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 tomorrow. 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 penultimate episode, Lucca ends it with Eden, and the academics fight to the death...
The series is read by Anna O'Donoghue, listen here...
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In a grey suburb of Cork city, Lucca Grimes is in the process of breaking up with Eden Mackessy over the phone in his bedroom while his homemade robot Grim McNally watches on.
At this exact moment, Colin Cassidy, Professor of Advanced Robotics in UCC, is driving to Dublin in his BMW in search of Tracy Eppinger, the Trinity College professor, the man who stole his wife. He would never have known about this if it hadn’t been for Lucca’s robot telling everyone about it. And the robot would never have existed if Tracy Eppinger hadn’t brought the Advanced Robotics MA to Ireland. As far as CC is concerned, this is all Tracy Eppinger’s fault.
CC found Eppinger’s address by looking through Maureen’s phone. He’s on his way there now, weaving perilously between lines of traffic. David Gleeson tried to stop him but CC wouldn’t listen. He’s tempted to spitefully text David while driving, to show how much he doesn’t care.
“I can’t do this anymore, Edie,” says Lucca.
Eden is in tears at the other end. “Why not?”
Lucca glances at Grim. “I swear he’s on to me.”
The robot seems unfazed after being punched. Hardly a dent in his face. He stares at Lucca.
“How d’you mean?”
“He knows I’m a fraud.”
Lucca’s eyes sting. “A fraud in every sense of the word.”
Grim stands up and puts his hand towards Lucca’s shoulder. Lucca flinches and grabs it.
“They’re right, Eden,” says Lucca. “They all are. Mam and Antenna. I should never have gone to UCC. I should’ve stayed in my lane.”
“Luc’,” Eden cries, “Stop it! You’re a smart boy!”
“Yeah, but so is Grim,” says Lucca, just as the robot’s hand reaches out towards his face.
CC flings open the door of Trinny’s house and the soles of his shoes thunder across the floorboards. Trinny darts out of the kitchen and grabs CC by the scruff of his neck. He throws a punch. CC ducks. The punch hits the side of his head. He falls. CC is disoriented. He crawls towards the door. Trinny bends over and grabs his shoulders.
“Don’t think you’re getting out of here alive,” he hisses.
CC wriggles. He kicks Trinny’s shins. Trinny stumbles over.
“I’ll break your f**king neck,” Trinny barks into the floor as CC scrambles up and bolts for the door.
Trinny throws another punch. He misses and hits the glass. It funnels outwards with a bang. CC yanks at the handle. He unlocks the door but then Trinny has grabbed his hand. Trinny twists and CC hears the crumple of bone and muscle.
“You bastard,” CC exhales.
“You’re not going anywhere,” says Trinny, “I’m going to kill you.”
CC snaps his broken hand backwards but the pain fires up his arm and he stops. Trinny hauls him backwards and throws him onto the floor. CC kicks him. When Trinny stoops over, CC manages to punch him with his non-injured hand and grab his neck.
Lucca heads to the sitting room. He can see from the shadows through the frosted glass that a lot of the reporters have departed from the front of the house but one or two are still moping around. He faces Aileen.
“Mam,” he says. “I’m ending this.”
Aileen bites her nails.
“I’ve put Grim back into the basement,” says Lucca. “I’m not taking him out again.”
“Right,” says Aileen.
“He’s gone weird, Mam,” Lucca continues, “I think he tried to kill me or something. But I’ll fix him. I’ll make him okay. And we won’t have any of this.”
Aileen says nothing.
Lucca turns away and tries phoning CC. He gets no response.
CC squeezes, presses and hears the dull crack. It sounds like the crush of an empty plastic bottle.
“Trinity College,” CC mutters, “Trinity College, Dublin.”
He lets the body fall.
“Here in Trinity College, Dublin,” CC chirps, imitating Gay Byrne, “Do you understand the expression, ‘F**k off?’”
He kicks Trinny’s heel then goes to find something to tie him with.