It was a day like any other on Nchama Ridge, at the outskirts of Mars Colony Beta. The wind was gusting along with a gusto all of its own. Inside the unusually damp and unhygienic offices of Astro-Pharmacy there was a dark shadow brewing over the employees working therein. Employees who walked the carpet, drank the Melange and had read that same issue of NOW-MARS magazine every day for the past two months. The calls were going out slow…unusual for a Monday morning. Jillian357, the new girl, sat at her desk and fidgeted with a pencil while staring at her screen. It was to be the first call of her life. She had been through the basic training and programming back on Earth, sure, they all had. But what does that mean when you are actually out there, about to make your first call? Nothing, and she knew it. The synthetic sweat on her upper lip caught the sun coming in through the window which in turn caught the attention of the perky young lad sitting next to her.
“Don’t worry, everyone’s nervous the first time.” He said.
“Were you?” She asked.
“Nervous? Hell ya! I tell you what, when I first sat down in this chair I was so nervous my legs were literally shaking like an earthquake.”
Jillian357 paused and wondered whether or not Literally had been properly used in that sentence, and realizing she didn’t care, she decided instead to say:
“I bet you fuck like an earthquake.”.
Jillian357 found the boy to be a hottie. She’d had her eye on him since yesterdays orientation and sure, the line had worked before, but would it work on this one? All her girlfriends had told her to stop using it once she got to the colony.
“Fuck Ya.” said the perky young bot.
Jillian357 activated a blush and turned back to her computer screen. The seed was planted, she’d have him up inside her for a little merge(TopDown)I/O before the end of the week. All she had to do was find a party he would be attending then show up and act all, like, whatever. But right now that wasn’t important, right now she had to face her fear…and do what she was meant to do. She put down her pencil, took a sip of Melange, coughed…twice. Gently she placed her trembling hand on the ridged mouse. Her synthetic nails sparkled with little stars made from glitter. A deep breath, a pause…and she clicked herself online.
“Hello, can I speak to Mr. Puckersfield please?”
“This is He,” said a raspy voice on the other end of the line, “what can I do ya for?”
It was happening. Her first call. The small of her back was a knot of tension and her armpits bore the caked on medals of an avid antiperspirant user. She went on.
“Hi there, this is Jillian357 calling from Astro Pharmacy, how are you doing today?”
The man hesitated…a second passed…Jillian357 waited.
“I’m good, hey, is this one of them space telemarketers?” Said Puckersfield.
“Actually sir, I’m calling on behalf of Astro Pharm…”
“Hang on a second!” A clang was heard as Puckersfield put the phone down. Jillian357 could hear his footsteps as he walked away from the phone, the dull rhythmic thud of a man larger than what is generally socially accepted. She waited…’What is going on?’ she thought, and then thought about those cute pumps she had seen in the travel magazine on her flight to the colony, she had almost given in and spent the last of her money on buying them, thank iGod she didn’t…
The phone made a clanker-thud as it was picked up again.
“Ya, still there?” asked Puckersfield with a tone that just wasn’t quite right.
“Yes sir, I am”, said Jillian357, being snapped back from her temporary mental wander.
“All right, good…now listen up…” The phone thuffed and hummfed as it was repositioned in his hands. An alarm went off in Jillian357’s head, she didn’t know why but something was wrong. Something was out of place but she couldn’t put her finger on it…the call? No, something about the call…the call…er? That was it! Something in his tone that said……
But it was too late.
The 357 model repair crew arrived twenty minutes later and took Jillian357 away. Tiffany1818, the supervisor, made a speech a little later. Jillian357 had been re-assigned to waste disposal, with no severance pay, and only $60 in training pay.
“She just couldn’t perform her job here anymore,” Tiffany1818 explained, “not like she used to…”
Not after a man named Puckersfield held out his phone, placed a whistle in his mouth and blew. That day not only were the highly sensitive auditory receivers of a young Tele-bot unsalvageably destroyed…but so was literally her very reason for existing.
Two weeks later a report was filed for a missing 357 unit.