by Richard Holliday
“Another cup of tea, Professor?”
The old man’s head turned slowly in the chair, the stiffness of which irritated the Professor. With a smile, Professor Jericho laughed. “No, but thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Professor. Can I make you more comfortable?”
Professor Jericho coughed hoarsely. Across the room, Aibo’s face fell to one of utmost concern, studying the movements of the Professor carefully. After a few seconds, the ill man composed himself enough to answer his… friend’s question. Could his mind be wrenched from this addled body that had aged before its time? No, of course not.
“Yes. I’d like to go to bed now,” the Professor answered finally.
“Very well, Professor.”
Aibo left the room to prepare Jericho’s sleeping quarters. It was the same every night: seven minutes to warm the bed and move it to a position most acceptable to Jericho’s frail body. Aibo was no longer just a mere servant crafted from metal and silicon; it was the Professor’s last true friend. A lifetime of human colleagues, acquaintances, friends and lovers had either left him or died in prior times. Even Jericho’s only son, whose personality and features had inexorably been fused into Aibo was long dead, in human form anyway.