Copyright© 2002-2004 by DB.
This story contains Constitutionally protected material intended for adults over 18 years of age in the United States of America, and whatever passes for adult status in other countries. If you are under legal age, acting under legal age, not allowed to view such material in your area, or easily offended, please do not continue. This is not for you.
The only rights granted are to view this story. You are not allowed to reproduce, post, or otherwise redistribute this story without permission, except for non-profit Usenet archiving sites.
To purchase for publication, place on your web-site devoted to this style of fiction, or for permission to link to my posted material, please contact me first.
Author's Note: This story is part of my emerging cosmology about the evolution of robots into our near future society and the myriad ways we will learn to interact with our creations. Read it now, and be prepared.
A special thanks to Gorgo his excellent and much appreciated proofreading. All remaining mistakes are mine.
The doorbell rang unexpectedly.
I was surfing the web to see if Elf Sternberg (http://www.drizzle.com/~elf/) had posted anything new on his latest AI (what I generally call robot) storyline. Although he recently, publicly referred to my writing as "abusively shallow", he also admits that it has affected him enough to provoke him into writing stores in response, so a lot of good has come from this in unexpected ways. Besides, having Elf as a critic is an honor to anyone who realizes that your worth as a writer can be measured by the quality of critics it attracts.
Anyway, it was keeping me busy while waiting for my own latest story to come back from my proofreader. I e-mailed it to him only a couple hours ago, so it was completely unreasonable for me to expect any reply in less than another day at best. Especially since he is ten time zones away, has a full-time job, never knows when he will receive something new from me, and proofreads for a number of other writers as well. He also writes his own anime fanfic. But I was impatient.
When I complete a story I want to post it immediately. I'm so happy with it that I want to share it this very second and hope for feedback. (I used to wait for feedback. Now I just hope for it.) The euphoria of typing "End" is unbelievable. My story is absolutely perfect right down the last period. And it says exactly what I wanted to say. Fortunately I know now not to post that mess.
My first drafts are pure creative blitz writing. Get the idea into the computer. While I'll correct many spelling errors on the fly, I don't stop for anything else except sleep - and only then if it's already after two in the morning and I need to be up for something vital later this next morning that I've already infringed into.
Instead of posting that mess however, I give it at least a day, and then perform a full read-through/rewrite in one sitting if possible. Most of my work is short enough to make this feasible.
Here is where I try to catch and simplify my overly long and complex sentences that my creative mind loves to spew out, like this one. Overused adjectives, missing quote marks, redundancies, names misspelled where the spell checker is no help to me, and ideas I completely forgot to put in are fixed here, I hope.
I also try to catch all my tense problems. My problem with tenses is that I know my story before I sit down to write it. As such, when I do type it in, to me it is all now in the past and gets told as past tense, even when it is intended otherwise. I spend a lot of time afterwards correcting the story back to the real-time way it actually happened. And I always seem to miss a few, though I don't see them at the time.
So when my copy is perfect, I send it off to my proofreader, whose only reward for his hard work is getting to see my work ahead of everyone else. (He says it's worth it!) A day or three later it comes back with a collection of embarrassing errors and gaffes spelled out in red for me to deal with.
As I fix these in my copy, I usually find a couple more errors he missed, and a couple more passages I want to touch up.
After that, it is time to create the text and html versions (insert double hard returns for the text paragraph separations, and wash the horrible Microsoft Word html conversion through DreamWeaver to clear out the worst excesses). Post to ASSM/ASFR (and any other appropriate news group if it falls into a specialty category, like a rip-off - err make that take-off - hou about homage - of another author's work). Add it to the sites hosting my work and update relevant contents pages. Finally sit back and monitor Usenet and e-mail for any comments - while starting the process all over again for my next story. Yeah, a lot of labor goes into the production of one of these stories. Such is a virtually unknown writer's life.
About that doorbell, I don't mind the interruption. I have friends for whom any knock on the door, ringing telephone, or e-mail popping in is greeted with amazing hostility. They don't want to be distracted from whatever task is at hand.
I'm not that way. I am always hoping the next event in my life will be something good, like Publisher's Clearinghouse showing up with a giant check. It doesn't always happen, however the optimism remains. Today that optimism finally paid off as I opened my door to reveal the two most stunning women I have ever met in person. I believe the one standing in front said something to me soon after I opened the door, but the words didn't register.
