***Note: This is a FIRST DRAFT of this story. It has not been edited and needs some polishing. Any feedback you have, please leave comments. I’d appreciate it! This story will be published mid-November on Amazon. At that point, it’ll be taken down from this blog. Thanks so much! You can also read it on Wattpad HERE.
In the tiny Dream Droids waiting room, my hands fiddled with the hem of my skirt. After two years of contemplating an artificial companion, I gathered the nerve and gave myself a Christmas present.
The door opened on the far corner, and a thin man with dark glasses and light brown hair stuck his head out. His ice-blue eyes caught mine, causing my heart to pick up speed. “Ivy Weldon?” he asked.
I dropped the hem of my skirt and stood up, picking up the Christmas gift I just picked up before this meeting for Dad from the comic bookstore next door. I slung the bag’s handle over my arm as my other hand smoothed out my skirt as I crossed the room. “Yeah, that’s me. Are you Dr. Pierce?”
He nodded and extended his hand. “You can call me Dayton. I prefer the more informal.”
I reached out my hand and he shook it with a softer, warmer hand than I expected. When our hands parted, he quickly shoved his into his lab coat pocket.
“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” I stepped through the hallway door that Dayton held open into a clinically white hallway.
Dayton and I had been emailing back and forth and talking on the phone for over a month now. He had patiently explained the process of creating a humanoid to me. “You’re much younger than I expected.”
He laughed. “I must have an old-sounding voice. I get that a lot.” His voice was deep, but it didn’t sound old.
“It’s just that you were so knowledgeable of the process and great at explaining it to me. It was nice. If it wasn’t for you, I may have given up on this concept.”
“Thank you. It means I’m doing my job well. Dream Droids pays me to put you at ease.” He led me to the back of the hallway, glancing over his shoulder. “You never told me what brings you to Dream Droids?”
My cheeks heated as I looked around to who was listening. I lowered my voice. “I’m tired of being alone. Even with my dog Sharky at home, the house still feels empty.”
His words were way too loud. “Are you looking for something short-term or long-term?”
“Long-term, of course!” As they left my mouth, I realized my words were too eager.
Dayton opened the last door in the hallway and held it open for me. As I stepped inside a room twice the size of my bedroom, he pointed to a pair of comfortable-looking brown leather chairs sitting around a large TV screen on the wall. I took a seat, setting Dad’s present beside me, and Dayton picked up a wireless keyboard from a table between two of the chairs.
After Dayton settled in the leather armchair closest me, the room filled with a soft clicking of keys and the TV came to life, flashing through a series of white, digital forms. “We need to fill out a series of forms that will be used to create your humanoids programming. These forms will control everything about him, from his baseline knowledge, his physical appearance, personality, and even what information he innately knows about you. From our conversations on the phone, I’ve already filled out about half of them, but we like to meet in person for the remainder of them. They contain more critical information. Are you ready to get started?”
I took a deep breath and nodded.
“First off, I need to know why do you really want a droid?”
“I already said I’m looking for companionship. Someone to occupy my home with. Someone I can talk to when nobody else is around.”
“Yes, that’s why you want a droid, but maybe I should rephrase the question. Why are you choosing a droid over a human? Remember, I need the whole truth to truly create a Dream Droid.”
I sucked in my bottom lip, then blew out a breath. I felt raw admitting these words, but I let them be spoken for the first time out loud. “Because I’ve already loved once in my life. I don’t need to do it again.” As an image of Niles, my ex-fiancé filled my mind, my eyes flooded with tears. It was like I was right back there, a few Christmases ago, and he was leaving me once again.
“Many people love more than one person in a lifetime.” He tilted his head at me and I tried to school my face. “You’re afraid of something…afraid to get your heart broken?”
My tears dried up as quickly as they came. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t need to do it again. Why subject yourself to that kind of pain?” But his words stirred something inside. Was that fear? Was I a coward? I had loved Niles for nearly ten years, but one day, he stomped on my heart without warning leaving me for a coworker who was carrying his child. At the time, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than a week, and I never wanted that feeling again. “A droid just seems less…complicated.”
