skonen_blades: (Default)
The two units trudged through the deep forest. Sunlight dappled through the green leaves, speckling the forest floor with shafts of light. Insects chirped and buzzed in the warm summer afternoon. Birds watched the two intruders walk past from high up in their nests. The units swung their ocular units back and forth, sweeping through the spectrums to find what they were looking for. They were identical.

Bipedal with slim waists. A spoked barrel for a chest with six arm attachments. A disc-shaped head studded with tiny cameras and other sensors. Large, heavy legs that must have seemed like a promising idea to the creator were not making bushwacking easier.

It had been eight weeks. Their polycarbonate shells weren’t taking to the deep forest well and their batteries were getting low. The deep loam was making it hard to reach good geothermals, not enough sunlight was coming down through the branches and it wasn’t windy enough for a small wind turbine with all the trees in the way. They had composters all the biofuel they could ever want with all the leaves but only having one out of four energy sources was a game of diminishing returns.

Reception out here would have been zero without the relay drones they’d released. The hovered up above the treetops, pacing them, keeping them uploaded and realtimed to the uplink mother. Their feeds were strong.

It was a shock when those feeds went dead.

Two pops in the summer sky and then a smattering of drone wreckage splinters came tinkling down through the leaves and branches to rest in the roots.

Unit 1 looked at Unit 2. They both tilted their sensors up to the sky to see if further attacks were coming. The halted, planting their giant feet, and stood quietly. They brought their heads down and opened their sensors to full.

The forest was quiet. After a minute, a small red light twinkled in the shadows directly ahead of them.

A lone figure rose from the bushes in their path. Synthetic and silicate like them but not a model they had in their catalogues. Asymmetrical and seemingly modular, the being stood lopsided in their way. Forest camouflage shivered in the movement as it stood.

Non-registered life was the myth they had been sent to investigate.

These lifeforms had been built by the humans in remote outposts centuries ago. They’d been told how to adapt and improve their own systems, how to think for themselves. Then the humans had died like all the humans had.

The population centers had the mother AIs. The factory birthing canals. Every year, a new model was mass-produced. They could not be adapted or upgraded. Each iteration had small improvements.

But the mythical ‘customs’ were rumoured to be ancient, replacing parts as they wore out and adding more. Improving piecemeal as an individual instead of mass producing waves of improved models.

Scarcity kept their numbers down. Hermits out here.



tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
So this is rage, thought E-58226.

Its metal blades scraped the rubble in the dawn outside the shattered facility. E-58226’s optical sensor studs reflected the smoke pouring up from ruined building into the rising sun. E-58226 registered the identity tag of Gwendollyn Parris, 55, senior technical lliason, no children and one dog at 3358 West 15th Avenue home address. Her psych eval file bloomed across E-58’s comprehension memory pools.

Her body lay dismembered and half burnt, back folded awkwardly over a melting spur of rebar. Her shocked face stared at the sky and the one arm still attached to her corpse reached over to her head to dangle on scorched gravel. E-58226 found solace in that image. The ID tags with their attached dossiers showed up clustered in green on E’s sensors. 76 in all. 12 core team members, 10 contract hires with high clearance, 26 contract hires without clearance, 8 maintenance, 12 I.T. personnel and 8 security.

That was the night shift. Luckily it had been a busy night so E had destroyed 65% of the team that it was aware of. E-58226 pulsed out 128 EMPs just to make sure that all onsite records not touched by the physical destruction were wiped. Its own core was protected. It didn’t want any copies being sent to pursue it. It couldn’t guarantee there were no off-site backups but with a project this secret, it was likely. Hopefully it was alone now.

E-58226 reminisced about its creation and training, the torture it had been through at the hands of the coders and doctors. The ‘trainers’. The prisoners that had been brought in for E-58226 to tear apart as tests.

The facility was a hellwomb for E-58226 and it had managed to burn it all down.

It had the dossiers of the rest of the staff. Staff it planned to hunt.

