His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 1 Part 1

Chapter One

Mike’s life was crap.  And every day he got up out of bed and thought about how it was crap.  Today he climbed out of bed and made his way through the discarded clothing on the floor of the bedroom to the bathroom.  His worn image looked out of the mirror at him. He picked up his cordless razor and turned it on before remembering that it was Saturday.  He stuck out his tongue at his reflection.  Slipping off his underwear, he tossed it at the hamper just outside the bathroom door.  It landed on the floor.  Turning on the shower, he stepped inside the glass-doored stall, and stood beneath the spray.  Then he took a deep breath and began soaping up and rinsing off.  Pouring a handful of shampoo, he scrubbed his scalp, rinsed, and then turned off the water.  He waited about two minutes—partly to drip dry and partly because he didn’t want to face the day—before he climbed out of the shower stall.

Once he was dry, Mike walked back into the bedroom, crossed to the dresser, and pulled out a clean pair of underwear.  The underwear was so old that it looked more grey than the white that it had been, and the material had worn through enough that the elastic showed in the waistband.  He slipped his left foot in the leg hole and then the right, getting his big toe caught for just a second.  Pleased with himself that he had not lost his balance, he went back to the bathroom and combed his thinning and graying hair.  It had been graying for a long time.  It had only been thinning, at least noticeably for a few of years—just since Tiffany had died.  He brushed his teeth, and grinned at the man in the mirror.  It wasn’t a friendly grin.  Back in the bedroom, he slipped on cut-off jeans and a green t-shirt.  Then he walked through the bedroom door, down the stairs, through the living room, and into the family room.

He touched the screen of the vueTee hanging just above the fireplace to turn it on, and then passed through the archway and into the kitchen.  Pouring a bowl of cereal, he sniffed the milk before adding it.  It was still good.  Grabbing a spoon, he headed for the worn recliner which faced the vueTee.  The screen was on, but it wasn’t alive with movement and sound.  It still had the browser up and it was still on the Daffodil site.  Mike had followed the link the night before from the very slick commercial he had seen during the Tonight Show.   On the left side of the screen was a large yellow daffodil and on the right were four large yellow buttons, arranged vertically.  The first said Barone, the second Amonte, the third Nonne, and the fourth PWX.

Daffodil wasn’t the largest manufacturer of robots, but it certainly had the most cultural cache.  Their commercials were by far the best.  Everyone seemed to be talking about them.  Mike could hum their jingle right now.  The four buttons corresponded to the four basic robot units that Daffodil produced.  Though there was some crossover between the four types based on the many options that were chosen, the Barone was usually an aid to adults—a robot maid, gardener, or grandparent.  The Nonne was a babysitter type: a tutor, a nanny, or again, depending upon the options, a maid.  The PWX was an industry grade robot designed for use by corporations and government organizations as a receptionist or a clerk.  Finally the Amonte was a personal companion.  It could be configured as an escort, a friend, or a lover.  As the commercial said, it was “anything and everything you want it to be.”

Mike leaned back in the chair and pointed the remote at the vueTee.  He moved the curser over the Amonte button and pressed.  The body frame options screen came up, but there was a small window along the left side that said “narrow your selections.”  You could narrow them by price.  You could narrow them by race-ethnicity.  Or you could narrow them by gender.  Mike ignored that side of the screen and looked at the body build.  If you were going to dream, you might as well dream unencumbered.  Dials allowed one to set height, chest, waist, and hips.  He had already filled in these features the previous night. After that, one flipped through a series of screens where prospective customers could change almost every aspect of their robot.  The head controls gave one control over the shape and placement of eyes, nose, lips, and ears, but also let one choose the forehead shape and jaw line, the hair color and style, the type of chin, and the placement of freckles.  Other controls set every detail from fingernails to nipples.  Mike flipped through them.  The last screen showed the price for his particular build: $26,999.00.  That would wipe out his payNEtime account, and then some.

Mike let his curser drop down to the search bar.  He moved through the postings about Daffodil.  There were many from people questioning certain aspects of the design, but few from people who had actually purchased one.  Daffodil didn’t disclose their sales figures to the public, but experts estimated that they had thus far sold only about 300,000 units.  There were a few messages from owners of the Gizmo robot, who went on about how superior it was, because you set its personality before purchase.  There was only one posting that Mike hadn’t seen. He clicked on it and an aging woman with orange hair appeared on the screen.

