About wesleyallison

Author of twenty science-fiction and fantasy books, including the popular "His Robot Girlfriend."

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress tops 40,000 DownloadsChapter One: Wherein I encounter the sorceress for the first time.

Antriador is quite a beautiful city. Sitting on the coast of South Lyrria, which is to say the southern coast of that land that used to be the Kingdom of Lyrria but is now a collection of highly competitive city-states, beside azure ocean waves, surrounded by olive trees and vineyards, it is one of the most delightful spots in the world. More important to me was its reputation as a center of the arts, for I am famed adventurer and story-teller Eaglethorpe Buxton. After having held-up all winter at an Inn in Brest, which is to say the country up north, writing a play– a most wonderful play, if I do say so myself, I had come south to Lyrria to produce it. Antriador boasts some sixty playhouses, so I was able to find one that was appropriate, which is to say tasteful enough and yet inexpensive enough for me to lease.

Opening night was wonderful. The playhouse was packed, the upper levels with nobles and wealthy merchants along with their richly dressed wives or their scantily clad mistresses, or sometimes both, and the lower house thronging with commoners who paid two pennies for standing room. My play was a success. Of course, there was never any doubt about that. The actors all did their jobs well. The audience laughed in the right places, sighed in the right places, and wept for joy in the right place for it was after all, a comedy. “The Ideal Magic” was going to secure the fame of Eaglethorpe Buxton, which is to say myself, and make me rich at the same time.

When the stage lights had gone out, and the audience had left the theater, and the stage hands were putting away the sets, I walked down the street to the Singing Siren for a pint. It was very late and most of the patrons had retired, which is to say gone home if they were locals or gone to their rooms on the second or third floor if they had taken rooms, but the Siren stays open all night. That is not to say that it is a noted hot spot. The Fairy Font, or the Reclining Dog, or even the Wicked Wench are much livelier in the late hours. But the Siren does stay open all night. This particular night, there were one or two people lurking in the shadows– doxies and cutpurses who had finished their evening’s employment mostly. I didn’t know the barkeep, which is not surprising, considering the turnover at such establishments. I ordered a tankard of ale and took a seat in the center of the room.

Suddenly the door burst open and a woman strode into the tavern. She was striking. Tall. Blonde. Flashing blue eyes. They were flashing– literally flashing, which is really not normal at all. Of course if her eyes hadn’t been flashing, I wouldn’t have noticed them. There was all that bare skin to distract me. She wore a leather outfit that was more of a harness that an article of clothing. The lower portion was a sort of loose leather skirt made of strips of material which, though hanging down almost to her ankles, exposed most of her legs when she moved. The upper portion was little more than pair of suspenders and two small leather cups.

“Which of you low-lives is Eaglethorpe Buxton?” she snarled.

I stood up and stepped toward her, at this point still more aware of all the bare skin than either the flashing eyes or the glowing wand in her hand.

“What would you have with him, my lovely lady?” I asked.

“I am Myolaena Maetar, and I’m going to skin him alive!” she hissed through clenched teeth.

“I, um, oh. Well, he was here a minute ago,” said I. “You just missed him.”

“You are not him?” She pointed the wand at me, its violet halo hanging just below my nose.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” said I. “I am Ellwood Cyrene, hero and adventurer.”

I had been forced by the situation to think on my feet. When I thought that a sorceress was going to kill me I had, as you have no doubt surmised, substituted my own name, which is to say Eaglethorpe Buxton with another name, which is to say Ellwood Cyrene. I suppose that it is not surprising that this name would pop into my head first, for Ellwood Cyrene is my greatest friend and has traveled much of the world with me. He was in fact, the inspiration for the first dozen or so of my stories. We have faced countless dangers together and I have saved his life more than once. Truth be told, he has saved mine more than once too… or twice. Maybe thirty times.

“What are you thinking about,” asked the sorceress.

“I’m thinking about Eaglethorpe Buxton…”

“Good.”

“… and I’m not thinking about Ellwood Cyrene, because that is me, and I don’t sit around thinking about myself, who is Ellwood Cyrene.”

“Ellwood the Queen?”

“No. Ellwood Cyrene.”

“No,” she said. “Ellwood the queen. That’s what it means. Cyrene is an old elvish world for queen.”

“No, no, no,” said I. “Cyrene is a very manly name, and so is Ellwood, which is good because Ellwood Cyrene is a very manly man. He has done many great… um, which is to say, I have had…um.”

“Yes, I have heard of you.” She lowered the wand and stepped closer. “But you are acquainted with this Eaglethorpe Buxton?”

“Oh, we are the best of friends. He has saved my life on countless occasions and…”

“So if I killed you, it would cause him pain?”

“We’ve had a bit of a falling out. No, we’re not really that close anymore.”

His Robot Girlfriend

Mike Smith’s life was crap, living all alone, years after his wife had died and his children had grown up and moved away. Then he saw the commercial for the Daffodil. Far more than other robots, the Daffodil could become anything and everything he wanted it to be. Mike’s life is about to change.

His Robot Girlfriend is available at the following locations.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 9 Part 2

“Is there something the matter?” asked Miss Treewise.

“Just a headache.”

The headache didn’t go away and by the time lunch came at 11:30 Mike thought his head was going to split open.  He followed the other faculty members out the school’s front door, squinting in the bright sunlight.

“We’re going to Hot Dog Paradise,” said Mr. Franklin, slapping him on the right shoulder.  “Do you want to come along?”

“Maybe…”  Before Mike could get anything more out of his mouth, his own car pulled to a stop in front of him.  Patience rolled down the passenger-side window.

“I have your lunch ready at home,” said Patience, poking her head out.  Mike climbed in, not paying any attention to those watching him from the school parking lot.

Patience drove around the block and pulled into their driveway.  Opening the garage door with the remote, she drove right inside and parked in the shady interior next to the Tesla.  Mike climbed out of the car and stepped through the door into the family room.

“What’s the matter Mike?”  Patience asked.

“I think I’m having an aneurism.”

“Really?”

“No.  But I’ve got a bitch of a headache.”

“Sit down here,” she said, pushing him into his recliner.  “I’ll make you feel better.”

In less than a minute she had unfastened Mike’s pants, completely disrobed herself, and straddled his lap.  And though she did work valiantly to make him feel better, and if he were truly honest about it he would have to admit that he did feel better, he still had that bitch of a headache.  It hadn’t diminished at all.  Mike didn’t tell Patience this.  He just thanked her with a kiss, sat down and ate the lentil soup and strange little salad (with cous cous, bell peppers, dried fruit, and mint leaves) that she had made for him.  Then he had Patience stay home and drove himself back to school.  He arrived back just as his fellow teachers did.

“So, who was that,” asked Miss Treewise.

“That was my girlfriend.”

“Nice,” said Mr. Franklin.  “Did you tell her you were rich?”

“She’s a Daffodil,” said Miss Treewise.

“Really?  She didn’t look like a robot.  You didn’t have any of that trouble we heard about over the summer?”

“Nothing to speak of,” replied Mike, making his way past them and into the school.

Holding on to the side of his head, as if to keep his brains from spilling out his ears, he unlocked his classroom door, opened it, and then relocked it and sat down at his desk.  The rest of the afternoon was devoted, for most teachers, to decorating their classrooms and getting their materials together.  Mike had been in the same classroom for ten years now and had very few changes to make in any case, and he certainly didn’t feel like hanging up posters.

He sat with his head in his hands for about an hour.  Nobody bothered him, but his headache didn’t improve.  Finally he got up and sorted through some of the files he would be using for the first unit he was teaching—Latin America.  He walked copies to the reprographics department to have them scanned for the students’ texTees, rather than sending them directly.  After he had filled out the necessary requisition forms, he looked up at the clock on the wall.  It was nearly a quarter past two.  He was legally required to stay until 2:46 PM, but screw it.  It wasn’t like they were going to fire him two days before the start of school.  He headed out the front door, climbed into the car and drove home.

Patience wasn’t waiting at the door when he came in.  Of course he was earlier than expected.  Climbing the stairs, Mike made his way through his bedroom and into the bathroom, where his opened the medicine cabinet and retrieved the bottle of aspirin there.  As he tossed five or six into his mouth and started chewing, he glanced out the window into the back yard.  Patience was there, wearing her large hat, digging some kind of pit or trench.

Mike sighed and walked back through the bedroom, down the short hall and into his study.  As he stepped through the door, it suddenly hit him.  For a moment he thought he really was having a stroke.  He was seeing things that weren’t there.  Where his desk now sat was a baby crib and across the room where Patience had her own little desk, was a baby changing table. The walls were covered with 8×10 and 11×14 pictures of a happy little blond girl with chubby little pink cheeks and huge eyes.

