Having flicked through five hundred channels, Arlo tossed the remote onto the sofa. He hooked his earphones on and pressed ‘shuffle’. He wasn’t too thrilled with the player’s first random selection so he pressed ‘skip’ a few times until he found a song he could tolerate. He stood on a pad and hovered to the kitchen. The ice-maker had a cool drink waiting and the oven was flashing a question “What time’s dinner?” but he couldn’t be bothered to tell it. He might summon pizza or something from an app instead.
He checked his messages on all platforms, clicking the little heart icon underneath several photographs without looking at them properly. A couple of people were saying Hi. He said Hi back. He’d check again tomorrow to see how they responded to that one.
He floated back to the living room, hopped off the hover pad and dropped onto the sofa. A quick touch of the dial adjusted the cushions, plumping them up and cooling the temperature for optimum comfort. He switched to games mode and selected an interactive shoot-’em-up set in an abandoned city. There was only a couple of other players logged in, neither of whose handles Arlo recognised. He shot a few prostitutes and smashed a car into a shop window before disconnecting, bored to death.
He activated the pizza delivery app but couldn’t decide on toppings. “Drones are standing by” the app informed him in bright colours. Drones who would bring him mushroom, pineapple and garlic – whatever his heart desired on a pizza.
He decided he wasn’t hungry after all and undressed for a sonic shower. Invisible pulses cleaned his skin. You couldn’t feel them working but somehow you felt fresher afterwards. Renewed. He lay on his bed for a vibro-massage, scrolling through his tablet for something to read, but nothing held his attention. He couldn’t remember the last time he had found a clip of a kitten falling off a skateboard even vaguely amusing.
Which reminded him. He opened the app and ‘fed’ his cyber-pet, an amorphous creature that changed colour according to mood and physical condition. The thing purred and hooted with pleasure, rubbing itself against the other side of the screen. Arlo tickled the glass absently.
He asked the wardrobe to pick out a clean outfit for the evening. The scanners assessed his temperament and put together items of black clothing. “Very funny,” Arlo scowled.
An unfamiliar chiming rang out. Arlo checked all the devices in his bedroom. He hopped onto a pad and glided from room to room but he could not locate the source of the chimes.
Eventually, it stopped. Arlo went to bed for an immersive experience with a couple of holographic women.
Walking away from the house, Arlo’s mother took one last sad look back. He never calls, her shoulders slumped, and he never seems to be at home. He must be having the time of his life; my boy, out there in the world.