Chris sat, stunned, and pondered the imponderable. Janique had walked out on him. He rubbed the stubble on his jaw and debated making another pot of coffee. In a moment of non-clarity, he wished he had gone forward with his proposal to develop a coffee pot that determined in advance exactly when it should make more.
"Your brain gives off an 'I want coffee' signal when you want coffee, right?" he remembered asking her.
"Sure," she said.
"So, the electroencephalograph monitors for that signal. The thing is, you don't instantly want coffee, the urge develops over time, and at certain times. You determine what that point is, electromagnetically, and work your way backward from there for the amount of time it takes to make a cup."
"Sort of like a built-in caffeine gauge."
"Exactly!" he said, elaborating. "So it can also use fuzzy logic based on past instances to more or less predict when you'll want coffee, like in the mornings. Between the two methods, you should always have hot, fresh coffee whenever you realize you want some."
"Impressive," Janique said. "With the unintentional side-effect of sometimes making coffee when you didn't know you wanted any."
"Well, you don't have to drink it," he offered up sheepishly, smiling.
"Right. And such is the price we pay for convenience. So what would something like that cost?"
"I could probably put it on the shelf for fifty thousand, with installation costs."
"Installation costs?" she asked, ignoring the ridiculous price tag.
"Sure. That's actually cheap for an EEG machine. This is sort of a mini version, so you can wear metal around it. Pretty powerful electromagnets, ordinarily. And this way, it doesn't require any implants."
Janique beamed. "Because we all know Ultimate Hustle rule number four," she said.
"No implants!" they said together and laughed.
"Chris, I think we should do it. We have the money to fund the research. It's a good idea, if it'll work."
"Oh, it'll work."
"Well, a fifty-thousand dollar coffee pot is stupid, but if you can introduce new functions with the same hardware, and I'm operating under the assumption that you can..."
"Of course," he said. "I guess I was a little fixated on the coffee pot aspect."
"You do have sort of a one-track mind," she said, giving him her Academy Award-winning smile. "My question is, can you find the engineers to do something like that?"
"Oh, I've got the engineers," he said. "Not to mention the fact that most of your techie types tend to gravitate toward young, beautiful women."
Janique excused herself with a kiss on his cheek, and left with his latest scripts and concept pieces.
Chris had gotten pretty deep into the tech once UH was on autopilot. The films he still appeared in were rare, and always unplanned for in advance. Janique (or someone else, he thought distractedly) arranged "scenes", as they called them, seemingly randomly. Unbeknownst to him, they were largely based around his own movements throughout the world.
No one, they agreed, wanted to see more films of Chris Turner going off on some frightened yet blase' starlet in the same old locations. He had become so reclusive, he rarely left his lab. The trouble was, no one used the locations he selected, and no one told him of any particular place he should visit. He had no real sex drive anymore, apart from Janique.
Chris was high on the act of creation. He considered the scripts and scenarios he released into the wild little art viruses. They always mutated from his notebooks to the store shelves and digital archives, but some core of her personal truths managed to slip through, regardless.
Inevitably, the end result was better than if he had struggled to maintain tight control over every aspect of production.
But there was so much more to it than that, and it couldn't be shared with anyone. It was difficult to express alphanumerically, but rather incorporated runic figures, ideograms and symbology. He sent ideas out into the ether, and the universe responded in kind.
No one would believe or understand anything he said, so he said nothing.
Instead, he got high, wrote a little, occasionally evaluated audition tapes of second stringers the company sent him, and poured his earnings into new and secretive tech projects. He funded a cadre of like-minded researchers and developers who pursued faster than real-time processing and rendering.
So far, they had broken through to the extent that they gained the ability to diminsh or remove blemishes, so even the demo reels showed the girls in an idealized form. This led to dissatisfaction on Chris's part, so they began the more intensive work of developing the technology that would instead let them augment skin surfaces with tattoos and interesting scars. It was starting to feel too sterile, otherwise.
Their current pursuit beyond that was actually enhancing the figures of the actresses, so that the cameras showed them as even more curvacious and ripe, adding that big extra to Ultimate Hustle productions, allowing them to further outpace any other production houses in existence.
Chris became lost in thought, seeing a point where they would actually have the ability to artificially make someone (women), appear younger or older. He didn't fund development for actors. It was an entirely new set of costly problems, and they could instead go to a gym or something.