by Nebulosity Çiélon
I have an expensive coffee habit.
It’s not that I can’t make it at home, or that I think the coffee at that cafe is the best coffee in the world. See, it’s the barista. I have developed a burning crush on this barista, who is the hottest person I have ever laid eyes on.
Tim hadn’t brought his sunglasses with him to the work picnic. His glasses only made the glare worse, so he squinted against the glaring afternoon sun and looked around for a place to take refuge from the noise and excitement for a few minutes.
It was a beautiful Saturday, and his company had organized a lovely picnic to keep up morale and boost cooperation between teams. Tim found it hard to want to tie his leg to a financial manager’s in the name of “cooperation,” but he was a good sport about it and even came in second in the sack race.
The way the moonlight reflected off the metal was beautiful. Asher took a step back and pushed his glasses up his nose, then blew out a sigh of relief.
The robot was complete. At least, he hoped it was. The blueprints had given way to a sculpted titanium “skeleton” which had been buried beneath polished silver “skin.” The wiring itself had taken three months. The engine, and all the handcrafted gears contained therein, six. Asher had built other things before, invented other things of his own creation, but this was definitely the biggest and most-involved invention he’d ever created.
And now all that stood between him and either an unnervingly lifelike automaton or a fiery death was an empty boiler and a pitcher of water.
“Here lies Asher Baumann,” he murmured as he picked up the pitcher. “Inventor, madman, flaming idiot.”
It took a few tries to get the ignition going to heat the boiler, and Asher had begun to worry he hadn’t set the thing up right, that somehow he’d made a fatal flaw in the blueprints and why hadn’t he tested this before now–
The boiler roared to life and Asher held his breath for far too long, waiting for the telltale sound of water boiling. The steam started to seep from a few gaps in that silver shell — he’d have to solder those later — and then the gears started to click.
And then those eyes, the beautiful turquoise lenses he’d so carefully selected from countless crystals, illuminated the workshop.
“Oh, God,” Asher murmured.
A few words uttered, a rush of power, a plume of smoke… A newly empty space, previously occupied by a beautiful woman.
A gasp ran through the crowd and Jo grinned, an eyebrow cocked in challenge. I dare you to challenge what you have seen. I dare you to doubt me.
She gave a few more moments to let the tension build, allowing enough time for a well-rehearsed dramatic reappearance to have the maximum effect. Another puff of smoke, a dramatic wave of her hand, and a rush of air from the audience’s collective letting out a held breath echoed through the auditorium.
Cassandra stepped forward and Jo made a broad sweep of her arm. She is whole, the gesture said. I have done the impossible.
“Jo the Magnificent, ladies and gentlemen!” The announcer bowed low, sweeping his arm toward Jo on the stage.
She bent forward in a deep bow herself, then stood and took the hand of the woman by her side, and shouted, “And, of course, who could forget the lovely Cassandra?”
The cheers of the audience were deafening as Jo bowed, Cassandra dipping in a deep curtsy. The curtains rustled as they fell closed, and the ladies stood up to meet the announcer.