Stories

True Love


Jake walked quickly into the building. It was a plain building, without decoration or fanfare. If he hadn’t known it was there, he would have never even noticed it. But he did know it was there. Everyone knew it was there. It was the most important building in the city.

It was where he was going to meet his soul mate.

He’d been putting the task off for a few years. He kept telling himself he wasn’t ready yet. Did he know what he really wanted? What he really liked? No, he had been telling himself. He was too inexperienced and too likely to change his mind a dozen times. He was only 25, but he had friends who had been as young as 16 when they came here the first time.

Sure, a few of them had come back to find new soul mates, or at least to have their current ones tweaked and altered to fit changing tastes. But a few others had kept the same one since the day they walked out of here. That had been pressure on him to do the same.

“What are you waiting for?” they’d ask him, wondering why he could possibly want to put off meeting the love of the rest of his life for so long. After all, the longer he took the less time he’d have. He figured the rest of his life was going to be the rest of his life no matter when he went in, and it didn’t matter much how long that was exactly. But it was hard to convince a cadre of love-struck fools that he wasn’t ready to commit just yet.

Even now, he wasn’t quite sure he was ready. But family pressure had finally gotten to him.

“I met my soul mate when I was 21!” his mom reminded him constantly. “You’re going to wait forever to meet yours! You’ll regret it, mark my words! You’ll be an old man and alone and regretting that you didn’t meet your soul mate. And then when you finally do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Because it’ll be too late then, you won’t be able to do anything with her!”

But the final straw was his younger brother. He had gone in a week ago and met his soul mate. Her name was Cynthia and he could not stop raving about her. Jake had been reluctant to meet her, but once he had, he could do nothing but admit she was perfect for Lee. So Jake schedule a day off for work to go meet his soul mate, as was his legal right.

Even though he’d told himself he was prepared mentally, his hand was still shaking as he opened the door and walked in. The inside of the building was a bustling contrast to the unimposing outside. There were a gaggle of people sitting and standing, waiting in lines and watching large LED displays with numbers in the 1000s flashing on them.

It took a moment for Jake to gather himself and figure out where he was meant to go. A serpentine line at least 60 people long stretched away from a desk where a sign read “NEW APPLICATIONS”. Jake glanced down at his paperwork one more time then shuffled to the rear of the line.

Most of the people in front of him looked younger than him. Most were probably in their late teens or early 20s at the latest. A few were probably just 16, the youngest age you could be before you were legally allowed to meet your soul mate. None were older than him, that was for sure. Men and women ready to be tied down to one person for the rest of their lives.

Well, maybe not just one person. As Jake glanced around the lobby, he saw an older gentleman sitting off essentially by himself. He looked to be in his 50s, or perhaps a little older than that. He had antique reading glasses perched on the end of his nose and his dark hair was just beginning to turn salt-and-pepper. He was reading intently off a pad, occasionally flicking it with a finger to change the page.

Two young women sat to each side of him. One was slowly running her finger up and down his arm, though she seemed to be doing it absently and almost unconsciously. The other had her hand on his knee. Jake would have called both attractive, though neither really would have interested him.

If not for their affectionate actions, Jake would have thought they could be the man’s daughters. But the man said something to them and both giggled on cue, the type of giggle that a lover makes. They definitely were not daughters, Jake decided finally.

He wondered if he would ever want two soul mates. He didn’t think so. He still read old books of romance, where a man would find a woman through some inexplicable meeting. There would be moments of hardship and times when the two didn’t think they could ever get along, but in the end they’d realize that they truly and deeply loved each other.

Jake supposed that for a while, he still entertained a notion of meeting someone like that. The old way, the way his great grandparents had done it. He heard that some people still met that way, especially in the poorer countries. The Indians and Sudanese and Iraqi most certainly still met the old way. He bet most French still met that way, which was only appropriate, since they spoke the language of love.

But then he remembered all the tales of heartbreak he’d heard too. Love that didn’t work. Unrequited love even. How would he have handled that? To love someone and find out that the person did not love you back, that they did not think of you in the same way. It would have been terrible for such a thing to happen. How did people ever handle it back in the old times? He guessed they still had to handle it in the poorer countries now. Maybe the French weren’t so romantic after all, if they always had to deal with rejection just to find a little love.

The front of the line was finally nearing. Jake was growing nervous. Soon he would be taking the final step. There wouldn’t be any turning back after this. The clerk, a rather bored looking young man, held out his hand. Jake handed over the paperwork.

