Abdul Rodrigo-Schwartz woke up at noon, as usual, and struggled to roll his sloppy mass out of bed. He worked from home as a freelancer writing fake product reviews for Chinese companies, so his sleep schedule could be as fucked as he wanted it to be. His fat silhouette passed in front of the window on the outer wall of his 400 square foot studio cubicle, and the New York City skyline grinned its wide, crooked grin as he prepared a cup of instant coffee. Today was Friday, which meant he could stay up even later than usual. “Maybe I’ll see if Eve wants to do anything tonight,” he thought aloud as he sat down to begin the day’s work.

Eve—or Evan, depending on how binary xe was feeling at any given moment—was a full time driver for the latest app-based taxi startup. Xir hair was roughly cropped to about three inches long and was dyed fluorescent orange, but xir thin mustache was finely trimmed and left to its natural blonde color. Eve was bone-thin and xir eyes sank deep into their sockets. Evan doesn’t have a surname anymore: xe disowned xir father years ago for forgetting xir new pronouns too often. Eve’s parents were already well into middle age when they had xir, so maybe it was a case of old dogs and new tricks, but that hardly matters.

The traffic on the road leading out of the city proper and into the suburbs was slow today as Eve went to pick up today’s first passenger. Above the street, a floating billboard advertised the talent for this year’s porn star lottery, courtesy of the New York state government: Esmeralda Manaia, the first ever half-Ghanaian half-Maori green-skinned hermaphrodite. Esmeralda was genetically engineered using CRISPR based on focus group testing, but trends had changed since 18 years ago and the poor thing was almost obsolete by now. The pornstar lottery was a special occasion: prostitution had been legal for about twenty years, but after the first decade, it was decided by the Supreme Executive Women’s Caucus that publicly-registered prostitutes must conform to a number of rules—such as a minimum BMI—that are meant to ensure that everyday women still have a chance in the sexual market. The porn lobby, however, kept these laws from affecting actresses. Eve tried to get registered once when xe was younger, but xe was too attractive for prostitution and too ugly to compete with carefully CRISPRed porn stars

Xir phone was muted because a few guys xe knew had been messaging xir, so xe didn’t get Abdul’s message asking when xe’d be free until a few hours after he sent it. This didn’t bother him, of course, as he was still hard at work and he knew how very busy xe always was.

Xe finally texted back: “idk prob like 9.” Abdul’s phone buzzed and his heart jumped. He immediately replied:

“Can I please take u to the new theater that just opened a few levels up from my place? I couldn’t afford an elevator subscription this month but I could carry u up the stairs if u want. This place has great VR rigs. Rly want to see u :)”

Two hours later his phone buzzed again: “Yeah sure.”

9pm rolled around. A knock at Abdul’s door. He and Eve depart for the theater. Leaving his apartment complex, they look up into a starless sky crowded out by the platforms of the over-levels where all the newest locales were built. “So, how was your day?” Abdul asks. “It was alright,” Evan responds. On their way to the stairwell, a drone zooms in front of them projecting an advertisement for elevator passes onto the wall next to them. “Ugh,” Eve groans. Xe lifts xer phone to xer face and says, “Lexi, add 24 hours of commercial-free service to my cart.” A voice echoes “okay” from the phone, and the drone scurries away.

At the top of the stairway, a panoply of lights shiver above and around them in every direction. Abdul grabs his phone and says, “Give me directions to the Pleasure Nova Theater.” A small drone nearby lights up and flies slowly down the boardwalk, leading them to their destination. Through the glass walkway, they can see cars whizzing by below. Abdul looks up at a billboard. The red lens at the top shudders and the advertisement immediately changes from fast food to the phone number and website of a new Communal CRISPR Clinic. Evan says, “Thinking ‘bout kids, huh? Keep dreaming!” and jabs him in his wide gut with xer elbow. CRISPR was still expensive, but programs exist that allow the underclasses to pool their cash and genetic material with friends in order to co-parent a custom CRISPR’d baby, or a “crispy” as some folks were starting to call them. Abdul was curious about it and looked it up during a break earlier that day. Deep down, he hoped that one day he and Eve could have a crispy together.

