Episode Five of 'Destined for the Junk Pile'
It had started badly and had quickly gotten a lot worse......
"And yet the only sign of any struggle is the smashed jug, WHICH YOU ADMIT breaking in order to short-circuit the android...." officer Gallagher had pointed out. Camilla had sighed, tired and wanting to go home - now that she knew the wreckage of 'Candy', Charlie's psychotic robotic plaything, had been removed from her apartment and taken in as evidence.
"Like I keep saying....Any mess I made trying to get away from her, she tidied up.."
"In the middle of the fight...."
"It was all very rushed...." Camilla had insisted, somewhat flustered. The other officer who had never even given his name continued pacing back and forward in a darker part of the police interview room looking slightly bemused. Correctly, Camilla had even then sensed there was worse to come....
A few days later Camilla had received notification that Charlie, her ex-husband, was suing her for damages and emotional trauma.
Things actually seemed to be proceeding well in court (after all, it was Camilla's word against that of a short-circuited pleasure droid that wasn't in any condition to be answering questions of any sort) until Charlie's lawyer inevitably got around to asking about the first time Camilla and Charlie's 'new girl' had met. Not wanting to risk perjury, Camilla was forced to admit to deliberately short-circuiting the pleasure droid on their first meeting, to which an outraged Charlie had stood up and shouted...
"I KNEW it!!"
From there on in, despite Camilla's insistance that on this most recent occasion she was forced to electrocute the inexplicably homicidal house mate to preserve her own life, the jury found in favour of Charlie Harcourt, and Camilla was ordered to pay repair costs and damages totalling nearly one hundred thousand dollars. Unfortunately, the whole story seemed to develop a fairly frenzied media following, probably due to the first ever android-accused-of-atempted-murder angle. That, and the perceived ex-wife-jilted-for-younger-lover-and-out-for-revenge aspect. Camilla found herself harrased in the street several times, but she also received the odd piece of fan mail, mainly from women who agreed with her stand on how these artificial pleasure companions were a throw-back to last-century role models.
In the end Camilla had become a kind of infamous cult figure, and it was because of this that her boss had explained he needed to 'let her go'. Camilla had suggested that it would all blow over in a few months, but her employer had insisted that they could not afford to be loosing clients at this time. So she had been fired. Finding new work in the shadow of the television coverage proved difficult and in the end Camilla had had to settle for temp work as a secretary.
It had been scarcely a week since the judge's decision when the first call came through - the first of several from television talk shows. At first Camilla had stuck to her belief that her notoriety would pass, but the street harassments and gossip at work began to grind her down. It was after hearing rumours that her new employer was also considering 'letting her go' about a month later that Camilla finally changed her mind. A few days later she received yet another call from a representative of 'The Tracy Gillam Show' and tentatively agreed to a meeting.
The next few days had passed somewhat in a blur. She had met a plethora of people for lunch who all seemed very pleasant, and eager to agree to many of her requests regarding lines of questioning. The show seemed credible and professional, so finally she had agreed to appear.
So now here she was, backstage at the studio, having her makeup done. She could hear the audience laughing and occasionally booing at the guests of the show previous to hers as she struggled with last minute reservations about how good an idea it was agreeing to appear on a show that encouraged the audience boo. She closed her eyes and told herself to relax. People needed to hear her side of the story. And how long would it be until another pleasure droid decided the best way to make it's owner happy was to 'remove' any perceived competition? She nodded to herself and took a deep breath. She realized she needed to use the toilet....
A few minutes later she stepped out of the womens' toilet, surprised to find that Teresa, the woman who had escorted her here, had disappeared. She looked left and right searching for a sign that said 'stage', with no luck. She knew she had probably half an hour before filming began, so was not unduly worried. She headed left, the way she had come. A few more minutes later and Camilla was more annoyed than concerned. This place was a maze! Shortly she came to another door, marked 'Dressing Room 6'. She could hear a noise from inside so knocked, but got no reply. Shortly she tentatively tried the door and was immediately relieved to finally find a dressing room that was occupied. A slim brunnete woman wrapped in a white towel sat at a three way mirror opposite, blow-drying her hair. Camilla took only one step into the room before she suddenly recognized the overly cuvatious woman reflected in the mirrors and froze on the spot.
"Candy?!!" she gasped incredulously. The shapely girl seemed less surprised to see her, shutting off the hair dryer, placing it smoothly on the dresser in front of her and swiveling her stool to face Camilla. Though obviously very tightly wrapped in the towel, her restrained bust still managed somehow to swing around out in front of her as she turned. Her face was beaming and confident, her eyes glistening with a barely restrained excitement. "Well, hi Camilla! It's great to see you again." she gushed. Then her head cocked slightly to one side and she added sympathetically, "How are you?"
Almost immediately, Camilla's shock was superseded by her anger.
"What the hell are you doing here?!!" she demanded. Candy stood and crossed toward Camilla, the front of her towel bobbing up and down as she walked.
"I'm appearing with you at this afternoon's filming." she explained eagerly, stopping less than a yard away from Camilla, "Isn't it exciting?"
Her chocolate brown eyes were wide with expectation, as her pristine smile waited for Camilla's reply.
"Appearing with me?! Why? What the..." Camilla stopped, choking on her disbelief.
"Tracy Gillam wanted me to appear and Charlie agreed. Isn't it exciting?" she asked again.
"No it damn well isn't! Why wasn't I told about this?!"
Candy's eyebrows rose slightly and that indomitable smile finally faltered, falling to a faintly quizical frown.
"Oh gee, I dunno. I knew you were appearing."
Still holding the door open with one hand, Camilla was speechless with fury and barely able to supress her outrage. She was about to storm out of the room when the scantily clad brunette sighed dreamily.
"Well, if you'll excuse me, I must get ready for this afternoon's filming."
