"DING DONG!" - The intrusively loud sound of the door bell woke John. He would not hear his two buzzing alarm clocks when he needed to go to work, but his door bell would always wake him up. Especially when he was eagerly waiting for the UPS guy to deliver his latest eBay purchases. Still groggy, he picked up something to wear from the rather massive pile of dirty clothes on the floor. In his blurred view he struggled to read the alarm clock: 7:35? "DING DONG!" John knew he had to be quick now, the UPS guy would not wait any longer! And that would mean John would have to get the package from his awful neighbor, Ms. Schwartz from the 3rd floor again. She's old... very old. She never remembered John's name - least of all she would remember the package she picked up from the UPS guy in the morning. "Good thing I took a week off", John thought as he rushed to the door.
"DING DONG!" again. 'Usually they don't try that long, do they?' John wondered as he turned the key around and opened the door to the bright stairway. But what he saw in the beaming light was not the UPS delivery guy. It was 5.5 ft tall figure, its right index finger still pointing at the door bell. "DING DONG!"
It was definitely the robot he ordered, he figured immediately by its female form, white plastic body shell with artificial muscles, actuators and servos visible trough the seams where here different body platings connected and by the 'SYNTHIA 01' tag on its chest. John loved those older robots, especially in the female form. Finally he had the money to get one of his own - albeit only a used one. He wanted one since he was a kid and "SYNTHIA" was the most advanced model you could get. Unfortunately, she was not as polished and clean as John hoped. In fact, this 'bot was pretty dirty!
"Hello?" John asked and noticed that "she" was still pointing her index finger at the door bell.
The robot slowly swiveled her head to look at John. Her face had the same white color as the rest of her plating, though less shiny as it was made of a silicone compound to give it the ability of somewhat realistic facial expressions. She slightly opened her mouth but then her face just froze. Her arm slowly moved back down, like in slow-motion.
Something was horribly wrong. "Why does she move so slowly? Why is she so dirty? That can't be!" John stepped behind the robot to check if she was at least complete. Stroking his finger over her plastic bare head, he picked up a fair amount of dirt from the glossy white polycarbonate.
He moved his hand down her behind. Her hip was unrealistically thin, but her thighs and nipple-less breasts were quite large.
"John Smith?" the unnoticing robot said after her arm finished moving down at last. She just stared at the half opened door of John's apartment.
"Yes, I'm John.", he turned back to look into her eyes. "And you are Synthia?" he asked.
Suddenly the female robot began to speak in a male voice: "*cough* Yeah,... err Hi Mr. Smith. This is your new Synthia 'bot. Thanks for purchasing and the quick payment. *heavy-coughing* Just... just authenticate and have fun with her! Well... guess that's it. Bye!..." Synthia tried to sync her lips and tongue with the pre-recorded greeting but she did not quite get it. Her tongue formed consonants and her lips formed vowels even during the coughing.
"Please authenticate to confirm ownership." The robot now said in her lovely female voice again.
"Please." John widely opened the door and raised his arm a bit to ask her in. "Come in first."
With the same tone in her very sweet but also determinating voice, the female robot repeated "Please authenticate to confirm ownership".
"Ok, right.. Seven, seven, Alpha, four, err.... underscore, X, three, two" John dictated the authentication code the seller sent him. He was unpleasant doing that in the stairway, his curious neighbors would sure hear everything.
"Authenticated. Program 'DELIVER_01' executed. Please wait: Loading installation script. Deleting user database. Writing new configuration file. Cleaning up. Please wait..... Please wait..... Registering super user 'PERSON ID 00001: JOHN SMITH'.... Please wait..... SYNthetic Human Interface Automaton 'SYNTHIA v1.03.2878' loaded. AI simulation mode reset to default."
"Hello John Smith. May I come in?". Very slowly she raised the same arm she just used to ring the bell. Finally reaching the right angle, she flexed her fingers and seemed to wait for John to shake her hand.
"Synthia! What is wrong with you? How did you come here? Why didn't the UPS guy carry you up?" John took her hand but her arm and wrist kept locked at their angle and did not respond to the handshake as you would normally expect.
"I came here by foot. I am sorry it took so long, John Smith."
"By foot!? All the way from Boston?"
"That is correct. I came here b..by foot. I am sorry it took so long, John Smith"
"Why?!" John began to understand why she was in such a bad state. Apparently she walked three weeks, night and day. Almost 500 miles instead of getting shipped by UPS as he expected. No wonder he had to wait so long. And no wonder she was responding so slowly - her battery should have been depleted after three, maybe four days.
"I thought your owner would post you as parcel?" Consternated, he released her hand.
She kept her arm bent and struggled to answer. "You are my owner, John Smith."
John just realized that he did a master reset on her by authenticating - just as the seller promised. "Yes. Right. Well, are you ok?"
"Yes, thank you. But my battery charge reached a critical level. I am happy that my calculations were correct so that I was able to arrive here, John Smith."
"Just call me John please. Why didn't you use public transport to come here?" "I do not possess any means of payment, John."
"But how on earth could you get here by foot?"
"I adjusted my walking speed and disabled secondary routines and emulation programs so that my estimated remaining battery charge would last exactly to arrive here, John."
"You don't have to end every sentence with my name!"
"I am sorry, I will try to... try to... t.t.t.t.t.t..." ?
"Synthia?" John worried. He knew that stuttering was a very bad sign for a bot.
"Warning! battery charge at minus 1%. Switch to AC power immmm- Error --dlt" - her voice and all of her movements suddenly stopped. The previously unnoticed cooling fans inside her were audible now as they slowed down. With her last word, the robot woman tipped over as no more power was served to her servos to hold her upwards. She fell into John's arms who caught her at the armpits to lift her into his apartment.
"You are heavier than I thought." Closing the apartment door with a kick, he carried the stiff machine through the narrow corridor and laid her on the floor in his living room with a thump. Kneeing down, he confidently pressed her navel access button. Nothing. Usually the panel would open electronically but without any charge left, John had to pry the panel open with his fingertips. What he saw was just a mess he could not make a lot of sense of - yet. Various colored cables, circuit boards and just a lot of... stuff. He reached for the power connector cable wound up to a spindle deep inside Synthia and connected it to an outlet.
A series of LEDs began to blink inside her stomach. For a moment, he heard a fan speed up but then the constant faint sound lulled him into hearing nothing again. "Charging. 1 day, 17 hours, 31 minutes left." she suddenly announced.
"Well, that gives me some time to clean you up. But fist, I should take care of something." John thought. Still on his knees, he crawled to his laptop on the couch table and opened up the eBay website.
"Nice contact. Great item, delivered as promised!! Would order again. A++"