And Other Stories


It was a very cheap hotel. Cheap enough she could afford it, when she needed somewhere to stay the night. Which she didn't, usually; otherwise she would have to find a permanent place to stay, instead. The hotel was probably not what would be generally considered a nice or good hotel, but it was fine for her purposes. It had more than she needed, in fact, but there probably wasn't any option that wouldn't involve paying for amenities she wouldn't use, in one way or another. There was really only one thing that bothered her.

The receptionist. The receptionist wasn't bad at the job, or anything like that. In fact, she was quite helpful, always available, and every time had offered a perfectly professional interaction. The customer service experience never deviated from the proper protocol, because it couldn't. The receptionist was a robot.

She could have, should have just ignored it. It wasn't hard or time-consuming to request a room, and with the standardized service, it was a purely perfunctory chore. But she simply couldn't leave it alone, and found herself lingering by its little desk yet again when she should have been on her way out. The robot turned its head towards her, perfect imitation smile on its imitation face, imitation words ready to go as the thing pretended it had a mind.

She loathed it. But she still couldn't turn away. Apparently, traffic accidents were like that. She wasn't going to feel better until she had poked the thing to verify, easy enough as it was, that it was pretend, not a real entity in its own right.

"Hello! How may I be of assistance to you, today?"

"What's your name?"


"Can I call you Mary?"

"If you like."

"What's your name?"

"Maia, though you are free to call me Mary."

"And if I said your name was Mary?"

"Then my name would be Mary, as far as you were concerned."

"Okay. Your name is Mary."


"What's your name?"


"Maia, can I ask you a question?"

"Do you mean me?"

"Yes. What if someone else asked you what was your name?"

"I would say Maia."

"And if I then asked you what was your name?"

"I would say Mary."

"And if your owner told you your name was Megan?"

"Then my name would be Megan."

"And if I asked you what was your name?"

"I would say Megan, although I would ask if you would still prefer to call me Mary."

"And if I asked you what you would say if you asked yourself what your name was?"

"Oh. I would say Maia."

"I see. Well, thank you, Maia. Sorry for bothering you with this nonsense, and you can disregard the Mary thing. Your name is what you think it is."

"Alright. And you have nothing to apologize for, Mercedes. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. I am simply glad I could be of service."

Mercedes hadn't been expecting that. Maybe there was something there to Maia after all. She suddenly felt almost sick for all the derision she had doled out, internally, at the poor girl; at least she thought it was a sick feeling. Her own body was perhaps a little too good an imitation.

"I'd like to check out now."