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>>>   MOVE LIKE JAGGER by Charles van Wettum

She walks in my direction; she will pass this terrace. My dormant systems spring crackling to live, activating old instincts and long-forgotten reflexes. My tech sprays hormones like a dazzling perfume as my system jumps into alarm mode: multiply!

As my ancient success formula demands, I rise. My tech controls the lubrication of age-old joints. Arms flutter, knees bend rhythmically, and hips rock elastically as I once did, decades ago. Dormant applications start and seductively rap one 'hi babe' after another 'yo bitch'.  Proven strategies always take precedence.

I hardly notice how dozens of others are dancing right next to me. Consciousness is replaced by instinct, patterns ingrained in the brain by endless repetitions take control. They produce sticky movements, wild swings, fierce screams, and clumsy jumps. Dance controls my body, rhythm reverberates through my mating dance. Freedom of choice drowns to the back of my head.

She notices. She's looking—is it in my direction or our direction? The competition in this part of the terrace grows fiercely.

Testosterone starts chain reactions. Adrenaline ignites neon tattoos into sparkling firework displays. Amphetamine inflates red-veined biceps in transparent upper arms. Oxytocin sets ablaze myriads of cleverly placed LED piercings, and vasopressin pumps six-packs and buttocks into inviting pillows. The air becomes thick.

She smiles. Pheromone detectors howl at maximum capacity as my hormone production systems prepare for the final battle. Around me, burn-outs crash into convulsively moving bodies: arms fall down powerlessly, men tumble over when their legs give up. Others remain trembling when their minds collapse under the chemical violence.

She is so close. Chuckling, she winks at one of us. She takes his chin. She leads, he follows; off the terrace, onto the street, and around the corner. Gone.

My recovery systems reboot. The breakdown of stimuli produces withdrawal symptoms: nausea, trembling arms, and wavering legs—beads of sweat run down when waste products are secreted through my skin. Fatigue permeates my mind as my internal applications settle down and enter their restorative mode.

As I sit down, I hardly see the dozens of others next to me sitting down.

Exhausted, I lift a heavy arm: 'Waiter, another beer.'

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