Updated: Jun 21
“Associate 244,” spoke Dr. Vermouth. “It has been decided C243-Alpha is your responsibility this week,” she declared. “You are to catalog her behavior and any notable events you're witnessing.”
Igraine observed the doll who was locked in a transport cage on top of the table in front of her. The sentient toy was flailing its arms during its futile attempt to squeeze its ovaloid head through the bars.
“But…” Igraine watched the plush doll climbing the sides with its three-fingered hands before slipping and falling on its back. It was disconcerting watching the toy struggle while displaying that wide stitched smile on its happy face while invoking obvious distress.
“We still have no insight of C-243's purpose or motivations,” insisted the Doctor. “There must be a reason why it created a sentient automaton. Unfortunately, we can’t question either Construct.”
“Maybe the Construct just wanted a friend?” suggested Igraine. “C-243 is a child after all.”
“Perhaps. But before we can make an assessment of C243-Alpha’s behavior-”
“I’ll call her Anwin, if you don’t mind, Doctor.”
The Doctor paused. “Please, realize she is a Construct.”
“Anwin was stolen from me,” said Igraine. “It's mine, and you can’t make me hand her over without cause.”
The Doctor looked at the doll who had finally calmed down. “Fair enough. Then you won’t mind taking responsibility for its actions.”
Waking up in her bed, Igraine blinked upon feeling Anwin crawling around beneath the bedsheets. “Anwin. What are you doing? Careful, you’re gonna-”
Too late. Anwin had already fallen out of bed.
Igraine pulled away from the sheets and sat on the ledge of the mattress.
Meanwhile, Anwin was already pacing around, falling and getting up again, as if she was searching for something.
Igraine cleared her throat. “What are you doing, Anwin?”
The doll walked up to the dressing table and tried to climb it. As Igraine approached her, the doll was looking up in anticipation.
“You want to get up there?”
Anwin made an attempt to climb again.
“Alright! Good thing you don’t have claws.”
The moment her feet touched the counter, Anwin dashed for the power socket near the corner.
“So, that's what you are after. But how-”
To Igraine’s surprise, Anwin removed her three-fingered glove revealing her prong-like fingers made of copper and metal. After her digits took on the proper shape of a plug, Anwin inserted her fingers into the socket.
Igraine put her hands on her sides. “Well, what do you know.” While Anwin recharged, Igraine sat down to comb her hair and watch her friend. She noticed that Anwin was observing her with a similar interest. “Want me to comb your hair too?”
Anwin recoiled when she was reaching for her head, but relaxed when Igraine stroked the red mop of hair, enjoying it even. Her anxious movements suggested Anwin was more eager to play rather than recharge.
“What a strange automaton you are. Well, you recharge while I get dressed.” Igraine took off her gown. “You need a proper recharging station,” she said. “And something to entertain yourself with by the looks of it.”
Once Igraine was done getting dressed, Anwin unplugged herself and walked up to the ledge with her arms raised.
Holding the doll, Igraine couldn’t help but smile as Anwin tried to touch her face while being cradled. “Time for breakfast. But I can’t leave you alone.” Frowning her lips, Igraine looked at the cage. “Guess I’ll have to take you along. You want to walk?”
Anwin just looked at her.
“Nod if, Oui,” said Igraine, bowing her head.
Anwin bobbed her head in response.
“Right. There you go. Stay close, alright.”
Upon leaving the room, Anwin chased Igraine clumsily across the boardwalk. Even when they strolled across the 6th floor, Anwin kept stumbling. But her movements seemed to improve. Eventually, they entered the elevator. When the door slid shut by itself, Anwin got startled by its roaring and hid beneath Igraine’s dress for safety.
“Don’t worry, Anwin,” Igraine assured her when the doll’s head reappeared.
But when the elevator started to move, the doll hid again.
When the elevator stopped on the third floor, the door opened again.
Miss Taylor entered: One of Igraine’s former governesses. A very businesslike woman, who insisted on referring to her as Subject Six. Suffice to say, Igraine had never been fond of her. This morning, Miss Taylor was joined by two silver-haired children Igraine had never seen before. They seemed unnatural with unblemished white skin as they came from some showroom.
“Good morning, madame,” Igraine said.
“Good morning, Associate,” Miss Taylor responded aloof.
Igraine leaned toward the children. “Hello. I have never seen you before.”
“Please refrain from talking to them, Associate,” said Miss Taylor.
“Is that a new rule, madame?”
“I’m sure it has been made clear to you, Associates are not supposed to be here. The less you know, the safer all the Subjects in Sanctuary will be.”
