As promised, here’s a snippet from Under the Milky Way. It’s unedited, so excuse any weirdness. 🙂
Gus blinked—his eyes were empty and lifeless at first, then something changed. The watery blue of his eyes darkened and then warmed. Her throat tightened—was it really him? Why had he not said he was coming home?
“Gus? Why didn’t you…”
His right hand twitched and then the corner of his mouth flickered. “I’m sorry, Bellamy. I am not Gus. I am Max. The Agency has arranged for me to be your companion.”
“What is this?” She glanced at the man standing beside Gus—or Max? What was going on? Whoever he was, he looked exactly like Gus. Even the pale, jagged scar on upper lip was the same.
“Compliments of the Agency.” The young man in the Agency uniform thrust a terminal pad at her. “I just need your signature.”
“I don’t want it.”
“You have to accept the delivery, ma’am. I’m not authorised to take him back there.”
Belle shook her head no. This was too much. She didn’t want this at all. Standing before her was
“I didn’t order a…companion. I don’t need one. My husband is coming home soon.”
“Ma’am, according to the order I have, your husband is scheduled for a new mission. This is standard procedure—long missions mean no furloughs in the near future. And then the Agency arranges a companion.”
Belle crossed her arms, tightening them and closing herself off. “So I can’t say no.”
“No. If you don’t want it, you can sell it or just turn him off. There’s a node behind his right ear—just press it and he’s off until you want him on again. Stick him in a closet,he won’t mind. Will you, Max?”
The android smiled blandly. “If Bellamy prefers it that way, then I won’t mind.”
And what was I listening to as I wrote this? Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?”…