Authors: Paul Enock
had been doing so well recently. Last summer she graduated with an MA in Business Management with Arabic from Manchester University after achieving a first class degree in the subject the year before. She had been enthused with energy; she was going to develop new markets in the near East and beyond for a variety of ever more eccentric commodities, be invited to speak at World Trade Fairs, become a Governmental Advisor to the Minister for Trade and Development. Claire was young, healthy, beautiful and clever. She had everything going for her and, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, the world was her oyster.
Claire knew she had to first build up a name for herself; become known around the local industries. She started low key by sending emails to all the export companies in the local area, advising them that she was now available should they wish to call upon her services. As the weeks passed, her emails became more focused; she enclosed her CV and asked if the companies had any positions available in their Sales Departments. A few replied, a very few, saying that the economic downturn had effected their ability to employ new staff and, in fact, they needed to shed excess staff. Weeks turned to months and by Christmas her enthusiasm had ebbed away until she was applying for any job advertised in the standard. It was now May and she had secured an evening shift at a convenience store in Holborn but the wages barely paid the rent for the bed-sit she shared with two final year Arts students. Her career had started but not with the impetus she’d hoped.
Claire hated the mess about her; the dirty dishes, discarded clothes, books and papers on every surface. One day, she thought, I shall be married, children around my feet, dogs playing in the garden, husband... What would the husband be doing? Still working at the office? Out at the pub? Sailing on Southampton Water? Try as she might, Claire could not picture the husband; he was obviously not in when this daydream was set. Perhaps he’s on a four day business trip to the Far East and will return with presents for me and the kids; a silk negligee from Thailand or the latest vibrator from Hong Kong. Claire almost blushed to herself that she should think such a thing. She’d never even held a vibrator; why should that pop into her head? It’s not as if she didn’t have a boyfriend; she had Dave. She had no need of a vibrator. Dave was amorous; they had sex quite often. It perhaps wasn’t as exciting as she had been led to believe, she didn’t actually have orgasms or anything like that, but Dave did so it couldn’t be that bad.
Claire stood on the edge of a sticky plate on the floor and the cutlery with it fell onto the carpet. God, she was fed up. She reached down and lifted the 'classified' section from the carpet, being careful not to get tomato sauce on her cardigan.
Lincoln Leisure and Robotics Ltd
Test Operatives required for 4 week short term contract to test and assess human interaction and response to state of the art robotic and IT equipment and systems designed for the leisure industry. No previous experience required. £6000 upon completion of the contract. Please note that due to the nature of the work, this position will only be suitable for young, healthy female applicants.
“Are they allowed to do that?” asked Claire.
“Do what?” asked Becky.
“Only offer a job to young females. That’s ageist and sexist!”
“They can if only young females can physically do the job. What is it?”
“Well, the advert says a Test Operative in a robotics company. I can’t see why that should only be suitable for women”
“Perhaps they’re male robots,” suggested Becky.
“Very funny. It’s £6000 for four weeks work. That’s more than I make in six months in the shop. And I could take my holiday leave for the period. I can’t afford not to go for this one”
A week later and Claire had the application form, and was having second thoughts. There were more details about the work. It said that the company was developing equipment for the ‘adult’ leisure industry and wants to observe and analyse human motivation and responses to various psychological and robotic stimuli in carefully controlled conditions. During the period of the trials, the Test Operatives will be required to live on-site and denied access to the outside world. In addition their movements may be restricted. It also said that the work involved testing equipment designed solely for the adult leisure industry and applicants should be sexually mature and broad-minded; and attach a photograph.
“My God, they want people to test sex machines!” said Claire.
“What?” said Becky. “Look here, it says
their movements may be restricted.
That means bondage too.”
“Don’t be silly; they mean that you can’t go out on the town at night. No wonder the salary’s £6000 though. God, I could never do that. I mean, it’ll be like prostitution.”
“Now who’s being silly? It’s a scientific study by a proper company, not a lap dance club. I’d be tempted to go for it myself but the final’s are next month. I bet they get inundated with applicants.”
“Yeah, just not me. No way am I letting any scientist spy on me having a good time.”
