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The cyborg stood at the door of a little old house. He had been dropped off by a self-driving Unitech van. There were other robots that had rode with him there. There were three brown-haired Emily model androids and two dark blonde Eli model androids with him. No one spoke to anyone else, as there was nothing to discuss. Aiden was the first to be dropped off. Once the van stopped, he headed straight to the house’s door, then knocked. The van continued its delivery route. Right now, he was waiting for someone to answer.

Aiden’s outfit was made of a plastic-like material that was sustainable. It consisted of a long-sleeved top, closed-toed shoes, and pants. The outfit was form-fitting, but not so form-fitting that every nook and cranny was visible.

An old, Caucasian man with white hair answered the door. His features were drawn and distant, but when he looked up at Aiden, his mood seemed to lift from melancholy to cheerful. A smile made its way onto his face, a youthful gleam appeared in his eyes, and he hugged Aiden with joyous laughter. Aiden returned the hug, gesture empty, and listened to the old man’s glee.

I’m glad to meet you, m’boy!” The man let go of Aiden and stepped aside. “Please! Make yourself at home! You and me, we’re going to be like father and son!”

As Aiden was programmed to do, he entered the house, expressionless. As of now, he was like a blank slate. He had a preprogrammed personality, but it would develop according to whatever living situation he was subjected to, much like the other “Aiden” models. He had also just arrived, so there would not be much reaction to anything. The elderly man followed Aiden; a wide grin plastered onto his merry face.


Arden stared across the room at the plate of food that had been slid underneath the door. The door was modified in such a way that a button had been installed outside of it to enable sliding a plate underneath the door with ease. The door would move up to enable this. Arden knew that the cooks put something in his food, as the taste was always off. No matter, this was all he was going to get for a while.

He got to his feet and padded over to the disposable plate and sat cross-legged in front of it. He stared at the mystery glob right in the middle of the plate, haphazardly heaved there without a care for presentation. Sticking straight up out of the gray biomass of what could only be described as an assortment of meat globs was a white plastic fork. Arden put the plate in his lap and quietly ate. He knew he would be in a bad mood after he ate, but he also knew that by eating what was given to him he would develop more visible muscle mass on the fleshy parts of his body, which was more attractive to humans for one reason or another. It was strange considering that he spent his days in a dark room, and no human had enough time to observe his features, but his boss thought it mattered, so Arden was fed the anger-inducing stuff.

The texture of the mystery meat was unappealing - slimy and cold - but Arden had grown used to it. Besides, he didn't care what he ate if it kept his energy up. He needed energy to keep his job. He ate all of it then slipped the empty plate underneath the door for the custodian to pick up. Arden's mood was beginning to sour again, and he got up quickly and loudly made his way back to his bed. He slammed himself down onto the mattress and growled quietly. The portion of the stained white sheet on his bed that was in his hands became aggressively wadded up, and Arden started wringing it. The beep of a credit card scanner was heard on the opposite side of the door, causing Arden to quickly slide his eyes over in the direction of the source.

The security locks were disabled, and in stepped a woman. Arden had to quickly shut his eyes once the yellow light from the hall streamed in. The door shut, the security device beeped, and Arden listened for the woman with open eyes. She was next to his bed in an instant, and she said, “Vanilla here. I'll take the usual.” Oh, a regular. Arden was surprised that he had any of those, but their money was what was keeping a roof over his head and food in his stomach. The more regulars Arden had, the more stability he could achieve. Every client he got had a fake name unique to them, usually about some aspect of their personality or their usual request. The boss kept track of the names to better organize his loyal customers, as opposed to the ones who just popped in and popped out.

Feeling unreasonably furious with the situation and knowing the waiver Vanilla had to sign absolved any liability for the business and Arden, Arden threw himself at her and slammed her into the floor. This resulted in a grunt from her.


Noon hit, and Arden was lying on his back in bed, trying to relax. He had a break right now, but he wouldn’t put himself into sleep mode yet. His boss had come by earlier and had informed Arden that Arden had made his monthly payment. However, this didn’t mean that Arden was done. He was never done.

Arden was considering just resting his eyes and not going into sleep mode when he was interrupted by the fire alarm. He turned his attention to the door and listened to the commotion of stomping feet as everyone in the building fled outside. Or, at least, the individuals here on the second floor. Arden got up and calmly tried to open his door, but found it was locked. "As I figured." He stated, then he returned to his previous spot and position, folding his arms, and putting them behind his head. He stared up at the ceiling, ankles crossed. This wasn't the first time this had happened, and it certainly wasn't going to be the last.

Arden listened to the irritating buzz of the antique fire alarm system outside his room. He saw the lights from the alarm flash from the other side of the door. Soon, the building had gone completely silent, and Arden continued to stare up at the ceiling, apathetic to and accepting of the situation. His mind started to wander, going from one subject to another - from enjoying the semi-emptiness of the building to wondering what death would be like. Eventually the alarms went silent, but they continued to flash. Arden enjoyed the silence that had enveloped the building. He had never been a fan of loud noises, or just noise in general. He closed his eyes and let himself unwind, finding himself about to drift off to sleep. He was awakened by the sound of the security devices on his door being disabled. He sat up and stared at the door for a few seconds before getting confused by no one entering and going to investigate.

