07 October 2016
Pera Museum Blog is launching a new series of “Techno- Dystopia” stories in collaboration with Turkey’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Arts Association (FABISAD). The Association’s member writers are presenting newly commissioned short stories inspired by the artworks of Katherine Behar as part of the Museum’s Data’s Entry exhibition.
The third story “Hotel of Retro Dreams” is by Doğu Yücel! There is only one more story left! Stay tuned!
Advisory warning: Suitable for adult audiences only. Contains scenes which some audiences may find disturbing.
E-Waste, 2014, USB devices, Magic-Sculpt, Foam Coat, Paverpol, Styrofoam, stone filler, sand, pigment, cords, sound Variable dimensions
“Sex times technology equals the future.”
“I’m not like other women,” I said, and he realized I was serious.
“Of course. I’m always serious,” I said with a sarcastic smile.
“So what do you want? Come on, tell me.”
“As I said. Just one tradition.”
“Right, but which one?”
“Which one do you think?”
“How should I know? I’m still confused.”
He didn’t expect this from me. And I hadn’t expected that we would decide to get married that day, at that moment. Everything happened all of a sudden, but exactly like it was supposed to happen in our day. We thought of the idea of marriage simultaneously, we smiled simultaneously, blinking and opening our eyes in unison. Our nanolenses detected this soon enough. We heard the micromes in the room confirm our compatibility with a “cling.” It only remained for us to have our fingertips read by Halogens of the Planet.
That is, if I hadn’t ruined the moment by saying, “I want just one tradition”!
I suppose the excitement of having decided to get married played a role in my request. My body secreted endorphins with a burst of happiness, and the neurotransmitters in my brain rekindled those ancient human traditions engraved in our genes. But Åtom had another theory on the subject.
“I’ll never take you to another museum again!”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“A lot. The films, paintings, and equipment at museums get to you.”
“You’re calling me outdated?” I said with my hands on my waist, just like those women of the past. This time, I wasn’t being serious, of course.
“Now you’re scaring me!”
He was right; sometimes I scare myself, too. I catch myself watching those films with envy. Sometimes I even catch myself repeating those traditional lines we hear in the movies. God almighty… There, I did it again. Good thing I didn’t say it aloud.
The fascination I had for the ways of the ancient people, their traditions, tools, the rituals they kept repeating went beyond the interest a historian would have in the past. Once, I had gone into the warehouse of a museum to fiddle around with the equipment there. Car engines, devices the ancient people called smart phones, manual computers and their mouses, memories, adaptors… Åtom couldn’t believe his eyes when he found me there. He gave me a sermon, of course, he wouldn’t miss the opportunity. “I can understand your looking at these from a distance, but trying to use the tools of these barbarians… That’s a problem. These guys inexplicably met their energy needs by using fossil fuels for centuries… Oh what the hell, I’ve told you that already. You know what kind of life they had with these devices,” he said.
He was right, except for one thing. I wasn’t trying to use those devices. “I just like touching them,” I said, and even though he raised his eyebrows, I added: “I find them sexy.”
As soon as he heard that, he sent a mental command to the kitchen and got himself a shot of rum from the drinks cabinet. Bottoms up.
“Sexy, is that so. Let’s arrange a time travel if you want. Nobody has been able to stand that period for more than ten minutes. You, on the other hand, find it sexy.”
“You can’t say we’ve lost our primitive drives despite all our advances. If they had, we wouldn’t be able to multiply.”
“All right, all right, I‘ll do it, whatever this tradition is. Just tell me already. What do you want?”
“Take a guess,” I said, putting on all my charm.
He snapped his fingers and said, “A wedding. You want a wedding? Gown and all. We’ll become the butt of all jokes, is that what you want?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I haven’t lost my mind.”
“Even if we did something like that, the Board of Wastefulness Inspection would never let us walk without a punishment. It has to be something smaller. Hmmm… Just a second, is it a ring that you want? All right, I’ll buy you one, but don’t expect me to wear one, too!”
“And I’m so crazy about having a gangrene in my finger.”
“Well, what is it then? A bachelor party with your friends? Or, what’s it called, a henna night?”
“My god, stop it.”
“Will we cut a cake? Have our photographs taken at the park? What is it?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not talking about anything that would ruin our reputation, naturally.”
“Hmm. So it’s a tradition that involves both of us.”
“The two of us… Oh my god… Rëm, I can’t believe you, you want to have a baby? You know we have to go through a lot of tests, don’t you? That’s not like deciding to get married.”
