Last weekend Dr. Maximillian Tundra was lucky enough to go away for the weekend on a roadtrip with his buddies.
It was nearly the last thing he ever did.
After stopping for a delightful (if artery-hardening) breakfast buffet at the Husky station near London, Max decided that he should use the facilities before they hit the road.
It was an automated bathroom, and something bad was happening to them. The urinal was okay, but the faucets had Max doing a routine reminiscent of Lucille Ball. They were the kind that have little sensors that detect when you’re hands are underneath them, and only dispense water when they are. Unless they’re losing their little robotic minds, or, they’re fucking with you.
In which case, the one you’re hands are under doesn’t work. The one NEXT to you on the right does. So you move over to that faucet and basin — just like Dr. Tundra did — and then it stops.
And the one you were just at starts up.
Repeat several times until you get your hands wet enough to wash and then proceed to the drying stage.
At first, Dr. Tundra was baffled by the paper towel dispenser.
“Where is the handle?” he thought. And then he realized, it was automated too. To be fair, he only realized this as BOTH of the faucets he had been using a moment ago came on with one strong, sustained burst of water.
He waved a hand in front of the sensor, and nothing happened.
He waved both. Nothing
He moved his body in front of it and back. Still, there was no paper towel issued from the machine. There was a whole roll in there, he could see it, but he wasn’t about to stick his hands in there.
He tried dancing in front of the paper towel machine, a giggle inadvertently escaping from him as he did so.
The tiny paper towel gods were pleased. No, they were too pleased! Several lengths of paper towel spurt out of the contraption all at once — Dr. Tundra had a momentary fear that the towels were about to strangle him — and then stopped abruptly with the sound of some kind of alarming blade cutting the towels. As he giggled nervously, Dr. Tundra congratulated himself on not putting his fingers in there.
A urinal flushed ominously, even though there was no one else in the room. As the water rushed and swirled, Max thought he heard a disembodied voice say, “get out.”
It was time to leave; Max was amused and frightened at the same time.
“What are you laughing about?” one of his buddies asked the good doctor as he left.
“You’ll see,” Dr. Tundra said, smiling, as his friend went into the bathroom.
And his friend was never seen again.
Author’s note: Inspired by actual events. You may be interested to know that my new novel, The Fridgularity, has other appliances that go a bit haywire.
Alltop is looking forward to being absorbed by the robot collective. Original artwork by Vincent Guibert. Originally published March, 2006.