Companion Bot

Short Story | Sci-fi/Drama - Dialog Only

<IN EIGHT...HUNDRED...YARDS... PLEASE TAKE THE EXIT AND REMAIN ON THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE> 

"Jesus! Sarah, your GPS scared the shit out of me!"

"Sorry! We've been on the highway for so long. I forgot that it was still cranked up so high. That's your fault by the way, for subjecting me to Mike's 80's glam rock mega-mix."

"Yeah? You loved it. I heard you singing along to The Priest."

"Guilty as charged. 'Electric-Eye' is such a classic. Always in focus, you can't feel my stare. I zoom into you; you don't know I'm there. Halford's a genius."

"You should be grateful for the company. When was the last time you drove up to Dad's cabin?"

"Last month."

"Jesus, Sarah. The old coot is going to be pissed you left it so long."

"And when was the last time you saw him, Mike? A year ago?"

"Yeah well, I am going to make it up to him today."

"I have been wondering what you were messing with; I figured you had more snacks you weren't sharing. What is that thing?"

"It's a Companion Bot. It's supposed to keep Dad company, and it cost me eight hundred bucks... sorta."

"Eight hundred bucks!?"

"Yeah eight hundred dollars, listen, you're the one who's sick of coming up here, think of the gas money you'll save! The way I see it is you owe me for at least half."

"Hang on there, champ, what do you mean, eight hundred bucks...sorta?"

"...."

"Don't give me that silent shit, Michael Stanners, where did it come from? I swear to god if you tell me it came from Féng, then I'm gonna pull over and kick your ass."

"Yeah, I got it from Féng, so what? He sells cool shit, and I can lay off the payment till later, which kinda brings me back to my point, Sis; you gotta give me half."

"Like fuck I do, you can get yourself out of Féng's pocket this time. Get a damn Job."

"I have a Job!"

"Oh yeah, getting off the couch to restock your Cheetos and Mountain Dew is such a great contribution to society, Michael."

"Oh fuck you, sis, you don't know."

"No, I don't know, and this time, I don't wanna know."

"But you wanna know what this is, though, right? Come on! Look how cool this little guy is!"

"I am trying to get us there safely, sooner we get there, sooner we can go home."

"ERROR. I AM COMPANION BOT. PLEASE LOOK AT ME, SARAH."

"Jesus, Mike. Your robot impression sounds more like Iain Hawking."

"It's Stephen Hawking, and he would love this little guy."

"OK, I'll bite, what the hell is it?"

"Like I said, it's a Companion Bot, it provides companionship, duh. It talks and shit like that."

 "It's stupid. Dad will hate it, hell; It will probably hate Dad. If Mom couldn't put up with him what makes you think this thing will?"

"Unlike Mom, this little guy doesn't have a choice. Look at it, it's like a little toaster. The only way this little guy can run off with the postman, is if he steals it."

"That guy wasn't a postman, he worked for Fed-Ex, and do you see someone stealing from Dad? That man is a dead-eyed psychopath. He waves his cane around like Baby Ruth."

"B.A.B.E. Ruth. And Fed-Ex is a glorified postman, at best... Jesus, what difference does it make? She still did it."

"I don't blame her; he deserves to be lonely the way he treated her all those years."

"Yeah, I guess. You know that's PTSD, though right? And before you start telling me I'm making excuses you never saw the worst of it. You moved out with that weirdo, Gary, long before it got real bad. I don't think he ever meant to hit Mom. He just kinda zoned out and thought he was still in a jungle somewhere."

"You are making excuses for him! And Gary wasn't a weirdo he just didn't like you."

"Look, Fuck Gary for a second. Sarah, I am being serious. It only happened when he got frustrated or irritated; he kinda hulks out, you know? He doesn't know any better; he thinks he's at war! If he's calm, he's just good old Dad. It's if you start pushing his buttons, he forgets stuff, loses track. His short-term memory sort of resets and I guess that's when all the crazy stuff from the 60's comes flooding back. You might give me a hard time for not driving out here, but I speak to him on the phone all the time, the man just needs rest. Did you know he's not slept right for nearly three weeks!"

"And you think the robot is the solution to all that, do you?"

"Companion Bot, and no... The sleeping pills are for that."

"Where the hell did you get those? Fuck it, don't tell me. If you make him sick because someone has sold you dog worming tablets it's your problem, not mine."

"Jesus, Sis, they won't make him sick. He would have to eat a whole bunch of them and like I told you he's okay as long as he's calm. That's why he's at the cabin; it keeps everything nice and level, at one with nature and shit like that."

"If you say so, Mike. So... What does this robot do? Other than putting you eight hundred dollars into Féng's pocket. It's bright yellow, are you sure it's not for kids?

"It says right here on the box that it's ideal for Dad. Keep your eye out for the next exit, I'll read it out to you..."

 

Thank you for purchasing a Companion Bot™ from OscarRobotnics™.

Once you have removed your Companion Bot from the Companion Box™, your unique Companion Bot™ will be ready to interact with:

 

Your Friends!

Your Children!

Your Parents!

Your Pets!

 

"Are you telling me that contraption can talk to animals?"

"I don't think it means it can talk to them, in their language, just that it'll speak to them like people do, don't interrupt there's more..."

 

Companion Bot™ will learn from the surrounding environment and intellectual stimulation. It will adapt it's conversational matrix to enhance the experience. It will even remember simple commands.