He tried the door and opened it. While the pain was minimal from the sudden light exposure, he silently bared the pain and came on out of the room. He looked around, getting a breath of cooler air than what he was used to. The floor had been freshly carpeted with a lovely green color, and the walls had their wallpaper recently replaced with gray damsel wallpaper. There were two hallways that formed a “T,” and they looked somewhat narrow since the building was small itself. Of course, perhaps it was just the way the second floor was set up, too. Minimal decoration was present on the second floor. If anything, there were random, likely mass-produced, landscape paintings on the walls. Each painting was in an identical, modestly ornate wooden frame. The place still looked dated, but it looked well-maintained.

Upon seeing the changes, he remarked, "This is a bit different from what I remember..." He decided to go downstairs to hunt for more food while he was out of the room, but once at the door he paused. The stairs were outside the building, and he couldn't have his boss catching him outside his room. His boss was a bit extreme in his punishments. So, Arden headed to the next-best place – the maintenance room. He headed to his right to the end of the hallway, before entering a door to the left. He stepped into the room and started looking around for lunch. He sighted someone's brown paper bag resting on a plastic, white folding table pushed into the corner of the room. There were three metal, tan folding chairs pushed up to and under the table. Arden headed to the bag, picking it up to see what was inside. Looked like grasshoppers and veggies wrapped in tortilla shells and a bottle of water next to the homemade wraps. It was better than nothing and looked better than that meat glob from earlier did.

He remembered the fire alarms, thus the likely swift return of everyone up here, and he reached for the grasshopper wraps. He didn't have much time to react as three men threw themselves into his back, knocking him forward and onto the table, causing it to give underneath the sudden weight with a crack.

Now facing the floor, he felt the sharp pain of something being stabbed into his back, and out of the corner of his eye he saw one of the men holding a tranquilizing dart. It seemed to likely be a backup in case there needed to be more sedative forced into Arden's system. Arden of course cried out in pain upon getting pierced by a dart, and he tried throwing the men off his back. They came off, and he turned to fight them only to feel unsteady on his feet and to fall face-first on the floor. He blacked out first, before shutting down.


Arden woke up on his back, in the dark room. He was staring up at the ceiling. Everything was still foggy. He groaned and felt his arms and legs being pulled. He tried bringing them toward himself, only to be met with resistance. A voice stated from within the darkness, "You finally decided to wake up."

Arden looked in the direction of the voice and saw a Caucasian man standing with a flashlight lighting his unremarkable face and dark eyes. The clouds immediately cleared from his mind and Arden said, calmly yet ominously, "Hello, boss..."

"You thought you could just steal someone's lunch amidst the confusion, didn't you?"


"Drop the attitude. Remember, I decided to take your sorry ass in."

Arden went silent, but his abrasive exterior had not left. The boss condescendingly said, "That's a good monster." He ruffled Arden's already-messy brown hair, and Arden growled in response. Arden was considered a monster by his boss's standards, even though the only truly monstrous things about Arden was his temper and his status as a cyborg. It was just more leverage to use against Arden, as if he didn't have enough leverage already. To his boss, being a monster was synonymous with being ugly, and his boss made it no secret that androids were beautiful, and cyborgs were not. The boss said, still talking down to him and now waving his finger at him, "Ah ah, no defiance allowed. Remember, I own this building and everything inside it. I can easily evict you and leave you at the mercy of paranoid humans that won't hesitate to destroy a hideous monster such as yourself." Arden was very quiet now. He could handle the verbal blows, but he knew when to be docile and when to be in character. The boss continued, tone cold now, "That's better." He backed up.

Arden quietly watched the boss. The boss shined the light directly into Arden's brown eyes, and Arden was quick to shut his eyes tightly. He refused to make any pained noises. The boss said, "Stubborn as always, I see..." He walked up to Arden and brought his fist down hard on top of Arden's crotch. Arden screamed in pain this time. He tried to curl up to protect the pained area from further blows, but the ropes prevented him from doing so. The boss backed up, a satisfied smirk on his face. He said, "Don't provoke me like that again. If something were to happen to that, then you would be out of a place to stay."

The security devices on the door became disabled and a well-dressed, blonde-haired woman who appeared to be in her thirties poked her head in. Arden had closed his eyes at this point, so he could protect his vision. The woman said, "Mr. Phiasty, one of the androids has broken down."

The boss said, calm yet annoyed, "Right, I'll be out in a moment."

The door was shut, and Arden slowly opened his eyes. Mr. Phiasty said, "You are not allowed out of those ropes for the next twenty-four hours. You are not allowed to eat, to drink, or to have any kind of company. Not even a client's. Of course, it's not like you get any real company anyway - who wants to waste their time with an object such as yourself? Other than me and the clients of course, but that's because you bring in a lot of money for me and you are a popular choice for the clients. And I need to keep monsters off the street anyway." With that, Mr. Phiasty left, and the door was secured once more.

Arden stared at the ceiling, quiet. He had been attacked like this before, but for some reason this session had caused a heavy sensation to occur within his chest. Maybe it was because it had been a while since he was last chewed out and he had grown soft. He sighed, then remarked, “Congratulations, asshole. You pointed out the obvious.” Those words were mostly said as a sort of outlet for the negativity.

That android from last night suddenly came to mind. Arden knew that he could get in, and he probably would take the opportunity tonight since Arden would be occupied with the ropes. The thought irritated Arden, but he knew he couldn’t do anything about it short of shouting threats and demanding that the android in question leave. Oh well, all Arden could do was wait for tonight. Arden shut down, knowing that he was literally tied up for the rest of the day.


Submitted: December 25, 2018

© Copyright 2023 A. Rhetters. All rights reserved.


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