"Being married to a person you have never met before was common practice a long time ago. We think it's time to revive this old tradition, not for the sake of family alliances and money, but for the sake of the human race. We have to take care of evolution with the help of genetic compatibility algorithms. We have to make sure women get pregnant before they are too old. We are here to help you find the right partner, quickly.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the day of Revelation."
Nadiya frowned. She was surrounded by a throng of people whispering excitedly. They were wearing shirts with numbers on the front and back, reminding her of a herd of marathon runners, or cattle. All of them seemed to be looking forward to the Revelation, as these arrogant scientists called it. To the young woman, it sounded more like a religious sect than a scientific experiment. Admittedly she was part of it, though only a drag-along of her friends, and there was no backdoor now.
Her wrist computer vibrated lightly, informing her that the e-mail containing the number of her perfect match had arrived. Nadiya stared at the display, contemplating to just ignore it and wait until she could get out of here. Around her the flock surged as everyone tried to move and find the right number. She was pushed, kicked and, in one case, bitten until she ended up with her back to the far wall, watching the matching unfold before her.
It resembled a human stampede with the dimensions of a small bingo apocalypse. Some people were shouting the numbers they were looking for, others their own, and some just screamed with the pain of having the air knocked out of them by a sharp elbow. The atmosphere was getting thicker, announcing that fights would break out between people shouting their own numbers and those shouting the ones they were looking for, believing that someone would steal their perfect match.
Nadiya watched, horrified, the brutality of people on their search for true love. Knowing she would never be part of this madness, she let herself fade into the wall, a knack she'd learned long ago. People were pushing past her, but no one paid her the slightest bit of attention. Until...
Someone took her hand and whispered in her ear. "Fear not," he said, in a voice as soft as silk, which wore off some of the shock she felt.
Nadiya turned around to face a good-looking young male, a bruise starting to appear over his left hazel eye. He grinned. "Fancy getting out of here before it gets nasty?"
"You think it can get worse?"
"Might be," he shrugged, starting to trace back his steps.
Around them fights were breaking out. Nadiya wondered briefly where the scientists were and why they did not interfere. There were more important matters to worry about, though. She followed the stranger, carefully avoiding treading on someone or running into another person, and trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible.
After nerve-racking ten minutes they reached a door that wasn't locked and slipped out without anyone noticing. The pair hurried through a labyrinth of empty corridors, and Nadiya wondered again where the scientists who were running the experiment were. Outside the building, they stopped to take a deep breath each.
In the light of the day, Nadiya's saviour looked even better than he had inside that hall. Only the spreading black around the eye spoiled his appearance.
Suddenly, both their wrist computers started vibrating. They looked down simultaneously.
"You didn't open your e-mail either?"
"No, it felt like a waste of time," said the stranger.
"Let's have a look now, shall we? They won't stop vibrating otherwise," suggested Nadiya.
"On the count of three, then. One. Two. Three."
They skimmed their messages. They looked up at the one another's number, then down at the wrist screen. Looking up again, their eyes found each other.
"Fancy that," said the stranger softly. "My name's Pete, by the way."
"I don't know about you, but I think I need a drink."
"There's a nice café just over there." She pointed, and together they left the scientific building behind. The test results were quite another matter, though, which promised to follow them wherever they would go.