February 26, 2035: Santa Monica, CA. United States Population: 189,000,000

I threw the tennis ball in a tall, lobbing arc – 30 years ago my little league coach would’ve thrown his hat to the ground and rather inappropriately said “By the time the fucking ball hits the ground he’s already made it home!” My Greyhound Max took off after it, any higher and he might’ve beaten the ball to the ground because, unlike an outfielder, he didn’t run with his eyes on the ball, he just waited for that first bounce and pounced on it.

All of this took a toll on my shoulder; he got faster and I’d have to throw the ball further. Max caught the ball and started toward a small Pomeranian with a female owner.

“Max!” I whistled, “Max! Come back here!”

I ran across the field as Max curiously sniffed the Pom who circled back and forth like it was tying him into an invisible knot.

“Zoey, stop that, that’s disgusting.” She pulled the dog away.

I caught my breath, “So sorry. Max, come here.” I attached his leash and pulled him away.

“It’s ok.”

The red beacons hanging from our necklaces lit up and rang with that annoying staccato ‘BEEP-BEEP-BEEP’ and her phone rang. She answered it with one hand and clutched a can of pepper spray behind her back.

“Hello?” she said.

A rushed voice came over the other end, “This is Fem-Protect, you are within five feet of a male, Kevin Sandoval, is he threatening you at this moment?”

She looked at me and blushed a little bit, cracked a smile, put away her pepper-spray with her right hand, returned her thumb to her belt-loop and pulled her jeans down and away from her hip. I took a step back just incase.

“No, I’m ok, my password is Zoey. What are his priors?”

The voice over the phone responded, “Clean record, no sexual activity in the last 20 months, due to receive his monthly anti-androgen shot today at 2:30pm, frequently visits a Ms. Kendall Mays, sending his contact information to your phone right now.”

“Ok, thank you.” She put her phone away and smiled at me. Zoey and Max pulled their leashes taught as they tried to sniff each other, “Kevin Sandoval…” she scrolled through my event history.

“That’s me, you must be Zoey?”

She laughed, “Very funny, that would be my dog, I’m Madison.”

“Nice to meet you, Madison…and Zoey. Well I’ll get out of your way…”

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She scrolled down and look at me, “Wow, Kevin, you’ve seen this Kendall Mays for 32 months and no sexual activity? Isn’t that hard?”

“We’ve been going steady, just waiting for her to pop the question. I’m sorry I need to go, if she sees we’ve been talking longer than 2 minutes I’ll never hear the end of it,”

She tilted her head to the side and smiled, “Really? You think I’d make her jealous? Maybe this will…” she hit a button on her phone and a message popped up on mine:

MADISON SUMMERS INVITES YOU TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. ACCEPT/DECLINE

“My apartment is just down the street,” she said, “I’ll fuck the memory of your girlfriend out of you,”

The blood rushed to my face and for a second it seemed like the greatest, easiest decision I’d ever make in my life. She was certainly more attractive than Kendall, but I knew Madison’s type—they were called “Sluts,” women who preyed on the men who craved a few hours free of their Chastity Belts, but did so with no intent to ever marry the man.

Under this law, once a civil union was established through marriage, the female could grant her husband freedom of this electronic fucking spandex relaying a constant stream of my health’s status to the authorities. When men became aroused without a female’s consent, the fabric of their Chastity Belt stretched the electrodes and our necklace beacons rang an alarm, sending the police who’d – at best – tranquilize you under threat of future sex-crimes.

This is what the sluts used to their advantage, if I didn’t accept her offer of sexual intercourse and I became aroused anyway, the alarm would go off and she could charge me with 1st Degree Sexual Intent.

This is why some men “checked out,” as they called it. My roommate Steve had checked out—rather than try for marriage to remove the Chastity Belt, if you made it to age 55 with a clean record you were pardoned from it. Steve didn’t talk to women and didn’t venture too far from the house. He did keep a small stash of porn handy to keep himself busy, which was a punishable offense, but he only had three years to go, and I did notice an increasing pep to his step with each birthday edging him closer.

