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I didn’t think it would matter. I thought, "What the hell, it’ll look cool." I had bought the Roboraptor at a flea market for five dollars, I called him Dominic but mostly I called him Robo and it stuck with him.
For the longest time I kept him by the door on a shelf, where I could stick papers and hats in his mouth so I wouldn’t forget them. After all, his head nearly hit me every time I left the room.
One day I found two permanent markers, a green and an orange, and thought, "Why not?" It took me several days to finish coloring Robo from head to toe in the two colors. He looked good when I was done so I put him on the shelf again, I could have sworn he was smiling each time I looked at him after that, but there was a growing sense of unease about him when he was on the shelf.
A week had past and I had grown used to Robo’s new look, so I stopped looking at him when I walked in the room. One night, I woke up to a roar from Robo’s general direction, I shot up in bed and flashed my phone light on the room, just as I always did when frightened.
(I’m a teenage girl, okay? I’m scared of the dark.)
I heard the normal computer-generated roar, followed by the rare clicking purr sound, made when he was unusually happy, and then something else.
“Afraid of heights, Robo is!”
This scared me but only to an extent, my sister’s Roboraptor had once picked up a stray radio signal and started playing music for a few seconds. Maybe it was my sleep dazed state or my always slow mind, but a shiver suddenly ran down my spine—Robo wasn’t supposed to be on. Even when I left him on for the day, I always made sure he was off before going to bed.
I jumped up and switched him off, muttering, “Go to bed Robo.” Before climbing under the covers and going to sleep.
After that night, Robo became my main focus, everything came back to Robo. A question that often crossed my mind was, “Is he hungry?” Usually I reminded myself he was a toy, but other times, I found myself sneaking food up to my room and putting it on the floor in front of his house. Yes, his house, it was just a dog crate with the door removed but he seemed happier there then on the shelf. Happier?! Haha, he’s a toy he can’t be happy or sad—or can he? Is he more than just a toy?!
He’s not! Robo is just a flea market toy that hasn’t been popular for years. He doesn’t even have a remote, he’s technically useless because he’s stuck on hunt mode. I need to clear my head of this, I told myself as I packed my bag for my mom’s house. As I walked out of the room, I felt bad for Robo, being here all alone. So I apologized, it didn’t seem to stop the overwhelming sense of separation anxiety I felt when I was leaving the room.
Coming home from my mother’s house, all I could think of was Robo and getting back to him, I dashed in the house and up the stairs to find his food bowl empty (one of the animals must have done it, right?) I looked at Robo. He was leaned up against the side of his crate, something red on his muscle.
I thought one of the animals must have gotten into something and tried climbing into Robo’s house. I angrily set him back up and my attention drew back to his dripping, red, soft plastic… the teeth were made of soft plastic weren’t they? No, I’m mistaken, all Roboraptors have hard plastic pointed teeth. I remember cutting myself on my sister’s when it bit me.
“My granddaughter begged me to get rid of this thing, said it creeped her out,” my mind flashed back to the guy who had sold me the toy.
Then I shook my head. That was only a dream, wasn’t it, or a random misplaced thought. It didn’t apply to my little Robo. He was harmless after all, a toy and not very scary at that. The red goo, however, and the eyes, had me concerned. What was this? I dipped my finger in the liquid and lifted it to my tongue, to taste.
“No, Girl Master!” I heard a hiss and looked down to see what I believed to be my darling Robo moving and looking up at me.
“Why not?” I ask, not sure if I’m dreaming or not. Robo is different now. I’m not sure if he had always looked the way he does now, the shiny green pieces of metal jutting out of orange flesh seems familiar, but it was as if it had once looked different.
“Girl Master, it blood,” Robo answered, the purplish screen on the top of his head has a line that moves in time with the electronic voice I hear.
“Blood? From who?” I ask, and he squeezes between my legs and trots over to the slightly ajar closet door. I peek inside to see not one, but two young girls in a heap, terrified expressions on their faces as they clutched each other’s clothes.
I pick Robo up and clutch him to my chest. Closing the door and backing away, I look down at what I am sure is the living, breathing, dinosaur cyborg I have always had and feel a smile spread across my face. “Mommy’s proud, you did good,” I tell him but I’m not entirely sure why I’m so proud.
“Will Girl Master get rid of the bodies for Robo?” he asked and I nodded, wrapping my arms tighter around him and taking him to the bed.
“Of course, baby, when night falls,” I tell him.