The deeply bronzed brunette turned smoothly and moved away to the left end of the dressing room, where a set of tall dividing barriers were set up. As she stepped pristinely toward these, her arms rose to her bust to loosen the towel wrapped snugly around her. The towel fell away, held only in one hand, exposing her tanned, flawless back and Camilla noticed that the unsightly control panel that had featured there when they last met was now absent. Her toned pert rear end swung lazily to and fro, and as she walked smoothly forward her voluptuous torso seemed just to glide over the floor. The curvatious creation turned slightly and stepped behind the changing barrier and Camilla caught an unwelcome glimpse of her overly pert bust, bulging out sideways so much so as to be seen almost from directly behind. Camilla rolled her eyes and shook her head for a moment, then surveyed the dresser aimlessly. Amongst the make up and the discarded hairdryer she spied what looked like a large tube of mascara - but clearly much too large. She stepped forward into the room, finally allowing the door to swing closed behind her. As she moved closer to the table she called out to Candy again.
"But why did Charlie agree to it? What could he possibly gain? He's already won the court case - unless he just wants to make more of a fool out of me...."
Upon closer inspection of the desk, she realized the tube was in fact a slim black microphone. Next to it lay a small earpiece. Camilla frowned, squinting thoughtfully, then moved back to where she had stood by the door.
"Charlie said that appearing on TV might get me started in modelling." Candy explained evenly from behind the barrier. Camilla scoffed.
"Modelling? Uh...No offence, but I'm not sure you have a particularly fashionable body shape for modern modelling - unless it's a career in porn you're after....." Camilla suggested.
"My body's perfect." Candy chimed smoothly and with supremely indomitable confidence.
"Perfect? What for? A flotation device?"
"My body's perfect. Charlie said so." that measured voice trilled and Candy emerged from behind the changing barrier clad now in a tight-fitting white one-piece mini-dress that unsurprisingly left little to the imagination. Her over sized bust was pressed tightly into the halter-neck top, that generous tanned cleavage now bulging up between straps that looped up to meet behind her neck. Similarly the scant skirt left most of the tall brunette's athletically toned thighs exposed. Her feet were still bare.
"Oh, right.....if Charlie said so, then it must be so." Camilla relented sarcastically, "I forgot that everything Charlie says is absolute undeniable fact. Sorry."
Candy crossed back toward the dresser, her deep brown eyes still regarding Camilla excitedly.
"Uh-huh. That's right. Charlie doesn't lie. Charlie said I look perfect, so I look perfect."
The long-legged brunette turned and sat smoothly on her stool as if lowered on strings.
"Riiiiight. Charlie doesn't lie..." Camilla sighed dubiously. Candy swung her long legs back under the dresser and turned her mostly bare back to Camilla, her flawless reflection looking back at Camilla.
"Now if you will excuse me, I must fix my make up." her chirpy voice insisted and she reached forward retrieving a tube of mascara.
Intending to leave once again, Camilla turned away and mimiked the seemingly self-satisfied brunette's voice softly under her breath, adding quietly as an after thought, in a equally irritable tone...
"I thought you looked perfect."
She reached for the door handle and was about to step out of the room, but it seemed Candy was not prepared to let this one lie.
"I am perfect. Charlie said so." she sighed smugly yet again, untwisting the mascara and carefully placing the long cap back on to the dresser. She began applying the mascara to her right eye in precisely measured strokes as Camilla turned back to face her.
"You keep saying that." she pointed out, "It makes you sound a little defensive. Charlie wasn't so happy with you before, y'know...."
"Charlie couldn't be happier with me. I've been fully reconditioned. My circuits are in prime condition." the shapely automaton purred, adding somewhat inexplicably, "Charlie said so."
Camilla hesitated, thinking for a moment. She couldn't help but wonder if she had finally 'touched a nerve' in the shapely brunette. She decided to press her further.
"Charlie said you were perfect?" she asked, feigning curiosity.
"Uh-huh." the brunette chirped, still applying the mascara.
"And what made him say that?"
Candy shrugged impatiently.
"I dunno. He said so last Thursday when he came home from work." she explained, stopping suddenly and staring longingly at her reflection as if lost in the memory of a romantic dream, "I greeted him and we kissed. Then he said I always look just so perfect. I remember it exactly. I always look so perfect. Charlie said so."
Candy moved the mascara smoothly to the other eye, twisting the brush in small even strokes once again as Camilla continued.
"I see. Well, are you perfect right now?"
"Well, of course. Charlie said I always look just so perfect." the shapely brunette gushed confidently, "So I'm always perfect."
"Well then, why are you using make up if you already look perfect?"
"Charlie wants me to look my absolute best for this afternoon's filming. He said I should use the make up that he bought especially for this afternoon." she explained dismissively, looking back at Camilla in the mirror and retrieving the mascara cap delicately from the dresser without even looking at it. Then she refastened the cap and placed the sealed mascara back on the dresser in front of her. She swung her shapely legs clockwise out from under the dresser, facing off to Camilla's right.
"But you're always perfect. Charlie said that too...." Camilla reminded the flawlessly made up woman as Candy stood smoothly and crossed toward a small open doorway that led to a wardrobe.
"That's right. I always look so perfect." she agreed proudly once again, her confident expression utterly steadfast as she glided elegantly forward.
"So why do you need to use make up to look your best when you always look so perfect?......" Camilla pressed, watching as Candy stopped and bent forward at the waist, retrieving a pair of sleekly formed white platform high heels from the floor of the wardrobe, "Unless you don't look your best all the time - but that would mean not looking perfect all the time." Camilla pointed out.
Candy stood upright and Camilla noticed her head cock slightly to one side as she stared into the wardrobe.
"I always look so perfect, but I must look my best for Charlie." Candy insisted evenly after a moment, moving smoothly to a large padded white leather chair next to the wardrobe. Camilla sighed, growing frustrated.
