It was supposed to have been the best moment of his life. The instant of acceptance and the joining of two hearts – shared by the contact of his hand upon the one that he had admired for the longest time.
Kojiro gazed at his girlfriend in pain. Just a week ago, he had decided to confess his love to Kurumi, the childhood friend who had been with him since elementary school.
And, she had just happened to accept his love.
However, the government had made a decree. Underage pregnancies had sky-rocketed to an alarming degree, and they saw any outward display of affection as a weakness spiraling to this result.
“This must be stopped! For the sake of our children and to protect the sanctity of the union of marriage, I proclaim that all men and women between the age of 12 to 21 are hereby forbidden to come in contact with the other gender in any form of sexual way!”
The cry of Japan’s governor, Shiranui Momobami, echoed across the airwaves, and thus, all couples that fell in this age range were barred from engaging in anything remotely affectionate.
However, the pain of not being able to hold or even touch Kurumi was not all that was weighing him down. He was actually in a lot of physical pain, too. A searing, throbbing agony that spread from his loins and shot up his spine, so fierce that it resulted in a massive headache and him rolling on the ground.
He had been smacked in the nuts.
Kojiro looked up with tears in his eyes at the hovering robot that panned its camera between the two of them, daring them to do anything else.
All he had done was grasp Kurumi’s hand, a simple gesture to keep her from leaving. And that resulted in the robot sounding an alarm before flying headlong into his private parts.
As to why that happened, that had been the act of Shiranui Momobami, of course.
Given the extremity of the law that was enacted, enforcement was a key concern. To alleviate the workload needed to achieve that, droids blanketed the skies, hovering around every public area imaginable.
These droids ensured that every teenager would be strictly monitored. Any guy coming within 6 feet of a teenage girl would immediately draw the attention of one of them – their beady, whizzing lenses aiming straight at the couple to scrutinize them for any violation.
Of course, the males were typically the ones punished, thanks to the views of Momobami. Or rather, her ideals were focused upon protecting the chastity of young women.
“Males are vicious predators! To prove it, we have data from the past 10 years, signifying that the offenders of sexual crimes are 90% male! Furthermore, it is the women that are victimized, having to carry the haphazard offspring from a moment of misguided passion!”
Many men balked at this draconian slandering of them, but there was little that they could do. Somehow, the entire political body had been overrun by Momobami and her female consorts. Men no longer had any push in this decision, and thus, the enforcement droids aimed their sights at them with rose-tinted lenses.
“God freaking ass! Have you no mercy?!”
For Kojiro, this had already been the third time today that he had been decked in the gonads. And every time, it had been a simple touch out of reflex. He had nothing but the purest of intentions towards Kurumi.
His girlfriend bent down and looked at him in sympathy. If it had been a normal time, she would’ve wrapped him in a warm embrace and patted his head like what she would often do for Kojiro as a child. But now, only simple words were allowed.
“I’m sorry, Kojiro. I should’ve mentioned that I had to go to practice before turning away. I really need to be careful so that this stops happening…”
For Kojiro, her words were filled with warm intentions, but having to say them from so far away left an awkward void between them. Thoughtful words with the absence of a caring touch felt hollow to him. To both of them.
And that distance had continued to grow ever since that law had dropped, a single day after his accepted confession. He had been so happy that he raced home, not even bothering to give her a hug or a kiss. At the time, the euphoria of being loved back made him full.
A deep sense of regret enveloped him the next morning, when the newscaster on TV had announced the terrible restrictions falling on him and Kurumi, along with all others their age. At the time, he had picked up his cereal bowl and nearly flung it at the stoic reporter on the screen, as if the messenger deserved to be executed. But he knew it would just enrage his parents, who were more concerned about their TV than his conflict.
Of course, they didn’t care. It didn’t involve them as they were already adults.
And so, Kojiro and Kurumi’s week of avoiding contact became a tortuous strain on their relationship. Given that they were only 16, it would seem like forever to be unable to touch the other person.
Every slip-up – a pat on the head for encouragement, a brush of the cheek to feel one’s warmth, and even, an accidental tapping of the hands from passing notes – that had been only a few of the numerous occasions in which he had happened to touch Kurumi.
And for every time that occurred, the dreaded enforcement droid was there within moments, releasing a menacing whirl before slamming its hard metal body right into his pants.
Since he was hardly alone in this punishment, the initial shock of this treatment had given way to a muted acceptance. By the end of the week, the periodic sounds of pained cries and occasional tumbles to the ground throughout the school and streets were barely even acknowledged by those who were not involved. Onlookers turned their heads from the scenes, feigning indifference in a society where conforming meant safety.
