“What do you know about what we do here, Mr Johnson?”
“Not much—you recruited me. I guess you must be working on testing some sort of high-tech biofeedback equipment?”
The woman, who’d introduced herself as Jess Marland, “the person in charge of this madness,” grinned suddenly. “Yes, something like that.” She licked her lips. “We work with early-model full-sensory induction devices, what they call ‘simsense.’ The technology has been in use for a while now in a few medical applications and some kind-of high-tech training programs, but we’d like to see it go more mainstream. There are already three competing input standards, and they have different tradeoffs; but we think we can improve the quality of data recording by recording from people who have high-quality sense-data. It’s easy for us to turn up the amplitude of one channel or another in post-production, but we’re looking for people with a broad range of sensory response, and who experience very fine, subtle distinctions within that range. You tested well for those qualities. You’re also young and healthy, have no major past injuries, eat a good diet—believe me, all that comes through in the recording. So that’s roughly what we do and why we’re recruiting through volunteer medical testing on college campuses. But specifically,” she smiled again, and met his eyes, “we make porn.”
He blinked. “You make porn with high-tech medical equipment?”
She laughed. “Well, we hope it’ll be the next revolution in home entertainment systems. And if we make porn that’s hot enough, maybe it will be just because of us. You’ve heard the saying that porn drives technology, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so. But I thought that was supposed to be hackers tricking out machines they already had. I’ve never heard of anybody having a sensory induction device in his basement.”
“You just haven’t been in the right basements.” She winked. “Yet. But really, there’s already a community of early-adopters and hobbyists playing with this technology. They just,” she frowned a bit, “have to be pretty rich early-adopters. Or connected with a research institution, which leaves a broader pool than you might think. We’re connected with a research institution, actually—we’re trying to define some standards for... well, to come up with a coherent way of talking about what characteristics of recorded data are subjectively relevant to a high-quality experience. Which is what led us to define the criteria that we used to pick you. Anyway, the point is, there’s a market, and there’s also the opportunity to define what the future market is going to look like from now on. We get to give the world the first ideas about what it’s like to do induced-sense porn. Isn’t that awesome?”
“Look, why don’t I show you what simsense is like. Let you try out a machine. This,” she opened a desk drawer and hoisted out what looked like a very large desktop computer attached to an impressionist sculpture of a person made out of ribbon cable, “is one of the earlier machines, a Tandem Biotronics model using the nine-track Meridian input standard, mostly. We like the standard, and want to use a variant of it, though this model’s amplitude and resolution are a bit low. But that’ll be fine. I’ll show you how to hook it up, and you can try it out.”
“Sure!” She winked. “You’ve got to see what the end product will be like, right?”
He looked at her, and at the device, considering. She laughed. “Take it home! I want you to feel comfortable using it. See what you like, what you don’t like, what you find fun, what you find annoying. It’s ok, I don’t have to watch you.”
He looked startled. “Um, isn’t that a pretty expensive machine? Are you just going to give it to me? I don’t even work for you yet.”
She nodded. “I’m just loaning it to you for tonight; you have to bring it back tomorrow. If you’d bought it new it probably would have cost more than your house; but now it’s a few years out of date. Still, yeah, it’s expensive. But we’re heavily insured. And I know where you live; it was on the form you filled out for the first screening—our company Compliance Officer has already been to your apartment, even. I’ll make you sign it out, but I don’t think you’re going to skip town with my very expensive machine. Consider this an early gesture of trust.”
“What if my roommate spills beer on it?”
“You don’t have a roommate right now.”
Her lips twitched. “You really did fill out a lot of forms for us, although I’m glad to hear we managed to make the process so painless that you didn’t notice. Maybe it was the free food?”
That drew a reluctant chuckle from him.
“Look, don’t you go spilling beer on it, because I am going to make you sign it out first and if you break it I’ll have to garnish your wages for a very long time and I know you aren’t even employed right now. But we’re basically a small start-up company; our employees have a lot of responsibilities and we need to be able to give them a lot of trust, and that’s just the atmosphere I prefer to work in.”
“Ok.” He thought a moment. “Um, compliance officer?”
“Later. Now look, here is how you set it up...”
