The day of the dinner party had finally arrived and Phil was a basket case. He was zooming between rooms in his manor, making sure everything was spotless. If even the smallest dust bunny was found, he would scream into his ear piece for Carmichael to come away from cooking to clean it away (“A shame about your severe arm injuries, sir,” Carmichael would rib, “your inability to dust will be a crippling handicap for years to come, I’m afraid”).
Phil had been a mess since Dan called him to say that Casey was coming to the dinner party. At first, it was a feeling of boundless elation, followed immediately by just as infinite panic and dread. Since that point, his mind bouncing around like a rocket ship pinballing between planets in outer space. He could never stop thinking, and overthinking every decision.
What color should the table cloth be? Would Casey be put off if he decided to use a blue table cloth? Nah, she shouldn’t, blue was her favorite color? Or was it green? FUCK.
It was only about ten minutes away from the scheduled arrival of his guests when Phil finally started to feel comfortable. Sam was standing in the living room, smiling at Phil as he paced back and forth, mumbling to himself.
“Okay, okay,” he said, shaking his head, “everything should be good. Carmichael’s cooking, the place is clean as a whistle, I’m wearing my lucky cologne, everything should be just fine.”
“If I had been created with the ability to smell,” Sam said, “I am sure I would very much enjoy smelling that cologne.”
Phil gave a forced smile and said, “It’s a shame you can’t, I’ll look into installing that ability as soon as possible.”
Phil checked his cell phone to see the time or to see if anybody tried to text or call him. He wasn’t nervous about the business deal with Descateaux. Descateaux would love Sam, there wasn’t any doubt about that. And even if he didn’t, Phil would just make whatever changes needed to be made.
It was Casey. He hadn’t seen Casey in months.
Or, at least he hadn’t seen Casey with her knowledge in months. There were a few drunken nights outside her apartment building, hiding beside that homeless guy in the dumpster (who was actually a nice guy when you got to know him and ignored his anti Semitic rants), to keep tabs on her. It wasn’t something he was proud of, and he didn’t intend to bring her up to speed on those nighttime activities.
This would be the first time in quite a while where he had been face to face with her and carried on an actual conversation. What would he even say? Would she happy to see him? Or would she feel like a prisoner of war, coerced to attend?
Phil practically jumped out of his skin when the doorbell rang. Who was it, who would it be first to attend? Would it be Gary? Dan? Casey? Would it be Casey? WOULD IT BE CASEY? FUUUUCK.
Phil stopped and collected himself, taking a deep breath. Sam put her hand on Phil’s shoulder and said, “Do you need me to answer the door, Phillip?”
“No, thank you,” Phil replied, putting his hand on Sam’s, “I can get it. Just needed…to…I dunno, I’ll get it.”
Phil walked over to the front door and peered through the window. Phil felt like a crane had just lifted a sumo wrestler off his back when he saw it was just Pierre Descateaux, Phil’s most prolific business partner.
Phil opened the door and flashed Pierre a huge, welcoming smile.
“Pierre! How wonderful to see you!”
“Ah, mon ami,” Descateaux laughed, with his faint French accent, “it is all my pleasure.”
“Come in, come in.”
Phil gestured for the millionaire to come into the manor. He was a thin man in his mid forties, graying hair slicked back and a pencil thin mustache waxed into stiff oblivion. He was wearing an exquisite suit, dark purple with a a white tie. Cradled in his right arm was a bottle of wine, which he held out to Phil.
“A delicious Grenache,” Descateaux explained, “1861. I have been waiting for a very special occasion.”
“A good year,” Phil said, not having idea if that were true since he never drank wine in his life, “very much appreciated.”
Phil took the wine bottle and looked over at Sam, who was staring at the two men expectantly.
“Ah,” Descateaux said, “and this must be the guest of honor. I would love to be introduced, mon ami.”
“Of course,” Phil nodded, “Sam, this is Pierre Descateaux. He is an old friend of mine, and we often work together.”