Becky just smiled; Claire could be such a prude sometimes. It would do her good; open her horizons a bit. Maybe even get her to reconsider that jerk of a boyfriend Dave. Claire was clever, probably cleverer than her or Sue, her other flatmate, combined. She was wasting herself here, with Dave, at the shop; there was no future for her here.
Claire slept fitfully that night. She dreamt of muscular robots holding her hand, touching her, manipulating her, stimulating her. She woke with a cry, only to find that she’d been rubbing herself in her sleep and was sopping wet. Her fingers gently touched her vulva, sliding easily between the slippery lips and across the surface of her clitoris. She listened but the house was silent. Then she gently moved her finger, stroking along the side of her sensitive little bud as her breathing became ragged. With half an ear open for any stray sounds, Claire worked herself up to a quiet climax and then shivered as the dopamine hit her brain.
Claire woke with a fuzzy head, as if she’d been drinking, but it was just lack of sleep. In any case, what harm could it do just to send in the application? She may have this whole thing backwards; it might not even be sexually related at all. No, it was. That was obvious from the application form. But even so, there’d by no harm in applying to see.
Claire was unsure what sort of photograph they wanted. Did they want just her face? A full body shot? Naked? In the end she settled for a picture taken when she was on a beach holiday in Cornwall with Dave the previous August. She was dressed in a bikini and laughing as she tossed a beach ball to him and the horizon was all slanting as he tried to avoid the impact whilst taking the photo. She looked pretty, she thought.
didn’t tell the others about the interview. It was on a Tuesday afternoon at the companies offices in South London. Claire stressed over what to wear, but then thought it’s a job interview; wear a smart suit, so turned up wearing her grey mini skirt with a matching jacket and her black court shoes with the three inch heels. She was shown into a waiting room by a pretty receptionist who smiled and said there were twelve interviewees that day and twelve the day before. Claire looked around at the other girls seated around the edge of the room and there was a racial mix. There were girls of Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean and Asian origin, but all were very much of the same age and same build; tallish, slimish, and all with what Claire thought to be attractive figures. They were dressed in outfits ranging from the outrageously sexy to jeans and T-shirts. Some were beautifully coiffured and some looked like they’d just got out of bed. Claire wondered again why she was here. Why were any of them there? Were they all hard up or were they there for the thrill, the excitement, the sex? Was Claire there for the sex? She told herself not, but deep down something was itching at her conscience; a little bubble of thought that kept saying
there must be more
There were three people in the interview panel: Ian was the company's owner and CEO, Sarah was his deputy and Mike was the Chief Engineer who designed the equipment. Ian was the first to speak and Claire gave him her full attention. As the words washed over her she took in his muscular physique, his neat, dark hair and clean shaven face; strong but not cruel. She supposed he was not yet forty and wondered if he was single. He was smartly dressed in a dark business suit, white shirt and tie, and the gold Rolex on his wrist was subdued, not at all showy. He was explaining that Lincoln was a company that originally made simple sex toys, but was now moving up-market and hi-tech. They catered for a clientele that was rich and pampered, one that expected a lot for the sums they invested, and the new technologies emerging with the birth of robotics and the latest wireless technologies offered huge potential. These products all needed to be perfect when they hit the market, and needed a carefully controlled testing regime to ensure they were designed and calibrated to get the best possible reaction for their clients. It was decided that rather than test the new products individually, they would contract a small team of testers and have a programme that worked through everything. That way they would be better able to compare one product or system with another. It all seemed very sensible to Claire.
Sarah then took over from Ian. She was younger than Claire would have expected, thirty perhaps, and very 'pretty'. Claire considered other adjectives which could summarise Sarah: sweet, appealing, attractive. There were other attributes she exuded such as domineering, calculating, artful and shrewd, but Claire had to admit that her appearance was paramount: tall, slim and leggy, and her carefully prepared looks, the flawless skin tones, exotic eye make-up and glossy lips framed by the long, tightly permed brown hair which cascaded over her shoulders. The only other adjective Claire considered came close to 'pretty' was 'decorous'. Her soft sexy voice was explaining to Claire why, if she was offered the job and accepted, she would find herself in unusual circumstances and possibly severely inconvenienced. "The programme is designed to stress the testers in order to reproduce the parameters that may be found in the real world; the company has to simulate the conditions for the trials that their customers would expect to see otherwise the results will be unrepresentative. For this reason, testers will need to commit to the whole four week period and there will be no contact with the outside world until the programme has ended. Do you think that's the sort of thing you could cope with?"
