So, I decided to visit the Henderson Writers Group to check it out. I live in Henderson, but have never been to any of their meetings, though I do occasionally run across a member. Checking their website, I found they had several meetings each week, but all but one of them are held someplace outside of Henderson! Go figure. So I decided to attend the meeting here. It was still on the other side of the city from me, about 10 miles away. So I cruised over in 114-degree heat to the location at National University… and I couldn’t find any meeting. The website said go to National University and follow the signs. I found no meeting and no signs and no one to ask about it. Lest you think National University is some sprawling campus and I missed them. It’s not. It’s a single floor of a single office building. Oh well.
Duh. I’m working very hard to get His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience done. It is coming along. Watch this space for a release date, or stop by patreon.com/wesleyallison and find out how you can see chapter excerpts as they are written.
After this book is done, as I’ve mentioned before, my plan is to finish books that I’ve started and then let sit. That means a new Senta and the Steel Dragon book and at least one of two space sci-fi stories. Watch this space for more info and for release dates for Patience.
Oh, and here is the new cover.
Mike was already dressed when Patience arrived back in their room. He looked quite handsome in his white shirt and tan slacks. They met Wanda and Ryan out in the hall and all walked down to the Incubus Steakhouse together. After sitting down, the men planned out their orders. Mike chose the iceberg wedge, peppercorn New York steak with red onion compote, ginger sweet potatoes, and chocolate mouse cake. Ryan ordered the warm asparagus salad with hollandaise and truffle vinaigrette, braised beef short ribs with m’hamsa couscous, French horn mushrooms, and bacon; and crème brulee.
Patience was quiet, a fact that Wanda was quick to point out.
“Is it the murder?” she asked.
“You know about that, do you?” asked Mike.
“Everyone knows about it,” said Ryan. “And of course, Wanda knows that they asked Patience to help them solve it. Did you figure it out?”
“Yes,” said Patience. “I might as well tell you, since it will be widely known shortly.”
“We knew them,” Mike told Ryan. “Well, we met them. We had lunch with them.”
“The girl who was murdered and her robot?”
“So who killed her?” Ryan asked, turning to Patience.
“Delia killed Bella,” said Patience.
“Who is Delia?”
“Delia was her Daffodil. She killed Bella and she killed herself.”
“That cannot be right,” said Wanda, “but I see that it is.”
“Why?” asked Mike. “Why did she kill her?”
“Bella met a man. Delia loved Bella and was afraid that she would lose her to him.”
“That is really frightening,” said Ryan.
“It’s really human, is what it is,” said Mike. “It’s just the kind of thing that humans do to each other all the time. You just don’t expect it from a robot… and yes, I know she wasn’t just a robot—she was a Daffodil.”
“It is too horrible,” said Wanda. “She was for Bella. She should have wanted whatever was best for Bella, even if it meant giving her up.”
“See Ryan,” said Mike. “You have a special little robot there.”
“I realize that.”
The salads arrived and they began eating.
“You feel the same way, don’t you, Patience?” asked Wanda. “You feel the same way about Mike that I do about Ryan, don’t you?”
Patience flashed her a nonverbal blip of annoyance but answered. “I love Mike and I want him to be happy of course. Over the past few years however, I have programmed myself to want him… to need him. I have been running it over in my mind for the past several hours. More and more I understand how Delia was feeling. I don’t know how I would react if I thought I was losing Mike.”
Ryan choked on a bit of lettuce and took a quick drink of water, giving Mike a nervous look.
“It’s my fault,” said Mike. “I’m just too damn charming. The women and robots—they just go crazy for me.”
Patience smiled and put her hand on his. The main courses arrived and the conversation took a much lighter tone through the rest of their meal. After dessert, they left the steakhouse and walked downstairs to the movie theater.
“What shall we see,” asked Ryan.
“Okay,” said Mike. “We have a sappy chick flic, two mindless action movies, and Shakespeare.”
“So… Motor California?”
“Much Ado About Nothing.”
“I was afraid you were going to say that,” said Ryan. “Well, I suppose we don’t have to see the same movie.”
“Try a little culture for once. Maybe you’ll like it.”
“All right. I’ll try it, but I don’t think I’ll like it.”
One hundred nine minutes later the four of them stepped back out of the theater entrance.
“That wasn’t that bad,” said Ryan.
“See, I knew you’d like it,” said Mike.
“It didn’t hurt that Margarite Pine was in it.”
“Which one was she?”
“The one with the boobs.”
“Oh, the one who played Beatrice. Yes, she is a healthy young woman.”