“Pierre Descateaux,” Sam began, accompanied by a whirring sound, “born April 12th, 1979 in the city of Lyon, France. Parents are Jean-Luc Descateaux, a wealthy financier, and Dominique Descateaux, maiden name Simon, an organic chemist. Graduated from Claude Bernard Lyon University 1 with a doctorate in computer sciences in 2001. Founded Daedalus Technologies in 2009, a leading company in the field of robotic appliances and technology.”
“Uh,” Phil said, dumbfounded, “she must have accessed your Wikipedia page.” Phil found himself a little embarrassed, feeling as if Sam invaded Pierre’s privacy by doing such research right in front of Pierre.
“Magnifique!” Descateaux said, clapping, “a truly intelligent woman you have created, Phillip.”
Sam proudly smiled at Phil and came over to him. She put her hand on his shoulder.
“Did you hear that, Phillip?” she whispered in his ear, “He said I was intelligent! I believe that is a compliment.”
Phil gave a stunned nod, happy that Descateaux had already taken so kindly to Sam. To further illustrate his adoration for Sam, Descateaux took her hand in his and leaned down for a quick kiss.
“Ma belle,” he crooned to her, giving her a warm look.
“What did he just do,” Sam said, looking to Phil for guidance.
“That means he likes you,” Phil explained. He then looked at Descateaux and said, “Human gestures can be a bit lost on her, but she’s a very quick learner.”
“Very good to hear,” Descateaux said, obviously already quite pleased with what little he had seen of Sam.
“Carmichael,” Phil said, tapping his ear piece to make sure it was on.
“Wow,” Carmichael buzzed in Phil’s ear, “from what I’m hearing, it seems Mr. Descateaux really likes Sam. I wonder what that feels like.”
“Carmichael,” Phil ignored, “please bring out the appetizers to the living room for Mr. Descateaux to enjoy.”
“If it means feeling a shred of human compassion towards me, I will bring it out immediately.”
“So please,” Phil said, gesturing towards one of the many chairs in the living room, “sit down, the both of you.”
As Sam and Descateaux took seats on the couch, the doorbell rang. Phil had settled into a good mood with the introduction of Descateaux and Sam, but the possible arrival of Casey doused that with kerosene and threw a match on it. Phil’s brain was suddenly dominated with the potentially terrifying reunion between them and he could barely bring himself to check who was at the door.
“Excuse me,” Phil said, his voice cracking with anxiety.
“Oui,” Descateaux said before turning his attention to Sam and whispering to her.
Phil went to the front door to happily see Gary and Dan outside. He opened the door.
“What up, guy,” Gary said, stepping right in. Dan followed behind wearing oven mitts and holding a crock pot.
“Brought some buffalo chicken dip,” he said, bringing the crock pot to Phil’s attention, “hope you don’t mind.”
“Come on,” Gary said, “it’s buffalo chicken dip. If he minded that, he would be a fucking psychopath.”
Gary then surveyed the room and saw Sam and Descateaux. Upon seeing the sharply dressed Descateaux, he blushed and said,
“Pardon my French.”
“Right,” Descateaux said with a sneer.
Upon hearing his French accent, Gary’s blush deepened even more and said, “Sorry. Just a figure of speech.”
“Off to a good start,” Dan wryly commented.
“Let me take that from you,” Phil told Dan, taking the crock pot from his hands.
“Careful, it’s hot. Want my mittens?”
Phil glanced at Dan’s mittens which were decorated with brightly colored flowers.
“They’re…uh, my mom’s,” Dan revealed, his voice laced with humiliation.
“I’m good, I’ll suffer through the burns,” Phil said, a vivid mental movie of Casey coming in as he is wearing flowered oven mitts appearing in his mind.
Luckily, the crock pot was merely warm to the touch. Phil entered the kitchen, walking past Carmichael as he was getting the plates of appetizers to bring out to the living room.
“Carmichael, how are things going in here?” Phil asked as he walked to a counter to set down the crock pot.
“Outstanding,” he answered, “how could I not enjoy making food that is impossible for me to eat for a bunch of humans that treat me as nothing more than a slave?
