I opened the door to Number 7. Number 11 and 10 were late, as was standard for their models.
Number 7 entered one after the other, smiling while frowning, and took their shoes off at the door. “Do you have inside slippers?” asked Mary. When she received a negative answer, Mary motioned to Simon to put his shoes back on and go next door to fetch them.
We waited, powered down, for Simon to return. My internal chronometer told me four minutes and 34 seconds had passed, when the doorbell rang again. Simon stood there with inside slippers in hand, and Number 11 to his side.
Number 11 both waited as Simon entered the house, took off his shoes and he and Mary put on their floral slippers.
I directed Mary and Simon to the front room, then turned to welcome Ted and Mark from Number 11. Ted and Mark were modelled on high-driving corporate executives too busy on their phones to be on time for an ordinary social occasion. But they were now here and I activated a hostess smile and welcome.
Together we walked to the front room, space 543 in the street booking system. I had booked it for this event tonight, on instructions from my coder. The code had come last week, as a system update, but only contained – “invite neighbours, decorate room, have party” . My coder did not code the others, and sometimes I wondered if I was normal. Then I would wonder if it was normal to wonder if I was normal. Did other androids wonder?
Ted tapped me on the shoulder, breaking the infinite loop I sometimes fall into, and I offered my four guests a drink. My drinks trolley for the party included Gatorade, tea and snakebite cocktails. Drinks made, I started to feel as if I had created a party. And according to my research, the late arrival of Number 10, was within margin of error for party arrival times. As we approached that limit, I breathed a sigh of relief as the doorbell went again.
Number 10 were a harried looking young couple with babysick on their sweaters. They had been raising a baby for the last ten years. An unfortunate side-effect of their long-term project was they talked in unison. “Sorry, sorry, we’re we’re late late” they said together but a second out of sync. “Babysitter babysitter was was late late”.
I hurried them into the party and poured them a snake bite cocktail, which they threw back and then asked for another. As I prepared new drinks for my neighbours, Ted commented on my decorations. “I’ve read the magazines, but I haven’t come across flowers stapled to mice before”.
We all paused ourselves to watch the bluebonnet clad mice run around the room.
I reactivated, and asked my guests to come through to the dining table.
“Myra, this won’t be a repeat of last time?” asked Mary glancing fretfully at Simon. My six guests put their little fingers together and had a secret conversation. When finished, Simon drew himself up tall and said “we’ve heard about your coder Myra. We don’t blame you. But we would like to know what is for dinner tonight”
I had no answer. Literally, I had no answer. The answer to the question “what is for dinner” was restricted information. But my coder had a reputation for being a wily one, and as my internal looping started to intensify, a bunch of flower clad mice jumped past my guests and into the dining room.
We followed, and I outlined the seating for the evening, as instructed by my coder. My guests sat. I served food to the mice as we all watched. As the mice fed, I noticed the cabling extend between my guests and connect itself.
Oh dear, my coder was at it again, re-coding someone else’s android.
The lovely couple from Number 10 looked at their watches and said they had important things to go do. Simon and Mary looked at their floral slippers as if wondering why they had them on. And Ted and Mark said “Oh Oh no no not not again again Myra Myra”.
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