“Who said anything about having a baby? I don’t want a baby. Is that even a tradition? You should brush up on your history.”
“Let’s say it’s part of a tradition – they did get married and multiply.”
“I’m talking about a tradition in the literal sense.”
“God, you’re really making me nervous, Rëm! What is it that these primitives did after getting married, how should I know? I would just go on a vacation after all the sound and the fury.”
“Getting close, Åtom!”
“A vacation. You want to go on a vacation?”
“They called it ‘honeymoon’, darling.”
“Ah, why didn’t you say so in the beginning, you really got me worried there. We were thinking about a vacation anyway. This will be the excuse for it,” Åtom said. He smiled. His smile slowly grew bigger. “I’ll fix you the best vacation, Rëm!” he said, and kissed me. It was a hotter kiss than usual. That’s why I thought about this honeymoon thing in the first place. We had to spruce up our sex life. The ancient people had solutions for that, which got results even though they were clichés. And that was also why Åtom had so readily agreed to the “honeymoon” idea. Otherwise, why would a serious adult bother with tradition and such?
In the days that followed, Åtom worked hard to prove he took my wish really seriously. In order to understand the concept of the honeymoon, he went to museums to watch films with couples in them going on honeymoons. For Åtom, who had not really taken to the art of cinema till then, this was a big step.
It was great fun watching the change in his attitude and behavior after having watched all those films.
One night before the vacation started, he stood before me with all the plans and the daily schedule of the honeymoon.
“I found a company called Junkshop – here, this is the leaflet.”
On the digital screen that opened in the air it said, “Hotel of Retro Dreams.” Under the title there were moving images of ancient people shown in their accustomed ways. The encounter between a matador and a bull in a bullfight arena, thousands of cars made of iron slowly going forward on the highway, hundreds of people gathered at a temple… The catchphrase of the leaflet was “Better than Time Travel,” under which there was a scene from a wedding.
“That’s the program I signed up for, but I checked only the ‘honeymoon’ part. It was cheaper, and I didn’t have to pay all that much for the changes I requested.”
“I made some revisions I think you’ll like while I was at it.”
He tried to wink at me like Casanovas of yore, but botched it. That made me laugh. But I was impressed, too. I would never have thought I would hear these things from a man who hates surprises living in a world that shuns them. I held my lover’s hands, unable to hide my excitement.
Åtom turned the page in his mind.
“Look, this is the house we’re renting.”
It really looked great. “Let’s go right now,” I said.
“In the middle of the night?”
“Well, the honeymoon begins on the night of the wedding.”
This time I winked at him. Åtom looked at me, glanced at our suitcase, and ordered it to put together our clothes.
“Please watch out for the manual applications at our hotel.”
This was the suspended warning that met us at the entrance of the Hotel of Retro Dreams. Our suitcase, which was following us on a mental order, stopped a few meters after that sign. Åtom had to carry it himself on the lit way to the reception.
He was a bit upset about that, naturally. The receptionist noticed that and felt compelled to explain:
“We want this to be a real experience for you, so we have eliminated mental sensors in certain parts of our hotel. Welcome to the past. Here’s your key.”
Åtom stared at the key like an alien object. Then he remembered what it was good for. He rotated it between his fingers like ancient people. He was my boyfriend of five years’ standing, but he had never looked so sexy to me.
We slowly walked towards our old-fashioned house with a view of the ocean. Åtom put the suitcase on the ground, took out the key from his pocket, and managed to insert it in the lock after some difficulty. The poor thing turned it left, then right, and opened the door. As soon as he did, he lifted me up and we walked in. I hadn’t expected that. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s the way they do in movies, baby.”
Åtom seemed to be making up for all the lousy things he had done before. But his real surprise was waiting inside. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I entered in Åtom’s arms the bedroom of the villa that was decorated like in old movies. The bedroom itself wasn’t all that extraordinary, but the things on the bed… Those were truly strange! Åtom had ordered for the hotel management a bed with all the old objects I liked. That must have been the revision he was talking about. Strewn on the bed were old manual keyboard keys, small adaptors, computer mouses, joysticks, digital memory cards, charging units, headphone sponge covers, tiny fans, silicon digital screens, and other antiquated things I couldn’t identify. Some of them were so old they had crusts, looking almost like fossils. And most of all, there were cables. The bedsheet seemed to be woven of thick warps made of cables with varying tips and thin wefts made of cables that branched out.
