WARNINGS: mild profanity, non-explicit sexual encounters and references, semi-nudity, lots of robot lovin’
“Hey sexy lady! It’s me! How goes it? Haven’t hooked up with you in a while. It is 8:15 on Thursday night, and I guess you must be out breaking hearts. Great, me too! Well, I’m home now, but I was earlier! I like to hit the clubs around 6 to get a head start on the nightlife.
“Anyways, I’m calling because I just the weirdest experience with a girl dressed as a French maid.
“I met her at the Crypto Club. She gave off some pretty bad vibes, but was still really hot, so we ended up heading back to my place where, uh, one thing led to another…
“I don’t think she was a real maid because she didn’t really clean up the place. And you know, I don’t think she was really French either!
“But she didn’t steal anything except a pack of energy drinks and my term paper from last semester. You know, the one you helped me with? At first, I thought maybe she was a desperate student or something, but then I found most of it scattered on the kitchen floor. She only took the first page.
“Since there was some pretty personal info in there I thought I’d better give you a heads up. I hope this doesn’t make any trouble for you or your sister. Um, call me back when you get this? Bye!”
By the next morning, Nina’s nose was still intact, along with the rest of her, and she’d put her worries about ghosts and birthday cake plants on the backburner.
Servo murmured something that sounded like ‘okay’ even though she hadn’t said anything. Apparently robots could dream, too. The recharging sparkles started to fade away as he woke up.
“Good morning, Nina.” He stared at her for a good five seconds, taking a few simulated breaths before saying, “I’m sorry I’m not very cuddly.”
“It’s okay. Neither am I.”
She sat up and stretched. As she looked around the room she noticed that he’d picked up her clothes off the floor while she was asleep. Behind her she heard a simulated sigh.
“…this all feels strangely familiar.”
“Maybe it is. Didn’t you lose your memory?”
“I didn’t think I’d ever done this before.”
“It seemed to me you knew what you were doing, to say the least,” she said with a grin. “Maybe you just needed something to jog your memory card.”
“I never thought it was possible.” He put a hand to his forehead. “But I also never thought you’d let me touch you, so maybe I’m just too much of a pessimist.”
“What time do you need to get back?” She got up and slipped on her bathrobe.
He started making the bed as soon as she was off it. “I have the morning off today. Your sister said she wanted to cook breakfast for Mr. Big.”
In other words, she was going to screw everything up in the most adorable way possible so that no one would ever allow her to cook again. “Looks like I have new voice mail. That’s probably her saying she accidentally burnt the house down. I don’t even remember hearing the phone ring, do you?”
“I couldn’t hear anything but you last night, Nina.” He sounded a little smug.
“Hey sexy lady! It’s me! How goes it? Haven’t hooked up with you in a while. It is 8:15 on Thursday night, and I guess you must be out breaking hearts. Great, me too! Well, I’m home now, but I was earlier! I like to hit the clubs around 6 to get a head start on the nightlife. Anyways, I’m calling because I just the weirdest experience with a girl dressed as a French maid—”
“Sounds like my friend Donald’s been hitting the nectar bar again,” she said, pressing the delete button.
“Nothing important, then?”
She shook her head and sprawled herself out across the bed. “So, going back to this whole amnesia thing...if this is what helps you remember, I’m thinking maybe we should start a regular ‘therapy’ session.”
Ocean and Dina ended up having donuts for breakfast.
Later that day, Dina came along to see Nina off for her trip, not wanting to pass up the chance to visit the Goth home. The only thing keeping her from stowing away in Nina’s suitcase was the consolation that she’d be heading to Twikki Island soon enough for her honeymoon, though unfortunately not with Bella Goth.
“Think you can get by without me for a couple days?”
Dina rolled her eyes. “Yes, sister dear. If you recall I have a big strong man to take care of me now.”
“I guess you’re right,” Nina said, setting down her bag to free up both hands. “Take care of her, Servo!”
Dina was not the least bit surprised that Servo hadn’t come home last night. In fact, she may or may not have sent him over there just to see what would happen. It had been hard to explain to Ocean though; he didn’t seem to be able to wrap his brain around the concept. She’d finally just told him that Servo had “ran out of power” and couldn’t get home until daylight, which was probably true from a certain point of view. It had occurred to her later that she was basically pimping out her robot, or maybe pimping out her sister, but she preferred the term ‘matchmaking.’
As they were driving off, Mortimer turned to Servo and held out his hand. “I don’t believe we’ve met. What’s your name?”
“Just Servo, sir.”
“I couldn’t help but notice you’re sporting a Servo 1.0 antennae. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I honestly don’t know, sir.”
“Are you into robotics, Mr. Goth?” Dina asked. He didn’t seem to remember her from their brief encounter so many years ago. That was probably for the best.
“I’m into every kind of science, but my wife won’t let me build anything sentient because she thinks it’s akin to slavery.”
Brigit the maid had extraordinarily good hearing, and worked in a profession where she was practically invisible yet granted full access to almost anywhere. She wasn’t an eavesdropper, just a magnet for secrets. That these secrets were occasionally useful in the art of revenge was neither here nor there.
