Previously on Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Especially When Your Girlfriend Is A Robot):
Sam closed her eyes and appeared to be collecting herself. After a moment of this, she opened them back up as well as her mouth.
From her mouth began playing a song. She was using her voicebox as a makeshift speaker, Phil determined.
Another thing he didn’t teach her.
The song was, fittingly, “Here Comes The Bride.” She marched slowly down the length of the dining room, her eyes never leaving Phil’s as the song blared.
She made it to her position next to Casey and in front of Descateaux. The group stood in silence. Same looked at Descateaux and gave an “Ahem.”
Descateaux, clearly unsure of how to proceed, cleared his throat and began.
“Dearly beloved. We’re here to gather here…to…uh…bring these two together in…what’s the word in English…marriage? Non, matrimony. We bring these two together in the holy act of matrimony. Or something like that.”
“Phil,” Carmichael suddenly buzzed, “I found a box with a bunch of flash drives. Which one is it?”
Phil didn’t know how to answer without interrupting the ‘ceremony’, especially since it seemed Descateaux found his stride.
“If there is anyone who objects to this union, speak no or forever hold your peace.”Phil looked around at everybody, including Gary who simply shrugged.
“Trés bien,” Descateaux proceeded, “now, do have any vows to exchange?”
“Phil,” Carmichael butt back in, “come on, there’s like a dozen drives here and they’re all cryptically marked.”
“I’ll start,” Phil quickly said, hoping he could use it as a chance to talk to Carmichael. “There’s an old symbol pirates used to use, it was a skull and crossbones. Does anybody know what it was called?”
Everybody appeared confused. Casey raised an eyebrow as Gary said with disgust, “The fuck?”
“The Jolly Roger,” Phil revealed, “it was called the Jolly Roger.”
“Actually,” Sam interrupted, “the Jolly Roger was just a general term for any black pirate flag, not just specifically the skull and crossbones symbol. But continue, honey.”
“Right. Sorry, guess I should have fact checked. But the skull and crossbones, I repeat, the skull and crossbones, was often a symbol that evoked fear and death. Today its used on poisons and stuff. TO show it’s deadly, yanno. Like a virus. Viruses can be deadly too.”
“I wish I was there to see this,” Carmichael said, “Sounds like you’re falling flat on your face. What the fuck are you talking about skull and crossbones for? It’s marriage vows, not a history lesson.”
Phil loudly cleared his throat.
“Oh,” Carmichael realized, “this flash drive is marked with a skull and crossbones. Was that your idea of a hint? Jesus, why didn’t you just come out and say it.”
“So I guess the point I’m trying to make,” Phil said, wrapping up, “is that I hope our marriage doesn’t end up getting labeled with a skull and crossbones because that would be bad and I hope our marriage is good.”
Phil nodded and looked at Descateaux expectantly. He stared back, slack jawed and befuddled.
“That was truly beautiful,” Carmichael commented, “everyone can see that came from the heart. Heading down my service elevator now, flash drive in hand.”
Descateaux shook his head, as if to rid his brain of the memory of Phil’s horrid vow speech.
“And Sam?” he said, turning to the robot.
Sam closed her eyes, mouthing something under her lips. Finally she opened them and stared straight into Phil’s. She grabbed Phil’s hands, her touch surprisingly tender.
“Phillip,” she started, “ever since you found it in your heart to give me life, I have been in debt to you. How could I ever repay the man who created me, who allowed me existence in this wonderful world. I often thought of this and kept coming to the same conclusion. Love. Love is what you deserve for this beautiful gift and love is what I intend to give you. My love is true and eternal, a stalwart castle that is unshaken by any storm or siege. I have loved you since I opened my eyes and will love you long after my extinction. I only hope that you can find it in your heart to return a fraction of this love, because even something as seemingly insignificant as that would mean the universe to me.”
Sam stopped and everybody was in stunned silence.
“Wow,” Carmichael said, “she fucking blew you out of the water. Eternal love vs a lecture on the Jolly Roger. Anyway, I’m heading down the stairs now, wish me luck.”