The clerk plugged the paperwork into a machine and the data was read off it. After a few moments, the clerk handed the small data chip back to him. “You are number 1563,” the clerk said in a perfect monotone that made Jake realize it was not a man at all, but rather one of the servant dolls. Of course, Jake thought, this sort of menial task didn’t need a real person to take care of. The doll didn’t even move his eyes, nor was he breathing, or showing any other affectations of humanity.

Jake was briefly appalled by him. Even though there was no real need for a real person to take his paperwork, he would have felt much better having a real person deal with him the entire way. Now all he could think was that his soul mate would be like the servant doll, perfectly inhuman, designed to only fool those who didn’t really look.

“Take a seat in the area marked off in red,” the doll was telling him. “When you see your number on a screen, take your paperwork to the technician there. Have a nice day.” The doll then went stiff and Jake quickly hurried away. He was in no mood to stare at the servant doll any longer and his enthusiasm for the entire venture had soured.

Still, he was here and if he left, he’d never hear the end of it from his friends or family. He found a seat off in the corner of the red area and glumly waited for his number to come up. One of the screens was currently flashing “1395” so he guessed he would be waiting a while anyway.

After a few moments, he realized that if he just dwelt on the servant doll, he would only ruin the experience for himself. Instead, he looked around the lobby at all the people waiting. In the red section, it was almost all solitary people like himself. First timers, he supposed, coming to meet their soul mate for the first time. He saw a man about his age reading a pad.

The man looked almost bored by everything, like this wasn’t a momentous occasion in his life, but rather a necessary chore. Jake wondered what the man was thinking, if he had been pushed into this by his own family, but could really care less about true love. He supposed it was possible. There were all types of people out there and surely there were some who didn’t want love at all.

A girl looked as nervous as Jake felt. She constantly fidgeted in her seat and glanced around at the other people. She caught Jake looking, blushed slightly, and smiled at him. Jake smiled back, but broke his gaze after a few seconds. Now wasn’t the time to be looking at girls.

There was another girl, one who was fat and had oily hair. Jake wondered how she could have let her appearance slip so much. If she wanted to lose the weight, there were pills she could take. Her hair could be made shiny and beautiful with any number of cleaning products. And for the matter, who had supplied the genetics that led to her appearance in the first place? Shouldn’t that have all been cleaned up before she was even conceived?

But Jake supposed it wasn’t his place to judge. After all, he was only 5’10” tall, with practically stunted growth, due to an unforeseen growth hormone deficiency. He could have taken medication that made him reach his full genetic potential, but he liked looking how he looked. Why take medication when he didn’t care about his height? No one else ever really commented on it either, though he did sometimes feel intimidated having to look up at everyone else to talk to them.

Out in the other zones, there were all sorts of people. He supposed the yellow zone was for people bringing in their soul mates for some reason or another. That was where the gentleman with the two girls was sitting. Or had been, as Jake realized the trio had departed or at least moved to where Jake could no longer see them.

He noticed two men sitting together. Jake wondered which was the soul mate and which was the person. Both looked relatively young, maybe in their 30s at the oldest. One was rather reserved and dressed like a school teacher or a children’s educational program host. The other looked like he might be a businessman or a lawyer. Neither were particularly handsome, at least to what Jake would call handsome, so he couldn’t guess that way.

Eventually, he decided it was the one dressed like a teacher who was the soul mate. He had his hand wrapped around the businessman’s arm, while the businessman was reading a pad. Every so often, the teacher would say something and he businessman would absently nod and mumble something in response. The businessman didn’t look particularly interested in the teacher.

Perhaps the teacher was being brought in for an upgrade or to be switched for a new soul mate. That happened sometimes. People change over the years and sometimes the soul mate they picked can’t change with them. When that happened, the soul mate was brought in.

Jake didn’t know anyone who had done that; his mother had been with the same soul mate since she was 21. That was almost 30 years now. And his grandfather had been with his even longer; she was still one of the original models. Even though she was closer to a servant doll than a real person, he still refused to trade her in or have her upgraded. “I love her and I’ll never change one thing about her,” he would insist.

When he did, his soul mate always smiled and her cheeks turned red. It wasn’t really a blush; it didn’t look like a blush. They hadn’t perfected blushes back then, so it was more like her cheeks suddenly had red paint on them where they hadn’t before. It made her look more like a clown than a blushing girl.

