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Friday, June 17, 2011

From "Side Effect" by Laura Lond

Side Effect
“Hi, Arnie,” Parkins said, trying to look calm. “What’s up?”

He saw a small reflection of himself in the robot’s gray eyes. He was completely at its mercy. No chance to escape, shut the door, or even grab something and hit the machine. Arnie would outdo him no matter what he attempted. The reaction speed of this model was sixteen times greater than that of a cat.

“Mr. Kumidi has asked me to inform you that he disapproves of how you treated Dr. Stromberg today, Mr. Parkins. You were impolite.”

Parkins took a slow step back. “…Well, I did act kind of rashly. I’m sorry. Would you please relay my sincere apology to the doctor. And to Mr. Kumidi as well.”

Arnie’s thin lips moved, forming a smile—just like the lips of a human. Series-R models had a wide range of facial expressions. Parkins considered it one of his engineers’ best achievements and usually liked watching the robots’ faces change, but this time it brought him no pleasure.

“Very well, Mr. Parkins. I will do that.” Arnie stepped back from the door. “Good night.”

Parkins breathed a sigh of relief. It was just a warning, nothing more.

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