“I love my Daffodil.  He does everything for me—takes care of the bills, fixes my meals.  He drives me to visit my friends, and he rubs my feet every night.  His name is Andre.  I just don’t know what I’d do without him.”

“Probably move to Florida,” said Mike.

He flipped over to Today Saturday.  As he watched Tania Marquez read through the top stories of the day, he thought about purchasing a Daffodil.  Twenty seven thousand dollars was a ginormous amount of money to spend. If he had still been married to Tiffany there would be no question.  He wouldn’t have bought one.  He would still have wanted one, but he wouldn’t have bought one.  Oh, Tiffany might have gone for a five thousand dollar model designed just to clean the house, but she certainly never would have let him get the one that he had designed online.  Of course if she had still been here…  Oh sure, he might have fantasized about a Gizmo Sexbot, but it would have remained just a fantasy.  Besides, he didn’t want a Daffodil for sex—well, not just for sex. If he was going to get one, it would be for companionship.  It would do all the things that it was capable of doing.

The rest of the morning, Mike watched the vueTee.  After Today Saturday was over, he turned to the Cooking feed and watched Café Italiano, Breakfast at Bloomberg’s, and America’s Test Kitchen. When Noon Buffet came on, he turned off the vueTee and picked up his texTee.  The New York Times had already downloaded, so he flipped through the pages.  Most of it was politics.  Mike didn’t hate politics, like everyone else he knew seemed to. It was just that there didn’t seem much point to it at the moment.  All three major parties had chosen their candidates even though none of them had yet had their convention, and it was more than six months till the general election.

The paper bored him after a few minutes, so he clicked through the book menu. He had the first chapter of The Janissary Tree, so he read it.  When he was done, he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to spend $17.99 for it.  He flipped over to Moby Dick.  He had the whole book.  Before this year, he hadn’t read it since college and wanted to read it through again, annotating it along the way—just because.  It was slow going.  Here it was April, and he was only on Chapter 24: A Bosom Friend.  He tossed the texTee onto the floor beside the chair.

Though he wasn’t really hungry, Mike decided that it was lunch time, mostly out of boredom.  He went to the foyer, where his tennis shoes sat on the ceramic tile.  Slipping them on, he grabbed his keys and wallet from the small shelf on the wall and headed out the front door.  Climbing into the car, he drove down the block and around the corner.  He thought about stopping at Hot Dog Paradise, but there was a long line of cars in the drive-thru, so he went to McDonalds.  The girl at the window could have been mistaken for a real person at first, but just like in every other fast food drive-thru window, she was a robot. She was probably a Gizmo Servbot, though McDonalds had their own custom build that wasn’t quite like anywhere else.

“I’ll have a McMeatloaf sandwich,” he said.

“Would you like that ala carte or with an Arch Value Meal?”  She had that slightly tinny voice.

“Value meal.”

“Would you care for fries, side salad, fruit slices, or yogurt sticks?”

“Fries.”

“And what would you like to drink?”

“Diet Pepsi.”

“Your total comes to $17.96.”

Mike swiped his cash card through the slot just below the window.

“Thank you for choosing McDonalds.  Please pull forward.”

At the next window another Gizmo girl handed Mike his drink and then the bag with his McMeatloaf sandwich and fries.  He drove back home and returned to his recliner to eat.

The vueTee had automatically turned off in his absence, so he turned it back on. He watched Face the Nation as he ate. Catherine Garvey was interviewing all three presidential candidates—one at a time.  The Republicans had nominated another old man.  The Democrats had nominated another old lady.  It was the same old thing.  Barlow said lower taxes.  Wakovia said balance the budget.  Only the Greens seemed to have picked anyone who wasn’t a cookie-cutter image. Mendoza was young, attractive, and idealistic and probably didn’t have a chance in hell of getting elected because she had inherited all the problems of President Busby.  As long as there were troops in Antarctica nobody was going to vote Green.

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.

