time she was cognizant of Fabio’s presence as he moved about, doing some tidying up at the bookshelves, dusting the mantle, and straightening the pictures on the wall. He even joined her as she caught up with her weekly sitcoms.

    It was much later that evening that she had a glass of wine and settled down to watch a romantic comedy Darcee had mentioned the week before. She positioned Fabio behind her, with his arms wrapped lightly around her own. His warmth was quite nice, and she could feel the rhythmic breathing and heartbeat that his simulated organs produced. She really started to appreciate the warm embrace of her Comfort Companion, and any last bit of buyer’s regret disappeared.

    The movie, described by Darcee as a romantic comedy, turned out to be closer to soft-core porn than something in the genre that was shared by Titanic or Ghost. Anita could not stop watching, like it was some campy horror movie filled with predictable suspense. Surely this was not a movie that was rated ‘R’? Her anticipation grew into a tickled warmth in her abdomen. This reaction deep down in her was starting to take over her thoughts. It seemed like Fabio recognized this reaction too – he started stroking her forearms ever so lightly, and she was certain his breathing got a bit deeper.

    Anita jumped up when she realized she could feel Fabio becoming erect. She laughed out loud when she realized how silly this was – the Comfort Companion was programmed to meet her needs, after all. This is all part of what she paid for, and maybe Darcee was right. Taking Fabio’s hand, she pulled him after her to her bedroom, closing the door behind her, any reservations she had were left in the living room in the bottom of a wineglass.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    A few months had gone by, and Anita could hardly remember what that initial awkwardness with Fabio had been like. It was like a spigot where the water was turned on to the maximum flow of water, after being a steady drip for years. Anita had a new spring in her step at work, a kind of energy that reminded her of her teenage years. As Darcee had predicted, her Comfort Companion was amazing at meeting her needs, including some ‘special’ physical ones. Darcee could not let her go a day without giving her that smug “I told you so” look. Anita even found herself recommending a Comfort Companion to others, especially women she saw as a reflection of her old self.

    She really could not imagine a future without Fabio. He was designed for her, with the right touch, temperature, size. They fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle. He delivered total and utter bliss.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    15 years had passed since the Comfort Companion was made available to the general public. Comfort Companions sold at an exponential rate year over year, and now nearly every single person had one. Some married couples integrated a Comfort Companion into their living arrangements.

    Fabio continued to be a significant part of Anita’s life. He had undergone required maintenance at his tenth year, and Anita had struggled with the weeklong absence. She really did not feel complete without his puttering around her house, cleaning, and the extra ‘comfort’ of course. She had grown to trust Fabio, and this in turn made her feel totally at home with all the other advances in automated technology. It was rare nowadays to get a taxi with a live person driving, but she now had no anxiety with riding in the driverless cabs. Every aspect of human life was becoming more dependent on computers and machines, and Anita was just fine with giving in to the conveniences this offered.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    Anita was ready when she got home – her day had gone very well, and the glass of wine and Fabio waiting patiently was just the icing on the cake. She was ready for an early evening romp, and the wine combined with Fabio’s consistent stellar performance left Anita out of breath. She had learned that Fabio could seamlessly move into a ‘nurturing’ mode, where he would wrap himself around her while she enjoyed the afterglow. She drifted off to sleep without a care in the world.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    Anita was half awake. Groggily she realized her chest felt a bit tight. She tried to roll over but couldn’t.
    Now she was wide awake.

    Panic grew as she realized that not only was she immobile, but the squeezing was steadily increasing.

    What was going on? Why was she trapped like this?

    “Fabio let me go!” Anita managed to eek out. She repeated herself, over and over again, but the pressure just kept increasing. Fabio’s warm embrace clamped down on Anita until she blacked out.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________

    COMFORT COMPANION UPDATE LEADS TO CASUALTIES

    Automatronics Inc. stock closed down sharply today on the heels of the government’s investigation into the most popular line of robotic servants produced by the company. Comfort Companions were sold by the millions and became part of many people’s daily life. A software glitch in an over-the-air maintenance update caused every generation of Comfort Companion to suffocate their owners, by literally squeezing them to death.

    The death toll from this incident is expected to rise to over 13 million people. The maintenance update was scheduled to go out at midnight on June 2, 2042, and as midnight struck from New Zealand to Europe, Comfort Companions squeezed the life out of their owners.

    Preliminary reports indicate that a young researcher from Mr. Bean’s Greater Devonshire burbclave managed to stop the update from spreading beyond the Prime Meridian after reverse engineering the code delivery. This may have saved over 100 million people that own Comfort Companions to the West of the Prime Meridian.

    The researcher has asked to remain anonymous at this time and is known only as “MWT”.

    Critics of the proliferation of these technologies remain steadfast in their motto of “Trust No Computer”, and have staged demonstrations. The largest event, titled “DefCon L”, is being held later this year in the Vegas Burbclave from August 7th to the 10th. In its 50th year, the event normally draws nearly 400,000 people. It is expected that people impacted by this tragedy will quadruple those numbers.

    A handful of affected people shared their shock and disbelief:
    “I never thought a machine could do this.”
    “If I had known this could happen I never would have let my husband convince me to get one.”
    “I trusted it with my children. Never again.”

    A spokesperson from Automatronics, Inc. gave a brief statement that did little to ease the pain. “We recognize the performance of some Comfort Companions was not up to our usual standard, but we are confident that they still performed within the Terms of Service that comes with owning one. Our calculations show that this glitch has impacted less people than the WiFi-enabled Pressure Cooker incident of 2019. At this time, no refunds will be issued for any Comfort Companions, in accordance with paragraph 722(m) of the User Agreement.”
    Last edited by Dark Tangent; June 27, 2019, 19:21.
    PGP key: dtangent@defcon.org valid 2020 Jan 15, to 2024 Jan 01 Fingerprint: BC5B CD9A C609 1B6B CD81 9636 D7C6 E96C FE66 156A
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