Adventures in Responsible Doll Ownership, part 3

Updated: Oct 22

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Brass fingers scratched the sheet metal surface of the ducts running throughout the human habitation complex. One would not be faulted for assuming the hollow sounds were produced by some rodent, or maybe one of the prehistoric animals who escaped their terrarium. It, however, was an automaton on a mission of exploration and discovery. Moving from vent to vent, it would take a brief moment to observe the humans and interpret their actions. But their behavior was so alien to its own that its mechanical mind failed to draw any satisfactory conclusions. It just flooded its processors with more equations that were pending to be resolved as the variables remained undefined. And yet, it felt compelled to continue and discover more inquiries.

Up ahead, bars of light fell in through a vent from the adjacent chamber. These rooms made no sense to the machine’s mind. They lacked unity, purpose, and few means of producing anything. And yet, there was a consistent value that it failed to quantify or fit inside the ever-expanding equation. The automaton peered through the slits into the quarter. But the moment it saw the human inhabiting this space, the automaton was intrigued. The ginger-haired female, small for a human of her lifespan, had two different colored eyes. The automaton used its own cameras to hone in on her face. After enhancing the image, it concluded that the bright blue eye was augmented in ways more advanced than any technology it ever analyzed before. It caught glimpses of other implants that required further investigation. But more intriguing than her physical makeup was her conversation with an inanimate object located on top of a piece of furniture. It never witnessed this behavior in humans before. More puzzling was that the object in question was all fabric, shaped to resemble a human in rudimentary ways, and its proportions were all wrong. The automaton concluded the object was completely inert, devoid of any functional components or ability to respond. And yet, the female communicated with it as though they were conversing. This behavior required further inquiry.

“Non, Anwin!” Igraine shoved the doll away with her foot to refrain it from pulling at her dress. “I’m eating.” Frustrated, she took another bite from her toast with butter and jam while Anwin kept begging for attention. “Anwin! If you keep doing that, I’ll put you back in the drawer.”

There was a knock on the door.

After placing Anwin on the bed, Igraine answered.

It was Mr. Butler with furniture parts clenched under his arms. “I found the playpen, miss.”

Igraine clasped her hands together. “Oh, thank you, Mr. Butler.”

“No problem, miss. Where do you want it?”

“I only have room by the dressing table.”

“No problem,” he said, handing her an extension cord. “Here is the other thing you asked for.”

“Oh! You’re wonderful.”

“Just doing my job, miss,” Mr. Butler responded, humbly.

From on top of the bed, Anwin observed with curiosity how the playpen was being assembled.

Igraine sighed and grabbed Anwin’s flat cap. “Let’s go outside and practice your walking, shall we?” she said while dressing the doll and picking her up. But the moment she placed Anwin on the floor, she had to curb the doll’s enthusiasm as it ran out the door. “Wait, Anwin!”

The doll stood at attention waiting for Igraine to leave the room and then dashed across the 6th floor’s boardwalk. Igraine was following Anwin who was satiating her curiosity. She would walk up to the planters and look up at the leaves. She ran around the support columns and stared at the ceiling fans. It was like watching an eager toddler of whom Igraine couldn’t help but feel motherly pride.

So enamored with Anwin’s antics, she failed to notice the silver-haired children, who she met earlier that morning, coming up the nearby stairs unattended. As they entered the walkway, the girl put down a toy horse on wheels which was dragged along by a string.

When Anwin noticed the toy, she rushed after it with childish glee.

“No, Anwin!” Igraine exclaimed, but it was already too late.

The moment the twins noticed the bashful doll coming after their horse they ran away in fright.

Igraine had trouble catching up in her dress as Anwin was chasing the children dragging the horse in their wake.

Finally, the girl let go of the string, stopping the horse dead in its tracks.

Anwin too came to a standstill and looked at the toy as if she didn’t understand what happened.

Igraine grasped her off the floor. “Bad. Bad doll!”

“What’s going on!” Miss Taylor cried marching up the steps. “What are you two doing up here?”

The girl ran up to her nanny. “The doll was trying to catch us.”

“Associate 244,” Miss Taylor berated Igraine. “You should know better by now to have this- this Construct running around. I strongly suggest you keep her on a leash.”

“I’m so sorry about this, Miss Taylor. She has never done this before.”

“Who knows what else she hasn’t done before. This automaton is a trouble maker. Speaking of which.” She berated the twins in something akin to Greek, but no dialect Igraine recognized. Then she took them both by the hands and led them back to the stairs.

The moment the girls started dragging the horse along, Anwin pointed at it.

“Oui, it’s moving again,” Igraine commented, pondering if Miss Taylor was right that she should get a leash.

When Igraine entered her room again, Mr. Butler just rose to his feet. “Ah, Associate,” he said, wiping his hands. “Just done.”

Igraine looked at the old playpen of dark oak.