Discontinued Pt. 1

“This was a mistake.” She looked down at the two page instruction manual in one hand, and the twelve page disclaimer booklet in the other.

“Shall I process a return for myself?” The assistance droid stood placidly in the center of her studio apartment, watching her read the instructions.

“No, you’re not the mistake. Or you are, or I am. I don’t know.” Her phone’s alarm sounded from the bed stand. She should’ve been going to her first final, not sitting on her bed trying to program a clearance droid. Then again, considering it’d taken all of her loan money for next semester the finals wouldn’t matter anyway. It had been a long series of mistakes starting with thinking college would give her focus.

“Do you require assistance in programming me? Shall I request a technician?” The droid asked.

“No, I’ll figure it out. I don’t think they’ll send a tech anyway. Your model is discontinued, that’s the only reason I could afford you.”

“What shall I do?”

She tossed the instructions in the air, and both sheets fluttered to the floor, “You’re awfully needy for an assistance droid.”

There was a pained silence as it stared at her blankly, “Criticism noted.” It said.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. I’ve been under so much stress but it’s not fair to take it out on you.” She got up and gathered the instructions again, “Look… while I figure this out why don’t you just tidy up? I’ve been bad about the housekeeping lately.” She gestured at the stacks of assorted everything scattered across the floor like a minefield.

“How shall I clean?”

“Oh… right… um.” She looked around, “Just sort similar stuff into piles and then we’ll go from there. Dishes in the kitchen, sort everything else on the table.”

“Orders received.” It started gathering dirty clothes from the floor and laying them on the table. She started to correct it, then sighed. It wasn’t the droid, it was her fault for not programming it. Machines were only as good as their programming after all. She let it stack everything in silence while she crawled into the box, pawing around blindly. Finally she found the remote taped to the far end of the box, along with three screws and a plastic dongle. She stuck the screws and dongle in a nearby drawer and fiddled with the remote until it lit up and the screen displayed a prompt.

“Progress!” She shouted cheerfully, causing the droid to pause midway through stacking a fifth book on the table, “Sorry, carry on.” It began stacking again and she started typing out a basic command protocol and filling out the owner info. By the time she’d completed her work the droid had cleared the floor and two bookshelves, dangerously overloading the table. She hit enter and the droid stood upright, flashing a few lights as it rebooted.

It took a few minutes to reboot and she started to worry she’d screwed up somewhere when the flashing stopped and the droid turned to face her.

“Owner registration accepted. Hello Candace.”

She clapped gleefully, momentarily forgetting the missed exam, “Hello to you too, Andy.”



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