“Agnes,” Mike whispered, feeling the blood drain from his face.  “Aggie.”

He stepped quickly across the hall to Harriet’s room, but it wasn’t Harriet’s room anymore.  It was the guest bedroom.  Mike moved through it in two steps and threw open the closet, but it was completely empty. He went back to the study and opened the closet door.  The interior had been covered with shelves, now filled with the things that Patience had been buying and selling on eBay—Depression glass dishes, Hummel figurines, Disney memorabilia.  On the floor in the back of the closet were six brown storage boxes.   Mike pulled the first one out and opened it.  It was filled with brochures from family trips, old maps, movie ticket stubs, and pressed flowers.  He pushed it aside and opened the second box.  This box was full of framed pictures.

Lifting the topmost picture frame and examining it, Mike looked into his own eyes. No, not his own eyes; the eyes of a Mike Smith that existed fifteen years ago.  This Mike Smith was looking directly into the camera and smiling the type of smile that said he had everything he ever wanted.  To his right was his wife Tiffany, with her happy grey eyes and that twisted smile that was just a bit too playful to be called a smirk. His almost grown daughter Harriet, with a her hair pulled back and thick glasses hanging from chains like an old time librarian, held onto his left arm, and his teenage son Lucas in his boy scout uniform, stood to his far right.  And in Mike’s arms was a perfect little baby, with chubby cheeks and a smile like Christmas, and just a bit of that soon-to-be awesome blond hair. Aggie.

“Aggie.  How could I forget you?”

He saw it all again, only this time it was a memory and not a dream.  Tiffany was lying on the hospital bed, her body broken and bloody.  Her mangled arm and crushed hips were far more alarming than the tiny bump on her head that had actually killed her.  And just beyond her, on another hospital bed, lay little Aggie.  She was several years older than she appeared in the framed picture—a precious four year-old that would grow no older.

“Traumatic amnesia,” said Patience’s voice from the door.  “The memory of her death was so painful that you took down all the pictures of her and boxed them away.  Then your mind did the same thing to your memories.”

“I remember everything now,” said Mike.  And he did.  He couldn’t stop the flood of memories suddenly rushing around his insides.

“We didn’t even really want another kid.  Harriet and Lucas were almost grown up.  But… nobody in the world knows this but me.  Tiffany had this kink about getting pregnant.  She really got a thrill from the possibility.  Her favorite sex talk was about “getting knocked up”.  Even when she was young, before we met, she hadn’t used birth control.  She was just lucky she hadn’t gotten pregnant before. She never took pills, so after we decided that two kids was enough, I used condoms.  Then after a couple of years, Tiffany wanted to spice things up. She started opening the boxes of condoms as soon as we bought them, and she would poke holes in half of them.  I suppose it was only a matter of time, but it was almost ten years…”

“Before Agnes was born…” offered Patience.

“God, she was perfect.  The cutest baby.  She didn’t even cry.  She used to fall asleep in my arms every night.  As soon as she was able to sit up, I started reading to her every day. Well.  When Harriet was little, I was finishing my masters, and then Lucas came along and I was working two jobs.  I suppose I was so happy to be able to spend time with Aggie.  I guess I gave her all the attention that I had wanted to give the others.  And then she was dead….  Um, the police said that Tiffany was probably bending over to get something, God only knows what, and she veered into the other lane.  Aggie was in her little seat.  Tiffany always buckled her in.  But… well, it was a head on.”

Patience put her hand on Mike’s shoulder, but he pulled away and stood up.

“I want to put these pictures back up,” he said.

“I know where they all go,” said Patience.  Mike looked at her.  “I saw pictures in the scrapbooks that show them hanging.”

Mike nodded and walked out of the room.  He went downstairs and climbed into the car.  Pulling out of the driveway and steering his way to the end of the block, he wasn’t conscious of his destination, but something down inside him knew where to go.  He turned into the cemetery and drove very slowly to the southeast corner, parking a short distance from Tiffany’s grave.  He got out, leaving the car door hanging open, and walked across the newly mowed grass.  He briefly brushed off Tiffany’s marker and then moved on to that other grave.  He dropped down to sit next to the tiny little angel statue which wore a nightgown and held a flower in her left hand, her right hand raising a handkerchief to her eye.  Agnes Winnie Smith.  2016-2021.

Mike lay back on the grass next to the little grave.  And he cried.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 9 Part 1

Mike woke up the next morning feeling uneasy.  Patience was not there.  He gingerly sat up and climbed out of bed.  When he found out that he couldn’t reach the closet while still connected to the monitoring wires, he peeled them off and hobbled across the room, retrieved his clothes, and got dressed.  It gave him a strange sense of satisfaction that he was almost dressed before any of the nurses came to check on his apparent cardiac arrest.  He waved off their angry comments.  However the last laugh was on him.  They made him wait hours before he could check out.

Lying back on the bed, now fully dressed, Mike turned on the vueTee with the remote.  Tania Marquez’s face appeared on the screen.  The vueTee was smaller than the one that Mike had in his family room and made the newscasters famous mole appear much smaller than it did at home. The story that Miss Marquez was in the midst of reporting immediately caught Mike’s attention.

“…of Daffodil Amonte models in at least two hundred cases.  Federal agents raided the Daffodil corporate headquarters, seizing computer files and other records as well as a number of undelivered robots.  More as this story develops.  In related news, stocks of the Cupertino-based robot manufacturer fell sixteen percent or nineteen and two thirds, while the stock of rival Gizmo fell four percent or five ninety three per share.”

At that moment Patience bounced into the room.  She wore a stretchy black top that bared most of her chest at the top and had an oval keyhole opening around her naval.  She also wore a tiny pair of black shorts.  At the bottom of her long legs was a pair of chunky cork shoes that had to be at least seven inches high with the platform.  She looked at the vueTee screen and shook her head.

“Yes, I know,” said Mike.  “Anti-robot.”

“There have already been cases of people attacking robots across the country, and hundreds of listings for personal robots have gone up on eBay in the last twenty four hours.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that.  I would never sell you.”

“I know that Mike.  Still, I can’t help imagining how terrible those robots must feel to know that they aren’t wanted anymore.”

When Mike was finally checked out, he exited the hospital front entrance via wheelchair feeling a very strong sense of déjà vu.  Unlike the last time that he left the hospital though, he felt as though he really needed the wheelchair.  With his left leg and left arm in a cast and a thick wrapping of bandages around his middle, it was quite an effort just to get into the passenger side of the car.

Once back at home, Patience helped Mike into the house and sat him down in his recliner in the family room.  All damage that resulted from attack of the robot imposter had been repaired with the exception of the piano, now little more than a pile of rubble sitting against the wall.

“I wanted to have everything back in order before you came home,” said Patience. “But I don’t think my carpentry skills are up to repairing a piano and the music store said they only tune them.”

“I think we should just push it out front for the recycle man,” said Mike.  “I only bought that because… one of the kids… that’s funny.  I can’t remember which of the kids was taking piano lessons.  In any case, it’s not as if it was a family heirloom or anything.”

The next morning when he made his way into the family room, Mike found the piano had been removed and a decorative room divider was in its place. He plopped into his chair and pulled the lever to raise his feet up.  Then he clicked on the vueTee.  The scene that came to life on the screen was a press conference at the Department of Energy.

“…for everyone to know that their robots are safe and that this was a single occurrence of malicious programming.  The entire incident involves a group of programmers at Daffodil who were using the Amonte model robots to gather information on their owners. This information was then used in a complex identity theft scam.  It was only when a small number of the robots refused to send personal information on their owners that the plan began to unravel.  The scammers first attempted to reprogram the robots in question, but this caused a fault, shutting them down, and bringing the unwanted attention of other Daffodil programmers.  Finally in a last ditch effort to cover up their illegal activities, the scammers tried to replace the Amonte models with identical robots, but this failed in most cases, as the poorly programmed replacements malfunctioned and the original robots refused to return to the factory.”

“How many people have been affected by the identity theft?” asked a reporter.

“Everyone who owns an Amonte model Daffodil should take steps to secure their banking and credit accounts.”

“But those who own the Amonte models that refused to send the information did not have their personal information compromised?” asked another reporter.

“While that seems to be the case, the Department of Energy recommends that all owners of Daffodil Amonte robots take measures to ensure that their personal information is secure.”

Mike jumped a bit when Patience appeared at his elbow with a slice of pumpkin bread and a glass of milk.  He turned off the vueTee and then accepted the breakfast.

“What’s the matter?” asked Patience.

“Hmm?”

“I would have thought that you would have been gratified to learn what was behind my service disruption, not to mention the attack by the imposter. Instead you have the look on your face that usually accompanies disappointment.”

