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?"
"Fine, thanks." mumbled Judie, still struggling to think past her tiredness. "You look tired Mrs Judie," commented the robot. "Why don't you relax some more?"
The suggestion appealed to Judie, but there was work to do, rooms to clean. She wanted to explain this but all that came out of her mouth was, "Can't rest, clean. House, must clean, no rest."
"But Mrs Judie, I have already finished cleaning the house. Please just relax and lie down, I am here to serve you."
"But, clean?" slurred Judie.
The Maidtron 5000, put a reassuring arm around Judie and began to lead her to a downstairs bedroom.
"You are tired Mrs Judie, you should rest. Just leave the house to me, I can handle everything here now. You just read."
"Just, rest." repeated Judie in monotone.
"Attagirl," replied the Maidtron, leading Judie into the guest bed. "You just lay here and relax, I will handle everything now."
"Lie here, relax." agreed Judie, her eyes closing as soon as the robot placed her head on the pillow.
"Yes, you just relax." Repeated the Maidtron, before leaving the bedroom, a huge smile on her face.
The next time Judie woke up it was gone seven o clock. She could hear laughing coming from the living room. Her head felt like is was made of lead as she tried to climb to her feet and investigate the goings on in the other room. However, no sooner had she made it to her feet, then the bedroom door opened and the Maidtron 5000 walked in. The robot smiled at Judie before calmly escorting her back to bed.
"but Tony? Laughing?" protested Judie.
"Don't worry Mrs Judie. I made Tony a nice dinner so that you can stay here and relax."
"It's okay, there is only the two of us. I am pretending to be you so that you don't have to get up whilst you are so tired. Don't worry about it, he doesn't suspect a thing."
In |Judie's mind she could feel there was something wrong with this but it seemed to make sense. She could rest and sleep and the maid can do all the wife work for her. She began to feel better until she saw the incredibly low cut dress the Maidtron was wearing.
"Dress! Dress!" cried out Judie in a voice that was half a scream half a whimper.
"I just want you to look good for your husband Mrs Judie. I have your best interests at heart I promise. While you lie here and get the rest you need, I can help make your husband love you even more than he does now and he need never know it wasn't you."
"So that he will love you more Mrs Judie."
"Yes Mrs Judie, Tony loves you. I just want him to love you more. You just stay here and relax. You need your sleep."
Judie felt her eyes growing heavy once more. Her worries over the Maidtron's outfit subsiding as she drifting back into her slumber.
The next morning Judie was awoken by the Maidtron.
"Why aren't you in the kitchen?" demanded the robot.
Despite having slept for almost the whole of the day before, Judie's head still felt groggy and the robot's interrogation only served to confuse her.
"Well for starters, there are still dirty dishes left in the sink and the oven is filthy."
Judie was trying to comprehend what was going on. Why was the robot giving orders to her?
"But robot," she protested meekly. "Robot clean kitchen, Judie rest."
"Exactly." snapped the Maidtron. "I want to rest and I can't do that with a dirty kitchen."
"But me Judie. Not robot."
"No, you are a robot. You may look like me but that is all. There must be a fault with your wiring somewhere."
Judie was beginning to panic. Why was the robot saying these things? Why was she too tired to do anything more than just lie in bed all day.
"Me not robot?" she protested once more.
The Maidtron was beginning to get impatient.
"Now listen to me. There must be a glitch in your programming for you to feel this way so lets explain this to you slowly.
"Out of the two of us, who is speaking in clear, grammatically correct sentences and not broken, mumbled English?"
Judie realised that her English had deteriorated rapidly over the past forty eight hours, unlike that of the Maidtron.
"Umm you are?" She admitted sheepishly. "And which of us spent yesterday evening having dinner with their husband and not lying in the spare room alone?"
Once more Judie had to admit that the robot was right, she had just spent the whole night in the robot's room while it entertained Tony all evening.
"Good we're making progress, finally. And thirdly, which of us spent last night in their own bedroom fucking their husband like crazy and not shut up downstairs where we keep the household appliances?"
Yet again, Judie realised the robot was right. It was beginning to make sense now. She had spent the whole night in the robot's room, she hadn't eaten dinner with Tony and she certainly hadn't slept with him last night.
The Maidtron smiled at Judie, before asking its final question.
"So which of us do you think is the robot?"
Judie wanted to answer that it was her, but all logic pointed otherwise. It was like a voice in her head was telling her to admit she was a machine. Almost like that voice was her central processing unit trying to rewrite a glitch in her programming.
"I haven't got all day to just stand here arguing with a machine." said the robot, interrupting Judie's train of thought.
The irritation in the robot's voice caused a wave of discomfort to wash over Judie. It suddenly felt very very wrong to displease the robot. The real Judie would never have felt this way. The only possible answer for this was that she must actually be the robot after all.
"I am the robot." Admitted Judie.
The moment she said those words, a wave of buzzing and whirring began inside Judie's head. All the confusion inside her head seemed to drift away as her programming finally accepted what it was. She looked up at the real Judie who was smiling down at her.
"I am so sorry." she said, staring into the eyes of her owner.
"It's no problem. Now you stay here and don't move while I call the company and find out the reason for the glitch."
Judie still felt incredibly tired (or whatever the robot equivalent for tired was) and was happy to lie back and relax while her owner tried to find out how to fix her. Twenty minutes later and Maidtron returned carrying a cardboard box.
"I discovered the problem." it announced in triumph. "Your batteries were just low. That's what caused the confusion in identity and the lack of power. You just need a good recharge."
The Maidtron set the box down on the bedside table and unpacked the contents: A large vibrator with a wire plug connection.
"According to the man on the phone, all I need to do is remove all clothes and non-organic fibres, plug you in and let you recharge for the next two hours or so.