They were robots all along…

“And the twist was – they were robots all along.”

“Wait a minute… he’d had a threesome – with robots?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Actual physical, I mean, intercourse?”

“Coitus, Jeffrey…”

“No.”

“No?”

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. I mean, this guy… he’s jumped the shark with this one, you ask me.”

“You didn’t see it. Really, it was better than I’m–”

“It just never works for me. You’d know. I mean, as a bloke – you’d know. And I don’t care what kind of synthetic flesh, artificial humanoid, warm and wet replicant bullshit they come up with… you’d know. I mean, if she wasn’t a real… and even worse if there were two of ‘em—“

“I’m probably not doing it justice…”

“Nah, it’s bullshit. This guy… he’s been losing it for a while now, I’m surprised this call didn’t come weeks ago”

“Can you slow down a bit?”

“I just want to get this over with. Do you not want to get this over with? Besides, I got Cora waiting back at the flat, and… what?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t ‘nothing’ me, I saw the look. What is it with you and Cora – why don’t you like her?”

“I don’t not like her–“

“So how come every time I mention her, you get the face like raw eggs and tomato juice?”

“Look, I’d rather not… I mean, I’m sure she does wonderful things for your little man… but I just can’t—”

“It grieves me.”

“What?”

“That you don’t like my girlfriend. I mean, we’ve worked together a long time now, and it grieves me–”

“Oh, big hairy bollocks it grieves you! What do you care? It’s not like you’re gonna get her a shovel and bring her along on a job. Not to mention, the days where the two of us would socialise – how long’s that been now?”

“Admittedly—“

“So what does it matter, I like your girlfriend or not? Hey, if I did like her, I could like her too much, right? Surely that’d be worse than… I mean if I was letting her do wonderful things for my little man, behind your back…”

“You wouldn’t do that, you have too much of the moral, wotsit…”

“Fibre.”

“Hmm.”

“Fortitude?”

“Something. Besides, we have completely different taste in skirts. Always have. I mean, shit – Elizabeth!?”

”You won’t let that go, will you?”

“Norma freakin’ Bates…”

“I was in a very bad place…”

“Leatherface with lippy…”

“Fuck you, man, she wasn’t that bad.”

“Freda Kreuger, Michaela Myers, Annabelle Lector—“

“Look – all I’m saying, guys do crazy things where their little man’s concerned. So better for both of us I don’t like Cora, that way our working relationship isn’t ever jeopardised by— Jesus!”

“Sorry. Sorry, man – fucking… fucking cat! Did you see it? Fucking ginger…!”

“It’s OK. You didn’t hit it. It ran through the fence over there.”

“What the fuck’s a cat doing all the way out here?”

“You didn’t hit it.”

“Well, that’s a fucking relief at least. I just cleaned the fucking car, man, last thing I need is to be scraping ginger fur out the—What now? What the fuck you laughing at?”

“You. The big tough guy. ‘Don’t wanna hit the cat ‘cos it’ll make a mess of my nice clean car.’ Come on – it’s me! Tell the truth. Really… you just don’t wanna hit the cat!”

“Fuck the cat!”

“You see, you say that… but I know.”

“You know shit. Have you forgotten what we do for a living? Why we’re here tonight, where we’re going, what we’re going to–”

“Yeah, whatever – but that’s people. People is one thing… cats – cats is something else entirely. We’re a nation of animal lovers – yourself included. I know.”

“You’ll know something in a minute, pal…”

“I’m just saying.”

“Yeah, well… Heh. Fucking cat. So, you reckon we should go check on our passenger?”

“What for?”

”He might’ve hit his head when I braked.”

“Yeah, and perish the thought this loser might have knocked himself out so I don’t have to listen to him a’whining and a’pleading when we reach the destination.”

“Fair enough. We’re almost there anyway. ‘Course, maybe…”

“What maybe?”

“Well… maybe you’d prefer it, he was unconscious, so when it comes time… you don’t have to look him in the eye.”

“What do I care about looking him in the eye? I looked all the rest of ‘em in the eye, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but maybe this guy… maybe you don’t think he deserves it so much. You were defending him earlier.”

“I wasn’t defending shit—“

“No? When I said he’d maybe jumped the shark, with the guy having a threesome with the two robot girls and not even… and then you said, I hadn’t seen it. It was better than it sounded. You probably hadn’t done it justice with your meagre powers of description…”

“All I meant, I’ve seen worse.”

“Like the one where the guy has his hand transplanted onto the guy who assassinates the Prime Minister, and gets punched in the face with his own knuckle sandwich?“

”I liked that one.”

“Or the one with the girl sitting up on the moors, praying for the space aliens to take her away?”

“Wasn’t all that bad, neither.”

“Or the one with the clouds?”

“Which one?”

“The one—“

“Actually, no, I hated all the ones with the clouds. In truth, if we’d got the contract when it was the clouds, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid—“

“But…?”

“But nothing. I’m not batting an eyelid now neither. See? Bat-free. I just… I thought this week’s, with the threesome, and you didn’t know they were robots till right at the end… and a lot of the time, I see the twist coming – but this one, it came as a real shock. I thought it was OK – that’s all. Sexy, kinda, too. I got a little, y’know, reading it?”

“Tent?”

“Yeah. But I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it… just maybe, he’s deserved it more prior to this, and nobody hired us then – so why now?”

“Because… why drag it out? It’s not like these guys are contributing anything else of any great value to society. Not like they can sing or fix your toilet or bake you a fresh apricot soufflé. People like this – once they’ve started running out of ideas, once all their best stories are gone, it’s best just to put them out their misery. Otherwise…”

“They’re just taking up space.”

“Exactly.”

“Which is why – which is why I’m not defending this guy one iota. The cat – the cat, I give a shit about, man, and whether you admit it or not, so do you. But these guys? We’re not paid to be neither judge nor jury, you know what I’m saying? So…”

“So?”

“So I’ve got smelling salts in my bag, and if the fucker’s unconscious – I’ll wake him up. Don’t want you thinking I’m going soft or nothing.“

“Cool. ‘Cos we’re here.”

“Cool.”

“So.”

“So… you wanna shoot him in the head first, or dig the hole?”

“Dig the hole.”

“Fine. I’ll get the flashlights.”

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Rol Hirst was the first man in space from Huddersfield. The Russians still beat him up there.

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