Summer soap, episode 7: The professor is alone with robot Grim at last (Read or listen)

In the seventh episode of our Summer Soap, called 'Droid', Trinny brings the robot home, but what’s his next move?
Summer soap, episode 7: The professor is alone with robot Grim at last (Read or listen)

“Trinny is in the sitting room with Grim splayed over the coffee table. He sends a text to Hunter: Got him.”

Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its sixth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which started last Monday and runs till Saturday. Called Droid, this story is about a boy who builds a robot, and was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. You can catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie where you can also hear a podcast of the story. In the seventh episode, Trinny brings the robot home, but what’s his next move?

The series is read by Anna O'Donoghue.

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Episode 7

CC wakes up with a splitting headache. He wonders briefly where Maureen is, then remembers she’d mentioned something about staying in Dublin for the weekend. Something about a work conference. He sends Lucca a text to make sure his robot made it home in one piece.

******

“You gave the robot away?” says Javier breathlessly.

“I didn’t give him away,” says Lucca. “I handed him over to the Eppinger guy from Trinity. He’s going to give it back to me soon. And he’s paying me.”

“How much?” says Javier.

“A lot,” says Lucca.

“Come on, Luc!” says Javier. “How much?”

Lucca looks at the ground. “He gave me thirty grand.”

Javier’s eyes bulge. “Thirty grand?”

“He said it wasn’t much for him, like.”

Javier narrows his eyes. 

“And are the rest of us going to see any of this thirty grand?”

“You might if you’re good.”

“What does CC think of you giving Grim to the Trinity guy?”

“I never told him,” says Lucca. “I went home after I handed Grim over. I don’t know how long CC stayed on for.”

“He won’t be happy, I’ll bet,” says Javier.

“No,” says Lucca, “He won’t.”

******

Trinny is in the sitting room with Grim splayed over the coffee table. He sends a text to Hunter: Got him.

Hunter responds: Who? The Grimes boy?

Even better.

Trinny takes a picture of the corpse-like Grim and sends it to Hunter.

Hunter sends a series of hysterical text messages, packed with emojis and exclamation marks. Then he phones. Trinny answers.

“I’ve got him.”

“I’m coming over to your place tomorrow,” Hunter splutters down the line. 

“I’ve got to see this for myself. In person.”

“You can’t,” says Trinny. “I’ve got someone staying over.”

“Trace!” snaps Hunter. “I’m coming over if it’s the end of the world.”

“Fine,” says Trinny, “But don’t breathe a word about anything you see.” 

He hangs up. Hunter tries phoning again and he ignores it.

Trinny spends the evening examining Grim’s body. Every button, switch and screw. It feels voyeuristic. Trinny feels an unusual kind of excitement, not dissimilar to that of looking at a nude woman but in an abstract, mechanical way. Like looking at a new sports car and imagining what you could do in the back of it. The world blackens outside. The dim light of Trinny’s front room among the dispersed twinkling of Dublin is a glowing symbol of a significant, dangerous change.

As the night wears on, Trinny’s awareness of just how special this robot is deepens. He wants to have a conversation with this machine — this person — but he can’t figure out how to do it. He flips Grim around and presses buttons, stabbing them roughly with the tips of his fingers. He’s very familiar with how the robot works mechanically, but there’s something different about this. It seems silly, but it’s like it has a soul. He can almost feel the machine breathing. He holds down the back of Grim’s head and slaps it a few times. And finally, Grim speaks.

“Stop it, Tracy, please.”

Trinny’s heart tightens and thuds.

There’s a knock on the front door.

Trinny pauses. She’s arrived.

Grim raises his pale arms.

“Stop it, Tracy, please.”

He looks down. Dare he share this?

Trinny lifts Grim from the coffee table and shoves him awkwardly out of the room.

“Time for bed, matey. You’re tired.”

“Stop it, Tracy, please.”

Trinny drags him down the hall.

“Bedtime, now. Off you pop.”

Grim is placed in the cupboard under the stairs. The door closes with a thunk.

Trinny runs to the front door and opens it with a judder. Maureen is standing there.

He smiles. They have the place to themselves. Loretta doesn’t return until Friday.

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Called Droid, our next story is about a boy who designs a robot at UCC and chaos ensues. It was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC.

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