She showed him how to attach all the leads to his body, and how to plug them in, and how to turn the machine on. She gave him two data modules, one a simple test of induced sensoria and one a demo porn shoot. She briefly ran the first test module for him, and the office disappeared, replaced by a lab with a table, where he picked up and bit into a peach. The lab disappeared and he was back in her office, looking at her grinning from ear to ear. “See? Now go home and try it out for serious.”
He signed the device out at the front desk, and took it back to his apartment.
Back home, he tried out the peach demo again first, just to be sure he’d set everything up correctly. This time, he noticed that he could still feel his body and see the room around him, if he concentrated on it; but it took a conscious choice, like seeing reflections in a window. Still, this split perception let him feel and operate the controls of the machine, when he decided to stop or pause the playback. He practiced with that a little bit, then stopped the machine and swapped the data module. Taking a deep breath, he started the machine again.
He was instantly hard.
His head was between a woman’s legs, and he was resting his cheek against her inner thigh and looking up at her naked, neatly-trimmed pussy. The scent of her was everywhere, and he eagerly leaned forward and gently kissed her folds, then slowly, lovingly licked the length of her from bottom to top. Leaving his tongue resting motionless, softly pressing against her clit, he looked up to see her smiling dreamily, lovingly, down at him.
It was the woman from the morning’s interview.
His surprise didn’t quite jolt him into ending the playback, and as the action picked up from there he quickly became immersed in it again, licking her more and more as she moaned and squealed and wrapped her thighs around his head and bucked and came hard, pressing her hips urgently into his face. And then, after a moment that wasn’t quite enough for him to recover even just experiencing this in simulation, she kissed him on the lips and then, with a wink, climbed down his body and knelt astride his hips, sliding his cock inside her. She eagerly rode him to a hard climax of his own, gently caressing and scratching and kissing and nibbling and biting and making little noises to encourage him as he built up to the point of no return, and then brushing her hand lightly down the side of his face, with infinite tenderness, at the moment he went over the edge.
She snuggled happily against his chest, breasts and cheek pressed into him and arms around him, and then the playback ended.
It took him three cups of coffee to be ready to return to the office in the morning.
Conveniently, this was not for another private office interview, since he could barely look her in the eye. In fact, he could barely look at her at all without thinking about the taste of her pussy, the feel of her nipple in his mouth, the scent of her skin, the tattoo on the inside of her thigh, the sound she made when he was just about to come...
“I’m going to take you around to meet some of the people you’ll be working with, ok?”
“Oh, um, uh, yes. Ok.”
“So how did you like your first taste of simsense porn?”
“It was, um... very intense. Absorbing.”
“You feel like you just had sex with me, don’t you?” She stopped walking down the hallway and turned to look at him, grinning slyly. “You know it was just a recording, but you remember everything so vividly—the feel of my skin, the scent and taste of me.” She stepped closer. “The way your breathing changed as you got so... close.” She reached out and brushed her hand lightly down his face, just the way she had the night before as he came—and he shuddered and for a moment wasn’t sure if he’d come again right then. His hips pressed into her and she smiled and pressed back. His back was against the wall of the hallway, now, and she leaned in close, looking at him tenderly. “Porn that can do that... don’t you think it will revolutionize the industry? Become a whole new industry? Don’t you want to get in on the start of that?”
At that moment, he knew he was convinced.
The tech guy—CTO?—turned out to be her husband, Ed. After watching how they spoke to each other for a moment, the look in her eyes when she talked to him, he realized that Ed must have been the recorder for the simsense home porn he’d experienced the night before. He wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. My cock was taking orders from his cock. It was a strange thought.
Add to that how confused he was about his new boss. She’d be his boss! Because he really did feel like he’d slept with her the night before, and he found himself reacting to her as if he had—watching to see how she looked at him, wanting that tender, intimate gaze aimed at him again.
“How do you feel today?” she asked, interrupting his thoughts.
“Um, okay I guess.”
“Are you tired? Your eyes look a little red. Up late?” She winked.
“Y... well, no, actually, I went to bed at my normal time. I did feel pretty wasted this morning.”
“Mm-hm.” Jess and Ed nodded at each other.