“Good to hear,” Phil said, ignoring everything pas the word ‘outstanding’. Phil slid the crock pot next to one of the outlets in the kitchen. After plugging the pot in, he suddenly sniffed the air, recognizing a smell that was different from the food being cooked. It sort of smelled like-
“Gas?” Phil conjectured. He then heard the telltale hiss of a gas burner and looked over to the stove, seeing that the gas burner was on but not lit.
“Stove off!” Phil yelled, the voice command turning the stove off. “Carmichael! Seriously? You can’t even breath carbon monoxide, how is that going to kill you?”
Carmichael twirled to see what Phil was talking about.
“Oh dear,” Carmichael said, “I actually didn’t even do that on purpose. I meant to put the sauce on when you called me to clean a dust bunny that was hidden underneath a sofa in a room that none of the guests will even be in.”
Phil sighed, beginning to feel a little bad for pushing Carmichael around so much when it came to the preparations.
“Fine. Sorry, I mean,” he said, trying to find the pot of tomato sauce to put it on the stove himself, “I’ll take care of it. Just be careful, either we’re going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning or this place will go up like a fireball.”
“We couldn’t have that,” Carmichael muttered.
“Stove on, simmer,” Phil commanded the stove, after he put the pot of sauce back onto it. The stove hissed back on and a small blue flame appeared underneath the pot.
“Those appetizers ready?” Phil asked, grabbing two plates of cheese and ring bologna to take back in with him.
“Yes. Dinner will be ready in a half an hour. Enjoy not working on it and being with friends.”
Phil was back in the living room, holding the appetizers which he nearly dropped when he saw Casey standing by the front door.
“Oh,” he managed to squeeze out, doing his best to not vomit on the tray of pepper jack and muenster cheese.
“Hi,” Casey said, sheepishly.
“I let her in,” Dan said, seeing the look of horror on Phil’s face, “she knocked on the door right after you went into the kitchen.”
“Of course,” Phil said, setting the appetizers down on the coffee table. He was unsure of what to do with Casey. Give her a hug? Would that be too much after all this time? Especially given the context of the poems she never replied to, the serenades she never seemed to acknowledge, maybe a hug wouldn’t be the best idea.
So instead, Phil decided to awkwardly shake her hand, like they were team captains about to play a game of football.
“Smooth,” Phil heard Gary whisper.
“It’s, uh, good to see you,” Phil said.
Casey nodded and gave what looked like a forced smile. Eager to break the silence, Phil moved on.
“This is Monsieur Pierre Descateaux, he runs Daedalus Technologies. You know that, of course.”
“Uh huh,” she said, going to the couch to shake his hand.
“Wonderful to meet you,” Descateaux said with his winning smile.
“And this…is Sam,” Phil said, hesitantly. He wasn’t sure how Casey would react to seeing Sam and he prayed it would be positive.
Sam cordially reached a hand out for Casey to shake.
“Hello, Casey,” she pleasantly greeted, “Phil has certainly said a lot about you. I am glad to finally meet you.”
Casey looked over at Phil, as if she was unsure whether or not to return Sam’s greeting. Apparently not wanting to be rude, Casey shook Sam’s hand and said, “I’ve heard about you as well.”
Casey’s eyes lit up and looked at Phil, ecstatic that he apparently told Casey about Sam. Phil, knowing he did nothing of the sort, looked over at Gary and Dan. Their mouths full of ring bologna and cheese like chipmunks harvesting nuts for the winter, they sheepishly shrugged.
Casey and Sam released hands and there was a pregnant pause, nothing but the wet smacking of Dan and Gary’s lips being heard.
Casey turned to Phil and motioned towards a plate with tin foil covered over it on the coffee table.
“I brought brownies,” she said, “I didn’t know where to put them so…”
“Oh, good, great,” Phil said bending down to pick them up, “I’ll take them into the kitchen. Thank you, you didn’t need to.”
“It’s nothing. They have cream cheese in them.”
Phil felt a rush of joy. Cream cheese brownies were his favorite, and something she often baked while they were together. Was this a sign? Was she hinting at something? Phil didn’t want to get his hopes up, but he was happy that Casey at least put in the thought and effort to bring something he enjoyed.
