At first glance, she seemed like a perfectly normal 27 year old woman. Standing at 5’6”, she was a perfectly normal height; with a pair of C cups, she had perfectly normal breasts; and her perfectly normal brunette hair was a perfectly normal shoulder length.
It was when she talked that Phil’s friends noticed something was a little…off.
“Greetings,” she said, her voice flat and monotonous, “friends of Dr. Philip Vernon, esteemed researcher and professor of robotic technology. I am Sam. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Gary and Dan, Phil’s friends who had come over to watch some football in the living room of Phil’s manor, looked at each other, unsure if they should shake Sam’s hands or report her to the nearest priest for an exorcism.
“Hi?” Dan said, uneasily holding out his hand for Sam to take.
Sam looked at the hand, puzzled. She took Dan’s hand in both of her own and started to wring it, like it was a rag she was trying to dry.
“Hey, hey, hey!” Dan said, trying to pull away.
“Ah shit,” Phil said, coming forward to break them apart, “Sam, Sam. Don’t do that.”
Sam staggered backwards, her arms flailing awkwardly to keep her balance. She caught herself and removed a strand of hair away from her eyes.
“My deepest apologies, friend of Dr. Philip Vernon, esteemed researcher and professor of robotic technology. I was unsure of what to do.”
“Really?” Gary bit back, as Dan rubbed his hands painfully, “You had me fooled, I assure you.”
“Uhh,” Phil said, nervously, “I didn’t really get that far into her programming yet. Greetings and farewells I kind of figured could wait. I wanted to get down walking, blinking, and general motor functions down before that sort of stuff. And I know her voice is a little…uhh…”
“Robotic?” Garry offered, “Unfeeling? Evil?”
“She can hear, yanno.”
“Yes,” Sam said, “I can. And I assume these hurtful words are merely a product of ill feelings from our aborted greeting. No harm is intended, I’m sure, so no harm is taken.”
“Hey, Phil,” Dan said, “mind if we talk in the other room. Away from…Sam, was it?”
Sam nodded, her neck making a metallic squeaking sound with each jerky movement.
“Right. Sam. So Phil. Kitchen, please?”
“Go on ahead, Phil,” Sam allowed, “I will search my database for quotes from movies that your friends enjoy so that I can repeat them and feel a sense of camaraderie.”
Sam’s eyes closed and a faint whirring sound was heard, like when a disc is inserted into a computer.
Phil, Dan and Gary all went into the kitchen aside the living room.
“Look,” Phil blurted out, raising a hand, “I know we have a few kinks to work out, but-”
“Phil,” Gary cut him off, “when you say you’re working out kinks with your girlfriend, it generally means things like you’re trying to make time for each other or you’re trying to set up counseling sessions. Not that you need to make sure that her voice over sounds like an actual human being.”
“I’m just having trouble deciding what kind of voice I want!” Phil reasoned. “I’m debating between a Scottish, Irish, and French accent, whaddya think?”
Dan and Gary stared with pity.
“Maybe all three? Like, I’ll set a command that switches the accent every four lines of conversation. That might just be possible…”
Phil nodded to himself and start muttering calculations under his breath. Gary put a comforting hand on Phil’s shoulder, who stared at the hand confused, like a crow had flown in through a window and landed there on his own accord.
“Phil, buddy,” Gary said solemnly, “is this about Casey?”
Phil looked dumbfounded and slightly offended.
“Casey?” he asked innocently. “Her? Casey? Bah. I don’t even think of her much anymore.”
Dan and Gary gave unconvinced glares.
“Oh fine,” Phil conceded, “maybe I think about her a bit. Maybe it’s the fact that we dated for two years and she doesn’t text or call ever.”
Dan and Gary didn’t know how to respond, feeling bits of sympathy for their good friend.
“Or maybe it’s the fact that she started dating a new guy mere days after she broke up with me.”
Dan and Gary remained silent.
“Or maybe it’s the fact that every girl I’ve tried to date since then has been a disaster, because I’m too afraid to open myself to anyone in case I get hurt again.”
“But never mind that,” Phil said, lighting up, “it’s totally not the reason I made Sam! I made Sam because it’s a great business opportunity. You guys know Pierre Descateaux, right?”
“Sure,” Gary said, “the guy who runs Daedalus Inc., the place that buys all your shit.”
“Right,” Phil said, “like old Carmichael here.”
Phil gestured to Carmichael, who was an old robotic butler invention of Phil’s. Carmichael was primitive looking compared to Sam, nothing more than a large square on wheels, rounded off by bulbous top. He had two spindly, metal arms that ended in claw like hands.
The hands held a broom which it slowly swept from side to side. His painted exterior’s finish had been made to look like a butler’s tuxedo, but the cruelty of time had tarnished it with streaks and scars.