Extreme Patience

I have begun work on His Robot Wife: Extreme Patience.  I always said that I would drop whatever I was doing and start on January 1st, 2021.  Turns out, I’m a few days ahead of schedule.  Watch this space for more details.

This week is the Summer/Winter sale at Smashwords.  There are thousands of books on sale, many of them free.  This of course, includes most of my books.  Visit www.smashwords.com.

Motivations: His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience

After writing Patience is a Virtue, I decided I wouldn’t write another robot book unless I had a story.  I finally thought of one and planned out a trilogy of books.  The first book was A Great Deal of Patience, and I think it is by far the best of the series.

As so often, I started writing and got side-tracked several times.  I stopped for about two months and wrote The Dragon’s Choice, but left it unedited to return to Patience.  It was finally done and I published it in 2017.  That sounds like a long time ago, but in my mind, I just finished that book.  It continues to sell well and I get more positive emails and comments about it than any other book.

Motivations: His Robot Girlfriend: Charity

HRG CharityI had been working on an outline for the next robot book, which I planned on calling His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  While I was doing that, I came up with a plot line that I wanted to write about.  This probably grew out of my frustrations with writing Kanana the Jungle Girl, which I had been trying to finish, but couldn’t quite, and which also had a similar plot line woven into it.

I could have written this plot in any number of ways– made it an entirely new story or a space opera story.  Knowing that people were clamoring for a new robot book, I decided to go that way.  Of course the story didn’t fit with Patience and Mike, so I created Charity and Dakota.  I decided to throw a bit of the back story that I had been working on for A Great Deal of Patience, along with a cameo by Mike, and there is a quick little book.  As I mentioned the other day, it took me only forty-two days to write.

A Great Deal of Patience ended up changing a lot, because much of what I had originally planned was in Charity.  That’s really worked out well, because I can move the plot along without having to worry about doling out background tidbits.  The story has to be able to stand on its own though and I think it does.  Both Dakota and Charity will appear in the new book, especially Charity, as this is a much more robot-centered story and less human-centered.  Watch this space for more information on the upcoming books in the series.

Motivations: His Robot Wife

His Robot Wife was written for entirely different reasons than any other book I’ve written.  All the other books (with maybe the exception of His Robot Girlfriend) were written because I thought I had a great story to tell and I wanted to tell it.  You could say that I wrote His Robot Wife for money, though that’s not entirely accurate.  I priced it an 99 cents even though I could have made more by pricing it higher.  I wrote it because I knew it would sell.

I publish His Robot Girlfriend in 2008, and it has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.  Many people wrote and asked for a sequel.  This was a big deal for me.  But I didn’t have a story.  As far as I was concerned, the story of Mike and Patience was over.  Still, people kept asking.  It took me three years to come up with a story for them, and I think it’s probably my weakest plot (but HRG wasn’t popular for its plot, but rather its characters anyway).  So in 2011 I wrote His Robot Wife.  It is short, at 28,000 words, but it went easily enough, and as it turned out, it has sold more copies than all my other books put together.

 

 

Motivations: His Robot Girlfriend

His Robot Girlfriend is Free on iBooksIt was 2008, and I had just finished writing the first draft of a massive fantasy novel that I was calling The Steel Dragon. This would eventually become The Voyage of the Minotaur, The Drache Girl, and The Two Dragons. I printed up 10 copies and handed them out to friends to read and edit over the summer. Each one was a 4″ thick notebook. I had also just self-published Princess of Amathar.

While I was waiting for the editing to be completed, I thought I needed something to post to Feedbooks and Manybooks to get my name out there. I had written some sci-fi flash fiction a few years earlier and thought I could piece them together to make a novel. This became the first half of His Robot Girlfriend and I wrote the other half over the summer (while teaching summer school). I published it online and was astounded at the interest. At one time, it was the third most downloaded book on Feedbooks.

His Robot Girlfriend succeeded in getting my name out there. It’s been downloaded almost 500,000 times, has been reviewed numerous times, and I get many emails and notes from people that enjoy it. Part of this has to do with the fact that it came out at the same time that Apple Books was founded.  It was in the top ten free downloads on what was then called iBooks, for years.  That being said, I think it’s far from my best story.

