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Caitlyn and EM

By Allanah Duggan



When a recluse woman attempts to form a connection with her robotic maid it goes unexpectedly well... a little too well.

LOG. .1. . .1/1/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Screams of ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR!’ from apartment 6c could be heard through the walls when Caitlyn sank down onto her couch with a bottle of wine and an empty glass. She stared at the bottle for a moment to clock the pink sticky note attached to its label. "For a special occasion," it read in messy, black, Sharpie pen. A small sarcastic scoff escaped Caitlyn before she tore off the label and twisted the cap off, seemingly not caring for the small piece of paper as it fell onto the floor.

It was a white wine, which matched the surrounding apartment well. White bench. White cabinets. White walls. Apartment 6c, whose music was now making an obnoxious intrusion into Caitlyn’s living room, also had the white bench, the white cabinets, and the white walls. Five blocks down the road it would still be the same. White bench. White cabinets. White walls. The only differing factor in the apartment Caitlyn resided in were the several brightly coloured paintings scattered throughout the space. Each canvas had a small C scribbled in the bottom left corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .LOG. . 301. . . 28/8/2042

Caitlyn’s mother looked around at the apartment with her lips stretched to a line. ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit small darling?’.

Caitlyn’s mouth frowned at the comment. One bedroom. One bathroom. A living area large enough to fit a two-seater couch.

‘I don’t need much space.’

LOG. .34. . .3/2/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"TV on."


The room illuminated as the white wall in front of Caitlyn shifted to project the television screen. A man in his mid-50s appeared on the screen talking about the building infrastructure developments on Mars and their five-year pla-

"Next channel!"

A sitcom where a teenager was sneaking out of their house to go to a par-


"Next channel!."

A young Woman with sleek, black hair was smiling at the camera. Caitlyn scowled for a brief second when The Woman on the screen didn’t move immediately. Her perfectly white smile unfaltering as her eyes appeared to fixate on Caitlyn.

The glitch only lasted for a brief moment before The Woman snapped back into rhythm.

"Do you struggle to fit in the housework around your busy schedule?’, she began. She had started walking across the screen like she was presenting one of those ‘how to improve your mental wellbeing’ lectures.

‘Maybe you need an extra pair of hands to help get the kids out the door in the morning?" Caitlyn took in a breath, opening her mouth in preparation for another call of "next channel'.

"Or perhaps, you just feel lonely?" The television paused again. Caitlyn closed her mouth as The Woman once more seemed to look directly at her, if only for a moment before the television crackled back to life.

"Then you need EM 4!"


The Woman’s beaming smile grew even larger. "EnCorp’s latest home assistant motor to help you get all those pesky chores completed!"


She then stepped aside to reveal the product behind her. Caitlyn shuffled slightly closer to the screen.


It could almost have been mistaken for another person. Torso. Arms. Legs. Hands. Feet. Head ... and a face. All melded together for an anatomically correct humanoid engine that was currently performing the task of folding laundry. Caitlyn shifted her eyes towards the engine’s face and pursed her lips.

Out loud Caitlyn spoke into her cup of coffee. "Why does it nee-"

"Fitted with a mouth and eyes to communicate efficiently with you!"


The Woman cheerfully exclaimed. "If you want someone there for you, order now!"

LOG. .34. . .3/2/2045. . . [Online] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


1 Item/s added to your cart. - EM 4

LOG. .52. . .21/2/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Really! You actually like them?" Caitlyn exclaimed.

"’Like’ is something I am incapable of feeling. However, there are no errors being reported when I submit this piece to my database of pleasurable artwork."’


EM 4 turned towards Caitlyn, who was now starring back at the bright blue and yellow painting with a small proud smile on her face.

EM 4 turned their head towards Caitlyn as she continued to stare admiringly at her artwork on the wall. Caitlyn listened as the whirring in EM’s chest increased its speed for a couple of seconds, the engine’s head tilting slightly to the side as if pondering on a confusing question.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LOG. . 83. . . 24/3/2032


"It’s ... interesting?"


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LOG. . 212. . . 31/7/2040


"Maybe for your next painting you should try some more muted colours."’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LOG. . 154. . . 3/6/2038


"I’m not sure if this is the path for you darling."

