by Taryn Alynn

Snow! Snow! Snow! The cursed white stuff is the reason that we are still in school on June 28th. After the ten days of missed school due to that one, crummy blizzard back in early March, we will be finally released from this prison they call a home to education on Friday, July 1st.

Enough ranting, however. Today was rather interesting. Not necessarily for what happened concerning school, but for what happened at school. I know that sounds a little confusing, but let me explain. First of all, five months ago my best friend of ten years moved away. We still keep in touch, but it’s not the same, you know? Well, anyway, the house he occupied was one house down on the opposite side of the street. Almost immediately after he and his family vacated the house, a new family moves in. At this point my mother is all abuzz about making new friends and such, and meeting the new neighbors, but, get this, the new neighbors are a young couple in their early thirties who have one girl about my age. Now, this girl and I really have never talked. In fact, she is totally quiet. She almost never talks at school, and as far as I know has no friends. The one time I went over there the two parents gave me a snack and sent me on my way home. Of course, what has to complicate matters is the fact that I am madly in love with this girl. She is sixteen, one year younger than me, but she skipped a grade (so I’m told) so she is in my grade, eleventh. She has long, gorgeous reddish orange hair that goes down to the end of her back which she always wears tied back in a ponytail, making her face look rather large. Her eyes are pure blue and they are accentuated by the numerous freckles on her face. She is just a little short for her age, but then again, so am I, so we are around the same height. Now, I would love to get to know this girl, but since I drive and she takes the bus, we usually don’t see each other. Once I see her get home (if I happen to get to my house before the bus) I see her walk directly into her house and never come out again. She was one strange girl. Not only that, but the way she talked was slightly monotone, and she walked a little funny, almost stiff-legged, like she couldn’t bend her knees. I’d worked up the nerve to talk to her a few times, but she had only responded curtly and then walked away.

I rant again, I see…well, what happened that was interesting was mainly the result of me taking the bus. My dad needed to use my car, as his was in the shop. So, I told him that I would not mind riding the bus at all. Besides the nostalgia factor (it had been over a year since I had ridden the bus) I would try once again to talk to my dream girl. By the way, in case I forget to mention it again, her name is Lindsay. Well, anyway, after school, I made sure she got on the bus first. Then, I slowly and nonchalantly boarded the bus myself. I spied that she was sitting alone, so I sat down next to her. She was staring out the window, so I couldn’t see her reaction. I made myself look busy by making sure that I had everything in my bag, as this was the end of the year. I noticed she was wearing denim overalls and a red and white striped shirt. I thought she must be burning up! I was wearing black shorts and a black t-shirt and I was pretty hot myself. So far she had not acknowledged my presence. She just continually kept that blank stare as she looked out the window. I could see her eyes reflect on the glass. I wondered what she was thinking. I became so engrossed in watching her that I heard a squealing noise and nearly jumped out of my seat. It was the driver closing the door.

After we pulled out of the school, I waited until we reached the main road before I attempted anything. As we attained a comfortable cruising speed I made my move.

"Lindsay?" I asked hesitantly.

She turned around to face me. "Yes?" she asked, with that monotone and slight lisp.

"I was wondering, if you weren’t doing anything after school, if maybe, we could go somewhere and hang out," I said haltingly.

"No," she said curtly and spun her head around to face the window, whipping her hair into my mouth. Then, she turned back around and tried to say something, at least that’s how it appeared, but nothing came out of her mouth. Then, I heard something that seemed to come from her back or stomach that sounded like a modem, and then something that I usually only heard when my computer was really mad at me. Then, apparently very flustered, she turned back around to the window with a very puzzled look on her face.

We reached our stop soon after, and I walked out rather slowly. After I disembarked, I watched Lindsay walk to her house. It seemed that today her stiff-legged walk was even more pronounced than ever! I watched as she struggled with the door and as she slowly made her way inside. Then I turned around and went into my own house.

