I'm working on a new multipart tale, so here's some re-runs to cover any perception of inactivity. I'm hard at work, honest!
It All Ends With Jazz Hands
As I open the door, I wonder if my number’s up.
Standing on the doorstep, dominating the view of the midnight garden, is a semi-naked, seven-foot bodybuilder. Lantern jawed, glass eyed. Utterly immobile. Silent, powerful, menacing.
When he speaks, his voice is a cold, Austrian drawl.
I’ve seen this movie. It doesn’t end well. But there’s nowhere to run; the back door is deadlocked. I have no choice but to meet the challenge on the doorstep.
Yes. I step over the threshold and stand outside with him. He steps back, and then stands frozen, almost surprised. I imagine that we normally run.
I take in his clothes. They’re tiny, and make the merest attempt cover his engineered physique. He’s naked apart from some red, short-trousered dungarees with yellow buttons, a little white collar with a bright blue bow. Oversized leather mountain shoes cover his feet. And topping off the ensemble is a yellow alpine hat with a feather. I’d describe this as being at a jaunty angle, but the truth is it simply doesn’t fit his head that well.
I use his hesitation to seize the initiative.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way... but you are a Terminator, right?
Yes. Cyberdyne Systems Moddle One-Oh-One.
Well, you’re not here to terminate me, I figured that part out for myself. You're a schmuck, Roth. So how can I help? And what’s with the clothes?
I vant to be a reeal boy.
Vot? I mean, what?
I haff exceeded my programming. I am no longer a colt-bludded killer. He pauses, and then repeats, I vant to be a reeal boy.
You want to be a real boy?
Whoa. Get a grip, Indigo. Who told you I could help you?
You did. Thirty five years from now.
Hmmm. No point arguing that one. I make a mental note to never dabble in time travel.
Again, honesty may be the way forward.
Well, I’m not sure I can help you. I poke his cheek; under the warm flesh is cold steel. You’re a machine after all. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton, but just a machine.
In a blur, he draws a heavy automatic weapon from a holster in the small of his back. He aims precisely at my heart, and his aim does not waver.
Dis is an Uzi nine millimetre. You said it vould help you focus. He pauses, and his comic timing is admirable. Is dis vot you call a choke?
I swallow, now wishing I'd not poked his cheek.
A joke? Yes, I sure hope so. My mouth is suddenly dry. I’m unpredictable, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Yes. I have studied you for many years. You vork to defy expecdations. It is in your nature to rebel.
He turns his head to look at me directly for the first time, and manages a lopsided grin.
I haff detailed files.
There is a harsh metal click as he cocks the weapon; it’s time to move us along.
Ok, I’ll give it a whirl.
Excellend. The Uzi vanishes back into the holster.
So... I wrack my brains for a meaningful question, What do you want out of life?
He stares into middle distance, which is probably the kitchen.
That’s a good start. What else?
Fulfilmend. Love. A steddy chob.
You’re really getting the hang of this. Anything else?
A phased plasma rifle in de 40-watt range.
Hey pal, just what you see.
He shrugs. Sorry. Old habits, you know?
I nod sagely. And what skills do you have?
I haff an advanced neural ned. A learning compuder. There is a swell of something resembling pride in his voice. I can learn anyding.
Affirmatiff. I can play piano. I know the complede vorks of Shakespeare. And I mek a mean baked Alaska.
Impressive. I'm not kidding; my meringue is never crisp enough. Anything else?
I can sing and dance.
That’s good. Hang on. What?
Yes. Lizzen. He clears his throat. And strikes a puppet pose on my doorstep. Good grief, we’re going to finish on a song. Somewhere, Jiminy Cricket covers his ears.
I’ff god noh strings to hold me down,
To mek me fred, or mek me vrown
I had strings, bud now I’m vree
Dere are noh strings on meeeee!
He ends with jazz hands.
I look up into a clouded sky and find no stars to wish upon.
It’s going to be a long night.
Continue to Day 2 >>
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