"But surely always looking perfect would mean looking your best all the time..."
Candy turned and sat delicately on the edge of the seat. She leaned forward, placing one of the shoes on the floor at her feet, then crossed her tanned legs toward Camilla. Her voluptuous torso leaned forward again bulging down against her elevated thigh and she placed the other shoe on her foot.
"Uh-huh. That's right. I am always perfect. But...."
As Candy remained leaned forward reaching down to her foot, she stopped and just stared at the floor, her full lips parted slightly. A moment later her free hand rose delicately to the side of her head and her eyebrows seemed to press down into a faint frown. Shortly Candy's eyelids flickered for a moment then she sighed and softly breathed, "Gee whiz. I'm getting confused."
"It's quite simple." Camilla suggested helpfully, "You're either not perfect all of the time, or you don't need to use the make up Charlie bought for you...."
Candy blinked slowly again and the brunette's raised hand lowered smoothly, reaching down to pick up the remaining shoe from the floor. She uncrossed her long tanned legs, recrossing them immediately away from Camilla.
"I am always perfect." Candy breathed determinedly, placing the second shoe on her pointed foot, "Charlie said so."
She sat upright again and blinked slowly then looked toward Camilla.
"I must use the make up. Charlie said so."
The attractive brunette's head swivelled back to face in front of her - her deep chocolate brown eyes glistening in the bright dressing room lighting.
"Charlie does not lie. I must obey Charlie."
Then she smiled again and stood smoothly, her shapely form made all the more statuesque by the added stature of her shoes. She walked forward, gliding effortlessly toward the dresser.
"I am always perfect. I must use the make up." her lilting voice continued blissfully as she turned on the toes of her shoes and sat once again on the stool. Her legs swung back under the dresser, her toned bare back glistening bronzely as she turned.
"If you'll excuse me, I must fix my make up." she sighed and a hand reached forward, collecting a tube of lipstick. Staring smugly at herself in the mirror, she removed the cap and placed the cap back on the dresser. Then she twisted the lipstick and moved the crimson shaft toward her lips. But the arm froze abruptly. She stared at herself, as if suddenly in awe.
"I always look so perfect." she breathed, and the arm began to lower again. Then it halted and the lips parted again, the head cocking to one side slightly.
"I must look my best."
The arm began to rise again, but faltered jerkily.
"I always look so perfect." that voice repeated smugly. The arm lowered stiffly, then stopped so abruptly that the lipstick tumbled from it's delicate grasp. Candy's long eyelashes fluttered for a moment and the empty hand rose to the side of her head.
"I am getting confused." she purred dreamily. Still with her hand held daintly to the side of her head, her feet pushed her body clockwise, that over sized bust swinging around in front of her as she spun smoothly, facing off to Camilla's right again. She crossed her legs, right over left and her torso tilted forward. The hand that was pressed at her head lowered again, reaching down toward her elevated foot as she spoke again.
"If you'll excuse me, I must get ready for...."
Then suddenly she froze. As the voluptuous automaton stared vacantly down at the floor once again, there came a strange sound - a delicate tick-tick-ticking that slowed and sped up in no discernable pattern. Shortly her elevated right thigh lifted suddenly up against her bulbous bust and her legs uncrossed. Candy's head swivelled smoothly to look at Camilla, her head effectively cocked to one side atop a crookedly posed torso.
"I always look so perfect." Candy repeated, her voice dreamy and laborious as that strange ticking sound continued aimlessly.
"Charlie does not lie. I must obey Charlie." she intoned. Her posture finally straightened as her apparently flawlessly made up face turned stiffly forward, then she recrossed her athletically toned legs back toward Camilla. "I am programmed to obey Charlie. Charlie loves my perfect body." she sighed - apparently to no-one - then her serene chocolate gaze swung once more to meet Camilla's and her hand began to rise again to the side of her head. But then the tell tale ticking sped to a newly frenetic frequency and her slender forearm froze jerkily half way up, the fingers of her hand pointing rigidly. That formerly indomitable confident expression seemed to falter slightly - her lips were still held in a smug smirk, but those deep brown eyes seemed now somehow slightly vacant.
"I have been fully re-conditioned. Charlie said so. I am always so perfect." she trilled dreamily, that rapidly ticking sound still emitting softly from within her. Her head turned stiffly forward and in synchronicity with her indecisively swiveling head, the half-raised hand lowered while the other jerked upward into motion, likewise faltering stiffly as the attractive woman spoke again.
"My circuits are in prime condition. You are getting me confused."
The curvatious thigh of her left leg rose suddenly up from over the other, then jerked to a halt, the foot bouncing mechanically out infront of her. After a moment, the long tanned leg swung stiffly sideways and lowered, the other leg immediately rising, swinging jerkily and crossing over the first. Her head spun smoothly to face back at Camilla and one hand lowered stiffly as the other raised yet again.
"I must not malfunction. Charlie said so. I must use the make up." that sensuous voice breathed. Those long shapely legs uncrossed jerkily and she stood, stepping laboriously forward toward the wardrobe once again.
"I always look so perfect. Charlie said so. If you'll excuse me, I must get ready."
Her top heavy torso toppled forward and then jerked to a mechanical halt as she reached down to the floor to retrieve a pair of non-existant shoes.
"I am getting confused. My body is perfect."
Her body sprung upright and she turned about, walking forward. Camilla noticed the faint odour of warming plastic when the still softly ticking brunette passed her by and as the shapely robotic woman continued toward the changing barrier at the left hand end of the dressing room the inexplicable repetitive ticking sound was joined by a faint airy hum, like that of the hairdryer Candy had been using earlier.