Phil went back to the kitchen to put the brownies away and found Carmichael putting the chicken parmesan into the oven.
“Casey’s here, huh,” Carmichael said, shutting the oven door. “Did I hear her say that she brought cream cheese brownies?”
“As a matter of fact,” Phil proudly stated, “she did.”
“That’s nice. When you realize she’s just trying to be nice and that she doesn’t want to get back with you, what Guns ‘N Roses song are you going to leave on her voice mail this time? Patience? November Rain?”
“Don’t you have a dinner to cook,” Phil snarled back.
Phil tried to not let Carmichael’s comment get to him. The initial shock of having Casey back in his house was starting to waver, and was instead replaced by the simple contentment that he was able to see her again (and not from behind of some dumpster in the dead of the night).
Phil was back in the living room and saw his guests all sitting down and snacking on the appetizers. He was froze in place when he heard Sam talking to Descateaux.
“Ce costume est merveilleux,” she said, “Où avez-vous acheter?”
“J’ai un ami qui est un tailleur. Custom made,” he replied in his native tongue.
Sam was speaking perfect, fluent French. How? Phil had never installed any sort of software that would allow her to speak any language other than English. He was planning on doing that at some point in the near future, for worldwide distribution, but now?
Descateaux turned to see Phil staring in awe and softly clapped his hands as if at a golf tournament.
“This Sam!” he cheered. “Very special, Phillip, very special!”
“Thank you,” he managed to breathe out. Sam looked at him, her eyes flaring up with pleasure.
Phil allowed himself a very quick glance at Casey who was looking at Sam with interest. Unable to read thoughts, Phil couldn’t quite tell whether this interest was of a positive or negative kind. Her face betrayed nothing, only merely that she was inspecting Sam. Phil saw
Casey’s eyes slide over to his own and he quickly looked down on the floor.
The next few minutes involved more French conversation between Descateaux and Sam as the others silently gaped on. Clearly the two were hitting it off as they often laughed, and Descateaux would prod and and tap her in flirty fashion.
“So about that buffalo chicken dip,” Gary said, clearing his throat.
“Right, of course,” Phil said, happy to leave the living room. He was glad that Descateaux was so impressed with Sam, considering this whole dinner party was made to show her off for him to purchase the rights to her. But Phil had quickly realized that was renting space in the back alley of his mind while Casey’s presence was on Main St. He wanted to converse with her, to ask her so many questions, to see where her own mind was at. He figured he would just have to wait for an opening.
In the kitchen Phil retrieved a large bowl of buffalo chicken dip from Dan’s crock pot. As he took it back out, Carmichael snidely offered,
“Sounds like enthralling conversation out there between all of you. I assume the others are talking in sign language?”
Phil made it back to the living room, put the dip down and sat down on the empty couch cushion next to Sam. Sam happily looked over at him and put her arm around his shoulders.
A wave of buffalo chicken rocketed out of Gary’s nostrils and splattered to the floor as he coughed in surprise at Sam’s move. Dan’s eyes widened and he went, “Huh.”
Phil couldn’t control his eyes as they darted over to see Casey’s reaction. She was awkwardly staring at the ceiling, obviously trying to avoid looking at Phil and his now apparent girlfriend.
Wait, Phil thought, why can’t she look at me? Can she not bear to see me with another person? Oh my god…she’s jealous, isn’t she!?
Phil felt a surge of confidence rush through him at the apparent jealousy that Sam had produced from Casey. Deciding to take it a step further, Phil placed his hand on Sam’s leg.
“Oh la la,” Descateaux muttered.
Phil was worried Sam’s teeth might shoot out of her face she was smiling so brightly. The initiative taken by Phil must have been what she was looking for and she settled in even more closely to Phil. All the concerns Phil had about Sam had dissipated with the idea of using her to make Casey jealous.
Casey got up from her chair and went to fend herself some buffalo chicken dip, her back facing the couch.
Ha! Phil thought. She can’t even face us! She totally hates this! I knew it! She still has feelings for me!