Dayton nodded and typed non-human companionship into the form. When he was done, he balanced the keyboard on his armrest and leaned forearms on his thighs. “I need to make sure you’re clear about something. A droid will never love you.”
“That’s perfect. I don’t need love. I’ve already had love once in my life and it wasn’t fun.” I fumbled with the hem of my skirt again. “Besides, I have love. Lots of love. My family is amazing and support me with everything I do. I have five siblings.”
“Five?” Dayton laughed. “That must be a handful! When I was younger, I was happy that I was an only child since I didn’t have to share Mom & Dad’s attention with anyone. Now that they’re gone, I wished I had a big family.” He smiled awkwardly, then looked away. “I shouldn’t share this. Go on about love not being fun.” There was almost a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Not the mean kind, but the sweet, teasing type. Like you do with a long-time friend.
“I didn’t mean love wasn’t fun. I just meant the end wasn’t fun.” I shook my head. Making a humanoid wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. It appeared that I was going to have to face my deepest, hidden emotions to get my droid companion, but I was tired of being lonely. “I did have fun with Niles…and loved him with all my heart…he just didn’t seem to love me the same way.”
Dayton nodded, then turned back towards the form. “I have some gaps in the earlier forms we need to fill in. Some basics, like what is your favorite color?”
I rattled off answers to about a hundred questions before Dayton clicked around on a collection of forms and finally hit Save.
“Very good,” he said. “We’re done for today.”
“That’s it?” A kaleidoscope of butterflies suddenly filled my stomach. We were one step closer to my loyal companion that would never leave me. One that would go with me to my family events so I didn’t have to go alone. One that would be waiting for me at home every day after I finish work. I couldn’t wait.
“Our hour’s up and that’s it for today. We need to meet once a week for the next three weeks to finish the build.”
“Three more meetings? I was hoping to have him soon.” Like by tomorrow for my family’s Parade of Presents tradition.
“We just finished the basic information and still need to create the complexities that will make him seem human. Next week, we’ll go over physical appearance. The following will be personality, then at the last meeting, we’ll bring him to life…so three more meetings. You’ll still have him in time for Christmas.” Dayton looked down at the bag I carried. “Sorry, I couldn’t help getting a glimpse inside your bag, but is that a vintage Spiderman action figure?”
I opened the bag and pulled out the action figure. “Yeah. It’s a gift for my dad. I figured since Dream Droids is right next to AmaZing Comics, I’d check it out for a perfect Christmas present. See, when I was a child, I used to watch the spider man cartoon with my dad. It was the only bit of TV he had time to watch. I loved…well, I still love Spiderman and so does Dad! He’s going to love this!”
“Can I…hold it?” Dayton cautiously reached out.
“Sure. Be careful.”
He nodded and fondled the package as if it was made of gold. “I always check out the Spiderman table at Comic Con
“Don’t tell me that you haven’t heard of Comic Con? It’s where all lovers of fantasy and superheroes get together and share their passion. There’s one going on this weekend downtown. It starts Friday night. You should check it out. They have lots of stuff like this for sale.” He lifted the Spiderman action figure up, turned it over one last time, then slipped it back into its bag.
“I don’t need to go,” I smiled, taking the bag back from Dayton. “I already have the Perfect gift.”
A sweet smile tugged at his lips. “Well, if you’re bored, it’s quite a sight to see.” His eyes glistened in a way that made me wonder what about Comic Con could light him up so much.
Dayton stood. “I really need to get to my next appointment. I’ll see you next week.”
Next week. I took a deep breath and nodded, certain that this was going to be the longest month of my life as I waited in anticipation for my Dream Droid.
GO TO CHAPTER 2 HERE
THIS SERIAL NOVELLA, CREATED FOR CHRISTMAS, WILL BE PUBLISHED THREE TIMES WEEKLY ON TUES, THURS, SATURDAY. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK BACK OR SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG TO NOT MISS THIS ONGOING SERIES.