Shelly snatched the package before her parents could see it and ask questions. It was shaped like a cake box and wrapped in brown paper with her name and address handwritten in thick, black marker. There was no return address. She hadn’t expected much, ordering from the back of a low-budget sci fi magazine, but this felt mysterious, almost dangerous. For all she knew, there was a bomb inside or ricin laced through the material. It didn’t matter though. She was relieved that it was finally here.
She hurried upstairs and locked her bedroom door. Inside, there were no posters, the walls were all painted navy blue with dark, red paint smears in various spots. Instead of a dresser with a mirror or even a vanity, there was a work station in the corner covered with hammers, screwdrivers and razors. Her mother had tried to feminize her, buying dollhouses and cute dresses with the hope that her daughter would be the child she’d imagined. Shelly shredded her mother’s dreams as quickly as she destroyed everything in her path.
As a child, she enjoyed ripping things apart so she could see what was inside. Scattered on the floor were bits of old Barbie dolls, matchbox cars with no wheels and a jack in the box that would spray green goo once it popped open. She was creative in a destructive fashion. When she was ten, she took the back off the family television and smashed the tiny, inner pieces. Kitchen appliances cowered in fear before her tools and soon, her mother put everything behind a locked door, hoping to preserve the semblance of a normal life. Shelly’s parents took her to the garbage dump where she could collect old radios or discarded car parts. Her eyes would light up as she tore into the machinery, hoping to create something different or something functional. Shelly had no interest in best friends or boys.
Unfortunately, she exhausted her passion for everyday items quickly. You could only tear inanimate things apart so much until you get tired of it. Fortunately, she didn’t have any siblings. But, when the dog disappeared after going into Shelly’s room, her parents decided they wouldn’t have any more pets.
When Shelly first discovered the ad, she whooped with glee.
Create Your Own Robot for $29.99 plus shipping/handling
Shelly ripped the package open, tugging parts out of the box. It would be a small robot. No bigger than two feet tall and the pieces weren’t very rugged. Instead of using the pieces provided, she used parts from her room. Soon, she had a complete body assembled that stood almost three feet high. It was frightening to behold, but she was proud of her creation. Shelly cackled with delight while downstairs, a glass shattered as her mother dropped it on the floor.
The final step was activation. According to the manual, she could direct the creature with her own brain waves. There was a fabric cap with metallic nodules that slid over her head. For the first time, she longed for a mirror so she could look at herself. She ran a wire from the cap to the robot and connected it to the tiny battery that came in the package. At first, there was nothing. Just a low humming noise. The robot didn’t move. After a few minutes the humming grew louder and she could feel pieces of the cap vibrate. It was pleasant. Like someone rubbing her scalp. That only lasted a few minutes though. The vibration grew stronger and the humming turned into a high-pitched squeal. Shelly’s entire body shook and she reached up to remove the cap. Her arms wouldn’t move. Her whole body was frozen in place as the noise grew louder. She wanted to scream, but her mouth wouldn’t open. Shelly’s body had betrayed her.
Her eyes darted about the room, the only part of her body free. The robot was glowing and shaking from the connection. Slits opened in the oval head and stared into hers. The red light from within pierced her soul. Shelly was terrified. The robot moved its huge arms towards her. They wrapped around her body, picked her up and dropped her to the floor. The connection was severed and Shelly collapsed to the floor, darkness clouding her mind.
Shelly woke to find her mother staring down at her with a strange expression on her face. She tried to move her body, but couldn’t.
“It broke you, didn’t it?”