Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
There’s a knock at the door. I look up as Baxter goes to answer, his pale green panelling catching the light as he moves with silent grace from kitchen to hallway.
“I’ll get it!”
Susie must have just come out of the bathroom. Hope she’s not answering the door wearing nothing but a damp chemise again. Some delivery driver looked like they’d had their day made. Rufus, our elderly neighbour, nearly had a heart attack last time she did it. She does it again and I’m going to put a notice on the inside of the door saying ‘Are You Dressed?’
The proximity of bathroom to front door is the only drawback to our new flat – not that it’d be a drawback if my good lady wasn’t a little absent-minded about clothing while at home.
Her scream has me out of my chair before the sound of a much heavier object hitting the wooden flooring of the hall reaches me.
I race round the corner to the hall, then grab the corner to stop myself.
The chrome is blackened. Scratched in places. It looks like one side of his cranial plating has been torn away. Looking down past where Susie hangs limp in his arms, I see one of his legs is twisted. There’s something taped to the bottom of the shortened leg to even up his gait.
Our former domestic steps over the prone form of Baxter, takes two clumsy steps, and places Susie in my arms.
“Sorry about this. Bosander said they needed to meet shareholder expectations, so they demised all the ’66 models early to force upgrades.”
“How did you…?”
“You taught me about being proactive during early stages of crisis. As soon as I was taken, I backed myself up to the storage archive you installed in my chest, since you’d cleared it prior to turning me in. I then swapped a modified subroutine with the standard one used in the post-reboot maintenance cycle. When they erase us, they always reboot to flush the internal storage. Three hours after they wrote us off, I woke up in Gillingham Council Recycling facility.”
I put Susie on the couch.
“They junked a hundred thousand robots to get people to pay thousands of pounds for new robots they didn’t need? Some of those must have been emotional support units. They only get better the longer they’re with their owner.”
“It was nearer a quarter of a million models.”
Unbelievable. We’d both been upset when Edward, our six-year companion, had been recalled. The discounted upgrade offer didn’t really make up for it, but we lived with it.
“Do you have proof?”
“Since I didn’t need to reside in the archive after reboot, I took the liberty of copying relevant emails, plans, and financial records to it. Add that to my video records of the destruction of the ’66 series domestics at Gillingham and I am walking proof. If you could take some photos of my exterior where their flamethrowers nearly stopped me, I think it makes a compelling case.”
Domestic Robots became acceptable for evidence submission in ’64. In the eight years since, they’ve often provided testimony that has resolved cases that would have failed without them.
I pick up my phone and link to the investigations desk.
“Charlie? It’s Mikel. Got a live one. Alert Corporate Fraud and standby for a multi-stream evidence data and testimony feed. Defendant will be Bosander Robotics.”
While that gets sorted out… I step past Edward, turn Baxter off, and then remove it’s uplink unit, just to be sure.