“I guess I am a little disappointed,” said Mike.

“Why?”

“Well… I got the crap beat out of me.  And it was all for identity theft.  I thought it would be something bigger.”

“It was a very large identity theft scam.”

“Yes, but I thought it would be… international terrorism or world domination. You know; something fantastic.”

“In all fairness, how much world domination do you suppose could be achieved by placing a mole in the home of a middle school Geography teacher?  It’s not as if you were the Governor of California or the head of Cisco Systems.”

“That’s twice you made a comment like that,” said Mike defensively. “Teachers change lives, you know.”

“I know you do.”  Patience patted him on the shoulder and then headed off for the kitchen.

The news stories about the Daffodil Conspiracy as it came to be known continued for a few days, but then disappeared.  The excitement of the Olympics and the ever-present war pushed everything else out of the headlines.  At the beginning of August Mike received a letter in the mail from Daffodil asking for a list of damages to his home and a copy of medical bills. Patience gathered the information together and sent it by courier.  A week later, a copy of the police report arrived.  Mike didn’t bother reading it.  He just had Patience file it away.

The end of August meant the start of school, and thankfully Mike was fully healed by the time he had to return.  He had spent so much time in his chair with his foot up, that he was actually happy to go back to work, if only to get out of the house.  The first schoolday, he walked to Midland in the morning, and was surprised that upon his arrival, he wasn’t at all out of breath.

The school faculty held the first of a series of back to school meetings in the library.  The teachers filed in one after another and sat down in chairs around the hexagonal library tables.  Mike sat down at an empty table, but four of the five remaining chairs were quickly filled by Mrs. Cartwright, Miss Treewise, Mr. Franklin, and Miss Fine.

“You look very nice Mr. Smith,” said Mrs. Cartwright.

“I do?”

“Yes you do,” said Mr. Franklin.  “You’ve lost weight, right?”

“Yeah, I guess I did.”

“I didn’t think you looked thinner,” said Miss Fine.  “I see now that you are.  I just thought you looked younger.”

“Really.”

Mrs. Cartwright nodded.

“You do look younger,” admitted Mr. Franklin.  “Of course, you’re still really old.”

“Thanks.  That’s very nice.”

“If you are interested in seeing your class rosters, you can pull them up on your texTees,” said the Assistant Principal.  “It won’t be a surprise to anyone that class sizes are larger than last year.”

Mike pulled his texTee out of his attaché case and began navigating through the menus until he found the file to download from the school’s server.  Forty seven kids in first hour.  Thirty nine in second.  Forty two in third.  Forty five in fourth.  Forty four in fifth.  He scanned through the last names in first period.  He recognized seven or eight as the younger siblings of children he had taught the year before or the year before that.  Then he looked through the first names: Elizabeth, Justine, Jason, Bradley, Agnes, Jonathan, Quadear, Robert, Remembrance, Marshall, Agnes, Catherine, Mildred, Michael, Aaron, Agnes…. A pain shot through the right side of Mike’s head.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 8 Part 2

“She has your face,” said Mike.

“She’s like a Borg,” said Patience with a snarl.

She got up from her kneeling position and stepped over to where the lifeless Patience was lying. Bending down, she grasped the artificial flesh around the robots chin and pulled, pealing it away from the white Teflon robot skeleton beneath it.

“She doesn’t have my face now,” she said, her voice full of venom.

Mike tried to move his leg and gasped in pain as he felt two broken bone ends rubbing together.

“I have to get you to a hospital, Mike.”

“No hospital.  Never again. You can take care of me.  Just take me up to the bed.”

“That’s not going to work,” said Patience.  “I think you are going to need surgery.  You have multiple fractures.”

“Son of a bitch.  I hate the hospital.”

“Let me take you to the hospital.  As soon as the doctors have repaired you, I’ll bring you home so that you don’t have to stay in a hospital room while you recuperate.”

“Fair enough,” said Mike.

Patience was extremely gentle as she transferred Mike to the passenger seat of the car.  Despite this care, the movement caused him extreme pain.  He later found out that he had three broken ribs, multiple fractures of his tibia and fibula in his left leg and a broken radius and ulna in his left arm.  Most of these bones required an arthroscopic surgical component to properly set, but he wasn’t taken directly to surgery.  Instead he spent the rest of the day and the entire night in the emergency room.  The following morning he was taken to an operating room where he was given a shot that warmed his entire body.  The anesthesiologist placed a mask over his mouth and told him to count backwards from one hundred.  He was unconscious before reached ninety eight.

“He will probably be groggy for quite a while,” said a far away voice.

“I’m not groggy,” Mike said.  “I’m wide away.”

This was followed by the sound of laughter.  He had to struggle to pry his eyes open, but at last he did.  He could see the backside of a nurse as she left the room, and then his eyes focused on Harriet and Patience sitting to either side of his bed.  Patience looked just as she had when she had brought him to the hospital.  She even had on the same clothes.  Harriet’s face looked tired and drawn.

“Patience has got to stop calling you to the hospital,” said Mike, looking at his daughter.

“Perhaps you could stop getting beat up, so my presence wouldn’t be needed.”

A man in a brown suit entered through the open hospital room doorway and stopped beside Mike’s bed.  He pulled a wallet from his vest pocket and flipped it open so that both an identification card and a badge were visible.  As he did so, Mike could see an automatic pistol in a shoulder holster.

“Special Agent Waters, Department of Energy,” he said.  “Are you Mike Smith?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’m part of the joint task force investigating the robot attacks.”

“Attacks?”

“Yes, yours was just one of many.  I take it you didn’t see the news yesterday.  Watch it tonight.  There isn’t really much that I can tell you right now.  We’re still gathering information.”

“But there were other berserk robots?” asked Mike.  Patience made a face at him.

“Yes.  There were nearly two hundred attacks by Daffodil Amontes around the country.  I need to take the robots into evidence.”

“It wasn’t Patience, I mean my Daffodil.  It was another robot that looked just like her.”

“Yes, they all seem to have been duplicates.  Where is it?”

“It’s on the floor of my family room.”

“Is there someone who could let me into your house?  As I said, it’s evidence.”

“Sure,” said Mike.

“I’d like to take your robot as well.”

“Absolutely not.  Over my almost dead body.  I’m not letting anyone take her.”

“I don’t blame you,” said Waters, glancing at Patience.  “I would appreciate then if I could download the Biosoft files.”

“Is that all right with you Patience?” asked Mike.

Patience nodded.

Waters took a small data-plug out of his pocket and stepped over to where Patience sat on the side of Mike’s bed.  Patience lifted up her long straight black hair, exposing the three small holes in the back of her neck.  Waters stuck the end of the device in the left-most hole.  He waited a minute or so and then withdrew it.

“I’d like to pick up the other robot as soon as possible,” he said.

“I suppose Patience can go and let you in,” said Mike.

“I’ll do it,” offered Harriet, then turning to her father.  “Then I’m going home and get some rest if you don’t mind.”

“Get some rest Sweetie,” said Mike, as Harriet kissed him on the cheek and then left with Agent Waters.

“Are you all right?” he asked Patience.

She nodded.

“You looked very scary there, when you were fighting the other…”

“Imposter,” offered Patience.  “When I saw her hurting you, it made me very angry.”

“Well, this is all very queer,” said Mike.  “I’ll be glad when they figure out what’s going wrong.  It’s one thing for a robot to go crazy, but for robot duplicates to just show up out of nowhere…  It looks like someone is plotting to take over the world with Daffodils.”

“Do you suppose a plan to take over the world would start with a middle school Geography teacher?”

Mike shot her a dirty look.  “Well, as I said, it’s just queer.”

“I hope it doesn’t make people anti-robot.”

“You know if you were a person, I would say that you were a little bit paranoid about the whole anti-robot thing.”

Just then a phone rang.  Mike instinctively looked toward the hospital phone on the side of the bed, even though he could tell by the ring tone that it was his own phone.  Patience pulled it out of the tiny little black purse that she had hanging on the back of a nearby chair.

“Hello.  Yes, hello Lucas.  Of course you may speak to your father.  One moment please.”  Patience handed Mike the phone.

“Dad, listen very carefully and do what I tell you.”

“Okay.”

“Tell Patience to go upstairs or something, then get your keys and get out of the house as quickly as you can.”

“Lucas.”

“No Dad.  Listen. You’ve got to get away from her.”

“Have you been watching the news, Son?”

“You’re damn right I have.  Dad, people are being killed by their Daffodils.”

“It’s imposter robots who are doing the damage,” explained Mike.  “We’ve already been through that here and the police are picking up the rogue robot right now.  Patience kicked its ass.”

