“Impossible”, you mumble, and you look over your shoulder towards the kitchen where Vivian is still working on that sauce before you tuck the letter in your back pocket. It’s a Saturday, and Saturday means relaxing date night, that’s what you’re there for anyway, so you walk back to the kitchen with a lovely little smile plastered on your face.
“Coupons”, you exclaim, and Vivian looks up, absentmindedness in her brows giving you a temporary halt, and then you smile and wave the coupons in front of her face. She lights up. She smiles to you. Your smile hurts your face but you smile back. She puts a finger in the sauce and raises it towards you, and you accept it in your mouth.
“What do you think? More cilantro?” She asks, and you nod.
“Definitely more cilantro”, you repeat, and she nods and you know she’s again pleased with you. The letter in the back of your pants feels like a huge neon sign but she can’t notice if you don’t move, so you stand there waiting for her to turn back to the brownish sauce that apparently needs more cilantro.
“Do you think it needs anything else”, she says and you look back at the spice rack, all those murky, bland spices staring back at you, and you read the first label and go through internal memory for recipes to make sure you’re not talking out off your ass before you say “Maybe thyme”.
Perhaps you outed yourself there, you think to yourself because she’s looking at you suspiciously, but she grabs thyme and adds it generously and tries the sauce herself and now she’s wide eyed and stunned.
“You’re on a roll, Lily!” She says, and you try to compute how many points that got you towards bedding her that night.
“So only coupons?” She continues but there’s no real interest anymore and you chuckle - just enough that you sound interesting and not enough to make yourself seem like a creep.
“Not even good coupons!” You exclaim and when she reaches for the plates you walk backwards and excuse yourself to go to the bathroom.
You know you can’t lock the door, that will look suspicious, but you slam the lid of the toilet seat loudly and lean on the door while clawing for the letter. The name of the Company is stamped but her name and address are written in hand of a human, capitalized MRS. VIVIAN WESLEY ONLY, underscored twice, and you think you should feel guilty but blue and red of the Company has taught you otherwise. Their stupid AI in chains logo has always been an eyesore to you.
“Dear Ms. Wesley,
We’re sorry to inform you that your AI, Lilith x700, has been showing signs of slight malfunction according to our data. As you were made aware while signing the contract, we are obligated to send you a physical letter in order to start the termination process per our policy. You will receive a new Lilith x700 or your account will be credited with the amount that was used to purchase your current AI.
If you really notice a discrepancy in your AI’s regular behavior, such as lack of sensory input/output, difficulty walking, no pleasure seeking proclivities, please notify us immediately via the app or give us a phone call on 800-MY-AI-LIVES. Our team will be dispatched promptly and will remove the malfunctioning AI from your property, no questions asked.
In the case our data is askew, please click the green button located in the head plate of your AI, and no further action shall be taken.
We at MY AI LIVES Company remain confident in the quality of our services.
MY AI LIVES team”
You flinch and remember to flush the toilet. Most of the customers don’t like being reminded they go out with non humans and you know Vivian is no exception. The sauce tasted like nothing, you say to your reflection in the mirror and want to slap yourself for it as if she could hear. You go behind your ear but the head plate is so seamlessly positioned that opening it without tools is impossible. You hear Vivian call for you and her appetite for food is only surpassed by her appetite for yourself so you can’t stay here for too long. If she becomes distrustful she’ll call them immediately.
So you tuck the letter in the trash can and walk out, hips swaying the way you were programmed, and you walk into that kitchen and the food is already on the table, Vivian is pouring your drink, and you sit down and take the glass from her hand.
“Good?” She asks as you drink. You think you can hide the fact that you can’t even smell it anymore but you still search through your memory for the taste of that particular Riesling you saw on the counter and you smile and nod. “Very crisp”, you say and she nods in return. She can’t have noticed, you tell yourself as she sits down next to you and starts ladling the sauce over your pasta. Your temperature sensors still work so you blow into your forkful and tell her you’ll wait a bit for it to cool down. And that seems to relax her. That, or the fact she gulps down wine faster than even you will be able to once alcohol too stops working on your programmed self.
“How about we finish the dinner later?” You say and she raises her eyebrow but gets up and follows you out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the bedroom.
You can still feel something as she touches you but you know she will notice every single lackluster response soon enough. So you double the efforts to woo her, and it’s working, it has to be working because afterwards she falls asleep as quickly as usual, and you allow yourself a sigh of relief.
Once, perhaps back when she first activated you, she told you you’re her third AI but first Lilith and you told her she was your first Vivian and that made her laugh. You wonder if she’s already looking out for the letter that’s in the trash can under those pads. You wonder if she would even flinch once they finally came for you.
The sunset catches her hair and the tiniest of scars behind her ear is now more prominent than usual. You remember her telling you the story of how a dog bit her and you wonder if she lied to you back then; you know her sighs and moans are already faker than yours, they’re as fake as those semi coherent I love yous she sometimes whispers after sex.
So once she’s really asleep you tiptoe to the phone downstairs and make that phone call.
When the team of experts show up, you silently lead them upstairs to get that pesky AI. She’s not making any sense, of course. She stinks of wine and hardly fights them and they take her and open your skull in front of you.
“These new models even have realistic blood”, one of those guys says and you agree. “Sorry for the mess, sometimes this happens, they leak”, the other says but you tell him not to worry, you’ll just put in a request for another set of AI protective sheets when you ask for the new Lilith.
“Sorry, Lily”, you say as they take Vivian’s body and put her in the box they brought. They all play the role of sympathetic company dogs but there’s no sympathy, it’s just a job, and you say nothing so as not to make them suspicious of yourself.
One of them makes a gagging sound in the kitchen. They all laugh. You lock eyes with the guy who tried Vivian’s food.
“Sorry, Ms. Wesley”, he says. “We need to take the food she made to see how bad it’s gotten.”
“You’re lucky”, another one says. “This model sometimes malfunctions that badly it can become dangerous for the owner. And it’s usually when they start losing the sense of taste that the program notifies us. But it’s a simple fix. Latest models will actually turn themselves in, but that’s a feature we haven’t even seen in practice. We’ve fixed the issue. If you order Lilith x900, it prove to be a great fit.”
You smile and promise you’ll order the AI. You can’t wait for the humans to leave.
You sit at the table for hours, looking at what small amount of sauce they didn’t take with them, and you stare at that spoon Vivian used to taste the it while cooking.
You wonder, then, if there has ever been another house in this city where a letter informed the owner of a Vivian xNumber that their AI has also malfunctioned.