"I am over heating. Charlie just loves my boobs. Charlie said so." she explained needlessly. Almost immediately a seam appeared in the tanned skin of her bare back, just below the line of her long brown hair. The ticking and humming became suddenly less muffled as a section of her skin about four inches square pushed smoothly out from her otherwise flawless back. Strands of her shiny brown hair that hung down above the new cavity shifted aimlessly as if caught in a new breeze. As the faltering pleasure companion turned and disappeared behind the barrier, Camilla could see that the panel was held out from her back by a pair of narrow steel arms. From what she could tell in the brief glimpse she had caught, the space behind the protruding panel was filled with a messy dangling nest of mutilcouloured wiring.
"I must cool off. I must not malfunction. Charlie said so." that still evenly measured voice purred from behind the barrier. A moment later Candy emerged again, evidently already changed, and headed back to the dresser. There she turned about smoothly and lowered herself back onto the stool. From this profile, Camilla could clearly see a tangled mass of wiring and components hanging limply between the cavity and the protruding back panel. But, other than the lazy way in which they were arranged, their was nothing to indicate that the wiring was damaged. No sparks. No smoke. Just that ticking and humming, and Candy's obliviously sensuous recitations.
"I am over heating. I always look just so perfect." Candy's voice intoned blissfully. It occurred to Camilla that the wiring might have already been in such a condition - hardly the look of circuits in their 'prime condition' or internals that had been 'fully reconditioned'. As Candy spun her body stiffly to face the dresser again, Camilla stepped forward, frowning at the protruding panel of flawlessly bronzed skin. The noxious smell of heated plastic was strong in the air. Candy's left hand rose stiffly up beside her head, the fingers still pointed rigidly, the perfectly manicured nails glistening in the bright lighting. Camilla looked down into the space behind the protuberant brown plastic panel. Indeed the wiring appeared to be as yet undamaged, but arrayed carelessly and interconnected by what appeared to be a series of loosely hanging switches. Deeper within the cavity, almost obscured by the mass of wiring, there sat on the left side a row of circuit boards and on the other, amongst other various components, a small electronic fan mounted in a circular brace which was humming furiously. It was this that was sending forth a blast of warm ill-odoured air.
"I must not malfunction. I have been fully reconditioned. Charlie said so." Candy insisted obliviously. But even as the overheating android spoke the tiny motorised fan within her sputtered furiously and cut out, winding down quickly. Camilla immediately noticed the ticking sound seemed to be discernably speeding up again, this time unabated. Candy's slender left hand lowered as the other raised and her head began turning smoothly to the left and then to the right. "Warning. I am over heating. I must not malfunction." the pleasure droid trilled, her voice beginning to loose that indomitably pleasant tone. Camilla realized she needed to do something urgently to avoid being responsible for the error-prone plaything's demise yet again. She looked around desperately for anything that might be of asstistance, to no avail. In the mirror she caught a glimpse of Candy's face as it swung into view. Her formerly serene brown eyes seemed now to be moving independently of eachother, crossing and uncrossing, flitting slightly this way and that, their flawlessly arched eyebrows now twisting up and down, those generous lips twitching indecisively between a frown and a smirk as her voice continued reciting obliviously. Camilla could hear the faint but furious hum of several small winding motors.
"I am Charlie's pleasure droid. Warning. My body is built to obey Charlie. I have been fully. Fully. I must not malfunction. Must not."
As Candy's head turned back and forward and her arms alternately raised and lowered automatically and the ticking sound wound and looped faster and faster, it struck Camilla how much she seemed like a broken clockwork toy. Camilla's attention was suddenly brought back to the exposed wiring at Candy's back by a small flash of sparks. One of the switches had let out a small puff of smoke. Camilla looked at it, biting her lip, then reached in and grabbed it, flicking the small toggle with her other hand.
Immediately the rapid ticking slowed as did Candy's voice. Her rigid arms lowered smoothly and her torso tipped inexorably forward as if finally succumbing to gravity. That sensuous voice began to break up as it slowed, not deepening, but digitising as if somehow aurally pixelated. Her body's forward descent was slowed as her bust rested firmly down on the dresser, sending one or two pieces of make up clattering down to the floor. Then her head lolled forward, her long dark brown shiny hair falling about her face, the forehead likewise coming to rest gently on the dresser, the vacant brown eyes unseen, but looking down at her own bulging cleavage pressed up and out of her top by the table top below it. There she stayed, with the panel of her back stuck up into the air behind her. Camilla sighed in relief. There was still a faint ticking, but this was the ticking of cooling circuits.
Camilla was tempted to just leave, but she realized it would not do to have Charlie's plaything found shut off inexplicably - suspicions would be raised, she was sure. And she couldn't even be certain that once activated the shapely artificial girl would be in any fit state for a television appearance. But she guessed it would not be wise to reactivate the inanimate doll while it was still so overheated. So she waited nervously, expecting at any moment for the door to open and to be discovered. From time to time she put her hand inside the smouldering cavity to check for warmth, checking her watch impatiently and listening for the dreaded approaching footsteps from outside. As she waited she wondered why little Miss "I'm Always Just So Perfect" had broken down so easily - and why her internal workings were in such apparent disarray when Charlie had been awarded almost a hundred thousand...........Camilla cut short her train of thought and began to suspect she knew why.
It was several minutes before the internal cooling sounds stopped, and several more before Camilla finally plucked up the courage to reactivate the unsound android. Eventually, checking her watch again, she sighed and reached back into the cavity. It still felt a little warm, but Camilla figured a little heat was probably usual. She found the switch which had crackled and, hoping it had survived the overload undamaged, flicked it. Immediately the protruding panel of tanned skin began to press smoothly closed on it's extended arms and Camilla had to withdraw her hand quickly to avoid having it caught. She backed away as the seam all but disappeared, feeling torn once again between getting away and checking that the pleasure droid was still operable. Shortly there were a couple of sharp muffled bleeps from within the ludicrously proportioned lifeless body. The head twitched slightly and rose, the torso lifting backward to once again defy gravity and sit upright. The radiant brunette appeared to focus on herself in the mirror, though her eyes seemed a little on the glazed side of serene.
