It was just another day at work, and I was sitting at the front counter just clicking away at my keyboard. Looking into the lobby, nurses were talking to patients’ families, explaining the condition of their loved ones. Coming in and out of the backroom were tiny humanoid robots, no bigger than the size of a hummingbird. Each robot wore scrubs like their nurse coworkers. Their wings sprouted from each shoulder and were coated with metallic feathers. The main job of these robots was to escort the patients’ families coming to visit their loved ones. They floated in front of them, answering any questions a patient or a family might have when they left. It was an ordinary day for the world’s greatest psychiatric hospital.
As the front-desk receptionist, one of my duties was to provide a friendly face to all incoming guests and then tend to their needs. The main entrance doors opened, and walking through them was my boss, Ruzo. On his shoulder was his robot secretary—Robotic Artificial Intelligence Mobile Operator, or Raimo for short.
Raimo was one of the VPs of the building. He had the ability to control every robotic escort and computer in the building. He was the size of a dove, giving him a much larger wingspan than the escorts. Raimo was reading something aloud from his tiny tablet. Being too far away, I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
With a stern face, Ruzo scanned the room to see how his lobby was operating until, finally, his gaze reached my desk. A smirk emerged from the side of his mouth, resting just below his ear. He raised his hand, signaling his assistant to stop reading.
“Gilbert! How are things going?” he said, outstretching his arms out wide, making him look like a walking T. Startled from the loud gleeful voice, people across the lobby turned to look at the man as he made his way toward the front desk.
“More like what are you doing here? It’s your birthday. Go home!” Raimo said. He had a distinct metal undertone in his voice, a shared trait between all robots. He slid off Ruzo’s shoulder. Flapping his wings, Raimo flew toward my desk. If angels existed, they surely flew like Raimo. It was as if the air around him was bending to his will and carrying him with effortless grace and speed to my desk. Before I could blink, he was landed on the front counter, putting his tablet in his toga. He crossed his arms around his chest and stared down at me.
Sitting back in my chair, I looked up at the tiny robot. “Thanks, guys, but I don’t have any plans today, so I wanted to spend my birthday here, my home away from home,” I said.
“Nonsense, Gilbert. Take the rest of the day off. You work extremely hard, and I appreciate all you do. Now go do something fun for your birthday. Why don’t you hit up Quintin? I’m sure he is doing something spectacular,” Ruzo said, finally getting to the desk.
“No, it’s fine. I’m sure he’s not even in the country at the moment. Besides, who’s going to watch the front desk?” I said, looking for an email in the boss’s inbox. Truthfully, I would rather just have a quieter birthday than whatever crazy idea of fun Quintin had in mind.
“Raimo will be excited to cover the front on your special day,” Ruzo said, grabbing the mail from the bin and shuffling through each piece.
Finally finding the email I looked up, I said, “Hey boss, before I leave, I wanted to let you know you received an email from a Winter Kühn. There’s no message, and the subject simply says, ‘I’ve found the island.’ There’s a zipped file attached, but it’s password-protected.”
“Ah, so big sis has finally found it,” Ruzo said. For a moment, his face grew stern as he read the rest of the mail. He looked up with a smile. “Thanks, Gilbert. Send it to Raimo, and he’ll read me the contents of the file later. I have to go to my next meeting, but I better not see you when I come back up front.” Ruzo started to walk to the back door.
“I’ll send an escort to take notes to read the message to you in my place.” As Raimo said it, a nearby escort robot finished guiding a family out of the building. The same robot hastily flew back to open the back door for his boss. Not looking up as he opened a piece of mail to read it, Ruzo walked through the open doorway.
As the door began to close, Ruzo shouted, “Excellent, you’re the best, Raimo.” Then the door closed with a click. Ruzo was always such a busy man. I guess that’s what happens when you’re only 26, and you’ve created the biggest psychiatric hospital chain with thousands of branches across the world.
“Now, go on and get out of here, Gilbert. Relax and enjoy your birthday,” Raimo said, hopping down off the counter and onto the desk. He walked over to my clipboard. Then reaching into his toga, he grabbed a pair of glasses and read the upcoming appointments.
“Why do you wear glasses? It’s not like a robot can have a bad vision,” I asked, packing my things into my bookbag.
“Well, it makes me feel more human, and besides, it gives me more of a secretary look. Don’t you think?” Raimo said. For a moment, his face sort of glowed as he smiled and adjusted his glasses but then promptly went back to his neutral expression as he scanned through the rest of the appointments. “You should invest in a fake pair,” Raimo said. Flying back up to the counter, he sat down facing the door and put his chin in his hands.
“I’ll consider it. Have a good day, and tell Ruzo thanks again,” I said, throwing my book bag over my shoulder. Before I walked out the door, I turned to wave one more time just to see Raimo lazily waving goodbye.