On someone else, this whole thing could have an effect like some interesting piece seen in a museum. For me, the effect was totally pornographic. Then, Åtom laid me on the bed. I felt a tingling as soon as my back touched the cables. I was very content about the point my “honeymoon” idea had reached; the fire between us had been rekindled, and I was waiting with burning desire for Åtom to jump on me.
Instead, Åtom left the room saying, “I forgot the suitcase at the door, I’ll get it and be right back.” I immediately took off my clothes in order to respond to his surprise, and lay on the bed in my sexiest pose. Cables, computer mouses, fans, headphone sponge covers, and other devices… I looked at them with admiration and felt a different thing about them – I felt how lonely they were. These objects were the essentials of the strangest transition period of our history, but now they were past their use-by date for centuries, deserted in museums and art galleries. Once these devices had been the right arm of mankind. They served people as matchmakers and even helped them with their flings. People found dates using this mouse, flirted with them using this keyboard letter, and heard their voices thanks to this headphone sponge cover. Now they were as good as trash. I must have looked like an unfashionable work of art as I lay on the bed contemplating their loneliness.
I noticed that the room was stuffy, and without getting off the bed, I reached out to the window’s handle and opened it. A sweet ocean breeze filled the room. Then the door suddenly closed. Åtom had entered the room like the porn stars of the past. It was pitch dark.
I felt Åtom’s kisses first on my feet. The tingling that started there spread all over my body and made me open my arms and legs in one natural move. I was crucified on the bed, and gave myself up to Åtom. As my lover’s kisses moved up my legs to my crotch, his arms slowly reached for my breasts. He was cupping them with his hands, squeezing my nipples as if with an operation peg. When his lips reached my vagina, I was on the verge of losing my mind with pleasure. I couldn’t help it and began to moan like a primitive woman. He had discovered my erogenous zones with his fingers like a treasure hunter, doubling my pleasure with his touches. My hot lover had not only discovered the pleasure buttons of my body, he was also pressing them in the right order.
“Oh, Åtom!” I screamed.
He left my vagina and climbed on top of me with a loud “Rëm!” I was in such an ecstatic state that his voice seemed to echo off from another world before reaching my ears.
I couldn’t wait any longer to be one with Åtom. I spread my legs even more. A wave of pleasure went through my body when he entered me. The waves seemed set to continue.
The man who was the staunchest advocate of rationality in every matter had turned into a veritable animal. I couldn’t believe the things Åtom was doing. I think he watched other films besides the classics during his research on honeymoons.
“You’re so good!” was all I could say.
He responded by blowing his breath into my ears, which turned me on even more.
His hands didn’t keep still as he moved in and out of me, roaming all over my body to give me all kinds of pleasure simultaneously. With his lips on mine, one of his hands squeezed my ass, while the fingernails on his other hand went deep into my back. It was like I was fucking not one Åtom but many versions of him at the same time.
I don’t know how long the most pleasurable minutes of my life lasted. When it was over, I lay wasted on the bed.
I was out of breath. My blood circulation was irregular. My mind was under a haze of pleasure. I had no energy left in me to even move my tongue or open my eyes. I hadn’t even turned to look at Åtom.
Then the door opened. “I came,” Åtom said.
“I know,” I was about to say. But then I got confused.
“Åtom?” I said.
“Yeah, I went out to get the suitcase in, and the door banged shut behind me all of a sudden. The key was inside. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to open the door mentally, but it didn’t work, of course. I went out to the garden, called out to you, and I heard you shout back, but I couldn’t see you. So I had to go down to the reception for the spare key. And here I am.”
I was at a loss for words. I looked at the mouses, cables, and sharp memory cards on the bed. Keyboard keys were pressing against my body. A small fan was on the bed, right beside where my ear had been. On my other side was the sponge cover of a headphone…
Åtom was still fuming.
“Stupid manual system. Now why would this fucking door close all by itself?”
I looked at the window. The one I opened to let some fresh air into the room.
“Maybe there was a draft,” was all I could say.
Written by Doğu Yücel
Translated by G Yayın Grubu
He had imagined the court room as a big place. It wasn’t. It was about the size of his living room, with an elevation at one end, with a dais on it. The judges and the attorneys sat there. Below it was an old wooden rail, worn out in some places. That was his place. There was another seat for his lawyer. At the back, about 20 or 30 chairs were stowed out for the non-existent crowd.
The wind blows, rubbing against my legs made of layers of metal and wires, swaying the leaves of grass that have shot up from the cracks in the tarmac, and going off to the windows that look like the eyes of dead children in the wrecked buildings that seem to be everywhere as far as the eye can see.
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