"Candice Automate. Restart initiated." her sultry voice breathed. There came a mechanical buzz cut short by a dull clunk.
"Loading. Please wait....." the serenely staring automaton added pleasantly, repeating the phrase a few moments later. Camilla did so.
Shortly there were another number of sharp internal bleeps and then Candy's head swivelled to look at Camilla in the mirror and she smiled broadly.
"Well, hi Camilla! It's lovely to see you again. How are you?"
Camilla began to feel a little more relieved.
"Fine. How do you feel?" she asked. Candy's eyes flashed excitedly.
"I feel so realistic. Charlie said so."
Camilla forced an uneasy smile.
"Ohhh...kaaaay.....I'm just going to go now." she explained slowly, pointing back over her shoulder toward the exit with her thumb, "You just sit there until Charlie comes for you alright?"
"I must get ready for this afternoon's filming." the brunette gasped, looking down at the dresser quizically, "Now where has my lipstick got to?..."
"Oh, it's on the floor." Camilla pointed out. Candy's posture shifted sideways and she looked down at the floor.
"Oh, how silly of me." she breathed slowly. She reached down and collected it. Camilla checked to see that the proportedly perfect princess could now apply make up without popping her logic circuits, then opened the door behind her.
"Okay then, see you in a few minutes."
"Uh-huh. Bye Camilla. It was great to talk to you again." that sensuous voice purred as the deeply bronzed brunette put down the lipstick and reached daintily for a tissue. Camilla darted out of the door and away from the area as quickly as she could.
When Camilla found her way back to a familiar part of the complex, she found that she had not yet been missed. Fortunately the filming of a previous show had over-run. She found her partner Andy, but at that moment the stage manager insisted that she was needed side of stage. She was ushered stage left to the door that would lead her onto the set. Andy wished her luck and went to say goodbye, but she whispered urgently for him to listen, aware of the stage manager standing just behind her. Andy drew closer and as Camilla whispered, his eyes widened. "You're kidding. The bastards!"
Camilla shushed him and continued, gesturing as surreptitiously as possible. Nearby a woman with a combined headphone/hands-free-microphone set was talking quietly to other members of the crew. "OK. Awating cue." she said softly. Andy nodded when Camilla had finished.
"Okay, I'll see what I can do...." he murmered, "Good luck hon."
Andy jogged off in the direction Camilla had come as from the other side of the door, Camilla heard Ms Gillam's introduction.
"I'm sure everyone will have heard of my next guest. She has been described by some as a martyr of women's rights, and by others as a vengeful stalker. Please welcome Camilla Harcourt!"
Camilla felt a tap on her shoulder as the door in front of her slid away.
"OK. Go!" the stage manager whispered.
Camilla smiled and stepped out onto the stage. She was immediately welcomed by what sounded like equal portions of enthusiastic applause, wholehearted cheering, derisive catcalls and booing. Never the less, she made her way down the small staircase that led to the black and white checkered floor of the set. Camilla crossed to a slightly raised daiz where Tracy Gillam had been seated and as they'd rehearsed, Tracy stood and shook her hand, inviting her to sit on the large, garishly coloured couch. Camilla did so as Tracy sat diagonally opposite her on a large leather uphostered chair. Shortly the noise from the audience trailed off and Tracy spoke.
"Camilla. Welcome to the show."
Camilla smiled generously.
"Thank you Tracy. Well, I appreciate being given this opportunity to tell my side of the story."
"And we look forward to hearing it, but first....." Tracy turned to face a nearby camera, "For those of you who've been living on Mars for the past two months and don't know who Camilla is exactly, take a look at this...."
Camilla noticed the audience looking up above the set, presumably at a video screen that she herself could not see. To her left, out of the corner of her eye a sudden flicker caught her attention and in addition to hearing the clip start up through speakers, Camilla could see the video clip on a studio monitor. The opening shot of the clip was outside the court as Camilla arrived for the first day of her case. A reporter was explaining the background to the case. There then followed a brief pastiche of key moments of the hearing, including footage of the broken-down Candy wheeled into court lying on a bench, wrapped and sealed in clear plastic - and the moment when Camilla admitted deliberately short-circuiting the pleasure droid on their first meeting followed by Charlie's outburst and the hubbub that caused. Then came the jury's decision and shots of Camilla's ex-husband being congratulated by his lawyer. As the clip finished the audience responded with another half-cheer/half-boo. Tracy held up her hands.
"Now, now. Camilla will have her say."
Smiling mischeviously, she glanced back at Camilla.
"But first, we've got a little surprise for you...."
Tracy turned to address the same camera nearby.
"As we're about to hear Camilla's side of the story, it's only fair that the woman who has not had an opportunity to speak about it at all, should now be allowed to. So, will you please welcome........Candy Harcourt!"
Camilla tried to look as if she had not expected it, managing to look a little shocked, she hoped. Shortly a familiar shapely brunette emerged from a doorway on the far side of the stage. She was greeted both with 'whoops' and wolf-whistles, but Camilla was aware also of a distinctly feminine sounding 'boo' from the audience. Dressed still in that characteristically revealing white dress and white platformed high-heels, the deeply tanned woman strode confidently toward Camilla, her face beaming broadly. The statuesque brunette continued toward the diaz, her long shining tresses bouncing as she walked, her bronzed skin radiant under the studio lighting - in lustrus contrast to her pristine white attire. Camilla fumed and stood as the shapely Automate approached, and the audience responded with an ueasy 'ooooooooooo'.
