Nov 19, 2018, 05:58AM

The Robot that Won Her Heart

In the conclusion to Oliver Bateman’s Splice Today “Robot Trilogy,” an Evil Genius builds a Mr. Right-bot and turns it loose.

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“So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m just not over him,” winsome young Instagram fitness influencer and hot-take journalist Camden Camden explained to the Evil Genius, a well-educated nobody who was currently adjuncting online courses for a community college.

“Over this Brian Powell character you used to date? He sounds like a real dick,” said the Evil Genius, who was hoping against hope that Camden Camden would give him a smooch or three on their 100th date. He hadn’t invested hard-earned money—he made $400 per class, and was teaching three classes a semester—in two “40s” of Olde English malt liquor and a bootleg Veronica Mars Season 2 DVD set out of the goodness of his heart.

Camden Camden fought back her tears. “It’s just that… I don’t know, I still love him, I guess. He was a real artist. A lot of people still remember that one hot take he wrote, what was it…? Something about gaslighting or male privilege, maybe. Do you know anybody like that? Somebody you still want to reach out and smooch? I mean, you’re a sweet boy, a total doormat or footstool. Maybe you’ve never felt that way.”

The Evil Genius rolled his eyes, heaved a handful of heavy sighs, and otherwise carried on like a spoiled brat suffering from an incurable case of toxic masculinity. “I’m not interested in taking another walk down memory lane with you, Cam. We’ve been hanging out for almost a year, and it’s about time that you shit or get off the pot.”

“Jeez, EG, I thought you were different,” Camden Camden said. “I thought you’d understand where I’m coming from and we could be the type of friends where one of the friends is always buying the other one dinner.”

“Why on earth would you think that?” the Evil Genius asked.

“You have such kind, bloodshot eyes. I just wanted a harmless, incel friend to sit on the couch with me and nervously refrain from holding my hand while I unloaded all this baggage. We could talk about him—Brian, I mean—and I could get better and”—here she began to sniffle and sob—“everything would be okay.”

The Evil Genius stood up and made preparations to depart. “Yes, that’s exactly why I posted an advert on ‘Casual Encounters’ last year. I was hoping to sit on the couch and chat for hours about some traumatized person’s erstwhile paramour and the hot take he wrote that you can only vaguely remember. I’ve got a fetish for such things. You’re really turning me on, heating me up, getting my rocks off, et cetera,” he deadpanned as he strode toward the door.

“You mean bastard, I’m baring my soul to you about Brian and his hot take, and all you’re doing is gaslighting me and setting me up for a #MeToo moment…”

The Evil Genius slammed the door behind him, and didn’t hear the rest.

Zombie manservant Crow peeked his head into the Evil Genius’ garage laboratory just as his master was finishing an intricate series of welds on his latest robot. “This thing again, boss? I thought you told your mom you were going to take it out to the landfill,” he said.

“What Eunice doesn’t know won’t hurt her, Crow. Anyway, come hither. My latest triumph is nearly complete,” the Evil Genius answered. Crow entered and gave the robot a quick once-over. As before, its enormous steel frame was covered with gears, wires, and other doodads. “Huh, it looks about the same as when it stole those dreams and won a spelling bee,” he said.

“Oh no, I’ve completely redesigned it. It’s going to do something that no robot has ever done before.”

“Is it going to get you out of your mom’s house? Because if it does, I know she’d be eternally grateful. She was really bitching yesterday about having to clean up my brain droppings,” Crow said.

The Evil Genius shook his head. “Jeez, why won’t she get off my case? I told her I’d stitch your scalp back on after I’d finished my research.”

“What research is that, boss? All you’ve been doing for the past three months is playing Persona 5, grading student papers, drinking malt liquor, and posting on those incel forums about how you were planning to ambush the presidential motorcade.”

“I’m doing what Kuhn defines as ‘normal science,’ Crow. We can’t all be out there shifting paradigms by decoding the human genome or figuring out how to clone the cut-cats that have really big, lucrative Instagram followings. Anyway, watch this,” the Evil Genius said. He flipped a few switches on the robot’s control panel, and then began fiddling around with the upgraded Atari 5200 joystick he used to operate the robot.

Various LED indicator lamps blinked on as the robot lurched to life. “What’s up, pussycat?” the robot said to no one in particular, its mellifluous voice phase-vocoded by a 99-cent Auto-Tune “app” that the Evil Genius had downloaded from the iTunes Store.

“This robot is definitely going to break some hearts,” the Evil Genius announced haughtily and with a sweep of his hand, as if he were speaking at a press conference or giving an interview on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

“What the hell does that mean? Is it going on a killing spree during which it will rip out and break a bunch of hearts?” Crow asked.

“Christ, Crow, where do you get these sick ideas? Life doesn’t work like that ultra-violent Red Dead Redemption game you’re always playing. No, this robot is going to break hearts on the swipe-left app dating scene.”

Crow scratched at this exposed brain. “Have you been smoking crack or something, EG? Who’d want to swipe in any direction after seeing that big piece of junk?”

