After Allie left the kitchen, Nissa threw an old lithium-ion battery at her robotic cat, hitting it between its blue-grey artificial eyes. A canceled rendezvous with her lover put her in a vengeful mood. Crockett fell over but recovered. Its hydraulic legs righting it. “Woof Woof.”
“Gotcha, you bastuda,” cursed Nissa. Crockett continued its woof sounds while running around in circles. The exact behavior of animals and the sounds they made were long forgotten. Aged photos and modern technology were the sources used to build four-legged animals. Nissa had no use for them.
“Allie! your motor cat is in my way again,” she whined. “Can you turn it off since you’re going to a penance altar this weekend?” she called out towards Allie’s room.
“I’d like to have some peace and quiet as I pray that my citizenship is granted in the community. It’s hard to concentrate because that cat never shuts up,” she said while picking up the dented battery preparing to throw it again. Allie made her way back to the kitchen, clacking sling backs announcing her arrival.
“What are you doing?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Praise him that be. I’m cleaning up,” she lied, tossing the makeshift weapon in a particle beam disposal unit. Zap…gone. Her evidence of deceit evaporated.
“Oh, I love that navy floral dress. The fitted look brings out those heels. It’s chilly today. How about a jacket for the half sleeves?” Nissa babbled. Hackles up, Allie surveyed the room and was about to question her girlfriend when Crockett ran over with tail wagging.
“Praise him that be. How are you my little one? Being good for mommy?” she cooed at her personal electronic toy.
“Why do you bother with that thing?” Nissa asked. Her tone sarcastic, with hands on hips staring at her robotic adversary. Allie rolled her eyes while picking up the kitty and stroked its fur.
“This is my little buddy. He can control lights, appliances, stream music, and control Hover vehicles. And he’s adorable,” she explained to Nissa when she noticed a mark and artificial skin missing between her pet’s eyes.
“What happened here, my little friend?” she said while looking at the injury.
“I, I don’t know,” Nissa cut in, her face turning bright red. “He did fall down chasing his tail earlier,” she said. “That’s what happened to his head.”
Anger shot through Allie as she realized she hadn’t told Nissa what injury she was referring to. Crockett was her pet, her family. If Nissa couldn’t understand that then she had to move out. Her application for citizenship would fall through without proof of residency. But Allie cared more for her pet than for Nissa.
“Praise him that be. I’m putting him in my room while I’m offering my expressions of repentance.” ‘And you better do the same’ Allie thought.
“ I won’t turn Crockett off. His firmware is getting an upgrade that will take some time. Then I’ll be able to use him for security,” Allie said as a warning, but it came out like a threat. “When I get back, we have to have a conversation.”
“Praise him that be. Sure, Allie, sure. Go offer prayer and penance to the overseers for this month.”Nissa emphasized. “We can talk later.”
After a couple of hours, Nissa heard the door to Allie’s room open and close. She peeked out her bedroom to see Allie heading down the hallway. Without a word Allie left, pulling a luggage bag and carrying a light jacket. She slammed the front door on the way out causing Nissa to jump back.
“Studum betch.” Foul words flew from Nissa’s mouth, fired in the direction of the empty hallway.
Nissa sent a private message to Harland, the overseer in the community handling her citizenship, and the man she was sleeping with.
‘You can make up for canceling our last date by conducting a private shepherding call with me at Allie’s place. She’s doing penance out of town. Come by after midnight and I’ll do a special penance for you.’
At age 24, Nissa welcomed the attention from 38-year-old Harland Wright, community overseer, and father of three.
“After tonight, I’m sure to get my citizenship whether Allie helps or not,” she grinned, agreeing with herself.
‘A sky blue sheer lace baby doll nightie with spaghetti straps guarantees that’ she thought. Her blue eyes shined bright as she brushed shoulder-length blond hair. It was past 11 pm when a pleasant chime sounded from Allie’s room, then announced- “visitor Harland Wright approaching.”
“Domec! he’s early!” she hissed. Looking out her bedroom window she saw Harland’s hover vehicle parked in front of the house.
‘I better disconnect the Visitor ID sensor. I don’t want a searchable record of him in the house,’ she thought. Going into Allie’s room, she looked for Crockett. All applications ran through her pet.
Ding! “Visitor Harland Wright is at the main entrance,” came the next announcement from the robot toy.
