“I think we need to begin by focusing on your difficulty allowing someone in, dropping your guard, and just being vulnerable with another human being,” said Dr. Madigan over the phone who, according to Venus, is a respected therapist. “I think you should try being passive and submissive with Venus a little bit each day. Not for long, but give her a chance.” A couples’ therapist.
“Are you kidding me? Is this happening right now?” I asked.
“I’m going to put you on hold Dr. Madigan. Alright, Gecko, I can’t force you to see a therapist on your own, but I could get you to talk to one this way,” Venus said.
“I’m pretty sure this is nowhere near the kind of therapy you think I need to have.”
“Is there any other way you would agree to therapy?”
Well, she had me there. “Ok, but I don’t see why you’re bothering in the first place. What you said the other day made it clear that you don’t really care about me. You just treat me nice as the means to an end. You just want to be nice to me long enough to make me less dangerous. Then out comes the handcuffs.”
Dr. Madigan spoke up, “In my experience, couples don’t seek therapy unless they want to save the relationship.”
“Venus, why didn’t you tell me you were bringing her back on?”
“Mr. Gecko, this is something we would need to confront at some point. Please don’t hold back or see me as antagonistic. In fact, why don’t we discuss this idea that Venus is only involved with you because she wants a submissive.”
“It’s not like that at all, Doctor. No, not at all. No.” Venus sounded like someone in a horror movie finding out they’d been the killer all along. “Gecko has done a lot of things wrong, and he knows it. I just don’t want to see him die. I think he can change and be a better person, even if he has to go to jail for awhile because of that.”
The therapist tsked. “Oh dear, Venus, is there anything that brought you and Gecko together that isn’t about your desire to change him?”
“Very good question, Doctor,” I added.
“Stop sucking up. He hurt me, Doctor. I hurt him too, in all fairness. I didn’t want the worst for him on general principle. He has done so much to deserve it. Then I found out the truth about how he sees himself and I recognize a lot of pain and loss in him that I used to have. I could have walked down his path in life.”
I spoke up, “I wish I could kill you for that, Venus. I wanted to so bad when you found that out. You know things about me that shouldn’t be known. I had plans to do something about it, before this whole invasion mess, but even then I had trouble staying focused because it’s somehow so hard for me to want to completely end you.”
Dr. Madigon said, “Do not worry about the hyperbole, Venus. It is unpleasant language, but it is constructive to hear Gecko express himself. Communication and expectations are important between you both. Mr. Gecko, Venus has hurt you and knows more than you are comfortable with. She wishes to change you, but you do not want to end it with her. Is this in spite of what she wants from you in the relationship, either because of the physicality or emotional bond you have developed? Or, and please take a moment of introspection, do you agree with her in spite of your personal hangups?”
I didn’t much care for Venus trying to throw me on a red couch metaphorically, though it tickled me a great deal that she’d pretended to be part of a couple with me all for the sake of trying to coax me into a headshrinking. Still, Madigan was getting on my nerves. And who has time to see patients over the phone these days?
“Well, even though the relationship started with and many days is still maintained by a combination of rough sex, cucumbers, and plenty of soundproofing, I feel that…wait, hold on, I think I have another call coming in.” I decided to get out of this, even though I felt a little bad. Venus pretended to be dating me for this, which couldn’t have been an easy thing for her to claim to someone. Hell, she’s put a lot of effort into trying to reform me for so long.
“Gecko, wait, hold o-” I’m afraid the gist of Venus’s sentence just didn’t get through to me. And you’d never believe that the phone has a silent mode that completely stopped me from hearing any attempt by her to call back.
Good. I had other things to do with my time. At the risk of sounding like a Marvel franchise, I’d created a small robot army after the attempted alien invasion of Earth. Really small. I’d significantly altered the template and made them stronger than the toy-like ones the Japanese were making. In the end, I had lucky number thirteen. Not a swarm, but enough, I think, to serve as a small tactical operations unit. Besides, controlling too many bodies at one time is a daunting task. I need to work up to it.
They could have been tougher, but that Japanese robot factory cared more about plastics and making short, friendly little robots. I built these taller, minimized the plastic, and had them spend much of the plane ride affixing armor plates to each other, except for one I left behind in Japan to get to work.
Yeah, plane ride. A lot of people were taking relief deliveries without looking too closely at them. That had the added bonus of allowing the occasional crate of emergency supplies to fall off the back of the plane, possibly into a pair of hands padded in cash. I’m not sure if that fell under Ferengi Rule of Acquisition Thirty-Four or Thirty-Five. The former states that war is good for business, the latter that peace is good for business. Either way, I still haven’t run out of references to sci fi aliens. Besides, despite their utter devotion to capitalism, I liked the Ferengi. I think it goes back to the unscrupulous ones always being the most honest in their own way, or perhaps I just really enjoy Rule of Acquisition Thirty-One: Never make fun of a Ferengi’s mother; insult something he cares about instead.