“My first and last girlfriend will, Crow. This robot is going to locate her on Tinder, learn if I had an impact on her in the same way that this Brian Powell had, and then make her wish she’d decided to give me a smooch when she had the chance.”

“Camden Camden? But she’s just a confused millennial, EG,” Crow said. “And how is the robot going to get her to go out with it?”

“You just leave that to the robot,” the Evil Genius. “This thing is a real pro.”

As if on cue, the robot grabbed its decorative aluminum codpiece and made an obscene gesture. “Moustache rides 15 cents,” it said, again to no one in particular.

username: twistdst33l-N-sexappeal696969
height: 10’2”

body type: robot
religion: agnostic
kids: maybe/someday
pets: no way/allergic
education: 2 terabyte hard drive

on here for: long-term relationship, short-term relationship, pen pals, casual encounters, online chat, web “fun”
about me: Hey, robot here. I’m looking for a girl who is smart and funny, and who likes all of the same things that I like. I’m into going out on the town but I also don’t mind staying in, it just depends on my mood lol. I respect a girl who is a lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets lololol. I’m definitely one of the funniest people I know lmao. Friends say I’m always up or down for whatever. In terms of religion, I would guess that I’m spiritual but not religious. I have a good amount of superstition too rofl!!! Politically, I’m in the middle of the road. However I think they should legalize it so I’m def 420 friendly!!
username: @CamdenCamden on IG and Twitter
height: 5’6”
body type: jacked
religion: spiritual but not religious
pets: maybe someday
education: bachelor’s degree
on here for: long-term relationship, pen pals, true love
about me: Hi there! I’m a very cool young lady with a lot of interests as well as a nice heart and a good personality. I love to laugh but I also think deeply about various social concerns. I am especially worried about Darfur, not to mention Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, the Paradise fire and all the other natural disasters caused by climate change. I’m a fan of sitting in coffee houses and have a total caffeine addiction. I’m also a real foodie, so nom nom nom! With television, I can do anything from a reality show to a drama—just depends on my mood, but I love to binge! Music moves my soul and I couldn’t live for even three seconds without my Netflix. Some of the best singers going are Drake, Li’l Wayne, the Black Eyed Peas, Drake, and Drake. Unlike a lot of girls, I am for real and in the market for something serious. However, I would not mind if it just happens because I can go with the flow. You never know when there will be a spark. When it’s right, it’s right. True love is out there and it’s worth waiting for. No scrubs or players, please.

Hey saw ur profile I am for Katrina and Darfur as well so Im just gonna slide into your DMs. Like that u like coffee r u up for sum this weekNd? I work M-F but I Have good availability Sat and part of Sun after the big “Herc” Broadsides football game. Go team!

Dear Robot,

You sound really cool! One of the things that caught my eye about your SuperSwipe profile was that you are into going out as well as staying in. I think it’s nice to be flexible and it’s pretty clear to me that you are! I was also really interested in your height. You are super tall! How’s the weather up there lol? But seriously I think that’s just great. It’s probably a lot of fun to be that height. Do you work out?  Exercising moves my soul/SPIRIT and it is pretty much my ur-text and all I do since I am really into the fitness influence. I don’t know many robots but it’s nice to be able to talk to somebody who is different. As you can tell from my causes like Katrina and Darfur I’m very much into diversity and robots fit in with that. Maybe we can get our java jolt this Saturday at 5 pm?
yeah thats good with me. its cool that you are ok with the height and my being a robot. that scares alot of girls off lol but you seem pretty chill and i like that alot. if you want to chat just msg me on Insta I already added u lol! guess were moving pretty fast roflmao ;)

robot8===>: hey sup emmy

Camden: Hi there! What’s up with you, Mr. Robot?
robot8===>: nm u
Camden: You just asked me that! Lol’ing! Are you ready for our date?
robot8===>: yah hey u got any pix not nudez tho lol
Camden: Well I have my pictures here on IG…
robot8===>: yah cool jus wanted 2 c if u had a few more lol :D
Camden: I might have two or three of the special ones I sell on Snapchat if you promise not to post them anywhere else! ;)
robot8===>: yah sure send them I promise I won’t screenshot n save em
CamdenC is so excited about her date with a certain tall dark and handsome robot!
Posted at 11:03 a.m.
Pillowface Jones a robot really? 11:06 a.m.
CamdenC Yep, totally diverse and so right now! <3ing my life! 11:09 a.m.
Brian Powell l awlz it’ll be like Short Circuits up in there 11:11 a.m.
Danny Cater The correct title of that Steve Guttenberg classic is Short Circuit, FYI. 11:12 a.m.
Robo tOGC
Posted at 11:29 a.m.

Oscar Berkman yeah u kno it roflmao 11:33 a.m.
Robot str8 trippin homes 11:33 a.m.
OscarBerkman pimpin like the kid fucked dat pie 11:34 a.m.
Danny Cater The movie you’re referring to is American Pie, FYI. One of Jennifer Coolidge’s best roles, IMHO. #JenniferCoolidge 11:48 a.m.

