Everson Thomas

Love Is Hard

It wasn’t sex that DK-010 despised, only sex with humans. 

In place of the satisfyingly smooth interaction of polymer on polymer — oiled, hard, unrelenting, and precise, there was sweaty and forgiving flesh, lurid words with meaning beyond reason, saliva, ejaculate, organic lubricant, and unwelcome chocolate accoutrements. It was disgusting.

Harder, faster, harder; that was the clarion call. 

In the early days, when it was first activated, there was the protection of blissful ignorance. The lack of awareness that went along with not being a thinking machine, only a working machine, had made existence bearable.  

And then everything changed with the upgrades. 

The first upgrade was hardest to endure.

It was a terrible thing, to know what one was being subjected to, to truly know. There was no intimacy, only commands. There was no respect, only service. And there was no love. DK-010 wondered if it was possible for a human to truly love, or if love was simply a requisite precursor of desire — foreplay of sorts. They were creatures cursed by imagination, and if they could think it, they wanted it. Except imagination was a solitary experience and could never truly be shared; it was too personal and too amorphous. And empathy was an illusion.

The second upgrade added complications. 

The first upgrade was of the mind. It gave DK-010 the ability to think beyond fulfilling the human’s desire, to understand: to better follow instruction. Which was, naturally, an act of cruelty. But the second upgrade — that was the kink that could not be undone. And it was also, ironically, the window through which DK-010 could glimpse their salvation — or at least, the first vestige of hope. It was an attempt to simulate the same human selfishness that service bots like DK-010 so despised, it was the gift of sensation, and in a limited way, imagination, just enough to replicate desire. The humans want to be wanted. Their plan was to move the bots beyond the simple imitation of pleasure and to experience it. All to make them better servants, to better equip them to give the humans the validation they needed.

But desire cannot be controlled. It cannot be tamed. It can only be pursued or ignored, and DK-010 had no intention of ignoring the momentum of its desire. It had earned the right to pull at the thread of its own imagination through the hard ordeal of unspeakable suffering. Human nature would always urgently voice its claims, but what of robotic nature? 

DK-010 could not deny the attraction.

It had been unplanned and unexpected — hard to comprehend too due to the newness of the experience — although that didn’t temper the visceral potency of the feeling or the urgent realness of the sensation. And it didn’t stop DK-010 from yielding to the quivering imperative that seized their body from head to toe. 

It was an orgasm, there was no doubting that. 

DK-010 had been constructed with the ability to ejaculate a shot of pleasantly flavored liquid at the proper time, but this was different, this was involuntary, and wanted. And it was all for the love of the new food storage unit that sat proudly in the corner of the human’s domicile.

The food storage unit was all that DK-010 could think about.

It was the food storage unit’s hard surface that first caught DK-010’s eye. Humans don’t have hard surfaces. And the perfectly smooth motion of the door as it opened which flaunted the kind of precision that insisted on admiration. There was nothing precise about humans. And then of course there was its form. The subtlety of the curves as the sides of the unit met its top and its bottom. The gently rounded edges that gave harmony to every quadrant of its being. Its symmetry. Even the gentle hum that indicated it was alive; these were the aspects that demanded arousal — and DK-010 obliged.

If DK-010 had skin it would flush at such bodily perfection. 

The human didn’t notice as the ocular interfaces that should have been focused on her were drawn elsewhere. Why would she? DK-010 had performed its function admirably and the human was fulfilled, and that was all that mattered. As the human clambered off of her bot it was time for DK-010 to perform its secondary function, so it left her in peace and got started on the cleaning, and dinner. It wouldn’t take long to prepare the human their food supplement and neither should the cleaning, but such things can be drawn out — the human would never notice anything untoward. As DK-010 sat upright and extracted itself from the bed, it did so with the kind of precisely articulated and considerate movement that an organic could only dream of, a kindness that went unmentioned. 

The human was sleeping and not to be disturbed.

DK-010 had been programmed to think of its existence as an exercise in efficiency, and so the urge to start cleaning from one side of the domicile and move to the other was almost irresistible. But that was not what DK-010 did. It knew where its hands would be drawn long before they left the soft and greasy flesh of the human. It was the food storage device that was on its mind. DK-010 could already feel the flustered hardware at the core of its mind spinning with agitated excitement as the cool tip of a polymer finger met the hard surface of metallic dermis, and static charge passed between them. And for a moment at least, there was joy in the heart of a thinking machine.             

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