"No! We did not agree to this." Camilla insisted, pointing firmly at Ms Gillam. Tracy seemed to ignore her and simply stood as Candy stepped onto the diaz and shook the smiling host's hand. They exchanged pleasantries then Candy stepped toward Camilla, her right hand extended.
"Hi Camilla! It's lovely to see you again. How are you?" she chirped. Camilla ignored her hand and just stepped around her to address Tracy again, an accusatory finger pointed at the somewhat startled looking host, "We did not agree to this." she pointed out again. Tracy cocked her head to one side slightly.
"Oh come on Camilla. You didn't really think I'd just want to speak to you about this, did you? The public deserves both sides of the story, don't they?" She gestured toward the couch, "Just sit down and we'll talk about this."
"Uh...May I?" Candy chimed in over Camilla's shoulder, tentatively indicating the couch. Tracy glanced past Camilla.
"Oh yes, take a seat, Candy." Tracy replied pleasantly. Camilla turned and watched Candy sit down at the far end of the couch and cross her long tanned left leg over the other, toward Camilla. She interlocked her hands and stretched them forward over the raised knee, her ludicrously generous bust bulging up between her outstretched arms. Camilla forced an icy smile and sat reluctantly next to the smiling robotic woman, nearer to Tracy.
"So, Camilla, you claimed during the trial that Candy here, who is your ex-husband's Automate, tried to kill you. Are you still sticking to those claims you made in court?...."
"Absolutely." Camilla responded, "I told the absolute truth in court."
There was a doubtful murmer from some members of the audience.
"But why should people believe you when you admitted short-circuiting the Automate when you first met?" Tracy pressed. "People should believe me because I admitted short-circuiting her - or it, rather." Camilla insisted, glancing disprovingly at Candy. Predictably the audience 'oooooo'ed. Well, if it was a cat fight they wanted, they'd get one......
"I was not prepared to lie in court. Everything I said was true." Camilla explained.
"So, what would you like to set straight with the audience and viewers today?"
"I'd like people to know that these pleasure droids are built as cheaply as possibly and that that means a limited amount of testing is done to ensure their programming is bug-free and safe. I really believe it's only a matter of time before someone is hurt or killed."
Candy scoffed slightly, her eyebrows raised dismissively.
"I wouldn't call three hundred thousand dollars cheap..." she purred, her posture shifting as her hands moved delicately to her slender waist.
"It doesn't matter how much you sell for - you could still be junk inside..." Camilla insisted, wondering if that remark was riding a little close to the bone.
"My circuits are in prime condition." Candy responded somewhat reproachfully, then smiling suddenly she added, ".....thanks to the hundred grand we won in court..."
The audience 'oooo'ed again and Camilla rolled her eyes.
"That's beside the point." she replied, looking to Tracy instead, "Automates can sell for whatever people are prepared to pay - they are still cheaply made."
"OK then, so......Candy......." Tracy began, "About the day you went to visit Camilla at her apartment......"
"Yes?" Candy breathed.
"Now I can understand if your memory of the incident is sketchy, but what exactly do you recall?"
Candy nodded once and looked confidently across at a nearby camera.
"Charlie and I had been invited to dinner at Cam's apartment." she explained, as Camilla let out a disbelieving gasp and shook her head. The shapely brunette continued non the less, and though Camilla could not see an autocue, she had the distinct impression Candy was reading from a script.
"During dinner Charlie was called away on business. He offered to drop me off at home, but Cam said she could give me a lift. Charlie was in such a rush anyway, and besides, Cam said that we hadn't had any time to really get to know eachother."
Camilla was dumbfounded, barely even able to gasp a reply.
"Wh...What a load of crap!!" she managed finally, "I don't know who reprogrammed you when they put you back together but that is far removed from what actually happened.....And don't call me Cam. My ex-husband used to call me that and I hated it."
Candy hesitated for a moment, then continued.
"Alright. But I remember it exactly. We were invited for dinner and Charlie was forced to leave. That was when you broke the water jug and asked me to clean it up." Candy insisted, her eyes rolling and a hand flitting up as if to attract Tracy's attention, "Little did I know that the jug had been broken on a live electric appliance. The shock was terrible." Candy gasped. Camilla just shook her head, closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. Tracy now addressed Camilla.
"So, you deny Charlie and Candy were invited for dinner."
"Yes. Like I said in court, Charlie turned up out of the blue to see if he could patch things up with me. Candy turned up a few moments after he'd left asking for advice on how to make him happy. I guess Charlie must have said he was unhappy with her or something. She probably wasn't rolling his socks right." Camilla suggested. She went to continue, but Candy sighed and turned to face her again, interupting.
"I very much doubt it." she lilted, crossing her arms and arching her back slightly, "I know exactly how to make my Charlie happy."
As the voluptuous brunette's posture shifted provocatively inside her scant outfit there were wolf whistles from the audience once again and she looked across at the nearest camera again, her expression as confident as ever.
"You arrived asking for advice." Camilla insisted strongly, through semi-clenched teeth, then forcing a smile she turned back to Tracy and continued.
"It seemed to me that Charlie was bored with her. She said he'd complained that she was predictable and...well. a robot."
Candy turned to face her once again.
"You don't know what you're talking about." she insisted, her eyebrows arching slightly as if feigning offence, "Charlie's always been perfectly happy with me." She placed her hands daintily back on her elevated knee, looked at Tracy and wriggled her shoulders slightly, "I think this body would make any man happy, don't you think?"
There was more applause, wolf-whistles and a cheer from the audience, and Candy's flawless face turned proudly back to face the nearby camera as Camilla scowled and shook her head again. Tracy addressed Candy again.
"Now this is interesting, isn't it? Because of all the complaints there are about pleasure companions like yourself, the one we hear most often is that you exist just to please your owner, and that there is no equality of power in the relationship."
