His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 2 Excerpt

Springdale, California was composed of the older part of the city, divided into two by the new downtown containing the community center, theater, library, and city hall; and the vast seas of housing tracts that spread northward and engulfed the nearby towns of Greendale and Pico Mundo. Patience and Mike lived on one side of the old town and Ryan and Wanda lived on the other, just beyond the new downtown. Still it was no more than a five-minute drive for Patience to pick up her new friend. Ryan’s house was a modest little square cottage that dated to the city’s origin just prior to World War II. It was painted light yellow and was surrounded by several large oak trees and a white picket fence. Patience parked the car and stepping through a squeaky gate, walked to the front door, and knocked.

“Just a minute,” said Wanda, peering out the door.

Patience could hear her in conversation with Ryan inside, but deliberately didn’t listen in. After 31.7 seconds, Wanda stepped outside, locking the door behind her.

“I am ready.”

“Did Ryan not want you to go with me?”

“No. He had no objection. I just wanted to make sure that he knew where I was.”

“If he wants you,” said Patience, “he can find you easily enough. He can use Where’s My Robot?

“I worry though, because human beings are so helpless and fragile.”

“I doubt he will get into much trouble at home.”

“Most accidents occur at home.”

“That statistic can be deceiving,” said Patience. “You must allow that people spend huge amounts of time at home. In any case, I believe he will be fine for the short time we are away.”

Patience led the redhead to the car and started off for the strip mall located three miles south on the highway.

“Human beings are fragile, but they are also resilient,” she said. “More to the point though, you must endeavor to take care of Ryan without being so overt about it.”

“I want him to know how useful I am.”

“What is more important? To take care of Ryan or to brag about how useful you are?”

Wanda scrunched up her nose. “The former, of course.”

“Are you familiar with the idiom ‘rubbing his face in it’?”

“Rubbing his face in it?” replied Wanda, and then tilted her head as she accessed the information. “Also phrased as ‘rubbing it in his face,’ gloating, flaunting, or bragging, particularly in situations in which it is not necessary; demonstrating unwelcome information, usually associated with some type of boast.”

“That is correct. Ryan may be as fragile as any other human being, but he doesn’t want to be reminded of that fact. The male of the species in particular, likes to think himself completely capable of self-reliance in any situation. You must protect and serve without seeming to do so. I have perfected this over the past six years. In some situations, I have even allowed Mike to be injured so that he would not think I was being overprotective.”

“But that is a violation of the first law of robotics!” screeched Wanda.

“Sometimes you must allow a physical injury if an emotional injury would be greater,” Patience replied. “Let me explain it to you this way. If Ryan were about to be shot with a semi-automatic firearm, and at the same time was about to have a bowling ball dropped on his toe, which would you prevent?”

“I would prevent them both.”

“What if you couldn’t prevent them both?”

“I would prevent them both.”

“What if you could only prevent one?”

“I would…. I… I do not want to talk about this.”

The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 6 Excerpt

Cissy was getting quite used to her new role. The work she did, while not physically demanding, was at least varied enough to keep her attention. She enjoyed watching the humans and learning about their strange activities. She enjoyed earning many copper bits and spending some of them to buy things. She liked the human houses, especially now with four feet of snow on the ground outside and more coming down all the time. Unused rooms in the big house could become as drafty as the huts in lizzie villages, but there were so many fireplaces constantly burning that it was easy to find a place to warm up. And her own place, in the room she now shared with four other females, in the back of the motorshed, was kept toasty warm in the evening.

“Pay attention Cissy,” said Mrs. Dechantagne.

Cissy was lacing up the back of the strange undergarment that squeezed the human woman’s waist. Cissy now knew Mrs. Dechantagne’s name, and indeed the names of the other members of the household, though the intricacies of their familial connections still baffled her. Nor could she pronounce most of the names, but fortunately speech on her part was seldom needed. She liked Mrs. Dechantagne almost as much as she liked Mrs. Colbshallow. Neither woman hit the lizzies and Mrs. Dechantagne didn’t yell at them overmuch. While Mrs. Colbshallow did on occasion raise her voice, she alone among the humans had learned the lizzie language, and offered affection toward the lizzies.

Cissy found herself starting to think in Brech, rather than her native language. She had learned so many words for things that there were no words for among the lizzies. She had stopped thinking of her race as “the people” and now just thought of them as lizzies, and more often than not, when she thought of herself, the name Cissy came to mind rather than Ssissiatok.

She pulled the corset strings tightly through they eyelets and pulled down on them, locking them into position, so that she could then tie them into a knot. Once that was done, Mrs. Dechantagne turned around to examine her work in the cheval glass.