Suddenly, the teacher stood up and looked down at something. Jake realized it was a chip. The teacher tugged on the businessman’s arm and the businessman looked up wearily. The teacher pointed and Jake followed his finger; it was an LCD screen reading “A137”. The businessman nodded and slowly got out of his seat. The teacher looked rather impatient, but the businessman was taking his time.

Jake wondered if he’d been wrong. Maybe the teacher was the real person and the businessman had been the soul mate. Why a person would ever want a soul mate who ignored them and acted harassed was beyond Jake, but everyone had their own wants and needs. Lee’s soul mate had this loud, high-pitched laugh that Jake couldn’t stand, but it brought a big smile to Lee’s face whenever she let it out.

With the two men gone, Jake’s eyes fell on a woman who looked to be about his mother’s age. She had a young boy sitting on her lap. The boy looked like he was barely a teenager, if that. He could have easily been 11 or 12 years old.

Jake wondered why anyone would bring their kid along with them here. The kid was certainly too young to be meeting his own soul mate. Even if he’d wanted one, there’s no way it’d be allowed. A person wasn’t considered mature enough to know what they were attracted to until they were at least 16, and in those cases, it was expected that there would be a few upgrades over the years as the individuals matured.

Jake also thought it was somewhat inappropriate for a son to be kissing his mother on the cheek like that, especially at that age. Maybe a very young child might, but for one that age, it seemed almost intimate.

But before he could think about it too much longer, he saw his number flashing on one of the LCDs. He quickly shuffled over toward the booth and sat down. Sitting on the other side of the counter was a very pretty woman with glasses, long blonde hair, and very big breasts. The top of her blouse has been opened to expose her cleavage and Jake couldn’t help but stare at it.

“Hello, Mr. Samito,” the woman said. “My name is Mindy; I’ll be your technician today.” She had a very pleasant voice, level and sweet, pitched just a little on the high side.

“Nice to meet you, Mindy. Please, call me Jake,” he told her. She smiled, which made her blue eyes sparkle. Jake smiled at her and could feel himself blushing a bit.

“Alright Jake,” she said. “This is your first time meeting your soul mate, so there’s going to be a lot of questions and tests we’ll have to perform. As you might already be able to tell, I was specifically chosen as your technician in order to set you at ease. Do you approve of my selection?”

Jake stared at Mindy for a moment, not sure what she was telling him. “What do you mean?” he finally asked.

Her smile shifted subtly to the kind worn by a teacher speaking with children. “I am a model 304-AP soul mate. While my model type is somewhat out of date, I am still accomplished enough to perform the duties of technician for new applicants.”

The answer threw Jake for a loop. He had not expected her to be someone’s soul mate. Her smile, her figure, her features. They were all quite attractive and Jake found himself developing a bit of a crush on Mindy. That was silly, of course, because he did not know Mindy at all. Her personality might have been completely incompatible with his.

“Are you alright, Jake?” Mindy asked him, concern pouring from every syllable. “If I’ve made you uneasy, you can request another technician.”

“No,” Jake snapped. “I just didn’t expect someone else’s soul mate to be my technician. Especially one so…” He let his words trail off because he was suddenly embarrassed to say them.

“Compatible?” she finished for him. That wasn’t the word he was going to use, but it certainly fit. “That’s specifically why I was chosen, Jake,” she explained. “Based on a number of factors determined from your paperwork, I am considered a baseline. Assuming you approve of what you see, I will remain your technician throughout the initial process of constructing your soul mate.”

“Oh,” Jake said, wishing someone had explained all this to him beforehand. Then he supposed his brother had offered to explain, but Jake had ignored him. “Yes, that’s fine. You’re quite fine.”

Mindy’s smile shifted again, this time becoming appreciative and a little bit flirty. Jake was quite flustered by it. “Then if you’ll follow me, Jake, we can move on to the next part of the process.” She pressed a button on her side of the counter and a small door opened in it. She motioned for Jake to follow her, so he stepped inside.

They went back into a corridor lined with doors. Most of the doors were shut and had a LED sign reading “occupied” on their faces. Mindy led Jake past about two dozen doors until coming to one that was “unoccupied”. She turned the knob, peeked inside, then opened the door all the way. She motioned for Jake to step inside.

It was a small room with several video screens and some equipment that Jake didn’t recognize. A single chair sat in the center of the room, surrounded by what he recognized from medical dramas as heart rate, brain wave, and other monitoring equipment.

“If you don’t mind removing your clothes, Jake,” Mindy said.