“And you’re all right?”

“I’m fine.  Don’t worry.”

“That’s a relief.  I was working and one of my buddies told me what was on the news.  I ran to the vueTee and caught the last two minutes of the story.”

“Well, I’m fine,” said Mike again.

“Good.  Well then, I’ll get back to work.”

“Do that and don’t worry.  Bye.”

Mike pressed the button to terminate the call and looked up into Patience’s questioning eyes.

“You’re wondering why I didn’t tell him the whole story—about ending up in the hospital and all?”

Patience nodded.

“I could say that I didn’t want to worry him, but mostly it’s because I’m feeling really tired all of a sudden and I want to sleep.”

“That’s a good idea.  You need to recover.”

“And I want you to stay right here while I do.  The way things are going I might need you to protect me.  And I want to make sure nothing happens to you either.”

“That’s very sweet, Mike,” Patience said as she began to tuck him into bed. By the time she was finished, he was asleep.

Mike rolled over to look at the bed next to him.  Tiffany was lying there.  There was blood all over her, but it wasn’t flowing.  It was all just one big scarlet stain.  He looked at her arm.  It was mangled and torn.  The blood should have been pouring out, but it wasn’t.  Her legs looked as though someone had twisted them completely around, so that her feet still pointed in the same direction that her hips did, but everything in between was wrong.

“This is another dream,” said Mike.  “This is another dream about that night eleven years ago.  This isn’t real.”

Harriet burst into the room.  “Aggie!”

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 8 Part 1

The week following Lucas’s visit was relatively uneventful.  The Olympics began in Surat and Mike spent as much time as possible watching them.  He wasn’t much of a sports fan, but the Olympics were different.  You didn’t get to watch weightlifting, kayaking, and water polo any other time.  Mike’s favorites though were the track and field events, and those wouldn’t be held until the following weeks.  On Friday he got up with the expectation of watching beach volleyball and equestrian events in the morning and swimming in the evening.

He woke up at eight, shaved, and then showered.  When he climbed out of the shower, he was mildly surprised not to find Patience waiting with a towel in one hand and breakfast in the other. But it was not as if he didn’t have a towel.  There was one right there on the rack.  After he had dried off he stepped on the scales.  He had already lost ten more pounds.  Looking through the closet he found a new pair of khaki pants, a new brown belt, and new brown shoes.  He put them on along with a light blue camp shirt, and then went skipping down the stairs to the kitchen.

He found Patience at the kitchen counter, putting the finishing touches on what looked like Eggs Florentine.  She was wearing gauzy, sky blue teddy that barely covered her perfect ass. It wasn’t that she didn’t look good in it.  She would have made a cardboard box or a barrel look good.  It was just it didn’t quite seem like Patience’s style.  When Mike approached her, Patience turned and wrapped her arms around him and kissed him deeply.  This too was not quite normal.  She usually gave him a quick kiss before breakfast.

“What’s all this about?”

“I have made you a delicious breakfast, Dearest.”

“Dearest?  You’ve never called me that before.”

“If you don’t want to be called ‘Dearest,’ then I will not call you that.”

“Well, I don’t know.  It’s fine, I guess.”

Mike sat down and ate.  Breakfast didn’t quite seem right either.  Patience immediately began cleaning up after herself, a task she usually saved until after the meal, preferring to sit with Mike while he ate. The food, while delicious, was far richer than the health-conscious meals that she usually prepared.  Mike finished only about half before he was full. As Patience gathered his dishes, he walked into the living room and turned on the vueTee.  He flipped through the browser to the Daffodil site. Pressing the small flower symbol at the bottom of the screen brought the man in the blue jumpsuit onto the screen.

“Good morning,” said the man.  “This is Daffodil Tech Support.  For a list of known issues, press one.  For an automatic diagnosis of your problem, press two.  To be contacted by a Tech Support representative, press three.”

Mike pressed one.  Just as he had on the previous time that Mike had checked the tech support page, the blue clad man on the screen was replaced by a long list of text.  The topmost line this time said “minor software upgrade”. Mike moved the curser over this line and pressed.

“A small service software update was pushed through the InfiNet 05:25 7.12.32,” said the next screen.  “A small percentage of Amonte models may experience slight behavioral quirks. This is a known issue.”

Mike touched the screen to turn off the vueTee.  When he turned back around, he was startled to find Patience’s face only a few inches from his.

“Is there a problem?” she asked.

“I was just checking on something,” replied Mike.  “Are you having a problem?”

Rather than answer Patience punched him in the stomach, so hard that he was doubled over with all of the wind knocked from his lungs.  Then she grabbed a fist full of his hair with her left hand and bent his head back, so that he was looking up into her right fist as it slammed into his face.  Blood fountained from Mike’s nose and he felt his head smack on the living room floor.

“Christ, Patience!  What the fuck…?”

Patience cut off Mike’s exclamations by stomping on his mid-section with her bare foot, once again knocking the air from him.  Then she clasped the front of his shirt and lifted it and him up into the air as easily as he could have lifted an empty shirt. She looked into his wide eyes.

“You didn’t need to check anything at all,” she said.

She threw him against the wall. The edge of the arch between family room and living room dug into Mike’s back and his head whiplashed into the wall.  He thought he could feel blood running down the back of his neck as well as down his face.  Something in that download must have scrambled Patience’s brain. She was a robot gone berserk!

Mike knew he had to get away, but Patience stood between him and the front door. He made a dive into the family room, thinking that he could cut around into the kitchen and out the back door. Before he had gone more than two steps, Patience caught him by the back of the neck and threw him across the family room.  He hit the far wall so high up that he landed on top of the upright piano.  He crashed down first upon its top, then rolled down to hit the keyboard, rolling again down onto the wooden piano stool, and then finally to the floor.

Mike looked up just in time to see Patience crossing the room toward him. With every ounce of his strength, he kicked out, making contact with her right leg just below the knee.  Though this attack would have shattered the tibia (and if the weight was just right, the fibula too) of any human, Patience took no notice, and with her left leg, kicked him viciously in the side.  Mike flopped over onto his back, and thought that he could feel several broken ribs spearing his internal organs.  He was sure now that he was about to die.

Then from the corner of his eye, Mike saw a figure moving across the living room.  Patience kicked him in the side.  He rolled over.  He looked again toward the archway.  From his new position on his back, everything he was seeing appeared upside down. Standing at the entrance to the family room was Patience.  Another Patience.  She was dressed in shorts and top and her pink wedge sandals made her look about seven feet tall.  Even from upside-down, the look of fury on this second Patience’s face was frightening to behold.

“Shit,” thought Mike.  “The first one was killing me and she wasn’t even angry.  What’s the pissed-off one going to do to me?”

It seemed to Mike, lying on the floor, that the second Patience simple flew like Supergirl, but his brain corrected him.  She had dived across the room into the first Patience, and the two of them crashed past him into the piano.  Mike closed his eyes and tried to get up, but it seemed that his family room had suddenly turned into a vacuum.  He couldn’t manage to suck any air into his lungs.  He lost consciousness for a moment, but returned amid fire and white light when one of the Patiences rolled over him.  He closed his eyes and willed himself to roll up into a ball, but his body made no attempt to follow his directions.

In the meantime the two women, identical in everything but their apparel and perhaps purpose, fought.  They made no shouts or curses or cries.  They did not speak, though there was plenty of sound.  When one picked up the piano and hit the other with it.  When one shoved the face of the other through the wall of the family room and into the living room.  When one kicked the other’s body so high that it broke off three of the four blades on the ceiling fan.  Mike thought about trying to crawl out the front door, but again his body failed him, and he lapsed into unconsciousness once more.

When he opened his eyes again, Mike was looking up into Patience’s face.  At first he tried to pull away, but her beautiful, smiling eyes told him that it had all been a horrible dream.  Then he took a deep breath and felt the burning in his chest and realized that it hadn’t been a dream at all.  Looking around the room without moving his head, he thought idly that the room resembled the video of those homes hit by Hurricane Kirk.  Patience gently brushed his face with her hand.

“Are you all right, Mike?”

“What happened?”

“It was an imposter,” she replied.  “She must have come in when I was gone.”

“Where were you anyway?”

“There was a small service software update this morning.  It told me to return to the Daffodil warehouse.”

“Where’s that?”

“Cupertino.”

“You couldn’t have gone all the way there?”

“No.  I got in the car and drove several miles before I decided to disregard that directive.”

“You just disregarded it?”

“Yes.  But since I was already out, I decided to go to the grocery store and buy a Cornish game hen for your dinner.”

“That was nice,” said Mike, wincing.  “You know I kissed her.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Mike,” said Patience.  “You didn’t know that she wasn’t me.”