Claire thought that four weeks away shouldn't cause her any problems. “I’ve been thinking about what you may mean by ‘restricted movement’” said Claire, biting her lip. They were not going to slip anything past her!
Mike answered: “It means that some of the outfits you will be wearing will restrict your movements and some of the equipment and systems you will be testing require you to be ‘attached’ in various ways. There will be an element of bondage in this programme because that’s how the customers will be using the equipment.” Mike's voice was softer than Ian's and when he looked at her, she sensed more than a cold, business attitude; there was something like compassion in the way he spoke. Was it sympathy he was feeling for her potential plight, or was it the compassion that one might feel for a wild animal about to be subjected to uncomfortable tests? Mike was as tall as Ian and had a similar build, but there the similarities ended; he was dressed in a casual shirt, jeans and no tie. He wasn't overly handsome: his face was rugged with three days stubble, his hair short, black and spiky, as if he'd just got out of bed, and there was a faint scar over his right eyebrow - the result of a fast motorcycle crash Claire imagined. But his eyes were a piercing blue and when he looked at her she felt like she should look away in case he saw what she was thinking.
"These are 'invasive' tests, aren't they?"
"Yes," said Mike.
"And I'm not going to have any control over them?"
"No," said Mike.
“I see,” said Claire. “And this will be the same for all four of the testers?”
“To a greater or lesser extent, yes.," chipped in Sarah. "Of course, we wouldn’t be restraining your ability to move about for the whole of the four weeks, but it will be an essential component.”
Well, they’re certainly being ‘up front’ with everything. “Can you tell me more about the things I’ll be testing? Are they robots?”
This was Mike's area again. “I can’t tell you much more because part of the programme relies on the element of surprise, but I can tell you that they’re not robots as you would think of them. They are not mechanical men trying to mimic real men. They are more like intelligent machines designed to elicit the maximum response from a woman; that is the maximum, ultimately pleasurable response for the benefit of the customer, or more specifically, the customer’s partner.”
“So your customers are men and they buy the equipment to pleasure their female friends.”
“So what does the customer get out of this if it’s their partners that are getting all the attention?”
“They get their pleasure in many ways often just by watching their partners, but sometimes by using their partners in different ways. The systems and devices are often designed just to make the ladies more receptive to coupling or just more available for their escorts. Occasionally, our clients would like their partners controlled just for control’s sake, or maybe as a means of imposing discipline; an instrument of correction or punishment.
“And that’s another aspect you seek to reproduce by these trials?”
Ian looked at Sarah who nodded almost imperceptibly. “We’ve interviewed two dozen women for these trials and almost all are unsuitable. Therefore, for the right women, we are prepared to increase the remuneration to £8000 for the four week period. You are our last interviewee and our fourth choice. We’d like to appoint you to the position.”
Claire was speechless. £8000 for four weeks work. And, after all, the whole point of this stuff was that it was supposed to be pleasurable for the girl; well, more or less. And some-one’s got to test it and they’d like it to be me. It was nearly a year since she’d left university and now some-one had actually chosen her for a job. But why her?
“Why me?” she asked.
“Firstly, you are the right body shape to represent what most of our customers have chosen for their partners. We wouldn’t get far, for instance, using short, plump girls when our customers prefer tall lean ones. That’s not to say we have anything against shorter women; they’re just unsuitable in this instance. Secondly, we find your straightforward manner refreshing. So many of these girls are so streetwise that they think they know everything there is. With you, you ask and we tell you. There’s no misunderstanding. Thirdly, you are obviously very intelligent and we believe that’s just as important in this role as with any other. With intelligence comes imagination and that enhances your response to stimuli.”
Claire was flattered; they had chosen her because she was beautiful and intelligent. She was surprised how much she wanted to accept this job. She knew, or thought she knew, what they wanted her to do and she wanted to do it. It was for the sake of science. This company was depending on her to give their products a true and representative test and she wouldn’t let them down. And they were going to pay her £8000. “I’ll do it,” she said.