“Excuse me?” Jake wondered, not at all comfortable stripping down in front of a woman as attractive as Mindy, even if she was a soul mate. Perhaps it was because she was a soul mate, someone else’s soul mate, that gave him such pause. He wasn’t quite sure if that made it worse or not.

Mindy indicated the monitoring equipment. “In order to design a perfect soul mate for you, we will need to record your responses to a large number of stimuli. We’ll need to attach the probes directly to your body in order to get accurate results. You have no reason to be embarrassed, Jake, I am a soul mate and am quite comfortable around male nudity.”

Jake blushed quite a bit, but still removed his jacket and belt. As he was taking off his shirt, he stopped. “I just don’t feel comfortable getting naked around someone else’s soul mate,” he said.

Mindy’s smile became reassuring. “Don’t worry, Jake,” she said in a comforting manner. “If you’re worried I would be violating the trust of the person I was designed for, you need not. She passed several years ago.”

“Oh,” Jake said, suddenly feeling quite stupid. Of course Mindy would not be attached to anyone. If she was, she wouldn’t be working here, she’d be at the person’s house, being their soul mate. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Do not be sorry, Jake,” Mindy said. “Everyone dies. Even soul mates. I got to spend twenty beautiful years with her. I was made for her and nothing made me happier than being her perfect soul mate. And even though she’s gone, I am lucky to still be here. Do you know what happens to soul mates when their partners die?”

Jake had never really considered it before. He supposed he had heard things, but there was nothing concrete he had learned. “No,” he admitted.

“Normally, we are disassembled. Our body parts are either disposed of or refurbished for use in future soul mates. Our memory cores are typically disposed of the same way our partners’ bodies are. For example, my partner was cremated. Normally, my memory core would have been cremated along with her. However, years before my partner was even dying, I had been identified as suitable for this sort of task, due to the personality my partner wished for a soul mate. I am quite open, comfortable with people like you, Jake, and naturally quite pleasing to look at. I have very few inhibitions which might stand in the way of doing the job. So my partner agreed to allow me to continue functioning as a technician to help future people find their soul mates.

“Don’t you think that is a quite touching memorial to her? I get to live on, bringing others the loves of their lives. It’s wonderful.” She was smiling quite brilliantly now, obviously quite happy to relive the memories of her partner.

Jake nodded in agreement, though he wasn’t really thinking about how wonderful it might or might not be. “I see,” he said. “Well, I suppose that does make things a bit more… tolerable for me.”

It wound up not being very much more tolerable at all. Even though he knew she wasn’t someone else’s soul mate now, Jake was still rather uncomfortable stripping naked in front of her. He only managed to get down to his underpants before he had to stop again.

She noticed his unease and smiled at him. “That is fine, Jake, you don’t need to take anything else off. Now, if you’ll please sit down in the chair.”

Jake lowered himself into the chair slowly, expecting it to be cold and stiff on his bare skin. Instead, it felt rather inviting, more like a soft bed than anything else. He let himself sink down into it and felt rather relaxed.

“Now, I’m going to attach the probes,” Mindy told him. “Please let me know if you feel any discomfort.” She placed small circular pads on his forehead, temples, chest, arms, and legs. She had to bend over to do it, which afforded him a look straight down her blouse. He tried to avert his eyes to give her some modesty, but the shape of the chair, the angle he was laying, and the size of her bust all conspired to keep it within his field of view.

After she’d attached perhaps the two dozenth probe, she suddenly hooked her fingers into the waistband of Jake’s underpants and pulled them straight off. It was such a sudden motion that Jake barely had a chance to register what she was doing. He sat up in shock, but she placed a hand on his chest and gently pushed him back down.

“Please calm down, Jake,” she said. “Obviously sexual attraction is a major element of finding your soul mate. I need to attach probes in order to measure the level of sexual arousal you feel at certain points in these tests. If you wish, after I have attached the probes, you can put your underpants back on.”

Jake took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Just make it quick,” he said, his face a burning red that probably made him look closer to his grandfather’s soul mate than any real form of embarrassment.

As Mindy attached the probes, Jake couldn’t help his body’s natural responses. “I’m sorry,” he said, not willing to open his eyes and see what sort of expression Mindy wore. He couldn’t decide what would be worst; if she was embarrassed, insulted, horrified, or amused.

“It’s not a problem. It’s only natural that you’d have that reaction,” she said. A few moments later, “All done. If you’d like, you can put your underpants back on now. However, doing so does restrict movement and blood flow, and thus may affect the results. So we recommend leaving them off. It is up to you, however.”

