It was a Friday afternoon around 4pm and Judie was almost finished cleaning. Living in a 4 bedroom house had many advantages, but the time it took to keep the place looking neat and tidy was not one of them. It was an almost daily task to go from room to room, dusting and hoovering so much that she barely had time to finish before it was time to prepare dinner for her husband.
Judie loved Tony and knew that he worked very hard to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. However, she spent the whole week feeling shattered at home on her own all day and there were times that this really got her down. Tony had offered to hire a maid on numerous occasions, but Judie didn't feel comfortable letting a stranger walk freely around her home as they pleased. Therefore there was no option but to fill the role of overworked housewife herself.
Just as she finished adding the final layer of polish to the coffee table, there was a knock at the door. She went to answer it and there was a delivery man standing there, propping up a cardboard box that must have been almost six feet high.
"Package for Mr and Mrs Miles." said the delivery guy.
"What is it? I don't remember ordering anything this size."
"I just deliver'em Miss I'm afraid. All I can tell you is that it's paid for and bought in the name of Miles at this address."
"Oh, well it must be another one of my husband's follies then." surmised Judie, signing for the package and wishing the delivery man well on his way.
Twelve years of marriage had taught Judie to expect all sorts of weird gadgets and gizmos to turn up unannounced at the front door in package form. She assumed it was Tony's way of managing his frustrations. He always told her that he understood if she didn't want to have sex as often as he would like, but over the years, once a week had become once a fortnight, once a month and now pretty much only on birthdays and Valentines. He was always trying to get her in the mood, but he never complained when he was predictably shot down.
In the past few months Judie had opened packages containing model train sets, flight simulators, an indoor putting green and even a clay pigeon shooting set. She was always intrigued as to what the next new toy could be. She was glad the box was on wheels as it must have weighed about fifty kilos and now it was standing in her living room, almost begging to be opened.
Judie knew that it wasn't anything she had ordered, but the delivery was in her name too so she figured there would be no harm in opening the box up before Tony got home. She Fetched a knife from the kitchen and sliced away at the tape sealing the box until she was face to face with her newest possession.
She didn't quite know what to make of it at all. Was it a sculpture? Some sort of metallic scarecrow? She couldn't work out why even a whim-driven impulse buyer like her husband would need a metal statue.
Judie ran her hand over the face and head of the statue. She found a switch located at the back of its head which she accidentally flicked before she could even realise what it was.
An extremely bright flash filled the room, as if someone had just taken a photo with an ancient Victorian camera. Judie found herself temporarily blinded by the intensity of the light. She rubbed her eyes to try and rub away the blur in her vision and when clarity returned, she found herself staring at a naked version of herself happily standing in the packaging box where the metal statue had been.
"Hi there." smiled the naked Judie, in a voice identical to that of original Judie. "I am the Maidtron 5000 at your service."
In her shock, Judie had momentarily forgotten how to speak or understand English. She just stared, open-mouthed at herself who was just smiling back at her.
"Huuh? Wha? Buh? Me?" was as close to English as Judie was able to make pass through her lips.
The Maidtron 5000 seemed to understand Judie's confusion and began to answer her questions, even though they hadn't yet been asked.
"I'm the Maidtron 5000. The pinnacle of Robot Maid technology. I am programmed to cook, clean, polish, hoover and carry out over 150 different household chores."
"Yes I carry a five year warranty, a thirty day no questions asked refund period and am also waterproof to three hundred feet."
Before Judie had the change to blurt out another syllable, the front door sounded and Tony came into the living room.
"FLuhh nuhh nuhh gah flugle guhh!" spluttered Judie gesticulating at the naked copy of herself.
Tony walked over to his and took her hand reassuringly. "Hey Judie, relax. Just take a deep breath and I can explain this."
Judie finally paused for thought and the English language came back to her. Unfortunately for Tony, this meant that all of her confusion, shock and anger was heading his way.
She threw his hands away and shouted, "What the fuck is this!"
"Honey, please I can explain this."
