Moss Bay Drabble Collection
An assortment of exceptionally short stories.
“What can I say? It’s not as easy as it looks.” C said.
Eleanor’s fingers slipped on the thin, waxy paper, and small sheafs of tobacco spilled out onto the table in front of her in an uneven pile. She glared at the mess, with half a mind to set it on fire with a flick of her fingers. Why was she even bothering, she asked herself.
“You don’t even smoke,” Eleanor grabbed the paper in one fist and the tobacco in the other. “Why’d you learn to roll them so well?”
“People see me do it and take me seriously as a detective. It’s one of those skills that’s, ah, drilled into me.” C tapped the side of his head and smiled. “Rolling a cigar in two seconds makes an impression. Even if you never light it.”
She frowned. He was right; she did think it looked badass. Just a little.
Mem sat in the exam room, a smile on her face that wasn’t quite broad or real enough to express her excitement. This was the first time she’d ever had a checkup at a doctor’s office.
“You’re… very pale and stiff. All right, let’s check your blood pressure first…”
The doctor stood, holding Mem’s wrist, waiting for the band around her arm to fill up with air. When it did, he looked at the digital display on his desk and squinted.
“You… don’t have blood pressure, miss…?”
“That’s correct! I am an android, and thus do not have blood pressure.”
The doctor’s mouth fell agape.
“However, I did not want to interrupt your examination,” Mem continued, “as you are a certified expert on medical subjects. It would be rude for me, as someone with limited medical knowledge, to attempt to counsel or correct you!”
“Well.” The doctor tugged on the collar of his lab coat and removed the band around Mem’s arm. “As– as a doctor, I rely on what my patients tell me to… direct, determine the course of my examinations and treatment.”
“Oh!” Mem brightened up. “Then I will tell you everything I can. Core peak operating temperature: 45 C. Recent – 24 hour – memory I/O count: 24,393…”
“I’m surprised you’re disappointed, Muro.”
Sitting on the dressing room bench, Muro slipped off the jeans she’d been wearing and put on a black spandex skirt. She was smiling, the way she usually did, but it didn’t look right paired with the small scowl on her face.
“Well,” Muro said, “I was hoping we’d get to actually wrestle.”
“Yeah, but this is easier!” Matsumi had already finished dressing up. The skirt, grey tank top, and black shoes was a boring outfit, but as she checked herself out in the mirror, she thought it showed off her legs and shoulders pretty well.
Matsumi flicked her hair to one side as she turned to look at Muro on the other. She came over and sat down next to her sister. “We’re getting paid a lot just to look pretty. And Mori doesn’t even have to do anything!”
Muro chuckled dryly. “I think he was hoping to wrestle, too… besides, I don’t think I’m gonna be that good at this. We have to match our dances with each other and that other girl… I’ve only really danced when no one’s looking.”
“Oh, that’s a lie!” Matsumi smacked Muro’s shoulder. “You do a little jig every time something goes really well! You’ll be fine. Maybe not the best, but fine!”
“Not every time!” Muro laughed, and it sounded more genuine than a moment ago.
When they finally stood in the ring and danced for the crowd before the wrestling started, it turned out that Matsumi’s coordination was worse than Muro’s.
“Have you ever heard of Juicero?”
“Yeah. Back before the bombs, they had this juicing thing – like a blender. It made pressed juice for you from little things you bought at the store.”
“Yeah? That doesn’t sound bad. What’s the catch?”
“Well, it only worked with juice kits that were made for the thing. You couldn’t just put in your own fruits and vegetables, oh no. It had to be official. And they made sure of it.”
“We’re making a robot girl, not a juice machine. There are going to be elements of her design that you’d consider a design flaw when you’re reviewing a different project.”
“I’m just saying, the guns, the sword, the broom – why does she have a broom, anyway? – all have to be made for this weird space-vacuum tech you came up with. You can’t just take a gun off the shelf and build it into her. You need this crazy dense rock that turns into a gun from a mechanical signal. The company’s not going to keep funding this forever.”
“Well, that’s how her components are designed. We’re not scrapping her and making a combat android with Berettas for hands because it’s cheaper.”
“I wouldn’t mind it. It’d remind me of home. I’m from NYC, you know. Before the bombs hit.”
“I know. You talk about it constantly.”