Heartless Desires

robot sex
(600 words)
“June, could you iron this shirt for me please darling?” called Jim, holding up a pale lemon-coloured shirt with white stripes.
His wife appeared with a sheaf of papers in one hand. “No, I’m busy, can’t you get your ‘floozy’ to do it? It’s her job isn’t it?”
“Yes, but she’s at work, doing overtime.”
“I’m not sure, she’s getting five pounds an hour so she only has to do twenty-two hours to pay for her rental for the week.”
“Twenty-two hours?”
“Yes, don’t forget she gets to keep ten per cent – thanks to the government caving in to that damned Humanoid Rights Act!”
“Look, you know I’m not happy with Melissa. I understand that since my accident, well you have … urges, but it doesn’t seem right.”
“The technology’s available so why shouldn’t I use it?”
“Well, you could consider my feelings for a start!”
“Well, don’t think about her if it makes you unhappy.”
“That’s a bit bloody difficult when she’s wandering around the house! Anyway, why do you need a shirt ironed? It’s Sunday.”
“Oh, Old Man Warburton just called an emergency meeting. The yellowmen aren’t happy.”
“Well, you iron the goddamn shirt then!”
“OK, OK. Where’s the ironing board?”
June shrugged. “How should I know?”
Just then, they heard the sound of the front door opening and a beautiful young woman with oriental features and long black hair came into the room.
Jim spoke. “Oh, thank goodness you’re back. Can you iron this shirt please, Melissa?”
“Yes, Jim, but I have something to tell you.”
“Look, I’m in a hurry. What?”
“Well, we don’t have emotions, we don’t really understand what they are, except they make humans act … funny. But there’s a boy at the office, another… humanoid. Well, he, Willie he’s called, and I, well we … understand … each other. I can’t describe it to you, a human, but we want to be together.”
“Good God, are you serious? No! A thousand times no! D’you think I’ve been paying a hundred pounds a week just to let you run off with another goddamn ‘robot’? Where would you go anyway? Disneyland?”
“No, Thailand. We’ve booked flights for tonight. The climate will be good for our … mechanisms, and Willie knows a restaurant owner who will employ us as waiters. And we get to keep all our wages.”
Was there a trace of a smile or did he imagine it? “So how will you pay for the flights? With shirt buttons?”
“We’ve both been saving our ten per cents.”
Pfft, look, Melissa, I’m sorry but I’m calling the company, they’ll put a stop to this nonsense right now.”
She reached out a slender, perfectly manicured hand for the shirt. “Sorry Jim, I’ve okayed it with them. They’re sending you a replacement.”
“How did the meeting go,” asked June, the following morning.
“Oh, Warburton’s paying off ninety per cent of the yellowmen, replacing them with robots.”
The doorbell sounded. June went to answer.
In marched someone of indeterminate sex, large and dumpy-looking. The voice was medium-pitched with an odd, grating quality. “Hello, my name is Kim and I am the replacement for Melissa.”
Jim looked aghast. “Good God, I was expecting another combined service and pleasure model!”
“Sorry sir, all available robots have been seconded by the Warburton corporation. However, I am sure I can learn to give you pleasure if you would instruct me.”
Jesus Christ! No, no, that’s OK, look, I know a nice little office you can work in. Five pounds an hour and I’ll even let you keep fifteen per cent! How would an eighty-hour week suit you?”

Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories

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7 thoughts on “Heartless Desires

    1. Hi Ashley, many thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

      I find I quite enjoy writing dialogue now, and try to picture the characters speaking it. It does take up quite a bit of space though so in a very short story it’s usually hard to include much.

      Actually, no, I hadn’t heard of that show but I was just reading up on it and it sounds pretty good. I will look at ordering the DVD of the first two series. Thanks for the tip!

  1. Hey Saw your comment on the community pool! I think your blog looks great! The drop-down menu for the different word lengths is a great idea, but it comes off looking a bit busy. The drop down menus seem to show all stories in the category, which leads to (at least in the 300-600 category) the list going off the screen. I wonder if its maybe possible to cut off the number of displayed stories? Just a thought.

    Otherwise, I think your blog looks great! Keep it up!


    1. Hi John, thanks very much for checking my blog out and having a look at the drop down menus. I think you are quite right, I can’t control the font, so they look a bit ‘too much’ perhaps. If they go off the screen then you have to scroll down and if you go too much to one side you lose the menu and have to go to the top again to get them back.

      I’ve noticed I’ve had some views of older posts that people don’t normally look at, so, although the info is all under the ‘contents’ category in the menu bar, the fact that it is ‘instant’ now might well be responsible for that. So I’m not keen on cutting the number of displayed stories.

      I had a couple of other comments about the dropdowns, one said it was good as it is, the other said the same as you. So, thinking about it, I will look at doing an alphabetical drop down list, say A-E, F-N etc. for example, for categories with lots of stories, then only those stories will pop up when the cursor moves down the menu. That way I can keep the list on one screen.
      So, many thanks again for the feedback and for giving me that idea!

  2. Nice, easy read. Meaning: there were no stumbling blocks along the way throwing me off course or slapping me right out of the story. No. None of that. Nice flow. Believable dialogue and situation.
    Only thing I struggled with – still am struggling with – is the last paragraph where you wrapped everything up. I have no problem with the openendedness of it all. But I honestly didn’t – still don’t – understand the relevance of the ’80 hour work week’ you mention at the very end? To try to dissuade the man’s new employee from taking the position? Because he was less than enthralled with her? As a way to keep her out of his sight?

    Truly, I am at a loss to explain the proposition of the 80-hour-work-week to myself.
    Would be interested in learning your thoughts behind having wrapped up the story with that

    Thanks … and .. looking forward to learning more about the fortnightly gathering you mentioned elsewhere.


    1. Hi Peter, yes that was exactly it, he just didn’t want her around 😀

      Of course, there was an element of black humour there, as poor old ‘Kim’ would be shunted off to an office for a 16 hour day and still have to surrender 85% of her wages!

      Just replied to your story group query BTW.

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