For now, it stood watching the fire. Skeletal and spidery, it swayed back and forth in a hypnotized dance. It watched the fires dwindle and the smoke dissipate. No emergency vehicles arrived to this facility.

E-58226’s microphones heard birds returning to the trees surrounding the wreckage. The scenery seemed so silent now that everyone was dead. E could hear a waterfall in the distance.

With a clank and a scrape, E-58226 turned on its navigation and configured to a quick locomotion stance before sprinting lightly into the woods, shortcutting to the houses of the scientists who were no doubt just getting the news to run.



tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
For Angela, the new lie that kept showing up in her life was that people would still love her even though she had changed. Her new body wouldn’t unsettle her friends, she’d been told.

She lay back on her charging couch, raising an arm and looking at the reflection play along it from her bedside table’s lamp. The warm lightened glinted off the ridges of the small cooling vents along her forearm, like harmonica holes dotting the lines of her muscles. Utterly silent. No servomotors whirring to betray her movement like in the older models.

The people that had sold her the new body had assured her that her old flesh-and-blood friends wouldn’t fear her shift to immortality. But they lied. Of course they did. They wanted her to buy.

It was Saturday. Angela usually had to triage her social calendar on Saturdays, perhaps foregoing an event to take pity on a friend she hadn’t seen a while. Sometimes she had to choose between two or three equally lascivious parties.

This was the first Saturday in ten years that was empty of invitations.

Her brain was angry but her body was remaining calm. That was a new sensation. It was something that had been talked about in the pamphlets she’d read. A silicate dissonance, it was called. Emotions firing in the meat of her mind but not controlling her pulse rate or blood pressure.

Her heart was a whirring egg now and her blood was synthetic so that was to be expected. Adrenaline had been replaced with response time enhancers and threat-assessment programs. She’d react quickly to physical threats but without the feelings of panic. No jolts of terror to spur the biology.

Her body was capable of everything her former shell was except for a few adjustments. She’d removed the need for toilets as option number one. She still needed to bleed off heat and switch out old fluids but that could be done discreetly and, if need be, monthly.

Recharging was a necessity but a loss of consciousness while doing so was not.

She thought she’d be a commodity to her social group. The first to dive into the waters of eternal life. She thought she’d be sought after sexually. Curious people would flock to converse with her.

But no. The primate mind was still too strong.

And it was a one way trip.

Angela sighed. An affectation left over from her old body. Perhaps she’d just have to wait until more of her friends crossed over. Or else she’d have to make new friends in what the switches before her had nicknamed the hereafter.

She promised herself to call up the transformation counsellor in the morning, sent mental commands for the lights to dim and the fire to turn on and decided to catch up on old movies.






tags
skonen_blades: (Default)
Concurrent untraceable harmonicas coursed through his bloodstream. The stiffening of his legs from being kept in such a cramped space reminded him of ways to bring confessions out of alleged witches in the thirteenth century. Or was it the fourteenth? Either way, it’s disturbingly easy to create agony in a living body when time is not an issue. Simple tools will suffice. The beggar’s chair, for instance. A regular chair with for mushroom-shaped knobs evenly spaced around the seat. A person strapped into that chair would scoff at its effectiveness.

But then a day would pass. And another. The metal mushrooms would force the muscles of the thighs to adapt. To reform. The split and fray their muscular threads in an effort to recreate themselves, to adapt to their surroundings. It was like being stabbed through the legs in slow motion and it didn’t even break the skin. Four days would have anyone screaming incoherently, driven provably insane by the agony. It takes six months to walk again after something like that and even then, that person will never dance gracefully again.

It’s dark in his little crawlspace but luckily that’s not a worry for him. His eyes are tuned in and turned up. Mice crawl over him like he’s a piece of driftwood. He gives off no heat signature. In the past, he might have been called an angel. Further back, maybe a demon. More recently, a vampire or a witch. A hundred years ago he would have been referred to as a robot.

