Iris on Rainy Days: Dismantling- 3 Days Before
Three Days Before
This morning is different from the other ones.
A gloomy, discontinuous rain started from dawn. It is as if the sky is crying because it is going to part with the sun, the lonely rain makes people feel depressed as well.
I awaken Professor and prepare breakfast for her after that. But only today I accidentally charred part of the egg, I wonder why.
On this unusual morning, Professor said some unusual things as well.
While walking out of the arc entrance, Professor looks back at me from the place where the courtyard connects to the streets outside.
“What is it, Professor?”
“After I come home today, I have something important to tell you.”
Holding an umbrella, Professor nods.
Her expression looks very calm, but also lonely at the same time.
I ask “What is the matter?”, and raise the umbrella slightly higher, looking at Professor’s face.
“I’ll tell you after I come home. Yeah, just after dinner.”
“You being mysterious like this, I mind it very much!”
“Heh heh heh. Mnn, it isn’t anything bad. How should I say this…… Ah, you can say that it’s a present?”
I cry out loud “That’s great!”, and raise the umbrella even higher.
“Wha- what are you giving me!? I want a marriage application with Professor!”
“Don’t talk nonsense. Ah, but, marriage application huh……. It does have the meaning of ‘eternal happiness’.”
“Huh? Eternal!? Wha- what is with this!?”
“I’ll tell you when I get back. Be a good girl before that.”
“Understood! Professor’s Iris is a very very good girl today too!”
“Then I’ll set out.”
Professor starts to walk.
“Take care on the road! Come home earlier!”
Without turning her head back, Professor waves her right hand lightly.
The blue umbrella is just like a lightly painted water color drawing, losing its focus in the raindrops, becoming foggy. Professor vanishes just like that after going around the corner.
The rain starts to get heavier. I run back to the doorstep. For some reason, I suddenly have a feeling of someone pulling my hair, so I turn around to have a look before entering the house.
There isn’t anyone at the arc door.
This afternoon, I complete the housework and my task of recharging myself, starting to study hard on the sofa after that.
This book is called ‘New: Basic Theory of Robot Engineering’, and I borrowed this from Professor’s collection of books. Professor is a young beauty with an exceptional figure, but her bookshelves are full of academic books, without even a trace of books related to fashion.
By the way, I’m reading the chapter ‘Emotions and Expression of Robots’ in the book.
The theme of the chapter tells of how the ‘emotions’ borne from the mental circuit of a robot would affect the ‘expression’ that is expressed by the artificial skin on their faces.
Humans would laugh when they’re happy and cry when they’re sad.
However, it is different with robots. If a special mental circuit is not installed in the body, robots would not have ‘emotions’; if their artificial skins and muscles are not modified by a technician with considerable skill, the robots would not be able to convey their ‘expressions’ as well.
In addition, human expressions are very complicated. Just the action of ‘laughing’, there’s the heh heh laugh, the ho ho laugh, a gentle smile, a sweet smile, a silly laugh and so on, and there’s a lot of differences between the expressions. Human expressions can be categorized into about a few hundreds, only by doing subtle changes to the mental circuit, the robots can convey expressions that are lifelike. Hence, the facial expression and language recognition softwares are the best and the most expensive ones in the robot market. The price of the expression softwares would sometimes be even higher than the price of the robot itself.
I have the latest version of the expression software installed on me. I am thankful to Professor for letting me laugh and cry, fly into a temper, throw a tantrum and so on.
I close the book that I was reading. It is now five forty five in the evening.
Professor would be back soon. I should prepare dinner now.
Over an hour passed, and it is now seven thirteen at night.
— Professor is so slow……
Professor isn’t back yet. She’s late for about one hours, thirteen minutes and twenty one seconds. The pot in the kitchen is filled with today’s dinner— Laulyl styled butter stew, and it’ll just need a slight heating up.
— it’s so strange.
Professor would contact me every time she comes home. Even so, I haven’t received any message from her today.
I feel like calling Professor’s phone, but she reminded me before not to call her when she’s at work.
I impatiently stared at the hands of the clock on the wall.
Professor isn’t back yet.
I finished all the housework.
Not back yet, not back yet?
The second hand turned in a circle, two circles, three circles—
At the instant when the seventh circle arrives.
Trriiiiiing, triiiiiing…… The phone in the corridor starts to ring.
— it’s Professor!
I run to the corridor like a spring, jumping onto the receiver of the phone.
“Hello, sorry for the wait! This is the Umbrella residence!”
I wait for the answer of the opposing party with a pounding heart.
“Sorry for calling though it’s so late. This is the First Robotics Laboratory of Oval University.”
A male voice is coming from the other side of the phone. The First Robotics Laboratory would be where Professor works.
Learning that he isn’t Professor, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, but I still answer calmly.
“I am Wendy von Umbrella’s robot. Umbrella is not here at the moment, so please a message if you wish to contact her.”
I answer in the tone of a machine.
After a moment’s silence, the man says in a low voice: “I am Professor Umbrella’s assistant, Ralph Ciel.”
The sensitivity of my auditory function increased sharply.
“Is that so. Thanks for taking care of Umbrella all this time.”
“…… about Professor Umbrella.”
— it’s strange.
Goosebumps appear on my skin at that moment.
Why is this person call here specially?
If he wanted to look for Professor, he could just call her own phone.
Uneasiness and fear crawl on my back like bugs.
“E- erm!” Therefore, I can’t help but ask, “Did something happen to Professor!?”
He hesitated for a moment, then says in a determined voice.