“Shac! I have no time for this!” Nissa complained. She spotted Crockett on Allie’s dresser top, head moving left and right, scanning. It looked at her and showed its teeth. Her outstretched hand hesitated, then remembered she could use her voice and would not have to touch the toy.
“Crockett! Turn off Visitor ID.”
The cat’s mouth opened slightly. A female voice, Allie’s, answered.
“Security system on. You do not have permission.”
‘The upgrade must have included Allie’s voice algorithms,’ Nissa thought.
“No! No! No! Turn off security! Cancel Visitor ID!” Nissa demanded. “Now Betch!”
‘Security system on. You do not have permission,’ Crockett said in Allie’s voice.
Ding! “Visitor Harland Wright is at the main entrance.”
“Shac!” Nissa exploded with rage. Grabbing a pillow off Allie’s bed, she hurled it at Crockett. Dodging her attack he jumped onto Allie’s bed as the pillow knocked everything on the dresser to the floor.
“I’ll fix you later,” she threatened the electronic cat. Its eyes tagging her as she left the room to answer the door. Heart pounding, she counted to three. After taking a deep breath she opened the door.
A tall white man standing 6 foot 2 was dressed in a thick black and maroon religious robe. A long tail hood partially covered his face. Wrapped around his waist was a cord hiding a muscular body. The hood moved down and back up as his eye’s coveted the young scantily clad woman in front of him. He removed the hoodie, running his hands through shining black hair.
“Praise him that be. May I enter, my sister?”
“Praise him that be. Please do overseer.”
“Call me Harland.”
Harland strode in as Nissa closed the door. They looked at each other and burst into laughter.
“My sister? Nissa joked. I needed a good laugh today.”
Harland took her in his arms and kissed her. “I missed you, but I plan on making it up. Let’s go to bed.”
“Wow you don’t waste any time,” Nissa snickered, leading him to her bedroom.
“I took a supplement before arriving. It has my heart rate up and my loins. I can perform all night.” he said with confidence.
Nissa sat on her bed while Harland removed his robe and placed it over the vanity mirror facing the bed. She checked his muscular body and the sandals he wore.
“Mmm, so handsome. Why cover my mirror? I may want to watch you through it,” she teased.
“No reason. We’ll use it later,” he answered as sweat dripped off his forehead. I better sit down. It’s possible I took too much,” he said as breathing became labored.
“Can I help?” Nissa asked, chewing on a finger.
“Some water would be …water please.”
Nissa jumped off the bed, bolting to the kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator, she ran back to her bedroom in time to see Harland falling off the bed. His head hit the corner of her vanity table. A dent in his forehead filled with blood as his lie still on her wood floor.
Nissa tried to pull Harland’s body by his legs.
‘If I can get him outside, I’ll make up a lie. He was outside and something happened. That’s it. He never came inside,’ she spun the story in her mind. Pulling with all her strength, she tried to drag 285-pounds of dead weight. After moving about two feet, she gave up, leaving a bloody trail. Pulling strands of her hair from its roots, she screamed. A new puddle of blood pooled on the floor by his head.
When the Authoritarians come, she wondered what punishment would await. Permanent banishment? Jail for adultery? Men got 6 months of chemical castration for cheating. Harland told her that. But a death during a sin of passion, with a married man, an overseer? She could get the death penalty. “Shac!” I’ve got to ditch this body now!
Nissa moved the disposal unit to her bedroom. Its shape was like a garbage can, much easier to handle than a body. Making use of a laser carving knife, Nissa cut Harland’s body into pieces on her bedroom floor. She used the particle beam disposal unit to get rid of the body parts. She grabbed his manhood, still at attention and sliced it free like a carved ham.
“Vile Pena!” She yelled. Zap!… gone. It was the last body part she put in the unit. Its use left a record too she thought. The head, torso, and thighs she decided to put in his Hover vehicle. Two plastic bags carried his remains.
She cleaned up the bloody floor, zapping towels and her soiled nightie, forgetting about the disposal units recording.
Putting on a robe, Nissa dragged one bag over to Harland’s Hover vehicle. She placed the bag in the trunk. ‘Almost over,’ she thought while rubbing her face and throbbing temples.
“Get the other bag, clean up any remaining blood, move the car, deny everything.”
The second bag was a little lighter than the first. Nissa carried it over her shoulder with a little bounce in her step. When she got outside, her mouth opened but she didn’t scream. She looked at the empty parking space. Harlands Hover vehicle was gone.
