“Ma? Ma, where are you? Come on out. I had to skip work this morning and you know my supervisor hates when I miss work. Ma?” Silence in the apartment save for the normal whirrings and clicks from the automated feature, better known as the staff. “Ma!”
He walked through the living room, down the hall toward the kitchen, and stopped to knock on the bathroom door.
“She’s locked herself in,” said BEN, an expensive automaton he’d purchased for his mother on her eighty-seventh birthday. She needed a helper around the place and the sales bot Had assured him the Butler Extra Normal was well suited to elder care duties.
“And I’m not coming out,” came a meek voice from behind the bathroom door.
“Oh for cat’s sake Ma, what’s it this time?”
“It’s that thing out there. It’s killing me.”
“I assure you, I am not harming your mother in any way,” offered BEN.
“Yes you are!” said Ma.
“BEN, why don’t you open the door?” he asked.
“Your mother is in no immediate danger,” said BEN.
“See? It’s just a machine. He’s here to help you, not kill you. Now come out of there.”
“Not until that thing is out of my house!”
“It’s an apartment, Ma, and BEN isn’t going anywhere. You need him. You can’t take care of this place by yourself.”
“Yes I can, and he gets in my way, won’t let me do anything.”
He rolled his eyes. “BEN, report. List recent activity.”
“0700 retrieved morning paper
0705 prepared coffee
0707 prepared standard breakfast
0712 served breakfast and coffee
0730 cleared breakfast
0732 cleaned dishes…”
“You see what I mean? He’s killing me!”
“Ma, what are you talking about? He made breakfast and cleaned up. How’s that killing you?”
“That thing does everything for me, don’t you get it?”
“Ma, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Right, BEN?”
“Affirmative,” said BEN.
“And that’s another thing. Make it stop talking like Star Trek! It’s annoying! I never liked that show anyway!”
“Ma, this is silly. Come out here and talk to me. Please?” He tapped lightly on the door. “Pretty please?”
Ma sighed. “Fine. I’m coming out, but that thing has to go.”
The lock clicked and Ma opened the door.
“See, Ma? He’s not trying to kill you. No evil robot, just a helper, that’s all,” he said.
“No, he’s not helping. He’s killing. Everything he does is stealing one more thing from me. I got nothing left. I’m going to bed and die. You’re all just trying to get rid of me anyway,” Ma said. “When I’m dead, you can have that thing take out my body with the rest of the trash.”
He watched her walk down the hallway. BEN opened the doorway for her. “Allow me to turn down the sheets,” BEN said.
“You see what I’m talking about?” she said. “You’re killing me, BEN. Killing me.”