Carmichael twirled around, two green, blinking lights standing in as eyes.
“Please,” he said in a tinny, poorly British accented voice, “kill me. I beg of you.”
“Maybe it’s time to decommission the thing?” Dan suggested helpfully.
“Carmichael?” Phil asked. “Never, he’s far too important to me. He’s the first robot I ever made, and he’s the reason I have the money to own a home like this and to continue my studies. Plus, we have too much fun together, don’t we buddy?”
Phil gave Carmichael a playful kick, which caused the robot to give a loud screeching sound that mercifully ended after a few seconds.
“There is a power button underneath my frame,” Carmichael pleaded, “it would take five seconds to flip off. One of you, just please.”
“So, Descateaux…” Dan said, hoping to distract them from the robot’s unsettling wishes.
“Right,” Phil continued, as Carmichael sighed and wheeled away to continue sweeping, “Pierre heard about Sam. He wants to come over for dinner and discuss the possibility of mass producing her.”
“Mass production?” Gary asked incredulously. “Of that? That soulless husk out there? For what?”
“For companionship, I suppose,” he answered.
“No,” Gary disagreed, “for something to fuck when you have nothing to fuck and when you realize rape is still a horrible crime.”
Phil was aghast at Gary’s claims.
“Are you implying something about me, Gary? Because guess what. I made Sam devoid of…uh…”
Phil looked at the kitchen door to make sure Sam wasn’t there.
“Lady parts,” Phil whispered.
“A pussy?” Gary remarked.
“Shhh! Stop, that sounds so…coarse. But yes, she doesn’t have any sort of vagina substitute because I’m not a god damned psycho.”
“Well, I suppose that’s admirable,” Gary said, flatly, “Make a robot girlfriend, because that’s normal, but keep things purely platonic by forgetting that whole vagina thing.”
“Listen,” Dan chimed in, “that’s not the thing that worries me. It’s the whole artificial intelligence turning evil thing. I mean, haven’t you seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? Or Terminator?”
“Or any movies involving robots, ever?” Gary added.
“Guys, stop worrying,” Phil responded, giving a confident shake of his head, “that’s not going to happen with Sam.”
Dan exhaled a sigh of relief.
“Good,” he said, “you instituted some sort of failsafe so that it’s impossible for Sam to become sentient?”
“No, I just made her really, really nice.”
“Back to Pierre Descateaux,” Phil said, trying to get things back on track, “he’s coming over and I would love it if you guys could come.”
“Huh?” Dan questioned.
“Yeah, huh?” Gary repeated, “Why do you need us?”
“Because it’s going to be very informal. I want to do this in a dinner party environment so that everything with Sam feels natural. I want Pierre to see her in an actual social environment, not have her run exercises in some sterile, test chamber.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Dan reasoned.
“And…” Phil said, trailing off.
“And what?” Gary snapped, sensing Phil had an ulterior motive.
“I was hoping you guys could invite Casey for me.”
“MOTHERFUCKER, I KNEW IT.”
“You knew what?” Phil asked with a trace of false obliviousness.
“Casey! This is all about Casey!”
“Who is this Casey?” a familiar, robotic, monotone voice said from the kitchen door.
They all turned to see Sam standing rigidly in the door way, her blank eyes darting back and forth between the three young men.
“No one, honey,” Phil said with a false bravado, “you can go back to doing whatever you were doing!”
“If you say so, Phillip. And hey, Daniel.”
Dan looked at Phil, unsure if he was supposed to answer Sam’s call. Phil urged Dan with a nod.
“Yeah?” he replied.
“’We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’”
“Jaws,” Sam explained, “it’s a line from Jaws. Do you know and enjoy that film?”
“It’s…pretty good, I suppose. Haven’t seen it in a while, but-”
“Ah, wonderful. Here’s another one. ‘And I’m not going to stand here and see that thing cut open and see that little Kintner boy spill outall over the dock.’”
“Man,” Gary said dryly with a shake of his head, “it’s like I’m watching the movie.”
“That’s fantastic, Sam,” Phil said, with feigned enthusiasm, “we’re almost done talking in here. If you could just wait in the living room?”
“Absolutely, Phillip. I will be waiting patiently.”
Sam mechanically turned around on her heel and marched back into the living room.
“Can totally see why Descateaux would want to mass produce that,” Gary said, sarcastically.
“She’s a prototype, you dick,” Phil responded, “like I said. Still working out the kinks. So what do you guys think? Could you talk to Casey? She doesn’t pick up for my calls and I doubt she’d RSVP to the invite I sent.”
Gary and Dan warily looked at each other, having a silent debate about whether helping Phil would be in his best interest. Gary shrugged, giving Dan the go ahead to say as he liked.
“Sure,” Dan said, “we’ll call her up and hang out and ask her then.”
