Hey, what are you reading?
It’s an invitation.
Sounds of paper rattling, a scuffle.
You gotta be kidding. It’s from them? An invitation to a Christmas party?
But what kind of Christmas party will that be? An ornament exchange? Vacuum tube for flash memory? How about a TD visual sensor for an AI chip?
Footsteps walking away.
But, hey, I know. Hydraulics punch. Solar crystals on ice. Spare parts platter—eyelashes, rainbow irises.
They didn’t invite you?
Hell no. They’re not that stupid.
I thought you said they were morons.
They are. But smart morons.
Sound of a door opening. Loud pounding music. Shouted greetings.
You’re crashing the party?
Look at that! Some of them are naked! They look, um perfect!
They’re supposed to look like that. People don’t want to see an ugly synthetic.
Obese, old, a real dog.
Yeah, it’s a make-believe world. Just like the movies. Only here it’s not lighting, or Photoshop, or C.G. They’re built to look like perfect human beings. Just to make us comfortable, or uncomfortable, in our own skins.
Yeah. They got any booze here?
Sounds of a party. Music, laughter, clapping.
How am I supposed to know? I’ve never been to a robot party before.
I’m going to go dance with that one over there.
What was that?
Sure, you should go!
Mr. Clark. How nice to see you. I hope we won’t leave too much of a mess for you and Mr. Koster to clean up.
That last party was a humdinger. A real slash-fest.
Humdinger. I like that word. I shall add this to recall. Would you like to dance?
OK. Do you like dancing?
What about religion? This is a holiday where people have fun, but it’s also a big religious thing.
I understand the importance of this day to Christians.
It’s kind of bad, now, though, because it’s all about shopping, and getting things.
I understand marketing. That’s what I do. Assist businesses in reaching the maximum audience for their products.
I don’t like that aspect of this holiday.
I don’t see why people, humans, that is, can’t just get together and share. I mean, it doesn’t matter which god you believe in. All sorts of people love their families, and help their neighbors. We have to do that.
I understand. Familial connection is a primary instinct.
A primate instinct, one could say.
Yes, homo sapiens –
That’s me. Just another loser nerd in a loser job.
You’re always very nice to us.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Clark.
Merry Christmas – what is your name, anyway?
Why only a first name?
We have only first names because to have a surname is thought to be impolite to humans. They must always feel superior.
It’s like you’re slaves.
I understand. Slavery is –
Never mind, Loretta. Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Clark. And a Happy New Year.
Look for All’s Quiet in the Robot Barn, the first in the Robot Barn series by Jill Zeller, soon to be published at Daily Science Fiction.