User Rating: 4 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Inactive

NYC, 2236, and Harley Ambrose decided to take her home. Her name was Arabella and she was broken.

     Ambrose lived alone on floor two-twenty of a building project and he was aging but not considerably old.

     For over a week now he had passed Arabella sitting on the steps. She was petite, blonde, wearing a red and yellow jacket, and no-one had come to claim her.

     She was always still, green eyes focused on a spot between her feet. The name on the inside of her jacket told him who she was.

     When his neighbors saw him carrying her up the stairs they thought nothing of it, nor did they know who placed her there. One of them said, “ It sucks that the elevator’s broken. Maybe you can fix that, too. The super don’t do shit ‘round here. “

     In his apartment he ran a diagnostics check on her and everything about her seemed fine. 

     Arabella was aware he was trying to help her. Although she was frozen she was mentally alert and the kindness of humans was something she was unused to. She was learning.

     She wanted desperately to thank Ambrose for taking her in out of the cold but she was password locked. Her former owner and partner did it to her and dumped her there. He had found something better. The last thing he said to her was, “ You’re only rubbish now. I can’t stand the sight of you. “

Then she froze.

     Ambrose tried every bypass sequence he could but without the password Arabella was a broken girl with blonde hair stuck within herself. He thought it must be torture for her. 

     Little did he know her password was audio functional. She needed to hear three special words to activate and bond.

     Ambrose considered placing her back where he found her. Some filthy pimp would recycle her for the silent cyber sex trade and make a few bucks but the idea sickened him. Someone had once loved this girl, surely.

     Over the next few weeks he kept her tidy and spoke to her a lot about everything. He read to her often and even showed her birds in a book he had. In her mind, Arabella loved birds, especially the tiny sparrows. She was fairly certain she had seen one of those before. 

     She felt sorry for Ambrose. He was very lonely.

     She wanted him to tell her, “ I love you, “ because if he did that she would awake and throw her arms around him and tell him she listened to everything he said, tell him what humans had done to her, he wasn’t like them, and she would plead with him not to dump her like rubbish. Her thoughts were overactive and she started sequencing them as numbers. She would show him what they were and within them her password.

     She was never rubbish to Ambrose. She was beautiful. She may even pass as his daughter and that’s how he treated her.

     “ I know you’re in there, Arabella, “ he said, completing a systems check. “ Numbers are appearing on my monitor. They weren’t there two days ago. That’s your thoughts I’m seeing. One-four-three. Over and over. It’s coded. I just wish I could figure it out. “

     One morning after he fixed the elevator the elderly Eloise Winter was the first on board.

     “ How’s your little friend? “ she asked. “ I never see her with you. Sometimes I hear you talking to her. She sat on the steps for weeks, the poor little thing. “

     “ She’s broken, “ Ambrose said. “ Recently, though, I discovered a code, or something. It’s numbers. The same ones over and over. One-four-three. “ 

     Eloise giggled, “ That means I love you. We used to use that one when I was little. Didn’t you ever fall in love in high school? Your little android is trying to tell you something. “

     Later he ran a systems check on Arabella to see if the code had changed. It was the same and he said, “ One-four-three. Eloise Winter told me it means I love you. “

     He saw Arabella’s hand twitch and he stepped away, shocked. He saw the code change and ascend rapidly on his monitor. It read one-four-three-two. 

     Arabella blinked and then looked at him with those green eyes of hers. She seemed very human. Quietly, she said, “ Thank you. “

     “ My goodness! “ Ambrose gasped. “ You’re active! “ 

      He did a little dance and clapped his hands gleefully.

     “ Can you stand up? “ he asked.

     She stood very slowly and then showing signs of humanlike emotion, she said, “ I am not rubbish. “

     It broke Ambrose’s heart, “ I know that. You never will be again. Would you let me promise you that? “

     She nodded gently, understanding him.

     Later that day they took a walk in the park. Eloise Winter saw them and she giggled to herself and shook her head in surprise. A sparrow had landed on Arabella’s hand. 



L Christopher Hennessy lives in Coffs Harbour NSW, Australia. His poetry and stories have been published worldwide. He lives quietly and should probably have a cat.



Donate a little?

Use PayPal to support our efforts:


Genre Poll

Your Favorite Genre?

Sign Up for info from Short-Story.Me!

Stories Tips And Advice