“Hang out?” Phil blurted out, defensively, “no one said anything about that. I just wanted to you to ask her about the party. What, you guys close friends all of a sudden? Huh? HUH?”
Dan backed away and Gary shook his head.
“Jesus, Phil,” he said, “get a grip. We’re still friends with Casey, you have to accept that.”
Phil’s stature seemed to deflate and he sat a chair at the kitchen table.
“I know,” he mumbled, “it just hurts. I’m going crazy. Two years, I built my whole life around her. She was supposed to move in just a week before she broke up with me. I know it’s been like three or four months since it all happened-”
“Eight months,” Gary corrected.
“-eight months since it all happened, but it still sticks with you, yanno?”
Dan nodded with pity while Gary gave a subtle roll of his eyes.
“We’ll straighten it out at the party,” Gary simply stated.
Phil gave a weak smile.
“Thanks. If I didn’t have you guys, I don’t know what the hell I’d do.”
“Probably make robots of us,” Gary said with a wry grin.
The three young men laughed and started to leave the kitchen. Carmichael, still sweeping, quietly said, “What about my pain,” but was either not heard or ignored by the trio.
The three friends watched the rest of the football game as Sam sat stoically at her own chair. She watched the men intently, often aping their cheers and boos at the television. Dan and Gary awkwardly looked over whenever she did this, while Phil tried to distract their attention by making a remark about the game like, “Boy, they’re really having trouble running the ball, eh?” or “That kicker should be fired, how do you miss a kick like that,” or “Guys, stop looking at Sam like that, you’re making her uncomfortably.”
Mercifully for Dan and Gary, the game ended and they were able to leave the house. As they left, they gave one last cautious look at Sam, who was opening the door for them.
“Thanks, Sam,” Phil said. Then he whispered, “See? She’s nice, just like I told you.”
“I hope you gentlemen enjoyed your time with Phillip,” she said. A faint whirr sound then emitted from her face as she turned her lips into a crooked smile that looked more serial killer like than friend like.
“Uhh, consider the smile another one of those ‘kinks’ to work out,” Gary muttered to Phil.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s on the list,” Phil said, slightly annoyed.
As they walked out the door, Phil called out, “Let me know what Casey says, okay? I need to have a head count.”
“Yeah, a head count, sure that’s why you want to know,” Gary said.
“We will,” Dan reassured, punching Gary in the shoulder.
“Thanks, guys, really,” Phil said with a wave, as Dan and Gary got into Gary’s car (Dan didn’t have a driver’s license, so Gary had to drive him around).
Phil closed the door, gave a content sigh, and headed back for the couch. Sam remained at the door, looking outside its windows as
Phil’s friends drove down the long windy driveway back to the main road.
“There’s that name again,” Sam said.
“Huh?” Phil asked, sitting back down on the couch.
“That name,” Sam repeated, turning around to face Phil, “Casey. You said it in the kitchen and you said it again just now, as your friends were leaving. Who is this Casey?”
Phil found a twinge of concern over why Sam was so interested in Casey. Why should she care? He hesitated to answer, not really sure how much of it Sam would understand anyway.
“She’s…nothing,” he finally said, “just a friend. I was hoping she’d come to this dinner party I’m holding.”
“Ah,” Sam said with a knowing nod, “I understand this. This Casey is important to you?”
What the hell, Phil thought, let it drop, Sam.
“Umm,” he began, “I mean, sure, she is, but it’s kinda complicated, Sam. She’s a friend, that’s it.”
Unfortunately, Phil thought bitterly, but didn’t say.
“I also understand this.”
Sam made her way towards the couch and sat on the cushion next to Phil. Phil looked around at the other open chairs in the room, of which there were three. Sam looked at Phil innocently with her striking blue eyes.
Blue, Phil thought ironically, like Casey’s.
“Hey,” Phil managed to blurt out.
“Hello, Phillip,” Sam said, giving that fiendish smile.
That smile is officially priority one, Phil thought.
Phil tried to pay attention to the TV, which was showing some post game analysis of the Detroit Lions game he and his friends just watched. Phil noticed in his peripheral vision that Sam was still staring at him, as if expecting him to begin a conversation with her.
After a few minutes, Phil couldn’t stand it and looked over at her.
“Yes, Phillip?” she replied.
“What exactly are you doing?”
“Enjoying spending quality time with you,” she said matter of factually, “are you enjoying spending quality time with me?”
Phil gave a meager nod and a forced smile, which caused Sam’s eyes to light up with glee. Phil decided that maybe it was best to put her in rest mode.
“Alright, Sam,” he said, clapping his hands, “this was a fantastic time.”
“I agree wholeheartedly.”
“But unfortunately I have some…things to attend to, and I think if it would be best to let you have some rest.”
Sam looked disappointed, casting her eyes down to her legs.
