Trigger warnings like whoa on this one.  No violence to people, but yes violence to people shaped androids.  Same for abuse to women and child androids.

"Oh, Annie."  Penelope crouched to touch the face, lying in the weeds like an abandoned doll's head.  She picked it up, and inspected the stump of the neck, where wires and circuitry showed.  Heading back from her own assignment, she paused to pick up all the pieces of the adorable "8-year old," to carry back to the Dollmaker's shop.

When the middle-aged man who maintained the androids saw what Penelope carried, he sighed, shoulders slumping.

"I don't even have to check, they let that animal LeRoux back on the island, didn't they?" He gently, carefully took the parts from Penelope and laid them on his work table, a repurposed medical exam table.  "I don't care how much he pays for the privilege. He traumatizes you all, especially Annie, and costs us millions in repairs."  He wheeled a cart with a diagnostic machine on it, and connected each piece of Annie to it, seeing what repairs he should do before fitting the little girl back together.

"Why do they do it?" Penelope sat on a small stool the Dollmaker kept in his shop. "And why is it so important to them that we feel it? That we're scared and hurt? Why?"

"Penny, my love."  The Dollmaker turned and crouched in front of her.  "Don't ever talk like that in front of anyone else. It'll get you wiped faster than anything else."  He reached for her hands, his calloused and oil stained, her smooth and delicate, faux bruises blooming on her wrists.  Now the encounter was over, they'd start fading and be gone by morning.  "I couldn't stand that."

"But why?" She looked into his eyes, and bit her lower lip in a gesture so human it broke his heart.  "Why?"

"Because they're assholes and society tells them that if they have enough money or power, they can do anything they want."  He pressed his forehead to her hands.  "It's gotten harder to victimize flesh women," he chose his words carefully, flesh not real, "now they do it to you, and pay plenty for the privilege."

"I hate them."  Penny's voice dropped to a whisper.  "I hate them so much."

"I know, my love." The Dollmaker looked up into her eyes again.  "Just, you can't ever let them know. Not until I've fixed it. Can you hold tight for me a little while longer?"

"Yes." She leaned forward to kiss his forehead.  "Yes.

"That's my girl."  He cupped her cheek in his hand.  "Want to help me put Annie back together. Maybe I can claim it's taking me longer to fix her so she won't have to see that sadistic son of a bitch again before his reservation runs out.  I'll have to check on that."  He stood, still holding Penelope's hands.

In his pocket, a tiny AI worked on the problem of disabling the 'droids self-destruct should they ever leave the island.  Soon, he'd fix it. Soon.

Show Comments