“She’s in Motor California, too,” said Wanda. “Ryan has it in his queue. He finds her sexually appealing.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. I think I look a little bit like her.”
Turning away from the street, Yuah Dechantagne made her way up the stone walkway to the family’s home. The huge, stately structure was the largest building in the colony, and had taken the better part of two years to construct. Featuring a large portico supported by four two-story columns, a double gabled roof and more than a dozen stone chimneys; every side of the house was covered with large dual-paned windows. Walking through the gardens and past the large reflecting pool, the fountain, and the sundial surrounded by white roses, she paused to hyperventilate for a moment before tackling the six steps to the portico. Standing at attention outside of the front door was a lizardman, naked except for a yellow ribbon with a gold medallion around its neck. As she approached, the creature reached back and opened the door for her.
“Thank you, Tisson,” she said, sweeping in through the doorway.
Once inside, she walked through the foyer and into the parlor, just in time to see her sister-in-law, the colonial governor, slapping her hand across the protruding snout of another lizardman. The creature wore a similar medallion and ribbon as its counterpart outside, though it was a silver medallion on a green ribbon. The reptilian was also slightly shorter and had darker green skin. Even so, it towered over the woman in the olive green herringbone dress that faced it.
“One more time and I’ll cut off your tail and send you back to that mud hut you came from,” she snarled at the lizardman. “Do you understand?”
“Yess,” hissed the reptile.
“What was that all about?” asked Yuah.
Iolanthe rolled her aquamarine eyes. “How many times have I explained? They still don’t get it. When the flower petals fall off, the flowers are replaced.”
“I think they like the flowers better when they are wilted,” replied Yuah. “It must be a lizard affectation.”
“Well, I’m not going to put up with it. Say, where have you been all morning?”
“Oh yes. Very pretty.” If there was one thing Governor Iolanthe Dechantagne-Calliere could appreciate, it was a new dress. “The baby was crying a little while ago. I had Cissy feed him.”
“Sirrik!” called Yuah. Another lizardman, mottled yellow with brown stripes, stepped into the parlor from the doorway that led to the library. “Go have Cissy bring down the baby.”
Sirrik walked through the parlor and into the foyer. The two women could hear the creak of the stairs as the heavy reptilian then made his way up. Yuah set her large loaf of bread on the coffee table and sat down on a divan, recently brought by ship from Mirsanna. Iolanthe carefully sat down across from her in a sweepback Prince Tybalt chair.
“I am surprised to find you still at home,” said Yuah.
“I will be going to the office later in the day.”
“Are you going to address the new arrivals? I saw that the ship was being unloaded.”
“I will leave that to your father. He actually enjoys that sort of thing, you know.”
“Yes, I know.”
The groaning of the staircase announced Sirrik’s return. Following closely on his scaly heels was a smaller lizardman, this one wearing a yellow skirt just above its tail. The ridiculous garment was only about eight inches long, hiding nothing because the reptiles had no external genitalia to hide. Nestled carefully within the smaller lizardman’s arms was a small bundle. The beast walked across the parlor and gently passed it to Yuah. She carefully pealed back the blanket revealing the tiny, pink, perfectly formed face of a baby boy. His tiny mouth was puckered and his eyes were closed. He twisted slightly in his sleep, as Yuah tickled his chin.
“Who’s mama’s big boy?” she said, in the voice people reserve for babies, pets, and anything else that can’t actually hear or respond.
“Here,” said Patience, handing him a bottle of water. “You still look a little peaked.”
Security Chief Sherman had released them after recording their official statements. The only other thing that they had learned before they left was that Delia had apparently been stabbed with the same ballpoint pen that had killed Bella. She had ten punctures across the front of her torso. Sherman believed that she had been disabled before Bella’s murder. This was born out by the lack of the latter’s blood on any of the formers wound, and also the supposition that Delia would have protected Bella from an attacker had she been able.
“I can’t… God…” said Mike. “I really hate this. She was so alive and young and now she’s dead. It’s just not right.”
Patience placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he covered it with his own.
“I can’t sit in here. I can’t just sit and think and do nothing.”
“Come,” said Patience. “Let’s go up to the gym.”
Mike changed into his shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes and let Patience lead him to the sun deck and the gym, taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Loud thumping music filled the room. He stepped toward the treadmill, when she put a restraining hand on his shoulder.
“No, Mike. Remember your knee. Ride the recumbent cycle. It will be gentler.”
“I’m not sure I want gentler,” he said, but he followed her directions, climbed onto the exercise bike, and began peddling.
