No More Butler

 
Art by:  Sina Hayati

Art by: Sina Hayati

 

Hum and whir, repulser and prop engines. Blips on her dash, one after another, all contain information accessed with a tap. Most of it useless. Construction going well, another five years at this pace and the gate will be in full operation. Dull brown at the edge of her eye. Flicks a switch putting the bike into standby. A heap of rusted debris, remnants of the past.

“T, what was this place? Do you know?”

“A moment, miss.” Facial screen goes fuzzy as the walking computer searches for…”Farmland, miss. We acquired this plot in 2058 through eminent domain. Owners were quite stubborn. You may recall McHallen Vs. State in which—”

“I don’t remember anything of the sort, that’s why I have you. You remember that shit for me.”

“Just so, miss.”

“Owner login code. Fried Orange Thursday Eighteen Diamond Six.”

“Core menu accessed,” the humanoid computer says.

“Change personality from…What are you right now?”

“Old English Proper, miss.”

“Yeah, I’m done with this bullshit. I thought having a butler would be fun…Ah, let’s see. Do street. Old world, like, I don’t know…About a hundred years ago.”

The computer’s face goes snowy. A moment ago the display showed a man in his fifties, perfect mustache, bright eyes, brows that said ‘I-don’t-have-time-for-your-nonsense.’ Now the face is grim, has seen some real shit, half the age of the last. Old L.A., maybe south Chicago.

“You good?” the computer asks. “With this, I mean. Me. This cool?”

She smirks. “Yeah, this’ll be interesting. Lock this in.”

“Sure-sure." Rolls its shoulders, draws the blade sheathed on its back. “Fuck yeah, this thing’s legit.”

Every time she changes its personality the first thing it does is play with its sword. Makes her chuckle. Hasn’t found a personality setting where that isn’t the case. Maybe it’s part of the default programming.

“Put that away, we need to check the next zone. You good to go?”

It runs in place, legs like pistons pummel the ground, machine-gun rocket fire form a small crater. “I’m good, let’s do this.”

She laughs, “Lead the way.”

The computer sets off and she follows. Looks at the gate as she cruises over the rocky landscape and wonders what it’ll be like to live on Mars.