“Oh, the simsense channels include a lot of internal, proprioceptive stuff—which of your muscles are tensed or relaxed and what that feels like, for instance, how you’re holding your body, how you carry yourself—and we have this theory that people associate a lot of other kinds of internal state information, like mood, with those channels, and that it can transfer over. So, you know, if you played back a recording of somebody who was really tense, say, then you’d feel tense. I mean, that much is easy to prove; but we’re interested in the extent to which more subtle states can be transferred. Anyway, the point is Ed was really drunk when we recorded that,” she grinned, “and so far about half the people to play it back have gotten something like a hangover the next day.”
“Yep. So this is why I said it mattered that you had no major injuries and were pretty healthy. We’re probably going to wind up asking you to keep a fairly clean lifestyle, even—I hate to be in the position of caring what my employees are doing on their off-time, but as you can see, it actually affects the quality of the recording. We might subsidize you to take yoga or something, on the other hand—and you said you did some biking, we encourage you to keep that up. This is like method acting dialed up to 11—everything you feel matters.”
“Ah, maybe not so much with the biking,” Ed put in. “Nerve damage...”
“Oh, right. Maybe we could get him a really well-fitted bike seat?”
“We can look into it.”
“Right. Ok, I’ve also got some other ideas I’d like to try out with you later. But now, I think it’s time for you to meet Sylph.”
“Heh, yeah, I dunno, it just stuck. It’s Sylvia, really, but I like Sylph better anyway. And for a career in porn...”
“For a career in porn you’re going to have to pick a different name anyway, aren’t you?”
“Hah! I guess so. Still...”
“Sure.” Sylph was shorter than him, maybe 5′6″, with brown eyes and long curly hair that kept falling in front of them in tight brown ringlets. She was wearing a thin cotton summer dress that subtly showed off her contours, and he caught a faint whiff of some complex perfume that made him think more of hidden mossy grottoes than of airy mountaintops; but he decided it was appealing all the same.
“So, why don’t you two go out to lunch and get to know each other? It’s on me,” said Jess, and shooed them out of the building.
Sylph led the way down the street to a bar she knew, and ordered nachos with a big pitcher of margaritas. “I, ah, just sat through a lecture on not drinking,” he said confusedly.
“Oh, yeah, isn’t that wild? But neither of us is recording today. Or tomorrow, for that matter—you can get completely wasted if you want,” she said, grinning.
“How do you know that?”
“Well, you’re not even an employee yet. You’re still being ‘recruited.’ How’s that going, anyway?” She leaned forward over the table, letting the top of her dress fall open distractingly, while looking him straight in the eyes. “Do you like what you see so far?” Then she cracked up, apparently unable to keep a straight face, and leaned back laughing. “Sorry, I figure I’ve got to learn how to do that, right?”
“Um, do what?”
“Lure men with my irresistible wiles.” She giggled a bit more. “You know, porn star.”
“Er, right. So is that your chosen career?”
“Hell no. I’m studying molecular biology. But this seems like a pretty cool sideline, doesn’t it? And the science behind it is really neat.” She launched into a quick but surprisingly detailed explanation of the sensory-induction technology, the current commercial standards and machines, and their tradeoffs. He kept her going with questions, at first looking down at the table every time a thought about the technical details made him remember the demo of the night before, but gradually forgetting his embarrassment in the obvious enthusiasm and knowledge she had about her subject. By the time the explanation wound down, their pitcher was empty.
“All part of my clever plan to get you drunk and talk you into signing your life away! Ha ha haa. Actually my boss’s clever plan. ‘Sylph, get that boy drunk and make him want you,’ she said. How’m I doing?”
She looked up at the end of her question, and he realized how very close her lips were to his. He froze, looking at them. “Um... pretty well.”
“Good! Let’s go get you signed up, then!” She winked, threw some money on the table, grabbed his hands, and pulled him out of the booth.
And just like that, he was an employee of Qualia Productions, Inc.
His initial duties seemed to consist primarily of viewing a crude simsense soap opera and going on dates with his erstwhile co-star. She fessed up when he inquired about the latter.
“We’re going to be having sex, right? And the recording rig seriously captures everything you feel. So we need to get to know each other well enough to be really, you know, looking forward to it.” She winked. “Conveniently, we picked you because you and I seemed compatible and I thought you were cute.” She leaned in a little closer as she said this.
“What, seriously? She told me I got high scores on some sensory-discrimination measurement and...”
“Oh, sure, but there were a dozen guys in the top percentile. I liked you the best.”
“Oh.” Her lips were really very close to his.