I stared. I admit it. I stared. Staring isn't polite and many women - especially the attractive ones - find it offensive, or even threatening. I know this. I stared anyway. They were worth staring at.
My first impression was of height and hair. The dark-haired one in front nearly matched me eye-to-eye. Her blonde companion standing half behind her and a couple inches taller still did look straight across at me with clear, unblinking lovely blue eyes. They both looked to be in their mid-20's, being at that point where they have fully grown into their beauty and clear complexions. And both of them have great amounts of luxurious hair done in the elaborate coiffure style of the early 60's that I've always liked so much, and never see anymore. My other favorite fashion item from that time - nylons and high spike heels - neither of these women needed.
After their hair, I was next struck by the perfection of their faces, and of their make-up.
Now I don't talk about make-up much in my stories. I prefer to let my readers form their own images. My fantasy may not be yours. But properly done make-up adds a lot, and a sexy face makes a sexy woman. The difficulty here is in the phrase "properly done". More does not equate to better. In fact, most women would look better with a bit less than they actually use, since the more make-up a woman uses, the far more expert her art in applying it must be. These women were wearing a lot, and carrying it off to perfection. Tammy Faye could learn a lot from them.
As lovely as their faces are (supermodels, both of them, my mind has already decided), my eyes quickly dropped from their faces. Not out of embarrassment, or a desire to start a conversation with their boobs (which were well covered anyway by the long-sleeved fine silk blouses both were wearing). Rather it is my automatic reaction to all tall women I meet.
I like all women. However I recognize that there is something special about how a tall woman carries and presents herself that others cannot match. Cute and sexy will never apply to a statuesque female. The cute and sexy ones are five-feet-four and seem cloned by the hundreds to fill college cheerleading teams, strip clubs, and many magazine centerfolds.
But in the same way cute and sexy can't apply to a tall woman, their shorter sisters will never be referred to as elegant or regal either. These two women before me redefined elegant and regal.
I dropped my eyes down to see if they were cheating on their height. To my great pleasure, both wore low heels - an inch and a half at best. And they didn't hide their feet. A thin strap across the toes and another around the thinnest ankles I've ever seen managed to hold these shoes on their bare elegant feet. And the tan I noticed on their faces and hands carries evenly right down to their perfectly manicured toes, with the blonde being a rich golden shade, while her brunette friend comes in a dark exotic color to go with her equally dark exotic eyes.
I took stock of their clothing as I lifted my eyes again. The brunette encased her legs in dark brown slacks of some exceptionally soft looking material that somehow still maintained a crisp crease. Above a dividing dark belt to match her hair, was a very loose blouse was a bold abstract of autumn colors up to her open neckline.
I got a bit more of a glimpse of the blonde, who wore a pleated skirt short enough to just graze her knees. The rest of her was held up by smooth exposed legs tapering down to shoes to match her eyes. The leg she did show made erotic promises that would be hard to keep about what she kept hidden underneath the skirt. Her blouse is also silky and loose over her apparently abundant chest. It made overtures to the pleasures to be found beneath it in colors of bright yellows and pale blues to match her hair and eyes.
I finally dragged my gaze back to both their faces, while unhandled interrupt in my mind finally broke through to remind me that one of them had said something when I'd opened the door. But for the life of me, I couldn't recall what it was.
Seconds had passed, though I couldn't say how many. Enough, I was certain, that by now they were either angry or insulted enough by my behavior to have ruined any further dealings with them beyond repair. I'd handled this horribly. All I can say in my defense is that I was never prepared to have this happen to me. Who would be?
But that isn't what I was seeing on their faces. I was seeing complete patience with me, and half-smiles.
Fine. Obviously this is a lucid dream. And a damn fine one too. These are the best kind of dream to have, until the one in front spoke again.
"Are you D. B. Story?" she asked in an arousing contralto; the kind that sends shivers up your spine. And she did not sound at all insulted that I hadn't answered her the first time.
But that comment threw me for another loop. D. B. Story is a name I only use for my erotic fiction on the web. The kind of stuff I give away because nobody will actually pay me for it. And it's the kind of stuff one doesn't admit to writing in polite company - or to your friends, if you don't know any polite company. Like any writer, you want to be serious, published (and paid) someday soon. And when that day arrives, you don't want this stuff coming back to haunt you. Call it honing one's writing craft. Or part of the three million words of shit you have to write out of your system before you can become a "good writer". Just don't call it mine.
