This story is inspired by the Universe created by DB_Story, but it isn't set in it. I would say that the stories exist in the same Multiverse with his Universe and mine diverging in different(?) directions.
Copyright © 2002 by Qickless (firstname.lastname@example.org). This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, v1.0 or later.
The latest version of this license is available at: http://www.opencontent.org/openpub/.
Distribution of the work or derivative of the work in any standard (paper) book form is prohibited unless prior permission is obtained from the copyright holder.
Distribution of substantively modified versions of this document is prohibited without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.
I discovered her in an old robot workshop in the drop-off zone of the city. I would have glanced at the shop banner and passed it by, but I had noticed that such stores were becoming scarcer and rarer as time went by. Since it could be my last chance to see inside a true twenty-first century roboshop - alive as only a history lesson can make it - and since I'm not a person to give up on last chances, I decided to jump in and take a look. I found out later that it indeed could have been my last chance; a week later and the shop was screeched off by robodozers and leveled to make a park. People living around the shop probably smiled in relief, but the world lost a tiny piece of history that day and for people like me that's not a happy thing - whichever way you look at it.
But scratch all that, the roboshop was boring, just another cog-in-the-wheel of the robot revolution - still as a twoD photo, all edges and corners and nothing to see into. I'm proud of myself that day only because I saw Anita.
But to get back into my tale, the store was waiting and I was hesitating outside it, trying to choose between peering into it (and seeing nothing but shaded cobwebby windows) and peering into the fog of a late night. When I chose the yet un-rusted door, I imagined later that the stars must have smiled and the sun rose, just for Anita.
The shop was dim and dark and genuine disappointment. I almost made my way out, but a head poked in from one side of the gloom and nodded at me in welcome. Probably the manager, or a salesman - no, the owner - a bald old man with gray eyes and white full teeth and yet un-rusted genuine twenty-first century glasses. I choose not to remember much of the conversation with him, but I got a history lesson that day alright - one on two legs - and twenty minutes later, I was aching to leave. And then I saw her.
She was boxed so I couldn't make out her model right away, but I knew she was old, old, old. I don't know much about robot history, but I knew enough to know that if she was still working, she would be a find. The bald head was salesman enough to notice my fascination and he unwrapped her box like a red-ribbon package. She was beautiful; I saw that, the sort of dainty slimness that appealed to these Oldies, and she was wearing too little - I think people used to call that a miniskirt. Her skin was nice and toned if you didn't consider the generous package of dust on her. Her eyes... oh, yes, she was beautiful.
He quoted a figure, I bargained, and I think he liked me a little because he accepted a pretty low number for her (that, or he foresaw those robodozers) and I went home with Anita - still inactivated but given a thorough vacuum and as much upgrades and spare parts in the shop as there were - I doubted I would get the parts for her anywhere else. As I drew away, I read her manual and knew I was right. She was perhaps the last of the fembot line, the major attractions of the product being sex, companionship and housework, in that order. I chortled at her tagline: "A Fembot! A female and a robot, what more could you want?" What more indeed!
I installed her in my apartment and decked her away, but didn't get to play with her until a week later - I had to skip town for a while; my job pulled me in. When I did open the box, I found her as still as I left her. I removed the many, many layers of wrapping, until she was just standing there, waiting for me to pick up her remote. I was aware that many things could go wrong from this point; she was antique, older than me, older than this apartment, hell! Older than that roboshop. I would be extremely lucky if she even spoke a word, but I knew that they made things to last in those times, and that was what I was counting on even when the old geezer back at the shop told me he couldn't offer guarantees.
So I played with her remote, with her manual and with an almost invisible button behind her hair and got her to talk.
"Impression complete," she said, "Hello master" and I smiled. What it with these power games that's so un-sexy? Yuck!
"Call me David."
Her joints weren't rusted or anything (I doubt it could rust) but only her head was moving and her lips formed the words softly as she spoke. I searched in her manual and found what I wanted.
I remembered to press her command button before I spoke. "Anita? Run all self-diagnostic tests, and enter conversational mode after that."
I could imagine wheels whirring inside her, and it was a while before she spoke again. "Command completed David. Self-diagnostic tests reported no problems. I've also entered conversational mode."
Her stance changed a little after that, relaxing her arms from that robot-stance but I was more than a little surprised at the result of those tests. But she was standing there, waiting for a while and I realized that I didn't know what to do with her. I thought for a while and then asked her to follow me as I showed her around the apartment. She walked without any sort of stiffness at all and her motions were fluid and lovely to look at. I asked her to list her functions and she started rattling off a whole long list. I listened for a while until she got to D: Deductive Thinking, Defense, Drawing, Dishwashing, Doctoring, Dancing, Debating, Debugging, Decorating... yes it does get boring and repetitious after a while. I left her to simmer, asking her to lie down on the couch and sleep and went back to bed. I had a month off and more than enough time to learn more about Anita and as I drifted off, I saw her face and I saw her smile.
It was when I saw her with the sun shining around her early the next day that I realized how beautiful she was. Evidently her makers had reached a period where robots of her kind were custom-made. Some artist had been paid a hefty sum for her features, and some designer a dripping bucket for her body. I had gone to sleep with her in mind so when I saw her the next morning, I thought I was dreaming. But my yawns didn't make her go away, and as I stared up at her and saw her and smiled, she smiled too. That made her all the more beautiful. She was still wearing one of those ugly dresses from the shop, and I resolved to myself that first thing today, we were going to get her some real clothes. She had a cup in her hand which I knew to be coffee, and I smiled and accepted it. She evidently had been listening yesterday when I told her about my habits.
I took a sip of the coffee (nicely done, with just the right amount of sugar) and motioned her to sit. She still had a smile on her face as she sat on the side of the bed, and her gaze when it met mine was so unflinchingly blue that it was hard to stare at her and hard not to. It was so easy to imagine her as intelligent. The coffee, as usual, made me reflective and I thought about her face, and what was it about it that made her so beautiful.
I had taken a class on hairdressing once and they said that an oval shape was the most desirable. As if they could quantify desire! Personally, my favorite was the kind of face which they termed 'heart-shaped' with a bit-longer chin, enough to make it lose that annoying perfection. Definitely, Anita had a heart-shaped face, but that was not quite it. I stared at her eyes - blue and fierce, her hair - curled up in a fashion which I'm soon about to change, her eyebrows - yummily lickable, her lips...
"Anita, can I kiss you?"
She smiled and nodded and I set the cup down and she moved into my arms and we fit - like lock and key, like star-crossed lovers of Old and I quietly moaned into her warm mouth, shaken. She was an idiot robot for Christ's sake! I looked into her eyes, trying to tell myself that and I flinched at her eyes. Then, I knew that I couldn't let Anita go. Perhaps it was a subtle combination of her looks and her programming, but whatever the hell it was, it stuck on to me.
"Anita, I hope you learnt a bit of the history of the world since they made you, did you?"
"Yes, David, I looked at the discs you gave me."
"Do you have some questions?"
She nodded and started to speak but I cut her off. "Later ok? Right now we're going out - have to get you some nice clothes, a new hairdo and let's see some shoes, some nice makeup, some heels maybe?" I was thinking aloud at that point and I didn't notice when I offered her a hand or when she took it, but we went hand in hand to my box and I plugged in to voice my demands.
"Glasses," she said suddenly.
"Huh?" I was pretty much into my list when I heard that and it didn't connect at all. I searched my mind, but didn't need to, because Anita was elaborating.
"If you are going to buy me stuff I'd like some glasses."
.... There is more of this story ...