LOG. .56. . .25/2/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Caitlyn jumped the second she turned around after entering her apartment, hand instinctively slapping her chest. The movement causing a small splatter of rainwater to jump off the black raincoat she was wearing and land onto the doormat.

"Caitlyn."


EM had positioned herself no more than five feet away from the door.

Closing the apartment door behind her, Caitlyn responded with a slightly breathy, "Yeah?"

"My results are showing that, outside of work, you have nothing in your schedule for the next week. Is that correct?"

Caitlyn raised an eyebrow at the question, pausing only for a moment before answering. "Uhh, yeah that’s correct... why?"

"I believe it would be beneficial for us to visit an art gallery sometime soon, as the topic caters to your interests..

Caitlyn didn’t respond as she turned to the coat rack next to the door and hung up her bag, hat and raincoat that was dripping small droplets of water onto the ground. She scowled, but only for a brief moment before she looked towards the engine that had been encompassing her apartment for the past three weeks.

"I estimate that the visit would not only be enjoyable for you Caitlyn but would also help provide a greater pool of data in how I could support you as your assistance motor."

Caitlyn had already started smiling halfway through EM’s sentence. "Uh yeah, I’d like that. I’d like that a lot actually."

LOG. .92. . .2/4/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"I feel that it’s slightly unfair that I’m playing against a robot."


Caitlyn chuckled, moving her bishop another two squares diagonally on the grey and white marble chess board. She was sitting crossed legged on the floor, her ankle over a dent in the carpet that matched the square shape of a coffee table leg bottom.

A coffee table was sitting slightly adjacent to Caitlyn’s position on the floor. A chess board sat in the table’s usual place in the centre of the living room.

BISHOP TO C5

EM sat opposite Caitlyn in an almost mirrored cross-legged position. The only differences being the ones her slightly more ridged body would not allow. No slouched back. No lip biting in concentration. "We can stop playing if you would prefer?"

QUEEN TO G1


"No, I don’t care if I lose. I think I like just spending time with you."


Caitlyn shrugged as she picked up the pawn in front of her, her eyes focused on the board as they darted quickly between each square.

EM raised her head from the board to stare at Caitlyn. The engines faster than usual whirring becoming audible.

PAWN TO F6

"Oh, by the way I forgot to tell you,"’ Caitlyn continued. "There’s somebody new moving into that empty apartment opposite us. I hope they’re nice, maybe we can be friends or something."

EM, who had previously taken no more than a split second to move their pieces at each turn, now remained motionless. Her hand resting just below her knee.

Caitlyn tilted her head up towards EM. "It’s your turn."

EM’s gaze didn’t move away from Caitlyn as their right hand reached forward and grabbed the queen.

QUEEN TO C5. QUEEN TAKES BISHOP.

LOG. .166. . .15/6/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Laila?"


EM’s voice echoed around the white kitchen. It’s tone, despite the roboticness to it, made Caitlyn’s hairs stand on end.

Shifting her gaze so she was now looking at EM, Caitlyn found herself subconsciously straitening her back as she waited for the continuation of the question.


Silence.

EM began busying herself, her eyes not once meeting Caitlyn’s. Passing the pink and green canvas signed with C + E, EM opened the fridge as she turned around, pulling out a bag of carrots.

Placing the carrots onto the kitchen counter, EM followed with a chopping board. Her hand then made a soft beeping noise as the appendage retracted into her arm, an attached kitchen knife promptly taking its place.

EM raised her knife equipped ‘hand’ with the grace of someone picking up a feather quill and swung it onto the cutting board.

CHOP. CHOP. CHOP.

Clearing her throat in partnership with another straighten of the back, Caitlyn broke the communicative silence. "Sorry?"

CHOP. CHOP. CHOP.

"Your new friend?"


EM’s gaze remained on the carrots. "I heard you saying goodbye to her at the front door. I didn’t know you were visiting someone today. It wasn’t in your calendar."

Caitlyn paused for a second before responding. "I wasn’t planning on seeing anyone today. She just moved into 6B and wanted to introduce herself..."