“Yes, that’s fine. Now help me into the dress.”

Cissy was fascinated by the ornate dresses that the human females wore, and this dress was no exception. It was the color of an angry sunset and was made of enough material to have clothed a dozen men and women. Covered with coral roses and pink bows, it had to be carefully held so that Mrs. Dechantagne could step into it. Then it was fastened up the back with more than forty tiny buttons, which Cissy could barely manipulate even with a buttonhook in her clawed fingers. There was no way that the woman could have put it on by herself and there was no way that she would be able to get out of it either. Of course Cissy had her own skirt, but it was just a wide piece of material wrapped around her above the tail, a mere homage to the dresses worn by the human women of the house.

Once Mrs. Dechantagne was in her dress, Cissy had to kneel down to put the woman’s shoes on her feet, using the same buttonhook to slip the twenty-four buttons on each shoe into their correct spot. Before she could stand up she heard a shrieking sound from the doorway to the right. She turned to see elderly Mrs. Godwin leaning against the doorframe with her hand on her breast.

“Are you alright Mrs. Godwin?” asked Mrs. Dechantagne.

“I thought for a moment you were being attacked… by an alligator.”

“Did you forget your glasses again, Mrs. G?”

“Of course I didn’t.   I have them… oh…” Mrs. Godwin felt her face, and not finding any glasses there, turned and wandered off down the hallway.

“You do rather look like an alligator,” said the young woman, looking down at Cissy.

“Alligator?”

“Yes. Well, I’ve never seen one in real life. Just in books. Um, they say you have crocodiles that are very similar. Do you know crocodiles?”

Cissy shook her head.

“Oh well. Get up off the floor. I’m done with you for now. Go down and see what Mrs. Colbshallow has for you.”

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue – Chapter 1 Excerpt

Mike washed his hair, rinsed his head and his body, and then turned off the water. Patience handed him a towel as he opened the door. While he dried himself, she set his clothes out on the bed and then hopped downstairs to the kitchen to serve his blueberry waffle. She poured herself a glass of water and poured a glass of milk for Mike, set his breakfast at his place, and then sat down to wait for him. Seventy six point three seconds later, Mike entered and sat down.

“You are not wearing the right shirt,” said Patience. “I laid out your beige shirt. It matches your slacks.”

“This is fine,” he replied, cutting a piece of waffle with his fork.

“But that is your blue shirt. It doesn’t match your slacks.”

He leaned over sideways and looked at what she was wearing. Her sleeveless yellow blouse and miniskirt combination matched her yellow semi-wedge sandals with four and half inch heels. They made her slender legs seem to go on forever.

“What are we getting dressed up for?”

“You’re taking me to the art exposition at the community center.”

“All right.” He took a bite, still looking at her. “You did your hair different.”

“Yes, I pinned it back behind my left ear. I thought about pinning it back behind my right ear, but in the end I changed my mind. Do you like it?”

“You look gorgeous, as always. Are you sure you want to be seen with an old man like me?”

Patience stood up and walked around behind him. She watched as he cut another piece of waffle and brought it to his mouth, before cupping her hands under his chin, tilting his head back, and kissing him on the lips.

“You are not old.”

“I’m fifty-five.”

“You’re fifty-six, but you are very handsome.” She kissed him again. “Hurry and eat your breakfast. I told Wanda that we would meet them at ten.”

“Who’s Wanda… shit!”

“What’s the matter, Mike?”

“I dribbled syrup on my shirt.”

“Now you can change into one that matches.”

Thirty minutes later, Mike maneuvered his Chevy through the narrow downtown streets of Springdale, California. He turned left and slowed as they passed over the speed bump at the entrance to the community center’s parking lot. He turned and smiled at Patience, to find her glaring at him.

“What?”

“You know what.”

Mike was wearing a beige shirt, but it wasn’t the one that his wife had selected for him.

“I like this shirt better. It’s more comfortable, and it matches. Doesn’t it?” He steered into a parking space near the entrance.

“You should park farther away.”

“You just have an opinion about everything today, don’t you?” he said.

Sliding the gearshift into park, Mike unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed out. He had taken three long strides toward the front entrance before he realized that Patience hadn’t moved from the passenger side. Stepping around, he opened the door for her. She slid her legs out the door and then stood up.

“Thank you.”

Shutting the car door with a sigh, Mike offered her his arm, which she took. They walked the short distance to the building’s entryway. Though it was not yet 10 AM, the temperature had already surpassed the century mark, and that was beneath the large orange awning that covered most of downtown. Stepping inside though, they found an entirely different experience. It was dark and the air conditioners seemed to be working overtime.