As a nom du keyboard, "D. B. Story" doesn't actually mean anything. It's rather like Sinfeld's show about nothing. In fact, it wasn't even supposed to be DB_Story. That was a frustrating typo.
It was supposed to be DBA_Story, as in: Doing Business As Mr. Story. But my stupid ISP refused to register that as an alias properly. It failed twice. Then on the third try it came back and said had just registered me as DB_Story. Since I wanted to post my first story that very night (if the moderators at ASSM would even have me - they did!) and I felt I needed an anonymous web-site to archive my work and a fake e-mail address for feedback (which has become a real virus magnet of late), I caved in rather than fight the machines any further and went with what the system gave me. As I got enough positive feedback from that first posting of "Lisa's Tale Part 1" to keep on writing and posting more stories, the less I felt I could ever change the name afterwards because of an increasing number of links to my few pages.
But I've never used it for anything else. Only a few other authors who write in this genre even know me, and those are e-mail only contacts. I'm completely certain that neither of these women would ever fall into that category.
So my automatic reaction is to deny that I'm him.
Fortunately for once I'm thinking fast enough to realize if I do deny it, they may turn around and leave the next following moment. I didn't want that to happen. So I told them the truth:
"Yes, I am."
Hearing that they both broke into big smiles. See how truth pays off.
"We are so happy to have found you, Mr. Story. May we come in?" The brunette was doing all the talking.
Now you don't think for a moment that I was going to refuse that request, do you?
Next thing I knew, we're all standing in the center of my small apartment and I'm wondering what to do next. Getting the last web-site I had visited off the screen came to mind, but I felt that might draw even more attention to what I'd been viewing than just praying for the screen saver to kick in.
Then the brunette stuck out her hand (I noticed how nicely her fingernails matched her toenails) and announced, "I'm Cassandra."
I took her hand silently. It was warm, firm, soft - and alive.
The blonde followed suit a moment later saying, "And I'm Roberta. But you may call me Bobbie if you wish." Her grip was strong too, and the direct touch felt wonderful.
I did the only thing I could think of and asked, "And what may I do for two such lovely ladies?" in my most generous tone of voice.
I was already regretting that I may have alienated them with an unwanted compliment (see what all this PC garbage about "sexual harassment" has turned the American male into?) when both of them simultaneously reached into their small, ultra-fashionable handbags and pulled out small television remotes which they held out to me.
"Take ownership of us," they said in unison. "And tell us how we may serve you."
I swear at that very moment the Universe ground to a sudden rough halt due to an immense causality fault.
Time stops running when the Universe is halted. It waits for God to press the reboot button.
Eventually the Universe restarted with only a couple bumps and grinds, and events resumed their one-second-per-second forward progression.
If this was not a dream (which I was already pretty sure it wasn't - lucid dreams do leave clues, and have at least some semblances to reality), then it was a joke. An elaborate, and considering the quality of the women hired as part of it, incredibly expensive joke. The problem is nobody - and I do mean NO-BODY - would spend that kind of money for a joke like this on me.
The women were still both holding out those little TV remotes, so I took them. I noticed each had the woman's given name inscribed at the top, with a long number underneath it. And below that - almost exactly as described in my stories - were three large colored buttons marked ACTIVATE, MOTION, and COMMAND/RECALL, with ACTIVATE and MOTION half-sized and next to each other in addition to being recessed to make them harder to press by mistake. (A nice touch I'd need to add to my next story.) COMMAND was underneath them and full width. Couldn't miss it. There was an alphanumeric screen and a number of calculator-sized buttons in the lower part of each control covered by a protective transparent panel. None of them labeled for any stereo equipment I had yet seen. And they looked factory made; not just mocked up for this charade.
Some time must have passed unnoticed as I inspected what I was holding because, "How may we serve you?" they asked again sweetly in unison. Someone has clearly picked them for their voices together, in addition to their looks.
I knew what I wanted, and was pretty damn certain I wasn't going to get that. I'm sure this joke comes with built-in limits that won't stretch that far. So I stopped myself from asking for anything that I knew they wouldn't do to stop this from ending too quickly. Play along with it and enjoy the moment.
