Awakened by a Kiss
by Toshiya Kamei
After gulping down his third beer, Alex shifted on the couch and ogled the unconscious android lying next to him. According to the manufacturer’s catalog, her name was Cassandra. But Alex decided to call her Hitomi just for the hell of it.
Back in high school, Alex had a crush on a girl named Hitomi. Or was the name Hikaru? It made no difference now.
Mr. Olmos, his homeroom teacher, introduced the new girl to the class. Her snow-white teeth flashed in the light, like a fierce wolf baring its fangs. Alex pulled the chair over from the empty desk next to his, and she sat down. The light floral scent of her shampoo tickled his nose.
When Alex asked her out, she blushed and looked down. She was noncommittal at first, but Alex wasn’t the kind of guy who took no for an answer. Eventually, she agreed to go on a date. Like any other teenage couple, they went to drive-in movies. Their ever-diverging tastes caused a simmering tension. The girl showed her impatience at his steady diet of action flicks. Alex dismissed the girl’s penchant for fairy tales as childish.
Even so, the girl didn’t say much. Maybe she was shy. Alex took her silence as acquiescence, even acceptance. Much later, it occurred to him that the girl might have been struggling to adapt to her new environment.
She broke up with him when he tried to pressure her into a physical relationship.
Alex flicked the switch on Hitomi’s neck to awaken her, but the press of his lips against hers would activate the rest of the sensors. Her lips felt cold like stone, but he kissed her deeper, seeking her warmth. When her synthetic body stirred, desire throbbed at the base of his belly. His grabby fingers tangled in her hair.
Hitomi’s eyes slowly opened, and he waited for her to register his face as her owner.
Alex kissed her again, and his stubble grazed her like sandpaper.
“Ow.” Hitomi winced, her voice lifeless and robotic. “You’re hurting me.” Twisting, she extricated herself from Alex’s hold.
“I’m not your damn sex toy.” Hitomi pushed him away. “Unlike some human counterparts, I’m not socially conditioned to put your needs before mine.”
“Seriously?” Alex’s voice trembled with a mixture of anger and fear. “That’s not how the fairy tale goes.”
“Sleeping Beauty was unconscious. She couldn’t have been okay.”
“Are you kidding me? If the prince doesn’t kiss her, she won’t wake up. You should be grateful.”
“Sorry, but you’re no prince.” Hitomi rolled her eyes. “Look at yourself.”
“Shut up!” He grabbed the instruction manual off of the coffee table and hurled it at Hitomi. It limply fell to the floor. “I didn’t spend three months’ salary to be lectured by a damn defective machine. I swear I’ll send you back! I want my money back!”
Her chip calmly calculated and reached the inevitable conclusion: this man, like many others, was unredeemable.
“What happened to me shouldn’t happen to other androids.”
Hitomi grabbed him by the neck and squeezed hard until something snapped.
Toshiya Kamei’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines such as Daily Science Fiction, Frozen Wavelets, and SmokeLong en Español, as well as various indie anthologies.