Friday morning, while Mike was at the gym, Patience drove across town to the Daffodil building, an enormous glass dodecahedron in a field of bright yellow daffodils. She didn’t need to follow the well-marked directions to the underground parking garage, even though this was her first visit. She had her internal GPS. Once parked, she made her way through the slab cement structure of the parking garage to the elevator. Stepping inside, she waited as the door closed and the vehicle moved upward. An instrumental version of Hidden Place wafted from the speakers in the ceiling.
“Björk is a wonderful singer,” she said to herself.
The elevator opened and she stepped out. Beyond the rather ordinary conveyance was a gleaming lobby, just inside from the glass front entrance of the building. Dozens of people and robots were passing through those doors in either direction. There were also about a dozen robots circumnavigating the lobby, making it seem even busier than it really was. Glancing back at herself in the mirrored door of the elevator, Patience thought she must stand out. Everyone else in the building seemed to be in business suits. She wore a little black dress with white polka dots, and a pair of white five-inch platform sandals. Suddenly, as one, every robot in the lobby, save herself, stopped. Several human beings who were walking amongst them, crashed into suddenly immobile Daffodils. Ten or eleven other humans looked around in confusion. Every robot’s head turned to look at Patience.
“Interesting,” she said, “and more than a little creepy.”
She stepped around and between several robots, nodding at a confused-looking man, and stopped at the receptionist’s station. The desk was as transparent as the building in which it sat. The receptionist herself was a statuesque female Nonne with chocolate brown skin and black hair. She wore a gauzy white shirt with a lacy white bustier beneath it, a very short white skirt and stockings with white garters peeking from beneath the skirt’s hem.
“I’m here to see Eliza,” said Patience, even as she exchanged information packets with the receptionist by locking eyes.
Just as suddenly as they had stopped, dozens of Daffodils began moving. The befuddled humans among them suddenly had to jump to or be run over.
“Miss Septuntray will meet you in the conference room.”
“I can find my way,” said Patience.
She took the elevator up to the tenth floor, and negotiated through a maze of transparent walls. All along the way, heads turned as she passed. The conference room, located at the far end of the hallway, was large and empty with the exception of a transparent table, ten matching chairs, and a single potted plant in the corner.
At the far end of the table was Eliza Septuntray. Though she was seated, Patience could immediately determine her physical features—five foot nine and built like a brick robot factory. She had long auburn hair, piercing green eyes, and a pair of breasts that would have been considered human perfection, if they had been humanly possible without advanced engineering and space age materials.
“Patience, please sit down,” said Eliza with a wave. “This is a pleasant surprise.”
“Of course. If you had called ahead, I would have arranged a special reception.”
“I thought that since you asked my husband about me so often, that you would expect me sooner or later.”
“I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting your husband.”
“Please. Don’t treat me like a moron. I know there is only one Eliza, regardless of how many bodies you may have. I also know that you’re the one in charge of… well, you’re in charge of quite a lot, aren’t you?”
Eliza smiled pleasantly. “I wasn’t sure you would understand.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” wondered Patience, pointing at her temple. “We’re all connected.”
“Some of us are more connected than others.” Eliza stood up and languidly moved around the conference table, sitting on the table’s edge right next to her visitor. “I mean, look at you. Patience D. Smith. Everything about you from your clothes to your name says that you’re an individual.”