Pleased beyond reproach, Phil started to open up which in turn caused Sam to continue her outgoing ways which was infectious for Descateaux. The Frenchman laughed and hooted at the way Sam and Phil were playing off of each other, making for a perfect display of her abilities as an artificial companion.
Between that and the discomfort that Casey continued to show, Phil couldn’t believe how flawlessly the night was going. Gary and Dan didn’t seem to be too happy, simply exchanging worried glances (they were probably wishing they had their own Sam, Phil reasoned to himself) and pigging out on buffalo chicken dip.
Before Phil knew it, it was time for dinner. Carmichael came into the room, saw Sam and Phil cuddling with each other and said, “Oh, wow. Now I have a new reason to want my memory drive destroyed.”
“You and me both,” Gary mumbled.
“Anyway,” Carmichael continued, “dinner is served in the living room. Have fun eating and reaping the benefits of my work.”
Phil stood up and gestured to the hallway which led to the dining room.
“You heard him,” he said, “Let’s eat up!”
He reached his hand down to Sam to help her off the couch,which she graciously accepted. He glanced in his peripheral vision to see Casey’s reaction and saw that she was hurrying out of the room. Phil smiled inwardly.
Like a charm, he thought. Finally, Sam’s odd attachment to Phil was coming in handy.
They went down the hallway and to the right, where Phil’s large dining room was situated. It was a large, rectangular room with a long dining table slicing down the middle of it. Above hung a shimmering chandelier, casting the room in an atmospheric golden glow. Phil and his group came in through the hallway door way. The only other door to the room was on the other end, which led to the kitchen.
They could see Carmichael wheeling in and out, placing the different dishes along the table. The table sat twelve, so they only needed to sit down on one half of it. All the seats and plates were situated on the end nearest the hallway door (“Thanks for making the trip shorter and easier for me,” Carmichael derided).
The whole group sat down, their seats assigned by name tags that were folded up towards the seat. Phil found himself beside Sam and across from Casey, as he had in the updated seating chart. The original change had irritated him but after discovering Sam’s new usefulness, he was happy for it.
“Chicken parmesan is the main course,” Phil said, “I hope you all like that. Casey?”
Casey gave a cool glare at Phil.
Phil quietly chortled to himself. The game continues, he mused. Casey was now playing hard to get. He knew chicken parmesan was her favorite food. It was the whole reason he chose to make it in the first place.
The dinner went well. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food (Carmichael was a surprisingly good cook, for a suicidal, human hating robot) and the conversation continued to be vibrant and thriving. Sam, who obviously wasn’t eating, was stimulating new conversation after conversation. She often recited obscure facts to start the topic, obviously drawing from her vast reservoir of information.
“Do you know that Adolph Hitler was originally supposed to appear as one of the historical/celebrity figures on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, but was removed for obvious reasons?” she once recounted.
“What a brain on this one!” Descateaux said, his eyes full of wonder.
Gary and Dan only occasionally butt in, and even then it was to ask to have a dish passed down. Phil tried to flirt with Sam as obtusely as possible and she returned every advance. This often made Descateaux cry out with glee and clap his hands. Every time, Phil would see Casey shift, as she silently marinated in her jealousy.
Thirty minutes in, Descateaux appeared like he was going to burst from food. He wiped his mouth with a napkin and waved it like a white flag.
“I surrender, just too much. Delicious.”
“A French person surrendering, big surprise,” Gary whispered to Dan. Dan stifled a laugh as he shoveled in a forkful of roasted red potatoes.
Luckily, Descateaux didn’t hear the barb and he floated the napkin onto the plate.
“I hope you made room for dessert,” Phil playfully jabbed. “Let me go get the brownies Case brought. Casey, mind coming in and showing me where they are?”
“Absolutely,” Casey tersely snapped.
Here it comes, Phil thought, the cat claws are bared.
Phil led Casey to the kitchen. They walked in and Phil heard a whoosh behind him. Casey had pressed the button to close the sliding door between the kitchen and the dining room, effectively cutting them off from the dining room.
Woah, Phil thought excitedly, is she going to try and make out with me? Is this really happening? Is this real life?
