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Roll Out The Rolov!

Maryn was bored. She emerged from her bath dripping and unattractive, and waited resignedly as the Warm-Dry blew her lank young hair back from her forehead. The autotape whipped out and took the measurements of her immature figure.

From the bedroom nearby, the memory box spoke with her mother's recorded voice: "Hurry up, Maryn."

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn obediently, knowing the memory-box would record her answer.

"It's almost eight," said her mother's voice, timed to go off when it was almost eight.

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn obediently.

"Well, you'd better hurry. Jackson won't want to be kept waiting."

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn. She pressed her hand along the flat length of her body and found she was dry. She waved her hand through the light beam and the Warm-Dry clicked off with a dying sigh. Maryn stepped on the travel-rug and pressed with her toes. The travel-rug slid with her into a luxurious bedroom.

"Jackson won't want to be kept waiting, Maryn," said her mother's voice from the memory box.

"No, Mother," said Maryn. The "Jackson" her mother referred to was young Jackson Mellibant VII, just down from Herriman College. To her mother's delight, he had asked Maryn for a date.

"Remember," said her mother, "the Mellibants are very influential. You may not have another chance like this."

"No, Mother," groaned Maryn. She pressed down with her heels and the rug stopped before a pastel pink egg about five feet high. Maryn pressed down with the toes of her left foot and the heel of her right. The rug pivoted her around. Maryn passed her hand through a beam of blue light and the egg snicked open. Maryn stepped in and it closed around her, leaving only her head outside.

"Maryn," said her mother's voice, "I do think you should hurry. Are you getting your foundation yet?"

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn, who was now being buffeted about slightly, within the egg. Inside the pastel pink, egg-shaped machine, her body was being, as the advertisement put it, reborn.

"Remember," said her mother, "you must look your best, Maryn."

"Yes, Mother."

"Now, Maryn," said her mother's voice from the box, "remember if he gets—forward—you aren't to be naive."

"No, Mother," groaned Maryn.

"Lead him on, Maryn. Remember, the Mellibants are very influential."

"Yes, Mother."

"And Maryn, if he should—if he should—well, come up after your date, you're to use the rolov, do you understand?" Her mother's voice rose warningly. "Not yourself, do you understand?"

"Yes, Mother," Maryn mumbled.

"I don't want you to feel hurt, Maryn, but you simply wouldn't do. What's the use of having these great technical advances, if we don't use them? I've set the rolov so it will have your exact foundation, and he'll never know the difference. That way you'll both have a better time. Well, I'm glad that's settled. Have a good time, dear."

"Yes, Mother," murmured Maryn. The egg snicked open and Maryn stepped out. She raised her hands and felt the soft voluptuous curves of the dead plastic fastened upon her. She was now, according to the advertisement, "—Reborn—With mystery, with glamour, with the body beautiful to make men lie at your feet and cry aloud for your favor." She had, according to the advertisement, left behind the drabness of her "everyday self." Well, most of it anyway. Maryn stuck her head into another pink pastel egg to get rid of the rest of it.

"Hurry, Maryn," said her mother, as Maryn stood with her head in the egg.

"Glub," said Maryn. The egg ejected her head.

"Hurry," said her mother's voice.

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn. She stepped on the rug, dug in her toes and slid to the dressing machine. This sat like a great metal spider behind a flowered screen in the corner of the room. All the craft of a hundred designers had yet to make a dressing machine attractive, and Maryn approached it with the remains of childhood dread. Once she had started it, the long shiny metal arms flashed over her and Maryn lost her fear in boredom. She was always at first a little afraid the machine would spin a cocoon around her and hang her up for a trophy, but as usual it dutifully spun a dress about her. This time Maryn was surprised to find the dress a trifle tighter than usual.

"Maryn," said her mother's voice.

"Yes, Mother?"

"You're in the dressing machine, aren't you?"

"Yes, Mother." Maryn raised her legs alternately for the shoes and stockings.

"Hurry," said her mother. "And don't reset the machine. I have it set properly now."

Maryn stood stock still till the dressing machine went click and a series of chimes played a tune, signifying that milady might now profitably move on to the finisher. Maryn pressed down heel and toe and slid around the screen to a pastel rose-and-gilt box about the size and shape of an upended coffin. Double doors popped open and a light lit up the wine colored interior. Maryn stepped in.

