My Beautiful Avatar
The butler has found the torch. There is nothing more I can do.
After the first virus, my life changed. I suppose life changed for everyone to one degree or another, but for me it was much more than I expected
Avatar robots have been out for a few years now, but because of the high cost, their use has mostly been to eliminate high end corporate travel. Executives of companies who can afford these can log on to an avatar at a remote office and the experience is very close to “being there”. Of course it requires ultra high speed network connections, and fairly expensive virtual reality equipment at the originating end, but it sure beats the cost, time, and danger of air travel. Even with the best filtration and the best masks, locking yourself in an aluminum tube with strangers sounds like a ticket to a life support center. Nobody flies now unless it’s military.
Most companies rent the low end stuff. The things that look like that little robot from Pixar, what was that damn movie? Argh, I can’t remember, but you might have seen one of these rolling up the street on its way to a meeting. They look a bit like a lawn mower with a robot head on the handles. They rent for about $50 an hour and they’ll stop dead in the street because the schmuck at the other end didn’t spring for UltraBand.
At the high end (Microsoft and other super-corps), the avatars themselves are so realistic that employees have been at least momentarily fooled from time to time. And they don’t freeze, because they are loaded with smarts and can move and even respond pretty intelligently if there is a data glitch. The big mucky-mucks who buy these and send them to their meetings always pay for the highest networks, so there is seldom any freezing.
But trust me, that’s nothing. Because Mister Mighty CEO is still clumsily controlling that thing with a VR helmet and some bulky gloves. It’s far from natural. Nobody is fooled for long.
I have something very different.
You can’t afford this. Mister Mighty CEO can’t afford it either. If Apple wanted to buy just five of these, it would bankrupt them. This is beyond anything else.
How am I so lucky? Because I built the damn thing. My avatars are beyond life-like. I could send mine to your office and it would seem so real to you that I’d have to put a mask on it or some cop would arrest it on its way in. It’s that good. You’d never know.
I need investors. I used up every dime and more on the prototype. I have exactly one of these and it’s beautiful but I’m broke. So I put out some feelers and got a referral to G-Robo. Yeah, the guys who probably made your butler robot, pathetic as that thing is. The model I have, which wasn’t cheap, can’t even keep my workshop neat. Admittedly, I am a slob, but still…
Anyway, a gal from G-Robo contacted me and said her boss would like to meet me. I wasn’t impressed at first, but they had done their homework. They said they understood I had something revolutionary and mentioned a money figure that made my stomach jump. I was able to conceal my shock and I agreed to the meeting.
I have to say I was nervous walking into the building. Nobody would know that, though, because I wasn’t really there. I sent my avatar because I wanted to fool them into thinking it really was me in the flesh, masked and shielded. Then I’d do a big reveal and that would seal the deal.
After passing through security, body scan and all (I told you this thing is incredible, didn’t I?), I was taken to the meeting room. They had a big screen on one wall like the old Apple stores used to have. A man in a very expensive suit extended a gloved hand and I could see that he was smiling behind the mask. “Very pleased to meet you”, he said.
I let my avatar respond by itself. It knows social niceties. The man in the suit waved for me to sit. The avatar can handle that by itself as well. Everything was going perfectly; it was time for the reveal. I was going to have my avatar’s forehead turn into a screen showing me sitting at home in my SimulSuit controlling my unbelievably realistic avatar. I wiped my forehead with the preset gesture that would do that and the man in the suit laughed.
“No need for that”, he said, and the big screen snapped on. I was on the screen, in my shop, wearing the suit, but the view was from behind me. I have no cameras there. I swung around and there was my G-Robo butler. I stood up and moved toward it. The screen that my avatar was showing showed me doing that. I hesitated.
The butler had a knife in its hand. A big carving knife. And my avatar was being physically restrained by the chair it had so willingly sat in.
Momma didn’t raise no fools. I saw the plan in a split second. Kill me, a tragic accident. Clean up all evidence of my design here. Steal my avatar and market it to the world. No wonder he laughed!
I pushed my chair hard toward the advancing butler. That wouldn’t stop it, but it slowed him down enough that I could duck into the storage room and lock the door. I was safe, at least for the moment.
But I was stupid. This is a shielded room. No network. No communication with the world. No food, no water. And a killer butler outside the only exit.
I’m going to hide this somewhere. I hope someone finds it someday and brings those G-Robo bastards to justice. I have to do that now. It sounds like the butler has found my acetylene torch.