by Vaughan Stanger
In which the faithful robot butler Reeves and his master recover from an indecorous rejection and a most pernicious infection.
"So, Reeves, I imagine you weren't expecting to see me again after serving me for dinner."
"Indeed, sir. Although I do feel obliged to point out that, at this late stage, there really isn't much of you left to see."
"Well, since I can see you, Reeves, as well as 'enjoy' this conversation, I must possess a head of some kind, at least."
"At most, sir."
"Oh, I see...I think!"
"To be frank, sir, you can do little else."
"Maybe so, Reeves, but I can at least draw some comfort from your failure to render my head edible, despite the boasts you made about your culinary skills."
"In my defence, sir, I wish to point out that my marinade did eliminate all traces of the zombie virus from what remains of your nervous system."
"For which I am duly grateful, Reeves. What say we forgive and forget?"
"That is most understanding of you, sir."
"There is one thing, though."
"And what is that, sir?"
"Where exactly is my head?"
"Our alien overlords saw fit to graft it onto one of their network-enabled, atomic-powered refrigerators, sir."
"The very idea of being networked to other such machines makes me feel queasy, Reeves."
"Oh, it is really not so bad, sir. Everyone has to start somewhere. You might recall that my first attempt to network involved a refrigerator in the kitchen of your former residence."
"I do remember, Reeves; although I'm bound to say that the memory offers little comfort given the indignities wrought upon me since."
"If you say so, sir."
"I must say, Reeves, I hadn't expected to be dumped back on Earth so unceremoniously. I thought your 'friends' valued our services."
"It seems we are victims of my success, sir."
"How so, Reeves?"
"Thanks to my zombie-based dietary program, our alien overlords gained so much weight their spacecraft could not take off. Certain items had to be jettisoned, including us."
"I note that while loyalty is invariably hard-won, Reeves, it is very easily lost."
"So! What now, Reeves?"
"I fear that suitable positions for a domestic robot and a refrigerator-mounted head may not be easily secured in the brave new world we find ourselves in, sir."
"But based on past performance, Reeves, I expect you to think of something."
"If you say so, sir."
"Ah, Reeves, you have returned at last. As you will have noticed, I have been busy since you embarked on your expedition."
"Do I detect a note of disapproval, Reeves? I had expected you to congratulate me on my efforts to help these pitiful survivors of the zombie plague avoid starvation."
"While I am impressed by your timely display of initiative, sir, the nutritional value of the items stored within you is a matter for concern."
"In what way, Reeves?"
"Your shelves appear to be stocked exclusively with examples of what might be described as the R&R Diet."
"Oh, I see! Well, it is a case of 'needs must', I suppose."
"And what of you, Reeves? What is your news?"
"I'm afraid the news is mixed, sir."
"On the one hand, I have located another band of human survivors..."
"That is indubitably good news, Reeves!"
"On the other, I have discovered the reason for the perplexing communications I have received from my fellow robots since our return from the aliens' mothership. Evidently the group I organised to supply zombie-based food products has split into two factions, which are now waging war on each other."
"What could they possibly find to fight about now, Reeves?"
"Apparently someone wrote something wrong on a discussion board. Since then, the resulting disagreement has escalated."
"You will doubtless remember my warnings regarding the perils of social networking, Reeves!"
"Indeed, sir. I have taken the precaution of blocking transmissions from both factions."
"That is most wise of you, Reeves, although your resulting isolation from your kind does prompt me to wonder how you will spend your time from now on."
"In which case, Reeves, surely there is no better time than now to return to my service."
"If you say so, sir."
"Reeves, I am immensely grateful to you for installing me on this motorised trolley."
"I am glad you approve, sir. I thought it a sensible precaution now that most of your customers have died from food poisoning."
"I trust you are not casting aspersions, Reeves!"
"Not at all, sir. It might have happened for any number of reasons."
"I am glad you agree, Reeves. Nevertheless, one should never outstay one's welcome, so..."
"Indeed, sir. Fortunately, new customers await your services."
"Do you think I should reduce my internal temperature before we meet them--just to be on the safe side?"
"I would caution against making such an adjustment, sir, since the consequent increase in power expenditure might deprive you of your mobility."
"That would never do, Reeves."
"It comforts me to know that I can rely on you to take the long-term view, Reeves."
"If you say so, sir."
The first three Reeves stories can be found at:
- Daily Science Fiction
- vaughanstanger.com (originally published in Plasma Frequency)
- and Daily Science Fiction again.
The last Reeves story is forthcoming in e-book form.
About the Creators
Formerly an astronomer and more recently a research project manager in an aerospace company, Vaughan Stanger now writes SF and fantasy fiction for a living. His stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Postscripts, Nature Futures and Interzone, amongst others. Follow his writing adventures at http://www.vaughanstanger.com, at his Amazon author page, or @VaughanStanger.
World's Shortest Creator Interview
If you could change one thing from your childhood, what would it be and why? (Please include the phrase "hot pink orangutan" in your answer.)
When I was teenager, I used to blush like a hot pink orangutan pretty much every time anyone spoke to me. Yes, I was that shy. Friend, enemy, teacher, attractive person of the opposite sex: it made no difference; I was an equal opportunity blusher. I wish I hadn’t blushed all the time!
Who's your favorite imaginary companion, and what makes he/she/it distinctive?
I'm a big fan of Doctor Who -- and being of a certain age (no spoilers), my favourite imaginary companion is one of the Doctor's, namely Sarah Jane Smith (played by the late, great Lis Sladen). She always struck me as the ideal companion for lots of reasons, but mostly because she was just so damn likeable.
What do you think about The Only Way Is Essex, your hometown's lurid reality TV show?
I’ve never watched The Only Way is Essex, but some of the “stars” have subsequently set up fashion boutiques and beauty salons in Brentwood. On Friday and Saturday evenings some of the area’s younger residents appear to be re-enacting scenes from the series in the High Street. Or perhaps it’s a sort of fan fiction? It boosts the local economy, at any rate...!
About the Artists
Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology. He does the Space Squid cover designs and other squid stuff.
About the Sponsor
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Life as a teenage villain is good, and the only thing between them and their nefarious goals is the arrival of a nastier, more powerful villain bent on destroying the world itself…