Chip slept on and off, never deeply. At first he stayed close to Marla, but she had gotten up in the night and plugged herself into a charger. She had remained unresponsive after that. The makeshift connection caused a loud hum as electricity streamed into her body.
In his restlessness he explored the otherwise common apartment. No TV or anything like that to amuse him, and he wasn't going to start fooling around with Lorinda's stuff. He had a bit more to eat and took a long hot shower.
Marla began to stir. He got dressed and met her at the foot of the bed with a soapy rag, a bucket and a smile.
"Water can damage my parts." she said dimly.
"Don't worry baby. I know what I'm doing." he reassured her. He squeezed the water from the cloth and gently wiped away spots of dirt. Some wouldn't come off, like the dents that had a ground metal tint to them.
The cloth cleaned her from her toes to her head, all the while he gazed back at her head, wishing she could show an expression. No lips to quiver, no eyelids to widen, just silicon and solder.
Chip's silent handiwork was giving her quite a sensual workout, but her body didn't respond in kind. As he worked on a smudge on the edge of her cheek, he asked in her ear "Can your body be programmed to respond to my touch?"
"I have millions of sensors in my skin. Most of them have been overloaded and damaged, so my sense of touch has been deactivated."
"I really wish I could fix you."
"Why? If you want to have sex with an android, shouldn't you buy a new one?"
"I don't see it that way." he said, holding her hand. "I'm holding your hand now, by the way."
"I know. I'm watching you."
"But you're looking up."
"I can see all around me."
"Tell me what you know about yourself." He said. "And rollover, I have to clean your backside."
Marla rolled on to her front and began talking about her body. Chip turned her head to the side so he could hear.
"My name is Marla. I am number 2536. That number means that I was the two-thousand five-hundred and thirty-sixth android made."
"M-hmm." He nodded.
"My silicone skin covers silicone padding and a rigid humanoid frame made from a plastic-metal alloy. My joints can move in a wider range of motion and faster than a human's. I have stereo optical sensors, audio equipment, and chemical analyzing components in my head. My processor is located inside my chest. It can perform 11.3 trillion calculations per second. Memory cores within my limbs and other places can store 38.6 terra bytes of information. I am able to communicate with almost any computerized wireless network."
His hands steered clear of tape and openings on her back as he got a hard on. He wanted to fuck her, but feared not to unless she was sanitized.
"You're amazing, babe. Who made you?"
"I don't know. I can't access parts of my memory."
"Do you know what happened to you?"
She stopped talking for a bit then about a dozen times said "Access denied."
"You ok? Marla are you still with me?"
"Sorry about that. I'm not working right." she said after another long break.
By now, he had gotten most of the dirt off. "See, I told you I wouldn't damage you." he said. "I didn't damage you, did I."
"I can't run a system check."
"Sit up." he said as he put the rag and the bucket away and sat on the bed.
She sat with stiff posture looking ahead. "Thank you for cleaning me." she said boldly.
"You're very welcome." he chimed. "Why don't we dress you up in some clothes?"
"Well, why not?"
He squeezed her knee and got up to open the dresser. He got out some things to cover her. He layed them out on the bed for her and stood back.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" he asked.
"I don't know how to put clothes on."
"I don't know how to put clothes on."
"I heard you the first time." he said. "Why is that?"
"I'm not programmed to."
"Well, here, I'll help you." he said. He knelt beside her and pulled a pair of panties over her feet. He got those over her knees and put on some socks. Jeans went over her feet next. He asked her to stand and did everything up.
Sitting her back on the bed, he put a large bra on her, but took it off and went for the natural look with a t-shirt and sweater. He straightened out her hair and pulled her by the hand to the washroom mirror.
He put his hands on her shoulders and said "There that's how you do it. You look very beautiful." He kissed her neck.
The front door opened, and Lorinda hurriedly got in. Chip stepped out of the washroom to see her. She unwrapped her coat from her right arm. It was half torn off and burnt, leaving wires and metal parts dangling from it.
Calmly, she glided past Chip into her bedroom. "We will be leaving soon, get ready."
Chip watched her as she sat at a small table, laying her damaged limb on it. From an opening in her chest she pulled a small metal tool, and began working the arm with it.
"Why did you dress Marla?" she asked.
"Oh, I... well I thought she would look better."
"It was good you did, it will save us time. Marla is coming with us."
"Where are we going?"
"Your tracking devices must be destroyed. We're going to completely demolish them." She looked at him as she said this, her hand still using the tool to disconnect the arm. Her hand put down the tool and grabbed the right elbow, pulling away the damaged part. She threw it into a shopping bag on the floor.
"Have you eaten?" she asked.
"Yeah, how long are we going to be gone?"
He watched Lorinda's next operation, injecting a pink viscus fluid into an opened panel above her crotch. It was pumped with a long needle tipped hose out of a WD-40 can. After a few seconds, she was done. She straightened out her clothes, grabbed the bag and walked back to the front door, looking at Chip as she walked by him.
"This way, Marla." Lorinda said. Marla obeyed and walked past Chip to the door. He followed and got his shoes. Lorinda threw her balled up jacket into the bag too. Chip could see it was covered with the same pink liquid.
Putting on another coat, Lorinda ordered Marla to put shoes on, and pulled something out of another bag on a hook. It was a latex Marilyn Monroe mask and wig. Lorinda put it on Marla's head as she stood. It fit rather well. A pair of dark sunglasses completed the look, and the trio were on there way to the elevator.
