Author : Scott Alexander Rader
I wake with gunk in my eyes. Not sleep, or whatever the scientific term is. This is worse.
Shoot. Pink eye, I think to myself. Damn kids.
But this is thicker and gummier than the mucous created during pink eye. It’s more like, well, gum. Damn kids.
I desperately paw at my eyes trying to clean them out, all the while stumbling out of bed and stubbing my toes on random toys around the apartment.
“Allen. Portia,” I yell, still not able to open my eyes. My lids are so heavy, I haven’t been able to budge them. It could be tar, superglue, who knows what they’ve gotten into. They lean toward my own mischievous side. Grow up a terrible kid, run the risk of having to raise your own terrible minions of goddamned satan.
“Dad?” It’s Allen, he sounds small. Frightened. I reach out to where I think he’s standing. I’d be afraid, too. He’s going to get the beating of a lifetime. It’s a wonder Child Protective Services hasn’t been here. I’m no better than my old man. Drinking. Swearing. Hitting my kids . . . a lot. I guess I can’t really blame them for gumming up the peepers.
A miniature car or maybe an army man of some sort gets caught under my bare foot. I lash out immediately, hoping to catch one of them on pure instinct. Instead, a large hand catches my forearm mid-backswing. I know it’s large because it wraps all the way around my arm and squeezes, crushing my bones.
Feels like an ape, or a robot. It isn’t Allen or Portia, neither are ape. Or robot. I know, I had them tested. Sometimes it just happens, even to two purebreeds. Humans.
Shoot, I think, They’ve finally come. I hope it’s an ape, ape means I can keep my kids, ape means I’m not in much trouble.
“Mr. Hanlin?” It’s a robot. I’m screwed.
“Yeah? That’s me.” I raise my non-broken arm, awkwardly, sheepishly, and what I hope is somewhat charmingly.
“I’m Jameson McDonaldson Robinson Flint, the Fifteenth.” The names of his inventors. Fifteenth model. This is most definitely a robot, as if I didn’t know from his unpleasant vocal modulations and my broken arm. “With Child Protective Services.”
“Dad,” Portia screams. “I know I’m not supposed to let anyone in, but he looked official.”
“It’s ok,” I say, calmingly. But there is an immense fear deep in her voice. She’s scared, not of the giant (I’m guessing) robot, but of dear old dad. “What can I do for you, Fifteen?” I try to keep it casual. Maybe he won’t kill me.
“Nothing. We’ve taken care of what we need to here.” He pauses, probably according to a script. “We have found this an unsafe environment for your children. But being that the whole world seems to be an unsafe environment for children right now, we are letting you off with a warning.”
I breathe a sigh of relief. “A warning?”
“We’ve removed your eyes, Mr. Hanlin.”
“You can’t hit what you can’t see. We thank you for your time.”
I hear him clomping over toys. Portia and Allen are crying. Probably unable to look at their eyeless dad. I guess it serves me right.
After a few minutes I hear Allen laughing as Portia cries harder. He must be pulling her hair. Or is that something burning? I sit down in the nearest chair. Can’t do anything about it now. Damn kids.