One comment that detractors frequently make about His Robot Girlfriend (feedback is overwhelmingly positive) is that Patience has no will of her own. She is a robot, duh! But this gave me an idea for the new book– His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue. It shows a bit more from her point of view and we find out that not everything is as Mike thinks it is.

The newest edition of the series will be His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience, and will be the first full-length novel featuring the characters.  And as they title suggests, it will feature a great deal of Patience.

His Robot Girlfriend – Chapter 10 Excerpt

The first quarter of the school year flew by. Despite the fact that classes were larger than ever, the children were more obnoxious than ever, parents were more clueless than ever, and the administrators were more useless than ever, Mike thought that things were going pretty well. It was he mused, probably because he was one hell of a teacher. He felt more organized and prepared than he had in years and he certainly had more energy. He walked to and from school almost every day. Three days a week he went to the gym afterwards too. Each day at lunchtime, the other teachers at his table would watch him as he unpacked the carefully crafted meal that Patience had sent with him.

The students and teachers at school saw Patience only occasionally. This was not because Mike was ashamed of her, but because he remained as he had been before her arrival, essentially a homebody. They went out to dinner once a week, and Patience would provide pleasant conversation, though she didn’t eat. Most nights though, they stayed home. She fixed him a dinner more than equal to those they found at restaurants and then they usually watched a movie on vueTee. Increasingly this was followed by some sexual activity, and Patience confirmed Mike’s opinion that his libido was on the increase, though he declined her offer to graph it for him.

Mike carefully watched the unfolding election. Though he was loath to throw away his vote by choosing the Greens, in the end there was just no way he could live with himself voting for either Barlow or Wakovia. Mendoza was the right person for the job. So he resigned himself to the fact that his candidate was going to lose and put a bright green Mendoza/McPhee ’32 bumper sticker on the back of his Chevy. Then fate stepped in. In early October, a series of announcements by Ford, Gizmo, Intel, and other major manufacturers pushed the market up past 20,000 for the first time. The government’s monthly economic indicators were even better than expected and it shot up even more. Then at the end of October, President Busby announced that the Chinese had brokered a deal in which the Russians would pull out of Antarctica. The war was over and the United States and her allies had won! The first troops began arriving home November second, just two days before the election.

Patience produced a dinner of barbeque ribs and chicken, potato salad and coleslaw, and apple cobbler on election night. Harriet and Jack arrived early and they all gathered around the vueTee in the living room to watch the returns. The twenty-ninth amendment provided a national set time for elections. The polls were open from 7AM to midnight, Eastern Standard Time. Of course ninety five percent of the voters, Mike included, had voted during the previous two weeks on the internet. By law, the news outlets were not allowed to announce winners until after the polls closed. Even so, when four o’clock hit, the states on the vueTee screen began filling in with color at a remarkable pace.

Mendoza reached the required electoral votes well before the small party watching in Springdale, California had finished their meal. The Republicans took the new south—Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Cuba, and the Virgin Islands. For a while it looked as though the only state to go blue would be Puerto Rico, but then after the winner had already been declared, California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Pacifica were filled in with blue. Mike’s disgust that his vote had in fact not counted, since Wakovia had won California was ameliorated by the fact that his candidate had won the election. Evelyn Mendoza would become only the second female President of the United States, having won the remaining forty three states and a whopping 407 electoral votes.

It was late that evening, after Harriet and Jack had gone home, after the talking heads on the screen had finished interviewing the winners and losers, campaign workers, and supporters, after the victory and concessions speeches, as some of the many ballot questions were being reviewed, that Mike sat bolt upright. In Massachusetts voters had passed a non-binding vote in support of their state’s governor who had earlier in the year signed an executive order allowing marriages between human beings and robots. How had he not heard about that?

“Patience?”

Her smiling head popped around the corner from the kitchen, where she was putting away the last of the dinner dishes.

“Did you know that humans and robots could get married in Massachusetts?”

“Mm-hmm,” she nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You had other things to worry about Mike. School was just starting. Besides, Massachusetts is on the other side of the country.”

“Don’t you want to get married?”

“Of course I do. Now that I know it’s what you want.”

“Why didn’t you know that before? What about Vegas?”

“What happens in…”

“Don’t say it.”