Casey closed in and Phil closed his eyes to prepare for the kiss as-
“JESUS,” Phil breathed.
-Casey’s palm struck his face with such force that his head whipped to the side. He opened his eyes, which were welling with tears and he saw Casey’s face was beet red, her nostrils flaring like an ill tempered bull.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she sneered.
Phil had vastly overestimated how jealous Casey was. She was apparently seething with it, becoming clouded by anger due to it.
“Casey, I don’t-”
“Phil. Jesus Christ, Phil. This is the most pathetic I’ve ever seen you.”
“Yes,” she growled, stamping her foot, “pathetic. A robot girlfriend? The poems and songs, on a good day can seem heartfelt, perhaps obsessive on most days but at least they come from a good place. This? This is borderline psychopathic.”
“Wait,” Phil said, rubbing his throbbing cheek, “so you’re not jealous?”
Casey rolled her eyes so hard Phil was afraid they might pop out the back of her skull.
“Jealous? JEALOUS? How can I be jealous of that…thing. Honestly, I’m depressed as hell about this whole thing. I came into this hoping, and I mean hoping, that you were getting better and now I see things have gotten worse.”
Phil stared at the floor, the tears that were originally from the slap being replaced by real tears from sadness.
“I…don’t even know,” he started stumbling, “what I…it’s just…”
“I’m serious, Phil. You need to take a long look at the situation. You were out there, rubbing a robot’s leg for my attention. Say that sentence out loud and let me know if you can get through it without wanting to vomit.”
Phil nodded. Casey was right. Of course she was, she always was. She was smart, the smartest person Phil knew. One of the reasons he loved her. And here she was, calling him out on the whole charade.
“I’m sorry,” he managed.
“Me too,” she shook her head, “I think it’s best if I go. You can keep the brownies.”
“What? You’re leaving?”
“I don’t think it’s good if I-”
“No, no, please. I’ll stop the whole thing, but it’ll look bad to Descateaux if you leave. I don’t want to have to explain it. At the very least, I can salvage some good business from this whole night and it won’t be a complete waste.”
Casey put her fingers on the bridge of her nose, clearly frustrated.
“Fine, whatever,” she relented, “but I’m doing this for that reason and that reason only. I still want you to be successful, yanno.”
There was a heavy silence, interrupted by a slow, metallic clapping. They looked to their side to see Carmichael resting a few feet away from them, apparently there the whole time.
“Thank you,” he said, “truly. This made the whole night worth it. I’ll be replaying video feed of that slap for the rest of my battery life.”
Casey shook her head and pressed the button for the sliding kitchen door. It squeaked open and she headed back into the dining room. Phil trudged behind with the brownies, the entire life taken out of him.
He put the brownies on the table, unfurled the tinfoil wrapping and flatly stated, “Dessert.”
“Ah, tres bien,” Descateaux commented as Phil found his seat, “while we enjoy the sweets, perhaps we can get down to business for just a bit. We should discuss the points of Sam’s mass production and her distribution.”
Sam’s neck creaked loudly as her head spun around.
“Mass production and distribution?” she asked. “Phil, what does he mean?”
“Oh Lord,” Gary said, setting his fork down on his empty plate, “here we go.”
Great, Phil thought, just what I need. Sensing this may be a problem, he tried to defer the topic.
“Nothing, Sam,” he assured, “just business talk between me and Monsieur Descateaux.”
“I know the things he produces,” Sam said, looking down at her hands, “am I going to be one of those?”
Descateaux narrowed his eyes and began to show a sign of concern.
“What is the matter?” he asked helpfully.
“Nothing,” Phil waved him off.
“Phillip,” Sam looked into Phil’s eyes, “I don’t understand. I was under the assumption I was the only one. Do you not care? Am I just another one of your inventions to flaunt around, like Carmichael.”
Carmichael buzzed in Phil’s earpiece.
“Tell her it’s not too bad,” he said, “once you get past the existential horror of knowing you’re not a unique life form and that your ultimate fate is to rust away, unappreciated.”