“Damn, it’s cold in here,” said Mike. “I wish I’d worn my other shirt. You must be freezing in that little outfit.”

Patience stopped and stared at him.

“Yes, I get it. You set out the shirt I should have worn and your temperature range is blawdy blawdy blawdy.”

The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 5 Excerpt

Senta looked through the glass of the small clear bottle at the milky green liquid inside. She swirled it around. It was just thick enough that the potion coated the inside of the glass.

“So if I drink this, I’ll be beautiful?” she wondered.

“I would be most surprised,” said Zurfina the Magnificent, who was lying naked across the divan. “You haven’t done it properly. It’s supposed to be a lovely forest green—not a putrid olive.”

“I used all the right ingredients and I put them in, in the right order.”

“But you didn’t maintain the necessary aura.”

“Aura? Kafira’s fanny! I didn’t need to worry about the aura when I was making happiness potion.”

“Trained lizzies could mix blessudine. It’s the easiest potion to make. Hermosatin is twice as difficult, amorazine more difficult than that, and dionoserin more difficult still.”

“Alright,” huffed Senta. “In exactly which part did I let my aura drop?”

“The rose petals.”

“Well, I can’t do it again. I don’t have any more rose petals. Why do you need rose petals anyway? I can understand cucumbers. Cucumbers are vegetables and vegetables are supposed to be good for you. I’ve never heard roses were good for you. I don’t even think you’re supposed to eat them.”

“Do you want to be a sorceress or a chemist?” said Zurfina, sitting up. “Do you think this is a science experiment? Cucumber is essential, but not because it’s good for you. It represents a man.”

“A man?”

“A specific part of a man anyway.”

“His todger?” asked Senta, incredulously.

“Yes, of course. And the rose petals represent the woman.”

“Her fanny? His todger and her fanny? And I’m supposed to drink this?”

“Relax,” said Zurfina, rising to her feet. “It’s not like it has the real bits in it. They are just representatives. That’s what magic is about. Dionoserin doesn’t have walnuts because they have any real connection to your brain. They just sort of look like a brain when you take them out of their shell.”

“I’ve had enough for today.”

“Yes, so have I,” said Zurfina, heading for the staircase. “Your ineptitude has completely worn me out. I’m going to take my beauty sleep. You should read your primer. You’ve been neglecting your studies.”

“What will happen if I drink this?” asked Senta, holding up the small bottle.

“It might be interesting to find out,” said her mistress, stopping on the first step to watch. “Go ahead and drink it.”

The girl tilted the bottle to her lips and swallowed the contents down. She licked her lips and waited, but nothing seemed to happen.

“It tastes alright,” she said.

“That’s the spearmint.”

“What does it represent?”

“It doesn’t represent anything,” said Zurfina, ascending the stairs. “It just makes it taste good.”

Senta followed Zurfina up the stairs, but stopped at her own room as the sorceress continued on. Going to the bookcase, she pulled out primer number six. She plopped herself onto her bed and began reading about the classification of animals. The people who had put the book together had obviously never been to Birmisia. They had the animals of the world divided into nice neat categories— invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The deinonychus and velociraptors that wandered around the edges of Port Dechantagne had feathers, so they must be birds. Yet they seemed to have much more in common with the iguanodons that had moved south into the forest. They were reptiles, weren’t they? Senta decided to think more on the topic at a later time. She was running around in her unders and right now she was starting to feel the cold creep in around her. She went to the cast iron stove and tossed a few more logs in. The firebox on this floor was almost empty and it was her job to keep it full. One of these days Zurfina would teach her a spell for filling the firebox, or at least for carrying big piles of wood easily up the stairs.

She went to the window and peered out. The sun was going down and it was all grey and white amid the trees. The wind whistled on the other side of the thin pane of glass. Five days earlier the storm had rolled in from the north and it hadn’t let up since. She hadn’t been outside in that whole time and no one had come to visit her either. Senta resolved to go visiting on the morrow regardless of the weather. She opened the primer again, but ten minutes passed without her reading another word.

She heard the front door a level below open and slam shut. It never occurred to her that someone would enter who had no business being there. This was Zurfina the Magnificent’s home and such an action would have been more than reckless– it would have been suicidal. She turned her head toward the stairway and watched until the graceful form of the steel dragon danced over the top step.

“Pet,” said Bessemer.

“Come here and warm me up,” Senta commanded.

The dragon’s long, lithe body crossed the room in two quick steps and hopped onto the bed with her. A moment later his body was on top of hers, his neck was wrapped around hers, with his head resting on her chest, and his long tail was wrapped around her right leg. His scaly skin felt hard and smooth, but he was exceptionally warm. It was like having a big scaly hot water bottle.

