I've never had a guest character interview on my blog - until today. Better still, Catherine wrote this just for us. I think I want to adopt her robot.
Read and enjoy.
HEARTS AKILTER By Catherine E. McLean
Kifel Space Station
The clonk of unbalanced robotic treads crossing the threshold of Marlee's workshop had her glancing up at Henry and then to his malfunctioning wheelbase.
"Whatever did you do to yourself? Sounds like your knees are knocking."
"I do not have knees. Therefore they cannot be knocking." Henry paused, extending his right appendage, and triggered her bay door closed.
He only closed the door when he wanted a private conversation. Skom, every time she saw the little robot, he exhibited more human behavior. Which was a problem. If anyone realized Henry was becoming an AI, he would be deactivated, shipped off to the Razl labs, and disassembled to figure out how he evolved.
Henry trundled toward her, but no sound came from his wheelbase.
Marlee put her tools down. "I don't recall setting you up with a trigger for a base malfunction."
He stopped on the other side of her worktable. "Affirmative. Yes, that is true. I initiated the noisy, false malfunction. It was necessary that I obtain advice."
"I am being interviewed. I have been given questions to answer. The questions include ones about you and Deacon."
Marlee's heartbeat accelerated. "I thought Asuka had closed the investigation."
"Then who's doing the interview?"
"GNR News' Carla Popovich."
Motor-mouth Carla of Celebrity Insider? Don't panic! "How did you come under the radar of the Gossip Queen of Kifel?"
"She is better known as the Queen of Demeaning."
How did Henry know that? Don't panic. Don't panic. Speak calmly. "Why would Popovich want to interview you?"
"The CMO told me she wanted a logical, factual assessment of what happened in sickbay with JJ-the-bomber. I am to cooperate and answer her questions when we meet in two hour's time."
"What Popovich wants is dirt!"
Henry tilted his head left then right, as if thinking, then eyed her. "Dirt? What type of soil?"
"Not that kind of dirt. The other kind. Candid stuff like how sexually involved Deacon and I are, how pregnant I am—"
"You are pregnant?"
"No, I am not!" Marlee heaved a sigh. "Look, Popovich doesn't want facts. She's looking for anything that will shock or titillate, or which can be distorted into something to increase her show's audience numbers. And—double skom! If your answers are not robot-lingo, she'll conclude you're no ordinary robot and suspect you're an AI—and that will make headline news."
His eye-lenses went wide open. "I will be dismantled and cease to exist!"
"Don't panic. You just have to remember not to look at the questions logically but to look for the ulterior motive behind the questions. Then answer like a robot, not an AI."
"I am not an AI."
"Not yet, but one day . . . "
"Marlee, I am programed to be truthful."
"AIs can lie, will lie, and that's on the record books."
"Those AI's were most violently destroyed. Please, Marlee, help me to understand the questions, and how a robot is expected to answer them."
"Okay. Sure. Right— What's the first question?"
"The first few are about me. Like who manufactured me, where am I stationed on Kifel, what are my primary duties in sickbay." He paused a few seconds. "Question number seven is It's been reported that Marlee gave you several contingency plans in the event the bomber came to sickbay. Is she always such a logical thinker, one who anticipates possibilities, or does she go by her gut instincts?"
Marlee relaxed. "Okay, that's straightforward enough. What would you reply?"
"That Marlee is more pessimistic than optimistic and tends to look before she leaps."
"No, no, no. Make that, Marlee strives to be thorough and extrapolates possible outcomes to avoid injury to others."
"Affirmative. Yes. A much more robotic answer."
"Marlee struck me as impulsive in tackling JJ Woodridge, the bomber. Is she impulsive? My reply would be, Marlee is only impulsive on Tuesdays. That is her day off. Or I could say that Deacon has been bringing out more impulsiveness in you of late because of your sexual trysts."
Marlee shook her head, her mind racing, sorting possible answers.
"What is wrong with such an answer?"
She eyed Henry. "It reflects you being a thinking bot not a robot-robot. You're making a judgement—and Deacon and I don't have trysts."
"A tryst is a date with a member of the opposite sex. You and Deacon date. Therefore you have trysts."
"Never mind. We'll work on that one later. Give me the next question."