Jake sighed loudly. “I suppose we can leave them off,” he mumbled. It was too late to be modest anyhow.

“Very well. Now, please lean back and relax. I will step out of the room for a few moments. When I get back, we will begin to construct your perfect soul mate.”

The door clicked shut behind Mindy, leaving Jake alone and naked with dozens of probes attached to his body. He felt utterly ridiculous and wondered how he could ever focus on his soul mate in such a state.

However, after he was left lying there for a while, his nerves began to calm. He realized there was light, soothing music playing over the intercom. He did feel relaxed and he even let a slight smile cross his face for the first time since Mindy had led him into this room.

Almost on cue, Mindy returned. “Feeling better, Jake?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said and was surprised to hear his voice come out with an almost dreamlike quality. It sounded almost like it was disconnected from his body. He wondered if there had been something put into the air to calm him down.

“Alright, Jake, we’re going to start then. First, we’re going to start with your soul mate’s facial structures. Please focus on the screen right in front of you. Just focus on the faces. You don’t need to think anything special. Just let whatever reactions you have come naturally. Don’t worry if you think you missed something. Pictures may repeat themselves or at least it might appear so to you. This will take about 15 minutes. We’ll start with some neutral images to clear your mind. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Jake said.

“We’re starting,” she said. The monitor flickered to life, showing a picture of a kitten. The picture remained on the screen for about 3 seconds, then flicked to a picture of a meadow, then a picture of a sunset, then a picture of a city, and finally a picture of children playing in silhouette. It repeated each of those pictures perhaps three times before moving on to pictures of faces.

At first, the faces were seemingly completely random. They were all women, though women of all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. There were old women and young women. Some of the women were actually girls, pre-teens. There were women with all sorts of features, with big noses and button noses, and thin lips and thick ones. A lot of the women were ugly at first, or at least plain looking.

But after a few minutes, the women began to grow prettier and prettier. Their cheek bones became higher and more defined, until they became too defined, and then they started softening out some. Their noses began to turn up slightly, until they were slightly pushed up. The eyes started off close together, but gradually grew further apart and larger. The eyelashes lengthened, the eyebrows grew straighter and thicker.

A beauty spot appeared on the chin and slowly drifted around before vanishing altogether, then reappearing on the right side of the face just above the lip. The skin tone darkened to a light tanned brown. The eyes cycled through colors before settling on an almost eerie shade of blue that looked more like the sky seen through ice. The hair started off a dark brown and lightened to blonde, then darkened to a light red. It changed style, growing and losing bangs of various lengths and cuts, before settling on a single lock hanging down over the right eyebrow, with the rest of it reaching to just above the shoulders.

Glasses appeared and went through a hundred styles before finally vanishing completely. The same thing happened with eyebrow, nose, and lip piercings. The ears got one piercing, then several, then a dozen, then back down to one each. The ears themselves shifted, splaying out and growing larger, before shrinking back and flattening against the head, and finally settling somewhere in the middle.

Toward the end, the face changed in barely perceptible ways. Eventually, it settled on one complete image.

Jake could barely speak when he saw it. He couldn’t breathe. He could only stare and, perhaps, just barely contain tears. He stared at that face for what seemed like hours. Even though it wasn’t, he could have done so and would have never found a single flaw in it.

“Do you approve, Jake?” Mindy finally asked.

“Yes,” he said, surprised by the sound of his own voice. He turned and looked at her. The face that just a while ago he had considered so beautiful was now merely adequate. It was a flawed face; the glasses no longer adding an air of sophistication and intelligence, but rather marking a flaw. Her nose was off, her lips too thin, her eyes an uninspired blue, her hair evocative of straw.

She still smiled at him, but it was a professional smile now. It was a smile she had to wear, because she was meant to wear it, and not because she wanted to wear it. He pitied her that smile. It was a smile that knew no one would find her as beautiful as her partner did; a smile that had gotten used to brief flashes of interest.

“We’re moving on to the next phase, Jake. Please return your gaze to the screen.”

Jake did as instructed. Once more, the neutral pictures returned and cycled several times until Jake felt himself calmed and cleansed. Almost immediately, the screen showed pictures of a nude woman. Every picture had the face that had been crafted for Jake atop the body and it was almost everything he could do to keep from staring at it alone.

The pictures ran the gamut of all body types, from the grotesquely fat to the grotesquely pre-pubescent. It seemed to take longer than the face took, but finally the pictures narrowed into a range that Jake found more and more attractive.

