Short Story: Hadaly’s Day Out (Part I)

«      »

[Hadaly’s Day Out (feat. Brother Jed) by Kyt Dotson is a short story in the Black Hat Magick series. If you would like to skip this and move on directly to chapter 4 click here. Otherwise enjoy!]

Elaine powered down the Enoch and put it into energy saving mode. The small handled device, akin to a cell phone dimmed all its lights in her hand; the Enochian symbols shimmering along its keypad lost their luminescence and went dead as matte black. She’d recently been playing with a new Android phone, which she’d loaded with all the proper code to access a lot of the spells she normally used—but she couldn’t get it to operate within three feet of the Enoch without catastrophic interference. A pair of die-cut, steel Space Invader charms jingled from the corner of the smartphone as she powered it on.

Hadaly, an actual android by manifest fact, stood nearby in front of a mirror gazing at her reflection like a bird preening itself. The mannequin chassis had been dressed in a cyan blue dress shirt with the collar flipped up over a shin-length lab coat with the buttons done up to the top. The tan cuffs of her stain-resistant suit pants poked out beneath the while of the lab coat, terminating in a pair of black sneakers that had to be re-stitched because they had been bought for a previous iteration of Hadaly’s body—one that had been half a shoe size smaller. The artificial intelligence had become nostalgic about them and one of them even still had the remnants of battle-scars she’d earned while destroying that body.

“If Hadaly’s done making herself pretty,” Frog said from the doorway. Her green hair bunched up on her shoulder as she contorted her body to peer into the room at an odd angle. “You two prepared for our outing?”

“I am ready,” Hadaly said, flipping her collar down. She turned on her heel with a motion-perfect study of a 180-degree pirouette, addressed Frog and Elaine by describing a bow about her middle, then returned once again to her full height sporting a radiant smile. “How do I look?”

“You’re a picture of mechanical health,” Frog said, entering the room. “Let’s get going before the going gets cold.”

Elaine looked up from her phone—the unintuitive UI had her confounded for a moment until she opened up the engineering interface and made a few tweaks.

“Daylight Protocol is in effect,” she said tonelessly using her gaze to indicate both Frog and Hadaly. The last upgrade she’d given to the android chassis should make her more readily able to integrate with flesh-and-blood humans. Previous incarnations of her body had visible seams and expressions that belied her silicon nature; but with a little chemical engineering, specialized surgical plastics, advanced polymers—and the unknowing aid of ASU’s theater special effects department—she now had a far less uncanny affect than previous models.

Still, the android girl couldn’t withstand anything but the most superficial scrutiny.

Hadaly’s expression went stoic blank, her shoulders squared, back ramrod straight. She saluted and nodded curtly.

“Yes, ma’am. Understood, ma’am.”

Now if only she could get her behavior under control.

Frog patted Elaine on the arm. “I wouldn’t worry about it much, honey,” she said. “Most people are more uncomfortable around you than they are with Hadaly.”

“Why is that, do you think?” Elaine asked.

“You make them feel stupid.” Frog shrugged.

“I am in the top ninety-ninth percentile of the most intelligent people,” Elaine said, “but that doesn’t make the rest of the population stupid.”

“And that’s why I love you,” Frog said. She wrapped both of the other girls up into wide, two-armed hug and squeezed them together. “My two robot girlfriends.”

“I’m not a robot,” Hadaly guffed.

 * * *

Geometry. The ASU campus described itself adequately in a grid of walkways paved with concrete and ground stone. The buildings, while ranging in architectural design, all supported a sort of block-and-brick style like cubes huddled against one another. Trees planted near buildings and in the thick planters near the center of walkways afforded oases of shade in the still-hot winterArizonasun.

“TheGPSon this device is off by twelve meters,” Elaine said as she held the Android phone up—its camera displaying outlines of the ASU classrooms as they passed by. That one, theBusinessCollege; in the distance, the Student Rec center; behind them the once-namedAgricultureBuilding, now the Discovery Hall. Together the trio marched up the center of Cady Mall, past the Memorial Union on their way past the library. “There it goes. It takes it a few minutes to update with the satellite. I can probably fix its predictive algorithm…”

Hadaly walked with a joyful spring in her step and a swing of the arms. The movements weren’t too far outside the human norm, so Elaine didn’t call her on it, and Frog didn’t seem to notice. The latter information was enough to allay any concern that Elaine might have had about the A.I.’s apparent inhumanity when walking amid so many people in broad daylight. Of course, Frog had gotten used to Hadaly’s presence and might miss telltales that other people might catch onto.

Still, not a single passerby had paused for more than a moment to look at the unlikely group, except perhaps to ogle Frog’s green hair or her amply displayed cleavage. She’d gone with a common ensemble of hers displaying a plaid schoolgirl skirt and a white button-down shirt with several of the upper buttons undone. Frog appeared pleased enough with the end effect.

“She seems to be doing pretty well,” Elaine said to her as they weaved through a tour group of teenaged high school students on tour of the campus. She’d debated taking the android through the MU proper, but decided against such tight quarters and close bodies.

“Of course she is,” Frog said, dismissing any concerns out of hand. “I’ve been telling you that she needs to be let off the leash more often. After all, how do you expect to socialize her if she spends all her time on Internet forums? Plus, how often do we get to go out without some pressing drama going on?”

“I guess we don’t,” Elaine mused. “Do you think that’s stunting her psychosocial development?”

“I can hear you,” Hadaly said. “My psychosocial development is going quite well, thank you. I can process over a million relationships and social data points a second, that’s well beyond the capabilities of you meatbags.”

That drew a few raised eyebrows and narrow glances from passersby; but in spite of reaction to Hadaly’s grim language, nobody took pause in their walking, or conversations.

Frog chuckled and shook her head.

“Perhaps we should cut this one short—.” Elaine started to say.

“Hey, a street preacher!” Hadaly said with unrestrained glee, putting both hands to her chin and wiggling her hips. “I haven’t seen one of those up close except for lots of YouTUBE. I’ll be right back.”

«      »

About this entry