-- 11:05 AM, October 9 --
Sheriff Joseph Bennett quietly considered the woman seated in front of his desk. She was dressed professionally, with a soft blue dress going down to her knees, and a modest-but-not-too-modest neckline. Bennett imagined it was easy to find clothes that fit perfectly on a precision-manufactured body.
Bennett put on his reading glasses, looked down, and began summarizing out loud from the resumé he held. "Theresa Lynn, thirty-one years of age, six as a robot..." "I prefer the term 'fembot', sir." Theresa interrupted. Bennett stopped, looked up at Theresa, then back down. "...fembot." Bennett corrected himself. "Good marks at the academy, followed by eight years with Metro Police, during which you got your full-body replacement." Bennett looked up again. "May I ask if it was for personal or professional reasons?" Theresa was pretty sure he wasn't allowed to ask that during a job interview, but she didn't mind the breach of protocol. "A bit of both, sir." Bennett nodded and looked back down. "Quickly reached the rank of sergeant. Decorations for community service and meritorious police duty." He looked back up, "I spoke with Captain Moreno back at Metro. He said you were seriously wounded in the line of duty, but you refused to be awarded a Purple Shield. May I ask why?" "Well, I was already a fembot at that time. So even though my arm had been destroyed, I wasn't in any pain, and I wasn't in any real danger. The next day, the arm had already been replaced. I just didn't feel right accepting it. Purple Shields should go to heroes, you know?"
Bennett nodded thoughtfully. "I see your point, but Captain Moreno says you still deserve it." He leaned back in his chair and put down the resumé. "Eight years of exemplary service in the big city, and now you're transferring out here to Lovell County. Cows outnumber people ten-to-one. We have two traffic lights. Life is good here, but it's different from what you may be accustomed to. Are you sure this is what you're looking for?" "Two?!" Theresa feigned shock before leaning forward with a wry smile, "I remember when there were zero traffic lights." Bennett raised an eyebrow. "Oh, you're from here?" "I grew up in Bucktail." "Huh, no kiddin'?" Bennett smiled. His biggest concern had been that the promising new Sergeant would undergo a massive culture shock, and this set his mind at ease. "So this is 'home' for you, then?" "Yep. I'm no stranger to these parts."
"Well good, that'll do nicely." Bennett nodded, shifting his position and causing the old desk chair to creak noisily. He paused, searching for the right words to say, then broke the silence. "Sergeant Lynn, you would be the first roboticized officer in Lovell County. Most folks here haven't even met someone with a full-body replacement. I freely admit I'm pretty unfamiliar with the subject myself, so pardon me if my next few questions sound ignorant." He paused again, then: "What can we expect from a fembot officer like you? What are the advantages and disadvantages I need to be aware of when hiring a fembot such as yourself?" "You saw the specifications I included with my job application?" "Yeah yeah, I got all that." He said, grabbing a stack of papers and flipping through them. Physical capabilities, sensing capabilities, system limitations. Technological mumbo-jumbo. I understood some of it. I want to hear it from you. What, in your opinion, are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?" "Well, I have enhanced reflexes, a perfect memory, and... well there are so many differences. I'm a machine. Hopefully I can be used to help people."
Theresa winced. The phrasing has been a subconscious tic on her part. She was getting more and more accustomed to thinking of herself as an object to be used. Sometimes talking like that made other people uncomfortable. If Sheriff Bennett had picked up on the verbal slip, he gave no indication. "Are your housing accommodations taken care of?" "Yep, I'm living with a friend until I get a place of my own." "Good, good. So when can you start?" "Tomorrow, I guess." "Well, your uniform will be here the day after tomorrow, so take tomorrow off." Theresa beamed. "Yes sir!" "And call me Joe."
-- 4:50 PM, October 9 --
Debbie arrived at her home, a single-story ranch house at the end of a long dirt road. She parking her pickup truck next to Theresa's car. The gray behemoth dwarfed Theresa's sporty little coupe. She knew that if it rained, there was a chance that Theresa would get stuck in the mud, and Debbie would need to tow her out.
Debbie opened the unlocked door and took off her shoes. "Hello!" she said, cheerfully. "Hellooo!" came Theresa's reply, from the other room. Debbie walked over to the doorway and stopped quick. "Theresa, what are you doing?" "Some housecleaning. I got here early so I figured I'd tidy up a little. I decided to download a robot maid program and run it." "Is it... a sexy robot maid program?" "No, just a regular one I think. Why?" "Because... you're not wearing clothes."