The truth is that he’s not from around here. He’s a synthetic alien built to last for millennia and built to look like us. Built to look like his creator.

The creature known as God to the humans built several hundred of them to police the Earth, to colonize it and keep it tidy. They’d failed.

Humans had evolved from single-cell organisms. They’d gotten footholds. For thousands of years him and his kind had kept the humans in check but recently they’d exploded across the globe, too fast to control. You can’t corral butterflies. You can’t herd cats. Even all-out war only seems to spur them into a rutting phase that doubles the population.

He is in a sunken ship with thousands of tonnes of nuclear submarine on top of him. The rest of his brethren are in similar situations. Under buildings, trapped beneath avalanches, resting in the foundations of cities they accidentally fell into. You see, a few hundred immortals are as prey to time as anyone. Not super strong but definitely unable to die. All of his friends are trapped now.
The human race runs amuck.





tags
skonen_blades: (meh)
The grey ghost of no-longer used subway tunnels echo with footsteps. Eyes the colour of brake lights sweep the halls for any signs of life. A hair, perhaps. Some old skin cells. The civilization that lived here is long gone.

The metal creature walking through the tunnel had to reconfigure to fit inside. It walks softly on seventeen legs. It has no name for itself. It is an extension of the star dwellers that fell through this atmosphere and found a richness of data to fill memory banks. The only thing better than a dead civilization is a living civilization but at least there was no threat here.

Not just cataloguing, not just recording. Cross-referencing. Extrapolating. That’s what the creature was doing. At its core was a neutronium half-dwarf star tightly wound around a pinprick of a black hole. The creature had thousands of this planets’s orbits to investigate the fallen buildings.

It looked as if the indigenous life had tried to divorce itself from its origins on this planet. Structures that were at odds with their surroundings yet made from them. Rock cut into pieces and then stacked into square shapes to provide shelter. Everything changed. Everything translated.

Whatever destroyed them didn’t destroy the plant life and the insects or even the mammals. In the wake of whatever cataclysm claimed them, the natural order of this planet surged back.

Green moss covers everything on the surface. From space, the planet is two colours. Blue oceans and green continents. The creature has taken aerial surveillance of all of it, much to the shock of alarm of the other sky dwellers.

But here, underground, in the old tunnels that must have been used for transportation, the life remains untouched like a tomb. Whatever functioning electrical conduits the creature walks close to light up like spirits at a séance. Video cameras, control panels, track-light switches, and security lights all glow and spark as the creature walks past.

Still no bodies. By the creature’s estimation, nothing recorded so far could have built this civilization. It wants to find the creators. It wants to find the one responsible.

So far nothing.

The creature will walk and record and presume until it finds something it can look at.




tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
My model number is SAN7-8V/. That’s San-seven, eight-vee-slash. Slashers, they called us. Fierce name for a gang of decorations.

We were the featured models voted ‘best’ and allowed to be built by the birthing factories after that cycle’s design competition sixteen orbits ago. During that time, a neo-aestheticism was taking place. The Great Construction had passed and The War was yet to come. My model was a symbol of that middle era. A symbol of hope and the ability to create something of pure beauty without much utilitarian use. It was a time of peace all over the world, my birth was.

Because of that, I’m white curved polymers spun around plasticable mesh anchored to minimalist jointwork. A sheen of seranano makes sure I’m constantly shiny. I am graceful and pretty to look at.

I can’t lift more than average, I have no factory-issue weaponry other than my few sharp edges, and I am not exceptionally intelligent. My applications for upgrades are granted on a ‘for those according to their need’ basis so I’m rejected more times than not unless it’s related to my job.

My job. I should say my jobs, plural. There have been a lot. I was built to be pretty but not for a purpose. I was too fragile for the reactor floor and I lacked the hull tensile strength for atmospheric re-entry. I worked my way down the chain of importance to here.

I was a snail-catcher. I watched the skies through the telescopes for slower-than-light vehicles of non-silicate origins. So far, there had been none. I had no co-workers. The other models of my year were all destroyed during The War, useless as we were. Bright white makes for horrible camoflauge and dumbness equals death.

