Short Story – “Pod Pals”

Spiderman passed through the decontamination showers in his plain, white jumpsuit. The simple jumpsuit-look had replaced the jeans and t-shirt combination, from the previous century, as the standard for neutral fashion. It began as a necessity, for moving through various zones where you’d be shot by multiple jets of cleansing waters, but over time, people just got sick of changing, and so the new standard trend was born. Spiderman didn’t mind his uncomfortable plastic-wear, but as he had only turned eighteen this past week, his knowledge of the comforts of thread and wool were minimal.

He was the first to arrive inside Pod-216-B-CO, not just today, but ever. The Pod-216 unit was a new development that Spiderman had been lucky enough to make the waiting list of. Last year, when he had turned seventeen, he put his name down for pre-registration. On the off-chance that when he came of age, he would frequent a Pod nearly two decades newer than the one he had shared with his family. As he stepped across the threshold of Pod-216-B-CO, with the pressurised doors closing behind him, he was not disappointed. Spiderman could see all of the modern amenities, including a model of the latest SoundCube™ and metallic, longline sofa covers.

All in all, 216-B was a little smaller than an old-world shipping container, only inviting, and perhaps even cosy. This was the design of most Pods, certainly all of those used by the general public anyway. Spiderman sat down on one of the two opposing sofas and waited for his Pod-Pals. “Pod-Pals”, he hated that term. It was nothing but branding on the part of the government, in order to make spending an hour in a confined space with complete strangers more settling. In truth, it was weird. Spiderman felt nervous just thinking about who could walk through that door. If he was lucky, then it would be a group of eighteen year-olds, so at least they could bond over being new to this situation. He thought that the worst case scenario would be three, newly released convicts, each assigned to the same civilian Pod by mistake.

The pressurised doors hissed and slid apart, Spiderman picked up a nearby Pad and started tapping away nonchalantly.
‘Hey-ay!’ A hyper-feminised voice called out, as the doors closed behind its’ speaker.
Spiderman looked up from his device to see someone older than he had been expecting, a woman with blueish green hair and a broad smile. ‘Hi,’ he waved his hand up before returning his attention to checking his profiles.
‘My name’s Cupcake, what’s yours?’ Cupcake approached the seated Spiderman, tilted her head to one side, and extended her hand out in a greeting.
‘Spider-man.’ His voice broke as he answered, so he cleared his throat and went for round two, ‘Spiderman. My name’s Spiderman.’
‘So traditional, I love it, I love it.’ Cupcake reached for a nearby Pad and shot Spiderman a quick friend request. ‘Looks like we’re Pod-Pals now!’ She squealed with genuine glee, before audibly yay-ing.

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Short Story – “Influence Me”

She was fully aware of the power she held in the palm of her hand. With a flick of her thumbs she could convince two-thousand teens in southern California to flock to a pop-up store. Or, if she felt like so-inclined, she could push her friends’ latest single, and guarantee an additional twenty-million streams the world over. A mid-range budget movie could break the box-office or flop, based entirely on her ordering of words, and use of specific emojis. If that tweet, Instagram or Snapchat is signed with a KK, you best believe the product she’s promoting will sell.

Katie Kelly was the queen of social-media influence. The characters she typed on her phone, to a certain demographic, were gospel. Advertisers, promoters, entertainers; they all knew this. Her social media posts for the next three months were planned out to the letter, down to the very last hashtag. That’s why Katie was a little confused on the morning of Monday the 16th of October, to be sat in the waiting room of a client, who wanted something posted in the next couple of weeks. Her agent, TiTus, had arranged this meeting, declaring to her the evening prior that ‘It was too important to miss’. If it was that important they should’ve called six months ago, Katie thought.

Katie knew exactly who she was and why people came to her. She had a rare quality in the world of influencers; self-awareness. She wasn’t susceptible to the egotistical callings of a reality-show, she had no interest in parading her private life on screens across the world. She’d seen what that had done to other influencers. Sure, they all had their own levels of popularity, but every time they got drunk and went joyriding, or cried over a handbag that wasn’t expensive enough, they damaged their brand to a specific demographic. Katie’s goal was to have everyone.

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