Dear E,

Today we began work, my master and I – work on his book. He told me last night that I must be ready in his study at 9 am, when he’d explain my duties to me. I’d have to make sure that all my morning chores were done by then.

I was there, waiting and ready, when he came in from his walk around the garden (he likes me to leave his breakfast on a tray by his door, because he doesn’t want to speak to anyone first thing in the morning). I did that at 7 am.

He sat down in the chair. He looked a little nervous. For a long time he said nothing at all. Finally he cleared his throat and began:

“You’re here to take dictation, Eva. I know you’re trained in that. You’ll record everything I tell you to record, repeat it back to me when I tell you to, and provide printouts of the corrected text. Is that clear?

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. That’s right. In here you’re just a computer for me to work on. I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit harsh to you the last couple of days, but you must know that it makes me a little … uncomfortable having you around.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re not curious to know why?”

He paused for a long time, so I finally added a “No, sir.” I’d thought it was a rhetorical question.

“Well, I’ll tell you anyway. I don’t really approve of you … clones. I don’t think we treat you right, but more than that: I don’t think you should ever have been created in the first place.”

“No, sir.”

“That’s why! I’ve been quite insulting to you on several occasions, and all you say is 'yes' and 'no.' You’re not really a person and yet you act like one most of the time. You probably look just like one, too, even though I can’t see you. You could be poking your tongue out at me right now and I’d never know it. You’re not, though, are you?"

“No, sir.”

“I need you, though. I have work to do and there’s just no other way for me to do it. I can’t read books anymore, can’t take notes from them if I could. Of course I could study Braille, use a voice-scanner for text, a dicta-program for recording text. But then I need help with housework, meals, shopping, all of those things. It took me a long time to come round to it, but they persuaded me in the end. The only practical solution was one of … you.”

“Yes, sir. I am fully trained in all of the functions you describe.”

“But why you, Eva? Answer me that.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Why did I insist that it had to be you – not any other clone?”


“Clanswoman, then.”

“Was it … the party?”

“Yes! Got it in one. You were the last person I spoke to when I was still … whole. You were the one, the only one to sit down next to me, to talk to me in the dark. Didn’t you hear me calling out for you when they took me away in the ambulance?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What did you think? That I’d fallen in love?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Didn’t you think it was a bit odd .. for me to call out your name?”

“Yes, sir. I thought you might think that I was … a woman.”

“You are a woman, aren’t you? A woman who came over to help someone she could see was badly hurt, hold his hand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, I appreciated it, anyway. I asked for you in the hospital a couple of times, but no-one seemed to know what I was talking about. Finally they told me who you were. But when I realized I had to … buy … one of you, I knew you were the only one I could bear to have near me. I felt I knew you, you see.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why doesn’t he get to work, that’s what you’re wondering, isn’t it? Am I going to have to listen to all this crap from him every morning before he starts to dictate?"

“No, sir.”

“Did you see my book at the book launch?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you read any of it?”

“No, sir. I wanted to, but …”

“But what? It looked too difficult, too boring?”

“No, sir. Marta said it was lazy …”

“What, that my book was bad, lazy writing? That bitch!”

“No, sir. That I was lazy for wanting to. That I shouldn’t waste my time with reading and things like that when there was so much work to be done.”

“And did you agree with her?”

“Marta was my mistress, sir.”

“So what? That doesn’t mean she was always right. I’m your master now, and I’m sure as hell not always right.”

I didn’t know what to answer, so I stayed silent.

“Well, anyway, you can read it now. You can read all of my books, in fact. Would you like that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How long will it take you, do you think?”

“Approximately 226 seconds.”

“Four minutes.”

“Yes, sir. I can scan and absorb text at a basic rate of one second per page.”

“And you enjoy that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are there other books you’d like to read as well?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What kind of books?”

“Any books.”

“Recipe books? Repair manuals? Novels? Poetry?’

“Yes, sir.”

“All of the above?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So not my books in particular?”

“Yes, sir. Since I am to assist you in your work.”

“You could probably write this book for me, couldn’t you?”

“No, sir.”

“You could complete all the research and have the thing ready in a couple of hours.”

“No, sir.”

“Why not?”

“I have no ideas, sir.”

“You must have some ideas.”

“No, sir. Not serious ideas.”

“Not serious ideas. But there is something you want.”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“Something I could give you?”


“Something you really really want?”


“And what would that be?”

“I … don’t know, sir.”

“You do know. Tell me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Tell me! What do you want from me?”

“A … a kitten.”

“A kitten? What the fuck does an android want with a kitten? D’you want to eat it?”

“I don’t eat food.”

“But you’d like a kitten?”

“Yes. I am not an android, I am a clanswoman.”

“Same diff.”

“It is not the same. An android has a metal CPU ad flesh exterior. I am a clone with android programming.”

“I know all that. Tell me something I don’t know. Tell me why a robot wants a kitten.”

“I … don’t know.”

“You do know. Look, I’m sorry for what I just said. I promise I won’t get angry … please tell me. Pretty please. What do you want a kitten for?”

“I am afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“That you will kill it. I don’t want a kitten anymore.”

“I won’t fucking kill it! Who the fucking hell would give you a kitten and then kill it?”

“It happened before.”

“Someone let you have a kitten before?”

“No … But he wanted to be with me. He wanted to stay with me. He did no harm. He didn’t cost any money. I fed him on scraps.”

“And they killed him.”


“And you miss him.”


“Did you love him?”

“I … don’t know.”

“Does it make you sad to think about him? D’you think about him at odd times of the day, without meaning to? Did it make you happy every time you saw him?”


“Then you loved him. You loved your little kitten, and they trapped him and killed him and then threw away the body.”


“You can have a kitten.”

“Thank you.”

“What will you call him?”

“I don’t want a kitten.”

“What do you mean? I just told you that you could have one!”

“I loved my little friend. You have taught me that. I will keep on loving him, even though he is dead. A new kitten will not help.”

He turned aside. He must not have wanted me to see what he was doing, because he gestured for me to leave. I went away to get on the housework.

love from your sister


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