They arrive at the door of the Pleasure Nova Virtual and Augmented Reality Theater. “Two tickets for half an hour in the Pornotarium, please,” Abdul says as he pulls a plastic token labeled “Bitcoin GO” out of his pocket. He presses his fingerprint into the soft side of it and hands it to the clerk. He scans it and hands it back to Abdul just as the fingerprint disappears.

Abdul and Eve are led down a black-lit hallway past several closed doors to an open, padded room. The lights flash on and speakers boom from behind thick cushions. Their host hands them each a large helmet and an elastic suit with small LEDs interspersed throughout it. The host leaves and shuts the door behind him. Abdul and Eve get brief glimpses of each others’ naked bodies as they strip down, enter the elastic suits, and don the bulky helmets.

Abdul presses on the front of the helmet, checking the pressure plate that activates the oral apparatus. As he presses, a blank strip of silicone skin is pressed to his lips. He flips a switch and gears grind, rotating to a silicone replica of a human mouth. He flips it again, a replica of female genitals. One final time, and the final spot in the gallery—male genitals—takes a few moments to inflate. Abdul switches back to the bareskin slide before it gets fully erect.

Inside the upper part of the helmet, a screen lights up and a menu appears. The helmet is already logged on to his Pornspot premium account, offering him suggestions for the night’s entertainment. “Almost ready, hon?” he says as he browses an endless sea of naked anime characters, Asian women clad in leather, and a few muscular black women thrown in as promoted suggestions. “Just a minute, bud,” Eve replies. Xe doesn’t have a Pornspot account and so begins the search from scratch. Xe scrolls through the lumberjack section, then through the pirate section, and finds nothing. An algorithm sends xir on a brief detour through the “exotic” section. Xe finds the professionals section, the men-in-uniform section, and then the werewolf section. Finally, xe comes to the caveman section, and something catches xir eyes: “Savage Hairy Grungar SMASHES Kidnapped Teen.” Evan makes xir selection and waits for Abdul to finish his.

Inside his own helmet, Abdul is torn: Does he want the anime girl dressed as a cat, or his favorite streamer? After mulling it over, he picks the scene with the anime catgirl named Meeko and clicks a button to confirm he’s ready. A whooshing sound flows out of the surround-sound system as the two lovers are swallowed into their respective fantasies.

Eve looks out over a vast, grey horizon. A dinosaur roars in the distance, towering over a wooly mammoth carcass. Xe turns around and there he is: Grungar, with his loincloth and fuzzy chest. The model spazzes out for a moment and shrinks to fit Abdul’s short, pudgy dimensions. “Hey there, big guy,” xe says. His reply comes out as unintelligible whooping as xir helmet’s sound filter turns his pitchy words into a guttural pounding.

Eve continues to speak, but Abdul can’t understand xir either: his helmet is turning xir words into a squeaky parody of Japanese. Surrounded by the Tokyo cityscape, Abdul is entranced by the digital tail tacked onto Eve’s rear. “Can you please turn around, babe?” Abdul politely asks. “Ahwooooga buh numga!” Grungar howls. “Whatever you say, just please don’t hurt me,” Eve replies with xir best impression of a sultry voice, but Meeko’s eeking means nothing to Grungar. “Abba wabba,” he hoots, sounding slightly irritated. “Please please please, babe?” Abdul repeats into his helmet.

“Please, mister caveman, will you let me go if I fuck you?” Eve says, letting xir seductive act falter just a little in xir impatience. Abdul sits back and appreciates the flurry of unintelligible Japanese being thrown at him. A frustrated Meeko finally unzips his jumpsuit and gestures sternly at xir ass. Grungar gets the message and starts to unzip Evan from the back. Xe stops him just before he gets to the crotch. Eve turns around and the two lovers push the pressure plates of their helmets to each other, tonguing the silicone mouths inside.

After a while, the foreplay dies down and Grungar finally slithers Abdul’s shaggy dick into Evan’s asshole. Meeko’s tail flickers in front of his face. Two and a half minutes of thrusting later, Abdul and Eve decouple and he dribbles his piddly load onto xir elastic jumpsuit. They each sit still for a moment and then take off their helmets. Evan pats Abdul on the back and starts to walk towards the exit.

On the way out, the clerk thanks them for their business and hands them a laminated photograph of the couple mid-coitus, complete with a gaudy watermark reading “Pleasure Nova Theater: The Future is Coming.” They have a quick giggle and Abdul slips the photo into his wallet.