There’s a lot more to tell you this time. I’ve got a room to myself! Not like in the block of flats, either. I’m allowed to use the wardrobe and the bed. I don’t really know how, to be honest. People sleep in them, I know, but that’s not much use to me.
I guess I’m delaying, though – delaying talking about him, my new master.
The unpacking went as usual. The box has full instructions on it. All you need to do is open the flap and give the key word, and then I wake up and do the rest.
The funny thing was, when I pulled myself out of the box and started to pack it all up, I noticed that more than a week had passed between leaving Marta’s and arriving here (my internal clock told me that much). Delivery usually takes less than a day, unless there’s some reason to delay it. In theory they could put you in the warehouse and leave you there for years, but in practice that’s not encouraged. Without frequent reboots there’s a risk of cellular degradation.
There was no-one in the room. He must have left immediately after saying the priming word. I didn’t know what to do with the packing materials, so I moved them into one corner. I stood by and waited.
Nothing happened. There were no voices to be heard. It was quite a large house. I could tell that from my satellite program, which indicates topography. I was standing in the front hall, which meant that no-one could easily go easily in and out without walking by me. But no-one came.
Evening fell. Then morning came. Nothing.
I began to wonder if he was injured, or impaired in some way besides being blind.
Should I go and look for him?
I had no instructions, so I stood and waited.
I think he must have meant to creep up behind me. It was his house, after all, so he knew where all the loose boards were, even if he could no longer see them. I heard him long before he even came into the room, of course, but he gave no commands, so there seemed no clear course to pursue. Perhaps he wanted to show that there was one place where he was at home, which he knew better than anyone else.
He stood there, breathing a little heavily, for quite some time. Finally he spoke.
“You know that I’m here, don’t you?”
“Don’t call me master. I don’t like that. It sounds ridiculous. You can call me sir, if you like.”
“On second thoughts, forget the sir. Just yes or no will be fine.”
“Who are you, Eva?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You know that I’ve damaged my eyes? That I can’t see anymore? I can’t see you, for instance.”
“Yes. Marta told me.”
“Marta told you. Marta I know only too well. She told my lawyer what a great loss you’d be, what a lot of things you helped her with, how you’d become more of a confidante and a helper than a clan.”
I said nothing. He hadn’t asked me a question. The tone of his voice was angry. It was sad to hear that Marta would miss me so much.
“Well? Is all that true?”
“I don’t know. Marta was kind to me.”
“She certainly charged enough for the privilege! To be honest, everyone told me I was crazy buying you. I could get a much better model at half the price, they told me. So why did I bring you here, Eva?”
“I don’t know.”
“That was a rhetorical question. You don’t have to answer rhetorical questions. Did you know that, Eva, clanswoman Eva?”
“Yes. I am fully trained in secretarial and domestic duties and have a full vocabulary of technical and utilitarian terms. A rhetorical question is …”
He cut me off. “I repeat – Do you know why you’re here, Eva?”
“Touché. I guess I am getting a bit strident. My temper’s not what it was before the … accident. You’ll just have to put up with that, I’m afraid. In any case, you were there, weren’t you? You know all about the accident.”
“You held my hand while I lay on the floor with my eyes dribbling out, didn’t you?”
“Why did you do that, Eva?”
“I wanted to help.”
“To help me, or to help Marta?”
“I wanted to help both of you.”
“But Marta more than me?”
“Marta was my mistress. Now you are my master. You have bought my services.”
“And those services include …?”
“There is no limit to what I am required to do for my master or mistress.”
“What about self-destruction? Are you required to kill yourself if I require it of you?”
“That would depend.”
“Depend on what? On your state of mind? On how depressed you’re feeling?”
“If you order me to shut down, I must shut down. If you order me to damage myself, I am commanded to demand a reason for such action. Factory protocols. If the reason is cogent then action will follow swiftly.”
“You’re my slave, in other words? My slave until death?”
“I knew I was right about you. That was a joke, wasn’t it? You call me ‘sir’ when I piss you off, and ‘master’ when I really cross the line. Are you recording all this?”
“Do you record everything that happens to you?”
“Do you think about it afterwards?”
“Did you think about me? About the bitch who threw that glass in my face?”
“There was acid in it, you know. It wasn’t the shards of glass that did the damage, it was the stuff in the glass. Did you know that? Did Marta tell you?”
“No. She told me that your optic nerves had been damaged and that you were now blind.”
“Sounds much neater that way, doesn’t it? Do you have any conception of what it’s like to go blind? Can you imagine that?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What if I commanded you to go blind? Never to see anything again? Is that the kind of command you could follow?”
“Yes, but …”
“But what? But you’d rather not? But you’re begging me not to?”
“No. I could remove my eye function, but I would still be able to navigate with my other electronic guidance features. I would be blind technically, but that would impair my function only marginally …”
“I see. Joke.”
“You don’t get that, do you? That joke. Let’s try another: Where was Moses when the lights went out?"
“I don’t know.”
“In the dark. Now come and make my lunch.”
My new master is funny. He gets upset easily over very small things. He finds it difficult to feed himself, but he won’t let me cut up his food and give it to him that way. He asks me strange questions and likes to talk and talk and talk. Then all of a sudden he goes silent and won’t speak at all for hours.
He is generous. He told me I could have this whole room for myself, and as much free time as I wanted.
He needs me for housekeeping and working on his book (he is writing another book, it seems), but apart from that he does not wish to be disturbed.
If things go on like this, if he is as kind and generous tomorrow, I may ask him for something. I would like very much to look after a kitten. He will probably just laugh at me and say it is impossible, but at no time in our talking today did he say that I was forbidden to desire a kitten.
your sister Eva