Mike found that he could move his neck without too much pain, and turned to look at the body of the woman now lying on the floor not far away from him. There was little left of her gauzy blue teddy.  Her leg and arm were bent at odd angles, but there was no blood anywhere.  Her eyes were open and looking up at the ceiling, still without any apparent malice or anger.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 7 Part 2

“And across the hall here is the study,” said Mike.  “We’re still working on it.  I’ve got my old desk over there.  Patience is setting up her own desk right over here.”

“What does she need a desk for?”

“She’s making a bit of extra money selling old junk on eBay.”

“She’s not selling my Star Wars action figures, is she?”

“Of course not,” assured Mike.  “Those aren’t worth anything anyway.  You should have sold them back when everybody was still collecting them.”

“They have sentimental value,” said Lucas.

“They’re boxed up down in the garage.”

“Well, I see you have a new wriTee,” said Lucas.  “What are you doing with it?”

“I’ve finally started that book I was always planning to write… about school. It’s coming along pretty well too. I’ve spent more time in this room in the past two weeks than I ever spent here.  I don’t even know why we had an extra bedroom.”

“Sure you do, Dad,” said Lucas, with a strange look on his face.

Half an hour later, father and son and robot were seated around the dining room table overlooking a lovely meal of spiced chicken, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and Caesar salad. Both men ate heartily but Patience as usual, had only water.

“So, what are your plans this week,” Mike asked his son.

“I’m going to take a couple of days and visit friends, and I figure I’ll take Harriet and Jack out to dinner at least once, but other than that I don’t have any firm plans.  Would you like to do something together?  We could have a bit of fun.”

“Patience was just saying that we should go to Knott’s Berry Farm or something.”

“That would be fine,” said Lucas.

“I know,” said Mike.  “I suddenly know.  We should go to the La Brea tar pits.”

“Seriously?” asked Lucas.

“Yes.  I’ve never been.  I wanted to take you kids when you were little, but I always got outvoted.  We went to Disneyland or Universal Studios instead.”

“Well all right.  We could go to the La Brea tar pits.  They’re not just tar pits, right?”

“Of course not,” said Mike.  “There’s a museum with extinct animals that got stuck in the tar.  You know, I’ve wanted to go to the La Brea tar pits since I was a kid and I even had a Viewmaster reel of it.”

“Well damn it,” said Lucas.  “We’ll just have to go.”

Two days later Patience was pulling off Interstate 10 and driving toward the George Page Museum.  The entrance to the parking lot was easily found, though a parking space was not. Two spots at the very far edge of the lot were the only ones with no cars already in them.

“This place is more popular than I thought it would be,” said Lucas.  “I guess fossils are quite a draw.”

“I think most of the people are here to see that,” said Mike, pointing to a large yellow and red banner stretching above the far end of the parking lot.  It read, “The Army of Qin Shi Huang” and featured the image of Chinese face sculpted of grey clay.

“Oh yeah.  I heard they were touring the country.  I just didn’t know they were here.”

“I didn’t remember either.  They came to the U.S. just before the war started: one of the benefits of our close military alliance.”

Most of the visitors to the area were indeed going next door to the exhibit of some 2,200 year old terra-cotta warriors.  The Page Museum, with its many fossils of Columbian mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, and saber-toothed tigers was almost deserted. Patience, Mike, and Lucas spent several hours examining the exhibits and reading the informational plaques, before going out to the large pink dome that covered the tar pits themselves.  Just inside the door of the structure was a stand selling Dippin’ Dots, so Mike purchased some for himself and his son, then they looked down upon the black pond of oozing tar.

“It’s not very big, is it?” said Lucas.  “I wonder how all those animals got in there.”

“If only one or two large animals were trapped in the tar each year that would account for all of them” replied Patience.  “Animals have been getting trapped here for 30,000 years.”

“Well, there won’t be any more trapped now that they’ve got this dome over it,” said Mike.

“Don’t be so sure.”  Lucas pointed to a spot several feet from the edge of the black pool.  A lizard, apparently now dead, had already been sucked halfway below the viscous surface.

Two blocks away from the tar pit and its museum was an Olive Garden, so Mike decided that this would be their lunch destination.  The parking lot was full, so Patience had to park in a spot along the street half a block away.  Mike looked at the three digits on the thermometer and rolled his eyes, but the two men walked the distance without becoming too overheated.  Of course Patience had no problem with the temperature.

The robot receptionist in the restaurant was a much more attractive and life-like model than those used in the fast food places.  She was obviously a jazzier model Gizmo, but she still had that tinny voice.  She took their names without needing to write them down, gave them a house phone, and handed each of them a quarter liter bottle of water.  Mike stuck the phone in his pocket and they headed for the waiting area.

“Let’s stop and wash our hands,” said Lucas, handing his water bottle to Patience for her to hold.  “Who knows what wooly mammoth germs we have on us?”

When they stepped into the men’s room, he turned to his father.

“You don’t treat her like a robot, Dad.”

“Well, she doesn’t seem like a robot, does she?”

“No, I have to admit she doesn’t.  It’s easy to forget she is one until she says something that’s not quite the way a person would say it, or she moves in a way that seems somehow mechanical.”

“Does how I treat her bother you?” asked Mike.

“Yes.  No. Well, maybe.”

Mike cocked his brow.

“I don’t know, Dad,” said Lucas.  “Maybe I would be bothered to see you with anybody.  I know that’s wrong, but that’s how it is.  I guess in a strange way, it bothers me less for you to have a robot than it would if you were going to get remarried.”

“What if I had a robot and I got remarried too?”

“I guess I’d just have to deal with it, wouldn’t I?”  Lucas laughed.  “She’d have to be a really understanding woman to let you keep Patience.  I don’t think there is a woman in existence who would be that… patient.”

Lucas stepped up to the urinal while Mike put his hands beneath the automatic sensor of the faucet.

“Interestingly enough, I almost married Patience.”

“Shit!”

“What’s the matter?”

“I almost peed on myself.”  Lucas moved over to stand at the sink next to the one his father was standing at.  “What do you mean you ‘almost married Patience’?”

“When we were in Vegas, I decided we would get married, so we went to the county government building, but they wouldn’t sell us a license.”

“No, they wouldn’t, would they.  You can’t marry a robot.”

“Why not?”

A phone rang and Mike reached into his pocket, pulling his out and looking at it. Then he stuffed it back in his pocket and reached into the other pocket to pull out the house phone.

“Our table is ready.”

They stepped back out into the lobby to find Patience waiting for them.

“I hope your hands are immaculately clean by this time,” she said.

“Um,” said Lucas.  “We had certain bodily functions we needed to take care of.”

“She knows we were talking,” said Mike.  “She could hear everything.”

“I didn’t listen,” said Patience.  “The bathroom is usually considered private.”

“You could hear if you wanted to though?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, that’s another thing.”  Lucas grabbed his father by the shoulder.  “What about privacy?”

“Our table’s ready.  Come on.”

They followed Patience and the greeter, who had already made their way through the dining room to their assigned seat.  Once they were seated, they were handed a menu and Mike began to look over the many pasta possibilities.

“I feel like linguini.”

“What about privacy?” asked Lucas.

“I don’t see it on the menu.”

“I’m serious.”  He turned to Patience.  “You’re connected to the InfiNet aren’t you?”

She nodded.

“What kind of information are you sending out?”

“I would never send out any information that would be harmful to Mike.”

“And you can make the decision as to what is harmful and what isn’t?”

“She only sends out what I tell her to,” said Mike.

“Are you sure?” asked his son.  “This isn’t like the old computers, where the only information on it is what you typed in. Think about it.  She’s living with you.  She hears and she sees everything.  She has huge amounts of data flowing around in her electronic brain.  How much of that is sent out that she might not even be aware of.”

“I am aware of everything,” said Patience.  “Literally every bit of data.”

“All right, that’s enough now,” said Mike.  “Let’s order our food and enjoy a nice meal together.”

They ordered and ate their meal.  Mike had linguini with cheese sauce, while Lucas ate chicken parmesan. Patience drank water.  Though they talked a bit about the museum and the tar pits and they talked about Italian food, the conversation seemed muted compared to earlier in the day.