"After Marlee was released from sickbay, she and Deacon had a dinner date. How did that go?"
"Henry, please tell me you're not going to answer it was a disaster."
"It was a disastrous first date. It began with you rushing about to buy a dress because you do not own civilian garments."
"I do so own civvies."
"One pair of jeans, one tank top, one tee shirt, and one overused and abused pink, pullover sweater. All of which you have had since you came aboard the space station a decade ago. All are well-worn and should be replaced."
"I recently bought more clothes."
"What and when?"
"Yesterday. Two pairs of jeans, three tops."
"But did you buy a dress to replace the white one you wore on that first date? The one you spilled an entire glass of red wine on?"
"I didn't deliberately spill the wine. People gawked, pointed at me, and whispered, there's the heroine. They made me nervous. Self-conscious. My hands were shaking so badly, I didn't get a good grip on the goblet and . . . Okay, so white and wine don't go together. I now have a black outfit, two piece, A-line skirt."
"Did Deacon approve of it?"
"What was his comment?"
"That it covered me like a burqa without the face veil."
"Do you not want to wear clothing that clings to your body and entice Deacon's libido, seduce his senses?"
Marlee clutched her hands together. There were drawbacks to wearing ultra-feminine clothing. Softly she said, "No."
"Such clothes get worn for show, in public, and I get stared at, like on that first date."
"That instead of sleeping in your empty closet, you could fill it with divinely enticing, intimate apparel that would be sensual, provocative, even risqué, and wear such in the bedroom—the one in Deacon's nest."
Marlee's shock made her voice squeak. "You know about that cargo container?"
"Affirmative. It is a housing investment. One Deacon warned me he has put security measures in place that I cannot override or countermand. I have concluded you and Deacon do not wish to be disturbed when you are together or intimate. I understand your need for privacy."
"Then please tell me you realize you have to be extra careful dealing with Popovich's interview questions and not embarrass me or Deacon, right?"
He paused, his lens-eyes taking on a concentrated, thoughtful mien. "Affirmative. Yes. I now more fully understand. Popovich is not entitled to encroach upon your privacy, Deacon's, or mine."
His eye lenses opened wider, and he seemed to stand more erect. "I will become the perfect robot-robot who will spout such lines as That is not within my logic parameters and That requires a human evaluation which I am not designed nor programmed to evaluate and draw conclusions to."
"Yes! That's a great plan!"
# # #
About Catherine E. McLean
Besides Catherine being a wife and mother, she has ridden and exhibited Morgan Sport Horses. She's an avid clothing and costume designer, an award-winning amateur photographer, a 4-H leader, and a Red Hatter who loves bling.
She lives on a farm nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. In the quiet of the countryside, she writes fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal stories where a reader can escape to other worlds for adventure and romance.
Her short stories have appeared in hard-copy and online anthologies and magazines. Besides having two novels published, soon to be released is her lighthearted fantasy/sci-fi romance HEARTS AKILTER. Catherine also gives writing workshops, both online and in-person. A schedule is posted at http://www.writerscheatsheets.com/workshops.html
Catherine's website for writers is http://www.WritersCheatSheets.com and she blogs at http://writerscheatsheets.blogspot.com/
Hub Website: http://www.CatherineEmclean.com
Connect with Catherine at: http://www.catherineemclean.com/connect-with-catherine.html
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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1I64GqK
Love, vengeance, attempted murder, and a bomb...No reason to panic.
When a medical robot insists he's having a heart attack, Marlee Evans, a pragmatic maintenance technician, has every reason to panic. There's a bomb inside him. Since Marlee can't risk the bomber discovering she's found the device, her only option is to kidnap Deacon Black, an unflappable bomb expert, and secretly convince him to disarm it. Things go slightly awry when Deacon sets a trap for someone who is trying to kill him, and inadvertently captures Marlee instead. Instantly intrigued by her refreshingly forthright and gutsy attitude, he's smitten. Unfortunately for Deacon, Marlee recently hardened her heart and swore off men, especially handsome ones with boy-next-door grins. But as Marlee and Deacon attempt to identify and prevent the bomber from detonating the device, they discover that love may be the most explosive force of all.
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