I tossed my bag on the floor as I entered my house. The couch was calling to me after a long week of school. Stretched out on the couch sat my mom, eyes glued to her phone. As I found my spot she looked up and smiled.
“Hey honey, how was school?”
“It was fine, ready for the weekend.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Hey, Aaron, want to order a pizza and watch a movie tonight?”
Hanging out with my mom on a Friday afternoon? “Eh, I was planning on meeting up with some friends after a nap.”
“Come on, we haven’t sat down and had some you and me time in a while.” Her face was pouting.
“Ok, I guess it will just be me here.” Disappointed she looked back at her phone.
I peeked in her direction. Odd thoughts came to me unbidden. She was a pretty lady. In her mid forties she still had it. Her red hair, the curves, and her feet. I stole a glance at them propped up on the couch. They were small, with nice straight toes and soft soles. At least I imagined they were soft. I had never touched them before. That would be weird, right?
Standing up, I made my way behind the couch to go upstairs. I felt like a complete weirdo, but I figured I could calm this down with a trip to the bathroom. At the same time I felt kind of bad, looking at Mom just sitting there with her phone all alone.
I walked up behind her and placed both hands on her shoulders. She leaned back and looked up at me. “We’ll watch something soon, I promise.”
She smiled and placed a soft hand on mine. “Sounds good.” That was the official end of my normal day.
I squeezed her shoulders slightly, and there was a click where my thumbs were between her shoulder blades. Mom’s eyes went wide with surprise as she dropped her phone. With a hiss a seam opened at the base of her neck. Her lips parted to say something, but before she could her head tumbled down to her lap in a mess of auburn hair. Her body settled a bit as all the muscles seemed to relax. Did I ……just kill my mom?
I stood frozen, trying to process what I was seeing. Where Mom’s neck had just been was now an open hole. Instead of blood or bone though, I saw a series of concentric circles consisting of wires, metal, connection ports, and a couple of plastic tubes at the center. A machine?
“Mmmm-Mhhhmmmm” The voice was coming from her lap. The head. At least “she” was “alive”.
I reached down and felt for the solid mass buried under the hair. Gently, I grabbed both sides of the noggin and lifted. I rotated her around to get a look at her face. She looked up at me with a guilty grin. “Mom?”
“Hey honey.” She was heavier then I though she’d be, but I cradled her as softly as I could.
“What’s going on here?”
She looked down as best she could at the bottom of her neck. “Well sweetie, I think you accidently pressed my manual release.”
I took a few steps back from the couch and started to pace. Mom’s head to glance around the room. “Were you a robot….this whole time….am I…a…”
“No Aaron, no! I guess I should come clean. Do you remember that contest they were having at work?”
“I think so…”
“Well, I won!” She beamed. “ As you can see, the prize was a personally customized house-bot. I kinda figured if it looked like me I could take a break every once in a while….without you noticing.”
Mom was off living the good life while I was stuck here at home? She has a life outside of here and work? I looked into the blue eyes I was holding.
“So your not my mom.” I said.
She looked a little hurt, “Well kinda, I’m not your original mom.”
“Where is Mom?”
“At the beach…”
“The beach? Seriously? When is she coming back?”
She bit her lip and looked in my eyes. “She had a hotel booked till next Sunday..”
She was taking a week off to enjoy the beach? While I was stuck here for school! What had gotten into her? I looked down into the blue eyes of my “Mom”. My annoyance evaporated almost instantly. I studied the face in my hands, it was so real. Too real. I held her up for a closer look. The pores, freckles, eyebrows, small imperfections, literally just like the real thing. Other than the talking head part.
“Hey sweetie, I understand you have a lot of questions right now. But could you help me out first? Could you put me back on? My body that is.” She sounded a little anxious. Maybe this wasn’t all bad. Maybe I could turn this weekend around.
“Hello? I just ne-whoa!”
I rotated her upside down to see the bottom of the neck. It mirrored a lot of what I saw on the body.
“Excuse me young man!”
Upon closer inspection, I saw some familiar sights. It looked like there was some kind of SD card slot and a USB slot.
“Aaron! Turn me around right now!” she commanded.
I rotated her back around. A face usually reserved for me when I flunked a test greeted me. Red and angry all over.
“Aaron! You could have dropped me!” she chided in an authentic mom voice. “You want to be stuck with a headless mom for a week? Hmmmmm?
“Sorry…” My eyes cast down reflexively. It was like being scolded by the real thing. But it wasn’t the real thing, this was a machine. I was in control. I smirked. “Actually, now that you mention it…a headless mom sounds pretty cool.”
“A headless mom sounds …….cool?” Confusion swept over her features. I flipped her over again. “Ahh! Aaron! What are you-” I prodded my finger under her neck, placing it on the switch. “If you press that switch-” I pressed it, “yoonnnggg mmaaan yooouuu……” I flipped her over as he voice slowed and slurred. Her eyes lost focus and her jaw went slack. I gripped her by the hair and held her up roughly, like an ancient warrior with a trophy.
“What to do, what to do?” I shook the head a few times. “Any ideas?” The only answer was heavy lidded eyes and a strand of fake saliva ran down the corner of her loose face.
Was the software in this thing compatible with my computer? Only one way to find out.