As part of the promotion for my new novel, A Perfect Machine, I’ve been writing flash fiction stories for people who pre-order the book. Here’s the first one, for Roger and Izabella Gray. Enjoy!
THE 427p DEATH DEALER (with knife-arm action!)
The doorbell rang.
“Roger, get that, would you? I’m rating robots online,” Izabella said, flicking past images of various black and grey robots, wrinkling her nose at nearly all of them, giving them one- and two-star reviews as she went.
Roger sighed heavily, padded to the door, opened it. A seven-foot-tall robot with massive steel knives for arms stood in front of him. It did not look happy.
“Are you Roger Gray?” it said.
Roger just stared. He may have shit himself.
“Do you think you’re better than me, Roger Gray?”
More staring, a little more shitting.
“I . . . uhhh . . . Jesus Christ,” Roger managed to stammer out.
“I know what you do all day,” the robot said. “You scroll through Amazon, and give terrible ratings to robots you’ve never even met.”
“Oh, no, actually, that’s my wife, Izabella.”
He immediately felt bad for throwing her under the bus, but not bad enough to take the comment back.
“Where is Izabella Gray?” the robot said. It took one step forward, now just at the edge of the threshold.
Roger stumbled back a bit, thumbed over his shoulder. “She’s in the living room, rating robots on her computer. Please don’t kill me.”
The robot took one more step, ducking its head to fit under the doorframe. The house shook from its two footsteps booming onto the hardwood floor of the entryway.
“Or her,” Roger added. Admittedly a little late, but still. He was doing his best under the circumstances.
“Roger, who is it?” Izabella called from the living room. Not waiting for an answer, she added, “Oh, can you get me more tea while you’re up? I’ll probably be here rating these awful excuses for robots for at least another three hours. They’re just terrible, you know? I mean, in what world these sad sacks of glorified junk parts constitute legitimate robots, I just don’t know.”
Roger didn’t move.
The robot didn’t move.
“Roger? Honey? Where are you? Are you okay?”
Izabella pushed away from her computer, stood, and walked out into the hallway. “Roger, didn’t you hear me call—”
Izabella saw the robot behind her husband, froze in her tracks. Her mind whirled. Oh, Jesus, it’s the iRobot 427p Death Dealer (with knife-arm action!). The latest model. Then another thought that made her break into a cold sweat: I rated it one star yesterday, saying that for all the terror it instills, it may as well have butter knives for arms.
But then her panic settled, her expression grew calm. “I knew this day would come,” she whispered, and strode forward to face what she thought must surely be her deserved doom.
When she was standing beside Roger, she said to the robot, “You’ve come.”
Roger looked sideways at her in terror.
“Yes, Izabella,” the robot said. “Close your eyes. I’ll make it quick.”
Izabella closed her eyes.
Roger kept his wide open as the robot thrust its enormous knife-arms into both of their stomachs in one fluid motion. It lifted them off their feet, then battered their bodies against one another until Roger’s right side and Izabella’s left side were nothing but a greasy pulp.
The robot turned around and walked out into the night, their dripping, mangled corpses still skewered on its knives.
A warning to the rest of the neighbourhood.