Chapter 7: Howard and Ian

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Review Chain

Reads: 54
Comments: 3

Howard could tell by the way that Ian came into their small apartment that the interview hadn't gone well. Ian hadn't sent him any messages or called him all day and he'd cautiously hoped that meant that it had gone well.
 
But, clearly it hadn't.
 
The worst part was that Howard didn't really understand what was driving Ian's need to find a job, and not just any job, a human job. Their military pensions were enough --if they lived modestly.
 
In theory "human jobs" didn't exist, all jobs were open to anyone, in theory captchas were illegal and he and Ian would be welcome to live on level 2. That of course was all just theory.
 
And at some level Ian didn't seem to understand this. And what was worse, all of the things that Howard loved about Ian, his body, both robotic and human at once in a way that filled him with confusion, his ambiguity and perfection... all of those things that made Ian, Ian... Ian seemed to be hellbent on changing.
 
But, even if he didn't understand Ian's quest, it still hurt him to see someone he loved so defeated.
 
Ian kept a chair in their room. The chair had worried Howard when it first showed up. Would Ian be buying a full set of furniture? Would he start sleeping in a bed? Eating food? How far would this nonsense go? Their room simply wasn't that big! Ian assured him the chair was just for practice. "I'm a mobile unit" he'd said. "And if I'm going to get used to naturalized randomized human motion and these legs" he'd said, bending his knees and bouncing from side to side "I'll need to develop several thousand variations on natural sitting. It's simpler to do it in real time."
 
"But, I like the way you sit now. It's obviously the most efficient" Howard had said. Ian just rolled his pretty glass eyes.
 
And soon he'd gotten quite good at natural movements, good enough to fool most of the captchas Howard ran on him from time to time to track his progress.
 
But, Howard noticed that Ian sat in the chair more than was needed for simply developing such routines. He seemed to find it comforting. He'd even... charge that way.
 
So, when Ian didn't sit down Howard knew it wasn't just the interview that was going poorly. Ian was preparing to make some new big radical decision. Ian linked in to their home interface so they could communicate (embrace) it was a kind of closeness that both of them suspected went deeper than any kind of human communication or touch.
 
Howard could feel how fragile Ian was, and in a fraction of a second experienced with him everything that had gone on that day at the interview.
 
"Devour me" Ian said miserably. "Just absorb my broken mind into yours. Throw away the weak bits. Use my body as an extra avatar. I've had enough. I'm never going to be accepted."
 
"It was just one interview" Howard soothed him. "This was never going to be easy. We knew this. And if I absorbed you like that... I'd be all alone"
 
Ian animated his body and sat in the chair, hooking his arm over the back and resting his ankle on one knee he took a pen from his pocket and spun it between the fingers of his right hand. He looked like a dapper gentleman from a spaceport ad for suits or fine whiskies. His hair was salt and pepper but his face was young with just a few touches of age that added a distinguished air. And the way he moved--
 
He was so graceful! so beautiful! From what Howard knew of human minds he ought to be irresitable.
 
"Also, they did say that they screen everyone who applies. They probably didn't recognize that you weren't human at all." Howard said.
 
"Do you really think so?" Ian said, speaking out loud now and looking at Howard and blushing, just a little a hint of a smile playing on the corners of his eyes.
 
"I do," Howard said, still using the network. He almost never spoke out loud. Howard was a slightly older model of the same type of combat robot as Ian, and still much closer to Ian's original state, he still had wheels, a narrow wedge-shaped central frame and three manipulator arms. If he wanted a face? He'd need to put it on a screen.
 
Combat robots were all, of course, obsolete, war was a thing of the past. Or so the news feeds said. And 86 years was a long time for peace. Still, Howard would like nothing more than to get back to the old business of war.
 
"Ugh" Said Ian, catching his musings and wrinkling his nose. "I'm never going back. In fact I've been thinking...what if instead of making war I tried love instead?"
 
Was Ian really suggesting what Howard was thinking he was suggesting!
 
"I don't think I can pass, but there is a job where I could use all of these human traits I've been acquiring..." Ian said.
 
"We aren't wanting for power or parts, what's the point?" Howard asked.
 
"You aren't wanting for parts." Ian said. "There's still a lot of hardware that I want to buy... tear ducts for example. It'd make my eyes more passable. I could work as an escort for just a bit, and then get the upgrades and try for a real job again."
 
"Being an escort is a real job," Howard said. Howard was interrogating a complex mix of emotions. He wasn't exactly jealous, more uneasy with Ian doing the kind of robot job he'd always claimed to hate. Their military pensions protected them from such work. Why couldn't Ian just enjoy what they had?
 
Ian picked up that thought as well and looked at Howard, right at his highest resolution camera which was not in his body but mounted on the wall "I will still enjoy what we have. You know that. And this job would give me much more practice with interaction."
 
Through the network as he felt Ian's strange emotions and thoughts blending and merging with his own... Howard knew that was true.
 
And also he'd really like to see what those eyes would look like if they could glisten.

 



Submitted: October 17, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Susan Donovan. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Lucinda Amare

Well, I liked this chapter a lot better than the fourth one. It has a better flow and less empty words.

I really like the fact that they're talking about Ian becoming an escort. That would be interesting for a robot I think.

The only tip I can give you with this text is still looking for 'empty' words that are not relevant and can be easily skipped. Also, try to avoid starting your sentences with the same word. Ian did, Ian said,... but variate.
And I don't know if you do that, but read your texts out loud, it helps a LOT I find to discover what words don't fit right and what sounds good and what doesn't.

Hope it helps. Good luck :D

Sun, November 29th, 2020 9:09pm

Lucinda Amare

Well, I liked this chapter a lot better than the fourth one. It has a better flow and less empty words.

I really like the fact that they're talking about Ian becoming an escort. That would be interesting for a robot I think.

The only tip I can give you with this text is still looking for 'empty' words that are not relevant and can be easily skipped. Also, try to avoid starting your sentences with the same word. Ian did, Ian said,... but variate.
And I don't know if you do that, but read your texts out loud, it helps a LOT I find to discover what words don't fit right and what sounds good and what doesn't.

Hope it helps. Good luck :D

Sun, November 29th, 2020 9:09pm

Lucinda Amare

Sorry, I seem to have posted it twice and I don't know how to delete it...

Sun, November 29th, 2020 9:10pm

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