“Sorry. I just remembered an email I have to respond to by — well, it’s Tokyo, you know.”
“All right, but it’s after midnight here in our time zone. Can’t it wait?”
“Well, not really. I will just lie here thinking about it any way until I go do something about it. Just a few minutes Patrick. Go to sleep.”
Rachel slid into her slippers and threw on her robe. The hardwood floors between their bedroom and her home office felt cold and damp in Delaware’s December, even through the leather.
Rachel plunked down at her computer, fired up the 3-D visualizer and frictionated her hands together vigorously.
Meanwhile, Patrick stared at the ceiling, faintly lit by the lonely glow of the entertainment center’s vampire power indicator lights. Rachel’s job helped provide them a great lifestyle, but it demanded a lot too. This was the fourth time this week she had to get out of bed late and go work on the computer. His job as a lawyer demanded a lot too, but he long ago decided his health came first. He would bring her some hot tea. Maybe he could surprise her. He’d just sneak the tea out one second before the microwave beeped.
Two minutes later, Patrick padded silently into Rachel’s office. He stared for a minute, uncomprehending. The tea, the teacup and his plans to silently surprise her clattered noisily onto the oak floor where entropy had its inexorable way with all three.
Patrick’s lips moved but no words escaped for a long moment. Rachel jumped banging both thighs painfully into her desk. “What!?” She spun around and looked at Patrick accusingly. “What are you doing here?!” She had not meant to snarl.
Patrick flushed. “What the devil are you doing? Are you having phone sex with…with him? I thought you hated him!”
Rachel’s mind was spinning. “I thought you were in bed. No. I mean, no, I’m not…why are you here? I thought you were in bed.”
“What does that have to do with anything? Why are you doing that? And why with him? What the hell? And, why have you been lying to me? This is your vital work you’ve been doing all this time? Cybersex?”
“It’s not what it seems! I just…”
Meanwhile, the very realistic Tom avatar continued to lick his lips suggestively whispering all the while, begging Rachel to…
Rachel suddenly realized this whole conversation might go better if she shut off the projector.
Patrick’s lip quivered. “Do you? Do you love him? It? That nothing? What is wrong with you?! Are you…?”
“No! No! Of course, I don’t love him! This isn’t about love. You know I can’t stand him. That’s the whole point! This … this avatar…does whatever I tell him to. I just get a kick out of making him beg for it and being my complete slave.”
Now, Patrick’s lawyer mind took over and he felt calm and sounded rational despite his racing heart. “Do you know how sick that sounds, Rachel? Well, in case you don’t, let me tell you. It sounds very sick. And possibly illegal. Do you have permission to use his image…his voice…his gestures…in this way?”
“No, of course not. He doesn’t…I assume he doesn’t…I downloaded this from a site where nobody likes him. You think it may be illegal? Why? I could print out a picture of him from the news media. I can play clips of his broadcasts. Why not this? Isn’t he what you guys call a ‘public figure’? I could even make a parody of him, right?”
“Yeah. He is. You can. But that doesn’t mean you can use his images and sounds to build a model of him to have sex with! Anyway, it’s sick! You have a real live husband, for God’s sake! This is just … disgusting! Why would you want to have cybersex with someone you hate?”
“It isn’t always me. Sometimes, I make two of him and make them do each other.”
“Oh, cool. Now, I feel better. You are just sick. You know? You need help. Psychiatric help. And possibly legal help as well. This can’t be legal. It’s only a matter of time till he finds out and sues you and all the other sickos.”
“For what, exactly?”
Patrick’s lawyer mind began to churn again. “That’s a good question. I suppose the station could sue you for copyright infringement or trademark violation. I suppose he could sue you for…defamation of character? I don’t know exactly. This is so sick it has never been before the bench. But if Disney can successfully sue fans for making up stories based on characters that they stole from the public domain like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan, you can bet that these people can sue your butt. And, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful in the courts, you know your company will not like the publicity. This is not the kind of image they want to project. You are going up against a frigging media company Rachel! You didn’t think this through! They could win. They could take everything we own. What a complete…you are just…How many people can you do this with? Is it just him?”
“Oh, no. I don’t know, but I think pretty much anyone famous you can get on-line. I mean you can find a website with the models to download. Then, it takes a long time to compile, but once you have the model, you can get them too do anything. Anything. Think about it. Any. Thing. It doesn’t have to be sex.” Rachel paused, then added softly. “Tempting, isn’t it? Shall we see whether we can find on-line models of your ex?”
“No! This is just … disgusting. And, worst of all, this is exactly the kind of behavior that bio-based human beings would have engaged in if left to their own devices.”