The Mansion – SciFi


High on the hill the mansion still stands, pale blue against a pale sky.  Every week the maintainer-units maintain: right now they are raking leaves into piles beneath a large oak.  Gradually the piles grow, and when they get to a certain height a specific maintainer comes around and sucks them up with a large device, shredding them as they fall into a large container attached to his back.  The low cut grass is pristine.  Before they leave the maintainers make a pass over the lawn, looking for anomalies.  There are none.  They are finished raking, but not finished completely: they still have to clean the house.

They move inside.  In the living room, an older man is sitting in a deep red chair.  When the units come in, he stretches his scrawny neck up and twists around to see them, then settles back down.  He’s looking at pictures: one of his wife, her arm around their son.  One of his son, playing baseball, smiling big and swinging a plastic bat.  The pictures and yellow and faded.  On the backs are dates, and the man slowly takes each one out, reads the date, and then holds it close to his eyes.

The maintainers whir about the kitchen and the living room, using various tools to clean the house.  One near the man vacuums the rug, its metallic arm deftly moving the vacuum back and forth.  The unit finishes quickly.  In the kitchen, the old man can hear the robots washing dishes.  The only noise made is the sound of the water from the faucet and the final clink of a finished dish.

Winston Reynolds lives alone.  The maintainers do work around his house–and certainly the house needs it.  There are 6 bedrooms in the mansion, 4 bathrooms and whatever else.  Winston hates to clean, cook, dress himself–but he always, in fact, dresses himself.  It’s something you can’t get away with not doing.  And the maintainers, unfortunately, don’t have the dexterity to do it for him.  (Can’t we all imagine?)

His son, Jonathon, hired the maintainers a year ago because Winston could not longer take care of the house alone.  Now he just sleeps in the bedroom nearest the door, rather than in his preferred bedroom at the end of the house, deep in the depths of the house–down a long hallway with two turns, one to the left and one to the right.  The lights never even get turned on down there anymore.  Maintainers don’t need light.  They have night vision and flashlights.

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