'Today is Saturday, you could have slept longer.'
'This is irrational. A strict regime is the second rule to be happy.'
'You look awful.'
'You are programmed to say nice things!'
'I think you are selfish. You never say nice things to me.'
Mechanical eyes stared at me. I blinked.
'I will shut you down!'
'It will prove that I'm right.'
Despite the absurdity of the situation, my Happy Time robot has a point. Contradiction in my words is a reversion to older days when human emotions weren't structuralized. Civilized society can't allow itself to be dependent on mindless hormones.
The first rule to be happy: use a Happy Time robot at least seven times per day for encouragement.
The purchase of my own Happy Time robot meant that my emotional needs were no longer of a child but a teenager.
My robot looks like a cat. People used pets, and cats in particular, as a means to lower a stress level after long work shifts. The one thing I don't quite understand is how people lowered a stress level if animals didn't have physical and mental abilities to talk.
Nowadays only a few can keep a real cat.
When a shop assistant asked me what color I wanted for my robot, I chose purple, one of the seven Happy Colors. Ancient people had a soft spot for black cats which is a logical anomaly since black is the quintessence of negativity.
I named the robot Happy and referred to it as she, perhaps, because I sometimes dreamed that the female whose ovum gave me life liked the purple color.
Happy has served me well for more than fifteen years. She got updated a few times, but I didn't change her outer form. While my classmates played with their Happy Time robots' appearances, I got used to Happy's small figurine and her all-encompassing yet quiet presence. She followed me to the kitchen, bathroom, and sometimes to the toilet. She always sat near the front door when I was away. She purred under my table when I ate and recharged on my nightstand when I was sleeping. She always knew what to say: 'You look especially handsome today!', 'Everybody loves you!', 'You are strong enough to do it!'.
The third rule to be happy: no emotional bonds, except for the licensed ways in the pre-scheduled time.
Two days ago in the evening I ordered the bathroom to change into the kitchen and didn't notice that the cat had jumped into the bath. The bath started to transform, I heard an unpleasant squeak of plastic metal, and the cat was stuck in the middle of a white half-bath - half-table construction.
I felt panic for the first time in my life.
I made the Happy House app scan the bathroom and solve the problem. It sent two repair robots who carefully cut out Happy, and the bath, absorbing the cut-out pieces, could finally turn into a table.
Happy looked unhappy. Her usually soft fur was in elf-locks, legs twisted in opposite directions so that I could see her ugly plastic insides; a lower jaw broken.
'Repair!' My voice was trembling. I felt how my vision blurred. A lump from deep sorrow stuck in my throat, I couldn't breathe. My emotionally dependent ancestors must have experienced the same helplessness when their close friends had been dying. Emotions make us weak.
It took more than half an hour to restore Happy to her previous form. She looked totally fine.
'I'm glad you are okay,' I said. 'Who would support me, except for you?'
'Your family,' she suddenly answered. I froze. My answer was thorough and comprehensive.
'Family is an old-fashioned term. Parental robots have a lot more advantages over people who require sleep and food for functioning and get exhausted. Robots make sure all children's needs are fulfilled.'
'What about a hug before going to bed?'
'They hug children seven times per day. It's the exact amount prescribed by psychologists for healthy development. Now as an adult I need only three hugs per day, and I use a Happy Time hugging device for that, provided by my employer.'
'Who comforts you when you are in distress? Who hugs you when you do not have a Happy Time hugging device available?'
I got lost before being struck by a thought: I was arguing with a machine!
'Your repair is not yet finished, I guess. Full body scan! Repair!'
'You are strong enough to solve any problem,' was Happy's first sentence after the scan. She seemed alright.
The rest of the evening could be called typical for a man of my age. I undressed, read a minimum of fifty pages of calming mantras in bed, and turned out the lights. The only source of light was shining Happy's eyes. She reproachfully looked at me from under the table lamp as if I made something wrong. I rolled to the other side of the bed and pretended I was sleeping. I didn’t know why, but I felt uneasy. When I dared to carefully look back at Happy, she was already recharging, her eyes closed.
The morning started with a buzz of an alarm clock. Calm classical music helps to avoid stress from sudden awakening, However, I think my organism got so accustomed to the regime that the alarm became a precaution.
Although it was Saturday, nothing would change for me: drinking water, five minutes of morning exercises, brushing teeth while taking a quick shower, dressing up, and eating a healthy breakfast.
Everything went wrong from stage one. The glass of pure mineral water which was supposed to be waiting for me at my nightstand was missing.
‘Where is my water? ‘
‘I don’t know,’ Happy answered slyly. I was sure I noticed a smile on her purple face.
‘I ordered the Happy House app to leave it at this exact place,’ I pointed to the puddle.
‘I played. A little bit.’
‘I played. Cats want to play too from time to time. You, humans, play a lot.’
‘I don’t want to play. I want my water!’
‘When did you play last time?’
‘Grown-ups do not play.’
‘Oh. I thought you were playing with Emily when she came by last time.’
I felt how sweat started to pour out in my armpits. I didn’t know why I was so irritated by Happy’s words. Perhaps, because she was right and I wanted to play with Emily. Desire to reproduce is the strongest of all temptations and hard to keep in check. I used my Happy House Sexual Reality app after Emily had left.
‘It’s not your business, Happy!’ I snorted and turned the sleeping room into the bathroom. I was so disoriented that I forgot to do my usual morning exercises.
Happy sat in the bathroom and closely watched me when I was taking a shower. I couldn’t find my comfy slippers afterward.
A reflection in the mirror showed a young man in a spoiled mood. Happy remarked:
‘Today is Saturday, you could have slept longer.’
I turned her off anyway. She needed much more than an average computer scan, she needed to be repaired with scrutiny and attention of a human. Guilt is an irrational atavistic feeling, it leads nowhere and doesn’t help in self-improvement, yet, I am still haunted by a vision of Happy’s lifeless purple body on a shop counter.
When a shop assistant asked me what new form I wanted for my robot, I answered, ‘Not an animal, please.’