All your barks sound the same.
You have a vast database, neatly catalogued yelps and growls, preloaded. I can’t shake how aware I am that you’re synthetic.
You’re cold to my touch. Petting you is unsettling, even when your chassis responds with closed eyes, arched back, contented hissing sounds, static sighs. Your paw fills my palm with icy, artificial affection. You fetch the same carbon stick I throw with unrivalled skill, but I take no joy in your company.
His name is calligraphed with laser precision on your undercarriage as you roll over, beckoning me to rub your belly. I have his name too, etched on my ribs with unsterilized ink.
I let beads of sweat run down my chest, the first tenderness I’ve felt in a long time. Up here the sun never shuts off; it burns into me and I let the fire win most days. The painful sensation tethers me to a place that only I call home. You wouldn’t feel a connection to home, and you haven’t got an internet connection to reach someone – if I had someone to reach.
You hump my leg like a sluggish metronome, clanging off the solidness of my boots. You’re programmed to simulate love and inappropriate, impractical lust like he did. But you’re not him. You’ll never replace him. You’re just an expensive, novelty gadget who took a while to build – but I guess I could have worse company for my only companion.
When Tuppence bit that little boy’s thumb off, I still loved him. He never bit my thumb off. What’s the point giving you the thumbs up? You just sit up and look at me with your stupid digital face. You’ll never be him, no matter how good your CPU thinks it is.
I’ll never feel at home here, but I couldn’t stay there. No one took my side. I’ll content myself with surviving on your efficiency hunting down tiny alien vermin. They fill a hole, keep me ticking over.
They have to: we’ll be on this planet for a long time.