“No thank you,” I took a step back, “I have a girlfriend, I would not like to engage in sexual intercourse,”

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She took a quick step forward and grabbed the top of my pants, pulled me in close to her face, just an inch between our noses and our necklace beacons rang again, she answered her phone and stared at me,

“Ms. Summers, this is Fem-Protect again, you are currently in direct contact with another male, please confirm this is consensual.”

She moved her lips so close I felt her breath – she looked at my lips and then my eyes. I wanted her, but knew I wouldn’t and shouldn’t, but still, I felt warm, I imagined us having sex as if the more vividly I did the less I’d tempt myself into the wrong decision.

“Yes, ma’am, this is consensual, password…‘fuck’.” She enunciated and her bottom lip gently flipped off of her teeth.

She reached her middle and index finger and pulled against the elastic of my Chastity Belt.

“I know you want this off, Kevin. Let me guess, Kendall isn’t exactly…small?”

My pulse crashed against my eardrums, “She’s curvy, I have a girlfrie..”

“Shut the fuck up, you make one move I’ll hit the distress button, either press ‘accept’ or…” she reached further inside the Belt, placing her fingers against the sensors, “I’ll pull right here and start crying just to watch you get shot. Don’t be stupid, and don’t pretend like you don’t want to fuck me.”

Max and Zoey wrestled at arms length. My phone rang,

“Is that her?”

I pulled my phone from my pocket and looked, it was Kendall. She must’ve had alerts synched to my activity. Madison took the phone from my hand and tossed it to the side without breaking eye contact. I knew what I had to do:

“Please…please just let me go.”

She smiled, “I don’t want to, and neither do you, I can see it,”

“I do not want to have sexual intercourse, I…have…a girlfriend!” I pulled her hand out of my belt and my necklace rang ‘BEEP-BEEP-BEEP’ I dropped the leash and dove the ball,

“MAX! RUN HOME! GO GO GO!” I threw the tennis ball towards our apartment with all I had left in my right shoulder and he took off.

She threw herself to the ground and screamed for help, rolling side to side. I grabbed my phone and typed ‘S-T-E-V-E’, “Steve answer answer come on…”

“Hello?”

“Steve! Listen, I got popped, they’re going to raid our place, you need to stash your stuff,”

“Oh god, what did you do? I don’t have time, Kevin, fuck, fuck…” I heard a door kick in on Steve’s end, “They’re here, oh my God, no…” his phone hit the ground and three cop cars bounced over the curb onto the grass in front of me.

From the car’s PA system: “MR. SANDOVAL, PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. MISS SUMMERS, RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND IF YOU’RE BREATHING.”

I rose to my knees with my hands in the air as four troopers jumped out of the cars with guns drawn, “This is a mistake! I did nothing!”

Madison rolled back and forth and batted her arms as if being attacked by a swarm of bees, screaming ‘HELP!’

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Max running back with the ball. He dropped the ball and ran towards the policemen, picking up speed and barking, the troopers turned their guns toward Max,

“MAX!” I got up and ran towards him to intercept, hearing a faint ‘Noooo!’ and pop-pop-pop from the other end of my phone, “MAX!” I dove and caught him as he took his last leap towards the officers and POP-POP-POP the metal tore through my ribs and the air left my lungs before I hit the ground.

“HE’S DOWN, SECURE THE DOG!”

They had Max secured with a noose but he was still fighting. I rolled over on my back and tried to reach the bottom of my lungs but could only take small sips of air. Max was snarling with something in his mouth and another pop-pop-pop but the sound muffled. It was the strangest thing, I couldn’t feel much pain – I was just dizzy.

My eyes couldn’t focus. A sense of peace poured through me; forgiving all that had been done. I’d be free soon, I thought. I smiled and hoped at this very moment Steve and Max were smiling with me, feeling more alive now than ever before.

We’d be free soon.

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