Author : Erin Cole

Dawn fractures through the glades of the development. Solar-paneled rooftops refract the cadmium light of sun and men prepare for their busy days, hefting briefcase to hybrid. Jen-6 wakes and rises erect.

Inside a petite helmet, embedded with black silks, is a cellular mass of encrypted energy. She snaps it into her eco-friendly skull.

There is a crackle of voltage, irregular in function, but robot mommy doesn’t report. To do so would expose dysfunction.

Dysfunction leads to the gooey darkness. Jen-6 reboots. There is no dysfunction in her world today’she is robot mommy.

Downstairs, sweet pigtail blue-eyes yawns for a bowl of muesli.

“I want a waffle, plain, cut up with syrup!” shouts the little tyke.

The glum girl in black, doesn’t respond. This presents no dilemma for Jen-6. Her upgrades included telepathic features: she wants the usual oatmeal, not too hot, or cold, stirred thick as lentil soup. With technology behind her stride, she can do anything today. She is robot mommy.

A trip to the downtown pergolas throws Jen-6 into the sharp points of shifty stares. The townsfolk are unwelcome to the new developments in robotic child rearing.

“She’s one of the new androids.”

“Who would ever trust their kids to a machine?”

“Of course they would design her after Barbie.”

Jen-6 strides past them, aloof, yet in the void of her makeup, she wishes to be one of them, to feel the heat of real neurotransmitters.

Jen-6 pays for a bundle of bread and steers away from hostile minds. Further into the arms of the city, dust from construction billows into the clefts of her sleek frame. She activates ionic cleansing agents, but her power pack has only two bars left. It is a long walk to the park and rain complicates her journey further.

Returning home, her leg casings crack and flake into metallic scales. Saline-drenched skies have eroded her modules. She slumps into a chair, stuttering incoherent terminology.

“Father, robot mommy is crashing.”

Father kneels beside her. “Jen-6? Can you reboot?”

She is unable to restart. Irises that were once silver-blue are now the shade of an eclipsed moon. Father hangs up the phone; his pleas ignored by The System. A diamond-shaped pack of guards march up the drive and heave Jen-6 into the back of a utility vehicle. Father makes a cross at his heart, hoping for another, maybe a red-haired one next time.

Thick gelatinous water rouses Jen-6 from an ashen-colored sleep. She is drifting, sinking. Quicksilver spores adhere to her body, replenishing synthetic carbon-based layers of tissue. She sways sideways, past the beams of orange-filtered lighting, down into the gooey darkness. A glitch in her system fires, a crackle, and for one diminutive moment, Jen-6 is scared, angry…human.

“Cer…eal…waffle…plain…, glum gir…oatmeal…lent…soup”


Dawn fractures through the oaks of the countryside. Shingled rooftops smoke from heated dew, and men ready for their busy days, steering tractor to field. Jen-7 wakes and rises erect. She is the newest protocol, rigorously tested to face every obstacle to date. She snaps a petite helmet, embedded with golden silks, into her eco-friendly skull.

Downstairs, a brown-eyed, wobbling babe wants eggs scrambled, toast with berry jam, and juice in his favorite cartoon cup. Little baby twins cry for a warm bottle of immunization-enhanced, homogenized milk.

A small hiccup in Jen-7’s system flashes a vision behind the optic sheath of her lids: a line of children at the downtown pergolas and a man in a tailored suit. Jen-7 computes the error and reboots. There will be no dysfunction in her world today. She is robot mommy.


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