They had just finished eating when the phone rang.
“It’s for you, Astrid,” said Mr. Richards.
“Hello,” said Astrid, putting the phone to her ear.
“Astrid, please you must come at once. We need you.”
“Mrs. Diaz? What’s wrong?”
“It’s Valerie,” replied her friend’s mother. “She’s very sick.”
“Did you call Dr. Lower?”
“No, no. It’s my other Valerie.”
“You mean Robot Valerie?”
“Aye, si,” said Mrs. Diaz. “She feels week and she won’t eat ever since you turned her into a robot.”
“I didn’t turn her into a robot!” said Astrid, exasperated. “She’s always been a robot.”
“Please come and help her.”
Mr. Brown gave Astrid and Denise a lift over to the Diaz home where they found Valerie and her mother wringing their hands as Robot Valerie lay rather stiffly across the sofa.
“I tried to get her to eat some chicken soup,” said Mrs. Diaz.
“She can’t eat,” said Astrid, more exasperated than ever. “She’s a robot.”
“But she’s so week and she feels so sick,” said Valerie.
“Did you plug her in?”
“What do you mean?”
Astrid lifted Robot Valerie’s right arm and pressed a small recessed button. A compartment door opened and she pulled out a retractable cable. Unlike the rest of the United States which used NEMA 1-15 two prong or NEMA 5-15 three prong electrical outlets, Maxxim City and Maxxim Industries used an Excalibur interface plug, a smart plug capable of channeling a wide variety of power levels and data at the same time. Astrid plugged the tiny square plug into a matching outlet on the wall of the Diaz living room, right behind the end table.
“I feel better,” said Robot Valerie.
“I’m surprised you managed to go this long without a recharge,” said Astrid. “Why didn’t you plug yourself in?”
“I didn’t know I had to.”