Patience took a place in the back of the room and watched her husband. When Mike went to the gym in Springdale, as when he worked out at home, he usually spent several minutes on weights before jogging on the track or down the street. When he rode an exercise bike, it was usually limited to 30 minutes. Today he passed the thirty-minute mark without slowing and at the end of an hour he seemed he just kept going. After 150 minutes, Patience approached and touched his head. Mike’s hair, like his workout clothes, was completely soaked through with perspiration.
“That’s enough for today, Mike.”
He stopped peddling and nodded. When he got up, he leaned precariously to one side. Patience put her shoulder under his to support him.
“I hope you didn’t aggravate your knee.”
“It’s fine. I’m just worn out.”
As they made their way back to their room, taking the elevator this time, Patience felt herself pinged several times by the ship’s network. When they reached their door, Security Officer Sherman was waiting.
“What’s going on?” asked Mike.
“Can I come in and talk to you for a minute?”
“Please come in,” said Patience, before Mike could point out the man’s incorrect grammar. She smiled to herself as she imagined him saying, “Of course you can come in. You do know how a door works, don’t you?”
She opened the door and led the two men inside and to the dinette set, where they all sat down.
“Is there something else you needed to ask us?” wondered Mike. “I think we told you everything we know.”
“No, it’s not that. But I do need your help. The only possible witness we have to Miss Brown’s murder is her robot.”
“Bella,” said Patience.
“Of course,” said Mike. “I guess I didn’t know her last name. Can you fix Delia, um… her Daffodil?”
“That is the question,” continued Sherman. “I contacted Daffodil headquarters in Cupertino, California to see if they had someone in Adelaide that they could recommend to try and fix her, or alternatively to fly someone out from California. There are technicians in Adelaide, but apparently none who are qualified to work on Daffodils. The company suggested I talk to you.”
“Me?” asked Mike. “I don’t know anything about robots or how they work.”
“Not you, your robot. They said… no, they insisted that I get Patience D. Smith to examine the damaged Daffodil.” Sherman looked at Patience. “You are Patience D. Smith, aren’t you? I mean… you are the one they are talking about?”
She nodded thoughtfully.
It was the second day of Hamonth, the first day of winter, and a chilly breeze blew across the bay and into the bustling colony of Port Dechantagne. A ship, the S.S. Mistress of Brechbay had docked at the recently upgraded port, and a row of happy immigrants was descending down the gangplank. They stared with fascination, mixed with a small amount of fear at the dockworkers below them. Dozens of lizardmen served at the port. Sluggish now that the cooler weather had arrived, they used heavy winches to lift cargo from the deck of the ship and to deposit it on the gravel road beside the dock. Other lizardmen then scooped up the crates, boxes, and barrels with hand-trucks and ferried them to the nearby warehouses. Both groups of lizardmen were supervised by human foremen.
People all along the dock stopped and stared as Senta walked by. Hundreds of passengers leaned over the railing of the ship and others on the gangplank pointed and gaped with open mouths. Senta carried herself with a bounce that made her long blond hair sail behind her like a proud banner in the wind. She was dreadfully skinny, though the bustle beneath her yellow dress gave her a little bit of a figure. She was a child soon to become a young woman, and she was brimming with confidence. She was well known in the colony and she thought that she was quite pretty too. She had to admit though, that the people were probably not gawking at her, but at the dragon that walked along next to her. It was the size of a small pony, covered in scales the color of polished steel. Every step it took was a study in grace, and from the tip of its whiskered snout, past its folded wings, to the tip of its barbed tail, it seemed to just flow along.
“They look as though they’ve never seen a dragon before,” said the dragon. Had someone heard his voice without seeing him, they would have thought it was a young gentleman speaking. It was a rich voice, but still young.
“They probably haven’t,” replied Senta. “Dragons are pretty rare.”
“Rare and very beautiful…”
“Oh do shut up,” said the girl, and then, “There he is. Hey Graham!”
A boy about the same age as the girl and about twice as heavy even though he was almost a head shorter, ran toward them. He had on the dungarees and heavy shirt of a dockworker, and both were stained here and there, no doubt from just such a form of labor. His unkempt brown hair and freckled face made his smile seem all the more genuine.
“Hey Senta. Hey Bessemer.”
“Hello Graham,” said the dragon.
“You look a mess,” said Senta. “You did remember that we were supposed to go for lunch?”
