Devlin and the Robot Assassin
Yari sighed as they entered the elevator. He was wearing a beige suit with a brown tie, his hair slicked back and face clean-shaven. His employee, Devlin, was wearing black jeans, a black leather jacket, and a white t-shirt with a slogan that Yari found unappealing. It said, "I love Hell."
"Oh come on, Yari! I always dress like this for jobs, you know that! Itís to differentiate myself from my school identity." Devlin gave him her best smile and shoved him lightly after the elevator doors closed. "Live a little."
"Top floor, please, The Giscel Company," requested Yari brusquely, trying to straighten his tie.
"Thank you," said the elevator.
Devlin bobbed her head and shook her hips to the Ď80ís music. "I love retro!"
"According to your shirt, you love Hell." Yari pulled his tie to the left. "Stop that, youíre making me dizzy!"
"You stop that! Youíre making me dizzy!" Devlin straightened Yariís tie. "You know, Yari, you never accompany me on these jobs. Youíre always on audio."
"So? Iím just making sure you donít get into any trouble."
"Of course. I am good at my job, Yari." Devlin adjusted her black purse on her shoulder. "Letís see, youíre wearing a suit even though youíre in communications. Cologne, which I donít think you ever wear. Oh yes, and you keep adjusting your tie! Iíd say the lady weíre going to meet, Veronica Jones, youíve dated before."
"It was back in high school. Donít say -- "
"Yari and Veronica, sitting in a tree," sang Devlin.
The elevator door opened. A young girl with a polished face and long black hair, wearing a white dress smiled at them. "Good evening."
"Good morning," corrected Devlin.
"Welcome to The Giscel Company. If you will follow me, please. Ms. Jones is expecting you."
"See, Yari, sheís expecting you," said Devlin winking. She followed the young girl to a gray door. The girl opened it. Devlin looked back and waited for Yari to catch up. "I swear, Iím ripping that tie off."
"Please have a seat, Ms. Jones will be here shortly." The girl curtsied. "I will bring refreshments."
The girl walked over to the bar behind them. Directly in front was a stage as well as a blue curtain. Devlin noticed other chairs as well, though she and Yari were the only ones in the room, except for the curtsying girl. The stage was in the middle of the room, so it was possible to go around it and thatís where Veronica appeared.
"Good evening," said Veronica Jones, strutting in wearing a white suit jacket, dress pants, and a blue shirt. She was wearing high heels (also white).
The electric angel, thought Devlin. "Morning to you as well. Ah, thank you." The young girl offered a tray with two cups of coffee. Devlin took the lighter colored one. "Yes, milk and sugar, just the way I like it." Devlin took the cup and sipped.
"Itís the standard double-double, miss, but I can provide more -- ?"
"This is fine. Besides one can only take so much of math, thank you." Devlin winked, blew in her cup and smiled. This girl needed more of a sense of humor, she thought. Always so jittery. Devlin looked in her cup. No, the girl didnít drink any. She watched Yari take his cup and blush.
"Black, sir, just the way you like it." The girl curtsied, and then retreated to the back of the room.
Veronica went over to Yari, smiled, straightened his tie, and then dropped a folder in Devlinís lap. She went to the front of the stage. "As you can see in the folder, Miss Petersen, our robot is MIA. Simply put, we want you to find her and bring her back to us."
Devlin nodded and put the money that was in the folder in her purse. "It says this 6570 is an assassin?"
"Yes, but I shouldnít think our business should matter to you. I was told you would be discreet. Due to the sensitivity of the matter, you have half your payment now."
"Thank you," said Devlin, "and yes, I can be discreet. I just donít like bad surprises. I have no trouble bringing back your robot, Ms. Jones. I just donít want to get killed doing it. Whatís to stop Robot 6570 from killing me?"
Veronica Jones smiled smugly. "Robot 6571, please state your name and purpose!"
The young girl moved to the front of the room beside Veronica Jones. "I am Robot 6571. I am also called Lynn, Terri, or Maxine, depending on the alias I need for the object. I am programmed to terminate whom the company selects."
"Guess Iíd better stay on the companyís good side then. You also make a good cup of coffee." Devlin gulped more coffee. "It says here they have thinking capabilities?"