Nissa closed the front door. She rested her head on the door frame and wept.
“Get it together!” she said, pacing in the hallway. “Think about what happened. Autopilot. Had to be. Did Allie do this? She did say her cat could control Hover vehicles. It didn’t have permission…but I didn’t either, and I was able to get inside it. Could the cat move it? The Hover vehicle, with Harland’s body parts, drove…Where? I better finish cleaning up, put the disposal unit back and deny everything. That’s the plan,” she said brainstorming.
Hearing a growl behind her, Nissa turned and saw Crockett in the hallway looking at her. Eyes dark, hair on it’s back raised. His front teeth exposed. In Allie’s voice, Crockett said “You need to confess. You need to do penance.” He growled again and moved closer.
“Crockett! Get back in Allie’s room. That’s a command. Go now!” she warned. “Or you’ll get the same treatment,” she said waving the bag containing Harland body parts at the cat. Crockett straightened his tail, growled once more, then charged Nissa.
She made it to her bedroom locking herself inside. Crockett had bitten Nissa several times on the hands, legs, and feet. In the hallway, Crockett started biting out pieces of the door. ‘If it eats through the door, what then?’ Nissa thought, shaking like a leaf. It took all her strength to get passed it and close the bedroom door. She couldn’t handle another attack. Then she heard the familiar door chime and Allie’s voice coming from Crockett.
‘Visitor Authoritarians approaching.’
Nissa stuffed the bag of remains under her bed. Grabbing the laser knife she used on Harland, she quickly opened her door and stabbed at Crockett as she screamed.
“Help me! Help me! The robot pet! It’s trying to hurt me!” Nissa screamed as she slashed at Crockett’s paws and mouth. The robot showed no signs of slowing down its assault. As it bit and clawed Nissa, the Authoritarians opened the door using a command override. Nissa never heard them come in. The robot had her by the throat as she lost consciousness.
Crockett sat quietly after the Authoritarians commanded him to stop all aggression. He paced back and forth in the hallway, finally deciding to lay down simulating sleep. Nissa, with a patch on her throat, bandaged arms, and legs, sat in the kitchen spinning her story.
“I was about to give myself a pedicure when Crockett, the robot cat came to life and started chasing me around the house. I managed to get into my bedroom before you arrived. I’m so glad you came. Thank you for the bandages. You saved me.”
Two Authoritarians stood over Nissa as she spoke. They wore buttoned-up blue long-sleeved coats with tails and matching trousers. A holster carried a paralyzing taser that resembled a cattle prod.
“Actually it was the cat that called us here,” he said, as he fingered the taser while it was still in the holster.
“For some reason, it sent a distress call to headquarters. I think it’s a security feature. We tried to access the audio and video but it was still updating at the time. All we know is after the pet completed its firmware update it became sentient. It then saw something, which made it attack and call us here,” he said watching for her reaction.
“What really happened here, Miss Fields?”
Nissa remained silent.
“OK, I’ll give you my theory. An overseer came by here tonight to pressure you for favors. You were upset by his request and possibly screamed so loud that the now sentient robot cat Crockett came to life to help you. I think the cat chased him out but got confused and came after you next since you are not a citizen in the community yet. Is that right Miss Fields? You don’t have to protect him. We’ve started an investigation and will have people interviewing overseers in the community. It won’t be long before we find out who it was.
“No one was here,” Nissa told him, trying to stick to her story.
“Then why is an overseer garment in your bedroom, Miss Fields?”
Nissa gasped. She forgot the robe. She got quiet again.
“Well, I understand you don’t want to get him in any trouble but the fact is someone used their position to force you for favors to get into the community.
“Tell her what we found sir, the other Authoritarian chimed in.
“In his robe, is a concealed video camera. My guess is he was planning on keeping a record of this shepherding call. It was still on when we checked the robe. The video will reveal who the overseer is. But don’t worry, whatever is on that video will remain confidential. We understand Miss Fields. You’re the victim here.”
Nissa sat in the kitchen as the other Authoritarian went back in her bedroom going through her things. She looked down and saw Crockett at the kitchen entrance watching her. He wagged his tail. She thought it was about to growl but the mouth formed something that resembled a smile as it turned its nose to the floor sniffing its way to her bedroom.
“Praise him that be,” Nissa said humbly.
Copyright © 2019 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved