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This time the girl’s name had been Katie. Name aside, however, the whole process had been much the same as always, and I was feeling the after effects.

My friends have always told me that I’m just unlucky in love; I have to say that when they do they are making a considerable understatement. For some reason or other no girl had ever reciprocated any kind of attraction. Many of my friends are female, and those I have talked to about relationships tell me that I’m not bad looking, and I’m a good person.

So this not-bad-looking good person had gotten into conversation with this rather nice woman whom he had met and been chatting to for a few weeks at the Badminton club that they both attended. They had talked for a while about various things before he had asked her if she would like to meet for a drink sometime.

The following evening my friend Anna, with whom I always meet on a Thursday evening for a drink, had tried to console me in her usual way.

“Rob,” she said to me, “is it really all that important?”

In my experience everybody who is in a relationship is very good at explaining how it’s not that important to be in one. They, of course, have usually had their first partner at the age of 15 and between then and now had probably been single for a cumulative total of a few days. Women, of course, are the worst for this. Some of them just cannot function for a week on their own without some guy’s neck to dangle from. I’m stereotyping here of course, and Anna was certainly not a stereotype in so more than asking me whether being with a woman was important.

“Yes.” I had answered simply, looking into the bottom of my empty pint glass.

Several seconds of silence ensued.

Anna broke the silence, “She might have actually been busy you know.”

“Yeah right. It’s strange how I always catch girls when they’re busy. They are always *busy*! All of them! I told you about that girl a couple of years ago when we were in uni didn’t I? What was her name again?”

“Was it Kate?”

“Yes Kate! How appropriate! She told me she was very busy.”

“Yes, and she spent the whole remainder of the week hanging out with your flatmates and doing nothing. You’ve told me the story!” Anna raised the bottle of red fruity stuff that she had been drinking to eye level and scrutinised it idly. “If they’re like that they aren’t worth having. Why do you want a girlfriend so badly anyway?”

I sighed; this was another of her token phrases for these conversations. People also always say it in the same tone of voice they might say, “So you want a gold-plated house why?”

“You say that like I’m out looking to fill a huge void in my life. I can cope absolutely fine without one and I think I’ve proved that over the decade or so I’ve had since puberty. It’s just…”

“Yes?” Anna seemed to get bored with the bottle and complacently returned her attention to me.

“Well… I just get a bit lonely at times. It’s nice having my own place nowadays, but it just feels empty.”


Something I’ve known about Anna is that her mind often races a long way ahead of the conversation. When I first met her in my first year at university I quickly learned not to let down my guard after she had managed to talk me into a number of embarrassing situations I’d rather not repeat here for the sake of trying to keep my dignity. Anyway, the first warning sign to watch for is a certain twinkle to her eyes, and it had been so long since I’d seen it that I nearly missed it this time.

“hmmm,” she said again breaking eye contact quickly, “I might have an idea.”

“Oh?” I asked carefully, “This wouldn’t be like the last one would it?”

Whatever Anna’s response was going to be, the ringing of her mobile phone interrupted it. She rolled her eyes, thumbed the answer button and put it to her ear.

“Yeah?” She said. “Oh I see… Well I’m a bit busy at the moment… How did you do that?… Fine I’ll be there as quickly as I can… Bye.”

She gave me a look of complete resignation and started to put her coat on.

“Carl’s been a complete spanner and locked himself out again. I have to go and let him in.”

“Yeah, that’s another reason I want a girlfriend,” I quipped, “so she can let me back in when I forget my keys.”

“Yeah we’re great like that.” Anna paused for a moment. “Will you be at home tomorrow evening?”

“Well yeah.” I replied as we both got to our feet, thinking she’d be sick of sarcastic comments like “Well I’ll have to check my busy social calendar.” or “No, I’m having dinner with a fit blonde.”

“Okay if I come over at about 8ish?”

“Yeah sure.”

“Cool, okay, I’ll see you then.” she downed the remainder of her drink, placed the empty bottle on the table, hugged me briefly, and headed for the door.

In spite of the emotional low I always experience after being rejected by a woman the time at work the following day passed quite quickly. I work as an engineer in the space industry, which I suppose makes me a rocket scientist. The problem I have with the world is that I find rocket science is easy compared to mundane tasks like paying for a TV licence, ordering a pizza, or meeting a nice girl. People would often say “It’s not rocket science!” to which I would reply “That’s the problem!”

Anyway, I’d finished work, driven home, and being quite hungry hurriedly cooked myself some dinner. I was settling down to eat it in front of the television and trying to see if there was anything more interesting on than “World’s most horrific bungee accidents III” when the doorbell surprised me by ringing. I wasn’t expecting any visitors other than Anna, and it was only 6:30pm. Guessing she must be early I switched off the TV and went to answer the door. The last thing I was expecting to see was a deliveryman with a clipboard, which was exactly who it was.

“Afternoon mate,” he said, in that casual fashion that only people used to knocking on total stranger’s doors all day are capable of, “does Anna Jones live here?”

“Erm…” I managed, before I said, “I know an Anna Jones, but this isn’t where she lives. Are you sure about the address?

“Anna Jones, 34 Winchester court, etc, etc,” he said, showing me his clipboard,

“Oh…” I said.

“Look, just sign here mate,” the guy said, obviously not interested in standing around watching me looking confused “I’ve got four more of these things to drop off today.”

“Fine,” I said, signing the form.

“Where do you want it?” asked the second deliveryman whom I hadn’t seen approaching up the short garden path from the delivery van. This was because he was stood behind a 6ft tall metallic box that he was clearly only able to move by virtue of it being on a dolly of some kind.

“Erm…” I said again, then “Erghh”, as I realized the box was about door-sized minus an inch, then finally “Just put it in the living room.”

“Okay, watch out.”

There was a blurred minute or so whilst between them they somehow manoeuvred the box over my threshold, down the short hallway and up against the wall in the room beyond, all the time with me hovering around and watching, not wanting to get in the way and still at a loss for words. Then they thanked me, pushed a piece of paper and a box into my hands and departed.

After staring at the closed door for a few seconds I turned my attention to the new piece of furniture that had inexplicably just been introduced to my flat. It was about half a foot taller than me and about 2ft square at the base. My first impression was that it was a locker of some kind, or a large safe maybe? It was clearly metallic, and had a double door on the front running the entire height of the box. Strangely there was no handle or lock to open them. The only other features were a black panel the size of sheet of writing paper on the left side at about head height and, just as bizarrely, a power cord coming out of the back.

The thought struck me that the box was the perfect size for a person to stand inside. This and the paranoia that comes from being a close friend of Anna for many years prompted my next action.

I banged on the door.

“Anna! You can come out now!” This is a bit childish you know!”

Nothing happened.

Worth a try at least though, I thought.

My mind went back to trying to figure out what anyone, or even Anna, would want with a mains powered electric locker with no means of access. It was at this point that I remembered the box and sheet of paper I was still holding.

The sheet of paper was the recipient’s copy of the delivery receipt, which had my signature on it, but told me nothing at all. The box was a USB wireless networking adapter for a PC, which seemed a bit odd. In any case, I already had a wireless card in my PC. I dropped them both on the sofa and went back to examining the box.

After deciding that just staring wouldn’t uncover anything new my curiosity made me decide to try plugging it in. The cord was short, but reeled out when I pulled on it and it easily reached the nearest socket. I plugged it in, and flicked on the power, flinching as I did so as if expecting it to explode.

It didn’t. In fact there was no sign of change at all, and I was beginning to feel disappointed when I noticed that the black panel now had illuminated words and symbols on it. It said:


There was a graphic showing 4 bars out 5 for signal strength.

MARVIN42 was the name of my network router, (a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, if you haven’t read it do so!). Below were the words “CONNECT” and “CANCEL” each in it’s own box. On a hunch I pressed the panel where the word CONNECT was written.

For a moment it said “CONNECTING…” and then displayed:


I paused.

Who, I thought, would want an electric locker with wireless networking capabilities?

My PC was already switched on, so I brought up an explorer window and typed in the IP. It took a moment to find the address, and then a window popped up saying “preparing to install ATHENA v0.95…”

I tend to get on okay with computers, but don’t think for a moment that doing the job I do I’m a computer whiz. In fact, the computers used on spacecraft are generally very primitive compared with commercial PCs. Some of them even still use magnetic tape to store data! But anyway, I digress. My point is that my knowledge of computers is maybe a little above average.

What I do know – or at least think I know, correct me if I’m wrong – is that any version number below 1 is pre-release; a test version. So whatever was asking to install itself on my PC was a prototype of some kind. Despite this, curiosity made me click OKAY on the install window instead of the sensible thing, which would have been to cancel it.

The installation took about 30 seconds and left me with a window saying “Installation complete” and a ticked box below saying “Run ATHENA” below. Again, I clicked okay.

The program turned out to be quite minimalist. It was a small window with a stylised ATHENA logo, and with about 4 buttons, still nothing to explain what it was. I rather foolishly went into my usual mode of learning what software does which is to try things at random and see what happens. I clicked the first button, which said “Activate unit” on it.

The sound of movement behind me made me jump quite a bit. It was the box of course, and spinning around in my chair, I was a bit unnerved to see the doors on the front of the box folding and opening inward. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the actual contents of the box.

She was stood motionless in what appeared to be a perfectly shaped padded recess inside, which was reclined a little giving the impression of secure comfort. The packing accentuated her very slim build, and although she was off the floor I judged that she was about 5ft 8in. She was wearing a pair of black lycra shorts and a matching strappy top, leaving bare a pleasant midriff between. Her breasts didn’t appear to be particularly large, but they certainly had a nice firm shape under the top. I couldn’t see much of her hair, but what wasn’t hidden by the packing appeared to be a very dark brown. Her eyes were closed, but her lips were slightly parted and formed into a pleasant smile. She looked to be in her early twenties, about my age.

For a moment I found myself thinking about that old story sleeping beauty, and wondered if this girl would also be brought to life by a kiss. I then started to think more rationally. This was apparently either a perfect mannequin of a girl or an actual girl that someone had mysteriously delivered to me in a box. The closer I approached to the box the more I actually believed that this was a real girl, although she didn’t appear to be breathing. I actually began to hope that this was one of Anna’s pranks and not a corpse or something equally horrible, although the girl had too much of an air of blissful serenity to be anything of the kind. Her skin appeared to be very soft and smooth, but still had enough imperfection to it to make it seem real. It also had colour and warmth to it, which I expected a corpse certainly wouldn’t have. She was almost certainly a mannequin.

By this point my head was less that two feet from hers, and those lips were beginning to look very inviting. The dilemma of whether to take advantage of this incredibly surreal moment solved itself when completely without warning the girl drew a breath, making me jump back in shock. Two round, deep brown eyes revealed themselves and fixed themselves on mine as her smile widened.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I was completely overwhelmed with bemusement at this point. I found myself backing away as the girl stepped gracefully from the embrace of the packing and took several paces forward, her eyes never leaving mine at any point. She finally stopped advancing, but I continued back for another second or so until I reversed into the back of my computer chair.

The girl stood in front of me was stunning, quite literally. I knew this because I was quite unable to say or do anything but just stand there gawping at her, waiting to see what she would do next. The mind boggled at what that might be if this was one of Anna’s friends acting out some practical joke.

Now that she was free of the container I could see that the tight clothes she wore certainly showed off her figure, and they made sense as I thought about it, they wouldn’t snag on anything during packing or transit.

It occurred to me that this was all far too perfect, and definitely Anna’s doing. Physically this girl was a construct of all of my personal preferences. Brown hair, brown eyes, the smile, her figure, heck even the shorts she was wearing! Anna was the only person who knew me well enough to know all this.

It occurred to me that the girl and I had now been standing facing each other for a good minute and neither of us had said anything. She’d just been standing still in front of me with a passive look on her face. Well, she hadn’t actually been completely still; she’d shifted her weight from foot to foot and glanced idly about. Her hands had come up to her hips for a while, then met behind her back. Her gaze, when it had casually wandered around the room had always come back to me after a few seconds, and the smile hadn’t changed. It was clear that for some reason she was waiting for something.

“Hi” I said.

She, smiled, nodded, but said nothing. It was the kind of incredible smile that only a few girls have the ability to do, the kind that blurs out everything else for a few seconds.

“Are you okay?” I tried.

This question received a similar response.