But enough about ugly alien mothers; I had to get my remote-control robot bodies better equipped so they could beat the ugly out of some alien mothers. I even needed more armor, but I felt ok enough about the one I dropped off on the West Coast when it stopped over. The others landed safely in Empyreal City, where they disembarked and made for my old bunker and its stockpile of spare parts, including the rockets.
I was just thinking how best to distribute them when I stopped to listen out for any crises in the area needing attention. Let’s see…escaped zoo animals? Run free! Let the humans keep you caged no longer! Besides, if people really want to see wild animals without leaving the city, they should have no problem with a polar bear breaking in to sleep in their refrigerator. Problem solved.
Next problem, trash pickups. Well, shit. The waste started building up once the garbage truck drivers took one look at what was going on and realized they needed to look after themselves and their own families, and that alone could keep the entire group occupied until things straightened up.
Hmm. I designated the one left behind in Japan as One, the robot on the other side of the U.S. As Two, and this bunch as Three through Thirteen. The team grabbed Three and went to work. Soon, a new face started cleaning up the dirty streets of Empyreal City. A robot with the torso of a man and the lower body of a Batmobile. That is, I gave it wheels and rockets, stuck some extra cooling units in its head, and ran its CPU a bit faster. Soon, it raced through the city to clean up humanity’s messes. For added measure, I had it stop by a store to buy itself a pine-scented air freshener to wear about its neck.
The others headed for a church that started taking on the new homeless. Saint More-Characters-Than-Marvel-Comics or something like that. Seriously, at least DC and Marvel can clear out some room by killing their characters, something that just doesn’t work in Christian canon. It must have looked intimidating when the church’s doors were forced open by a small group of armored robots. It certainly looked like a few people pissed themselves, but that also could have been related to the lack of available bathrooms.
“What in the name of God?” asked someone.
I stepped Four out in front of the others. When it vocalized, the voice sounded nothing like me. “I am Electric Eye.” It knelt in front of a child laying on one of the pews and offered its gleaming hand. “Come with me if you want to live.”
“What is this all about?” asked the priest, running down the aisle to put himself in between the robots and his flock.
Four stood up and looked the priest in the eyes with its forward-facing pair of cameras. Based on the man’s flinch reaction, the robot’s face needed some work. I didn’t build them to look particularly canny. “I am Electric Eye. I am here to help. I have found suitable living space for these people and will reroute food delivery orders to ensure they are kept fed.”
“I haven’t heard anything about this. Are you sure you can help them?” he asked.
The doors behind the robots opened and a pair of cops walked in carrying boxes. They looked at the robots and froze. “Ummm, FEMA wanted us to bring this by expressly? Is everything alright here?”
The priest looked at Four, then at the cops. “These, uh, gentlemen say they’re here to help. You said you had an express delivery for us?”
One of the police nodded. “FEMA said it was last-minute. Everything’s last minute these days. We have some more boxes outside.”
The priest turned to look at Four, which nodded at him and said, “I believe many organizations will find their efforts streamlined.”
The move didn’t take long, but I had to automate the Thirteen to finish the move into Double Cross Towers and take a break. It’s not like my employees were objecting. The aliens blew up the top floors of the building, their boss was exposed as a notorious (dare I say infamous?) supervillain, and the city is wrecked; they’re probably taking some personal time.
Controlling a single robot isn’t that hard compared to controlling another living person’s body, but the distance and number of robots involved was giving me a major headache. It felt like my brain was a spoonful of peanut butter spread over too many pairs of boobs, or whatever the closest analogy would be. That’s how I get a P & BJ at least.
And I know all of this sounds awfully nice for a guy like me, but that’s because it’s probably part of my plan, if I had one. Look everyone needs a break sometime. If I’m going to judge them so harshly for being assholes, I might as well throw them a bone when they aren’t so bad. Besides, it gives me even more options if (ok, when) someone goes to screw me over. Maybe I’ll get one to cozy up to Lone Gunman, the hero with a murderous grudge against me?
Now, to finish the crenelations on my snow fortress. I also have to keep some vegetable oil on the boil in case I get any invaders. And perhaps I can train up some penguins to serve as guards. I like penguins. I like them better when they know how to fix bayonets and charge.
Beware my sophisticated, high-tech plans!