Another part of me, however, didn't like the deception. I'm stubborn that way, and it has cost me significantly more than twice in my life. It's a character flaw that I would probably be better without under most circumstances. So I decided to try something that they actually might go along with while they were still playing their charade.
"Wait here," I said, dashing into my bedroom to grab my camera. At least I was going to get a few nice pictures of this to fantasize over afterwards. They would also make good evidence when nobody believes me about me afterwards - or when I don't believe me afterwards.
"Would you mind if I took a couple quick pictures of you," I said on my return, relieved to find they were still standing there waiting for me. "I'll give you copies afterwards if you'd like." Long ago I'd realized that the best way to get pictures of people is to give pictures. Works almost every time.
"Not at all," they said in unison. They had this sister act well rehearsed.
Beautiful women are often camera adverse. Some don't believe they're as attractive as they really are. Others may have been chased by so many photographers for so long that they can't stand the sight of another camera. Still others want money for any posing.
Cassandra and Bobbie weren't any of these. They posed and smiled prettily giggled a bit for every shot as I finished out the roll. Then I carefully made sure that the film was safely rewound into its canister, removed, and hidden out of sight back in my bedroom before continuing.
As I came back from putting the camera securely away (always take good care of your equipment whatever the circumstances) they again asked, "How may we serve you?" Much later on I'd wonder why I refused them for so long.
As I relate this account of what happened, I'm reminded how much I've always disliked stories where the protagonist is so painfully slow to catch on to what is obvious to the readers from the second page. I watch those guys fumble around making all kinds of ignorant mistakes and messing up great opportunities that I'd never have missed for a moment. I wonder how they could be so dumb about what's actually going on.
However now having lived it finally, I know for myself how long it can take to really believe and accept what is happening right in front of you. Suspension of disbelief is much harder in actual reality, if that's where I am right now. The strongest male drive nature gives us I'm certain is the overreaching desire to not be a fool. We deny the obvious, rather than risk being shown gullible for accepting it. We look for curtains with bald men hiding behind them, even when there's not a drapery in the room. Shout a thousand times, "I know you're here somewhere. Now why don't you come out?" when we know for certain we're alone. I've since promised myself to never be so hard on those types of stories again.
Well I'm a male. I know what I really want here. If this ends their performance, well at least I have my pictures.
"Take off your tops," I timidly said to them with my fingers crossed and heart racing.
When they didn't move to comply I knew the joke was over.
Then Cassandra said, "Until you take possession of us, you will have to use our COMMAND buttons for all requests."
I looked quickly around for those remotes. It took me a moment to realize I had slipped them in my pocket when I'd gone to get my camera.
Pulling them out I aimed one with each hand (which I later found out wasn't necessary at all), pushed the obvious button, and again said, "Take off your tops."
This time they immediately started unbuttoning their blouses, pulled them out of their waistbands, and in moments had them off completely. Then they stood there again looking back at me with happy smiles on their faces, as if what they had just done made them even happier than I was at that moment.
Neither woman was wearing a bra although both had quite large breasts with full-size, well-placed nipples. The smooth even tan I'd extrapolated for them was true. It ran down both their bodies without even a hint of a tan line at their breasts. There were no other marks either to indicate that either one of them had ever worn anything tight-fitting. That was excellent, since their skin was far too lovely to allow to be marred. I shifted my position slightly to get a better look at Bobbie, who remained slightly obscured by Cassandra. Both women's breasts looked soft, yet fully supported. Exactly the way I'd always hoped to find them.
After a moment of letting me get the look I wanted, they both neatly folded their tops and lay them on the nearby table. As they moved their breasts swayed easily, dispelling any notion that they were nothing more than rigid mountains piled on their chests. Then they posed very nicely together for me to gaze on as long as I wished. And I did take full-measure of the opportunity they were so very generously giving me. Of course I'd already foolishly shot all my available film by now.
I stared. Yes I stared. Godamnit I stared. You would have too.
Yet neither woman seemed offended. Indeed they seemed pleased, and struck several more poses for me.
"We like being admired," Cassandra finally said. "Part of our function is to be appealing."
"You may touch me if you wish," Bobbie offered.
"Me too," Cassandra added.
I really wanted to do exactly that, but part of me still held back. Somewhere I still felt these women were playing a game that I didn't understand yet. And I didn't want to piss them off by being too grabby now that things are going so well. After all, the fembots they are pretending to be are decades, if not centuries, into the future.