She didn’t move away, just stayed where she was and slowly, lazily smiled more and more. The smile made her lips look even more inviting.
Without realizing it he leaned in a bit closer. She parted her lips.
It was a long while before they wandered back, arm in arm, to the main office; and he was sure their activities were clear in every line of their bodies and every vague, dreamy look. But their boss, meeting them on the way to the soda machine, didn’t say anything about it, even if perhaps the corners of her mouth quirked up a little. He tried not to meet her eyes.
Keyed up as he was from an hour of making out with the girl it was apparently going to be his job to fuck, he absolutely could not keep the memory of licking his boss’s pussy out of his head as she spoke to him. He tried even harder not to look at her.
“I need you for a little while now,” she said. “You remember I said I had some more ideas for improving your sense clarity? This is one of them. Incidentally, how did you like the soap operas?”
Sylph quietly disappeared, with a wink behind the boss’s back that made him blush, while the boss quizzed him about details of presentation that had stood out for him in the soap operas—feelings in his body, things he’d wanted to be able to see or hear or feel but couldn’t, sounds that were too loud, things that had seemed especially exciting or affecting. Gradually he grew a bit more able to keep his mind on technical details and off of salacious ones.
“Good, it’s good to hear you noticing these things,” she said at last. “So when you’re recording, I want you to think about those issues: how to position yourself to be able to see the things that you’d want to see again, how to stay comfortable in any position you keep yourself in for very long. Be greedy: you’re satisfying not just yourself but who knows how many people who’ll pay good money for the recording. Your feelings and desires are the most important thing on the set.”
“Um, wow,” was all he could think to reply.
“Yeah, it’s a weird way of thinking about things, isn’t it?” she winked. “But it is weird, that’s why we’re taking this time to train you to it. And speaking of training: have a seat.” She had led him into an empty office with a playback machine, and she indicated the soft padded sofa next to the machine. He sat down.
“So I mentioned I had some ideas for improving sense recording clarity. Mostly, they have to do with mental skills, focus and relaxation techniques that you can learn to enable you to calm some of the jitters that can show up on the recording. So what I’d like to do is hypnotize you, and teach you to use these techniques to calm and relax yourself.”
“Wait, hypnotize me?” he asked. “So I’d be, like, under your control?”
“Well,” she said, giving him a thoughtful look and leaning in a bit as she spoke, her voice taking on a smooth, low tone, “I do think it’d be handy to be able to make you get hard on command, just by snapping... my... fingers...”
She held his gaze for a moment, smiling slyly. He could smell her perfume, the same scent she’d worn in the sex recording.
Snap! He gasped.
She grinned hugely and leaned back. “So we can think about that.” She winked. “But really I just want to teach you to relax yourself—self-hypnosis. It’s just easiest to learn it by following someone else’s lead the first time.”
“Good boy.” She winked again. “Actually I want to try out another pet theory of mine too: that a hypnotic induction will be more effective if experienced via simsense, through the experiences of someone who is already very skilled at going into trance. That way you get an idea of how to respond, in your body, to the induction. I don’t know that that will be the best way for everybody, but I think it’ll be an interesting method to try out, if you’re willing.”
“I guess so. What do I do?”
“Just pop this data module,” she handed him a chip, “into the simsense machine and play it. It’ll be me doing an induction. Remember that I’m teaching you a skill, the skill of going into a trance, a skill the person the recording was made from is already very good at. So try to immerse yourself in the responses embedded in the recording—actively choose to go with the flow. Similarly, try to actively go with the things I suggest to you... which should be the same thing. Does that make sense?”
“I think so. Should I try it now?”
He began hooking up the cables and leads, while she excused herself and quietly left the room. In a few minutes he was all plugged in, so he inserted the data module, leaned back on the couch, took a deep breath, and hit play.
Jess opened the door and walked back into the room. The scene was so unchanged that he was startled for a moment, until he thought to check that this was indeed playback of a recorded scene. She settled into the chair opposite him.
“Now I’m going to hypnotise you by having you look at a spot on the wall here, but first I’d like to make sure that you’re very comfortable. Are you sitting comfortably?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Good. Now as you’re sitting there, without moving your head or your body, I’d like you to just look up at this spot, here.” She pointed to a little black dot he hadn’t previously noticed on the wall. “Can you see that spot?”
