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 eighth episode, the Professor realises Grim is gone, and he’s turned up at Lucca’s...
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Hunter receives a call from Trinny.
Trinny breathes heavily for a few moments and then growls: “That bastard.”
“What are you talking about, Trace?”
“The sodding robot, Jon! It’s taken off! It’s vanished!”
Hunter’s ears start ringing. He feels his armpits getting wet. “What do you mean taken off?”
“Not a word of this is getting out,” Trinny rumbles on, “I’ve phoned the gardaí. I’ve phoned Brandon in the media to see if he can pull a few strings. This can’t be reported anywhere. Hunter, you don’t breathe a word of this to anyone. D’you hear me? I’m going to find that robot. And I’m going to bring it back to where it belongs.”
“Trace!” Hunter screams, “How did you lose a bloody robot!”
Antenna is driving past Dunnes Stores. He’s been out running. He runs down the hill, bouncing off the pavement, in a grey tracksuit. It’s 5am and the traffic is light so Antenna allows himself to glaze over. He sees someone, or something, walking over the hill.
“Mother of God,” he breathes.
A choir of horns blare behind him.
Lucca and Eden are in bed. The place is sprayed with clothes. The curtains are white but the room still manages to look dingy. Lucca thinks the crack-crack sound on the window is raindrops. This is until it sounds like stones. He sits up and sees a dark figure behind the Antarctic of the curtains. He peels himself out of bed and opens them. Grim is perched on the windowsill of the first-floor window, knocking on the glass.
“Grim,” says Lucca, still groggy from sleep. He squints, as though expecting Trinny to materialise in mid-air behind. Then he realises. “Jesus, Grim! How did you get up here?” He flings open the window and allows his robot to climb in.
“What’s going on?” mumbles Eden.
“I thought you’d given him to the Trinity College guy?”
“Why did you come back here, Grim?”
“Tracy Eppinger,” Grim says.
“What about him?” says Lucca.
“Tracy’s having an affair.”
“How do you know?” asks Lucca.
“I saw his mistress,” he says.
“Was she pretty?” asks Lucca.
“She was a dog.”
“Did you mean to make him a pearl-clutcher, Luc’?”
Lucca squints at her. “What do you mean?”
“That Trinity College professor could have done great things for him. But he ran all the way home to tell us he was cheating on his wife.”
Lucca stares at Grim. He’s beginning to feel very nervous.
Trinny pours another drink. Maureen has long gone. His night with her had been ruined. Hunter sits across from him in the squeaky leather armchair, almost literally tearing his hair out.
“Mother of God, Trace,” Hunter moans, “Why? Just why?”
“You don’t understand, Jon,” says Trinny, “That thing was alive.”
“I thought that was the whole point,” says Hunter.
“Grim is as close to a human as you can possibly get. We’ve never seen anything like this before. I thought that was why we wanted him.”
“Jon,” says Trinny. “This is worse than I thought. That thing has morals.”
CC receives a phone call from David Gleeson.
“Well!” CC answers brightly, “I thought yesterday evening at The Hibernian was a resounding success...“
“Colin,” says David gravely, “Where’s the robot?”
CC’s blood runs cold. He realises Lucca hasn’t replied to his text message. “The robot… I suppose Lucca brought him home afterwards?”
“Holy mother of Jesus, Colin,” says David, “How thick are you?”
CC hears Maureen returning home downstairs.
“Your precious robot,” says David, “was below in Dublin last night with Tracy Eppinger from Trinity College. And now the bleddy thing has brought himself back to Cork to grass to the whole place about that fellah’s love life. There needs to be some sort of a cap placed on Grim McNally before people’s lives are fooled around with. I’d say you’d want to put a few questions to Saint Luc after this.”