Still standing, I looked back to my computer screen. A message saying “unit activated” had appeared. The next control down was a sliderbar which went from “extreme passive” at one end, through “passive”, “neutral”, and “active” to “extreme active” at the other. Changing from green to red in the process. The slider was currently on “passive”.

What the heck, I thought, using the mouse it across to “active”. A message saying “active mode initialising” appeared but otherwise nothing happened, so I looked down to the next control, which said “plugins…”.

I was interrupted by the sensation of a warm hand on my right shoulder. I turned to find myself staring into the girl’s almost hypnotic gaze. The feeling of the skin of her right hand on the back of my neck was unbelievably soft. Her left hand came up to my other shoulder, and then she was easing me toward her.

Somehow my arms found their way quite awkwardly to her waist. Her eyes were close now, about a foot away. Then I felt her abdomen against mine. This came as quite a shock. As I said before, I have female friends, but none of them had ever pushed their crotch against me like this when we’d hugged each other. Needless to say I was already very aroused, and with contact like this she would certainly be able to feel my erect penis through the fabric.

“Wha…?” I began, but was interrupted by a finger against my lips.

Then, all of a sudden, it dawned that we were going to kiss. As our heads moved together I closed my eyes and waited for the point of contact. The warm moistness of her lips met mine. The lips parted, and I felt her tongue greet mine, moving slowly at first, but becoming more confident with time. Together with the sensation of the slim female body pressed against the whole length of my body, and the arms over my shoulders it was the most amazing feeling I’d ever experienced.

I certainly wasn’t going to break the kiss, and the girl didn’t seem to show any signs of stopping either. If anything she was holding herself tighter against me, and the kiss itself was becoming increasingly intense. One hand was feeling up and down my back, while the other stroked the back of my neck. Her crotch was grinding against mine; a rolling feeling with sparks of electricity.

I let my hands roam the soft, warm, firm skin of her back and wondered if this was just an incredibly vivid dream. I felt her hair, which was tied back. As I removed the band that was holding it up and felt it flow down through my hands I knew that there was no way that this could be a dream. In all my dreams I had always woken up long before this point.

Just as I was beginning to think that there was no way this girl would actually stop what she was doing I felt her tongue receding. Her lips slowly broke their contact with mine. I opened my eyes again, and was greeted by hers. The warmth of her forehead touching mine briefly.

Then we were moving. She was moving and I was being led. I knew what was happening but her eyes had me hypnotised. The next thing I was aware of was blundering backward into the edge of the sofa. Still smiling, the girl moved her arms to the front of my chest. Gently she pushed, I lost my balance, and down I went.

I was suddenly lying on my back, watching this breathtaking female form descending on me. I felt her knees on the sofa either side of me as she manoeuvred herself and then my world was filled by her eyes again, seconds later by the return of those warm lips. I could feel the whole length of her body on mine now. Her legs straddling me, her crotch, her firm breasts against my chest, and her hair ticking against my cheek.

Part of the logical side of my mind was returning slowly. The first thing it managed to think was “Oh, so this is what it feels like to make out with the sexiest woman in the world.” It clung to this for several seconds. Then it began to think thoughts that made another part of me scream in protest. This was wrong. There were two many unanswered questions.

After a couple of seconds wrestling with my thoughts, I began to wrestle with her. Trying desperately to get some leverage with my arms to get out from underneath her. I needed to step back and try to figure out what was happening here. This was no ordinary girl, and somehow she was under the influence of that computer program.

The sound of the doorbell sent bolts of ice rushing through my mind. Who could it be? Had the deliverymen realized their mistake at delivering the metal box to this address? How would I explain what had happened?

I somehow managed to wriggle out from under the weight of the girl onto the floor. She giggled and began to crawl down after me, but I was too fast for her. I lifted her firmly by her arms and pushed her into a sat position on the sofa.

“Stay!” I said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Rushing to the door I realized that I was probably flushed as red as a tomato. All I could do was hope it wasn’t the deliverymen returning for the box.

It wasn’t.

“Hi”, said Anna, “I know I’m a bit early but… oh.”

I jumped as now familiar warm arms wrapped themselves around me from behind.

“I see you’ve already been introduced then.” Anna observed.

To be continued...

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