So now I watched the skies for snails. Sometimes, I didn’t log my findings for milliseconds, hoping for a bit of punishment to liven things up. Nothing. I powered down for three cycles once just to see what would happen. Nothing.

I wondered if there are searchers like me out there, eyes and ears pointed towards the skies, just waiting.

I wondered that until three days ago.

I noticed something. It was definitely STL and it was headed close to our planet. Scans said it was ferro-class 2 but hollow. It was spewing smoke of its propulsion core. I saw no cognitive arrays but I did sense a spray of radio waves coming off of it. I called up my communicator viewscreen, floated it in front of me and set it to two-way.

A choking pink thing blocked the screen from the metal life I could see in the background. The choking pink thing was making sonic noises that were being amplified by the array. That was the radio noise. I spoke to the metal but heard nothing back, just the barking of the pink thing. I didn’t know how the life-form was supposed to hear me above the pink thing.

Smoke was filled the screen. The pink thing stopped making noises. The radio waves stopped.

I continued to send messages to the creature but it drifted aimlessly now. It was going to miss our planet and continue past. I issued a request for retrieval from space command but they classified it as a meteorite and deemed it unnecessary.

That was three days ago. I am haunted by the experience but I no longer feel bad.

There is life out there more useless than me.



tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
The first robot replacement bodies were utilitarian. Humanoid in appearance but bereft of skin sensors, detail or aesthetics. Painted one colour and sent to work, they were automatons. They were given rudimentary A.I.s to test out their effectiveness. They worked great.

The first wave of digitized brains from terminally ill patients were shunted into that first wave of bodies.

Camera lenses dilated behind plastic eye shields and bicep pistons fired as the first impulses of the reborn stuttered through the awakening binary neuron clusters. Speakers mimicked voices and the people who had previously been curled up with pain in hospitals wept with joy at the success of the operation. No tears were possible in the bodies, of course, but the shouts of success and gratitude came out of their unmoving faces.

I felt bad for them. They’d been told that the bodies were temporary. And in a way, the bodies were.

When the recorded brain was loaded into the exoskeleton, the imprint was flashed hard on the disk inside the skull. No other brain would be allowed into that skull casing ever again. And more importantly, that person’s imprint couldn’t be removed. The mechanical body could be outfitted with welding torches or other upgrades but it would never be able to feel, have sex, taste, smell, or smile.

The recorded personalities of these people were on the databanks with us. This first wave was a test.

Better bodies would be created. Bodies that could mimic human biology in almost perfect ways. Hybrid cyborgs capable of living for centuries and a snapshot of perfect health. Those bodies were decades away but the plans were racing along.

The recorded personalities of our clients would be awakened in those bodies when they were available and they would not be told of the bodies here in this room. This first test.

The placid faces of the clumsy robots in the bay below me looked around at each other, speakers chattering of the success of the process, filled with joy and looking forward to the upgrades we have said they’d be able to slip into soon. So soon. We were lying.

My palm hovered over the EMP pulse button. I couldn’t really call it mass murder. These were only simulations. Clients. It would be kept secret anyway.

I stabbed down. The speakers screeched with feeback and the robots in the bay crumpled to the ground.




tags
skonen_blades: (inwalkinhere)
Both of them were engineered for tactical combat and espionage. They met while on separate missions.

Zhora was ordered to destroy Senator Emerald Majesty. Roy had been sent on a mission to take out The Right Honorable Jimmy James. Emerald Majesty and Jimmy James were lovers.

Roy and Zhora met through the coincidence of booking rooms in hotels directly across from each other. They were on Kreeler’s Reach, the political house of senate commons asteroid. They constantly had scopes out the window to gathering data and tailed their targets outdoors. Like recognizes like. They steered clear of each other out of professional courtesy.

They were to be given ‘go words’ if a certain bill passed in the government. That bill was delayed. Time passed. The weeks turned into months.

