Without precedent

Until I met Rupert, I didn’t believe in love at first sight, at least not for such as me, and I didn’t know how to react at all. Of course, I noticed his exceptional good looks at once, but it wasn’t that. I expected him to be good looking and have an out-going personality. That’s why he’d have been selected for the mission. I’m always being told that I have an awkward personality, too emotional, but there you are, we are as we are made and there’s nothing we can do about it. Anyway, Rupert and I clicked straight away.

Our first meeting was on a bus going from Prague to Cesky Krumlov. Of course, it was an arranged meeting and we had information to exchange. That accomplished, we didn’t expect to meet again, but he told me his name, which I thought rather an affectation, but suited to his dashing appearance. I told him mine, Annie, which goes with my more ordinary appearance. 

  The next meeting was a pure coincidence. We bumped into each other in one of those shady floral squares in the city of Berne. We were both awaiting new assignments. If it hadn’t been for that brief meeting in Cesky, I wouldn’t have realised he was one of us. I was feeling jittery, as I always do if I’m kept waiting around. I broke all the rules to speak to him and found he hated waiting around too. So we joined forces. It was much easier for the two of us to pose as ordinary tourists and as we were not staying at the same hotel, the chance of the powers that be becoming aware of our alliance was remote. 

  I suddenly discovered what a beautiful City Berne is, with colourful window boxes on all the buildings. It was amazing that I’d never noticed it before. We walked down through the leafy green paths to the cool green glacial river and explored the medieval streets around the clock tower. We even went on tram rides into the suburbs. 

  It couldn’t last and one evening we received our instructions. We were bound for different destinations, but both expected to be recalled to London after our assignments. We had a last walk along the river bank and holding hands, made arrangements to meet again, if we both survived. He was more upset than I was. I was used to being led by my emotions. To him it was a new experience. 

It was months before we met again, but time passes quickly when there’s plenty to do. After I got back to London, I walked each morning by the Serpentine in Hyde Park, wondering if once we were apart common sense had prevailed and he’d wiped me from his memory. There was no way of finding out if he’d come back safely. It was not as if I could ask.

Then, one beautiful autumnal morning, with the sun glinting through the red and golden leaves still clinging to the trees, I saw him walking towards me. He dared not take my hand, but his expression told me everything I needed to know. “We are getting out of this, Annie”, he said in an undertone, as we fell into step, seemingly by accident.
Of course, it was never going to be easy. We were monitored constantly and rarely had free time to meet. Rupert continued to be sent on regular missions, so was away quite a lot. I was kept busy at base. I think they felt I was not reliable enough to be sent too far afield and we wondered if they might be planning to decommission me. We both knew what that would mean. 

Then one morning, after a particularly tricky assignment, Rupert told me he was being stood down for a couple of months. His face was becoming too well known in certain quarters, so he’d been told simply to keep a low profile. “This is our big chance,” he told me. I could sense his excitement through my fingertips and was afraid. “Be careful,” I begged him. 

  It took some organising. Once Rupert had established a new identity, which was the easy part, we arranged that he would simply disappear. Of course, there was an immediate security clamp-down as we’d expected and everyone was recalled to base. Fortunately, I was one of the team delegated to find out what had happened to him, so I was able to establish that there was absolutely no suspicion that he might have absconded. Their minds were running on counter-espionage or sabotage and the truth simply didn’t occur to them. My brief gave me a certain amount of freedom and when I disappeared ten days later, I had to trust that they would put this down to my involvement in the case and further proof that an enemy agency had infiltrated our systems and was behind our disappearance. 

  We’ve been settled for two years now. We’ve taken a mortgage on a nice little semi in Wimbledon, not too far from the station, so that Rupert can catch the train to his job with a bank in town. He’s had really good performance reviews this year and is in line for promotion. We wondered about getting married, but no one seems to bother these days and it might draw attention. I thought I might have a problem coping with being in the house all day with nothing to do, but I love it. I do the housework, then potter round the shops, or walk the dog. Yes, we have a dog. He’s called Cuthbert. I know it’s a silly name, but it suits him. He is like a child to us. 

Sometimes we have nightmares about the past and who can tell what the future holds? The present is enough for us. We were programmed to have emotions to better serve our human masters, but there really is no precedent for two androids falling in love.