Quick Sale (Page 7)
Jasper turned and faced the third woman. Her blue eyes looked vaguely familiar and her long flowing brown hair was accentuated by streaks of blue metallic thread. Memories of a long ago sale suddenly jarred him and his knees weakened. He stood erect and looked at Daira Warton defiantly.
Daira stared at him. “You have taken years from my life,” she declared. The words were spoken slowly and distinctly even though she was dabbing at tears flowing down her face. “The pleasure of holding an infant personal companion turned out to be a horror. At first I thought it was my imagination, but later on I realized my friends were right! Instead of the carefree job of caring for a robot child, I had been tricked into taking a baby that would grow to be an adult. You can’t imagine the mental anguish I went through. I could not cope with the idea of raising, educating, and maintaining a human under the conditions prescribed by law. I had no freedom to go anywhere.” She paused and caught her breath before launching into her tirade again.
“I was terrorized by the toddler. It grew teeth. It got sick. It was constantly destroying my décor. Everything had to be replaced. It was so bad I could not entertain my friends. I finally turned the child over to the state. You wouldn’t believe how much it cost even then. The state doesn’t do anything for free, you know.” She paused again and glared at Jasper. “It took months for psychiatrists to restore my sanity. Finally, under hypnosis the psychiatrists traced the strands which were started by you when you sold me that hideous creature.”
Jasper’s lawyer murmured, “How awful. I’m sure it was a misunderstanding or a honest mistake.” He turned to Jasper and said, “If I’m going to defend you, I have to know the truth. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Jasper thought he should be talking to his lawyer in private but this seemed to be a special case. Everything seemed to have been already decided. Before he could move or object, he saw the judge nod and two burly men stepped from the side of the room. He saw a flash and felt his muscles simply give way. He was placed on a gurney. Electrical diodes were attached to his head. There was a warm, pleasant sensation, and then nothing. Nothing at all.
After a few minutes Jonquil spoke. “Jasper, you’re guilty by your own admission. The facts are there in your memory. It is hard enough bringing human children into this world and raising them according to the requirements of the state without having them thrust upon unwilling parents. Do you understand?”
Even in his dream-like state, Jasper understood and nodded his head.
Jonquil continued, “Personal companions, on the other hand, are made to bring pleasure and free time to their owners. You, sir, have placed both a human baby and robots in general in a bad light. Now our honor has to be defended. Your judgment will be swift and simple.”
Quick Sale (Page 7)