“I was afraid you would suggest that, Phillip.”
“I don’t like it either,” Phil lied, “but as you know, I’m a busy man.”
“Indeed. I’m not going to hold it against you, I assure you.”
“Thanks,” he said, holding out his hand to get her off the couch, “come on, then.”
Sam looked at Phil’s hands and smiled (God dammit, stop fucking doing that). She took her hand in his and-
“GAAAAH!” Phil yelled, trying to wriggle his hand out of Sam’s vice grip like grasp.
She had clamped down on his hand with titanic force, Phil hearing an audible pop from his fingers. Devastated, Sam quickly released her grip and Phil tried to frantically shake the pain out of his throbbing fingers.
“Jesus, now I know how Dan felt,” he said, humorlessly.
“I am so sorry!” Sam cried, “Please, please, PLEASE Phillip, forgive me!”
“It’s fine,” Phil said, the pain slowly starting to recede from his hand. “Here, let me show you.”
Phil took Sam’s hand in his and lightly held it, intertwining his fingers between hers. She looked with wonder at their interlocked hands and said, “This is incredible, Phillip.”
“Well, uh, it’s just holding hands, nothing too crazy.”
“Thank you for teaching me this,” she said, tightening her fingers a bit to drive them deeper in the gaps between Phil’s.
“Uh huh,” Phil said, suddenly wondering if it was a mistake to teach her this. He snaked his fingers out of hers, unlocking their connection.
“Come on then,” he said, leading the way out of the living room, “let’s get you hooked up.”
Phil took Sam to the server room, where Sam had to go to power down. The server room, located in the basement, was the heart of Phil’s manor and was the interconnecting hub for Phil’s electronics. Majority of Phil’s manor was automated, most of which was by
Phil’s design. TVs, computers and the automatic sliding doors in Phil’s house were connected to it, as well as appliances (which could run on their own), and even the heat and air conditioning were all controlled from the server room. It was one of Phil’s proudest achievements as a scientist of robotic technology, designing and building a house that was essentially robotic in its own way. And now Sam was the newest addition to the network.
Phil entered the server room through its sliding door, entering its labyrinth of electronic towers and humming servers. The deep thrum of their machinations were almost hypnotic to Phil and certainly provided a feeling of serenity and relaxation. Phil’s religion was electronics and this was his Shangri-la.
Phil led Sam to the very back of the room, where he had constructed her power station. Like a cell phone plugging into an outlet, Sam had to be plugged into the station to power down and recharge. Her independent power source, an extremely powerful battery, provided plenty of charge for Sam to move around for up to a week without interruption. But if Phil needed to work on Sam or, in this case, get some alone time from her, he could bring her down and send her into state of deep, electronic sleep.
They arrived at the port, which a was a tube like construction, about seven feet in height and wide enough to comfortably fit Sam. Above the station was Sam’s name, stenciled out in big blocky letters as:
S. A. M. Synthetic Animatronic Machine
Phil grimaced at the redundant, full name that made up Sam’s acronym. It was the best Phil had been able to do to make an acronym that also was a woman’s name. It was certainly less of a mouthful than the first name Phil had come up with, which was R.F.F.T.U.O.C.A.P.L.I.T O.D., or Rfftucaplitod (Robotic Female For The Use Of Companionship And Possibly Love, If The Owner Desires). That certainly wasn’t a woman’s name, and sounded more like a dog-dinosaur mutant hybrid.
“I really wish we could have spent more time with each other today, Phillip,” Sam moaned as she set herself up into the station. She put her back against its wall, so that Phil could connect the cable to the back of her head.
“Me too,” Phil half lied, stepping into the station beside Sam to plug in the charging cable into her. He found the cable and started to sift through Sam’s hair to find the golf ball sized port in her metallic skull that he could connect the cable. He found it towards the base of her skull, where the hair was thickest so that random people wouldn’t notice the hole in her head and be (perhaps rightly) unsettled by it.
“Well, see ya tomorrow, Sam,” Phil said.
“I hope so, Phillip,” she said, “I will miss you greatly.”
Phil plugged the cable into the port and Sam’s eyes fluttered. The blue color drained from them, replaced by a steel gray. The eyes shut, her head fell down into her chest and that was that. Phil stepped out of the power station. A thin window zoomed up to separate Sam and her power station from the rest of the room, making her look like she was a gigantic doll in its case.
She appeared to be very peaceful. Phil had to admit that the things Sam had done were a little…off, but he had to remind himself that he did program her to have a unique personality. It was just that, apparently, she had a very curious and perhaps affectionate one. If anything, Phil thought he should be proud that she was showing these signs.
Phil gave a satisfied nod and turned around to leave the server room, completely oblivious to the fact that Sam’s eyes cracked open just enough to watch him leave.