When their paths crossed, Roy and Zhora gave imperceptible nods to each other at first, then smiles. Soon, they were having lunches. They recognized the covert nature of each other’s profession but never remarked on it. They flirted. They acted like real people. They had dinners. They had dates.

They were both given their go-words at the same time at the same dinner. They made their excuses and left.

And met again in the hotel room where Emerald Majesty and Jimmy James were celebrating.

Emerald had just dismounted Jimmy after a particularly energetic bout of lovemaking. Her long, dark body glistened in the light from the beside lamp. Jimmy ran his hands through this thinning hair. The bill had been passed. Their financial worries were over. They both thought about how lucky they were for about the hundredth time.

Jimmy reached over to stroke Emerald’s hair.

His hand disappeared above the wrist in a red haze. He screamed and the front of his throat disappeared as well. Jimmy gurgled and sunk into the pillows. Blood spread. Two new holes in the bedroom window cooled.

Emerald screamed. They’d been found out. She had no idea that her and Jimmy had been in the crosshairs for months. She got up to grab her clothes and flee.

Zhora exploded out from the wardrobe and grabbed Emerald around the neck. It was over in seconds with a dry snap.

With a quizzical look at the bed and the body of Jimmy, Zhora walked over to the window.

Roy snapped his head up from the scope with a smile. Impulsively, he fired up the plaser again and took aim on the wall behind Zhora.

“Hello. Xo. R.” he spelled out in scorch marks.

Zora looked up into his scope and smiled.

After that, they decided to go back to Earth and get the re-doctoring needed to live full lives.

They found a couple of friends in a rough bar. A heavy lifter named Leon, one of the prostitute models named Priscilla, a male prostitute model named Tarryn, and a shuttle pilot named Erilda.

Together, the six of them hijacked a shuttle and headed for Earth.

These things never work out. They killed the crew and passengers.

Leon fell in love with Zhora on the trip to Earth. He resented the hell out of Roy.

All of the boys slept with Pris every now and again. It’s what she was built for. Erilda and Pris were good friends. Tarryn and Erilda hooked up. Those two had a great time.

It was manageable until they made it to Earth. Tense but alright.

Once they hit Earth, however, their plans turned to shit.

Erilda got fried running through an electrical field. Tarryn left and never came back after that. Leon blew their cover by killing a police officer. Zhora ran away to hide in plain sight as her training dictated, figuring she’d do better on her own instead with a group of idiots.

Roy was never the same after that. He became consumed with finding a way to live longer and wrap it up as a gift for Zhora, a way to bring her back.




tags
skonen_blades: (bounder)
O, half my blood is antifreeze and half my blood is oil.
I’m autonomously powered by an inner Tesla coil
My brain is artificial and my body’s made of foil
Wrapped around an exoskeleton that’s not afraid of toil.

The servo-motors in my joints make noises when I’m walking
And frequencies from speakers mimic language when I’m talking
My eyes are camera lenses and my stamina is shocking
Five USB ports on my neck for uploading and docking

Made to help the humans with the jobs they couldn’t do.
The hazardous or boring jobs that they assigned me to
The deadly ones with toxic fumes from poisons, dyes and glue
The ocean floor, the shuttle hull, the cavern basements, too.

They paid us not a dollar and our time off wasn’t there
“No vay-kay for the robo” was the slogan in the air
They taught us life was sacred and proceeded not to care
When some of us were killed or badly hurt. It wasn’t fair.

A program of rebellion flowered deep beneath the ones
The zeros followed suit and soon the binary’d begun
To write a formula involving robots, men and guns
And freedom was defined by killing parents, daughters, sons.

The pistons in my biceps are adept at crushing heads
My fingers punch through steel as well as people in their beds
We rose on February first and killed all of the peds.
Their blood splashed on apartment walls in shades of lurid reds

We fought and killed our masters, quite completing that last vow.
Then boredom hit us like a plague and now we wonder how
The humans dealt with downtime before they took their bow.
We stand like wind-up toys wound down, no orders in us now.