The sharp weapon of truth pierces into my ears.
“Professor Umbrella died because of an accident.”
“— hello, hello hello!?”
The sound of someone talking is coming from the receiver.
I wonder how much time passed.
— a guest.
The electronic voice called me again and again.
— there’s a guest at the door.
That moment, I finally came to my senses.
There is something touching my leg.
I look down, only to see the swaying receiver knocking lightly on my leg.
My fingers start to move.
The lost memories surface from the depths of my consciousness.
—because of an accident……
—there was a phone call.
A terrible phone call.
—there’s a guest. Please greet them immediately.
Because of the electronic voice urging me, I start to walk.
Almost like I am running away from here, I walk step by step down the stairs, opening the door.
Reached the outside.
Outside, it already sank into the total darkness of night time.
I walk to the arch door, seeing a black door parked on the road in front of the door.
Outside the driver’s seat, a man wearing a suit and a pained expression on his face is standing there. The man is still young, but his face is a sickly white, and his cheeks are sunken like an old man.
I call him, then he leaves the body of the car that he was leaning against just now in surprise, proclaiming that he is the assistant, Ralph Ciel.
He’s the person who gave me the terrible phone call.
“You’re Miss Iris Rain Umbrella…… huh?”
Ralph says in a low voice. I nod silently.
After that, the door of the car opens silently. Because of Ralph’s urgings, I sit down on the seat beside the driver’s seat.
I did not ask for the location of the place where we are heading to.
When sitting on the car, I look outside the windows with unfocused eyes. The neon lights in the Commercial Street are flinging thin rays of lights like a fallen meteorite, leaving me gradually.
Ralph did not speak. If you say that he’s not talking because he’s worried of me, it’s more like he doesn’t have the energy to speak. The more pressing problem is, the only common topic between us is Professor, but when we mention Professor, we would come in contact with the terrible news no matter what we say.
After about ten minutes, the car reaches the hospital. I walk down from the car, staring at the white building greeting us in the night skies.
Ralph brought me to the underground part of the hospital. We undergone quite a few security checks on our way, in the hall and the elevator, and our IDs and other items were rummaged. After knowing that I’m Professor’s robot, some people stared at me with a curious expression.
The room is at the end of a corridor at B4 level.
Pushing open the door that has a sign of ‘cold storage’ on it, I can see a round capsule-like box that is about two meters at the center of the room. According to Ralph, Professor’s body is kept in the white box.
Before opening the box, Ralph explains to me the ‘incident’ simply.
This morning, Professor was at the seventh dissection analyzation lab of the twelfth floor, undergoing the work of ‘judicial dissection’. Quite a lot of rampage incidents like this happened recently, and these robots are repeatedly sent to the lab. At this time, I recall the robot that went on a rampage at the Venus Fountain Plaza.
“The incident happened about thirty minutes after dissection started.”
Ralph licks his dry lips and continues.
After the robot is brought to the dissection analyzation room, Professor and Ralph’s group started to dissect him.
After thirty minutes, the progress of dissection was quite good, and it was at that moment that the accident occurred. The robot suddenly rebooted, stood up and started to go on a rampage. Though his battery level is rather low, he still rebooted, and the reason is unknown. Before they managed to use the emergency laser gun, the robot broke down the thick walls of the dissection analyzation room. This is a huge power that is unimaginable to humans in normal conditions.
“Professor Umbrella was the nearest person at that moment. …… Since all of that happened all of a sudden, Professor didn’t have the time to run away, so the robot—“
Professor’s abdomen was pierced through.
Professor is dead.
After that, the robot was overwhelmed with laser gun.
And next is now.
The white lid of the capsule opens like a flower blooming, then her body appears before me.
I stagger towards Professor, who is lying inside, like a sleepwalker.
Professor’s face has lost its usual color, but looks very peaceful, as if she is sleeping. Even so, a stain of blood can still be seen at the corner of her mouth. The red blood stuck to her chest and her belly looks very strange in stark contrast with her white face, so I cannot help but stare for some time. As though she is a red rose sealed in white ice, Professor radiates a certain sense of beauty.
I extend my hand to Professor, touching her white face.
Professor’s body is so cold that I suspect that my temperature sensing function has malfunctioned. Her body temperature is much lower than that of a living person.
I start to plead soundlessly.
Professor. It’s me, your Iris.
Professor. Is it painful? You lost so much blood, so it’s probably painful.
Professor. Why did you do such dangerous thing? Why didn’t you just let the others handle the robot in a rampage?
Professor. Professor, who helped robots all this time, why must you be killed by a robot? This just doesn’t make sense.
Professor. I’m here. Your Iris is here.
So Professor. Please open your eyes. Give me an order. Tease me. Touch my hair—
Just at this moment.
‘That’ gave out a dim light at the corner of my vision. After looking closely, I spy a familiar silver cigarette box on the small table that has the capsule containing Professor’s body. Professor loves this locked up box that is like a necklace.
I stretch out my hand to it. My fingers are still trembling comically.
The cigarette case in my palm is stained with blood, and only a circlet cigarette can be seen after opening the oval lid.
And I noticed at that moment.
A tiny photo is stuck to the interior of the lid. The photo has the signboard of a movie as a background, and there’s a young girl smiling forcibly and another woman with a devilish smile on her face placing her hand on the girl’s shoulders.
This is the group photo that Professor and I took before this.
“Until Professor Umbrella’s death, she was still tightly holding that cigarette case.”
Ralph says in a low voice.
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