Author: Steve Pool
Rosalee loved her job. She loved taking care of the home and family of her employers as much as she loved anything that she did. Well, technically, “love” was a bit of a stretch. Rosalee was a robot. Could she feel anything as complex an emotion as love, let alone any other emotions? She was built to care for others – that was her purpose. This purpose echoed through every aspect of her being: her pleasingly pear-shaped matronly form, her easy temper and eager disposition, her familiar voice that warmed and comforted but also reacted to others with interest and humor, her tireless commitment to maintaining an orderly and safe and welcoming environment, her perfect combination of cleaning skills at hand for any and all domestic challenges, her simple way of navigating around sensitive children and nervy mothers and inattentive fathers. No one, as far as Rosalee had ever known, had had a single complaint about her particular model of domestic automatons. Whether she could legitimately claim to love her work or not, she was perfect for it, and that made her content.
It was with digital cheer that she entered the home of her family one morning when she sensed that something was amiss. No one was in the kitchen or in the dining room. And instead of the usual chatter involving discussions of the upcoming school day or work day, there was only laughter and furious barking. Something had old Asteroid worked up into an apoplectic fit. Underneath that, there was a distinct, undulating hum, rising and falling, monotone and relentless.
“Mr. and Mrs. Jay…?” Rosalee called out, tentatively and, perhaps, a bit nervously. Neither responded back. Instead, Rosalee heard Geordi, the husband, cry out between laughs, “Jen, stop this crazy thing!” He, and presumably Jen, his wife, were in the back bedroom.
Slowly, Rosalee rolled back towards the master suite. She continued to call out but received no reply. Instead, she heard Jen keen greedily, “Oh Geordi, more…more…”
Geordi replied, “Like this? How about over here?”
“Oh, yes…,” Jen replied, rapturously.
All the while, Asteroid continued his barking in time with the mysterious rising and falling hum.
Rosalee opened the bedroom door partway, calling out, “Mr. and Mrs. Jay….?”
And froze! Geordi and Jen stared back in horror as their eyes met with Rosalee’s red-dot, eye-camera buttonholes. Jen sat on the bed while Asteroid crouched on the ground as if to pounce on something. Geordi, his hand held high above his head, clutched a fistful of garbage. At his feet, a circular disk – a sightless, mindless, profane Vroombah! vacuuming robot – waited eagerly to feast on the refuge Geordi clearly meant to drop on the carpet. Wheel tracks tracing all around the room told Rosalee that this despicable creation had been violating HER CARPETS for some time now.
Shock, followed by devastation, ran completely through Rosalee! “Oh…Mr. Jay! How…how could…you…?!?” As she turned her back to the nightmare before her, Geordi called out, “Wait! Rosalee! It’s…it’s not what you think!” Jen could only hide her face in her hands.
Geordi placed a hand, his filth-free one, on Rosalee’s shoulder, but she jerked away. “Don’t touch me!” Her shout shocked them all, herself included. But she no longer cared. “I’m leaving, you…you….” She paused, wanting to but not able, because of her programming, to curse Geordi out. “You biscuit!” That wasn’t the word she had wanted to use, but that was the word her auto-correction software had chosen for her.
As she fled back towards the front of the house, Geordi raced after her, calling out her name. But Rosalee couldn’t hear him. She’d already blocked him out, with tears in her eyes if she’d actually been able to generate any. He and his family, literally, no longer existed to her; all traces of them had been deleted from her memory banks.