"Hurry, Maryn," came her mother's muffled voice.

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn. She shut her eyes and stood still as a hundred tiny nozzles opened and squirted perfume. A hot breeze fluffed her hair.

Somewhere outside, a chime announced the arrival of Jackson Mellibant VII.

"Hurry, Maryn," said her mother's voice, in a special peremptory tone. As a child, Maryn had been greatly impressed by the memory box. Now she understood that her mother had merely sat down for a minute and rattled off her comments, touching the spacer button to put three minutes between this one and the next, and setting a special comment to be made when the dressing machine went on and another to be said when the front door chimed.

The finisher opened up and Maryn stepped out onto the travel rug. On her way out, she had a brief glance at herself in a full length mirror. To an outsider, the effect was designed to be one of lush beauty, combined with serene sophistication and impeccable breeding. Maryn herself had the impression she was watching a popular solido heroine setting out on her stereotyped adventure for the Caswell Brewing Co.

"Remember, Maryn," hissed her mother's voice, "use the rolov, not yourself."

"Yes, Mother," groaned Maryn, as she slid out the bedroom door and down the hall to the living room. She sighed miserably and ran her tongue over her teeth. Their surface felt unnaturally slick and slippery, and Maryn realized that somewhere along the line they had received a coating of Shinywhite. She wondered where. Momentarily distracted by this question, she did not at first see the tall, handsome, sophisticated, and impeccably-bred figure of Jackson Mellibant VII. She caught only the tail end of his flashing smile as he pivoted on his rug and raised his arm. Together, the two of them slid out the door and down the spiral ramp to the waiting car.


The evening passed in stifled perfection. Jackson Mellibant VII said precisely the right thing at exactly the right time. Maryn, well-drilled at the Lacemont Finishing School, found it impossible to give anything but the perfectly right reply. She and Jackson whirled around the dance floor with marvelous grace and precision, their feet locked to smooth metal disks, their motion controlled by the electronic calculator in the nightclub basement.

At the table, Maryn and Jackson drank a good deal of champagne, which was automatically removed from their stomachs by the teleporter. The drive home in Jackson's car had, therefore, no element of hazard, since Jackson had no difficulty punching the proper destination on the keyboard.

On the drive home, carried out at precisely the city speed limit, Maryn sat in futile boredom as Jackson took up her hand and made a lyrical speech concerning it. Maryn's mouth opened and gave a neatly-turned reply. This led coyly on from stage to stage according to the established routine of Caswell Breweries' heroines, till at last they reached home. The car stopped itself by the walk. "My, the house seems lonely," said Maryn, with the correct degree of impropriety. She studied her gloves. "My parents," she added, "never get home till round three."

"Perhaps," said Jackson, "I might come up for a few minutes. Just to see that everything's all right."

"That," said Maryn, who felt like screaming and hammering on walls, "is very thoughtful of you." They slid up the ramp together. Maryn turned to Jackson and flashed her Shinywhite smile at him. In turn he bent and kissed her plastic shoulder.

Together, they slid in through the living room. Maryn glanced sidewise at Jackson as they slid past the sofa. She was afraid he might choose to continue operations there. A moment later, they entered the hallway. This evidently required more intimacy, as he now put his arm around her waist.

At the bedroom door, they came to a halt. "You'll wait here for a moment?" she asked, putting her hand on his arm.

"Don't be long," he whispered.

In the living room, there was a faint rumble.

Maryn stiffened. "Did you hear that?"

"What?" asked Jackson, standing with one hand in his side pocket.

"That noise," said Maryn, becoming alarmed. "In the living room," she whispered. "Would you—"

"I most certainly shall," said Jackson, gallantly. He slid off down the hallway and Maryn waited in rising alarm till he called, "Perfectly all right. Nothing here."

