DadNet charged a lot of money and made grand promises without much to back them up. But I didn’t care. I was desperate. For the last three years, I had secretly lusted after my next-door neighbor Keith. I watched the 40-something divorced computer programmer wash his car in the driveway, mow his lawn in the summertime, and shovel the pavement in the wintertime. I had built up an entire relationship in my head and played it out in a thousand different ways. In some scenarios, we were married. In others, we were just fuck buddies. Keith wasn’t a supermodel or anything. There was nothing about him that I found particularly intimidating, and there was no real reason why I couldn’t just approach him and ask him out. I was just too scared of rejection. 
And then, one day, I saw the “for sale” sign staked into his front yard. After all this time secretly lusting after Keith, now he was moving, and I would never get my chance at him. I kicked myself for an entire weekend, already resigned to the fact that Keith was destined to be the one that got away. 

One Sunday morning, I peered out the window from my home office and saw Keith chatting with his real estate agent. Something about the way his polo sleeve stretched and flexed against his arm when the two shook hands just drove me wild. I couldn’t help myself. I took the business card from my wallet and scanned the QR code with my phone. The DadNet app took a while to download, and I scrambled to take a photo of Keith through my window before he got into his car and drove off. 
DadNet processed Keith’s photo, and I tapped furiously at the screen to move through the setup steps. A full schematic of Keith’s body populated on the screen, complete with his vital stats—height, weight, age. A series of sliders rotated at the bottom of the screen, where his details could be manipulated and changed. 
My goal was to turn Keith from an ordinary middle-aged guy into a sex-obsessed muscle daddy. The transformation would totally change his life, but I didn’t care. I needed him to become the object of my desires. I needed him to become the version of himself that I had fantasized about for years. I couldn’t stand by and let him slide into mediocrity or worse, find someone else and fall in love. 
With my plan in place, I paid an impromptu visit to Keith’s house under the guise of borrowing a cup of sugar. It was just after sunset, and I tried hard to measure my breathing so I didn’t come off as a panting idiot when he answered the door. 
“Hey, Leo,” he said, his slightly crooked grin making me weak in the knees. “What can I do for you?” 
I mumbled through my request for the cup of sugar and Keith invited me in. For the first time in three years, I was inside his house. I was exactly where I always wanted to be. I could see a thousand potential futures where we lived together here, entertained friends, and had furious sex in every room and on every surface. It was a future I wanted. It was a future I needed. 
I put the DadNet sensor into my palm and waited for my opportunity to make physical contact with Keith. He didn’t make it easy for me. Finally, after he decanted the sugar into a plastic baggie and handed it to me, he walked me back to the front door. He held out his hand for me to shake.  
Showtime, I thought, and clasped his hand firmly. I squeezed hard, ensuring the sensor in my palm would contact his bare skin. I held the handshake longer than was proper, but Keith didn’t seem to be phased by the awkwardness of the prolonged gesture. He nodded in time with me, a sign that the sensor was activating and uploading his biometrics to the DadNet cloud. 
“You want to listen carefully to everything I say,” I said after a long moment. I was scared that I was acting prematurely and that Keith wasn’t fully uploaded to the Cloud yet. I needn’t have worried. Keith’s eyes took on a distant, disconnected glassiness, and his facial expression went slack. It was as if someone had simply switched him off. 
“I want to listen carefully to everything you say,” Keith repeated numbly. “I want to listen carefully to everything you say.” 
“Good,” I said. “Keith, you have always been attracted to me, haven’t you?” 
“No,” he said flatly. “I don’t find you attractive.” 
I couldn’t help feeling the sting of rejection, even from someone who was completely mindfucked and whose identity was being rewritten by DadNet. 
“Yes, you have,” I insisted. “You have been attracted to me ever since the first day we met.” 
“Okay,” Keith said. I hadn’t planned to have to do much convincing, but I pressed on undeterred. 
“I want your attraction to me to grow,” I said. “I want you to realize that there’s no other person on this place whom you could possibly want to be with.” 
“I want to be with you,” Keith said. His voice lacked passion and conviction. He sounded like someone in a hostage video claiming his captors were treating him well. 
“Say it like you mean it,” I said. “The feelings must grow within you.” 
A flash of life flickered in Keith’s eyes. For a moment, I feared my indoctrination had crossed a line and that I had somehow snapped him out of his DadNet programming. I needn’t have worried, however, as the momentary spark of life faded away instantly. His slack expression softened, and he looked at me, if not adoringly, at least with a detached affection. 
“I do want to be with you,” he said. “I have always found you attractive. Please, tell me how I can make you mine.” 
“You want to become a muscle daddy. You are obsessed with working out and getting in shape. You will augment your workout routine with synthetic steroids to enhance your musculature.” 
“Yes, dear,” Keith said. “I will do all these things because I want you to like me more. I want you to love me. I want us to be together.” 

“Yes, dear,” I said, surprising myself at my involuntary speech. “I want you to like me more.” 

“Yes, dear,” Keith repeated. 

“Yes, dear,” I echoed. We were stuck in a loop. “I want you to love me. I want us to be together.” 

I looked down at the sensor in my palm. Two lights, one representing Keith and the other me, flashed in perfect sync. I looked back at Keith. 

“You want to become a muscle daddy,” he said. Instantly, I knew this was true. This wasn’t what I had planned, but I felt incapable of resisting it. He leaned close and we started to make out, our lips pressing against each other’s with detached, dispassionate efficiency. Our “love” was programmed, but it was no less real. 

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