Theresa looked down and gasped. She was completely topless, dressed only in a short skirt with nothing underneath. She quickly covered herself up. "Ohmygod, I don't even remember taking them off!" Wait, that wasn't exactly true. Theresa did remember taking them off. She just hadn't thought it was strange at the time. She was just dutifully obeying her program when she disrobed, neatly folded her clothes, and put them on her bed. Theresa let out a squeak and dashed into her room, followed by the sound of Debbie's raucous laughter.
A few minutes later, with the sexy maid program disabled and her clothes back on, Theresa sheepishly stepped out into the living room. She would be bright red if she wasn't a fembot. Debbie had poured herself some wine and was surfing social media on her phone, lounging comfortably on her couch. She looked up at Theresa with a broad smile. "Goddamn, that was funny." Theresa sighed and plopped down at the other end of the couch. "Yeah, I guess."
Theresa and Debbie had been close friends since childhood. It wasn't the first time Debbie had seen her exposed like that, but this particular circumstance had added a new level of comedic embarrassment. Theresa slouched. "Since you're letting me stay here, I just thought I'd help out around the house, ya know? Try to make it up to you for doing me such a big favor." Debbie took a gulp of wine. "Ohh you don't have to do anything. I like having you here, and we've got a lot of catching up to do."
-- 9:15 PM, October 9 --
"So I've heard that when people get roboticized, it does strange things to their sexual cravings. Is it true?" Theresa sighed, she knew this was going to come up. Debbie was partly through her second bottle of wine, and when Debbie was buzzed she was a very uninhibited conversationalist. "It's mostly true. Becoming a machine often changes the way we look at sex, or who we're attracted to. It's different from person to person." "I've heard that sometimes they become sex-crazed nymphomaniacs."
Theresa winced. It had happened to her. In the days following her rehabilitation, she had an implacable urge to masturbate. She would plug herself into the wall and play with herself all night long, not needing sleep. After a week of such intense activity, her pelvis had shorted out, and she had to call her roboticist. He hadn't needed to ask how it happened, it was obvious from the damage. He had adjusted her software and it wasn't a problem anymore. All in all it was a deeply embarrassing situation that she didn't feel like sharing. "In rare cases, but they're easy to fix."
Debbie paused, looking mildly disappointed, then spoke up again. "And how about you? Did anything change?" "This is going to sound silly. Before the switch, I sorta had a fetish for manbots. Remember that guy who ran for mayor a few years ago? I had a huge crush on guys like that. But now that I'm the one in a robot body, I'm only interested in normal humans. Weird, huh?" "Yeah, that is weird." Debbie nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe it's, like, an attraction to the idea of a robot fucking a human." Theresa blinked. That was a pretty keen observation made by someone who was so drunk. But then, wine does tend to make armchair psychologists out of people. "Also, I think I've been getting more... flexible. About some things." Debbie leaned toward her. Theresa had her absolute, undivided attention. "What kind of... things?" "I used to just be attracted to guys. Now I think might be... becoming more... flexible. About that."
Debbie's eyes lit up. It was exactly what she had wanted to hear. "Have I ever told you I'm... bisexual?" she asked, conspiratorially. "I believe you have." Only every time you drink. "You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?" "I'm thinkin' you're drunk and horny." Debbie took another gulp of wine. "Guilty as charged." "I'm thinkin' we shouldn't sleep together." "Awww, why not? You said you were flexible. You said you were into normal humans." Debbie spread her arms, spilling a little wine from the glass she held. "Here I am!" "I said I might be flexible. Maybe. Eventually. Just... let me figure things out at my own pace, okay?" Debbie deflated with a sigh, "Okay."
An icon appeared in Theresa's vision. "Whoops, my battery is low. Time for me to hit the hay." "That reminds me, is my electric bill gonna go up?" "Probably, yeah. But look at the bright side: I'm not gonna eat your food or drink your wine. Debbie raised her glass in salute. "I'll drink to that!"
Theresa stepped into her room, closing the door behind her. She was much more self-conscious about undressing than she had been earlier, unknowingly playing the role of a sexy robot maid. She wasn't troubled by Debbie's drunken proposition. This had happened before. Theresa was confused by something else: this time, she had actually considered it. Was that okay? How would it change their friendship? Her battery indicator beeped in her ear. She was thinking about it too much. Her computerized mind consumed power at a faster rate when her CPUs were busier than usual. Theresa opened a discreet panel at her waist, exposing a retractable power cable. She plugged into the nearby outlet, then laid in bed, pulling the covers over her. She briefly considered spending more time thinking about Debbie, but she wasn't in the mood, so she entered a low-powered sleep mode.