She caught his scent before she saw him. The man was glazed in so much cologne and hair product that he barely smelled human, though he certainly was. She knew how to deal with his type; his ridiculous strut reminded her of her ex-husband. He was going to be even easier than that hopeless Lothario kid.
“Would you like to form a casual group?”
She stepped in front of him. “I think you misunderstand me. You see, when I say ‘group’, I actually meant ‘torrid affair.’ A common turn of phrase, but I can see how you’d be confused.”
“I know what you meant, and I don’t blame you, but I’m going have to cut you off right there. I may be a rich, handsome, debonair, professional party guest, but underneath all that I am at heart a family man and would not be wearing this ring on my finger if I didn’t mean it. So you’re gonna have to find yourself another tree to bark up, lassie.”
She refrained from ripping his throat out for that last phrase. “You don’t even recognize me do you?
“We’ve met before?” He stopped his power walk to primp rather than acknowledge her.
“A year ago and every paycheck since then!” That didn’t seem to ring a bell. “Before your oversensitive girlfriend and her psychotic robot lover tried to kill me for speaking out of turn.”
“Fiancée, if you please.” The rest of her words sunk in, but only two of them gave him any bother. “Robot lover?”
“Oh come on, don’t pretend like you don’t see it. Don’t you ever wonder what’s going on while you’re working hard partying and the two of them are alone together the whole live long day?”
He chuckled. “I’ll admit she does seem a little too fond of that goofy little guy, but I think it’s more from a sense of childlike wonder. I mean, he’s a robot—an extremely silly looking robot which, as far as I can tell, is no more of a threat to our relationship than a Ken doll. What could possibly be going on?”
The topic made her nauseous; she wished she hadn’t brought it up. “Use your imagination.”
He pondered this for a second. “Nope. I still can’t see any way that could possibly work. Nice try, but I’m afraid it’ll take a bit more than nonsense to challenge my devotion. But thanks for the offer, whoever you are.”
“Well fine then! I didn’t want whatever intergalactic WTD’s you’re carrying anyway!” she called after him. “Family man, huh? Has your fiancée ever talked to you about her family, family man? Did she even tell you where she’s from?”
That got him to stop.
“…or she has she been strangely evasive?”
“I know Ocean and I will never be as great as Bella and Mortimer but I think if I work really, really hard we could at least pull off a cheap imitation.”
“Are you still talking about dancing, Miss Dina?”
“Of course, what else would I be talking about?” Dina was setting her goals for the wedding dance high, in hopes that she’d end up with something less than a disaster when she failed to meet them.
“Why can’t you practice with Mr. Big?”
“You’re more durable than he is,” she said, stumbling into a twirl. “Wow, you’re pretty good at this, Servy. I didn’t know you had rhythm.”
“Neither did I.”
“My sister’s a good dancer too. I bet you and her could really get a groove on.”
She tripped but he caught her, turning her fall into a dip. “You have no idea.”
He suddenly set her back on her feet and jerked away.
“What’s wrong? You’re not falling in love with me, are you?”
He sat down on the couch with his head in his hands. “No, Miss Dina. I have a headache.”
“I’m guessing pharmaceuticals wouldn’t be helpful in this case?”
“I think I’m remembering the past. Parts of it,” he sighed. “I think your sister awakened something in me, and it's been getting more intense all day.”
“That’s great, honey!” she said, taking a seat next to him.
“I keep seeing this woman. She’s wearing a wedding ring.” He bowed his head and covered his eye. “I think we must have had an affair.”
“Oh my.” That was not what she’d been expecting him to say, but as she thought it over it actually made a lot of sense. “Well, don’t let yourself get racked with guilt, honey. That was the past. You don’t even know the circumstances.”
“Does it matter?”
“Look, maybe the husband was like an evil movie husband who was guilty of way worse stuff than you and her, and when he discovered the affair he bashed your head in and threw you in the river, causing you to lose your memory, float on down to Sim City and start a new life.”
He tilted his head. “Is this supposed to make me feel better?”
“What I can I do to make you feel better, sweetie?”
His face felt like a joy buzzer.
“What do you mean ‘not certified’? If a teenager can build one of these in their basement, I don’t see why you can’t screw his head back on the right way!”
“Look, lady, the technology is not yet mainstream. Call any other repairman in town and they’re gonna tell you the same thing. You’d be better off just hiring maid.”
“I have called every other repairman in town.” For some reason, they’d all assumed she’d taken him in the hot tub. “What about the window? Can you at least come and board it up?”
“Don’t you have a boyfriend to do that for you, missy?” Why did all the repairmen ask her that?
“Fiancé, and no, he’s not home yet, not that that would make much of difference. There’s no wood in the house, everything is made of plastic and chrome, and I don’t think we even own a hammer!”
“Ohohoho…would you like to me to make a personal call? ‘Cause I could bring some wood over and do some hammering—”
“Oh, wait! My fiancé’s here after all, I just didn’t notice because he’s a ninja. NEVERMIND.”