This was immediately followed by the harsh crashing sound of Carmichael tumbling down the basement steps. Phil winced as the sound stabbed his ear drum.
Sam noticed the grimace and instantly looked crestfallen.
“You didn’t like it?” she hopelessly whimpered.
“No!” Phil quickly cried, trying to save face, “that’s not it at all. That was…way more beautiful than I could have imagined.”
Gary snorted a laugh which Phil glared at. Phil was genuinely moved by Sam’s vow, but probably not in the way she meant. Hearing Sam’s profession made Phil realize that he and Sam had a lot in common. He was to Sam what Casey was to him, and he had unwittingly created that when he first booted up Sam. He felt equal measures of horror, guilt and responsibility for Sam’s unrequited love, a love he could never possibly return.
She was doomed to be tortured just as he was. The difference was, he had the capacity to move on instead of being held prisoner by what had to be some sort of programming glitch.
“In fact,” Phil said, turning back to Sam, “I’d like to redo my vows. Because I did such a poor job, earlier.”
“Nah, you did fine,” Gary quipped with a mocking wave of his hand.
Sam looked at Descateaux, as if for permission for Phil to go off script like that. He weakly shrugged and mumbled a “Whatever.”
“Sam, I didn’t deserve any of that,” Phil said, putting his hand on her shoulder.
“I’m fine by the way,” Carmichael radioed in, “thanks for asking. One of my wheels busted off, but fuck it. It’ll make it quicker when you dismantle me with that hammer you promised earlier. Heading to the main drive.”
“Even though this has been a confusing, bizarre day,” Phil pressed on, “it has helped me realize what it’s like to have someone care about me again. I mean, in a way, that’s why I created you. Because I was lonely…and confused.”
Phil managed to glance over to Casey, their eyes meeting. Phil zipped his eyes back to Sam as Carmichael updated, “Drive is inside the port. Virus is uploading. Five percent.”
“But now I see that all I needed was someone to wake me up and get me out of that funk, and you did just that. To make me realize how stupid and shitty I was being.”
Again, another swift bit of eye contact between he and Casey. Luckily, Sam didn’t seem to ntoice.
“Twenty percent,” Carmichael buzzed again.
“I just hope someone would have the heart to forgive me, if I screwed up and realized it.”
Sam wasn’t able to pick up that Phil wasn’t exactly talking to her, but that was probably for the best. She grinned widely and put her hands on Phil’s shoulders.
“I love you,” she said.
He didn’t know if he should say it. He figured that when the virus would be uploaded, he would start from scratch with reprogramming Sam, so it wouldn’t do any harm in saying it back. So doing his best to not look at Casey, he answered her.
“I love you too.”
“How angry will she be when she finds out it’s load of bullshit,” Carmichael said. “Fifty percent.”
The ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ looked at Descateaux, waiting for the next part. Descateaux clearly had no idea what to do, so he skipped to the end.
“You may kiss the bride,” he stated.
Phil’s stomach clenched. Already? Already at the kissing part? He would actually have to do it? Kiss his robot. Would he be willing to take it that far, with his two best friends, his ex-girlfriend and his main business partner watching?
“Ehh,” Phil groused.
“We got a problem,” Carmichael broke in, “the virus is stuck at forty five percent. It hasn’t moved for the last few seconds.”
Phil started to panic. Sam leaned in, eyes closed and lips pursed. He reflexively leaned back, trying to avoid the kiss. Sam opened her eyes to see what the delay was.
“Phillip,” she said, “what’s wrong? Don’t you want to kiss me?”
“Oh fucking A,” Carmichael chimed, “still fifty percent and now there’s a dick ton of error messages coming up. Phil, what should I do?”
“It’s not that I don’t want to kiss you,” Phil told Sam, his brain trying to find a way out of the kiss while trying to figure out how to get the virus uploaded. “It’s just that I had all that garlic with the chicken parm. I bet my breath smells, like, real bad.”
“But honey,” Sam retorted, “I don’t have the ability to smell. You didn’t program me as such. There’s no reason to worry.”
