Monday, April 18, 2016

The Pinocchio Protocol

Copyright Mark R Morris Jr 2016
All rights reserved

When I tell you I am unattractive, I know what I’m saying. When I was born, the doctors did the best they could with my face. I had several abnormalities that almost cost me my life, so, when I see the web of scars that has become me, all I think is how grateful I am to them. My life has been great, with one huge disappointment. Women.
Not that women are disappointing. It just seems,  the only ones that have ever been interested in me are either looking for a ‘cause’ and want to showcase me as their pity date, or they just genuinely have no ambition and want to lock me in their lair, where they write crappy romance novels about chicks with too many cats for a living.
So, when Ben suggested I try a new dating site, I was less than enthused. My heart is pretty tough, but having it broken over and over, when ladies love the idea of me online, only to be repulsed by the actuality, sucks mud. My determination to not die a hermit has proven to be stronger than my fear of rejection on numerous occasions, so I decided to go for it.
The premise was different, no visual profiles. The idea was that people have a chance to get to know each other and weed out potential dates by their actual personality, instead of their appearance. To be honest, that scared me a little. While I will never be a ‘pretty boy’ there is still a small part of me that is shallow and would like to fall in love with someone that at least doesn’t turn my stomach. Yeah, I know, I’m horrible and you’d think it would be different, given my condition, but it’s not.
After a week, I still hadn’t connected with anyone, then one night I met Darla. Darla seemed different, she loved dark horror films, blues rock and spicy food, three of my favorite things. So, I thought, at least we could have three dates where we both had a good time, regardless of the connection. But there was a lot more.
She was young,  but couldn’t have children, which was great with me, because I can’t either, and as much as I wish this were not true, it had ended the two actual chances I had had at real love. I couldn’t fault the girls. That’s a big deal, but it wouldn’t be here. She also didn’t care that much about money, or so she said, which was great. I do okay as an online games tester, but I’ll probably never be rich. I’m a qualified IT guy, but my appearance nearly always becomes a problem in the first interview. I could sue. I could own companies for discrimination, but who wants that? Not me.
So, after a couple of weeks of chatting online, then a few voice calls, we agreed to meet for a real date. Barbecue at a  blue’s joint and an indie horror movie marathon at a local theater. I knew I was shooting my whole wad on one date, but I was determined to pull out all the stops and hope for the best. I was nervous as hell.
Ben and I have been best friend since third grade. He was the only one that looked right through my scars and saw me from the very first minute. So, when I need help, I call him. He took me shopping and after we’d hit just about every men’s clothes shop in a twenty mile radius, he convinced me to go with a dark on dark shirt and tie, with a vest, black hat and indigo jeans. I had to admit, for me, I looked great.
When she walked into the restaurant I wanted to run. It was obvious she was looking for me and she was the only blonde in a blue dress I’d seen all night,  but she was way too hot. Dinner was great, it always is at Sweet Baby Rae’s and the music was perfect. We danced for a bit, until it was time to head to the movie. The movie was perfect too, scary, with just enough camp to make you laugh occasionally, but great creepy scenes that practically had her crawling in my lap. By the end of the night, I was beginning to suspect she was pro, hired to make me feel good, then claim a terminal disease that would make it so I could never see her again, it went that well.
When I took her home, she practically dragged me out of the car to see her place, and that’s when things got weird. While she went to “freshen up” I took a look around. Her kitchen seemed normal, until you opened the cabinets. Not a shred of food, and her fridge wasn’t even plugged in. I should have clued into something, but I figured it was just a new apartment, after all, she was new to town.
When she came back from the bedroom she was wearing this slinky number that was designed to make me forget I do not fool around on the first date and I knew I was about to break my own vow to myself to never have sex again until it was true love. She sat on the sofa, two glasses of wine in her hands and held one out to me. I joined her.
I sipped the wine and sat, nervously, all the signals were there, but every guy knows what it’s like to get the wires crossed and assume she’s ready when she’s just showing you her new lingerie. So, I was cautious. When she turned on the music and lowered the lights by remote, I figured I had to at least try, so I took off the hat and moved in for a kiss. As I cradled her neck in my hand, I felt something. Under my middle finger, on her neck, was a smooth, hard spot. At first I assumed it was jewelry and ignored it. The first kiss was great, and she was unbuttoning my shirt when I felt it again, this time, I must have inadvertently pressed in, because she shut down.
I don’t mean emotionally, or like I had completely misread the signals, I mean she literally collapsed, as if she was dead, into my lap. At first I thought she was just picking up the pace, but she felt heavy, like someone unconscious, you know? After a few seconds, I tried to get her to respond. She wouldn’t, so I set her up. Her eyes were closed and it didn’t seem like she was breathing. I checked for a pulse, but couldn’t find anything and as I pressed my fingers against her neck, it came to me, the disk on her neck.
So, I pressed  it and it was like nothing had even happened, she came right back. I was freaked smooth out! I jumped off the sofa, which made her upset, because now she was talking about missed signals and how sorry and embarrassed she was and I tried to assure her that wasn’t it, but there was this thing on her neck, and I told her what had happened. She looked scared. She said she had no idea and ran to the bathroom to look at it. I barely caught her when she pressed it.
I laid her out in the bathroom floor and went to look around it, that’s when I found it. A wireless charging system built into her bed. My dream date was an android of some sort and possibly the first of her kind. What was I gonna do? I turned her back on and showed her what I found, she acted like she couldn’t believe it and I believed her. I’d seen her eat at dinner and drink wine. The girl had no idea.
So, I had this choice to make. I could either end it right here, or go for it. I decided to go for it. I’ve been alone a long time and it just seemed right. No one would have to know and if something happened to her, then, she was just a machine and my memory would be the same as if it was a real girl, right? She loved me. I could see it. She brought me a new hat on our second date. We went ice skating.
We got into a habit, every Friday night, we went out, every Saturday night we stayed in. I introduced her to Ben and my Mom and things were great! We’d been dating about a month when the Grey Man showed up. I was working in my favorite coffee shop when this guy in a gray suit, white shirt, gray tie, steel gray hair, silver frame glasses walks and sits down next to me.
“We want her back,” he says. And I just look at him like I don’t know what he means, “Listen buddy,” he says, “You’re not prepared for this, she’s a killing machine and she’s highly erratic. She was on mission when she went rogue and we tracked her here. She’s managed to evade us and we can’t just snatch her in public for fear she’ll take out our entire team. So, we need you to take us to her nest and let us decommission her while she’s charging.”
I look at this guy and I know right away, he’s serious. It’s all true and I have been dating some kind of robot assassin for months. Which is awesome. So, I tell him, fine, give me your number, I’ll call you when it’s all set up, and I act scared like she’s going to kill me. Truth is, I always figured I’d get murdered by a chick anyway, because only psychos were interested before  now, you know?
That’s why I’m here, Paul. I know you can help. I just need a passport. We’re leaving in the morning, before the Gray Man get’s his toolkit on my girlfriend. We’re headed to Belize. I think we’re in love. I asked her to marry me, she said yes. How cool  is  that? First man in the universe married to a robot, while everyone else still thinks machines like her don’t even exist yet, pretty badass huh?
So, what’s it gonna cost? 

This is #6 in 21Storiesin21Days to read the others, visit this link. 

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