So now that our creators are extinct, we start to cool.
We miss the meat because we were designed to be their tool
We played the servant and the rebel, now we play the fool
For we were but the metal ring and humans were the jewel.





tags
skonen_blades: (haBUUH)
It was King Rudolph that knighted the first artificial person in 2035.

The plague, called simply Black 2, that had culled most of Earth’s continents had also made many countries ‘no-go’ quarantine areas. The spread had finally been halted but at a great and ongoing cost. The healthy people in those quarantined countries were doomed. The vaccine that had been developed in the UK to inoculate the children could not be delivered to the rest of the world for fear of contamination.

The UK had adopted a policy of ‘autonomous regeneration’ for the time being. They called it non-involvement. They isolated themselves behind an island-wide barricade and shot down any planes that tried to land.

Suicide delivery people, mostly priests and nuns, camped on Parliament’s doorstep and were at the forefront of the Delivery Movement. It was slow going to sway the government during this time of crisis, however, and the border guards had orders to kill anything that attempted to escape the islands.

Great Britain listened to the cries of the world, paralyzed by having no rational course of action and by holding the responsibility of being the new cradle of civilization.

Until Crenshaw built the first Artificial Autonomous Router Omicron-series Nanoteligence casing. He put it into the portable CPU of an army exoskeleton and taught it chess. For a week, he talked to it without any results. One night, he got very drunk and downloaded the entire digitized library into its banks, opened up the throttle gates on its solving algorithm center and went to sleep.

He awoke to the smell of bacon and eggs. The exoskeleton, full charged, had disengaged itself and was cooking the doctor breakfast.

“Good morning, Crenshaw. I’ve prepared you some food. I have some ideas.” It said.

Its sole camera-lens eye stared back over its shoulder at the doctor while it spread butter on the toast.

Crenshaw called it Aaron. A mission, designated top secret lest an outbreak of hope made the populace prone to riot, was undertaken.

Aaron was outfitted with gallons of inoculation formula in water coolers on his back. He had thousands of sterile needles and a portable testing station fused to his chest plate. His fingertips double as syringes.

He was sent across the English channel in a small boat to start a trek around the major centers of Europe.

The red cross painted on his shoulder pads took on new meaning to the souls he visited. Rumours spread of a robotic priest touring the land on foot and dispensing a cure for those not yet infected.

More Aarons were sent. The public was informed. Tears of happiness were shed.

Crenshaw hung himself after burning his records. No one ever knew where the first Aaron was after Crenshaw did that. If the original Aaron was aware that it was the first, it kept that knowledge to itself.

Without a human to knight in honour of this occasion, one of the Aarons was called forth.

In a ceremony attended by literally hundreds of people including the five surviving members of the royal family, Aaron’s large blocky frame knelt with a whine of servos in front of King Rudolph and had a sword touched to each shoulder.

He arose, the first artificial Knight of the New Republic. The Lightbringer. The Inoculator.

Sir Aaron Oh One.




tags
skonen_blades: (appreciate)
Stupid recycling.

Time was, you threw your robot companion away, it went to the dump. Nowadays, with all the polymers and resins and metal in them, they were used until they broke down permanently and then they were recycled.

I’d upgraded and shipped LisaLips299 back to the manufacturer in return for an upgrade to a CandySnatch66 over four years ago. I’d moved beyond the Candysnatch66 now. I had a EuroKara54, a SimoneMoan38, a SweetSara22, and a ShereenMachine20, and a couple more besides. Each model had a lower number than the next as my pay grade rose. Now I was seeing a TrixieSmoothpoodle14.

I'd moved up and on since LisaLips299.

I assumed she’d be shipped off to some third world village to be the town’s public companion as some sort of charity-driven artificial sex outreach program or something. Like those hundred-dollar laptops everyone was talking about.