“Very good. I’d like you to keep watching that spot, and as your body starts to relax and slump down I’d like you to continue to keep looking at it. As your face relaxes, your eyelids will start to feel heavy, and it may become more and more difficult to keep them open, to keep looking at the spot; but I’d like you to try for me, ok? Try to keep your eyes on it for as long as you can.”
“Ok.” His eyelids had already begun to droop a bit, just listening to the rhythms of her voice. He was a little surprised to find how much it affected him, but he could imagine how difficult it would get, pretty soon, to keep his eyes on the spot if this kept up.
“Good boy. And now, while you do that for me, I’d like you to imagine that you’re lying on your couch at home at the end of a long day, and all day long you’ve been looking forward to coming here and lying down and just letting it all go. All morning while you biked over the hill to work you were thinking about how relaxing it would be when you were done; and all day while you worked so hard you knew that at the end of the day you could rest. And all the way home, all the effort it took to move your body up and down, all the way home, you were just getting more and more ready to come in and lie down on that couch and just... sink... down...”
His eyes had closed at some point. He could hardly believe how smooth and relaxing her voice was. He struggled to lift his eyelids to look at the spot again.
“Mmm, that’s right, and it feels so good, I know how important it is to look at that spot, to do as I’ve asked you to, but you’re so relaxed now that your eyes just keep closing, and that’s all right. You can close your eyes now, and just let that help you listen that much more deeply to my voice. You can imagine what the spot looks like... see it in your mind’s eye. Imagine the spot, and just keep relaxing deeper and deeper now as you listen.”
He relaxed, and let his eyes stay closed, imagining the spot.
Then he gave a start, and noticed that the headset was off and the “off” switch on the machine was under his fingers. The door opened, and Jess stuck her head in the room. “How did it go?” she asked.
“Huh?” was the best he could manage.
She laughed. “Sorry—I know it can be a bit disorienting to wake up from a trance. I’ll let you get your bearings for a moment, and then you can tell me how it felt to you.”
“I just started, though! I think there was some sort of glitch.”
She chuckled. “You’ve been in here for a full hour.”
He looked at his watch. She was right. He looked for the sort of double-vision that would indicate he was still playing back a simsense recording, but found nothing. This was real. “Um...”
“What do you remember?”
He thought. “I remember you coming in here, and talking to me—you were talking about relaxing, and it was really relaxing to listen to you...”
Jess nodded. “Good boy,” she murmured.
His eyelids fluttered briefly as he remembered how very relaxing it had been... then he went on. “Then you had me look at a spot... and then my eyes closed... and...” he thought some more. “That’s it, really. Then the machine was off and you were coming in the door.”
His boss grinned widely. “That’s wonderful! I think you really took to the suggestions well. Of course, there will be a quiz.”
Halfway through removing the leads of the simsense machine, he stopped and stared at her. “Will I remember this quiz?”
She winked. “I guess we’ll have to see.” She said something else.
He blinked, and saw the door closing; he was alone in the room. He was entirely unclipped from the machine.
Coming out of the room, his boss was nowhere to be found. His erstwhile co-star, however, quickly noticed him wandering at loose ends, dragged him into another empty room, and locked the door.
“Just... picking up where we left off,” she said, gently pushing him onto a couch and sitting in his lap.
The next little while would have made up for a much worse day than he was having.
Some time while he was distracted, her hand slipped inside his pants... and found skin more easily than he expected. “Whoa! What the?” he exclaimed, sitting up suddenly.
“Aw...” Sylph pouted, withdrawing her hand.
“No, I, um! I’m happy with where your hand was,” he quickly backpedalled, grabbing her hand and pulling it over to his belly. “Just... what happened to my underwear?” He put a hand inside his waistband, then half-unbuckled his pants, looking to see if he’d somehow missed feeling them.
Sylph burst out laughing. “Jess told me about that, but I wanted to see for myself!”
“See what for yourself? Did she... did she take them off of me while I was hypnotized?”
Sylph just kept giggling. “You know what else she told me?”
He narrowed his eyes. “What?”
She said something else.
He blinked, and was alone in the room. Looking at his watch, he saw it was actually time to go home.
This time his boss was easy to find, and Sylph nowhere to be seen. Jess said she had already gone home, “but she left extra homework for you.” She handed over a pair of recordings, with a smirk. One had a sticky note on it, in Sylph’s handwriting. “Hope this makes up for the trick I played on you.” Okay...
