Six Smutty Stories: Chiaroscuro, 1/3


By Ginger Mayerson

It was the package delivery guy at the door again.

“We’re seeing a lot of you this week, Mr. Arkin.” He always said that after he took off his envirosuit hood. He handed over the envirosealed grocery order and a small package. He held up the optical scanner up for ID verification and delivery confirmation.

“Yeah, I guess,” Arkin mumbled, leaning forward for the scan. The luminous green grid before his eye expanded, contracted, and then went dark.

“Ah, still you,” the delivery guy said with a smile. He said this every time and it suited Arkin fine; it meant he didn’t have to hold up his end of the conversation.

Arkin opened the package. It was the new game his employer wanted him to test and review. “Chiaroscuro” was emblazoned on the CD case. Arkin had to look it up to know it meant either the arrangement of light and dark parts in a work of art, such as a drawing or painting, whether in monochrome or in color, or the art or practice of so arranging the light and dark parts as to produce a harmonious effect.

He tossed it on his wreck of a computer desk, which was not at all arranged to produce a harmonious effect, and took the groceries into the kitchen. There was a can of tofu stew in the latest grocery delivery; it was something he was slightly less than indifferent to.

The groceries were a neat service: for a few weeks he’d entered what he wanted into their online request form and after that, the database had, based on his previous purchases, sent him a ration of whatever was consistent with those requests. Arkin didn’t use the word desires because, beyond food and shelter, he didn’t have any.