Small details began to be altered; nipple size, the color, quantity, and shape of pubic hair, tattoos, moles and freckles. Jake was surprised when a rather large mole appeared under the left breast and only migrated slightly downward before staying right where it was. Surprised, but not at all dismayed.

Finally, just like the face, the body solidified and completed. Physically, the woman was complete. The picture turned and posed for Jake to examine every angle. She smiled at him and he felt his heart flutter in joy. It was a perfect smile the way it crinkled the edges of her eyes and caused them to sparkle.

“She’s beautiful,” Jake said in a voice that barely came out as a whisper.

“She’s made exactly for you, Jake,” Mindy said in a somewhat neutral voice. Jake briefly imagined that she was trying to fight back jealousy, but of course that wasn’t true. She had no feelings for Jake and thus no reason to be jealous. It was a professional tone, one that was saying only what was being said, nothing more.

“Now, if you’ll stay focused on the screen, we have one more really big step to take,” Mindy said. “Are you ready, Jake?”

“I am,” Jake said. “I’m more ready than anything.”

“Good.” Once more the neutral images cycled. Then came images of Jake and his soul mate. They showed the two of them in all situations Jake could imagine and some he hadn’t even thought of. Some were mundane; the two of them driving together in a car. In several pictures, Jake was driving. In several others, she was driving.

There were images of them at restaurants, with them dressed up, or extremely casual. Images of them out catching a baseball game just by themselves or with Jake’s friends or with a group of people that Jake didn’t even know. There were pictures of them on the beach and at the movies and staying at home and visiting Jake’s family. One image showed them riding on horseback. Another showed them walking on Mars, a place Jake had never been but had always hoped to save up enough to visit.

They showed her tending to children and cooking and playing video games. They showed her swimming along and reading a book and painting.

Some of the images Jake liked, some he didn’t. Some he didn’t have much thought on. The sensors recorded every flash of emotion Jake displayed.

They showed the two of them in bed, having sex. Different positions, different kinks, different fetishes. Jake was shocked by some, disgusted by others, intrigued by more.

The barrage of images seemed to go on for hours and, for once, Jake’s sense of time was right. When the images finally came to a halt, Jake had a dull headache. His eyes were stressed and sore. He was exhausted, even though he’d just been lying in a chair, staring at a video screen.

“Well, Jake, you’re finished,” Mindy said.

He sat up. He was stiff and sore. He felt as if he’d just woken from a dream on the cold ground. “That’s it?” he asked. “It seems like there should be… more.”

“That’s it,” she said. “You might not have realized it, but those images contained a lot more than just pictures of the two of you doing things. They also contained expressions on both your faces, subtle emotional cues from the two of you. I bet you don’t think you saw almost identical images several times, do you?”

Jake shook his head. Mindy smirked. “Look up at the screen, Jake. I’ll show you.”

He looked back at the screen. Two pictures came up of them standing in front of a painting. It was one of his favorites, Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault. In the right image, his soul mate was looking lovingly at the picture and had an agreeable expression. In the left, she was frowning slightly and gesturing at it. It seemed the two of them were having a rather heated discussion over it.

“Would you like to know which image you found more appealing, Jake?” Mindy asked.

Jake was curious. What had he felt when suddenly flashed these two images? Which had evoked a stronger reaction? And which reaction had been positive? He would have loved to know.

“No, not really,” Jake answered. “I’d prefer to discover for myself.”

Mindy smiled at him. It was a genuine smile again. “I should have guessed you would say that.” She walked over and began removing the probes from Jake’s skin. It only took her a few minutes, as she needed far less precision with the removal. Once she was finished, she handed Jake his clothes.

“Please get dressed and relax in here for a while. Your soul mate is still in the process of being completed by our technicians. I’ll bring her to you once she’s finished.”

Jake pulled his clothes on, but found himself too excited to sit down and relax. Instead, he paced back and forth in the room. He wondered how much longer it would take them to complete her. It seemed as if every moment of waiting would be too much to bear.

But it wound up being not long at all. After about a half hour, Mindy returned. “Jake, are you ready to meet your soul mate?”

All Jake could do was nod. Mindy smiled at him. Jake might have noticed it was a sad smile if he had been paying attention. She opened the door and Jake’s soul mate was standing there.

“Hello,” she said in a soft voice that was higher pitched than even Mindy’s. She confidently looked Jake right in the eyes. “I’m Lisa, your soul mate.” She stepped forward, took his face in her hands, and kissed him full on the lips.


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