But for Kojiro and Kurumi, a visible rift had already started forming. The constant pain of being punished for even the slightest contact, no matter how innocent, was wearing on Kojiro. Kurumi, who was helpless to do anything, stared from a distance and slowly began to back away. She had felt guilty the entire time for putting him through such pain, simply through the normal actions for a couple.
How would their relationship last another 5 years?
To be punished for even the slightest affection, just how much suffering and restraint would they have to endure?
That was what went through both of their minds.
The pain of being together had chipped away at their relationship, so much that they subconsciously started to distance themselves at every approach.
But still, Kojiro held a deep bitterness that it had come to this.
I want to touch her! I want to hold her and show her my love!
He refused to take this situation that the adults had arbitrarily placed on him and succumb like the ones around him.
He was tired of Momobami and her senseless laws. He was tired of simply conforming with a flawed society.
As he saw Kurumi solemnly turn to head towards volleyball practice, Kojiro spat out a declaration.
“I swear to you! Right here and now! That I will find a way!”
Kurumi was stunned on the spot. Hesitantly, she turned her head back toward her boyfriend who had risen from his punishment. Her eyes flashed for a moment at the droid hovering in between them, but everyone knew that they simply recorded footage and not audio.
With her full attention back to him, Kojiro pulled out his phone and brandished it forward. Upon the screen was the makings of an app that he had started, a work that he coordinated with the computer club.
While the lines of code were unintelligible to all but a few, Kojiro proudly displayed them anyway.
“With this, I will bring down the unjust system that has been placed upon us!”
“Wait, is that-?”
Kurumi knew of Kojiro’s capabilities. After all, they had been inseparable for nearly a decade. The look in his eyes were the same whenever he was about to grasp victory, a telltale sign of determination to see his task through to the end.
Bringing the phone back towards him, Kojiro tapped a button on the screen.
“Execute, program!” he yelled triumphantly.
The droid that hovered between them spun back and forth to examine the situation. To it, the artificial intelligence that governed its actions had determined no strange behavior despite the actions of the boy. Mainly, because he was currently 15.2 feet away from anyone of the opposite gender and was fully clothed.
However, the AI felt a momentary flicker occur in the data being processed coming from its lenses. The visuals before it blurred but for an instant, triggering an automatic response to pan away towards the nearby buildings and re-calibrate the focus and resolution of its imaging.
Only taking a split second, the clarity of the surroundings returned, and the camera spun itself back towards the two people below. However, now the scene before it was of two girls. Immediately, the caution levels built into its programming dropped to a negligible degree.
Even as the one girl holding the phone stepped forward and approached the other one, no flags were triggered. No alarms were raised.
Casually, the girl with the phone reached forward and gently embraced the other, who had a look of surprise on her face.
Once again, the droid stayed idle.
Physical contact between the same gender is permitted.
That was the result of its logical reasoning.
And even as the distance of their lips reached zero, the droid paid it no mind, once again relying on its built-in programming.
Physical contact between the same gender is permitted.
The droid grew bored, having observed the two for long enough. It had other balls to slam into. Other men to punish. It drifted away, leaving the two to their moment.
After the two separated, Kojiro smirked in victory. The blushing face of Kurumi was the best prize he could have at this point. The lingering taste of her lips was carved as a trophy in his memories.
For he had discovered a loophole in the droid’s algorithms.
Embedded in its code, the punishing actions imposed upon offenders would only trigger in the presence of a male. And how simple it was to change a single character within the code to negate the cause and effect.
With the app that he created, its task was to flip a single integer from 1 to 0. Within the single line of recognition code, the flag Is the target male? had been negated for all droids within the phone’s range.
As the purpose of the new law was to curb teenage pregnancy, the government had no business bothering the interactions between those of the same gender. And thus, Kojiro found the perfect loophole to exploit.
Kurumi stepped back and sighed. Her heart was still beating wildly, finally able to return the feelings that had been bottled up. That kiss had melted away her worries for merely that moment.
“So, what now? They are going to catch on to you at some point.”
Despite the endless worrying and brooding that was typical of her, Kurumi was the voice of reason between the two. She had always been.
“Let them try.” Kojiro chuckled, knowing that his path would be thorny, but it would be worth it if Kurumi could be his during the long five years until adulthood.
He stared toward the tall, twin-peaked building in the distance – the municipal building in downtown Tokyo. Not that the governor could see him all the way from where he stood, nonetheless, he defiantly pointed toward where she reigned.
“From this point, I will protect my manhood and my time with Kurumi. This is my declaration of war, to Shiranui Momobami and to the adults who have decided to get in the way of our love!”
I wrote most of this dang thing in an hour, after a certain friend decided to show me his attempt at writing romance. Guess it invoked a strong feeling for me to kick something in the nuts.