The Metal Man
Halfway through a narrow, empty corridor somewhere deep in the house, Allison spotted an automaton walking towards them. It stopped a short distance away, standing to one side with its back to the wall. Alistair faced straight ahead, but his eyes constantly flicked back to the motionless automaton. When they were no more than two steps away from it, the automaton spoke.
“Good day to you,” it said.
Alistair froze in his tracks, his body suddenly gone as stiff as a board. Even Allison found herself at a loss. This went far beyond being merely a pale imitation of the real thing, and came dangerously close to actually being the real thing. Allison had not yet looked closely at the automaton, but she quickly found herself unable to look away.
Its eyes were twin diamonds, each carefully polished and carefully carved to look like any human eye. Its hair was thin strands of shimmering gold, as thin as real hair and placed in just the right manner to appear as real hair. Its jacket and pants were neatly pressed, as well-maintained as the clothes that Roland Bitters wore. Its face was a delicately-carved mask. This metal man was not like any of the others they’d seen so far.
The automaton extended one hand towards them, which Alistair flinched away from. “My name is Maximilian and it is my duty to serve you,” the automaton said. “Please select your desired order from this list.”
It held a small box in its hand, which was covered in tiny switches. Each switch was labeled with such things as “Clean bedroom #2” and “Prepare meal for guest dining hall.” One switch said “Continue with current duties.” Allison carefully flipped that one. The box disappeared back into Maximilian’s coat and his hand returned to his side. He…it bowed stiffly.
“Very well. I shall endeavor to carry out your wishes to the best of my ability.”
Maximilian turned and then continued on along the corridor, slowly moving on awkward legs.
“By the gods,” Alistair mumbled under his breath. “If I’d known about that thing, I would have killed that madman myself.”
“It actually spoke…”