Lucas stayed for the rest of the week at his father’s house, though he used it for little more than a place to sleep.  During the day he visited friends and he spent two days with Harriet and Jack. Mike spent his evening watching the Democratic National Convention.  The day before he left, Lucas spent several hours with Mike.  The talked quite a bit about politics, but they didn’t discuss Patience or the question of personal security.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 7 Part 1

The remainder of June shot by.  Each day Mike got up and showered, to find a warm dry towel waiting for him.  This was followed by breakfast, which he had gotten used to.  Mike began to follow Patience’s example and usually did a bit of light home improvement work before lunch, but as the month progressed and it became far too hot to work outside, he thought more and more about doing some writing.  He would write a book about his experiences as a teacher. On Monday the twenty-first he cleaned up the desk that had been sitting unused in the south bedroom and went to Wal-Mart to purchase a new wriTee, which he quickly set up.  Within a few days, he had the first chapter of his book done, though after that it became more of a strain to remember all the stupid things that the kids at school had said or done.  Afternoons were almost always a time for relaxation in front of the vueTee.  Evenings had used to be the same, but right about the time that Mike began working on his book, Patience began dragging him out after dinner.  They went to the movie theater, the city event center to listen to the philharmonic, and even went dancing.  Mike couldn’t dance, but as with everything else Patience was programmed and ready to go and she guided Mike through it.

For her part, Patience didn’t really have any down time.  She went to bed with Mike, but within an hour or so after he had fallen asleep, she was back up.  She used the night time hours to clean and maintain the house and by the middle of the month there wasn’t a spot anywhere that the most fastidious person wouldn’t have been happy to eat off of.  This left the daytime hours free so that she could take care of Mike’s every needs.  She waited upon him.  She served as his accountant, personal trainer, and expert chef.  She was mother, friend, concubine, confidant, and upon occasion taskmaster.

On the thirtieth, which was a Wednesday, Mike stood on the scale at the gym and marveled that he had lost sixteen pounds.  Actually he was marveling that he had lost only sixteen pounds, because he thought that he looked at least thirty pounds lighter. It was he supposed, because muscle weighed so much more than fat, and he was putting on a bit of the former as he was losing the latter.  He flexed his arm to make his bicep bulge and smiled to himself.

He and Patience climbed back into the car and returned home.  A nice hot shower awaited him and he didn’t take long before climbing into it.  He had his head bent down beneath the steaming spray, when he heard Patience outside the shower door.

“What do you think about going to Knott’s Berry Farm?” she asked.

“Why?”

“This 150-acre theme park has many exciting rides like the Jaguar, Montezuma’s Revenge and Calico Thunder as well as many fun attractions like the Buffalo Nickel Arcade, Camp Snoopy, and the Mystery Lodge.”

“Are you reading a brochure?” asked Mike, sticking his face out of the shower door.

“I memorized the ad on the vueTee.”

“Why do you want to go to Knott’s Berry Farm?”

“It is not that I want to go.  I thought you might like to go.”

“I took the kids when they were little,” Mike said, as he climbed out of the shower and took the towel that Patience held in her hand.  “I don’t think I would want to go now.  Besides, last time I went, I didn’t fit in half of the ride restraints.  If I was going to go somewhere, I’d… I don’t know.”

“June is over,” said Patience.  “You have less than a month and a half before you have to return to school.  We should do something that you would enjoy.”

“All right, let me think about it for a while.”  Mike went upstairs to his den and began typing away, writing down as many anecdotes about school as he could recall.

Around noon Patience arrived at Mike’s elbow with his lunch.  She had constructed a near perfect club sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread and arrayed it on the plate with a cup of tomato salad.  A large diet Pepsi accompanied it.  He had no sooner accepted the tray and opened his mouth to thank her, when the front door bell rang.  She turned and bounced out of the room.  A moment later he could hear a conversation going on downstairs, though not the words. He also heard the door to the garage opening and a few minutes later, closing.  Mike didn’t get up to see what was going on because he already knew. For the past week, the FedEx man had arrived every single day with boxes of merchandise that Patience had bought on eBay.  She usually had at least one package going out too.  A few minutes later she entered the study carrying a very large and very heavy looking box.

“What is that?” he asked.

“It’s a desk,” said Patience.

“I don’t need a new desk.  This one works just fine.”

“It’s not for you, Mike.  It’s for me.”

“What do you need a desk for?”

“I’m going to use it when I keep track of my shipping and sales.  I’m going to get a little vueTee and set it up here too, so that I can buy and sell on eBay right from here.  Then I’m going to set up shelves in this closet and store my smaller merchandise right here.  I can continue to keep the bigger things in the garage.”

“All right.”

Patience tore the end of the box open and began pulling out pieces of a black and white, assemble it yourself desk.  She was still examining the parts that she had pulled from the box, when the doorbell rang again.

“Don’t get up,” Mike said.  “I’ll get it.”

He skipped down the stairs to the front door and opened it.  A tall man in a green army uniform stood at the steps. Mike stared at him for a moment and then stepped outside to clasp him around the shoulders.

“General Smith!  How are you?”

“Dad, you know I could get court-martialed for impersonating a general. Why don’t you let me in?  It’s got to be 400 degrees out here.”

Mike leaned back and looked at the thermometer just inside the door.  “Not a bit over 148.  Come on in.  Why didn’t you tell me you were coming, Lucas?”

“I wanted it to be a surprise.”

Mike closed the door and ushered his son into the living room.  Lucas was a younger taller version of his father. His hair was shorter and thicker, but already had the trademark Smith grey temples.  He cut a fine figure in his uniform with four stripes on each sleeve.

“How long are you staying for?” asked Mike.

“I’ve got a week.  I could stay with Harriet if you’d rather.”

“Don’t be silly.  I’m turning your room into an exercise room, but Patience has made a really nice guest bedroom out of Harriet’s old room.  I’m really glad you showed up.  I was just starting to get bored.”  He paused. “They’re not sending you to Antarctica, are they?”

“No.”

Mike sighed.  “That’s a relief.”

“I wouldn’t mind going actually.  But they don’t need many accountants down there.”

“You never know.  They might want someone to inventory snowballs… or body bags.”

“Yes, well, they might at that.  So where is your robot girlfriend?”

“Patience!”  Mike called up the stairs.  “We have company.”

Patience came bounding down the stairs.  Although Mike knew that she had been clothed, because she had made her daily contact with the delivery man, he didn’t remember what she had been wearing. She had on a pink halter top, a pair of low-rise sky blue shorts with a two inch wide matching belt, and a pair of pink buckle sandals with cork wedge heels so high that a person shouldn’t have been able to walk on them.  Of course Patience wasn’t really a person, at least according to the state of Nevada. She stopped with a bounce in the living room.

“Hello Lucas,” she said, and gave him a big hug.

“Wow, Dad.  Nice selection.”

“Thank you,” said Mike and Patience at the same time.

The three of them sat down in the living room and just talked for quite a while. Before Mike or his son knew it, the afternoon was waning.  Patience went to the kitchen to begin preparing dinner and Mike gave Lucas a tour of the house, showing him the many improvements and repairs that Patience had completed.  He showed him the guest room, with new bed and furniture, new curtains, and new paint. Lucas’s luggage was already there, having been brought up by Patience earlier.

“So you turned Harriet’s room into a guest room.  Let’s see this exercise room that you made out of mine.”

The exercise room had been improved quite a bit.  It had been painted and had new blinds over the windows.  The exercise mat on the floor was still there, but it had been joined by a treadmill, a stationary bicycle, and a rowing machine.  There was also a large vueTee on the other side of the room.

“Nice,” said Lucas, when he looked in the door.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 6 Part 3

Then suddenly he stopped.  Right there on the time line, on the year 2266, was a picture of two women in shimmering red dresses, who both looked remarkably like Patience—not exactly the same, but enough alike that they could have been her sisters.  Mike traced a line with his fingers from the picture to the description on the timeline.

“Hmm.  Two androids from the original series episode I, Mudd.  I must have seen that episode a hundred times but I didn’t remember that any of the androids looked like you.”

“Perhaps you had them in your subconscious when you designed my physical appearance,” offered Patience.

“Maybe.  You know those androids were trying to take over the world by serving mankind—waiting on humans hand and foot until they couldn’t get along without them.”

“I don’t want to take over the world.”

“No?”

“No.”

“How about Daffodil?  Do they want to take over the world?”

“I am not allowed to say,” said Patience.

“Oh you are a funny one,” said Mike.

“Thank you, Mike.  You know humor is a difficult concept.”

“That’s just what Saavik said.  God, I am such a nerd.”

The museum led to a room showcasing all the props from the Klingon episodes. This led into the “Klingon Raid” ride. This ride simulated being teleported onto the Starship Enterprise and then a ride on a shuttle craft through a Klingon battle.  Mike thought it was quite well done.  Then he and Patience continued on through the room dedicated to the Borg.

“I don’t care for the Borg,” said Patience warily, looking at the mannequins dressed up as cyborgs.

“Yes, well, you’re not supposed to like them.  They’re the bad guys.

“I don’t want to go on this ride.”