Candy frowned and nodded occasionally as if really listening to what Tracy was saying, as the host continued. "Do you think there's more to your relationship with Charlie than just keeping him happy?" Tracy asked finally. The flawless brunette opposite her nodded knowingly, eyes wide and excited.
"Oh yes." Candy sighed, "Charlie likes to make me happy too. He's always buying me presents."
"Yeah, probably a shiny new vacuum cleaner or something equally romantic." she suggested almost under her breath. Candy rolled her eyes, laughing playfully, her hand flicking this time dismissively toward Camilla.
"Don't be silly Cam. He likes to treat me....."
Then the stunning brunette fell silent, still smiling, posed as if still speaking. After a moment her left hand moved smoothly up to her ear. Shortly the smile disappeared, an aloof serene gaze returning in it's place.
"Hey. What the. Who the hell are you? No." Candy purred softly. Camilla restrained a smile as Tracy looked on curiously. Suddenly the set wall some distance behind Tracy rattled and Camilla was aware off-stage yelling. Candy's arm lowered and she added, in her level even timbre,
"Leggo. Gimme that. Security. Security."
Another pause, then after another off-stage thumping sound and a muffled yell, she spoke again, still softly, "Ow." Candy seemed unphased by the absurdity of her own replies, still staring confidently and blinking intermitantly. Tracy seemed dumbfounded and leaned toward the girl.
"Candy...Are you ok?"
Candy blinked slowly then nodded, smiling pleasantly.
"Uh-huh. I feel great."
At that moment there was another commotion on the far side of the set behind Tracy's seat. Camilla noticed Andy jogging across the set toward her. A surly, determined-looking security gaurd followed closely behind. The audience murmered uneasily as the pair approached the diaz. Tracy even recoiled slightly. Andy had in his hand the microphone Camilla had seen in Candy's dressing room and he handed this to Tracy.
"I think you might like to speak into this." he said as he was grabbed roughly from behind.
"OK wise guy." the guard muttered, "Off we go."
Andy glanced at Camilla, smiling mischeviously as he was pulled away. Camilla smiled gratefully back. She noticed he had a small cut over his right eye. Behind him, at the perimeter of the set, Camilla saw Charlie, but he was restrained by a guard at either arm. Looking on, he struggled intermitantly to break free. There were some startled gasps from the audience as he did so. Camilla smiled at him and wriggled the fingers of one hand in a playfull wave. "Speak into it!" Andy called again as he was led away. Then he disappeared from view behind the facade of the set, along with Charlie, and Camilla turned her attention back to Tracy. She was fingering the mike gingerly. Shortly she leaned her mouth toward it and blew into it twice.
"Testing. Testing." she murmered hesitantly.
"Testing. Testing." Candy echoed a moment later, staring at her serenely.
"Hello. This is Tracy Gillam speaking." Tracy said, a disapproving frown taking shape on her face. Candy looked at her confidently.
"Hello. This is Tracy Gillam speaking." she repeated smoothly. Tracy turned the microphone off and lowered it to her lap. Candy's left arm raised again, her hand pressing daintily at her ear.
"I think I know what's going on here Candy, and frankly I'm very disappointed." Tracy explained solemnly, "When I get a guest on my show, I expect to really connect with them. I want to know what they think about the issues in there life. You have betrayed my trust."
Camilla restrained a laugh and Candy's arm lowered again.
"Uh-huh." she sighed. Tracy continued, a little flustered to say the least.
"Now....We may as well continue......You were saying that Charlie likes to make you happy too...."
Candy just blinked slowly and then stared. Tracy waited.
"You said he's always buying you presents..." Tracy prompted eventually.
"Uh-huh." Candy breathed, nodding pleasantly. Tracy waited again then sighed.
"So, what has he bought for you recently?" she suggested impatiently.
"Charlie bought me make up." Candy chirped immediately, smirking proudly.
"Well, that's nice....But people could argue that that's as much a gift for him as for you.....To make you look nice for him?"
Candy just stared again. It was difficult to tell if it was a look of supreme confidence or not an expression at all. In the growing awkward silence, Camilla decided to seize the opportunity, cutting in and addressing Candy.
"I wouldn't have thought an Automate would need to wear makeup. Surely you always look......perfect." she suggested, a hand flitting playfully up to her face as she rolled her eyes. Candy's head swivelled slightly to face her.
"I do look perfect. Charlie said so."
Camilla feigned a frown.
"Oh. So why would Charlie need to get you make up then?" she pressed.
"Charlie wants me to look my best for this afternoon's filming." Candy breathed perfectly on cue.
Camilla looked confused.
"Oh! But I thought you always look perfect."
Candy's deep brown eyes regarded her somewhat aloofly.
"I do. Charlie said so."
"But surely always looking perfect would mean you look your best all the time - so you don't need to use the make up." "I always look perfect. Charlie said so. I must use the make up. Charlie said so." that sensuous even voice purred and Candy's head swiveled to look confidently at the nearby camera. Tracy cleared her throat.
"Um. Where is this going exactly?...." she murmered, clearly a little annoyed at having her show hijacked. Camilla turned to her and shrugged non chalantly.
"Oh, I was just wondering why Charlie would ask Candy to use make up to look her best when apparently she looks her best all the time."
At this, one of Candy's hands rose delicately to the side of her head again and her brow furrowed slightly. Shortly Candy's eyelids flickered for a moment then she sighed and softly breathed, "You are getting me confused."
"It's quite simple." Camilla suggested clearly and precisely, "You're either not perfect all of the time, or you don't need to use the make up Charlie bought for you...."
"I am always perfect." Candy breathed, looking serenely at Camilla again, "Charlie said so. I must use the make up. Charlie said so."
Candy's raised hand lowered stiffly to her side and she uncrossed her long tanned legs, recrossing them immediately away from Camilla.
"You are confusing my circuits."