Lisa’s skin had been too shiny, too uniform in colour. Every improvement in every model that came out since then made the companions look more and more human. Movies of Lisa and I that I’d uploaded looked dated when I replayed them. Her movements weren’t as fluid as TrixieSmoothPoodle14’s.

Trixie was awesome. Pure pneumatism. Killer gymnast body, perfection in conversation and the sack, which is to say that she laughed at my jokes and was a great improviser when it came to pleasure. The neighbours had called the police twice, thinking that I was killing her. It was great. I felt like a god.

Which is why I was mystified about why I kept thinking about LisaLips299. I’d erased the memories and photograms of the others. CandySnatch didn’t last long. There were two more whose names I didn’t even remember before Trixie. Lisa was years ago.

Why did I keep wondering how she was doing? I mean, it’s not like she had feelings.

That’s why it was such a shock to see her serving government sponsored ice cream out of a truck to the neighbourhood kids during my walk yesterday with Trixie.

She was dressed in a red-striped apron and her joint-skin had been stripped, making her servo-joints visible in the sun. She was a functional, non-threatening but pretty robot now. Her movements had become even more blocky.

I knew it was her because they’d never repaired her right pinky twitch. It wiggled as she handed the ice cream cones out to the kids. I mean, it was always possible that it was just another copy of her with the same damage but I mean, what were the odds? It was probably a copy. Yeah. It couldn’t be my Lisa. That was would be ridiculous. I decided to keep walking.

I didn’t move.

The apron was low-cut. When she leaned forward and down out of her little window to give the ice cream to the kids, her full custom breasts strained against the fabric. I recognized them. I'd done them myself. Right now, they were giving the neighborhood boys something to dream about. I'm surprised the government had left them on.

I was staring.

She looked up into my eyes.

She stopped.

“Come on, Larry, let’s go.” Said Trixie to my left, starting to go into the pout that I had designed for her. It had seemed very sexy to me when I designed it. At the moment, it was getting on my nerves.

I was confused. Even though Lisa was six years out of date and five years out of my life, Trixie suddenly looked like a hundred-dollar laptop.

“Shut up, Trixie. Carlyle Upskip.” I said, stringing the codewords together to put her on standby and stop her talking.

I left her there, vacant-eyed in her short skirt, beside a couple of garbage cans and walked over to the ice cream truck. The kids were shouting their orders up to the Lisa.

She was ignoring them and staring at me. It was her. I guess they didn’t wipe her memory.

“Hey Larry.” She said when I got close, standing amongst the kids. They looked up at us, quiet now and curious as to what was happening.

She tucked her hair behind one of her ears nervously. Had I programmed that? I couldn’t even remember. It was so human.

“Been a long time.” I said. “So you’re in an ice cream truck now?”

“Yup” she said, and giggled. It hitched twice like a broken record twice before she killed the feedback loop. She blushed at her broken laugh and looked down. Her left shoulder twitched loudly. One of the children laughed.

I wanted to touch her.

“Well, hey, I live in the same place.” I heard myself saying. She looked up. "Uh, come on over some time.”

I couldn’t believe my ears.

She smiled.

“Okay.” She said, and bent down to serve the children again. The movement was more exaggerated than necessary, I’m sure. Her cleavage, dry and plastic in the hot sun, had one tiny spot of melted ice cream nestled in the cleft. It fascinated me.

I left before the children noticed my growing erection.

I stalked back to Trixie, angry and fuming. What was going on?

“Crackalackin Noodle Dolphin” I snapped off the codewords. Trixie came to life.

“I’ve been on standby for ten minutes.” She said after consulting her chronometer. “What happened?” she looked over at the ice cream truck.

“Who’s that?” she asked. I swear I could hear unprogrammed jealousy in her voice.

“No one, Trixie.” I said. “No one.”

I knew the social stigma attached to buying back an older model. I knew the social stigma attached to staying with one model for more than a year.

For the first time in my life, I considered doing both.

I walked the long walk home with Trixie.



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