CHOP. CHOP. CHOP.

"...I wouldn’t exactly call her a friend."


EM pushed the completed carrot pieces into a bowl and replaced their spot on the board with another from the bag.

"Laila said you were catching up next week on Thursday at 4pm. I’ve put it in your calendar this time."


EM looked up from her task to lock eyes with Caitlyn across the counter and smiled. A small, closed mouth smile but one all the same. Caitlyn pursed her lips.

CHOP CHOP CHOP

LOG. .170. . .19/6/2045. . . [Online] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

o EM 4 Has Made A Change To Calendar - Catch Up With Laila (Apartment 6c) Now Cancelled – Acquaintance Unexpectedy Moved On Out.

LOG. .183. . .2/7/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Caity, do I have permission to ask you a question?"


EM placed the last of the T-shirts onto the folded pile.

Caitlyn, who was painting about a metre away from the motor, stopped mid brush stroke. Scowling slightly, she tilted her head towards EM. "Caity?’"

"Caity is shown to be a common nickname for people with the name Caitlyn, do other people not call you Caity?"

"No. They don’t."

"Well, then I guess that makes me special."


Shuffling in her chair slightly, Caitlyn shifted her gaze away from EM to focus back onto the painting in front of her. She placed a grey brushstroke onto the canvas.

"Does your silence mean I do not have permission to ask a question?"


Caitlyn shot her head back up to EM’s face. "Oh sorry. Yes, go ahead."

"Can you describe to me what love feels like?"

LOG. .221. . .9/8/2045. . . [Online] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

o EM 4 Has Added 6 Items To Your Shopping Cart

  • - Milk

  • - Padlocks

  • - Apples

  • - Laundry Detergent

  • - Wood

  • - Nails

LOG. .236. . .24/8/2045. . . [Online] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Weather For The Twenty-Fourth Of August 2045

  • - High: 17°C

  • - Low: 12°C

  • - Partially Cloudy Thunderstorm Warning. Seek Shelter Immediately.

LOG. .236. . .24/8/2045. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Caitlyn stood in the centre of her apartment with her eyebrows furrowed. Her left arm wrapped across her stomach as the right elbow rested on its hand. Her right hand’s fingers invading the space between her top and bottom teeth as she bit down on her fingernails.

"Fingernail biting is proven to be a harmful habit. You should stop." EM turned over the chicken that was currently on the stove.

A couple of beats of silence passed. The only noise present in the kitchen being the soft sizzles of the chicken cooking and the faint clicks of Caitlyn’s bitten fingernails. There was no indication that she had heard what EM had said, remaining immobile in the centre of the room. Her gaze transfixed on the windowsill.

"Caity."

Caitlyn quickly whipped her head around to face the direction of the voice.

"Mhm?"

"Stop."

"Oh, yes. Sorry!’. In an instant Caitlyn whipped her hand away from her mouth and shoved it into her pocket, taking another glance towards the windowsill before speaking.

"EM is there a reason you’ve boarded up the windows?"


She pointed her thumb in the direction of the closest windowsill which, like all the windows in apartment 6A, had three nailed wood planks blocking the glass.

"There is a severe thunderstorm warning." EM put more oil on the chicken, "it is only a precaution in the 14% chance of glass breaking."

Caitlyn’s hand escaped from her pocket and almost completed its path towards her mouth before it was shoved back into its fabric prison.


"I didn’t know there was meant to be a thunderstorm today," Caitlyn said slowly. "Last time I checked it said cloudy."

"They are advising everyone to stay inside until further instruction."


EM then looked up from the pan and smiled at Caitlyn. Smiled with impossibly perfect straight, white, teeth.

"It appears that it will just be us for a while Caity.

LOG. .288. . .15/10/2045. . . [Online] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • - 678 Missed Calls. 212 Unopened Voice Mails.

  • - 821 Unread Messages

  • - 453 Unopened Emails


  • - Incoming Call From ‘Mum’ ... ... ... ... ...


  • - 679 Missed Calls. 213 Unopened Voice Mails

o EM 4 Has Blocked All Contacts From Your Address Book.


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