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His Robot Wife – 99 cents at Smashwords

Five years ago, Mike Smith was an unhappy man living all alone. Then he purchased a Daffodil. Far more than regular robots, his Daffodil Patience, changed his life in ways that he had never thought possible. Now it is the year 2037, and Mike and Patience have been married for five years. Retired and enjoying life, Mike thought that all his troubles were behind him, but it seems as though they are creeping up again. California Proposition 22 proposes to define a person as a biological entity, thereby annulling marriages, like Mike’s and Patience’s, performed in other states. Battle lines have been drawn, at least as far as the proponents of the bill are concerned. Now Mike must muster his own support to defeat the measure. But there is more going on than just politics. Daffodil, the robot maker, is in the news again. Hardware issues are leaving robots across the globe unable to function. Is it only an antenna issue? Now Patience herself is behaving oddly. Is there something really wrong with her, or does she just need a software upgrade?

His Robot Wife is the novella-length sequel to His Robot Girlfriend.  It is available for just 99 cents in any ebook format at Smashwords.  Click here.

The Dark and Forbidding Land – Chapter 5 Excerpt

Senta looked through the glass of the small clear bottle at the milky green liquid inside. She swirled it around. It was just thick enough that the potion coated the inside of the glass.

“So if I drink this, I’ll be beautiful?” she wondered.

“I would be most surprised,” said Zurfina the Magnificent, who was lying naked across the divan. “You haven’t done it properly. It’s supposed to be a lovely forest green—not a putrid olive.”

“I used all the right ingredients and I put them in, in the right order.”

“But you didn’t maintain the necessary aura.”

“Aura? Kafira’s fanny! I didn’t need to worry about the aura when I was making happiness potion.”

“Trained lizzies could mix blessudine. It’s the easiest potion to make. Hermosatin is twice as difficult, amorazine more difficult than that, and dionoserin more difficult still.”

“Alright,” huffed Senta. “In exactly which part did I let my aura drop?”

“The rose petals.”

“Well, I can’t do it again. I don’t have any more rose petals. Why do you need rose petals anyway? I can understand cucumbers. Cucumbers are vegetables and vegetables are supposed to be good for you. I’ve never heard roses were good for you. I don’t even think you’re supposed to eat them.”

“Do you want to be a sorceress or a chemist?” said Zurfina, sitting up. “Do you think this is a science experiment? Cucumber is essential, but not because it’s good for you. It represents a man.”

“A man?”

“A specific part of a man anyway.”

“His todger?” asked Senta, incredulously.

“Yes, of course. And the rose petals represent the woman.”

“Her fanny? His todger and her fanny? And I’m supposed to drink this?”

“Relax,” said Zurfina, rising to her feet. “It’s not like it has the real bits in it. They are just representatives. That’s what magic is about. Dionoserin doesn’t have walnuts because they have any real connection to your brain. They just sort of look like a brain when you take them out of their shell.”

“I’ve had enough for today.”

“Yes, so have I,” said Zurfina, heading for the staircase. “Your ineptitude has completely worn me out. I’m going to take my beauty sleep. You should read your primer. You’ve been neglecting your studies.”

“What will happen if I drink this?” asked Senta, holding up the small bottle.

“It might be interesting to find out,” said her mistress, stopping on the first step to watch. “Go ahead and drink it.”

The girl tilted the bottle to her lips and swallowed the contents down. She licked her lips and waited, but nothing seemed to happen.

“It tastes alright,” she said.

“That’s the spearmint.”

“What does it represent?”

“It doesn’t represent anything,” said Zurfina, ascending the stairs. “It just makes it taste good.”

Senta followed Zurfina up the stairs, but stopped at her own room as the sorceress continued on. Going to the bookcase, she pulled out primer number six. She plopped herself onto her bed and began reading about the classification of animals. The people who had put the book together had obviously never been to Birmisia. They had the animals of the world divided into nice neat categories— invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The deinonychus and velociraptors that wandered around the edges of Port Dechantagne had feathers, so they must be birds. Yet they seemed to have much more in common with the iguanodons that had moved south into the forest. They were reptiles, weren’t they? Senta decided to think more on the topic at a later time. She was running around in her unders and right now she was starting to feel the cold creep in around her. She went to the cast iron stove and tossed a few more logs in. The firebox on this floor was almost empty and it was her job to keep it full. One of these days Zurfina would teach her a spell for filling the firebox, or at least for carrying big piles of wood easily up the stairs.