Let’s get started! The first short story I’ve chosen for you was written as a prompt from my writing group, the Wicked Wordsmiths of the West. We pulled slips of paper out of plastic sandwich baggies to determine our genre, at least one noun and one adjective that had to be used somewhere in the story. There was a Draw Two slip, and I happened to pull it twice! Therefore, my genre was Romance-Science Fiction, utilizing the noun “alien” and the adjectives “ancient” and “cheap.”
Enjoy! And feel free to comment below!
Different From The Other Guys
It was January when Claire Mitchell found herself sitting at the coffee shop around the corner from the office where she worked as a receptionist. Today she was waiting for her friend Haley. It seemed as though she was always waiting for Haley.
Today was the day for Simon Jones introduce himself to Claire. He sat by himself near the entrance of the coffee shop with his untouched copy of Naked Lunch on the table before him along with his black coffee. According to his research, the most suave and debonair men drank black coffee. Today was the day to meet Claire because today she had finally noticed him. After weeks of making sure to arrive at exactly the same time she did so that he could open the door for her and after days of polite nods when he let her cut in line in front of him, Simon had finally caught her attention. Claire glanced in Simon’s direction for at least the seven hundred and eighty sixth time in the last half hour. Simon had been counting. He was nervous; after all, he had never done anything like this before.
Claire looked at the entrance again for what seemed like the eight hundredth time, expecting this to be the time she’d see Haley saunter in, already thirty minutes late. Claire’s eyes trailed away from the door and locked into Simon’s gaze. Instinctively, she smiled and looked down at her chai latte. When she looked up, Simon was standing in front of her. “Is this seat taken?” he asked.
By early February, Simon and Claire were dating. Simon was so shy and timid, the strong and silent type, Claire thought. She was patient with him, waiting for him to hold her hand until one day, she took a deep breath and reached for his hand while they were sitting in a cheap diner. Simon smiled and squeezed her hand. That evening on her doorstep, Simon stood next to Claire with his hands in his pockets, looking down at her. Claire looked up at Simon, waiting for him to kiss her. Finally, Simon blurted out, “I’m sorry. I haven’t kissed a girl in a long time.” Claire assured him that it was okay, so Simon bent toward her and planted a soft kiss on her lips.
On Valentine’s Day morning, Claire found Simon on her doorstep, bright and early with a bouquet of yellow roses. He took her to breakfast at the coffee shop where they met. After they ate, Simon took Claire back to his house where they sat on his bedroom floor looking through his record collection, listening to the Velvet Underground, and kissing. Claire told her friends later that it was the best Valentine’s Day she had ever experienced. “He’s different from any other guy I’ve ever dated!” she gushed.
The relationship between Claire and Simon blossomed over the next several months, but not everything was perfect. Often they would be together, and a distant vacant look would wash over Simon’s face. Claire would speak to him, but it was as if he was millions of miles away. As the shiny newness of their fledging relationship began to wear off, Claire began to question some of her boyfriend’s behaviors. Simon had a large collection of video games, movies, records, and books. Not long after Valentine’s day, while snuggled up next to Simon on the bed in his room, Claire began to ask about the different books that lined the shelves that made up one wall of Simon’s bedroom. Simon explained to Claire that his favorite author was William S. Burroughs and indicated the shelf that held most of Burroughs works. After a few questions, Claire realized that Simon had read few to none of these favorite books.
Days later, Claire flipped through the binder in which Simon kept all of his DVDs, looking for something to watch. Simon began to tell Claire about his favorite David Cronenberg films, some of which Claire was familiar with and all of which were in the binder in front of her. The more Simon talked, the more Claire realized that Simon had seen about as many of his movies as he had read of his books which amounted to very few. Simon ended the conversation and went to take a shower, leaving Claire to herself in his living room to watch whatever film she felt like. Claire went over to Simon’s desk in the corner of the room and switched on the computer screen, intending to check her Facebook page. The screen came on, and Claire found herself looking at the Wikipedia article for David Cronenberg. Reading the article, Claire realized that Simon had more or less just recited the entry to her verbatim. Claire turned the computer screen back off and returned to the couch to ponder while Simon finished up in the shower.
Later that evening, while finishing dinner at Simon’s favorite Chinese restaurant, Claire couldn’t stop thinking about the Wikipedia article. Simon had that far away look on his face again. Claire watched him and waited. Minutes later, Simon’s eyes snapped back to the time and place at hand as he met Claire’s gaze. “I’m sorry. What did you say?” Simon asked when he saw her troubled stare.
“I didn’t say anything, Simon. Neither did you. It’s like you’ve been on screen saver for the past…” she looked at her watch “seven minutes. What is going on?”
Simon readied his courage. He knew since that first day in the coffee shop that this conversation would be coming. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, Claire. Are you ready to go? We can talk in the car.”
In the car, they rode in silence until Simon turned on the blinker to turn onto his street. Finally Claire spoke, “Sometimes you drift off, and you get this look on your face like you’ve checked out. And all those books and movies? Why have them if you’re not going to read them? Why pretend like you have? I’d still like you either way!” Claire shook her head. “I found the Wikipedia article on David Cronenberg open on your desktop. Is it really so hard to talk to me that you have to look stuff up? On Wikipedia? What is that, Simon?”
“I’m a robot, Claire,” Simon said. He pulled his car into his parking spot in front of the apartment building and looked over at Claire.
Claire’s brow furrowed. “…you’re a what?”
“I’m a robot, Claire. I was sent to this planet by an ancient race of aliens from the galaxy your scientific establishment calls M82 or the Cigar Galaxy because it’s shaped like a cigar. I’ve been sent here on a mission to gather information like the books and movies in an attempt to understand how you humans operate. When I get that look you mentioned, I’m transmitting the data I’ve gathered back to their laboratory. I’ve waited so long to tell you. Please don’t be mad.”
Claire stared at Simon, her mouth hanging slack. She had been told a lot of lies by a lot of guys over the years, but this was a first. “A robot?” she snorted. Claire burst into uncontrollable laughter, tears streaking down her cheeks.
“Why are you laughing?” Simon asked. “I am a robot.”
Claire stopped laughing. “You are not a robot, Simon.” She sighed, unbuckled her seatbelt, and got out of the car.
“I am!” Simon insisted. He jumped out of the car and began to follow Claire up the stairs to his apartment on the second floor. “My creators picked you as my girlfriend based on your Facebook posts. They thought someone like you could help me assimilate.”
“Simon, please stop. You’re starting to scare me.”
“No, really, listen to me!” Simon grabbed Claire’s arm somewhat roughly.
“Let go! You’re hurting me!” Claire shoved Simon away from her. Simon teetered for a moment, and then, losing his balance, fell down the flight of stairs and hit the pavement with a thump. Nuts and bolts shot out in all directions as smoke seeped out of Simon’s nose and from behind his ears. Claire screamed and ran down the stairs two at a time to crouch at Simon’s side. Simon’s eyes scanned from the left to right, left to right, left to right before unfocusing and rolling back into his head to reveal the serial number 87913070 on his left eye and “Property of M82” on the right.
A cold numbing terror started in Claire’s chest and spread up to her shoulders and down her arms. Claire got up and ran to her car, speeding home with hot tears stinging in her eyes. Simon really wasn’t like any guy she had dated before. Simon was a robot.
Upon reaching her house, Claire stumbled to her room. Shaking, she pulled out her laptop and deleted her Facebook account.