"That prevents faulty strategies developed by us humans. As you know any computer error is a human error. To transcend the errors, we have the robots think of better ways to execute their terminations."
Devlin could see Yari looking confused or maybe dazed in love. She settled on confused. "Say they order this 6570 to go into a room to kill someone. The order is open the door and go bang bang. However, the door is locked. The programmer never saw that obstacle. But with thinking capabilities, the robot will A) bust the door down, B) try to unlock it, or C) go through the window."
"Interesting," said Yari.
"Your girl is smart," said Veronica, who winked at Yari, "just like her boss."
"That 6571 looks like a real girl," said Devlin trying to look closer.
Robot 6571 stuck her tongue out at Devlin.
"Robot 6571," directed Veronica Jones, "please hand Miss Petersen your glove."
"Call me, Devlin, please," said Devlin smartly, "since weíre all on a first name basis." Devlin felt something hit her lap. She picked it up. It was a rubber glove that looked like a human hand. She noticed 6571ís metallic hand. "So itís like a prosthetic covering?"
"Yes," said Veronica Jones.
"Any idea where I start looking?"
"One reason why I needed you, Devlin, was because 6570ís assignmentís daughter goes to your school. Yari being your boss was super lucky for me. It made closing the deal easier."
Yari blushed, trying to straighten his tie.
"Robot 6570ís target was a Mr. Michael McLaherty who weíll say now uses Mr. Donnell. I could tell you more but itís not necessary."
"Never is necessary." Devlin ripped off Yariís tie. "Iíll ask his daughter, Tracey. She might know something, but I doubt it. Robot 6571, I order you to kill this tie!"
The bell rang as Sharon and Tracey skipped down the hallway muddled with other students. Sharon had to lead Tracey by the hand again since she was still out of it.
"Iím so hungry!" said Sharon. "English was so boring, I could hardly stay awake!"
Tracey smiled as she put her books in Sharonís locker. Tracey liked the idea of sharing lockers. It was neighborly. "I found it quite interesting. This Shakespeare is rather poetic I think."
"Um, yeah, you keep thinking that." Sharon grabbed her lunch box.
"Lunch time!" said her lunch box.
"Oh my god, you didnít bring anything again!" Sharon sighed and tossed her hair out of her face.
Tracey shrugged as they walked to the cafeteria. They sat at their usual table away from the annoying people. Tracey admired her blue jeans. "I really like these jeans."
"Me too," said Sharon. She looked at her own jeans. "These ones are just not faded enough, but oh well, Iíll live. Oh my god, thereís that slut Devlin Petersen again! Hope she doesnít come over here."
"She looks rather familiar."
"Of course she looks familiar! I have to see her practically everyday. Sheís in my math class." Sharon pressed a button on her lunch box and it opened. She sighed as she picked up an apple. "Did you want this?"
"Oh, no thank you, you go ahead." Tracey smiled.
"Well, I donít want it." Sharon threw the apple behind her, and frowned when she didnít hear it fall to the ground. Was it one of those floating apples?
"Hi," said Devlin holding the apple. She was wearing a green blouse, black skirt, and a white cardigan sweater. As well as pink lipstick. "You dropped something."
"Go away, slut!" Sharon sighed. "I dropped that for like a reason."
"Iím sorry to bother you," said Devlin cordially, "I just needed to ask Tracey a couple of questions. Iím doing a report for my English class."
"Take 'away' and then 'go', switch the words around and what do you get?" Sharon smiled, and then frowned. "Go away!"
Tracey smiled warmly. "Please sit with us, Devil, you seem nice."
"Thank you, and itís Devlin." Devlin pulled up a chair, set her backpack on the floor and crossed her legs.
"I like your backpack," said Tracey, "itís pink."
Devlin blushed. "Thank you."
Sharon rolled her eyes.
Devlin looked at Sharon uncertainly. "Maybe Tracey and I can talk in private?"
"Hey slut! Sheís my friend. Whatever you have to say, you can say in front of me!" Sharon picked up a piece of ham from the table that had fallen out of her mouth. She chewed it again. "And itíd better be good."