It was getting late and she wished Ocean really would get home soon, though honestly he wasn’t any handier than she was. The person she really needed was her sister, who knew how to actually do things rather than get people to do things for her, but she was off on some island with Bella freakin’ Goth.
This gave her an idea.
“Is it true that you’re a genius who can fix anything and everything?”
“Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate.
“This is Dina. We saw each other earlier, my friend Servo was with me. Your wife has stolen my sister for the weekend?”
“I know who you are, Miss Caliente.”
“Well, Servo is broken, and no, it’s not because I took him in the hot tub.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, thank you. The house not so much. And Servo… I just don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what happened; I can’t find anyone who’ll even try to fix him.”
“It shouldn’t be that difficult for any repairman worth his salt; it’s just that Servos have gotten a bad reputation in the tinkering community thanks to a few over-publicized freak accidents. There’s also some fear that the robots will take away their jobs. As I said before, I’ve never built one of his kind; but if you bring him over to the lab I’m sure my associates and I could take a look and figure things out.”
“Oh, thank you so much! I don’t think I’ll be able to move him by myself though, and even then there’s no way I’d be able to fit him in the Hunka—his forearms are too big! And I’m not certified to drive the limo.”
“I see. No worries, Miss Caliente, my brother-in-law has a pickup truck. The two of us could drop by tomorrow morning and, well, pick him up. Is 9:00 a good time for you?”
Outside she could hear Ocean pulling up in the driveway. “If that’s okay with…your brother-in-law.”
“Of course it will be. He loves playing the white knight. Are you sure you’re all right? You sound a little shaken.”
“I’m okay. Ocean’s here now. He’ll…take care of me. Thanks again, Mr. Goth.”
Ocean made an unusually quiet entrance, striding in and setting something down on the kitchen counter. He looked like he’d also had a bad day, so she didn’t pounce on him as usual.
“I’m so glad you’re home, baby. Servo’s broken and I’ve been so scared and alone!”
“What did you do to him?” It was a tone she’d never heard him direct towards her.
“I don’t know. Mortimer Goth said he could fix him, though.” She tried to touch his shoulder as he walked past but he dodged her hand and started up the spiral staircase. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, baby.”
“He better be.”
She looked at the papers he’d thrown down on the counter. One of them was the first page of a term paper.
The other was a male pregnancy test.
“Ocean, what’s going on?” She was glad she didn’t have to look him in the eye when she asked that question.
He didn’t respond for a good long while. "…Dina, are you an alien?"
“Do I look like one?” Her voice cracked.
“Yes, I’m thinking now you do,” he said through gritted teeth. “I know about your Strangetown and what kind of place that is, what kind of ‘people’ live there and what you do to people like me.”
“What are you talking about? Who told you this?” Her sinuses were burning from holding back tears.
“When we talked about having kids, you never mentioned that I would be the one carrying them!”
Her head was spinning yet somehow she managed to speak. “Ocean, as you can see from that test, I have not pollinated you. I have not tried to pollinate you; I have no intention of doing so and I’m not even capable of it! Do you even understand how it works? Did you even read the rest of that paper?” This was a bluff; Dina hadn’t read any of it. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about my grandfather, but I promise you it doesn’t make any difference. I’m more human than I am alien.”
“So it’s true then,” he muttered.
“Ocean…” She reached for him but he recoiled from her so fast he almost fell over the railing.
“Don’t touch me! Get away from me and get out of my house!"
She couldn't hold the tears back anymore. "Can I at least call a cab first?"
"Hitch a ride on a flying saucer."
It was lucky for Ocean there was an actual ocean between him and Nina or he would have been as broken as Servo. Dina didn't work that way; all she had was her words and now she was at a loss for them.
"Okay," she said weakly. "I'll go… just don't tell anyone, please."
"So that you can go do this to someone else?" Of course he was all about caring for other people when it gave him an excuse to be an asshole. "The only thing keeping me from reporting this to SBN is the humiliation and self-disgust. Don’t press my buttons; just give me my ring back.”
Sometimes she wished the rumors were true. That she was involved in some sort of extraterrestrial conspiracy to take over the world and emasculate men or whatever. She was just going to be accused of it anyway. The worst of it was that neither side seemed to want her.
But he didn’t know that, and wouldn’t believe her if she told him.
"Say that again, nicely."
He made a sound that was half laugh, half cry. "You're in no position to be making demands."
"You are in no position to be talking to me disrespectfully." She tried to sound like Bella Goth when she was calling out Mr. Tricou: calm, cold, and piercing. "Don't worry, I'm going to give you your ring back and I'm going to leave. But first I'm going to pack up my belongings and call a cab which you will be paying for. Our cover story will be that we broke up due to irreconcilable differences and there will be no mentions of my heritage to any living soul."
"You're not the first person to have figured out my secret, Mr. Big. But did you even think about what it means?" She took a step forward and he stepped back."It means I have friends and family in the highest of places, and if you're not willing to keep that secret, they can cut it out of your brain."
"So you better be nice and you better stay out of my way…" Dina took a deep breath to keep her voice from shaking. "Or I can make you disappear."
She got only the briefest glimpse of his reaction before they were both blinded by a bright light from above.