"Come on in, Jessie," the boss said. "Please, take a seat."
"Look, Jim, if it's about the latest 'Franklin Jones' novel, I can explain. I'm having trouble with the new interactive personality subroutine."
"Trouble? But the copy of President Strickland you showed me last week was almost perfect."
"Exactly. Almost perfect. I want it indistinguishable from the real one."
"Jess, the people who'll run this program have never even met him, they won't be able to tell."
"But you'll be able to replace him with people you do know - then it'll make a difference."
"Whatever. Look, Jess, the reason I'll called you in here ... I don't know how to put this. I'm ordering you to take a vacation."
"Yes. You're working too hard. Jess, I've been in this business since the start. That's nearly thirty years. And in all that time, you are the best damn holo-reality programmer I've ever seen. It's your eye for detail. You might take twice as long to produce a novel, but we sell twice as many and for twice the price - because they're twice as good as anything else around."
"And whenever your wife goes away on assignment, you throw yourself into your work until she gets back. Not that there's anything wrong with that, better than having an affair. But you have to face facts; Demi's not coming back this time. You keep going at this rate and you'll burn yourself out.
"I know it was a terrible accident, a really horrible way to lose someone, but she's gone. It was nearly nine months ago, Jess. You've taken no time to grieve. You still haven't come to terms with it, I can tell."
"Work's all I have left, Jim. I can't take time off, what will I do?"
"That's up to you. Find some way to help you get over Demi. Take a vacation. Spend all your time in a holo-reality suite running porn and fucking 'till your dick drops off. Whatever. Just give yourself a break, before it's too late."
"I can't afford it."
"It'll be a paid sabbatical. You don't have a choice. As of tomorrow, I don't want to see you here for another month. Is that clear?"
Jessie arrived back at his house. What was he going to do for the next 30 days? All his material for his project was at work, so he couldn't do that. He didn't have enough credits for a holiday. His only option was to run an immersive Holodeck program. To try and "get away from it all."
Over the next few days, he tried many different programs, but none of them could hold his interest. Even his own best selling crime series, "Franklin Jones Investigates," he found boring. He hated to admit it to himself, but he missed his dear Demi. He figured he needed to see her again, to touch her, to smell her.
"Computer..." he said as he entered the Holodeck, "do you have enough data on file to create a facsimile of Demi Huskley?"
The computer answered in a soft, sensual, female voice, "There is enough data on file to create an accurate physical facsimile of Demi Huskley."
"How accurate?" asked Jessie.
"To within zero point zero five percen," the computer informed him.
"Then do it."
"Working ... Working," the computer repeated as it began to build up the Hologram version of Jessie's wife.
Slowly the image came into focus. Her long black hair cascaded down her back. Her breasts swelled out in a divine manner, and with her rounded hips, formed a delightful hourglass figure.
"Computer, much as I like seeing my wife naked, perhaps you should put some clothes on her."
"Select outfit," said the computer.
"Something casual ... Jeans and T-shirt."
The clothes appeared on Demi's form, covering up her assets. Jessie was slightly disappointed, but at least her could look at her without a permanent hard-on. He walked around her static figure, admiring the way she looked.
"I always liked you in jeans, Dee." he said, "Your ass fills them just right."
He walked back around to the front, smiling constantly.
"I wish I could talk to you. There's so much I need to tell you. I've missed the sound of your voice so much."
He stood admiring this copy of his dead wife. Suddenly he had an idea.
"Computer. Can you make her speak, so that I can have a conversation with her?"
"Yes. A copy of Demi Huskley's vocal pattern is on file. This can be used to simulate her voice."
"Do it. Have her interact with me." He waited a few moments until the computer told him that Holo-Demi was ready to speak.
"Demi? I've missed you."
Holo-Demi stood soundless.
"Did you miss me too?" Jessie asked.
"Yes." It was definitely Demi's voice, but it sounded hollow, emotionless.
"How have you been?" Jessie wanted her to reply in full, to have a conversation with her.
"I have been dead," said Holo-Demi. Jessie nearly broke into tears.
"Computer. You've got it wrong, this is all wrong."
"Is it not Demi Huskley's voice?" asked the computer.
"Yes, it's her voice, but she sound like you. There's no emotion in her voice."
"It is what you asked for. An interactive copy of Demi Huskley using her vocal pattern." said the computer.
"That's not what I meant," said Jessie. "Could you incorporate the personality subroutine from "Franklin Jones Investigates" into this program, and adapt it to produce a copy of Demi's personality."
"It would require a large amount of data of the chosen subject," said the computer.
"Would 50 or so hours of home video data be enough?" asked Jessie.
"How long will it take?" questioned Jessie.
"The integration would take 2 hours 7 minutes," the computer informed him.
"Fine. I'll be back in 2 hours. Place Demi in the Martian restaurant program for when I return."
While he waited for the computer to finish its task Jessie took a long bath to freshen up. He picked out his best suit, and did his hair. If he was going to see Demi again, he wanted to look his best. When he got back to the Holodeck, the program was already running. He opened the door and went in. The Martian Restaurant program created an atmospheric restaurant overlooking the red Martian skyline.
He approached the bar, and saw Demi sat on a bar stool wearing a slinky black velvet dress. She had two glasses in front of her filled with what looked like rum and coke.
She turned around to greet him as he approached. "Hi, Jessie. Where have you been? Your over five minutes late."
It was perfect. Exactly what the real Demi would have said.
"Sorry." he said, "Traffic."
"I got you a Malibu and Coke," she said, "Your favourite."
"Thanks." he said. He was speechless. After so long here he was having a drink with the most perfect of god's creatures.
"You look radiant." he said, "and I love that dress on you."
"Thanks," she said with a smile, "I brought it specially."
The waiter walked up to them and coughed politely. "You table is ready Sir, Madame. If you would care to follow me."
He led the couple, walking arm in arm, to their table. They ordered food and wine, which came promptly. There wasn't much conversation between them as the night wore on. Jessie was just glad to be in the company of the woman he had loved for 12 years. They ate their meal, then danced the night away in the restaurants disco.
At a quarter to one in the morning, the music from the disco slowed down to smoochy numbers as the place prepared to close for the night.
.... There is more of this story ...