-- 11:30 PM, October 9 --
Theresa's motion sensors triggered, and she regained consciousness. She was confused for a few milliseconds until she understood what was happening: Debbie was climbing into bed with her. Theresa was shocked. Debbie had always respected her boundaries before! Debbie wriggled her way under the covers, and put her arm around Theresa's waist. Debbie! Theresa thought angrily, You've gone too far! You can't just do this after I've said no! You... what is that sound? Debbie was snoring. Theresa rolled her eyes. She changed her motion sensor settings so she wouldn't be woken by Debbie's movements, and then she entered sleep mode again.
--2:55 PM, October 12--
Yesterday had technically been Theresa's first day on the job, though it was really just filling out paperwork, going through orientation, being issued her badge and equipment, meeting the staff, and other mundane activities. Today, as far as she was concerned, was the real first day was on the job. If Theresa had been some fresh-faced rookie she would surely have been riding with someone else in the patrol car, but Sheriff Joe was very confident in her experience, and as short-staffed as the Lovell County Sheriff's Department was, pairing her up seemed like a waste of resources.
Theresa stepped out of the patrol car. Ahead of her, another car was pulled over to the side. A routine traffic stop. She had radioed in the licence plate, and it returned that it belonged to Dorothy Sanfred, age 71. An image of Dorothy's driver's license photo appeared in Theresa's vision as she approached the driver's window. The window rolled down revealing that the driver was, indeed, Dorothy Sanfred. "Hello ma'am, may I see your registration and proof of insurance, please?" The elderly woman looked up and down Theresa with a surprised look on her face. "Are you a robot?" "Yes ma'am." Dorothy looked confused. "I don't want to talk to a robot, I want to talk to a real police officer." "I am a real officer, ma'am. Sergeant Lynn, Lovell County Sheriff's Department." she said, pointing to her badge. "May I see your registration and proof of insurance, please?" Theresa's response seemed to confuse the woman even more. "I don't want to talk to a robot, I want to talk to a real police officer." Dorothy said again, a bit more quietly this time. Theresa rolled her eyes and sighed. Forget it. It's not worth it. "Ma'am, I just want you to know that your driver's side brake light is out. You need to get this fixed, okay?" Dorothy's eyes widened in surprise. "Oh, I had no idea! I'll take care of it right away. I'm sorry, I really didn't know!" "That's okay ma'am. You have a nice day, now." Theresa turned and strolled back to the patrol car. Back in the city, most people had seen roboticized police officers at some point or another, but out here she was an oddity. People react to new things in ways that are sometimes hard to predict. This traffic stop was mundane, but she decided to be on her guard in case someone reacted more dramatically. Theresa had spent her whole career working on her people skills, yet now more than ever she felt like some kind of alien.
-- 5:56 PM, October 12 --
Theresa sat at her desk, filling out paperwork. The movies and TV shows always leave out how much paperwork there is for cops, and it only gets worse as you move up the ranks. Fortunately for Theresa, robots are excellent at mundane, repetitive tasks, so she swiftly filled out reports without mental or physical fatigue. She heard a groan from 30 feet away. There, officer Chuck Donovan gave an exasperated sigh. "The stupid copier is at it again. Sergeant Lynn, is there anything you can do? Have a conversation with it, machine-to-machine?" Theresa did not look up from her work. "The copier and I are not on speaking terms. He was seeing the coffee maker behind my back, that harlot!" Donovan shook his head, "I always knew the copier was bad. But treachery? That's low." He stooped down to attempt to clear the latest paper jam. Moments later, Sergeant Cho stopped at Theresa's desk with a serious look on her face. "Joe says he wants to talk with you." Theresa nodded, put down her pen and got up to enter Sheriff Joe's office.
Sheriff Joe Bennett wore a stern expression as Theresa stepped into the office. She stopped short. "Sir"? "Close the door and sit down please." She did as instructed. Bennett leaned back in his creaky chair. "My sweet old aunt Dot says she was stopped by some kinda robot wearing a police uniform on highway 56. Would you know anything about that?" "Dot... Dorothy Sanfred? Yeah, that was me." She paused, worried that she was in some kind of trouble. "Is that a... problem?" Bennett silently wore his stern expression for a couple more seconds, until it broke and he flashed a big smile. "Nope, not at all." Theresa breathed a sigh of relief as Bennett started laughing "Did I scare ya?" "You really had me going there!" Bennett leaned back, amused. "She says you were very professional and polite." "Oh, well that's... nice." It was certainly not the kind of feedback she had expected from that traffic stop. "All right, that's all," he said with a dismissive wave, "I'm just giving you a hard time. Keep on doing your thing."