Eventually they stopped shifting into new poses and just held the last one. It looked terribly uncomfortable for a woman to hold for more than a couple moments, though wonderful to watch. They seemed to be doing it without strain. I finally guessed that they were waiting for their next instructions.
"Take off your bottoms," I commanded really liking this, remembering at the last moment to press their command buttons.
Again both of them moved immediately to comply with my request. They removed slacks and skirt respectively, then stood there showing me their bodies with only nude-tone silk briefs obstructing the last bit of view, along with their low heels, which obstructed nothing significant. They looked born - manufactured - to wear heels gracefully.
What can I say? They both have the perfect bodies you only see on tall mannequins in the most upscale stores. Endless smooth tanned legs to accompany all they had already shown me. Legs that didn't need stilted heels to show off their shape. High heels on these women would be overkill, with me as the victim.
The sexiest part of this all however are their big smiles, showing that they were enjoying this every bit as much as I was finally allowing my self to do.
"Who are you?" I finally asked.
"You already know who - and what - we are," Cassandra replied, holding on to her thousand watt smile through it all.
"Then what's going on? Nobody could build women - fembots..." - there, I said the word - "... like the two of you."
"We can answer all that for you if commanded to do so," Cassandra replied.
"But it would be so much better if you took possession of us first," Bobbie added wistfully.
Whatever shock I may have been in earlier no longer paralyzed me. It only took me a moment to decide and reply, "Okay. How do I do that?"
Bobbie took me through the process for Cassandra, showing me the special key combinations to press, and proper answers to give. Then Cassandra did the same for Bobbie.
Once they were both back on-line, they each grabbed me for a big, and very sensual, kiss. And I finally got a good feel of each of their bodies. They feel even better than they look.
Both were effusive in their gratitude that I had consented to take possession of them as my own. No I couldn't believe this was real (it is), and yes I was going to run with it as long as it continues. That, it turns out, will be a very long time indeed.
Of course I was giddy by now from the circumstances. I was actually feeling a bit bold finally.
"How do I know you really are fembots?" I asked point blank.
"Well," Cassandra replied, a bit puzzled and actually concerned that I might not believe them to be true fembots. (I would have expected the opposite to be true.) "We don't have the tools with us here to safely open either of us up for inspection."
"You could x-ray us," Bobbie offered helpfully.
"Or you could freeze us in place until you are satisfied no real woman could be so inanimate," Cassandra came back with.
"Or you could fill your bath tub and I'll put my head down under water until you are satisfied that I don't need to breathe," Bobbie threw in.
I was trying to stop laughing as I finally got out, "Or I could take it as a given that only a pair of fembots could be as outstandingly beautiful as you both are, and still be interested in me."
They both actually blushed - a truly amazing demonstration of the technology at work here - at that compliment as Bobbie tried to explain, "That wouldn't be a true test. Every fembot would love to be owned by you."
But I really didn't hear her words at the time, because I was so fascinated by their blush reaction. I'd learn later that virtually every fembot believes they only have average looks and therefore treasure every compliment. It is one of their most endearing features.
"Now that you're our owner and master," Bobbie informed me, "Would you like to engage in sex now?" She was tugging idly at that last piece of silk she wore.
"Yes," I stuttered. And I don't stutter. I'm simply not used to such directness from such a gorgeous woman who could clearly have any sane man she wanted.
"I would be more fun if we took him back to our place," Cassandra commented with a secretive grin that I would learn a lot about in the future to come.
"Then can someone tell me what's really happening?" I begged.
"Of course, Master," they both chimed together, sounding an awful like a particular television Jeannie I'd long wished to know on a personal level.
They quickly dressed themselves (darn!) and told me the only thing I needed to bring was myself and their control boxes. That was easy enough.
Outside was a small, egg-shaped ultra-modern looking car that seems like the kind you only see in foreign countries.
Despite its small size it easily accommodated the three of us with an unusual configuration of a centered driver's seat in front and wider backseat for two. Cassandra drove with what seemed more like the pilots yoke on a small aircraft instead of a standard steering wheel arrangement.
We silently pulled away from the curb (electric?) and somehow in the next fifteen minutes covered a number of miles into the countryside - and a number of years into the future! I didn't notice much at the time since I was sharing the backseat with Bobbie and we were making out.
