When I woke up this morning, he was gone. That's not so unusual, so I wasn't worried yet. I turned on the dogbot and the coffee machine and walked down to the beach with K9-5. All our dogbots have been named K9. It's not very original, but we still have a soft part in our hearts for that old Dr Who relic of the 20th century.
Actually, for scientists, we keep a lot of old relics around. That's one thing we've always had in common. The love of antiquities, old music, old books, old robots.
We lived in an old house, too, made of wood, still standing after the great earthquake and tsunami of '34. It's in Stinson Beach, just outside of what was left of San Francisco.
The house was built on a hill on solid bedrock overlooking the bay and the earthquake only shook it up a little bit and the flood waters just ran right through it, so in '59, when Max and I relocated to the University of San Francisco, it was selling cheap. No one wanted an old fashioned wooden house anymore, just Max and me.
It was low tide and the beach was deserted as usual. I threw some pieces of drift wood for K9 like I always do. Its hilarious to watch him navigate through the sand dunes. Sand may not be the best thing for a machine, but he has special fans that blow the sand right out of his joints and it hasn't hurt him yet.
He usually springs up and catches the wood before it even begins to descend. He always catches it, no matter how hard I try to trick him. He has sensors that predict the exact arc the stick will take, and sensors that pinpoint the spot he will grab it out of the air.
He's sensitive all right, so its my fault that I did not realise something was wrong when we got back to the house. First of all, I forgot that I had him on mute, so while I was making myself a bowl of cereal, he kept annoying me by clattering back and forth between Max's study and the kitchen and bumping into the back of my thigh with his cold metallic nose. I finally realised he was trying to tell me something, and strolled into the sitting room to pick up the remote control I had left next to the X-stream Machine. I took him off mute.
"Problem detected. Room 3, Max's study. Suspected theft." He announced immediately, and pranced off down the hall.
K9's are always pretty terse, but his message was clear and I fairly flew to Max's study. The door was unlocked. Max's PC was gone. He never takes it with him. I began to feel sick to my stomach.