He switched on the turn signal. Not only was he leaving the highway, he also left the streams of vehicles behind that he had been following for the last 20 minutes. And with them he tried to leave all the other thoughts behind. About the job. What a day! The sun was nearly gone on this late summer's day and it would be completely gone by the time he reached home. But tomorrow would be Friday and another busy week would find its end. But today still had not passed completely and apart from what he had accomplished at work this day should become more special in another way... Suddenly his phone rang. He pushed a button at the steering wheel and the face of an older woman appeared on a little monitor. "Hi, Mom."
"Oh boy, you look tired. You haven't got home yet? Why do they treat you like that?"
"Oh, mom, it's not like that all the time you know that. It's just that we have a lot of work to do."
"That's why they don't let you have a life?"
"Oh, stop it, we have discussed this so many times."
"Ok, anyway, that's not the reason why i call you. Are you coming for dinner on Sunday?"
"I don't know if I got time, mom. I might be busy over he weekend."
"No, in fact there are some ... other things that might need my attention."
"Oh, maybe you are meeting someone? Perhaps some kind of date? Tell me, is there a new girl your father and me don't know about?"
"Oh god, no it's nothing like that mom. Not at the moment. I'm much too busy."
"You'd tell us if there was someone, wouldn't you?"
"Of course I would... I'm sorry, I have to hang up now. I call you tomorrow, ok?"
"Ok, don't bother yourself too much, ok Dear?"
"Thanks mom. Bye."
„Damn door!“ With a powerful kick he activates the automatic garage door. - I don't get it. It's meant to do only this one thing: to open and close the door! There are thousands of machines doing more complex jobs and those do not break down. - In fact he wanted to have the whole door repaired last month but forgot about it when other things came across his mind. And now the door system seemed to be on strike for the second time this week. He sometimes thought by himself what would happen if he would break down. Stop to function. Would they simply replace him?
With his briefcase at hand he enters the corridor. With a quick look at the wall clock he realizes that it is actually past ten. He opens his briefcase and throws a bunch of letters on an existing pile on the chest of drawers. Aside the pile there is a completely filled file marked as “still to pay”. While he struggles to take off his shoes, which are much too tight, somebody approaches from behind.
“Good evening, sweetheart!”
Frightened he turns to the voice, but then he quickly looses his fear and carefully smiles at the woman. “Good evening!”
“You’re late tonight.”
“Yes, I know, I mean I’m sorry, but in the company hell was the matter, I had to prepare a meeting for tomorrow at short notice.” Suddenly a smell from the kitchen reaches his nose. “What do we have for dinner?” “Oh, I prepared 'Rindergulasch', your favourite meal. Come on, it’s all ready, we can eat.”
“Impressive!”, he says to himself.
He enters the kitchen, when suddenly someone shouts at him. “Good evening, dad!” -Two of them?- He frowns, but then lays his hands on the boys’ shoulders as he sits down. “Hello Boys! Had a nice day?”
“Oh, nothing special happened, we tidied up our rooms and helped Mum.” “Well, in fact they wanted to help with the laundry and then sat in front of the washing machine and spent nearly an hour just watching it.” She takes a plate to the table and places it in front of him. “But how was your day? Did you convince the new client?”
He tastes the meal and smiles delighted. “Yeah, they really kept us busy for the whole day. Nothing they didn’t want to check out for themselves. Even the boss got excited about it. But it seems they enjoyed it a lot and that’s why they immediately set up an appointment for the next day to discuss the conditions for the cooperation.” “That’s a quick one, isn’t it?” “It is, we were completely surprised, too. But if everything works out and the project is launched as planned, then I’ll get the lead of the project group and they will definitely promote me. “ “Oh that’s wonderful darling, I’m so happy for you. “ “Oh, would you please remind me to have this garage door repaired next week.” She nodes to him. “Does it taste good?” “Absolutely, you have done a marvellous job with this meal!” “Thank you! Is there anything you would like to do this evening?” “No, not really, I suppose I’m just going to watch TV before I got to bed. I’m really tired. She freezes for a second before she answers. “So if that’s OK with you I would like to retire with the children for today. It has been quite a long day for them.” “Of course, I’ll take you to your room.”
He rises and goes into a very small room. There is no furniture here except three chairs with long and thick cables, fluorescent light tubes and strange holes in the armrests. A quiet but clearly audible hum vibrates in the air. “Well, that’s where you can recharge over night. How long will the cycle last?” “About six hours.” “Oh, Ok. So I wish you all a relaxing night.” She kisses him on the cheek. “Sleep well, dear.” “Good night, daddy!” The two boys get on two of the chair and suddenly freeze, when the lights start blinking. With a short razor-like sound a little metallic ball connected to a wire comes out of the armrests and disappears inside the ears of the boys. He looks at her feeling quite uncomfortable with what is happening. “It’s OK, believe me. You can just leave us alone, we’ll be alright.” He walks into the living room, while she takes place the last free chair and, after a last wink, freezes as well. He lets himself fall into the old armchair. Suddenly a little light on some kind of remote control starts blinking. The screen in front of him turns on and simply says “CALL” followed by nine numbers. He pushes two buttons on the control and a face appears on the screen. “Good evening Mr. Richardson! I hope you are satisfied with your products we delivered to you this afternoon.” “Yes, indeed I am. They seems so real, I still can’t believe it. Thogh it would have been much less frightening if you simply had warned me. I did not expect them to be shipped this week."
"Oh, yes, I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but there must have been a mistake in our shipping department. They simply forgot to inform you."
"Well, never mind. But there's another thing: I never applied for two children?”
“Oh, that is a special offer we have on sale at the moment, which allows you to “try out” the second child for three months and decide afterwards whether or not you want to buy it as well. For a special convenient price, I might add. But if you wish, giving it back immediately would be no problem either.”
“Mmmh, no, I guess, I’ll think about it. Is there anything I should pay attention to?”
“Well, inside the user manual that comes along with our products, we have listed the few important points that might be of interest to you, but apart from that you may call me 24 hours a day if a problem or any questions should occur. But rest assured that our android XP 24357 and the new models of the CHILD 6 – series have been extensively tested in terms of malfunctions and passed our strongest set of controls without any problem. The handling was again improved compared to the predecessor model, based upon the results of a study concerning usability that we worked on for three years. Additionally the regular software updates guarantee functionality and extended capabilities in terms of adaptability.”
“Good, I thank your very much.”
“My pleasure, should there ever be any problems, please call me right away. But please be patient with the kids during the first weeks, their programming is not quite as bound to your I-Profile as your wife’s is and they still need to adapt your personal behaviour. . . . As I can see, we could successfully connect to all three, so I don’t want to disturb you any longer. As I said, if there are any questions coming to your mind, we are there for you! Good night, Mr. Richardson. “
“Good bye and thank you again very much.”
While the screen’s colour transforms itself back to a dark black, he grabs a golden card, that is lying on the table together with other papers: “We’d like to congratulate you to successfully purchasing an android of the iFamily-series. We all at A.I. Corp. hope desperately, that we could help you in fulfilling your personal dream of a happy family.” While he puts the card back, he unintentionally starts to smile in a really satisfied way. Just a year ago that has been only a dream to him. He opens some of the little plastic bags that obviously were delivered along with the androids. One of them contains a framed picture. It shows him with his new wife. He goes into his bedroom and puts the picture onto his bedside table. There are some pictures showing him along with other people… He smiles again. Then he lies down on the bed. Outside the window an icy wind rushes through the night. Nobody can be seen. “From now on, everything will get better”, he whispers to himself then he suddenly falls asleep.