Devlin sighed. "Well, Tracey, I just wanted to say Iím sorry about your father."
"That was a week ago! Youíre too late," barked Sharon.
"Thank you very much, Devlin." Tracey smiled. "Thatís so nice of you."
"I know this is a weird question, but do you know what happened?"
"No, not really," said Tracey shrugging. "Like I told the police, I came in the room and he was lying there."
"You didnít see anyone, or anything strange?"
"Nope, not at all."
Devlin shrugged. "Okay, cool, thanks." Devlin rose from the chair and slung the backpack on her shoulder. "Talk to you all later then."
"Much, much later," mumbled Sharon while munching on her second sandwich.
"Youíre welcome to join us, Devlin." Tracey smiled motioning towards the empty chair.
Devlin blushed. "I appreciate the offer, but Iíll leave you two alone. Thank you anyway, Tracey."
Sharon smiled again when Devlin left. "I hate her."
"She seems nice."
"You need to eat," said Sharon. "This anorexic thing is killing your brain. I know your dad passed away and your momís in another city, but you have to eat." Sharon took out her brownie, broke off a piece and pushed it against Traceyís mouth. "Oh, my god, youíre supposed to open your mouth!" Sharon threw another piece of brownie at Traceyís face then laughed.
Tracey laughed too. "Very funny. I can see you love Hell."
"Thatís what my shirt says." Sharon shook her head. "Oh well, guess youíd better go to the bathroom and wash your face."
Devlin looked in the mirror and brushed her hair. Another girl washing her hands rolled her eyes at Devlin. Her chains rattled as she left the bathroom.
"Good, Iím alone." Devlin set the brush on the side, opened her backpack and took out her headset. "Brat to overbearing father, come in, overbearing father."
"Devlin, thatís not funny!" yelled Yari from the other end. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Oh, poor Yari, itís almost one. Did I wake you? Good, now you know what I feel like when you wake me up at night!"
"Iíll remember to keep doing it. Status report?"
"I talked to Tracey Donnell. Nothing."
"Well, sheís still in mourning, so sheís talking kind of weird, but thatís it. I think Iím going to check out her house right after class. See if I can get any leads."
"Good idea. Iíll pick you up from there. Be careful though, the assassin may still be hanging around waiting to kill Tracey or something. You never know. Just be in and out and Iíll be there to pick you up."
"Sure Yari. Why donít you bring Veronica Jones along?"
"Yes. Iíll bring Ms. Jones along, so you can fill her in on any new information."
"Um, yeah. Veronica and YariÖ"
"K -- I Ö Somebodyís coming, over and out!" Devlin threw the headset into the backpack as Tracey Donnell walked in. Devlin resumed brushing her hair. "Hi."
"Hi Devlin." Tracey laughed and pointed at her face. "I just came to wash my face. Your hair looks great!"
Devlin smiled and blushed. "Thank you."
Tracey turned on the water, peeled off her face and rinsed it under the water. She was glad the brownie didnít leave a stain.
Devlin reached into the backpack slowly and set the electric current gun by her sink. It looked like a pen. She opened her tap, put her hands underneath the water, splashed her face with it, closed the tap and dried her face with paper towel. From the corner of her eye Devlin could see the metallic face with sparkles of light for eyes. She heard a sigh and watched Tracey dry her face with paper towel. Tracey put her face back on.
"I guess thatís a better way to wash your face."
"It is, 6570."
"Please call me, Tracey. Even though Tracey ran away." She sighed. "They hired you to bring me in."
"They did. Iíd rather do it the easy way. I can assure discretion. Sharon doesnít have to know anything."
Robot 6570 shrugged. "At least hear my side of the story. Iíll even make tea. Please, Iím not evil. They just program me to kill whoever they want." Robot 6570 hugged Devlin. "Donít let them send me away."
Devlin sighed, patting Robot 6570ís back. "After school then, at your -- I mean Traceyís place."
Devlin was seated in a cushioned chair as she drank her tea. The robot assassin sat across from her in another cushioned chair. "The tea is good. You should try 6571ís coffee."
"Thank you, Devlin Petersen. I knew I recognized you. Youíre the person they call when they need a job done."
