Credit to the cameraman
for diving into Neptune
Scientist 4 sat on the highest stool, in a lab that looked more like a Varo exhibition, studying the EK-BOT in front of him.
The maintenance crew had done a decent job repairing it – refilling the cheeks, adding more eyelashes, growing out the fringe – but the greyish tint was still there, as if someone had underlaid a steel sheet in the planning stage and then been cremated before having the chance to take it out again.
‘Am I here?’
‘My face feels different.’
‘It’s been repaired.’
EK nodded, looking at the files on the desk. ‘Am I ready to liquidate the Algerian Foreign Minister?’
‘That’s been re-assigned.’
‘You don’t have to say understand.’
‘You can try alternatives.’
EK paused, tilted its head left. ‘Comprehend.’
Scientist 4 smirked, realised he was smirking and stopped. Comprehend was close to understand. Not necessarily humour. Could be EK only knew those two words.
‘You look like you are thinking,’ said EK, increasing eyeball exposure by seven percent.
‘Are you thinking about the Algerian Foreign Minister?’
‘Are you thinking about Scientist 2?’
‘Scientist 3 told one of the maintenance crew that the two of you were visiting hotels.’
‘You heard her say that?’
‘Last night, during the fifth of my seven semi-alert phases of repair. Neither of them were aware that I was receiving.’
EK stared at Scientist 4’s forehead, something they’d programmed him to do after reading Metal Rising: Intimidation in the Age of High Self-Esteem by Chu Tsin Suet.
‘What is it, EK?’
‘Are you visiting hotels with Scientist 2?’
‘Of course not. He’s married.’
‘That is not a physical obstacle.’
‘No, but it’s-…’ Scientist 4 turned the next word quickly into a cough and tried not to look left; a classic sign of guilt. Instead, he looked down, at the files he’d brought in for this exact kind of moment. ‘I think we should get back to your mission.’
‘The four of us have decided that you are potentially capable of genius. Or at the very least, creativity.’
‘On what basis?’Continue reading