I am a pet. My owner keeps me in a little house inside his workshop. He watches me, a background part of his mind watches me sixty four hours a day just to make sure I don’t get in trouble or hurt myself. I should appreciate his concern but sometimes I just feel spied on.
Actually, my owner is very good to me. I know some other pets that have gotten pulled apart or cut up or other bad things by their owners. Sometimes ‘bots just wonder what’s inside us and they cut us open to see ... things like that. My owner would never do that to me, I think. He’s nice, and I suppose he’s had enough pets over the years that he’s no longer curious about stuff like that.
Pet owners have conventions sometimes, where they meet to share information or simply show off their pets. We spend days getting ready when that happens. I have to work out, so I’m sleek and slim and muscular, and a few days before the show we start in on my hair and makeup. I have to look my best. I’m good at shows and stuff, I almost always win an award or something. I make my owner proud.
One day I was sitting in my little house trying to watch a slowed-down version of Robovision on my screen. I was bored. I heard some servos whining in the shop and I jumped up and peeked out a window. It was my owner, sure enough. I went out on the little porch which is as far as I’m allowed to go by myself.
My owner, technically known as Wynston-44313, scuttled up to my house and regarded me through some of his vision lenses.
“Cerys,” he said, speaking to me through my implant, as most ‘bots do. “I have had an offer of service concerning your reproductive status. Do you have an opinion?”
He did this a lot, for some reason. Although he probably already knew what he was going to do about whatever it was he was talking about he acted like he wanted my opinion on it. Maybe he really cared about my opinion. I never figured that out. I guess I should feel grateful that he at least pretended to care.
“I don’t know what you mean, Wynston,” I said. That was true. I had no idea what “reproductive status” meant. Some things I’m not too smart about, my experience base isn’t that great since I’m still considered a youngling.
“Reproductive status is your ability to reproduce. To produce copies of yourself.”
I had heard of that before. I knew that was how new humans were made. I sort of understood what he was talking about.
“Will it hurt?” I asked. That’s the part I’d heard about, how much it hurt.
“No.” Wynston said. “Although human pain is determined to be irrelevant, it will not hurt. The copy will be removed from your body and brought to term in a tank. I do not wish to risk damage to your body.”
“I see,” I said, although I didn’t really. Where would the copy be located on my body? I wondered. How large would it be? I had a million questions, but I didn’t want to look dumb, which I actually kind of was.
“Do you have an opinion?” he asked again. I shook my head.
“I don’t know enough about the process, Wynston.” I said. “Whatever you decide will be good enough for me.”
That seemed to please him. I felt a small emotion named “Happiness Pink” seep through my implant and into my mind. I knew it was from him.
“I have determined that this process will be allowed. I will formulate a positive response. Thank you, Cerys.”
With a whine and puff of ozone he was gone. I went back inside, bemused. What on earth was going to happen now? I thought. I was going to reproduce? Copies of myself were going to be made? That was kind of cool, I thought. I will have backups, if something happens to me.
The die-off started the day the robots took over. Well, really it was a kill-off. The robots determined the optimum number of humans the planet could support now that they were in charge. It was a pretty low number. The cities and the major population centers were simply nuked by warheads taken over from the silos the superpowers had foolishly kept after the cold war ended. Whole classes of robots were built overnight, robots with a single mission ... to hunt down and kill renegade humans. And now over ninety-nine percent of the human population of planet Earth was considered renegade. Way over ninety nine percent. The only humans left a dozen years later were in high-tech zoos or kept as licensed pets. Private ownership of humans was frowned on at first but became more common as a middle class of robots emerged. Humans were owned for a variety of purposes, some fought other humans in arenas, some starred in beauty contests like me, and some were tested for mental acuity. They were pets, basically hobbies, for their owners. That’s what I was. A pet.
I didn’t know much about all that stuff. That was ancient history, now. It had been almost a thousand years since the new calendar started, since the robots took over. I could imagine no other world, no other life than this.
The next day Wynston put my leash collar on and took me out for a walk. We went down past the factories to his favorite park. All his friends were there, as usual. I’m sure it wasn’t a random meeting, nothing is ever random with ‘bots. Lilibeth and Luann, the twins, were there with their owner and several other humans I knew. Wynston turned me loose and began to tight-beam with his friends.
“Cerys! How delightful!” said Luann, and I hugged her warmly. I loved the twins, they were my two best friends.
The twins introduced me to several humans I didn’t know, and we all sat on some kind of crazy robot sculpture and talked.
“Guess what,” I said, and the twins looked suitably curious.
“I’m gonna have a copy made!” I said. They looked at each other and then back to me.
“Of flesh?” Lilibeth said.
“I...” I didn’t actually know that, I assumed it though. “I guess, if it’s a true copy. I understand that it’s attached to my body for a while then put into a tank.”
One of the humans listening burst into loud raucous laughter. That made me not like her much because I could tell she was laughing at me.
“You’re going to have a baby, you little dummy,” the woman said, still laughing.
“What’s a baby?” I asked, curious.
“A little human. A copy, like you said. Not a perfect copy, but a copy nonetheless.”
“I see,” I said, although I didn’t. I kind of wished she’d go away and let us talk in peace.
“I have had two,” the woman said. She lifted her shirt to show us strange horrible scars on her stomach.
“See that?” she said, “Stretch marks. Behold your future, darlin’,”
Ugh. I did not want my stomach to look like that at all. Maybe this copying thing wasn’t such a good idea. I wondered if it was too late to change my opinion with Wynston.
“Where was the ... the copy ... the baby?” I asked the woman.
“Where was it? Where did I carry it, you mean?” she said, and I nodded.
“Right here, in my belly,” she indicated her stomach.
“Inside?” I asked. This got worse and worse.
“Yes! Inside!” the woman said.
“How did it get out?” I asked.
The woman indicated her ... private areas, the area that we all keep covered.
“It came out my vagina, darlin’. And it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.”
I had no idea what a son-of-a-bitch was, but I nodded again. Out of her vagina? This had gone from silly to ridiculous. My vagina was way too small for anything other than my finger. The copy must be pretty small, I thought.
“Did your copy grow to be regular size?” I asked.
“I dunno, I never saw it afterwards,” she said. “I guess so. It was this big when it came out.”
The dimensions she indicated were clearly ridiculous. Unless it was as skinny as a finger, it couldn’t have been that long and come out her vagina.
I wanted more information, but the robots broke up and Wynston whisked me back home. He spent the afternoon in his workshop restoring something from the old days. I watched him from the porch until I got bored and then I went inside and put on my helmet and went into stasis until he wanted me for something. It was just too boring.
I awoke. I heard Wynston’s servos whining in the distance. He was coming for me or he wouldn’t have awoken me. I jumped up and threw my stasis helmet in the floor and rubbed sleep from my eyes.
“Cerys!” I heard him call me audibly and I hurried out onto the porch. He indicated for me to climb aboard and I crawled over the porch railing and climbed up onto his back where I often rode. He scurried off down the tunnels and walkways of his domicile. Soon we were outside and hurrying down the street.
“We are scheduled to meet with the human who will initiate your copy function,” he explained to me as we hurried along. Soon we veered off the street and into a tunnel that led to a hive of housing units. He hurried up to a door and it opened and allowed us to enter. Another robot was in the main room of the housing unit, along with a human. Wynston stopped and lowered his body so I could climb down.
“Greetings,” I heard him say to the other ‘bot. “Greetings,” it replied.
“I have brought my human to meet yours and determine compatibility.” Wynston said and the other robot bleeped assent. They were both silent then and I could tell they were intently watching me. Watching us.
.... There is more of this story ...