Miss Taylor’s eyes were going larger as she looked down. “What is that?”
The children huddled up to the governess as Anwin was peering from underneath Igraine’s skirt.
“Oh!” Igraine reached down to pick the doll up immediately. “Sorry. I-”
The children watched with frightened curiosity how Anwin was moving in Igraine's hold.
“Your doll, lives?” Ms. Taylor said astounded.
“It’s- She is automaton now,” Igraine responded while Anwin was making herself comfortable in her arms.
“I see,” said Ms. Taylor. “You made it, Associate?”
Igraine scoffed. “That is classified.”
“Very well,” she said just when the elevator stopped and got off without saying another word.
No longer occupied with walking, Anwin was curiously looking up at the balustrades above and the green leaves of the palm trees. Igraine imaged Sanctuary must look huge for somebody that small.
To the far side of the common area Sanctuary's denizens were sitting down at the various tables for breakfast. Igraine sat down at a two-person table at the far end. Her being an Associate, it was easier not to engage with Sanctuary denizens who saw her either as a warden or a spy. Igraine sat Anwin down on a chair beside her’s. “Alright. Stay put now.”
A man dressed in a dashing black tailcoat greeted her. “Good Morning, Associate.”
“Morning Mr. Butler.”
When Mr. Butler was laying down the tableware, he paused upon noticing Anwin was looking up at him. “I assume this is your new ward, Associate?”
“Oui. But she’s very rumbustious. And curious,” she added. “I don’t dare to leave her alone, and I don’t want to put her in a cage either, so…”
“Have you considered a playpen, Associate?”
She had to stop Anwin from climbing on the table. “Non… You know, it might be a good idea, sir.”
“Indeed. I might have one in storage. ”
“That would be wonderful,” she said while trying to keep the doll seated. “Please sit down, Anwin.”
“Can she understand what you say, miss?”
Igraine sank to her knees and looked the doll in the eyes while keeping her in place. “Anwin. Please keep seated. Nod if you understand.”
The doll nodded. But the moment she let go, Anwin got up again.
As Igraine sighed, Mr. Butler spoke up. “Perhaps the Associate would prefer to have breakfast in her room until her ward is more manageable?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be along shortly with the playpen so you can enjoy your meal in peace.”
“Oui…” She reached for Anwin as she tried to climb the table again. But just when Igraine grabbed hold of her, the doll got hold of the table cloth and held on. Igraine was horrified when the tableware got pulled along and dropped Anwin on the chair as she attempted to catch the tumbling porcelain.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized.
“No, it's fine,” said Mr. Butler as they rearranged the table. “No harm done”
Igraine tried to ignore the startled stares of the other guests while Anwin was smiling shamelessly. “I’ll be in my room. Come Anwin!”
The doll raised her arms.
“Non. You can get off the chair by yourself,” she said. And so, Igraine walked away. Even when the doll was waving her arms at her, she ignored it. Finally, she stopped and looked over her shoulder. While Anwin was puzzled about how to get down, Igraine couldn’t help but feel bad. However, the doll had to learn. Igraine wasn’t even sure if the automaton was capable of emotion. But Anwin craved attention and desired to be with her. So, she must feel something when being ignored. A feeling Igraine knew all too well.
She felt relief when Anwin managed to climb down, and couldn’t help but smile when the doll ran up to her as she’d never done before. But, turned her lips into a dismissive frown as Anwin slowed down. “Come,” she said and walked.
Other guests looked on as Anwin was holding the seam of her dress, ready to hide as they walked past the other people.
Back in the elevator, Anwin was standing arm's length away.
“That’s right, you’ve been bad,” said Igraine. “You understand that?”
Anwin bowed her head.
Igraine frowned. “Really?”
Anwin nodded again.
Igraine crossed her arms, wondering if Anwin was just trying to please her? Looking down at the humbled doll, she noticed Anwin was fidgeting with her right foot; twisting it like a smoker stamping out a cigarette. She squatted. “Did you hurt your foot?”
Anwin looked up and stared.
Igraine held out her hands. “Alright come here?”
The doll came running right away.
“You sure are a troublemaker,” she sighed as she lifted the doll. And she didn’t even have breakfast yet.
- to be continued
Hope you enjoying these odd slice-of-life stories. The feedback on these tales has been great so far. Few people could imagine Igraine with her fluffy friend. And I agree. But can it last? Maybe this is just the start of Anwin's transformation. But how did it happen? Part 3 coming soon!
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