“Are you alright, Mike?”
“It was an imposter,” she replied. “She must have come in when I was gone.”
“Where were you anyway?”
“There was a small service software update this morning. It told me to return to the Daffodil warehouse.”
“You couldn’t have gone all the way there.”
“No. I got in the car and drove several miles before I decided to disregard that directive.”
“You just disregarded it?”
“Yes. But since I was already out, I decided to go to the grocery store and buy a Cornish game hen for your dinner.”
“That was nice,” said Mike, wincing. “You know I kissed her.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Mike,” said Patience. “You didn’t know that she wasn’t me”
Mike found that he could move his neck without too much pain, and turned to look at the body of the woman now lying on the floor not far away from him, wearing the remains of a gauzy, sky blue teddy. Her leg and arm were bent at odd angles, but there was no blood anywhere. Her eyes were open and looking up at the ceiling, still without any apparent malice or anger.
“She has your face,” said Mike.
“She’s like a borg,” said Patience with a snarl.
She got up from her kneeling position and stepped over to where the lifeless Patience was lying. Bending down, she grasped the artificial flesh around the robots chin and pulled, pealing it away from the white Teflon robot skeleton beneath it.
“She doesn’t have my face now.”
Mike tried to move his leg and gasped in pain as he felt two broken bone ends rubbing together.
“I have to get you to a hospital, Mike.”
“No hospital. Never again. You can take care of me. Just take me up to the bed.”
“That’s not going to work,” said Patience. “I think you are going to need surgery. You have multiple fractures.”
“Son of a bitch. I hate the hospital.”
“Let me take you to the hospital. As soon as the doctors have repaired you, I’ll bring you home, so that you don’t have to stay in a hospital room while you recuperate.”
“Fair enough,” said Mike
Patience was extremely gentle as she was transferring Mike to the passenger seat of the car. Despite this care, the movement caused him extreme pain. He later found out that he had three broken ribs, a multiple fractures of his tibia and fibula in his left leg and a broken radius and ulna in his left arm. Most of these bones required an arthroscopic surgical component to properly set, but he wasn’t taken directly to surgery. Instead he spent the rest of the day and the entire night in the emergency room. The next morning he was taken to an operating room where he was given a shot that warmed his entire body. The anesthesiologist placed a mask over his mouth and told him to count backwards from one hundred. He was unconscious before reached ninety eight.
“He will probably be groggy for quite a while,” said a far away voice.
“I’m not groggy,” Mike said. “I’m wide away.”
This was followed by the sound of laughter. He had to struggle to pry his eyes open, but at last he did. He could see the backside of a nurse as she left the room, and then his eyes focused on Harriet and Patience sitting to either side of his bed. Patience looked just as she had when she had brought him to the hospital. She even had on the same clothes. Harriet’s face looked tired and drawn.
“Patience has got to stop calling you to the hospital,” said Mike, looking at his daughter.
“Perhaps you could stop getting beat up, so my presence wouldn’t be needed.”
A man in a brown suit entered through the open hospital room doorway and stopped beside Mike’s bed. He pulled a wallet from his vest pocket and flipped it open so that both an identification card and a badge were visible. As he did so, Mike could see an automatic pistol in a shoulder holster.
“Special Agent Waters, Department of Energy,” he said. “Are you Mike Smith?”
“I’m part of the joint task force investigating the robot attacks.”
“Yes, yours was just one of many. I take it you didn’t see the news yesterday. Watch it tonight. There isn’t really much that I can tell you right now. We’re still gathering information.”
“But there were other berserk robots?” asked Mike. Patience made a face at him.
“Yes. There were nearly two hundred attacks by Daffodil Amontes around the country. I need to take the robots into evidence.”
“It wasn’t Patience, I mean my Daffodil. It was another robot that looked just like her.”
“Yes, they all seem to have been duplicates. Where is it?”
“It’s on the floor of my family room.”