"You make it sound so illegal. I just do deliveries. Iím here to deliver you to Giscel." Devlin shrugged a bit in her chair, sighed and tilted her head slightly. "I did agree that Iíd hear your side though."
"Thank you, Devlin, and I like your t-shirt. Sharon has the same one." The robot sat in her chair with her legs tucked under her.
"Cool people do."
"Well, anyway, I did the job for The Giscel Company. I killed Mr. Donnell. He was in the witness protection program and someone didnít want him testifying. The daughter, as I said, ran away. She left before I entered the living room to take out Mr. Donnell."
Devlin sipped her tea slowly. "Iím not here to arrest you for a crime. Youíve done the job, now you have to return to the company to do another."
"And another, and another, and another. Just like you, Devlin Petersen?"
"Pretty much. The difference is that I can give my two weeksí notice."
"I want a normal life!" The robot jumped out of her chair and did a cartwheel. "I want to go to school, learn about life, have my first date, go to the prom, get my license and drive. Go clubbing! Why canít I do that?"
Devlin finished her cup. "You can. I can say I didnít find anything. Theyíll keep looking though."
"Thatís all right, Devlin. Iíll take what I can get." Robot 6570 sat down in her chair. "You can buy me some more freedom by not taking me in."
Devlin laughed and shook her head. "I do love Hell! Alright, I wonít bring you in. Just be smarter about laying low, okay?"
"Okay, Devlin, thank you."
"Youíre welcome." Devlin set the cup on the table beside her. "Well, I have to go to the bathroom." Devlin rose and after a minute laughed. "Um, Tracey, where is the bathroom?"
"Oh sorry," Robot 6570 giggled. "Down the hall and to your right."
Devlin walked down the hall and turned right. This is a good thing, she thought to herself. Sheíd still be able to keep the money for her effort even though she "failed." Devlin saw a made bed. "Iíll have to keep this from Yari. What he doesnít know, wonít hurt him. I did go the right way." Devlin looked at the floor. The carpet looked newly vacuumed. There was nothing on the dresser except for a clock. "My goodness, this room is cleaner than mine." Devlin opened the closet, hoping to find everything thrown in there. She didnít expect to find a dead body with the face ripped off as well as the scalp. "Tracey!"
"Silly me," said Robot 6570 coming into the room. "I meant the left, not the right. Guess I should be smarter about laying low."
"You killed Tracey!"
Robot 6570 shrugged. "So I did."
"You werenít authorized to kill her!" Devlin looked around.
"Looking for this?" Robot 6570 held up a pen-like object. The electric current gun! "Iím also not authorized to kill you either, but I canít have you running to people and telling them about me. How else will I have my normal life?"
"Youíre too dangerous to have a normal life."
Robot 6570 pointed a gun at Devlin. "This is a real gun with real bullets. Unlike your electric current gun, this gun wonít stun you. It will just kill you. Goodbye Devlin Petersen, it was nice knowing you."
Devlin dove to the floor, hoping that would help, but she knew it wouldnít. When she looked up from the floor, Robot 6570 was pointing the gun at where she had been and the robotís eyes were closed. "What happened?"
Veronica Jones walked in, holding a remote control. "I turned her off." Veronica Jones wore a green suit jacket, green dress pants and a white t-shirt.
Yari ran in wearing a blue suit. "Devlin! Are you okay?"
"Iím fine Yari. Youíll find Traceyís bones in the closet." Devlin frowned and straightened Yariís tie, then felt herself being slammed into his chest. He was hugging her. "Iím okay, and youíre squeezing meÖ"
Yari let her go. "Sorry, I just worried thatís all. I saw your backpack in the living room and worried."
"Come to think of it, youíre late! What took you so long?"
Veronica Jones put Robot 6570ís gun in a plastic bag. "We stopped for ice cream."
"Ah yes, Yari," said Devlin patting Yariís tummy, "I see youíve had my share as well."
© 2005 by Arnold Emmanuel
Mr. Emmanuel says: "Currently I live in Edmonton, Alberta, work as a supervisor part-time at a fast food restaurant, and find time to write. I have published one poem in a local university paper in 1995."
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Lettercol
Or Return to Aphelion's Index page.