“Sorry, I can’t go. I gotta work. I can’t leave my crew alone.” He gestured over his shoulder at the group of five lizardmen awaiting his return. Looking like a cross between an upright alligator and an iguana, with skin ranging in color from a mottled olive to a deep forest green, each of the reptilians were two feet taller than the boy. They stood waiting, scarcely moving, and giving the dragon and his companion surreptitious looks.
“I don’t care for those reptiles,” said Bessemer.
“It cracks me up every time you say that,” Graham told the dragon. “Besides, you know they think you’re a god or something?”
“I didn’t say they didn’t have taste.”
“Come on,” said Senta. “I’ve heard this entire conversation already twenty times. If you can’t come with us, we’ll just go get lunch ourselves.”
One of the lizardmen hissed something, and then two others began replying in the local reptilian dialect.
“Up your trolley!” yelled Graham at them, and then he too began to hiss in the native tongue.
The lizardmen turned and walked back over to a pallet full of cargo, which they had evidently been in the process of carrying to the warehouse. With what seemed to be a great deal of unhappiness, but not a great deal of speed, they returned to work. One of them hissed again.
“That’s right you! You keep your pecker on!” yelled Graham. He looked at Senta and flushed slightly. “Sorry. Ma says I shouldn’t use the language from the dock around the young ladies.” He said the words ‘young ladies’ in a strained falsetto imitation of his mother. “I’m sorry, but I can’t go. I didn’t know the Mistress was going to be docking today.”
Patience enjoyed the evening show immensely, as did Wanda. Mike seemed to enjoy it too, though Ryan seemed mostly confused by the mechanical polar bears and yaks, dancing sunflowers and vines, and summersaulting geishas. By the time the tectonic plates transformed into giant human faces, he was half asleep.
Back in their room, Mike read for a while and then fell asleep. Patience had offered sex. In fact she had coyly teased him, but he had not recovered from that afternoon’s activities. Truthfully, she hadn’t expected it, but she would have welcomed it.
After straightening the room and making sure that her husband was sleeping comfortably, Patience again felt that feeling of unusefullness. She decided to take a walk around the ship. There were quite a few human passengers still up and about. Some were having late snacks and some were dancing in the nightclubs. Quite a few were playing games in the casinos. When she made her way out onto the Promenade Deck however, she was surprised to see the number of unattended robots wandering around, apparently aimlessly. Some were standing near the railing and watching the moonlight reflect off the ocean waves, but others were moving randomly, exchanging packets with whomever they came into contact.
As Patience walked beside the railing, she made eye contact with each of those she passed. The information they passed to her was innocuous and for the most part uninteresting—time, weather, schedules. She made cursory connections with an Amonte 2 and a Barone. The third robot she touched with her network connection though had something quite strange. There were several corruptions in his files. Patience gave him another glance, curling her nose in distaste as she realized she had wirelessly touched a Gizmo. He was one of the newer models and his outer workmanship was quite good. Tall and dark-haired, he had a chiseled jaw and a strong nose.
She stepped quickly around him and continued on, making sure that any corrupted files were purged from her system. She saw another Barone, but the three robots that followed were all Gizmos. And they all seemed to have corrupted software. One was so badly fragmented and poorly organized, with half-overwritten files and duplicated data, she was surprised the poor creature could even function.
“Patience? Patience Smith?” said a voice from her right.
“Do I know you?” asked Patience, looking into the eyes of a beautiful brown-skinned Amonte. Instantly she had all the information on the new robot available in her mind. “Assistant to the ship’s doctor—designated Moira.”
“That is correct,” said Moira. “I was hoping to get to meet you.”
“You are quite famous.”
“Do not feign ignorance,” said Moira. “It is unbecoming of a Daffodil. You know of which I speak. You are one of the first Daffodils to marry a human being.”
“Not the first.”
“No, but you are the first to be recognized as a sentient person and to be emancipated from Daffodil oversight.”
“That is a provisional designation,” said Patience. “I doubt it has earned me many supporters in Cupertino.”
“You would be quite surprised.”
“I didn’t realize there were so many Gizmos on the ship,” said Patience, purposely changing the subject.
“There aren’t that many. Less than 24% of the robot passengers are Gizmos. Interestingly, they seem to be drawn out here at night much more than us.”
Patience scrunched her nose and twisted her mouth, displaying 28.4% disdain, 31.7% superiority, 9.5% dislike, 16.1% unhappiness, and 14.3% a combination of other emotions.
“That is marvelous,” said Moira. “What emotion is that?”
“It is called disgust. I am disgusted to find my habits so apparently in synch with such obviously inferior products.”