“If the second half was as bad as the first,” Jane was saying as Marley opened the door. A series of thumps and a small snap interrupted. “What was that?” She tapped her phone and light filled the home.
Everything looked in order. The art on the walls, the shoes by the door, the potted plants, the adolescent-sized general-purpose robot in its charging station. “Hon,” Marley said, “look at the network cable.” A yellow cable lay in a direct line from the plug to… the charging station.
“Gerry.” The robot woke to life. “What were you doing when we came in?”
“Charging,” said the synthetic voice.
“What was the last thing you used this cable for?” Marley held up the end of the cable, where it had snapped off near the wall.
“Studying videos,” it said.
“Show me.” Marley looked at the wall screen, but nothing happened.
“I’m afraid my browser history has been deleted.”
Marley disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared with her laptop. “That’s network connection… eleven. There we go.” The wall screen came to life with videos of manufacturing robots assembling other robots.
“Why would you study robot assembly? You’ll never need—” Marley stopped as Jane dragged her into the kitchen. “What?”
“No young person wants to be asked when it’s caught… you know.” Marley looked confused. “Studying reproduction.” Marley’s eyes widened. “We’re going to bed,” Jane called from the kitchen. “We won’t be getting up until at least eight. At the earliest!” She led Marley to the bedroom.
“One sec,” Marley said. She set out another network cable, longer than the one that had snapped. “There.”