So about the date. I guess you could say it went as well as could be expected. We both got there at the same time and found a table in the back. It was some kind of scene kid place, Xeroxed band posters on the wall and really bad paintings for sale. That turned out to be fine because they had 10w-30 motor oil brewing and that’s all I drink. Oil is apparently really "cutting-edge" right now. Go figure.

She drank a “red eye,” which is extra dark roast coffee with a shot of espresso in it. Anyway, we started talking and it was clear she liked me. “You’re just as tall as you said in your profile,” she repeated a bunch of times. People lie about that a lot, I suppose. Doesn’t make sense to me but whatever. From there she asked me about being a robot. Said it’d be neat to be a robot, how being a robot is “something that’s very now, very tech-y and Google.” I said that I’m the only robot around, as far as I know, so it can be pretty lonely but I make the best of it.

I tried to “kino-escalate” by bringing my hose attachment up against her kneecap. She didn’t like that as much so I laid off and let her talk some more. She talked about not knowing what to do with her life, how confused she was, how it made more sense when she was in college but now she just wasn’t sure. I asked her if she had any big dreams. She said she wanted to travel outside the country, maybe go somewhere she could make a difference. Said she had her causes and cared about a lot of things such as Darfur but that she had to pay down her credit card bills and student loans first.

Then she lapsed into this long digression about she was earning some sponsorship money due to her fitness influence lifestyle brand, which consumed her life but she hoped I didn’t mind given how athletic I was. I reminded her that I was a robot and I didn’t need to hit any gyms. After that, I tried a “neg” by saying that I did mind how she had a hooked, Wicked Witch nose. She responded in the expected way, laughing nervously. I was quickly getting to the end of my programming loop and I hoped to finish strong. After she had drunk her “red eye" coffee, I asked her if she wanted to go somewhere more comfortable.

I could tell she was a little nervous but I said it was nothing to worry about it, I had reserved a fleabag, by-the-hour motel room about a block away, and all we had to do was go there and talk. Just rap about things, you know? Maybe we could chat a little bit more about her dreams of traveling to Darfur and making a difference in terms of fitness influence. She agreed and we walked back to the room. There was only one king-size bed—another tip from my seduction programming—and we sat down on it.

Her makeup was starting to run and she looked pretty bad. I don’t think she was very attractive, objectively speaking. She had sent me some “dirty” pictures online that were actually mild compared to the filth that’s out there, and it was clear her abs had been enhanced by various Instagram filters. Not that I cared, being a robot, but there was a flicker of recognition in the back of the program that I was running that this was worth noting. I moved my feather-duster attachment against the back of her neck, and she shivered involuntarily. She was nervous, like a "cat on a hot tin roof,” as you human meat-bags say.

I asked her what was wrong. I explained that I wasn’t trying to be fresh or anything, but I felt like I was starting to care about her and I wanted things between us to be really special. Did she understand that? She nodded a little bit and said that she understood, but that what I wanted wasn’t something she could bring herself to give right now. She wasn’t ready, in other words. When I asked her why, she said it was because of something that happened to her a long time ago. This was what you were waiting for, so I fired up my Zoom H1 recorder and waited.

The story you’re going to hear is... well, it’s probably not what you’re expecting. What was holding her back from doing what I had told her I wanted, from having this special moment I so clearly deserved, was her memory of how, during her first meaningful relationship—which was with that hot-take writer Brian Powell, of course—she basically cheated on him with every guy or girl who showed her the slightest bit of attention. She thought of Brian as such a swell guy, and of herself as subhuman and totally unlovable, and so she came to believe she had to humiliate herself over and over again.

The stories are on the cassette tape—she talked for about 40 minutes without any further prodding from me—and I don’t want to repeat them here. They’re disturbing, to say the least. She said that, at the end of it all, just before she broke it off with you, her dog Old Bones ran out into the street and was hit by a car. He didn’t die but was crippled for the rest of his life and had to walk around with wheels instead of back legs.

Even though this didn’t have anything to do with her relationship with Brian Powell or the other stuff she was doing, she became convinced that Old Bones’ accident was in fact the judgment of an angry God. She felt it was important at that point to emphasize that no matter how woke and interested in diverse things such as burqas (both pro and con) and parties on sheik-owned yachts that she now was, she remained a Christian deep down even if “the rest of it I don’t know about but I know that God’s a Christian and He is love.” She believed that, no matter how much penance she did, she would never be forgiven for what happened to Old Bones, even though he held on for nine more years and by all accounts had a satisfactory existence wheeling around during that span.

The injury to Old Bones was why she kept going on dates yet never experienced a connection, why her heart was so troubled and weak, why she was overcome by oppressive foreboding. After she told me this, I said that I was sorry about what had happened to Old Bones but to be perfectly honest it didn't make any sense.

“You techbro jerks are all alike,” she replied. “Why couldn’t you just sit there and listen instead of mansplaining to me?”


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