Zach Needles strolled up the carpeted
hallway towards the office entrance of his friend, peeked inside and saw him
charming a young woman. He decided not to interrupt the subtle dance of the
human mating ritual and went on ahead towards the cafeteria to get some coffee.
On his way back, he peeked into the office again and saw his friend alone with
a very large grin on his face.
“Well, well, well, no matter how old you
get, a young woman will still make you grin like an idiot,” Needles said.
The middle-aged Bernard Powers glanced up,
blushed in spite of his already reddened cheeks and said, “I got her email
address. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that.”
Needles was twenty-five and considerably
younger than Powers. Needles was a good looking young man, brown skinned and
with black hair. A singular feature usually captures the attention of most
people who meet him—his ice blue eyes. He often wore dark clothes that matched
his dark skin tone and this sharp contrast with the rest of him often caused people
to stare at his eyes. They often found them staring back rather coldly until
they looked away.
my day, we used to get the girls’ phone numbers. We didn’t have any of these
new-fangled e-mails and text messages. If you wanted to call someone, you asked
for their number and then you cranked up your phone and talked to the operator,”
said Needles faking an old man voice.
Powers was giggling, even though he would
never admit it. Needles stepped into the room and sank into the couch in the
corner of Powers’ office.
“At any rate, she wasn’t very pretty,” said
Needles in a playful tone.
“Yea, that’s something that you and your
precious AI have in common, neither of you could tell beauty if it came and
slapped you in the face,” said Powers.
It was true. Needles suffered from a
neurological disorder that made him unable to judge beauty. He had eventually
come to recognize what is considered beautiful on a conscious level but he
would feel no emotional or sexual interest in one woman over another. He could tell
that an obese woman was considered unattractive compared to a skinnier
woman—but not too skinny because then they look a little like a skeleton and he
disliked being able to name all of the protruding bones of a young woman. He
also recognized that symmetry in a face was generally considered prettier.
Larger eyes, full lips and higher cheekbones are all considered prettier. In
his teenage years, he had come to realize he himself was fairly good-looking
and that he was able to attract very pretty women. Because of his disorder, he
was unable to appreciate looking at someone so he learned to find women that
could have more stimulating conversations and had more interesting
Sometimes he thought that he was working on
artificial intelligence research to make someone really interesting to talk to.
Other times he thought that if he could teach a computer to recognize beauty,
he could learn to do it himself, at a subconscious level and have it trigger an
emotional or sexual reaction within him. Most of the time, however, he just
thought he was working on artificial intelligence because it was so damned
Author’s Note: While I had originally tried to write a short story based on the above introduction, I couldn’t think of an interesting enough story around that character so I gave up. I still think it’s an interesting character, however, if only I was a better writer and could give this a better treatement. One day, I will.