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Beyond Control by Anthology

Beyond Control by Anthology

Author:Anthology [Anthology]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


FRUIT JUICE

LETTUCE-TOMATO SALAD

(one) HARD-BOILED EGG

BLACK COFFEE

“What’s this thing?”

“You are the only member of this family group who will not be eating three meals a day under my personal supervision. This is your luncheon menu. Please adhere to it,” the robot said smoothly.

Repressing a sputter, Carmichael said, “Yes—yes. Of course.”

He pocketed the menu and made his way uncertainly to the waiting car.

He was faithful to the robot’s orders at lunchtime that day; even though he was beginning to develop resistance to the idea that had seemed so appealing only the night before, he was willing, at least, to give it a try.

But something prompted him to stay away from the restaurant where Normandy Trust employees usually lunched, and where there were human waiters to smirk at him and fellow executives to ask prying questions.

He ate instead at a cheap robocafeteria two blocks to the north. He slipped in surreptitiously with his collar turned up, punched out his order (it cost him less than a credit altogether) and wolfed it down. He still was hungry when he had finished, but he compelled himself to return loyally to the office.

He wondered how long he was going to be able to keep up this iron self-control. Not very long, he realized dolefully. And if anyone from the company caught him eating at a robocafeteria, he’d be a laughing stock. Someone of executive status just didn’t eat lunch by himself in mechanized cafeterias.

By the time he had finished his day’s work, his stomach felt knotted and pleated. His hand was shaky as he punched out his destination on the car’s autopanel, and he was thankful that it took less than an hour to get home from the office. Soon, he thought, he’d be tasting food again. Soon. Soon. He switched on the roof-mounted video, leaned back in the recliner and tried to relax as the car bore him homeward.

He was in for a surprise, though, when he stepped through the safety field into his home. Clyde was waiting as always, and, as always, took his hat and cloak. And, as always, Carmichael reached out for the cocktail that Clyde prepared nightly to welcome him home.

There was no cocktail.

“Are we out of gin, Clyde?”

“No, sir.”

“How come no drink, then?”

The robot’s rubberized metallic features seemed to droop. “Because, sir, a Martini’s caloric content is inordinately high. Gin is rated at a hundred calories per ounce and—”

“Oh, no. You too!”

“Pardon, sir. The new roboservitor has altered my responsive circuits to comply with the regulations now in force in this household.”

Carmichael felt his fingers starting to tremble. “Clyde, you’ve been my butler for almost twenty years ”

“Yes, sir.”

“You always make my drinks for me. You mix the best Martinis in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“And you’re going to mix one for me right now! That’s a direct order!”

“Sir! I—” The robutler staggered wildly and nearly careened into Carmichael. It seemed to have lost all control over its gyro-balance; it clutched agonizedly at its chest panel and started to sag.

Hastily,



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