Theresa stepped out of the office to see Sergeant Cho standing there was a big grin on her face. She was obviously in on the joke. "Ya got me." Theresa confessed, in mock exasperation. Cho laughed. "Joe does that kind of thing to everybody. So, uh, now that you've been initiated, do you wanna join some of us at Scooter's after your shift?" "Scooter's" was a bar. Theresa had seen it from the outside, but never gone in. "Sure. Who's coming?" "Probably just me, Donovan, and Sergeant Brewster. Have you met Brewster yet?" Theresa shook her head. Cho stroked her chin. "I guess you wouldn't have, yet. He's been off duty the last couple of days. Anyway, he's cool. He's a cyborg, by the way." Theresa saw Cho look her up and down. "Not his whole body, just his legs... maybe some more? I'm not sure. He's always wearing pants, so..." Cho trailed off, starting to blush. "...anyway, be there at 6:30?" "I'll be there."
-- 6:28 PM, October 12 --
Despite its modest exterior in a not-too-fancy neighborhood, Scooter's was actually a pretty well-kept establishment. An array of TVs showed mostly sports programming, either live games or commentary with subtitles on. The atmosphere was subdued since none of the local fan-favorite teams were playing. Theresa and Cho approached the bar where Chuck Donovan sat next to another, taller man. Theresa sat down next to Donovan. Cho sat on Theresa's other side. Donovan turned, "Ah, you came. Sergeant Lynn, this is Ted Brewster. Ted, this is Sergeant Lynn." "Call me Theresa." "Hi, uh, call me Ted. Welcome to the force. Is Sheriff Joe already messing with you?" "Oh yeah, the typical stuff." Cho interjected. Ted smiled. "Good. You'll fit right in." "So, wait," Theresa threw up her hands in exaggerated dismay, "was Dorothy really Joe's aunt, or not?" "Yes, she really is Joe's aunt, and no, she wasn't acting." Cho said, placatingly. "She really did call Joe to say there was a robot roaming around impersonating a cop. Joe decided this was the perfect way to mess with you. He's got a weird sense of humor like that." "Swell." Theresa's voice pretended she was annoyed, but her smile told the real story. It was actually a funny and harmless practical joke. She might really enjoy this new beat. "So who's buying the first round?" "I've got this one," Donovan volunteered. He nodded to the bartender, "I'll have the usual. Ted..." He looked over to Ted, who nodded. "Same for Ted." "I'll have the seasonal ale," Cho piped up. "And she..." Donovan looked at Theresa and paused awkwardly. "Erm, I guess you don't drink." Theresa grinned and turned confidently to the bartender. "I'll have a double vodka, neat."
The bartender nodded and set off to mix drinks. Donovan leaned away from Theresa and raised his hands apolegetically. "Sorry, I thought robots, I mean fembots, didn't drink." Theresa smiled. "For the most part, you're right. But vodka is different. You know what's in vodka?" Donovan shrugged. "Nothing. It's just alcohol, right?" Theresa nodded. "Exactly. It's a solution of ethyl alcohol and distilled water. The ethanol can fuel my power cells, and the water is useful for cooling. No additives, no waste. Vodka is great that way, it's a pure spirit that won't clog up my pipes." Ted nodded sagely, as if he had always known this fact. Donovan was astonished. "Oh sorry, I didn't know. That's cool!"
A few minutes later, as they finished their drinks amid small talk, Cho could no longer contain her laughter. "You didn't actually believe that, did you?" Donovan looked up. "Believe what?" "That Sergeant Lynn powers her fuel cells with vodka!" Cho said, pounding the bar as her laughter reached the point of hysteria. Donovon looked pleadingly to Theresa. "But..." "I'm not powered by fuel cells, I'm powered by batteries!" Theresa said with myrth. "I've got a nickel-ion battery the size of a beer can right here" she said, sticking a thumb in the middle of her chest. "I've got smaller ones in my arms, legs, and head too." Ted nodded sagely, as if he had always known this fact. Donovan sputtered. "...but then why the vodka?" "To mess with you." For a moment, Donovan looked deflated, but then his good humor returned to him. He raised his hands in surrender. "I admit, ya got me. I'll get the next round too." "No no no, I owe you one," Theresa said placatingly while nodding to the bartender, who had already spotted their empty glasses and was moving in their direction.