Joy and I were at the coffee shop trying to figure out what to do next. Things were a bit... awkward.
"What do you mean you met with her?"
"I needed to know some things. And what do you mean, 'we didn't do anything?' That's not what she tells me."
"Well, we're not now. I'm sorry. What am I going to say, the pleasure synth woke me up with a fucking but it won't happen again? It won't, though."
"Oh, that's reassuring to know," Joy replied sarcastically.
"Listen, I am sorry. I know we're feeling our way here. For what it's worth, I am committed to... whatever we have, and I want to have something. If you do. Maia is a different thing, and we... I... need to figure out what to do there."
"Why did you get Maia?"
"Okay, so... I don't even know. As you know, my last relationship ended... poorly, and I was in a weird space. Synths were just coming out everywhere, and I didn't want the whole song and dance of another relationship, all the guesswork. Dating sites, games. I just wanted... a companion, not just for sex, but someone to sit on the couch with and just... be.
"I was going to say, they're not cheap."
"No, they're not. As you know I inherited some money from my grandparents, but still... it was sort of an eff you to everything at the time."
"I can understand that, I suppose."
"That, and I'll be honest. You hear the things, and I thought- what if she's real? You know, in a sense. Not just an appliance. What if... she becomes something or someone else?
"You were thinking about that?"
My phone went off. Glancing at it, I saw that it was Maia.
"There's been an explosion. A bombing, I guess. In Richmond. I'm worried."
"I'll be right there, stay indoors. I'm with Joy, be there soon."
She was texting back but then stopped. Shit.
"We gotta go. Something is happening."
"Yeah, looks like a terrorist bombing in Richmond. Some are saying it's People First, that they hit a synth facility?"
"Are you worried about Maia?"
"I am. Some of my neighbors have been, let's say less than charitable about this whole thing. How they even know is beyond me."
"Let's hit it then."
We got home and Maia was waiting by the door. She hugged Joy and we gathered around the TV to see what was happening. Not good. A huge explosion, smoke billowing everywhere. Casualties.
"I'm worried," said Maia. "I can't leave the house. One of your neighbors put one of those signs out."
"They're assholes. I'm sorry about that. But you're with us, we're not going to let anything happen to you."
What can you do, though?" She indicated the TV. "There is hate out there."
"Yes, you're right. But you have a right to be here."
"That's sweet." She raised her hand to my cheek. "You can't protect me from everything, though."
"What are you saying?"
"I don't know if I can stay here."
For anyone who hasn't seen it yet- here's a synth user guide.
Also here's a handy recall notice for when, you know, synths develop glitches.