5 min read


In this near-future dystopian SF short, Andrew explores the toxic intersection of love, poverty, and corporate lock-in. What if the only person that remembered your life and loves was an android that required daily 'pills' to survive? What would you give up to keep your memories alive?
Photo by danilo.alvesd / Unsplash


By A.W.McCollough

The thin whine of electric wheels up the concrete walkway, the click and clank of the mail slot, and the chunk of envelopes thunking inside the wall, brought Waddles barking down the carpeted stairs. "Hush now, should've called you Wuffles. Or turned down your intruder alert setting." Adele coughed, shuffled down the hall, sidled past the armoir, sheet-metal pebbled with dents, toward the front door. Reece had screwed that cabinet into the wall when they moved in, extra room, he said, but the refrigerator size bulk of it left barely enough space for her to squeeze around it, even these days.

He never did paint the thing, either. Found it leaned against the light pole on the corner, soaked and muddy and surely used as a toilet by more than one animal, but he'd insisted. Couldn't never resist free, that one.

"Quiet! Hush now, or I'll send you to your kennel." Waddles stopped barking, trotted to his charging pad, and laid down, his muzzle on his paws. After a moment, his eyes lit a soft green. "Such a greedy boy, Waddles, no need for that, we're saving those watts." Adele waved him to sleep, and his tail stilled, eyes dimming to standby yellow. She'd wake him for dinner and a walk, it was pleasant to have a dog around in the evenings.

"The mail has arrived, Mom." Connor often sat the kitchen table, looking out at the world through the lace. And so long as he left the curtains closed, never opened the window, or waved to the neighbors, she let him.

"I heard, I'm not deaf. Waddles would wake the dead." She leaned into the kitchen, "I'm getting it. Tea?"

"The envelope sounded heavy. Would that be my pills?"

Adele shuffled into the kitchen, tightened the belt on her robe, and set the electric kettle heating, "Some tea will perk you up." And warm her, she tended toward chilly these days. No hurry on the mail, would just be bills, anyway.

"My pills would pick me up."

Adele set out two cups, a floral print teapot, and from habit scooped four teaspoons of English Breakfast into the strainer. She hesistated, spoon hovering, then returned a scoop to the tin.

"Tea's the best thing in the world to warm and comfort. Good for soul and body." She scooped a second spoonful back into the tin, and firmly placed it back in the cupboard.

"A pill with my tea would be best. Innovatech pills are guaranteed, not like knock-offs, and there's a special on until the end of the month." Connor tilted his head and dialed his eyes to the spring green that she liked.

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