Today’s Story-a-Day prompt was to write a non-traditional love story. This probably doesn’t qualify, but it is what I wrote.
For Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors.
Agatha Omerez wants company to travel with through time. A time traveler, She has access to all the technology ever created and she takes the best from various points in history. Building another life takes patience, but after several failures, her robot says hello and looks into Agatha’s eyes.
“Hello, Lou,” Agatha replies, proud of her work. Lou doesn’t look perfectly human and isn’t meant to. Anyone would recognize Lou for a machine. But Lou is definitely human-like, able to tilt its head to show it is listening and to run for its life to show it cares.
The robot blinks. Of all the things Lou can do, one thing it can not is talk. So, it nods at Agatha and blinks again.
“Welcome to the world,” Agatha says. “I hope you find it suitable for your needs.” It isn’t that she wasn’t able to give the robot a voice. She understands the technology. She wasn’t able to decide what she wanted. Lou has no gender. Maybe from a certain angle, some people might conclude Lou a female robot, but that requires a certain way of seeing.
A voice needs tone and rhythm. What should Lou sound like? What voice does Agatha want following her on adventures? A voice would make Lou too human. Agatha reaches over and tightens a screw in the robot’s shoulder. Lou looks down and watches. “When I find the right voice, I’ll give it to you,” Agatha says.
Lou’s shiny eyes blinked.
“Now,” Agatha begins, knowing she doesn’t need to tell Lou what she is about to say but feeling compelled to explain herself to those big shining eyes. “You and I are going to travel together through time, even to times before most of your body parts existed. But I’ve planned for that, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Lou nods and looks down at itself.
“Your job is to help me whenever I need help.”
Lou nods again, and light on Lou’s chest flickers.
“It gets lonely out here,” Agatha says, “and I need someone to talk to. I’m just not sure yet if I need someone who will talk back.”
The lights come on again in the sequence Agatha programed. It means yes, I understand. More lights. What’s next, Lou asks through the light display. I’m hungry, the lights signal.
“Hungry?” Agatha ask. That makes no sense. One reason for a robot companion is to not worry about food supplies. One of them going hungry somewhere in time is problem enough.
I’m hungry. To see. The stars. Lou seems to consider. More life. Lou taps the panel of lights. Hungry for more.
This time it is Agatha who blinks. What had she programmed into the machine? “Okay,” she replies, promising herself to check Lou’s programming. This is her first robot, after all. There are bound to be mistakes.
But more immediately, this seems like a problem that can be fixed. Or at least tested. With a click, the doors to the room open and outside is a city park. Not that far away, children scream playing tag while parents watch and other park visitors stroll by. No one takes any note of the open doors. Agatha excels at invisibility design.
Lou peers out into the world. The flickering lights speed up. Lou’s wide shiny eyes look in every direction, pausing on the children and then on a dog running off leash into a flock of pigeons.
Agatha waits until the flickering lights slow down and shut off save one. “How are you now?” she asks.
Almost full, Lou’s lights answer.
Agatha takes Lou’s mechanical hand in hers, and Lou continues to watch until the sky darkens and the people begin heading home.
Thanks for reading!