Author: Bryant Benson

Timothy sat in a brightly lit, featureless room. Across from him was a woman with thick glasses and a tight bun. She was as institutional as the room and had yet to look up from her clipboard. After an agonizing amount of time passed, she clicked her pen closed and spoke.

“Timothy, how long have you known Margaret?”

Timothy bolted awake and replied with a smile.

“Oh, we’ve been friends as far back as I can remember. Yes, we’re…well, we were quite close.”
His tone dropped as his smile dissipated.

“Friends? Close?” The woman glanced up at Timothy for the first time and raised an eyebrow.

“It’s okay. We expect you to care. That attention to detail is why we’re the best in the business.” She continued, without feeling, “So you do understand that Margaret is no longer with us?”

Timothy looked down at his fidgeting hands and breathed, “Yes.”

The woman clicked her pen open and scribbled on her clipboard before speaking again, “Now tell me Timothy, do you miss her?”

Timothy closed his eyes and thought back to Margaret’s fragile skin that would break often. He would tend to her tiny wounds while she told him of the concert halls her hands would fill when they were once capable of playing the piano. He remembered that she was afraid of thunder and would lay her graying head on his shoulder on rainy nights until she would fall asleep. He would stay there all night, wondering how it would feel to sleep like her.

He knew what he had to say. Timothy opened his eyes and replied, “No.”

She proceeded, “Excellent, we will have a new assignment for you tomorrow morning.”
She stood up and turned toward the door.

“Wait,” Timothy stammered, “So soon?”

She turned toward him with a perplexed look and spoke sternly, “Well yes, I didn’t think the time would be so relevant.”

Timothy hung his head and stared at his reflection in the cold metal table. The woman slid back into her chair and leaned forward.

Quietly, she asked, “Are you…sad?”

He nodded in agreement.

She glanced back at the large mirror behind her and raised one finger.

In the most sincere sounding voice she could muster, the woman asked, “Why are you sad Timothy?”

Timothy’s voice cracked as he spoke, “I loved her.”

The woman inhaled as she placed her hand on Timothy’s and whispered, “I know you did.”

The interviewer nodded toward the mirror. She let go of his hand, stood up, and walked out. Before the door closed behind her it was pushed open by three figures in bulky yellow hazmat suits. They grabbed Timothy as if they were simply moving furniture.

Timothy returned to his memories of Margaret. He saw her smile as she danced in her living quarters back when her legs still worked. She was all he ever wanted to care about.

He accepted his fate and was escorted out of the interview room. He was led into a much larger room with a massive exam table. Timothy was docile and silent as a long cylinder was driven through the base of his skull. His lifeless body was shoved into a chute where it landed atop a pile of other underperforming drones.

In the days that followed, his synthetic skin was melted down to be recycled as a cost saving measure. The device that pumped circulatory fluid through his veins was disassembled to be refurbished. His brain was incinerated along with whatever belongings Margaret left behind that went unclaimed by her surviving family.