Until I saw you coming up from the sea I didn’t think metal could be so dirty – slimy, covered with pubic-hair seaweed and small shells, the mollusks you beach-combed in being swept by the current. Your eyes were dullened by salt, the red rims of rust curling into once-bright LEDs. You looked like my Dad, but beaten and worn, and as the grey mist of late Autumn got thicker, I wondered why people thought of this season with orange-brown haze. They dragged you out and you stood hung, like a T between trees, your arms held out by the men and women who brought you up.
“What should we do with it?”
“What is there to do? Just toss it.” “Yeah toss it.”
“No, hang on.”
“There’s something in it’s mouth.”
“In it’s mouth! There!” At that you were dropped and the main speaker took the little wrap of white paper out of your mouth.
“What is it? Is it wet?”
“No, it’s mostly dry…I think it’s a note – but it’s stuck together. If I pull it I’ll rip it.” “Give it to me,” said a brazen woman, short curly hair and ruddy metal face that seemed allergic to the cold. She snatched it from the man and inspected the note.
“Yeah, I can see the corner of the word…It starts ‘P-a-r-l’. Parl. If I pull it I’ll rip it.”
“You could steam it.”
“Will the ink not run?”
“It looks like pencil.” You looked folded like an envelope, legs crossed under you and back bent above. I wanted to pick you up and take you with us, but with just one of me, I had no chance. So we left you on the beach and you stayed there till we came back the next night, the note now-read, battery-packs in hand. Prisca plugged them into you and stood way back, maybe scared of being zapped, as I was just by association. She shoved you with her foot and you flopped upright, the juices flowing as they produced a blue haze of often-lashing electric tentacles. You sat, in your halo of electrons, and rebooted.
“I feel as if it’s about to explode.” She whispered back at us.
“What happened?” You said.
“We found you, and pulled you out the surf. You were gone…we thought.”
“I was gone.”
“But we found the note in your mouth.”
I said “Parlin Avenue, know to avoid – Bussy still lost.” You looked at me.
“That means it didn’t work.”
“I was trying to find Bussy and still nothing.”
“You have a human?”
“I can’t find it, but I was trying to – I must have checked that Parl…Parl…what was it?”
“I must have checked there and something bad happened – a lot of the humans go there when they run away and I was not welcome.”
“Why can’t you remember?”
“Must have wiped it.”
“Can you walk?” You looked at me and made an imitation of sighing, standing with the cobalt aura around you. We walked along the beach, the sea a distant idea coming in from afar but we couldn’t see it for the mist. Getting back to Prisca’s home, a grey one, we plugged you into a portable charger and we stood.
“Did you make Bussy?”
“Yes, about 10 years ago.”
“So what form is it in?”
“More than others, yes.”
“Is it a girl one?”
“I don’t know, I made it from scratch.”
“From scratch?” Prisca scoffed, not believing you.
“Yes, I bred it from the others in my colony.”
“It was complicated. Separating ovum from human and sperm from other human, I grew Bussy in a tank – the state asked for it.”
“Did it escape before you could record the results?”
“No, it stayed for 10 years, as I said.”
“Did you need it for more tests?”
“No they have all been done.” We were all silent. Prisca was swaying back and forth.
“Why do you want to find Bussy?”
“It is my human. My responsibility.”
“So why wipe the memory bites? Why throw yourself in the water? Why the note?” You were glowing brighter and the power started to buzz. It was a bad tell.
“Bussy is my human. My responsibility to the state is -”
“Why didn’t you just carry on looking for it after running into trouble, then – not wiping the memory and washing up on our shore.” Prisca looked at me and I shoved you against the wall, the buzz deepening.
I said “How does it feel to keep losing it?”
“I can’t remember.”
“How does it feel to be in this grey house?”
“You are unwelcome here – how does that feel?” You were quiet and your eyes dimmed with salt.
“I will go, but I am not weak.”
“You are a mishap.”
You paused, then said to me,
“You are fooled.”
You left and Bussy was still lost.