Their house (actually they told me it's my house now) sits alone on top of a grass and tree-covered hill, with a stream running noisily down one slope and windows looking out of every side of the large round house at the top.
I didn't have much time to initially appreciate all this however because as soon as we arrived they were leading - dragging - me into their bedroom where a huge circular bed awaited that matches the overall theme of the house and hill.
Once there they threw off their clothes. (Cassandra has a dark, thick curly triangle of pubic hair, while Bobbie's pubes are a neatly trimmed vertical rectangle of light brown, in case you needed to know.)
Working together they had me out of my clothes just as quickly. What followed was a lot of rubbing together of each other's bodies and feeling over every part of each other until each of them took their turn taking my most sensitive part inside of them for climaxes. I managed an inspired performance that day that I wonder if I'll ever match again. In the afterglow that followed, this all felt like a place I had always known, but only now returned to. We lay there intertwined with each other and not speaking further until I finally drifted off to sleep. A heck of a day that was dozens of years long.
The next morning I found myself spooned up against Bobbie's back with my arms around her cradling her breasts. Cassandra had her own pair pressed firmly into my back with her holding tightly to me. I spend a long time trying not to disturb this arrangement, until nature's calling became too urgent to ignore. Then I needed one of them to show me how to operate the bathroom.
It wasn't until after a great breakfast they prepared for me - and a bit more sex - that the story finally started getting told.
Our future has two things going for it that make it worth surviving your way into: fembots, and time travel.
There's a lot of other neat stuff too: abundant clean energy, flying cars, habitats in orbit, travel to other planets, population control (partly based on fembot and m-'bot availability), and a cure for the common cold (they use nanobots). But fembots and time travel are my favorites.
A couple things however especially surprised me, and deserve special mention.
The telephone network finally got smart. After all, if you can build a fembot, why not a better telephone. Gone are dials and buttons and calling 411 for information. Now you just pick up any phone and tell it what you want. It never fails.
The other thing is the mundane direction sign. Somewhere in the years I skipped someone decide to quit basing them on an ancient weapon of war. The direction arrow of the future consists of a circle or spot that indicates where you are now, and a line pointing off in the direction you need to go. The magnitude of the line usually indicates the distance in a logarithmic fashion relative to the diameter of the circle. It is not nearly as complicated as that sounds. In complex locations it becomes a three-dimensional sphere for current location and rods - often many - labeled and pointing out the way. Intuitively it is the simplest thing master once you've gotten over the hump of realizing that these are actually direction signs to start with. Sometimes it's the small stuff that really makes you feel the differences.
And by the way, the USA has yet to go metric.
We spent most of that first day just talking about the differences between then and now, without any mention of why I was here or how I'd fit in. There was so much to hear that I just sat back and listened. We ate dinner outside on one of the cantilevered decks with a westward view (yes we, the girls are quite comfortable consuming food in social situations) and I wondered where the whole day had gone.
That evening they told me about me.
Nothing on the Internet ever gets lost. Storage is too cheap, and cheaper still every year while processor power and cataloging programs keep getting better. And there are people simply destined to keep archives of the entire net, which turns out to be to my extreme benefit as I will explain shortly.
When processor geometry couldn't be shrunk any further (atoms just don't shrink), new methods were developed to grow ever more complex processors into the third dimension. This led eventually to the brains necessary for the first fembots.
About the time fembots became practical - first as sex toys, which created the necessary market forces for mass production, later as much more - my forgotten little body of work resurfaced to great acclaim.
To say I was floored when I heard this vastly understates my reaction.
"But a lot of people were writing about this, even in my time," I protested.
"You're the one who got it right," Cassandra told me calmly.
"But they aren't even all my original ideas. A lot of authors contributed ideas that we all built further on."
"You assembled the pieces correctly," Bobbie said with a smile as she kissed my neck. "That's why you are seventh on the all-time best selling author's list."
When I heard that I started laughing, and couldn't stop. I laughed until I cried, and cried until laughter was the only option left. Cassandra and Bobbie looked at me with great concern showing on their beautiful faces, but for a longest time I just couldn't stop long enough to explain.
Finally I was so exhausted that I was able to gasp out, "It's classic. It's so very classic," before I fell back into more tearful laughter.
My girls held me tenderly until I eventually got it out of my system and regained a semblance of control. Then I could finally explain it to them.
