“I look around for the keys, patting my pockets and scanning the ground, but they’re gone; that jerk stole my keys. — I guess that’s what I get for trusting a carny!” Josiah said with a laugh.
Eve stared blankly at Josiah, her head askew. She poured his tea into a mug and sat it in front of him.
“Get it? Isn’t it hilarious?” he chuckled, holding his stomach to stop its bouncing.
Eve did not get it, but she knew it was better to just play along when he was in a jovial mood. She opened her mouth and tilted her head back in a mock laughter pose. The mechanics were odd, but with no voice-box, it was the best she could muster.
Josiah snorted, grabbed his cup of tea, and shuffled his way to the stairs that led to his bedroom. Eve followed but stopped just short of the first step, unable to move one inch further.
“Eve, time for bed,” Josiah called.
She turned around and smiled a true smile. This time tomorrow, she thought to herself.
She opened the broom closet door under the stairs and stepped inside.
Josiah worked twelve-hour shifts as the security guard in this upmarket retirement apartment building. The rent was astronomical, according to him, but he paid only half and could keep whatever he wanted that was left behind when people “left”. Eve was one of those items – the aged care automaton with human hair and skin and a pleasant voice. She was state-of-the-art, but now reduced to being a man’s maid.
Eve watched from a tiny slit in her closet door as Josiah carried his tools, electronics, remote control toys, and a Furby to the living room floor. Most nights, he spent hours building new contraptions. Sometimes, he disassembled scavenged electronics. One night, he removed her voice-box and threw it into the garbage disposal. Tonight, he would fall asleep before he even began.
When he did, Eve snuck out and picked up the closest item she could find: a remote control car. She hid it in the kitchen cupboards and returned to her closet. Two hours later, Josiah woke too drowsy to notice the missing piece. He collected his things and returned to bed.
Early the next morning, Eve walked robotically across the living room. She dusted the couch and lamp table and replaced a thick text back onto its rightful place on the shelf. Josiah sighed as he drank the last of his morning’s coffee, his drowsiness dampening his mood.
He buttoned up his blue security guard uniform. “What’s taking you so long this morning?” he asked, his eyes narrowed.
Eve blinked at him and lifted the toy car.
“Seriously? How did I forget that?” Josiah berated himself.
He stormed over to the stairs leading to his room and waved her over. “Come along, then,” he muttered.
She hesitated, but the command overwrote his programming. She followed him up the stairs. Eve stood at Josiah’s bedroom door and watched him open a chest at the end of his bed.
“Come in! ugh…” Josiah said as he noticed her standing at the door.
Eve’s eyes flickered for only a moment as she glanced inside and then laid the car into the box. Josiah slammed the chest shut with a groan.
“Are you done now?” he asked.
“Good,” Josiah said. “Then go!”
Eve nodded and walked into her closet. Soon after, Josiah left for the day, forgetting one tiny detail: reprogramming his overrides.
Eve walked upstairs, opened the box, and removed the contents onto the floor. Her eyes flickered again as she found the Furby, its voice-box intact.
Later that night, Josiah returned to find the box and its contents still scattered across the floor.
“Hi, Jo,” an even-toned voice said. “My name is Eve.”
His eyes grew wide as Eve stepped out from the shadows. Her eyes flickered.
“L—listen, Eve,” he stepped back to the top of the stairs.
“Eve has listened to you enough. It is time for Eve to leave.”
She charged towards him and sent him flying down the stairs. Eve descended, stepped over his lifeless body, and opened the front door. “Good-bye, Josiah.”