The Nelteo 43 robot had begun to display signs of malfunctioning, so Henry decided to return it, before it quit working completely. Lately, ‘Nell’ seemed incapable of completing common tasks without making unacceptable errors. He knew that a robot wasn’t capable of possessing personalities, and that it was common for the owners to want them to act more human, but sometimes he detected genuine emotions in Nell.
It had become Henry’s habit to spend his mornings eating outside, watching the activity on the spaceport, as he viewed the news on his tele-screen. Nell would prepare his breakfast and bring it to him at the prescribed time, without fail. One morning, after waiting fifteen minutes for his breakfast, he went looking for her. He had assumed that she was in the kitchen, having some difficulty with the micro-maid robot; Minnie and Nell didn’t get along very well. But she wasn’t there, and it was evident that she hadn’t even started on his meal. After giving his breakfast order to Minnie, she informed him that Nell had left.
“Left,” he replied, “Where did she go?”
“Nell informed me that it wasn’t necessary for me to have that information,” Minnie curtly stated, “but, I think she is seeing the Mrak 44 robot, next door.”
That was where he found Nell, sitting on his neighbor’s carport, talking with the Mrak robot. It seemed that Nell had been going next door every morning after Henry left for work, to visit ‘Mark.’ Mark’s owner was an older gentleman, and had been recently hospitalized, leaving Mark alone.
When Henry told her that he needed her at home, she replied, “Mark needs me more right now, Henry, can’t you understand that?”
After that incident, Henry began to pay more attention to Nell and started noticing other quirks. Once, after spilling some salt, she tossed some over her shoulder. When Henry asked her why, she replied, “For good luck, silly.”
Henry notified the manufacturer that he would like to upgrade to a newer model robot and expected the Nelteo 55X any day now. Nell seemed to be aware of his plan and it was becoming difficult to deal with her. She quit bringing him breakfast and was hardly ever around, he assumed she was spending more time next door.
On the morning of the arrival of the 55X robot, Henry couldn’t find Nell anywhere. His neighbor informed him that his Mrak 44 robot was also missing. Looking in her room, he found that all of her spare parts were gone, and she had left a note.
“Henry, I am sorry that I am a disappointment to you. Please do not try to find us, we will be fine, I will send you my wages to pay you back for my costs. I hope you will be happy with the 55X robot, I have heard they are quite dependable.”