Zelboun by Jordan Lanni

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SUMMARY: A man builds a female companion.

"All right Len, one more time please. I want to ensure the circuits are running as smoothly as possible."

The eyes of the little silvery robot with long spidery arms flashed in acknowledgment of the order, content to follow his master's commands. The robot Lenny looked up at the doctor's latest project: a feminine android, whose name tag was attached to her clothes, reading "Teagan." She was the doctor's most ambitious to date and he needed all the help he could get. Lenny was purchased by the young doctor, Peter, early in his career as a roboticist for these kinds of jobs and he had yet to fail him.

Lenny manipulated a few switches, initiated commands to her brain, and Teagan smiled as her brown glass eyes made contact with the doctor in the observation room. He beamed proudly as her face returned to its original blank state and her eyes closed. He scribbled notes in a notebook. She was contained within a tubed cylinder with dozens of wires, plugs and other electronics connected to hidden slots under her skin. A tall and slim woman with short brown hair, dressed in a customary dark blue jumpsuit and black boots.

"Great, great! Fantastic. Good work, take break." His enthusiast voice sounded rough and choppy through the transmitter. Lenny could always tell by his master's voice, when it reached a certain animated pitch, that the man was on the verge of a breakthrough. The robot stiffly rolled down from his booth of operations and as Peter watched him, the doctor couldn't help but feel proud.

_Sometimes these little robots are more human than humans themselves!_

Thinking about it for a moment, Peter shrugged off the notion and headed toward the kitchen for a late lunch. His multiple awards and scrolls proudly covered the white hallway wall, degrees in robotic engineering and letters of appreciation for his assistance on this project or that project. But despite it all, he never felt comfortable in a crowd and was a rather solitary individual, preferring to live and learn on his own. He had never found another human he could relate to.

_Teagan... a lovely name for a lovely companion._

Or maybe he was just lonely. As he sliced an apple he caught himself realizing that a robot cannot return affections, and was somewhat embarrassed in front of his other machines, fidgeting nervously, as if they could read his thoughts. His many less significant creations surrounded him, and everything in his small apartment was automated or mechanized in some way or another: automated lighting systems; a mechanized miniature potted palm tree in the corner; quadrupedal robots that cleaned the floors once a week. A robot beverage dispenser sat on his kitchen counter, and passed him a cold drink.

He left his dimly-lit kitchen he needed to replace the energy packs of the lighting system soon and walked to his apartment window, beverage in hand, gazing down at a dark and wet city street three stories below. September was always drab, wet, cold. He watched the rain fall for a while, sat on a low couch near the window, and then turned to Lenny who had joined him at the window but was too short to see over the sill.

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