Marla looked strange, but at least it wasn't obvious that she was a robot. The elevator and the lobby were full of people, a few staring at her. The three cut to the parkade door and quickly came upon Lorinda's car. Chip sat next to Marla in the back.
Out of the building, and down side streets to the industrial part of town they went. No one spoke on the short trip.
They pulled into one of the lots. Lorinda took off her jacket and put it in the car. She grabbed the shopping bag and headed for the front door.
They stepped into a spartan looking lobby with a robot girl at the desk. She was skin coloured, but clunky and geometric looking. She moved roboticaly as she got up and greeted the visitors.
The robot was dressed in an ill fitting skirt and coat, showing off her inhuman looking joints. A matted blonde wig was stuck on the top of her head. Her hips swung out oddly as she walked in an arc over to them. An artificial voice came out of her head as her mouth started moving.
"WELCOME TO THE RAWLING STEEL FOUNDRY. THE RAWLING STEEL FOUNDRY IS AN AUTOMATED FACTORY. ALL OF OUR ROBOTS ARE MADE BY HONDA. I AM A K-50."
"We don't have time for this. Let's go." Lorinda said, brushing past the Honda on her way to a hallway.
The robot receptionist changed modes. "YOU ARE TRESPASSING ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. IF YOU PROCEED THE AUTHORITIES WILL BE ALERTED."
Lorinda turned quickly and stared at the robot for almost a minute. After the silence, some clicks and a beep came from inside her, and she said "WE WILL BEGIN THE TOUR NOW. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR SAFETY BOOTS, HAT, EAR PROTECTION, AND GOGGLES." She turned and strutted stiffly down the hall while the other three rushed passed her onto the floor.
They lost sight of the tour-giving robot as they hurried up the cage stairs to the mezzanine. All around them, automated devices moved and slid around, making a thunderous constant roar of mechanical and metal parts. Sparks flew everywhere as Chip struggled to get upstairs, finding it hard to keep up with the girls.
He was sweating heavily when he got to the top. He caught his breath as he got close enough to see what Lorinda was doing. She was standing at the edge of a massive vat of molten steel. Chip couldn't believe she could stand the blazing heat. She dropped the shopping bag into the glowing orange mass. It was flaming before it hit the surface. It certainly was a good way to destroy something without leaving a trace.
"Chip, come here." Lorinda shouted. Chip got closer.
"Throw the watch in." she commanded.
He felt a bit of fear for Leena come over him as he undid the strap and took a last look at the watch. He thought about the sunglasses in his pocket. He wanted to keep them so he didn't mention them, and hoped Lorinda wouldn't.
"Hurry, this heat is bad for my body." she scolded.
Chip pitched in the watch. It made a little burst of flame.
"Hold out your arm. Pull back your sleeve." she said.
He did so, and watched a beam shoot out of Lorinda's eyes at his tracking bracelet. The beam cut the strap and the bracelet fell, beeping loudly. It fell right through the grilled floor to the level below.
"Don't worry about that, the cops are coming now anyway." Lorinda said, coming close to him. "Next..." she said, as she looked at his temple and fired a short burst to his head.
Chip gasped as she calmly put her finger to his head and pulled out the implant. "Don't worry, the skin is just broken." She flicked the small device into the vat.
"One more..." she said as she pressed her mouth on his. Her tongue pushed into his mouth as the tip extended down into his stomach. Before he could realise what was going on, she pulled back the tongue, with another little chip stuck on the end. She turned her head and spat it in.
"That's all of them. Marla, jump in." she shouted.
Marla didn't say anything, but started walking toward the edge.
"No!" Chip yelled, and ran in front of her.
"Marla, you must be destroyed. Get in." Lorinda commanded.
Without a moment to lose Chip lunged at her. They fell down on the edge of the vat. Chip rolled off her, at the same time kicking her in. Her legs went in as her hand reached for something to hold. Her feet were on fire as she caught chip by his fingers.
Her grip got tighter as her body started to burn. She looked Chip in the eye as his heart skipped a beat.
Expecting a laser, he felt the pull on his body ease. Lorinda, minus her remaining arm, fell unmoving into the steel. A Massive burst of flame shot up as the body was swallowed up by the metal.
"Marla, come with me!" Chip shouted as he raced back to the staircase, trying to pry the arm from his hand. Marla followed and they went back the way they came. He caught his breath and cooled for a while in the lobby until he remembered about the cops.
"Shit." he said sharply, racing with Marla out the door. He found Lorinda's keys in her jacket, and put it on Marla. They got in and tried to nonchalantly drive down the road.
"No sirens in sight." he thought as he wiped the sweat from his forehead. The hand gripping his fingers was getting painful and a million thoughts raced through his mind. He must have been videotaped at that steel mill. There was probably no way to hide from the cops now.
"Marla," he said, "try to get this off of me." he pleaded. Marla grasped the arm and ripped the plastic flesh away from the thumb. She collapsed some rods inside the hand and the fingers went lose.
"Oh, thank you, thank you so much." he said to her, waving his hand around to get the blood flowing again.
"I need to recharge." said Marla, resting back in the seat. He grabbed her hand and tried to clear his head as he drove her back to Lorinda's place.
…to be continued…