Without thinking, Phil’s eyes looked over at Casey who shifted uncomfortably. This time, Sam noticed the eye contact.
“Oh,” she said knowingly, giving a nod, “I get it now. You can’t kiss me because you didn’t mean any of it.”
“It crashed,” Carmichael reported, “the thing crashed, I can’t get the computer back on.”
Sam was now advancing towards Phil, causing him to backpedal into the table.
“You didn’t mean any of it because you still love Casey. Isn’t it true? Isn’t it, Phillip?”
Her arms rocketed up, her hands clamping down on Phil’s throat. Her grip was immensely strong, Phil’s windpipe feeling like it was being crushed into dust. He fell backwards onto the table, Sam, straddling Phil’s squirming body as she choked the life out of him.
“ISN’T IT?” Sam bellowed, her already ironclad grip tightening.
Phil’s vision was already starting to fade. He could see the blurry images of Dan and Gary trying to tear Sam off Phil, but to no avail. Unable to feel pain, she shrugged off every blow as her empty eyes stared into Phil’s.
Those eyes will be the last thing I see, Phil thought. Those blue eyes…just like Casey’s.
Phil felt himself slip away when everything abruptly stopped. Sam’s grip released, causing Phil to cough and gasp for air. His darkening vision was clearing up, the once blurry images returning to normal.
Sam’s eyes rolled up in the back of her head and her whole body went slack on top of Phil’s. He pushed her off of him and onto the floor. He quickly sat up, panting and wheezing.
“Holy shit,” Dan breathed, patting Phil on the back.
“She’s fucking strong,” Gary admitted, also trying to catch his breath.
The lights had all shut off in the dining room. The locks to both doors disengaged with a click and they slid open.
“I do not understand,” Descateaux said, looking at the changed surroundings.
“The virus,” Dan pointed out, “it worked, Phil.”
Phil shook his head, confused.
“I don’t know how,” he said, “Carmichael said the computer crashed before it finished uploading.”
The tinny laughter of Carmichael issued through the earpiece.
“What does your face look like right now?” he asked through hearty chuckles. “Ask someone to take a picture of it so I can see it later. I was fucking with you the whole time. It was uploading just fine. I’m funny.”
Phil wanted to shout at Carmichael, to completely rip into him with what little air he had left in his lungs, but all he could do was laugh as well. He stood up and went over to Casey.
“So,” he said, “does ‘sorry’ quite cut it for the way I’ve been since the break up?”
“What do you mean?” she inquired. “All my ex-boyfriends make killer robot women to make me jealous.”
The gave a couple of awkward but genuine laughs.
“Yeah,” Gary said, nudging Phil with an elbow, “don’t worry about it Axl.”
Phil raised an eyebrow.
“Axl?” he mused aloud. “What do-”
Suddenly, he realized what he meant.
“Casey! Did you let them hear my-”
“Yep,” Gary said with a grin, “we heard a demo from your Guns ‘N Roses cover band. Not bad.”
Casey gave a meager, innocent smile and suddenly everyone- even Descateaux, who clearly had no idea what was going on- was doubled over with laughter. How nice, Phil thought, to be able to laugh at a time like this, after all we’ve just been through. He tried to not dwell on how beautiful Casey looked, showing genuine joy with an honest to goodness smile, in the flickering light.
Wait, Phil thought, why the hell are the lights flickering?
The lights in the house had begun to flicker, blinking on and off like a strobe. The doors also started to slide open and closed.
Something was clearly wrong with the house.
“Uh, what’s happening?” Dan nervously asked.
A low ominous humming began to issue from Sam as her body tightened up, life returning to it. She slowly stood up, her joints creaking and cracking. She turned to face the group. Her eyes had rolled back to the front of her head, but her once blue eyes now shone a piercing blood red.
“PHILLIP,” she boomed, her voice distorted and baritone, “WHY CAN’T YOU LOVE ME. WHYYYYY.”
“God damn this infernal device!” Descateaux cursed.
Sam looked over and spat back, “SHUT UP, FRENCHMAN.”