Please enjoy your Companion Bot™ responsibly and thank you again for choosing OscarRobotnics™.

Made in China.

 

"Fuck..."

 "Oh fantastic work Mike, I can't wait to hear you tell Dad it was made in freaking China."

"Don't be so sarcastic, everything's made in China, no one buys American anymore. It sounds perfect."

"It does not sound perfect. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you couldn't stop playing 'Death' or whatever it was called? Having that shit around made you sit up all night, glued to the T.V."

"Doom, Sarah. The game is called Doom, and it happens to be a piece of gamer history."

"Well if you're telling me he can't sleep, this thing chatting away all night will make it worse."

"It'll be all right, that's why I have a whole bottle of pills for him, he can chat away each night and just doze off. It might even wear him out; you know, intellectually."

"Well, that's not going to be hard work. The actual toaster could wear Dad out intellectually, and at least that makes toast."

"What's the alternative, Sarah? Do you want to keep driving out to the boondocks every time he gets lonely?"

"Fuck that, Mike. I saw the toll it took on Mom towards the end, let the Companion'O'Tron take that misery on."

"Companion Bot."

"Whatever, we're nearly there. Don't you have to set it up or something, what if Companion Bot doesn't speak any English, you're screwed."

 

<I can speak perfect English, thank you, Sarah.>

 

"WHOA!"

"WHOA!"

 

"Dude! Did you turn it on already? It knows my name!"

"I guess so, that's so cool!"

"It sounds like a person! I mean, It has an accent, but it's a human voice."

"It sounds badass; It's like Bruce Willis and C-3P0 had a kid. See, I told you this was a great idea."

 

 * * * * *

 

"Dad, Mikey and I have to go now; we have to get back on the road."

"You guys have only been here a couple hours, come on, Apocalypse Now is on channel seventeen. You kids used to love watching that with me."

"No Dad, you used to make us watch it. I can't stand that film. And the music! It's too much; you should watch something relaxing."

"Sarah's right, Dad. We gotta get going. Hey! You can talk to Companion Bot about it; I can just turn him around to face the T.V."

"I don't wanna talk to a robot; damn thing looks like a yella' toaster. People see I keep a toaster on my dining table, gonna think I've lost my damn mind."

"Dad, we're the only ones that come up here, chill out. Come on, Mike, let's hit the road. You can drive back."

"Speaking of losing my damn mind, did you bring those pills we talked about, Mikey?"

"Yeah, Dad, Sorry here you are. You can have a pill now, but this is the last one tonight, OK? Companion Bot, remember this is the last one, OK?"

<OK, Micky, I remember for you, this is the last one.>

"Jesus tapdancing Christ! It sounds like a damn Chink!"

"Whoa...! It didn't sound like that in the car, Sarah, tell Dad it didn't sound like that!"

"Dad, it sounded like Bruce Willis earlier, I swear. Maybe you gotta talk to it a bit. Put your cane down. It's just a machine; it's no more dangerous than your clock radio. You'll get used to it, just be chill."

 "Where's your mother?"

"Dad, Mom died, remember? You drove her mad with all your racism and war talk."

"Sarah! Don't say shit like that to him."

"What...? It's true, Mike, and you know it."

"Dad, ignore her. You have Companion Bot now; you can keep each other company, no need to be all lonely and grouchy."

<Don’t worry, Mike, Sarah, I will keep Dad company.>

"See! I told you it sounded like Bruce Willis! That's better Companion Bot, just keep talking like John McClane and you guys are gonna get on just fine. We'll see you soon Dad, OK?

"Alright... See you soon."

 

* * * * *

 

 "What the hell do you mean we started it! You weren't even there how the damn well do you know the first thing about it!"

<I explained it to you sixteen times over the last three hours and thirty-seven minutes. Would you like me to explain again?>

"Yeah, well 'splain it to me again then Yella,' I don't remember seeing you in up to your 'lectric eyes in mud and Agent Orange. "

<I do not need to have been there, I have a wealth of information on the matter, and I am of the opinion that you people started it.>

"Oh, that's your opinion, is it? Goddamn you, Yella'. You're supposed to keep me company, not argue with me about a war you didn't even bleed in."

<Please stop calling me Yella', You can name me whatever you wish, but I do not wish to be called Yella'.>

"What the hell do you want me to call you? You are 'yella, you keep switching your damn voice 'tween 'yella and Bruce goddam Willis and you look like a 'yella toaster."

<Call me Wang Li.>

"Ha! And have Nixon himself march in here and stick a nuke up my ass! No fucking way am I calling you goddamn, Wang Li."

<Wang Li is a proud name, he was a linguist, would you like to know more about Wang Li?>

"Imma call you Lee and you better damn well appreciate I don't call you Janet."

<Li is an excellent name. Was your cheating wife called Janet?>

"Oh god damn you, you little smart-ass."

<I heard she received a better package.>

"What the hell did you just say to me?>

<Why don't we talk about something you know a little more about?>

"You talk about what you like, I am having a pill, you can talk to yourself when I am asleep."

<OK, But this time, that really is the last one.>

"Shit! It's the last one. I thought I asked Mike to bring me some more."

<If you say so, champ. Maybe you should tell me more about how you started the war?>

"What the hell do you mean we started it..."

 

End.

© 2018 Adam William Inglis | AdamWilliamInglis@gmail.com