Later that night, as the sun was about to disappear from the horizon, and after many hours going over the puzzling events of the day, I decided to go over to that house and ask if Lindsay was okay. I was genuinely concerned! I took my key ring in case someone decided to shut the deadbolts on me and exited my house. I slowly walked over to Lindsay’s house, savoring the twilight air. My original plan called for me to walk to the front door, but I heard a rather odd noise toward the back of the house, so I decided to check it out first. I figured my cat might have followed me over here. As I reached the back yard, the last rays of sunlight glinted off of something very red and shiny. I noticed it was Lindsay’s hair! She was sitting on a stool, and her overalls were undone, falling down to slightly above her waist. Her back was to me, but I didn’t realize that at first. Since her hair was re-routed over her shoulder instead of down her back, and her shirt was held up by something unseen, and all I could see was what looked like a circuit board, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. The more I looked, the more I became certain. There was a circuit board in Lindsay’s back! That would explain the computer-like sounds I heard today. Towering over Lindsay, I saw the man that was apparently her father. He had a screwdriver, and he appeared to be unscrewing something. After a good five minutes of finagling with the tool, he plucked out a chip and placed it on what appeared to be a workbench. Then, he covered up most of the circuit board, leaving only the bottom free. He reached in, and pulled a plug out. He inserted the plug into a wall outlet near his workbench. Finally, he shut off the lights in his workroom and walked into the main part of the house, where a multitude of lights were on. I ducked quickly to avoid exposure.

Lindsay’s father (his name, I believe, was Mr. Robertson) ended up in the kitchen, where his wife (presumably Mrs. Or Ms. Robertson) was seated at the "island" in the kitchen. Mr. Robertson sat down next to his wife and I saw his lips begin to move. As the windows were open, I sneaked forward to see if I could hear.

"…Apparently it was the tracking chip, honey," Mr. Robertson said.

"What about it?" Mrs. Robertson asked.

"Well, it seems as if the tracking signals were interfering with her normal electrical transmissions," he said.

"What could have caused it? A bump? A jolt?" she asked.

"Could be, but that’s to be expected in everyday life. If she can’t handle it, she can’t handle the world," he said.

"I guess you’re right. This robot is headed for the scrap heap!" she agreed.

"I’ll handle it first thing tomorrow. You know, it at least we were able to make her cognizant of who she was. It must be the small organic nerves. She knows she’s a robot, even though she is 99% artificial! I left her charging in the workroom. She’ll need to finish out the year here…then we can decided on a further plan of action. You know, how we’ll make it look real and such," he said.

"Okay, hon. Now, about this weeks shopping trips…" she trailed off as I left the kitchen window and headed around back.

No one was going to hurt the girl I loved, never mind kill her! Especially one who thinks she’s human! I reached the back door and drew my key ring silently from my pocket. I had keys to all the houses along my street on my ring. Everyone was on the neighborhood watch. I stealthily opened the door and walked into the workroom. This was added on after the family bought the house. I made my way over to Lindsay, feeling weirder and weirder as I neared her. The first thing I did was pull the plug. Immediately, her once blank eyes snapped into focus, and the cord was pulled from my hand and sucked into her back, where two panels I had not seen before snapped shut.

"Daddy! I’m ready for school…hey, why is it so dark in here?" she said.

"I’m not daddy. I’m Brian, from across the street," I said, not knowing what kind of reaction I would get.

"You mean, it’s not morning?" Lindsay asked me, in the monotone.

"No, in fact, it’s around 8:30 at night," I told her.

"Wow…I’ve never been up this late," Lindsay told me. Her voice was strange, as I could definitely pick up emotional inflections, but it was still rather flat.

"Let me strap up your overalls," I told her and I unclipped her shirt (there were several small plastic clips holding it up) and then I brought her overall straps back up across her shoulders. Then, I took her hand and brought her to a standing position. "Listen. Your dad and mom are going to kill you, and we have to get out of here!"

"K-k-kill me? Why?" she asked me, with a very innocent, sad look in her eyes.

"Because you must have gotten bumped or something today, but your homing chip malfunctioned, and they know that if it happened once it can happen again. Luckily, he didn’t put your chip back in," I said.

"Why?" she asked me.

"You’ll see," I told her. "Come with me."

She stood up, and stiffly followed me to the door. I opened it, she went through, and then I shut it quietly behind me. I led her to my car, and after fishing through my key ring, found the car key and opened the door. I told her to wait there for five minutes. She agreed, and I rushed into the house through our back door. I quickly packed a suitcase full of clothes for me, and then packed a few things from my twin sister Megan, who was at boarding school right now. Then, I took some other necessary things like my life savings (stored in a small box under my bed) and wrote a note explaining what I was about to do. It would be the most daring thing I’d ever done. Then I ran back out to the car, where Lindsay was still waiting. I threw the suitcase in the small back seat (I drove a 1980s Toyota Supra) and hopped in the driver’s side. I turned the key and the engine started. I revved it, and then drove off with Lindsay, my dream girl, next to me.

"Where are we going?" she asked me.

"I don’t know…I don’t know," I said as we left our houses behind.


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