Reading Sundays: SHADES OF UNREALITY (Part 10), a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to help that irritating cat, not to mention those platter-shaped beings, but my husband Richard had fought hard for the people’s rights in the Land of England all those years ago. Folk called him The People’s Champion. Mayhap, my task now was to help these creatures, these strange non-people beings who could talk and move around rooms as if they were alive and could exercise Free Will. I drew myself up.

“I’ll go.”

“You?” exclaimed Pandora with disdain. “They’re never going to listen to someone wearing a long velvet dress with a pointed headdress and veil. You look like a witch.”

At that moment, my scribe opened the door and came in.

“I see you’ve met everybody, Lady Cecylee,” she remarked smiling, as she scooped Pandora up into her arms.

“Where are we?”

“This is my apartment. You are standing in my living room. That,” she pointed to the guardroom, “is my kitchen.”

“Lady Cecylee wants to go to Parliament to plead for Robot rights,” remarked Augustus.

My scribe sighed as she sat in one of those moon-backed chairs.

“It’s not so simple.” She stroked Pandora’s orange fur as if she were a real cat. We have to think about what robots are going to be used for. The greatest need is to help nurses move elderly people. Many nurses have been badly injured trying to move them. Robots could do that task instead, and save their backs.”

“So what is the difficulty?” I took the chair opposite, arranging my velvet skirts around my feet…[Continued next week.]