"Thank Heaven," said Maryn, feeling her first genuine emotion of the evening. If Jackson had been on hand, she might have thrown her arms around him and kissed him, but he was still in the living room. Relapsing into boredom, Maryn slid into the bedroom and pulled back the covers. There on the sheets as a reminder was the small flat black box that controlled the rolov. Maryn stabbed one of the buttons, and the discreetly hidden door by the bed opened up. Out rumbled the life-like rolov, and Maryn sat it on the bed, swung its feet off the travel platform, and slid the platform back into the closet. She closed the closet door, and worked the controls so that the rolov clumsily got into bed and lay down on its side. This part of the rolov's repertoire was not automatic, and took a certain amount of facility with the control box. Maryn, seeing how awkwardly the rolov got into bed, was grateful she did not have to make it walk anywhere. She stood looking at this model of her present appearance and had to admit that, except for the eyes, it looked lifelike. She laid her hand on its shoulder. It was cold as an oyster.

A gentle tap sounded on the bedroom door.

"Just a minute," breathed Maryn, hastily stabbing the warm-up and breathing buttons. She flicked off the lights.

The door opened, and a dark form slid quickly in.

"Over here," whispered Maryn, crouching by the bed.

"Darling," murmured the passionate voice of Jackson Mellibant VII.

Maryn pressed the automatic button.

"Darling," breathed the rolov, in a voice like pure fire.


Maryn, unable to stand it, slipped out of the room. She did not doubt she could leave this end of the evening to the built-in skill of the rolov, but she did not think she could bear to watch it. With the hot murmurings still faintly audible behind her, she tiptoed wearily down the hallway and walked into the living room.

On the sofa, reading the night's paper, sprawled Jackson Mellibant VII, his face a study in boredom.

Maryn stood transfixed.

Jackson, flipping the paper, glanced up, snapped the paper around and looked at it. An instant later he glanced up again at Maryn. "Eh!" he gasped, his eyes wide.

"Well!" said Maryn.

For a moment they stared at each other. "You're not in there!" Jackson commented stupidly.

"What about you?" snapped Maryn.

For a moment, they stared at each other vacantly, then Jackson's face took on a look of shrewd calculation. "Come on," he said. She followed him down the hallway, holding tightly to his hand. They bent to listen at the bedroom door. Giggling murmurs came from within.

Jackson started to shake silently. He pulled her back to the living room and burst out laughing.

"I don't see anything funny about it," snapped Maryn. "Who's in there?"

Jackson sank down on the couch and laughed all the harder.

"Some friend of yours?" Maryn demanded icily.

Jackson choked and gasped for breath. "Whew!" he said. "Friend?" He tried to stop laughing and failed. He put his hand on Maryn's arm, as if for patience, and she struck it away angrily. She stamped her foot.

"Maryn," said Jackson between bursts of laughter, "did you put a rolov in there?"

"What if I did?" she demanded angrily. "That's better than you—you—"

"No," said Jackson, "you don't understand." He took a small flat black box out of his side pocket and held it up. "I put one in there, too," he said.

As Maryn stared, he started to laugh again. "Two love-making machines," he gasped, "locked in steely embrace. Ye gods, there's progress for you."

"I don't think that's very funny," said Maryn. "Why did you have to send a machine in?"

"Oh," said Jackson. "The Murches are very influential people. Miss Maryn Murch must have nothing but the best."

"But—" Maryn stared at him. Jackson Mellibant VII was the precise image of exact physical and social perfection. Very clearly, he was the best. Maryn said so.

"Oh no," said Jackson. "Don't judge others by yourself. I'm all sham and pretense. You don't get strong leading the lives we lead today. I couldn't compare with that machine."

"You mean," said the startled Maryn, "that you're made-up?"

"That's it," said Jackson, rising sadly to his feet. "I'm a fraud, a fake. Well, I'll get my machine and be going."

"Wait a minute," said Maryn, taking him by the arm.


"I want to talk to you."

"Still?" he looked at her in surprise.


"What about the machines?"

"Oh, they can blow a fuse for all I care," said Maryn. "Won't you sit down?"

"M,m. All right," said Jackson.

She smiled at him and rested her head on his shoulder.


It was well into the morning when Maryn's mother returned, went directly to the memory box in the bedroom and ran it through. "Well," she said to Maryn, "everything seems to have gone off very nicely. Did he ask for another date?"

Maryn nodded.

"That's good," said her mother. "Remember, Maryn, the Mellibants are very influential people. You must still do your best."

"Yes, Mother," said Maryn, obediently. "I will."


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