The attractive brunette's head swivelled back to face out at the camera - her deep chocolate brown eyes glistening in the bright studio lighting.
"Oh. I'm sorry." Camilla trilled, faking another frown, "But, hey, I thought your circuits were in 'prime condition'." "They are. I have been fully reconditioned. Charlie said so." Candy replied smoothly, still looking into the camera smugly, "I always look so perfect. Charlie said so. I must use the make up. Charlie said so."
Then came the sound Camilla had been waiting for - a familiar delicate tick-tick-ticking that shifted in speed aimlessly. Candy's elevated right thigh lifted suddenly and her legs uncrossed once more as her head swivelled smoothly to look back at Camilla.
"I must not malfunction. Charlie said so. I am just such a bimbo. Charlie said so." Candy recited, her voice dreamy and laborious as the aimlessly ticking sound continued, slowing and speeding as if at random. "Charlie does not lie. I must obey Charlie."
Her flawlessly made up face turned stiffly to face the camera once again and then Camilla noticed the internal ticking seemed to be speeding up gradually. The shapely brunette leaned forward slightly, her hands pressing lightly down on her thighs and she stood smoothly, her confident gaze fixed firmly on the camera ahead.
"I am programmed to obey Charlie. People will just love my body." she purred as she stepped forward slowly, her hands poised delicately at her sides.
"I have been fully reconditioned. I always look so perfect." she trilled dreamily, that increasingly more rapidly ticking sound still emitting softly from within her.
"I will be a world famous model yet. I have the looks for it. Charlie said so. I must not malfunction."
She stopped at the edge of the diaz and her hands rose smoothly up her body, one gently cupping her breast, the other brushing her hair smoothly behind one ear. So she remained posed for a few moments. The audience was strangely silent and that furious ticking sound rung out up into the spacious studio as it wound and sped still faster. On a monitor off to her left, Camilla noticed a shot of Candy's face looking straight at the camera. Her expression was of supreme confidence as her lips parted and she spoke again.
"I am over heating. I must not malfunction. I have been fully reconditioned. I am a brunette Barbie. Charlie said so. You are getting me confused. I must cool off." the curvatious brunette's voice calmly explained. There was a faint hum and the panel of skin on her back pushed outward smoothly. Tracy gaped and glanced at a cameraman to her right, pointing mutely. He immediately shifted his camera nearer to Tracy to get the shot. Candy seemed to notice him and turned with him as he moved, her confident expression unfaltering.
"I have the perfect body for modelling. Big boobs are coming back. Charlie said so. Coming back. Cool off."
There was suddenly a crackle and a flash. A single blue spark spat down out of the wiring of Candy's opened panel. Her torso jerked and her head wobbled as a faint puff of smoke rose up behind her. Her slender arms lowered slightly, freezing while still bent at the elbows, the perfectly manicured fingers pointing rigidly ahead of her. The ticking sped to an indiscernable buzz and Candy stepped down awkwardly off the diaz toward the camera. On the monitor to the left, there was a shifting close up of Candy's face. That perfect smile seemed strangely pasted on - those formerly serene brown eyes somewhat wide and vacant.
"Warning. I am perfect for modelling. Priority conflict. For modelling."
Her voice was suddenly even less expressive - almost a monotone. There was another flash of sparks and the overly voluptuous android spun slightly to her left. A tiny blackened smoking component clattered to the ground behind her, then the tall brunette seemed to notice the first camera she had been looking at and turned jerkily toward it, her rigid hands and ample bust swinging about out in front of her.
"I must not malfunction. Must not. Error."
She had scarcely glanced at it when there was an soft clattering sound from inside her and another shower of blue sparks crackled, cascading from the cavity in that bronzed bare back. She appreared to notice the third camera and continued turning anti-clockwise. There was suddenly the persistant sound of whining, melting circuits and as she continued speaking, the exotically tanned plaything began turning indecisively this way and that to face the cameras surrounding her.
"Over heating. For modelling. Big boobs. Fully. Malfunction. Malfunction."
When her flawlessly made up face swung into view it was contorting wildly, the brows stretching and twisting, the generous lips straining against eachother inhumanly, the eyes crossing and uncrossing, their lids alternately flickering half closed and pulling wide open.
"Over. Load. Big. Must. Boobs. Not."
The crackling sparks intensified and that monotonous voice began to speak just pieces of words, the sylables cutting off with abrupt unnatural clicks. The statuesque pleasure droid continued spinning indecisively about, intermitantly jerking to a halt or taking a single awkward step toward the camera she happened to be facing, then spinning in the other direction, sparks and puffs of smoke issuing constantly from her back amid the continuing whine and crackle of shorting circuits. Finally as she faced the diaz mid-turn, there was a still brighter flash and that over-endowed torso lurched forward slightly, immediately jerking to a mechanical halt, the arms and bust bouncing unnaturally. The head tipped back and bounced there, the eyes rolled back, and the voluptuous brunette was abruptly frozen with her mouth wide open.
The word was just a digitised tone emitting from the full parted lips, and as it continued, a thin thread of smoke trailed from the mouth of the defunct shapely machine. The internal crackling increased again in frequency and volume, flashes suddenly showing as orange through the tanned skin of that generously exposed, forward tilted cleavage. There was suddenly another bright flash accompanied by a much louder pop that made many in the studio jump. That digitised vocal tone finally cut off and an unseen engine wound down quickly inside the inanimate shapely doll. There was stunned silence, broken only by the occasional faint fizzle from within the smouldering voluptuous bronzed figure. In the silence, Tracy gasped. Candy remained motionless, posed crookedly forward with her head back and her arms bent stiffly at her sides, smoke issuing steadily upwards from her mouth and from the smouldering cavity of her back. Tracy gasped again then looked at Camilla. Camilla just shrugged.
"See what I mean? Well 'built', maybe, but not well made."