Heading into the bathroom after he got home, he realized that he’d forgotten to ask his boss about his underwear.
As soon as he unzipped his fly, he realized he had a few more questions to ask. Tied to the end of his penis was a blue ribbon. Tied in a bow.
So that’s the trick she meant, he thought. Isn’t there a song about this?
Then, a moment later, he realized this meant Sylph had been handling his naked cock while he was hypnotized.
He tried very hard not to think about that, so he could finish peeing.
The night’s homework was no longer soap operas. He had two new recordings to play. One was another hypnosis session; Jess had said he’d done so well with the initial one, she wanted to start him right away on the main part of her plan, the part about training him to fully immerse himself in his sensory experiences.
The other was from Sylph. He wasn’t sure what she might have given him to “make up” for tying a bow around his cock, but he decided to save that one for last.
After a quick bite to eat from the fridge, he settled himself on the couch with the simsense rig he now seemed to have on extended loan. Getting comfortable, he loaded the hypnosis recording and hit play.
He was once again back in the small room at the office, with his boss coming through the door.
“Ah, good, I see you’ve already gotten comfortable. Now, are you ready to be hypnotized again?”
“Yes,” he replied softly. There was something indescribably captivating about her voice, and he could already feel himself sinking into the couch just from hearing her speak. He knew this was going to feel very, very good.
“Good boy.” A tingle spread through his whole body at her words. “Now, you are already very good at going into trance for me, and I know how much you love letting me hypnotize you, so this time you will very quickly go much deeper than you have ever been before.”
Then she said something else.
He had his finger on the off switch. This was interesting, because the off switch on this unit was a lot rougher in texture than the one he’d been using at the office: knurled, spikier. He rubbed the tip of his finger over it a few times, feeling the bumps. Neat.
Stretching a little, he turned to begin removing the contacts from the machine. The slight tugging at his skin as he pulled on each contact was more fun than he’d remembered noticing, and he paused to play with that sensation a little bit.
Eventually he got all the leads off, but as he was gathering them together to wrap the wires up, he noticed that he’d gotten the cables tangled between his legs, and pulling on them rubbed the wires against his crotch, and that was even more interesting than pulling the contacts off his skin had been.
He slid a hand inside his waistband, and WOW. He had to have his pants off right now.
The roughness of the zipper under his fingers felt like extra spice to the sensations he suddenly could not stop thinking about in his now very stiff cock, and he actually enjoyed scraping his jeans a little extra hard against his legs as he pulled them roughly down and kicked them away.
And then his hands were free to touch. The feelings were so intense, now, that he just brushed his fingers lightly over the front of the shaft, at first: dry skin rubbing against dry skin with a soft, powdery sensation. He paused for a moment as a shiver started there and raced through his body.
He wondered if he could come just by rubbing his thumb against that sensitive spot on the front. Gently, he pinched the skin between his thumb and forefinger, and then rubbed them together slowly. Ohhhhhhhh.
Even that was so intense he could barely stand it. He quickly switched to just touching, lightly, almost tapping, barely brushing the front of his cock with one finger, while his other hand roamed the rest of his body touching a tiny bit here—his nipple, his arm, his lip—ohhhh! He became immersed in the sensation of licking his finger, so slowly, while even the tiny light taps on the tip, the front of his penis, tripped him just, over, the edge....
And he came, and came, and came.
Some time afterwards, as he started to think about moving, and possibly cleaning up, he realized that his boss had told him she was trying to increase his response to sensations. It was just more directly... sexual... than he’d realized it would be. Not that he could really complain...
The world still seemed much more vivid than it usually did; like he’d gotten new glasses and also shaved for the first time... everywhere... and eaten a load of wasabi that cleared out his sinuses and had his ears washed out, all at once. He kept getting distracted just touching things. But it was no longer nearly as overwhelming as right after the simsense session.
He made himself a quick pot of ramen for dinner and then spent a whole hour intensely savoring each bite.
Afterwards, he briefly thought about going online and looking up some information about hypnosis, to find out what else along those lines he might expect; but as soon as the thought was fully formed, he found himself saying out loud “I don’t need to know about that. It will be more fun to be surprised.” That was itself a bit of a surprise, but he reflected that it was true, and decided to do something else for the rest of his evening.