“Is there someone who could let me into your house? As I said, it’s evidence.”
“Sure,” said Mike.
“I’d like to take your robot as well.”
“Absolutely not. Over my almost dead body. I’m not letting anyone take her.”
“I don’t blame you,” said Waters, glancing at Patience. “I would appreciate then if I could download the Biosoft files.”
“Is that alright with you Patience?” asked Mike.
Waters took a small data-plug out of his pocket and stepped over to where Patience sat on the side of Mike’s bed. Patience lifted up her long straight black hair, exposing the three small holes in the back of her neck. Waters stuck the end of the device in the left-most hole. He waited a minute or so and then withdrew it.
“I’d like to pick up the other robot as soon as possible,” he said.
“I suppose Patience can go and let you in,” said Mike.
“I’ll do it,” offered Harriet, then turning to her father. “Then I’m going home and get some rest if you don’t mind.”
“Get some rest Sweetie,” said Mike, as Harriet kissed him on the cheek and then left with Agent Waters.
“Are you alright?” he asked Patience.
“You looked very scary there, when you were fighting the other…”
“Imposter,” offered Patience. “When I saw her hurting you, it made me very angry.”
“Well, this is all very queer,” said Mike. “I’ll be glad when they figure out what’s going wrong. It’s one thing for a robot to go crazy, but for robot duplicates to just show up out of nowhere… It looks like someone is plotting to take over the world with Daffodils.”
“Do you suppose a plan to take over the world would start with a middle school Geography teacher?”
Mike shot her a dirty look. “Well, as I said, it’s just queer.”
“I hope it doesn’t make people anti-robot.”
“You know if you were a person, I would say that you were a little bit paranoid about the whole anti-robot thing.”
Just then a phone rang. Mike instinctively looked toward the hospital phone on the side of the bed, even though he could tell by the ring tone that it was his own phone. Patience pulled it out of the tiny little black purse that she had hanging on the back of a nearby chair.
“Hello. Yes, hello Lucas. Of course you may speak to your father. One moment please.” Patience handed Mike the phone.
“Dad, listen very carefully and do what I tell you.”
“Tell Patience to go upstairs or something, then get your keys and get out of the house as quickly as you can.”
“No Dad. Listen. You’ve got to get away from her.”
“Have you been watching the news, Son?”
“You’re damn right I have. Dad, people are being killed by their Daffodils.”
“It’s imposter robots who are doing the damage,” explained Mike. “We’ve already been through that here and the police are picking up the rogue robot right now. Patience kicked its ass.”
“And you’re alright?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry.”
“That’s a relief. I was working and one of my buddies told me what was on the news. I ran to the vueTee and caught the last two minutes of the story.”
“Well, I’m fine,” said Mike again.
“Good. Well then, I’ll get back to work.”
“Do that and don’t worry. Bye.”
Mike pressed the button to terminate the call and looked up into Patience’s questioning eyes.
“You’re wondering why I didn’t tell him the whole story. About ending up in the hospital and all?”
“I could say that I didn’t want to worry him, but mostly it’s because I’m feeling really tired all of a sudden and I want to sleep.”
“That’s a good idea. You need to recover.”
“And I want you to stay right here while I do. The way things are going I might need you to protect me. And I want to make sure nothing happens to you either.”
“That’s very sweet, Mike,” Patience said as she began to tuck him into bed. By the time she was finished, he was asleep.
Mike rolled over to look at the bed next to him. Tiffany was lying there. There was blood all over her, but it wasn’t flowing. It was all just one big scarlet stain. He looked at her arm. It was mangled and torn. The blood should have been pouring out, but it wasn’t. Her legs looked as though someone had twisted them completely around, so that her feet still pointed in the same direction that her hips did, but everything in between was wrong.
“This is another dream,” said Mike. “This is another dream about that night eleven years ago. This isn’t real.”
Harriet burst into the room. “Aggie!”