Maude The Maid

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Written for the Skitch Bot robot competition.

Submitted: June 30, 2017

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Submitted: June 30, 2017

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Maude The Maid

 

The package was enormous, man-sized almost. Two delivery men carried it carefully to the door and seemed only to pleased to be rid of the box that was covered with ‘Fragile. Handle With Care.’ notices. Once it was delivered and signed for, their responsibility for it was over.

 

Thomas shrieked with excitement. “We’ve won! We’ve won!” Even his older sister, Sandra, was smiling.

 

Peter Evans and his wife Monica approached the box with a mixture of wariness and excitement. The thought that they would actually win had never entered their minds and now here they were with their very own robot!

 

The wrapping was removed to reveal a quite plain looking robot. As a domestic model, appearance was less important than functionality but to the Evans family it was spectacular. D145 was it’s name, but the instruction manual advised picking a suitable name right from the start. The robot would then see that as a command to listen and to obey.

 

Wilfred,” suggested Sandra.

 

That’s a man’s name, stupid. You can’t call a maid by a man’s name.” Thomas looked hard at the robot for a moment then said, “Hildegard!”

 

Henry,” suggested their Mom, smiling at Sandra.

 

Mom, you’re being stupid, too!”

 

Okay, enough. As the man of the house I say we will call it Maude. A nice, simple one-syllable word. Easy for it to learn and for us to remember.” Peter Evans had spoken and no one was going to argue.

 

At first Maude was treated with the utmost respect. The tasks she was given were quite simple; clearing the table after meals, taking out the trash, carrying in the groceries. Nothing to strenuous or draining on the robot’s power, and leaving plenty of time for it to recharge and recover.

 

As so often happens, the Evans family soon adapted to Maude’s presence. And as they got used to it the robot was given more and more tasks to do. It would now be expected to collect the laundry from where it was left on the floor, sort it and load the machine. It had to collect the newspaper and the mail, sort out everyone’s shoes, lay the table, serve the meals and clear the table afterwards. Not only was it expected to put out the trash, but to take care of the garden too. The Evans family were becoming lazy.

 

Thomas expected it to sort out his bag each morning before school; Sandra wanted everything in her room put away so she did not have to bother. Peter Evans saw Maude as his personal valet in the morning, putting on his shoes, straightening his tie, holding out his jacket for him to just slip in to. Monica was busy socializing. She was happy to keep on with the shopping – if there was one thing Monica loved it was spending money – but she was not so happy to continue with the more menial household tasks.

 

Maude was being kept busy with very little recharge time. The robot would trundle along from one job to the next, unable to refuse. The domestic robot was designed for an affluent household. It could load and empty a dishwasher, but when commanded to wash-up it had to oblige, in spite of the fact that it’s circuitry would be severely harmed by the water.And it was the same with the laundry. There was no washing machine to load up, it all had to be done by hand in the sink.

 

As Maude’s wiring became more and more damaged it became clumsier. The robot would drop things, break things, mess things up. And never given enough time to fully recharge, Maude became more and more rundown. If the Evans noticed they ignored it and carried on issuing orders.

 

Sometimes Maude would not have enough power to respond to commands. Tasks would be left to pile up so that the robot had more and more to do. It’s circuitry became hotter and hotter and it was only a matter of time before something finally went in to meltdown.

 

It was a Wednesday morning when it happened. Maude picked up the trash as ordered and tipped it all over the kitchen table. The cutlery, plates, cups and saucers were unceremoniously dumped into the bin. Thomas found his school books ripped to shreds instead of put in his bag; Sandra had her clothes and make-up deposited in a random heap on her bed, and Monica found that dripping wet laundry had been put away, soaking all the other clothes as well.

 

But it was Peter Evans who was to feel the full extent of Maude’s malfunction. On straightening his tie the robot carried on pulling. Peter struggled, becoming able to omit no more than a strangulated gurgle which Maude continued to ignore. If it had not have been for the robot’s power running out it would have killed the master of the house.

 

Monica Evans plugged Maude into the power socket after her husband refused, quite understandably, to go near the robot. There was a melting smell, a sizzling sound, and then with a bang there was no longer any electricity in the house.

 

Once the power was restored, at great inconvenience and expense, Maude was plugged back in but no matter how long it was left to recharge, it did not respond. All the robot did now was to stand in the corner and stare out through dead accusing eyes.

 

Peter Evans phoned the factory and asked for a replacement. A technician was despatched but on seeing the rust and water damage he just shook his head. “Warranty is null and void. You’ve clearly been misusing this sophisticated piece of machinery. You will be getting a bill for my visit.”

 

The Evans family were devastated. They had to go back to doing things for themselves and it was hard. Maude, however, had a much more restful existence though, having become no more than a bit of a bulky coat rack.


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