"What can you explain!? That you're a freak? That you want to make naked copies of me for when I'm not around?"
"No it's not like that, she wasn't meant to look like you."
"So you wanted to cheat on me with a robot!"
"No no no, it's not like that at all."
"Then who was she supposed to look like? Your secretary? Cynthia from number sixty nine?"
"Please Judie listen to me? I was going to make her look like Mrs Appleby. You need to believe me, I didn't know you were going to open the box."
"Mrs Appleby is eighty five years old. What is wrong with you!"
"It's not a sex toy Judie, it's a gift for you."
"A gift! What would I want with a naked copy of myself?"
"It's a mechanised maid. I bought it to do the housekeeping for you. To give you more time to relax."
"So then why does it look like me and why is it naked."
"It will look like whoever flicks the switch at the back. That's why I wanted to get Mrs Appleby to do it so that you wouldn't think I want to use it for sex."
"And the nakedness?"
"It takes DNA from the person who flicks the switch. Its bio-organic so will look and feel like a real person. We have to give it clothes to wear." Judie was beginning to calm down as the explanation of her husband started to make sense.
"So we can just get Mrs Appleby to flick the switch instead and it won't look like me anymore?"
Tony hesitated, "It's not that simple anymore. The switch is buried under it's new hair and skull. We need to call the company to restore it to factory settings and with the bank holiday there won't be anyone there now until Tuesday."
Judie felt like flaring up again but resisted the urge. "So on Tuesday we can change her to not look like me?"
"And it is just a robot maid. Trained to cook and clean?"
"And walk pets and baby-sit children." perked up the Maidtron 5000.
Both Tony and Judie glared at the robot briefly before Tony confirmed to Judie that it was just a maid, nothing more.
"Well then, I suppose I can survive a weekend with another me in the house."
"Great. I'm so sorry about all this, it was supposed to be a surprise for you."
"Well it certainly was that." agreed Judie. "Now I need to go make dinner, I haven't even got started in the kitchen."
"Don't worry about it." Replied Tony, "We have a robot now. Let's find out how good its cooking programme is."
Judie was unsure about letting a machine do the cooking, but decided that she should give the robot maid idea a chance.
"Okay, but we need to get it into some clothes first."
An hour later and Tony and Judie were polishing off the best meal either of them had ever had.
"I have to accept, that was pretty good." admitted Judie. "I think I can live without having to cook if this is the result."
Tony smiled over at her. "And the best thing is, there is no washing up to do either, it's all taken care of. We can just relax in each other's company for once."
Tony got up and walked over to Judie, took her hand in his and coaxed her to her feet.
"We free to do anything we want..."
Judie knew where this conversation was going and like always she wasn't in the mood.
"I know dear," she said in a tone that Tony recognised as one which meant he was going to hear what he wanted to hear, "But why don't we just relax with a glass of wine in front of the TV tonight? I'm still pretty tired from cleaning the house."
"If that's what you want to do." replied Tony, trying to mask his disappointment.
So Judie and Tony spent the evening on the Sofa watching the ALF marathon on the Alien Channel, the Maidtron 5000 happily refilling their glasses as needed.
As the night progressed, Judie found herself getting more and more tired. She assumed it was because of the wine, but she wasn't that drunk, just unable to keep her eyes open. After her third glass of wine, Judie realised she had to go to bed. Tony was pretty much nocturnal so she kissed him goodnight and went to her room. She was out like a light the second her head hit the pillow.
The next day, Judie was awoken by the sound of hoovering in the hallway. She still felt shattered from the night before. She realised she was alone which meant that Tony had already gone to work. Her eyes focused on the bedside clock and she was amazed to discover it was 2'o'clock in the afternoon!
Judie leapt out of bed, stumbling her way out of her bedroom, trying to wake herself up. Tony would be home in three hours and there was all the housework to do.
Once out in the hallway she was confronted by the Maidtron 5000.
"Hi Mrs Judie. How are you today?"
.... There is more of this story ...