Looking For Good Times

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Adrian took the items and went through the opening. He found himself in a six-by-six booth decorated with nozzles, camera lenses and a screen built into the wall. The door slid shut behind him. He studied his reflection in the inert screen for a moment.

The burnt orange shade of his hooded robe was as good looking as he'd hoped. It was the latest fashion trend sweeping the city and he'd bought the robe specifically for this outing. The coordinated face mask and gloves added the final touch.

A message appeared on the screen.

Nose plugs
Breathe through nose during procedure
Raise right hand when ready

Adrian took off a glove and lowered his mask to insert the nose plugs. He tucked the drink ticket in a pocket and took a few practice breaths to make sure he could breathe properly. Fastening his mask securely over his nose again, he raised his hand. He was buffeted by a white, antiseptic-smelling mist, fired at him from nozzles on all sides.

The mist dissipated quickly. He could hear the whirr of fans. A new message appeared on the screen.

Welcome to Dreamland
Breathing Moistly is Permitted

A wall panel opposite the entrance slid to one side, and the sudden removal of soundproofing meant Adrian was immersed in a pulsing bass beat. Flashing and glittering lights beckoned, and he stepped forward into Dreamland. He took out the nose plugs and refitted his mask.

His diligence wasn't mirrored by the other patrons of the club. A wild, throw-caution-to-the-winds mood seemed to have seized the other attendees, who were crowding the dance floor, frenziedly gyrating and whirling in a kaleidoscope of coloured robes, none of them wearing masks, even though they were within inches of each other. The danger of this wanton display made him shiver.

The central dance floor was surrounded by the usual privacy booths, plexiglass rectangles containing a table and chair. There were three rows of these, each on a succeedingly higher tier that allowed the patrons an unobstructed view of the dancers. A raised DJ booth was located at one end of the room, where a person in a bizarre bird mask was plying their trade.

Adrian pulled out his handscreen and followed a navigation line from the Dreamland app to his reserved table. He found his seat in the second tier and pulled off the Sanitized by #5 sticker before sitting down. His table featured a monitor, headset and a built-in keyboard. He tentatively removed his facemask and took a guarded sniff of unfiltered air. The goggles were prescription, so they stayed on. It smelled like freedom. He drew a deep breath. It also smelled like a combination of leather and lavender. He guessed the club was injecting scent into the air, calculated to enhance the experience, the way many stores did. He watched the dancers in fascination, enthralled by the sight of bare faces and people being inside each other's personal two-meter space. There was such a wide range of expressions. The raw emotions conveyed by people grimacing, smiling, pouting, or even protruding their tongues in some kind of obscene exhibition was both lewdly attractive and repulsive. He couldn't decide how he felt about it. Overcome, he turned away.

Adrian concentrated on bringing up the Dreamland app in his monitor. He went into the partner search part of the program, which was the main reason for Dreamland's existence. He had never had a fluid partner in his life, but Dreamland offered to help its patrons find one. You could search for another attendee by a number of physical characteristics like gender, skin colour, tattoos, and hair colour. If both were amenable, the next step was a video chat, with the ultimate goal of arranging a meeting in one of Dreamland's sanitized 'Joy Rooms'.

It was so different and rebellious compared to normal sex, thought Adrian, it seemed like it should be illegal. Most people had sex in the privacy of their homes with the aid of online pornography, robotic toys or fetish objects ranging from used underwear to fuzzy slippers.

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