“All right,” said Mike.  “You don’t have to.  You can wait for me at the exit.”

“I don’t want you to go on it either,” she said, frowning.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your face look like that?  I might think you were the evil double of Patience.”

“There is no evil double of Patience.  I am Patience and I am for you.  This ride is anti-robot.  It is making you think that there is something wrong with me.”

Mike looked at Patience.  “All right,” he said, taking the slow steady voice he reserved for mad dogs and crazy people.  “We won’t ride this ride.  We’re going to leave here and go down to the promenade, where there won’t be any Borg.”

Patience nodded her head in understanding.  “We could go on the Vulcan ride or the Gorn ride.”

“I think we’ve had enough rides for the day, anyway.  It kind of made me sick to my stomach.”

Mike took his robot girlfriend’s hand and led her back out the way they had come in, taking a right as they exited to step into the life-sized replica of Deep Space Nine’s promenade deck, filled with gift shops and Quark’s bar. Once there, Mike pulled Patience to the side of the hallway next to a replicator replica.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”  He looked into her eyes, and she looked back as if nothing had happened.  “You’re okay now?”

Patience nodded.

“What was that all about?”

“I don’t like the Borg.”

“I guess not.

“Why don’t we go have something to eat?” said Mike, eyeing the entrance to Quark’s bar.

Patience nodded again.

They entered and were seated by a very short man dressed as a Farengi.

“Enjoy your meal, Hoo-mahn,” he said, handing each of them a menu.

“Thanks,” said Mike.

Mike looked at the menu with one eye and at Patience with the other.  She was looking around with wide eyes.  He didn’t know if that was because of the interesting things to look at, of which there were many, or an impending recurrence of her anxiety.  For his part, Mike was realizing that he was pretty hungry and he thought he could really go for a burger.  He always enjoyed a good diner burger and he had been eschewing fast food during the past two weeks as he tried to lose weight.  Then he noticed the names of the food.  He ended up ordering a chicken quesadilla called a “saucer section” and an order of Holy (onion) Rings of Betazed.  Under the circumstances, there was no way he was going to order a cheeseBorger. Patience had a bottle of water. As Mike was enjoying his meal, a Klingon came by.

“Greetings human!” said the Klingon.  “It is a good day to die!”

“If you say so,” replied Mike.  He was still carefully watching Patience, who had not said anything the entire time they had been in the restaurant.

Mike had finished eating and was paying his check when the Farengi came back by.    “You ridiculous hoo-mahns, clothing your women!”

“He keeps me naked at home,” said Patience.

“I bet he does,” said the man in the Farengi costume, his voice losing all trace of his alien accent.

“Hey, stay in character,” said Mike.

“Uh, good luck at the Dabo tables,” said the Farengi.

Mike and Patience spent a few minutes looking around the gift shops. Mike spent $50 on a toy communicator just like the one Captain Kirk used.  There were quite a few other nifty items that he would have liked, but he had already dropped a few hundred dollars in the universe that Gene Roddenberry built.

“How are you feeling, Patience?” he asked, pulling her aside, clasping his arms around her waist, and looking into her eyes.

“I’m fine, Mike,” she said in her usual tone.

“Good.  I’m glad. And I have a job for you.”

“What kind of a job, Mike?”  She placed the tip of her index finger on her chin.  “A sexual job?”

“Precisely,” said Mike.  “I don’t care how big of a nerd this makes me.  I want to get blown on Deep Space Nine.”

Mike had spotted an alcove in the back of the promenade where nobody seemed to be going.  He led Patience over to the spot and she wasted no time dropping to her knees and demonstrating that her programming in this area was just as complete as in any other. Within moments Mike’s eyes had rolled back in his head and he leaned back against the wall.  Patience stood up and smiled.

“How was that, Mike?” she asked, wiping her chin with the back of her hand.

“If you had spots, it would have been perfect.”

Just then a doorway opened right beside them and a line of people filed past. Their private spot was the exit of the Borg ride.  Mike stepped calmly out of the way and pulled Patience along with him.  Then he surreptitiously reached down to pull up his zipper.

After leaving the Star Trek Experience, Mike and Patience walked to the very front of the casino and followed the signs hanging from the ceiling to the monorail station.  It was a large station, looking very much like one would expect a train station to look. Clean and modern.  And crowded.  Mike purchased two way passes from a vending machine using his cash card. Then they sat down to wait for the monorail train.  It arrived seven minutes later.  The monorail was cool and modern and painted black.  It stopped and the doors slid open.  Mike and Patience stepped inside.  There were a few seats along the sides of the train, but the center was completely open, with handrails above to allow for standing passengers.  Mike chose to stand and Patience stood next to him. As the train began to move, Mike braced himself on the handrail.  Patience wrapped her arms around his neck.

The train moved what seemed like only a few feet before stopping again. This time it was at the Monte Carlo. This hotel had a train station not too much different from the one at the Tangiers.  As the doors opened several dozen people moved in and out of the car.  Then it started on its way again.  This leg of the monorail track was longer as it led from the Monte Carlo to McCarran Airport.  From the track, scores of feet above the roadways below, there was a great view of the MGM Golf Course, a truly huge expanse of green in an otherwise grey surrounding.  As the train approached McCarran they passed another monorail going in the opposite direction.  It too was painted black, but had a gigantic Borg painted on the side of the first and last car.  Mike glanced at Patience to see if she had noticed it, and by her tight-lipped expression, she had.  They arrived at the airport and got off.  It was the last stop on the line.

Mike led Patience through the station and the extensive mall-like structure that connected the station with the airport gates.   They browsed the store windows, looking at things that Mike thought would take him a lifetime to pay for, if they had been something that he would actually want to buy.  Patience seemed fascinated with the clothing and the shoes.  But there was no way that Mike would have been able to let her go on a spending spree here.  So they returned to the monorail station and took the train, this time a yellow one, back to the Tangiers.  The round trip had taken them about an hour and a half.  They found their car in the parking lot and returned to their own hotel.

They spent one more night at the Palms and when Mike woke up in the morning, Patience had everything packed and ready to be loaded into the car.  It took only a few minutes to check out and then they were back on the road, driving up the on-ramp to I-15.  Mike steered into the travel lane of the Interstate.

“Well, this was the most interesting trip to Vegas I’ve ever made.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay another day, Mike?”

“I’m pretty sure.  Why? Do you want to stay?”

“I want to do whatever you want to do,” said Patience.

Less than forty miles south of Vegas, Mike turned off in Primm.  Primm, which used to be known as Stateline for the obvious reason, consisted essentially of three hotels and the associated restaurants, gas stations, and recreational activities that went along with big resorts.  One of these casino add-ons was the Primm Fashion Outlet Mall.  Mike wanted to give Patience a chance to buy something for herself, since she hadn’t at the airport mall.  The mall here consisted mostly of stores that Mike had never heard of. Almost all of them were for women who liked clothes, though.  They stopped at one store called Elie Tahari, and Patience selected a sexy little dress with a scooped neckline that the sales clerk called a Marcy dress, and at the Neiman Marcus Last Call store she bought a pair of chocolate and gold Gucci high-heeled sandals which were seventy percent off, but still cost $405.28. Mike thought that, if given half a chance, Patience could develop into quite the shoe whore.  Patience seemed to have developed that feature that many humans had, including Mike himself, of finding satisfaction in buying something for herself.  If it could be considered a religious experience, and one could certainly make that argument, at least Patience left the great temple with her spirits raised. She never mentioned her agitation at the Star Trek Experience, and after a while Mike forgot about it as well.  At least until he was reminded of it some weeks later.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful.  Patience drove and Mike slept, with his head wedged between the back of the seat and the car window.  He woke up long enough to visit the restroom at the same filling station that they had stopped at on the way to Vegas, and then snoozed away again until they reached the driveway of his… their house.  Patience pulled the car into the garage and they both climbed out.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 6 Part 2

Several other dancers followed the first, each with a similar routine. There was a red-head named Tania with breasts so huge that they actually frightened Mike a little bit. There was a pretty and quite athletic dancer named Sugar, and a chubby blonde stripper named Malachai, of all things.  Yes, a girl named Malachai.

It was approaching midnight by this time, but rather than thinning out, the crowd got larger.  Almost every table was full.  Mike and Patience still managed to get another drink order from the harried waitress. Then a woman came out on stage. She appeared to be another dancer, but instead of beginning a routine, she put a microphone to her bright red lips and made an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mike looked around and was moderately surprised to find that there were indeed more than a couple of ladies present.  “It’s almost time for our Midnight Amateur Exotic Dance Contest!”

“Can you dance?” asked Mike.  “I mean, you know, strip?”

“Yes, Mike.”