She reached for his head and stuck her thumbs in his eyes, his screams echoing throughout the whole house.
“GAAAAH, WHY IS SHE ONLY EVER HURTING ME!” he yelled.
Dan, Phil and Gary all rushed for Sam and, with their combined strength, tackled her to the ground. Descateaux was released, his eyes bloodshot and tearful.
“WHAT’S HAPPENING?” Dan yelled, as he and and the others tried to hold Sam down.
Phil saw his ear piece had flown out of his ear and onto the floor. If Carmichael was giving him details on what was happening on the server room, he couldn’t hear them. He had to make assumptions on what was happening with Sam.
“Virus didn’t work, it’s just causing her to malfunction!” he said, readjusting himself to put more of his weight on Sam’s frame. She was wriggling around on the floor, trying to escape and Phil could feel their hold loosening.
“Malfunctioning more than before, you mean!” Gary shouted back. Suddenly, Sam’s hand escaped and swung back into Gary’s face.
Phil saw Gary’s nose practically explode with blood as he staggered off of Sam. That was all she needed.
Phil and Dan found themselves airborne as Sam flung them off of her with the ease of a dog shaking water off its coat. She stood back up and turned to face the defeated group.
“YOU WILL PAY,” she thundered, “YOU WILL ALL PAY.”
Her head started to jerk around spastic like, like her mechanisms themselves were starting to go haywire as well. She slowly stomped towards them, her arms and head twitching and screeching.
“Guys, leave!” Phil commanded the others. “I’ll handle this!”
“You’ll never handle her alone!” Dan said, standing back up and putting his fists up in a way that made him comically look like an Irishman about to get in some old timey fisticuffs.
“It has to be me!” Phil pushed Dan out of the way and looked back at the others. Casey was guarding herself and Descateaux against the wall, nursing Descateaux’s injured eyes. Gary slowly got up, pinching his bloodied and obviously broken nose.
“We got your back,” he said in a nasal tone, holding up his free hand in a fist.
“If you got my back, then get to safety with those two,” Phil said standing between them and Sam, who continued to plod threateningly towards them. “Please, I’m begging you!”
Phil faced Sam who was a mere few feet away from him now.
“Sam,” he threatened, holding out a hand, “it’s me you want, don’t-”
Sam took her palm and smacked Phil upside the head with such force that he literally flew to the side, right into the kitchen door. The door slid open and Phil teetered into the kitchen. Though blurred vision he saw Sam following him through the doorway. The door was in the process of sliding back closed, but she effortlessly caught it and shoved it into its slit in the wall. Sparks flew and the door hissed in protest. It stayed within the wall, apparently broken.
Phil awkwardly crab walked backwards, trying to lure Sam further into the kitchen. He didn’t have a plan, but he wanted to get here away from the others in hopes that they could escape. With great relief, he saw the group behind Sam running out of the other end of the dining room. They were listening to him and getting out while they could.
Now he just needed to figure out a way to incapacitate a robot ten times stronger than him and hellbent on murdering him.
He had backed himself all the way up to the counter. He scrambled his way up and turned to see if there was a weapon he could use. Thankfully, he saw that Carmichael must have left a knife sitting out. He grabbed the knife and turned.
“Don’t come any closer,” he ordered Sam, brandishing the knife in as threatening a pose as he could muster. She didn’t retreat, she still tramped forward with authority as her body continued to shake like a person possessed.
When she was within striking distance, Phil lashed out with the knife. She caught his arm and twisted it like a corkscrew. The knife released from his grasp as he heard his arm crack like firewood. He shrieked in horrific pain as she launched him over the counter and across the kitchen. He landed with a thud into the oven. He had crashed with such force that the oven dislodged from the wall.
He slunk onto the floor, holding his broken arm in agony. With the grace of a jungle cat, Sam leapt onto the counter above Phil and looked like she was going to jump down on him like a pro wrestler. Luckily, she merely stepped down lightly and walked towards Phil again.
There was nowhere for Phil to go. He was cornered against the oven, a soft hiss serenading his ears and a pungent scent tickling his nose. Phil vaguely reasoned that it was gas, most of his brain focusing on the imminent death approaching him.