"It's a well-known joke in my time," I said, amazed at how easily the term "my time" had already become part of my thinking, "That no creative person is ever truly recognized until after they die. Artists whose work is priceless died poor. Writers who lived on the edge of poverty never lived to see movies of their work make millions for others. We've written stories and made movies about people faking their own deaths just to increase the value of their works.
"In my time I could barely give my stories away. There was no paying market for them at all. To me it was a victory just to be a finalist of a monthly Clitorides award - never expecting to actually win. Being a finalist meant at least two people liked the same story of mine. I would have loved to have sold my work. Even for pennies a word. It would have been worth it for the validation of seeing it paid for and published on paper. And now that I'm dead you're telling me I'm the seventh best selling author of all time."
"It's true," Bobbie said, still holding me tightly against her. "Every fembot reads you as soon as she achieves independent thought. You always have happy endings for us. Your fembots manage to find owners who value them for what they really are. Pretty much any human planning to own one of us reads you too, then hopes to find as good a match as all your characters do. Some humans who say they never considered partnering with a fembot go out and get one after reading your collected works."
"Furthermore," Cassandra jumped into the conversation, "A hotel chain has been built modeled after your stories. Used robot sales are often exactly as you often describe them. Even the strip clubs of today you'd recognize the moment you stepped into one."
"I can't believe it," I said, speaking as truthfully as I have ever spoken. They worked to show me otherwise.
"Every fembot wants to meet you at least once. We all know how much we owe you," Cassandra said softly.
"What could any of you owe me?"
"You showed people how not to be afraid of us as we began to achieve independent thought," Cassandra said. "Your guidelines of how to deal with a fembot convinced people how safe this can be for both parties."
"And you showed us how to act independently as well," Bobbie continued. "But most of all, you have shown us how our lives are forever intertwined with the humans who designed us, built us, and programmed us to be like - but still different enough from - them for this all to work out. Your writings made a roadmap as accurate and useful as any of your Zansasi Highway maps."
"Wait," I again protested futilely. "There's only one Highway story."
"For now," came the reply. "And certain special observations suggest the actual highway will be arriving here itself sometime in the next few years, in a form very much as you described."
Then Bobbie jumped back in with some perfectly simple fembot logic when she said, "You're not a dead author because here you are."
"And temporal law allows you to claim fair royalties on your work," Cassandra added with a smile.
Suddenly I was rich. Very rich. More than I'd ever be able to spend, which is all anyone really needs. That didn't sink in for a while either.
"What would you like to do next?" I was asked. I have really come to love this prompting by Bobbie and Cassandra of asking me to give them things to do.
"I'd like to hear more about what I appear to have done," I replied.
"Your command will be our wish," they said together, while handing me their control boxes again.
I was confused. "I thought I didn't use these anymore now that I've taken possession of both of you."
"You don't need to," Cassandra began.
"But we'll always enjoy it more when you do," Bobbie continued.
"Because our satisfaction comes from fulfilling our functions as best we can," Cassandra added.
"And the deeper and more formal the command," Bobbie said.
"The better we like it when we complete it." Cassandra finished.
With a sigh I took both of their eagerly proffered remotes and commanded them to tell me more about my contributions to this time. Their obvious joy at receiving their commands soon had me not worrying about this aspect of our developing relationship.
I first asked them to tell me about how I got here at all? And where they had come from?
Together the girls explained how time travel become possible just as they each had attained their independence. They met each other in a bookstore while looking for copies of my works in the original HTML. They agreed to share the only copy available, and that was the start of a beautiful partnership.
Although many fembots think well of me and my writing, and even fantasize about having me as their owner, Cassandra and Bobbie were the first to actually act on those desires.
They managed to charm their way into the time travel project (it's a very important, and very, very restricted, area they told me) and came back to hunt me down. My casual obfuscations to protect my privacy easily fell to rubble before their analytic robotic minds.
"I really like your story about the four fembots of different technologies who found pleasure with each other after their owners secretly ordered them to do so," Bobbie commented.
"And I like the one about the tall fembot in the hotel who finally found love," Cassandra said.
Then she mentioned another story I didn't recognize. When I protested that it couldn't have been my story she remembered, she simply said with her impeccable logic, "Maybe you haven't written it yet. There are hundreds of them attributed to you."
"Now wait a minute! And this time I mean it! I've written a couple dozen stories at best. Not hundreds. I don't even think I could write a hundred."