“You’re delusional, mother.”
“It killed him, Jeremy.”
“It was an accident.” A gruesome accident, but an accident nonetheless. From what the police could gather, his father had been standing on a kitchen stool and slipped; as he fell, his hand upturned the cutlery block and five knives came down into his chest.
“The police found it in the kitchen,” Jeremy’s mother carried on. “It killed him because he told Davy to get rid of it. You haven't been here. It's evil.”
She was near hysterics and Jeremy felt his own anger rising. Dad was dead and she was blaming a toy robot.
“Kill it, Jeremy.” Her voice was a high-pitched squall. Jeremy wanted to slap her… Take it easy, we’re both just upset. It’s not her fault. Take it easy...
* * *
“Enter,” Davy said before Jeremy even knocked. Jeremy entered to see him sitting on the bed. Robbie the Robot sat in the corner recharging, a blue LED flashing on his chest. Davy had been the one to find their father. He seemed to be coping well, but Jeremy was never sure with Davy. For all his advancements, Davy rarely showed emotion. Jeremy wasn't sure whether it was the kid's designer genes that made him better able to cope with stress or if some of their parents’ DNA had slipped through and plagued him with their penchant for denial.
“Don't take Robbie,” Davy said.
Jeremy sat, trying to shake the feeling the kid could read his mind. “What makes you think I'm taking Robbie?”
“I heard mom.”
Jeremy nodded. “She's pretty upset about Dad. Dr. Stevenson is coming to see her. Still, if it's alright, I'd like to put Robbie in the garage, just till she's better.”
“In the garage?”
“Yeah, he'll be safe there and he'll have Dad's tools to keep him company.”
Jeremy tousled his hair. “How you doing with all this?”
“Dad and I got in a fight.”
Davy looked up, tears in his eyes. “I was mad at him. He wanted to take away Robbie, and I—”
“No,” Jeremy said, hugging him. “Take it easy. It's not your fault.”
“Why'd Dad want me to get rid of Robbie?”
“That's just the way Mom and Dad are. You're ten now—they think you're too old for toys. It was the same with me. Dad always wanted me to ‘look sharp,’ call him “sir.” I did all kinds of crazy stuff just to make him mad.”
“Is that why you hurt that kid and went to jail?”
Jeremy nodded. “Yeah. That's when...”
“When they decided to have me,” Davy finished, “to have the doctors engineer me.” Tears trickled down his face.
“-what is wrong, davy-”
The thin electronic voice startled Jeremy. Robbie had waddled over to the bed, blue chest LED glowing. Jeremy picked him up. “Hey, Robbie, how's a vacation in the garage sound?”
Robbie swiveled his head to regard Davy.
“I'll take him downstairs,” Jeremy told Davy, “and then how about some pizza?”
* * *
They were halfway through a large pepperoni when their mother joined them.
“Locked in the garage.”
“Jeremy, you promised.”
“Mom, no,” Davy pleaded.
“Take it easy. It's fine, Mother. Sit.”
“Not while that thing is still alive. I'll take your father's hammer and smash it to pieces.”
Davy jumped up after her as she made for the garage, but she shoved him aside and he hit the dining room floor with a yelp.
Before he realized it, Jeremy had her by the arm and was about to slap her. He caught himself. Take it easy. She was terrified, but not of him. He could see it in her eyes. “Kill it, Jeremy. It’s evil.”
“You’re evil,” Davy said.
“Mother, go upstairs.”
“Go. Dr. Stevenson said for you take a hot bath if you get upset. Go on, I’ll holler when he gets here.”
* * *The doorbell chimed.
Jeremy was halfway to the door when he heard his mother scream upstairs. The doorbell rang again, then another scream, followed the lights flickering.
Jeremy bounded up the stairs to his mother’s bedroom only to find the bathroom locked. “Mom?” No response. “Mom!” He kicked the door in and tumbled forward into the dark room.
Jeremy looked back from where he landed to see Robbie upturned in the doorway. The bathtub commanded Jeremy’s attention, though. He scrambled up and there was his mother, unmoving in the tub. An electric drill, its cord hanging limply from the wall socket, sat nestled in the water beside her.
“Mom!” Jeremy shook her, but she was still.
“Davy! Call an ambulance.”
“But Robbie,”—Davy was bending over his robot—“you’ve hurt him.”
“Damnit, Davy—” Jeremy turned to see Davy holding Robbie up to him. Robbie, who Mom had begged him to kill. Robbie, who should’ve been locked in the garage with all Dad’s tools.
Jeremy yanked Robbie from Davy’s hands, smashed the robot into the vanity mirror. The glass cracked. Davy screamed. Jeremy slammed Robbie into the mirror again, then again.
Robbie’s plastic head cracked, the mirror shattered. Jeremy squeezed Robbie’s neck and the blue LED on the chest slowly dimmed to nothing…
Take it easy.
When Jeremy opened his eyes, all was silent. His mother lay dead in the tub. Robbie was a shattered plastic corpse in his hands. And Davy—Davy lay on the floor, his skull smashed, his face blue.
Footsteps approached and Dr. Stevenson stopped in the doorway.
“Jeremy? My god, what have you done?”
“It’s not what you think. Take it easy.”
Copyright: © 2010 Garrett Calcaterra
Garrett Calcaterra is author of Umbral Visions, a horror collection forthcoming from Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and coauthor of The Roads to Baldairn Motte, a historic fantasy novel forthcoming from L&L Dreamspell. In addition, he has published over twenty short stories, essays, and articles in various publications, including Writers' Journal, Wet Ink (Australia), Sex & Seduction (UK), Arkham Tales, M-Brane SF, and The Oregon Literary Review. He currently resides in California and is finishing work on a new dark fantasy novel. You can follow his writing at http://garrettcalcaterra.blogspot.com/