“I don’t want to be one of those things,” Sam pleaded, “Phil, I thought I would be the only one, why would you do this?”
“Sam!” Phil suddenly snapped, slamming his fist on the table. The whole room became quiet, like the dinner party had suddenly turned into a funeral. Phil was hit instantly by guilt and regret from the outburst.
“I’m sorry,” he meekly offered.
Descateaux looked taken aback, his eyes huge with surprise and perhaps a little bit of fear. Obviously trying to turn his attention to something else, he slowly grabbed a brownie as if they were rigged to explode.
“Well,” he said, “perhaps it would be best to discuss it another time.”
Phil couldn’t believe how dejected he felt after being on cloud 9 just five minutes before. He was consumed with shame over the way he had been acting with Sam to make Casey jealous. The idea of Sam being upset over the whole mass production thing was something he should have foreseen, but it was something he certainly didn’t want to deal with at a time like that. He was in no mood. He found himself anxiously awaiting the moment when everyone would leave the house, allowing him to wallow in his misery and self resentment without their accusing eyes.
Sam didn’t appear to be consoled by Phil’s apology after his flare-up. She looked down on at the table with anguish, her eyes darting back and forth as if searching for something on the table to ease her pain. Phil realized a time would come where he would have to explain what Descateaux planned on doing with Sam, but it would have to wait. Phil felt bad for it, but what could he do about it now?
There wasn’t much conversation as the guests ate their brownies. Carmichael came out to bring them glasses of milk, commenting on how Phil certainly knew how to throw a party with everybody in such high spirits, before disappearing back into the kitchen. Dan tried to be helpful by starting the occasional conversation, but between the depressed Phil, the upset Casey, and the confused Descateaux it usually did a nose dive before it was able to get anywhere.
Mercifully for Phil, he saw people were done with their brownies. He took the chance to get up and take every one’s plates to the kitchen. He went around the table, picking up and stacking their plates as they mumbled thanks.
He made it to Casey and she said, “Let me help.”
Phil saw this as her attempt to show that she wasn’t hopelessly angry at Phil and that she was willing to be cordial. Maybe seeing Phil so broken up about being called out on his embarrassing acts made her realize he wasn’t a bad guy, deep down. Phil didn’t know, and he certainly appreciated the offer, but he quickly turned her down.
“No,” he said, putting a hand on her shoulder to keep her down, “I’ve got it.”
A loud cracking of glass caused everyone to jump. They looked over at Sam, who was the source of the noise. She sat stoically in her chair, broken shards of glass jutting out of her hand. She had apparently smashed her fist into one of the glasses on the table. What caught Phil’s attention were her eyes; they were glaring at Phil’s hand, unblinking and full of furor.
“Uh oh,” Phil said, quickly releasing his hand off Casey’s shoulder.
She slowly stood up, her eyes never leaving Phil’s hand.
“What’s going on?” Dan asked nervously.
“Nothng fucking good,” Gary guessed as Sam was now fully erect.
The sliding doors to the hallway doorway and the kitchen doorway slid shut with loud thumps. Phil looked back and forth at the two doors, his stomach dropping to the floor.
“Sam,” he slowly began, “what are you doing?”
Large metal shutters came down from the ceiling and over the windows. They were shutters Phil had installed to protect the windows from violent storms. They came down over the glass, fastening shut at the bottom of the floor, like the gates to a closed store at the mall.
The others started to shift around and moaned in confusion, but Phil knew what was happening. Sam, who was connected to the house’s network, was controlling these things remotely. The electric doors and the storm shutters were at Sam’s control, and she was using them to trap the entire group inside the dining room.
“Sam,” Phil repeated as the others got up and tried to open the door. Gary banged his shoulder against the hallway door fruitlessly as Casey and Descateaux frantically tapped the button on the kitchen doorway. Dan was shouting, “Door open! Door open! DOOR OPEN!” hoping voice commands would open them. Neither door slid open to reveal an exit route.
“Phillip,” Sam exchanged.
“What are you doing? You have to let us out.”
“No,” she countered with a simple shake of her head, “I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.”