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The Watcher Wants to Weep

Jonathan Bonner works in themed entertainment design and production and has a passion for storytelling of all kinds. He lives in York, England with his wife and two cats.
Pain.
Not the sharp stabbing kind like when you cut yourself, or the urgent, arresting pain of a bone break. No, this one is a dull, weighty, restricting pain. One that seems unrelenting in its effort to seep into every pore of your skin. It's a pain that makes damn sure you don't forget it's there.
Although it's difficult to admit, it didn't start on the day I lost you. On that sunny yet brisk Autumn day you slipped away from me. No. On that day I just felt a numbness. Nothing. They tell me it was the shock, that it would take a while for it to register what had happened and what it truly meant. Initially, the condolences, the sad looks, the polite by-the-book comments from family members I'd not seen in years all just bounced off me like hail stones on a car roof. It wasn't until a week after the funeral that the pain truly hit me. Once it did, it took over.
Mornings are the worst. They're the worst now because they were my best times with you then. You'd always wake before me, which meant that you were usually the first thing I'd see each day. That mischievous smile, those freckles, that soft, reassuring delicate voice. Now when I wake--if I even sleep--I see just an empty bed. A precious second or two before my brain registers that I'm in our bedroom alone. Then the pain takes over.
It's been months now since you left, although in truth it feels like years. They told me time heals all wounds, but I don't see this ever mending. When you were here, I felt complete. Now it's like a piece of my puzzle has been broken and discarded, leaving me forever unfinished.
Nothing helps, weeping, screaming, talking, even stupid distractions like exercise, high calorie foods or--heck, even sex. I even tried starting a fight once in a bar. The other guy decided to be the better man, thinking that I was nothing but a lunatic and walked away. Truth is, I just wanted to feel another kind of pain to distract me from you, from the endless aching grief. Anything to stop the pain taking over. Anything at all.
Blackness.
Then a voice.
But not yours.
"Okay, time's up."
The session ends in its usual abrupt way. The dealer sniffs heavily as he powers down the Recog-throne on which the Watcher sits, reclined in the chrome seat like a patient at the dentist. The dealer waits for the Watcher to wake, re-organize its programming and adapt once again to its surroundings. At least that's what the dealer assumes it is doing. His knowledge of these newer models is still relatively thin.
The Watcher eventually sits up and gets out of the chair. It wipes a smooth, cold, carbon fiber hand just below its eye. There are of course no tears.
"That hit the spot?" The dealer asks.
"Somewhat." The Watcher replies. "Hopefully the next session will provide a more substantial fix."
"You know the rules, any more in one session would toast your interface. Not good for business. Want to try a different emotion next week? I hear that Love is all the rage these days." The dealer grins through crooked black teeth.
"No" the Watcher coldly replies. It's circular eyes fixed and unblinking.
"Okay, okay, grief it is. Same time next week?" The Watcher does not respond. Instead it simply turns, leaves the room and steps out into the back alley. The dealer grins. He already knows the answer. This particular unit had been coming to him for months now.
"Junkies. Backbone of the economy." The dealer sniffs and chuckles to himself as he gets to work resetting the Recog-throne, ready for his next client.
As the Watcher leaves the establishment, the sign in oppressive blue neon above buzzes angrily in the rain, shining bright against the dirty brown night sky. A siren screeches somewhere in the distance. The Watcher begins the long walk back to its serving quarters across the dark urban sprawl, it's masters will be awake soon and there will be chores to attend to.
It wipes its eyes again. There are no tears, just rain drops.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 14th, 2019


I feel that we as human beings we are very lucky to be able to feel the wide range of emotions that we do. But the good of course must come with the bad. I became intrigued with the idea of an Android becoming addicted to feeling human emotion, and then accidentally become addicted to the feeling of grief, like an emotion junky.

Whilst a very short story, I tried to make sure to make the transition from the "grieving" paragraphs to the real world abrupt and sudden to emulate the shock of having those emotions cut off without warning.

- Jonathan Bonner

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