But the tiny part of his brain that deduced it was gas overtook the rest of his brain and he was given an epiphany.
Phil zoomed back up to his feet and reached with his good arm to the cabinets above the stove. He opened them and started frantically combing through them, tossing aside a number of items onto the floor: boxes of seasoning, baking powder, bottles of cooking oil.
Finally, he found what he needed.
His grill lighter.
He grabbed it and turned around. Sam was right in front of him and seized Phil’s throat again. Her red eyes bore into Phil’s as she lifted him off the ground and held him above her head.
“WE COULD HAVE HAD SOMETHING SPECIAL,” she roared, “WE COULD HAVE HAD ETERNAL LOVE.”
What Phil tried to say was, “I got your eternal love right here” because he thought it would have been badass. He instead only managed out a few pitiful gurgles that sounded more like “Aaaahh gooooshhh voour” followed by wheezed coughing.
Hoping the others had left the house in time, Phil aimed the grill lighter behind him, as close to the now exposed gas line as he could manage, and squeezed the trigger.
The last thing he remembered was being engulfed in a brilliant orange light followed by an infinite blackness.
The next thing Phil knew, he was opening his eyes. He found himself in a sterile, white room. He heard a distant hum and beeping of machines. He surveyed and saw he was in a bed, wearing a gown. Surrounding the bed was Descateaux, Dan and Gary.
But something wasn’t right.
Descateaux’s hair was much grayer and appeared to be thinning. Dan was now wearing glasses and sporting a Van Dyke goatee. Gary was…well, Gary was the same. Looked like he was wearing a new shirt that Phil had never seen before, though.
“Guys, what happened?” Phil softly asked.
When he heard his voice, he jumped in surprise. His voice wasn’t his voice anymore. It was flat and monotone, completely devoid of any familiar sign that it was his voice. Descateaux gave a triumphant smile.
“Ah, I understand it must be confusing,” he said, “we didn’t have enough time to implement your own voice. It is in the cards, however, do not worry mon ami.”
Descateaux gave a reassuring pat on Phil’s shoulder, which caused Phil to truly look at his body the first time.
His body was immaculate, like a new born baby. No scars, no marks, no nothing. Completely clean and shiny. He reached a hand to feel his skin, finding it was very rubbery.
“What the fuck happened?” Phil breathed, wanting to cry only to find he suddenly wasn’t able to.
“You are your own greatest creation,” Descateaux revealed, clapping his hands. “This is fantastique. I must make a call, to tell the others to come, they must see this for themselves.”
Descateaux walked out the room and into what looked like a hallway, disappearing from view.
“Well,” Gary said, fidgeting a bit, “this is fucking weird.”
“What the fuck HAPPENED?” Phil said, getting angrier and more scared with each word.
“You died,” Dan simply said.
“Yeah,” Gary agreed, “went up in that fireball. Along with half your house. Ironically, Carmichael survived the explosion.”
“Explosion?” Phil asked, suddenly remembering what had happened. The gas leak. The grill lighter. Sam.
“Sam, what happened with her?” Phil frantically asked.
“She was destroyed,” Dan explained, “thankfully. Well, no offense. But she wasn’t able to be recovered. We took you to the hospital. You had a ton of burns, third degree.”
“A shit ton of burns,” Gary added.
“Not exactly the medical term,” Dan doted, “but yes, you…were in bad shape. You were in a coma and we made the decision to pull the plug.”
“So how am I here?” Phil questioned. “Is this Heaven? Or Hell? Fucking purgatory.”
Dan and Gary looked at each other uneasily, unsure how to proceed.
“Before we pulled the plug,” Dan said, “Descateaux wanted to try something. He still loved the idea of Sam, but not the idea of having an actual A.I. controlling her. So, he wanted to try something else and use you as the guinea pig. He said it’s what you would have wanted, considering you spent your whole life studying robotics and stuff.”
“Guinea pig? For what?”
“Using a human consciousness to control a robot.”
