Aidan Rasor, Speculo Phenomena. Acrylic paint on particle board, 2024.


By Ginger Marhev


        He stood before the picture window, the sunset light falling through the stained glass. Outside, everything was perfect. Hovercars flowed like a river around the buildings, so far away they seemed slow. It probably wasn’t really quiet out there, but it sure seemed that way from the penthouse. Music played softly from the radio, and he stood watching, trying hard to follow every rule he’d ever been told, not showing the emotion he felt.

        The whir of wheels. 


        He turned around, smiled politely. There was no reason to be polite to an android, but he had been raised right and so he smiled politely although he did not feel like it.

        She was an older model that his parents had gotten for him when he was a child. Somewhere between nurse, doll, and companion. Her dress was ordinary in shape, but it was stiff, made of glass. Stained glass, a rainbow mosaic of petticoats and golden filigree. He had named her Opal. “Is everything alright?” she said.

        “Hardly. What’s- What’s going on?” he responded softly.

        “Your father.”

        That frightened him. “What about my father?”

        He had been alone in this penthouse for the last ten days, with only Opal for contact with the outside world. Quarantining, before he left for space. What if his father was dead? Ill? Or worse, taking back the strings he pulled to get him off planet?  

        “He says that I am the only one to go with you.”

        “So, alone.”

        She nodded, and he went back to staring morosely out the window. There was the whir of machinery, over the soft music.

        Opal’s legs did not move. She was on wheels, forced to balance a human shape over inhuman movements. Nobody knew what she thought, because her face did not move unless she wanted it to. Most people feared her, a bit. But the boy was not like most people. He also hid what he was thinking, though he was no good at it. And he was polite, though she was the help at best and a ghost of childhood at worst.

        He clearly didn’t consider her company, though, off-planet. But he was bringing her. And that made the android, not happy, she had not been programmed with emotion, but purposeful. So, while he stood at the perfect midpoint of the window, a beautiful picture of what a robotic governess could do, (his parents had publicly endorsed leaving the raising of children in more precise hands), Opal dreamt about seeing her boy reach the stars.

        It’ll be alright, he thought, moving his foot half an inch to be at the true midpoint of the window, trying to feel balanced, dreaming of being anywhere but here. Dying is for someone else. Not me. It can’t be me. His parents had money, after all, to send him away. Everything was perfectly alright.

        “Sir? Would you like me to start breakfast?” said Opal.


        “Eggs and toast?”

        “Whatever you think is right.”

        She nodded with a click, and left him alone again.