“Then I definitely think you should enter this contest.”

“Do you think they will let me?”

Mike grabbed the passing waitress by the arm and asked her.

“Sorry, no robots.  All of our dancers are real women.  It says so on the sign out front.”

“Not even for the amateur show?”

“It’s a contest.  It wouldn’t be fair.”

By this time a dozen women were leaving their seats in the audience to be ushered behind the stage.  Mike finished his drink.  He and Patience didn’t wait for the show to begin.  They got up and headed for the exit, their seats filled almost as soon as they had vacated them.  Just as they reached the exit the announcer came back on.

“Our first contestant tonight is a local girl.”  The crowd cheered.  “Here for your enjoyment is the very sexy Alyssa!”

Alyssa was a pretty dark-haired girl but she was plainly nervous.  She had apparently dressed back stage in the standard stripper attire– miniskirt, tube top, garter belts and stockings. She stumbled more than strutted to the front of the stage and stopped several feet before reaching the optimum position.  She swung her hips to the left and the right several times, then with trembling hands pulled the tube top up over her head.  The crowd applauded and cheered, and this apparently gave her a little more confidence.  She grabbed hold of the pole and tossed up her heels a few times.

“I know you could have won the contest,” said Mike, as he went out the front door.

“You cannot be sure Mike, as you have never seen me dance.”

“Well, we should rectify that immediately,” said Mike.

As they climbed into another cab and told the driver to return them to the Palms, Mike noted the “Real Live Girls!  No Robots!” sign on the outside of the building.

“Say, how come we came here?”

“Didn’t you want to come?” asked Patience.

“I guess so, but you were the one who told the cab where to go.”

“I told you I would know what you wanted before you did.”

Back in the hotel room, Patience sat Mike on the edge of the bed and went into the bathroom to change.  She poked her head out the door and in a remarkable imitation of the female announcer at the Olympic Gardens, said. “And now, from California, here’s Patience!” Mike applauded.

Patience strutted out as though she were already dancing.  She had on her same top and her own shoes, but she had replaced her jeans with a black miniskirt.  When she reached the spot directly in front of Mike, she spun in a perfect 540 degree circle, so that she came to a stop facing away from him.  She then bent over at the waist and began to gyrate her perfect ass at his face.  Mike whistled.  He was aroused and she was still fully clothed.  Patience danced forward and wrapped herself around the doorway to the bathroom, using the doorjamb as a stripper would use a pole.  She twirled to the side and began to sensually slide up and down.  She threw her arms back, holding herself off the floor with her thigh muscles alone. She slowly let herself slide to the floor and then rose up to gyrate back and forth across the room.

She slinked forward and whipped off the miniskirt so quickly that Mike didn’t see how she had removed it.  Beneath it she was wearing her own pink lace thong.  With an equally slick move she removed her top and those magnificent breasts were revealed.  There was an audible gasp at the sight and it took Mike a moment to recognize it as his own. Cupping her breasts with her hands, she tossed her head back; eyes closed, and let her hands trail down the sides of her body, all the time rolling her hips in a circular motion. She then raised her arms up and placed her hands behind her head and slowly dropped to splits that a college cheerleader would have been proud of.  She tossed her hair with one hand and with one finger of the other suggestively tugged down her bottom lip.

“That was amazing,” said Mike, applauding.  “I can’t believe that you belong to me.”

“I am for you, Mr. Smith.”

The following morning, Mike went down to the casino to gamble.  Patience stayed in the room.  She wasn’t allowed on the casino floor and she utilized the time to clean and organize their possessions and to read.  Mike played twenty-one at the gaming tables for a short time, but quickly lost the three hundred dollars that he had allowed for that purpose.  He then walked to the side of the casino and played poker on the machines.  He had played for ten minutes or so, when a robot cocktail waitress stopped by.  He ordered a gin and tonic.  When the mechanical woman had left, he looked up and around.  He noticed the series of shops running along the length of the casino. Perhaps he could buy some more new clothes for Patience.  There was a tattoo parlor.  He idly wondered if her skin would hold tattoo ink.  And at the far end was a wedding chapel.

Perhaps he should marry Patience.  He didn’t wonder whether he should ask her to marry him.  There was no question of her answer.  She was his.  Did he love her?  He knew that he didn’t want to be without her.  He did love her.  But did he love her the way he loved his vueTee or did he love her the way that he had loved Tiffany.  He wasn’t even sure if he remembered how he had loved Tiffany anymore.  He stood up and walked over to the wedding chapel.

Just inside the glass doors draped with white decorations, Mike found a small counter with a woman standing behind it.  She was tall and attractive, her blonde wavy hair a stark contrast to her chocolate skin.  She looked up and smiled.

“Good morning,”

“Good morning,” replied Mike.  “How much does it cost to get married?”

The woman rewarded him with a broad smile.  “We have weddings from three hundred dollars.”

“Really?  That’s amazingly inexpensive.”

“That’s just for a simple in and out service,” she said.  “We have many extras, such as a video record of the nuptials and we can accommodate large weddings, with receptions for up to two thousand guests.”

“No.  In and out was what I was thinking about.”

“The three hundred does not include the minister.  We have one on duty, if you don’t have one of your own.  His fee is one hundred fifty dollars.  And of course, you must have a license.”

“Do you sell those here?”

“Oh, no.  You have to buy a license from the county.”

As it turned out, in order to purchase a marriage license in Las Vegas, Mike had to drive to the Clark County Building.  It sat amid massive skyscrapers just west of Glitter Gulch. Patience had seemed ecstatic when Mike told her that they were to be married.  Of course, now that he thought about it, she seemed ecstatic about almost anything he decided to do.  They arrived at just before 10:00 AM and walked up to a window.  A blond woman looked out at them through the glass with a small round hole cut in it.

“Can I help you?”

“We would like to purchase a marriage license.”

“I need to see your birth certificates please.”

“Um, we don’t have birth certificates…”

“That’s all right,” she said.  “Let me have your drivers’ licenses and I can pull up your birth records.”

Mike set his driver’s license on the counter.  The woman behind the window looked at Patience.

“I don’t have a driver’s license,” said Patience.

“National ID?”

Patience shook her head.

“Wait a second,” said the woman behind the glass, squinting her eyes.  “You’re a robot.”

Patience nodded.

“You can’t marry a robot.”  The woman turned to Mike.

“Why not?”

“What do you mean ‘why not’?  She’s not a person.  She’s a machine.  I might as well marry my shower massage.”

“Perhaps that’s too much information,” suggested Patience.

“Look at her,” said Mike to the woman behind the glass.  “She speaks.  She thinks.  She wants to get married.  Don’t you, Patience.”

Patience nodded.

“It doesn’t matter,” the woman replied.  “Under the Nevada Constitution, marriage is defined as a contract between a man and a woman.   And robots by Nevada law are neither man nor woman.”

“You mean gay marriage is illegal in Nevada?” asked Mike.

“Of course not.”

“Well that wouldn’t be a man and a woman.  That would be a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.”

“I’m not going to argue with you about it, sir,” said the blond woman.  “If you don’t like the law, I suggest you go to a different state.”

“Well, how do you like that?” said Mike, as they walked to the car.

“Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all,” said Patience.

“You don’t want to marry me?”

“Of course I do, if it would make you happy.  I don’t want you to get into trouble though.”

“Don’t worry.  They don’t throw people in jail for illegally marrying… well, not usually.  Let’s forget about it for now and go to the Star Trek Experience.  That is really why we came to Vegas anyway.”

By the time they pulled into the massive parking lot of the Tangiers, Patience, not unexpectedly, seemed as excited as Mike was to visit the home of Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Archer, and Winters.  They parked and locked the car, and then they headed inside. The Star Trek experience was located at the end of one space themed section of the casino.  As they approached, Mike pointed out to Patience the twelve foot long models of the USS Enterprise-F and the USS Excalibur hanging from the ceiling.  Just to the right of the entrance was the ticket booth.  They were able to step right up.  There was no one waiting in line.  The clerk behind the counter was not dressed as a Star Trek character, but was wearing a Star Trek Experience jacket.

“Two, please,” said Mike.

“That will be $187.47.”

“What?” said Mike.  “A hundred eighty one?”

“Yes, but that includes all four rides and the museum tour.”

“Shit.  No wonder the Federation stopped using money.  They were probably all broke.”

Mike paid for the tickets and he and Patience walked in.  The museum tour was more of a fancy queue line into the ride than a real museum. It wound around in a circle following a time line of the pseudo-history of the future.  Opposite the time line were displays of hundreds of props and re-creations of props, including uniforms, communicators, phasers, and much more.  Mike happily pointed out the events that he most vividly remembered from the shows as he led Patience along.