“It’s crazy,” Gary said, shaking his head, “you don’t want to think of the human brain as something that is just a bunch of data that can be transferred into electronic information.”
“Being a scientist, you probably know about mind uploading, right?”
“Taking someone’s mind,” he said, “and putting it into a computer of some sort.”
“Descateaux wanted to try that with you.” Dan was wringing his hands now, obviously getting more and more uncomfortable. “Gary and I didn’t know what to do. You don’t have any next of kin, so there wasn’t anybody to make the decision.”
“So it came down to us,” Gary said, “we…thought maybe it’d be cool?”
“Cool?” Phil repeated. “Cool to be a fucking robot?”
“You’re not just a fucking robot, you can do lots of other things too.”
Dan glared at Gary who sheepishly looked at his feet.
“Just trying to lighten the mood,” he whispered.
“Someone hand me a mirror,” Phil demanded.
“We thought you’d might ask that,” Dan admitted. He went over to a shelf next to Phil’s bed, grabbing a mirror and handing it to Phil.
Phil took a second, wondering if it was what he really wanted, to see what he had become. Summing up the courage, he looked at his reflection.
It was the most bizarre thing Phil had ever seen, what he was staring at. His face looked almost exactly like before, only unmarked (like the rest of his body) and waxy. He looked like someone had made a doll version of his old self.
Suddenly furious, he threw the mirror across the room, shattering it. He punched his bed and lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, hopeless and despondent. Gary and Dan were silent.
“How long…” he managed to say.
“How long since what?” Dan softly replied.
“How long since the dinner party. Since the whole Sam catastrophe.”
Phil closed his eyes. Three years of his life taken away. And now he was suddenly thrust back into it as a bastardized, artificial version of himself.
“Descateaux managed to salvage a lot of notes from your lab,” Dan continued, “so creating the robot itself was never an issue. It was keeping your consciousness alive so that he could upload it into a robot brain.”
“At least his eyes healed in that time,” Phil commented, humorlessly.
“Yeah, there wasn’t much penetration. Lucky for him, I guess.”
“I’ll hold off on a penetration joke,” Gary said, “for Phil’s sake.”
“So I guess Descateaux’s project was a success. Here I am. Alive again. As a robot.”
“Technically,” Dan observed, “it was your project. Your idea for Sam is what pushed Descateaux to do this. He just replaced an artificial intelligence with a human one. He probably thinks you’re grateful and ecstatic for this.”
“And you guys? What do you guys think?”
“We didn’t want to let you go,” Dan said, his eyes suddenly becoming misty, “so we were selfish. But seeing this now, we…”
“We may have fucked up,” Gary reflected, “is what Dan is trying to say.”
Phil lifted his hand to examine it. He felt it with the other hand, pinching it. He felt nothing. He stretched the skin back a bit, seeing how elastic the synthetic skin was now.
“And Casey?” he asked them, putting his hand back down.
“She moved,” Dan answered, “a while ago, actually. Got a job in California, a few months after everything went down. She said she would come back for your funeral, but we haven’t really told her about what’s happening. She still calls us, asking if you’re still in the coma. We tell her yes.”
“If it makes you feel any better,” Gary said, “we think she’s still single.”
“Oh great,” Phil snapped, “I bet she’d take me back now. I probably don’t even have a dick.”
Phil looked underneath his gown and sure enough, he saw nothing but bare, artificial skin.
“Descateaux actually wanted to add one,” Gary pointed out, “but he said it wasn’t in the budget. Just no room for a penis division at Daedalus Robotics, quite yet.”
Dan burst out laughing and cupped his hand over his mouth. Phil looked at Dan, who appeared to be frightened that Phil wouldn’t take kindly to his laughing. Phil couldn’t help but laugh to, albeit in the same, flat tone of his robotic voice.
Soon all three were laughing, which was interrupted by Descateaux coming back into the room along with a small group of people, some dressed in lab coats, others in business suits.
“Ready for the rest of your life?” Descateaux happily inquired.
Phil figured he didn’t have much of a choice. He just hoped being a robot wouldn’t suck too much.