Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your very own Mr. Darcy? Yeah, me too.
In my new story “Parsers and Prejudice” I took a different spin on the modern-day Jane Austen variations. In a future world, where men are all but extinct, Laney falls in love with her only companion, a male android built to meet her every need. But when a deadly virus sweeps the bot population, she must do everything she can to save the bot she loves.
Laney is an IT call-center rep at the largest male-bot company, Alpha-bot. Alpha-bot specializes in only the best models. Mr. Darcy, Romeo, Casanova, Nicholas Nickleby, or for those inclined to the fantastical, Dracula, Tarzan, Phantom of the Opera, and The Beast. Alpha-bot makes their models in every skin tone, ethnicity, language, and accent. They are issued near the owner’s age and can be enrolled in the progression program that enables them to age with the owner.
But imagine having your very own Darcy-bot! He’d cook, clean, and take care of you in whatever capacity you wanted him to. Looking for a maid and chauffer? He can do that. Want something more intimate? He can do that, too.
In Laney’s case, she has used her company discounts and hacking skills to create a bot that is as close to a human male companion as possible. He thinks on his own and displays mannerisms beyond what normal robots do. Has she taught him enough to help him be immune to the bot virus? Or will he too succumb to the deadly plague?
Check out this excerpt for a taste of what “Parsers and Prejudice” has to offer.
Parsers and Prejudice
by Emerian Rich
“Alpha-Bot, this is Laney. How may I help you?”
“My bot’s acting up. He overloaded the clothes washer and broke three of my dishes. Also, something is wrong with my vid screen. Not sure what happened there.”
“And what model do you own?”
“Ah, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a robotic Mr. Darcy is never as perfect as one hopes…”
“Can you make him stop or what?”
Obviously, caller 29406 was a fan of the Pride and Prejudice films and clingy pants, not the book.
“Sure, linking up now,” Laney said, which always sounded a bit naughty to her. Interfacing with Mr. Darcy wasn’t as cool as one would think. “Ah, I see. It looks like Mr. Darcy has a virus.”
“A virus, crap. He’s been with my daughter all day.”
“It’s not contagious to humans. He’s a robot.”
“Oh, good. So, what the hell do I do now?”
“Well, he’s not responding to my commands. Are you able to reach his right ear?”
“I can try.”
“Good. There is a latch behind his right ear.”
“Pardon me, my lady,” Mr. Darcy-bot’s voice came through the phone. “May I be of assistance? Are you unwell?”
“I can’t quite…”
“Oh, my lady, you are feisty tonight, but you’ve not even eaten your dinner yet.”
“Shut up, Darcy, and let me…”
“Have I angered you? Allow me to tell you how much I ardently admire and lo—”
Laney heard a click and the voice stopped mid-sentence.
“You did it,” Laney said.
“Yeah. So, now what?” It was hard to imagine bitchy caller 29406 meshing well with a pleasant Darcy-bot, but to each her own.
“I’ve already dispatched a repair bot. He should be there within the hour. He can help you tidy up and then he’ll attempt to repair Darcy.”
“And if he can’t?”
“You still have four months on your repair plan. If we can’t repair him, a new model will be issued to you, free of charge.”
“Damn! He’s been with me ten years. He knows all my schedules and routines.”
“I see he’s recently backed up his main system, so—”
“Yeah, but I’m on privacy mode, jeez…”
Laney smiled. About fifty percent of the population used their bots on privacy mode because of their fear the government would have control. There were also those who kept it on privacy mode so the government wouldn’t have access to personal things like sexual preferences and kinks. Laney actually had hers on a private lock too, but she backed hers up at home manually once a month.
“Oh, no. I know how devastating that can be, which is why we will do everything in our power to cure him. Would you like to extend your repair plan now?”
“Let’s see what happens first.”
Laney knew that tone of voice. It meant, “If this bot dies, I may trade it in for another company’s bot.”
“Of course, we’re on our way. Feel free to call us back if you have any other issues.” The phone clicked before she could offer a survey but that was fine with her. She hated offering the survey.
Working the repair line was rarely a happy event. People were mad. Their bots were family. But recently there had been more virus calls than usual. Where the virus came from, no one really knew, but it was spreading like wildfire.
She smiled to herself as she thought of the Mr. Darcy-bot vid ad.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in the 23rd century must have a male-bot. Why not make it a Darcy-bot?”
But it was true. Whether for pleasure, help around the house, or simply companionship, male-bots had become a necessity, just like smartphones in the 2000s. After the male-only pandemic, Y-Chrome, had wiped out most of the men on the planet, there were only a few thousand left and they lived in protective custody in the pristine and lavish city sarcastically called Harem City, doing little more than providing sperm for the growth of future generations.
Falling in love is scary,
especially in these four witty,
otherworldly tales from Meant to Be Press
“Parsers and Prejudice” by Emmy Z. Madrigal
Sometimes digital love is all you got.
In a future world, where men are all but extinct, Laney falls in love with her only companion, a male android built to meet her every need. But when a deadly virus sweeps the bot population, she must do everything she can to save the bot she loves.
“Cursed by Cupid” by Naching T. Kassa
Nothing is scarier than love.
Jane Sanders is a professional matchmaker and her new client is to die for. Henry Roberts is a handsome and charming Englishman, someone every woman would want. There’s just one problem. Henry is also ghost, cursed to appear as each woman’s nightmare. Can Jane aid him in his hunt for true love? Or will she experience her first failure and condemn his soul to hell forever?
“The Phone Booth” by M.M. Genet
What would you give for one last chance?
What would you give to talk one last time to someone you lost? Would you give up your savings, your house or car? How about your best friend or a member of your family? After a tornado hits their small town, the names of the missing gradually become the names of the dead. A haunted phone booth might give Ahi one last chance to call his missing girlfriend.
“Cordial Foe” by H.E. Roulo
Magic isn’t found, it’s made
If not for the magic embroidered into her tattoos, Cherry would already be dead. Isaac’s life revolves around duty and protection, so he hardly has time for the rockabilly woman bringing chaos to his mountain. Sometimes, a little chaos is a wake-up call. Too bad what Cherry wants is at odds with what Isaac has to give. His secrets might be worse than hers.
An anthology of otherworldly love stories from Meant to Be Press authors.
Meant to Be…SPOOKED
Available now on Amazon.