Pickle Panda Find Love in the Time of Robot Bees: Part 1, Ch. 7

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Part 1, Chapter 7

“Our reports indicate that she is not in her office,” said a tiny man in a utility jumper.

“She is there,” said one of the woman seated at the table. “Our records indicate a rigid pattern of consistent behavior. She should be there.”

“Our reports indicate that she is not in her office,” he repeated.

It was frustrating dealing with them like this. It always was. “These ‘men’,” she thought to herself.

“Now, now,” said one of the other women, reading her body language. “That won’t do. He’s not perfect, but you can’t expect him to think on his own.”

She knew the other woman was right. Turning her attention back to the tiny man, she began issuing her orders. “Pay attention to what we tell you. Meghan Watson is the graduate student who is scheduled to be in the math lab between 10:00 and 4:00. It‘s almost 2:30 now.”

“It is almost two-thirty now,” he repeated.

“Yes! Vv-very good,” she said. “Now, she shouldn’t be far away. Tell them to walk around the building and locate her. Relay the message. Go!”

“We will walk around the building and locate her,” he said, bowing slightly as he stepped away.

She hung her head with a heavy sigh, and turned to face the other women in the room with her. “They’re going to literally walk around the building, aren’t they?”

“What should we expect?” replied one of the other women.

They all nodded in agreement and, it should be said, in support of one another. They’d all experienced similar frustrations with the males under their command. They functioned well enough when they were prepared ahead of time. When the variables were all known and accounted for, in fact, they were excellent.

In times like these, however, when there were new variables appearing minute by minute, she wished the males would be a little more capable of independent thought.

She looked back at the group. She’d been tapping the edge of the table as she spoke to the male, and had too much nervous energy to be able to sit still comfortably. It was in these moments, when she was standing or walking in front of them, that they could most clearly read her thoughts in her movements. “Is that why you all sit so still?” she asked.

“It is one of the reasons,” said one the oldest of the other women.

She nodded, and considered the group of women before her. Five women, sitting at a round table (the sixth seat, empty, was hers). Despite the equality implied by the round table, she was the youngest of the women, and her instincts told her she couldn’t trust them.

“Who else can we trust?” said the oldest, again.

She looked at the door, anxious for a new report. There had been no news about the Watson girl that morning, which made her even more nervous.

“Darcy?” asked the old woman.

She stopped fidgeting and looked back towards the group. “Yes, Darcy,” she said. “We like being called ‘Darcy’.”

“Darcy,” she said, in a flat, neutral tone. “We understand your instincts. We understand how you must feel about us. We all felt the same way, when we first came here.”

Darcy nodded, but she couldn’t believe they felt what she did.

“Believv-ve it,” replied the oldest woman.

“Elizabeth,” said Darcy, the name dripping with doubt and mistrust.

The old woman relaxed her posture. The others followed suit, relaxing their postures one after another. With each breath, the atmosphere of the room became less like a rigid meeting of old matriarchs and more like a genteel Southern bridge club.

Darcy was glad they were starting to relax. “We’re sorry,” she said to the group. “I- we. We didn’t account for the Watson woman leaving her office so suddenly.”

“It’s fine,” said the oldest woman, despite the obvious displeasure in her voice. “We generally adv-vise action within a ten to fifteen minute reporting window. You gave the order well within that window.”

That woman called herself Ellen, Darcy remembered.

Ellen took the group’s silence as a queue to change the subject, and began relating her detailed reports on her territory’s production numbers, asset values, hive population, and her worker’s general health and morale.

“Morale,” said Elizabeth, haughtily drawing out the last syllable. “When we were young, we nevv-ver even considered such things!”

Before anyone could speak, another tiny man in a utility jumper stepped into the doorway.

They looked at him, intently.

“Once we havv-ve this Watson woman,” said Darcy, “we won’t need to concern ourselvv-ves with the workers’ needs again.” She turned to the tiny man and simply said, “Report.”

“It’s the Watson woman, my queen,” said the tiny man in the expensive suit. “We havv-ve located her.”

Seconds passed before Darcy realized he had finished speaking. “Where is she?” she prodded.

“She is in front of the building,” he said.

“Then go speak to her.”

The tiny man didn’t respond.

Darcy sighed, feeling frustrated again. “Why can’t you go speak to her?” she asked.

“She is not alone.”

That was surprising, thought Darcy. In more than 90% of their reports, Meghan Watson was alone. She lived alone. She walked to her office alone. She did research alone. It was only during “exams week” that her schedule could be called busy, with students hoping to schedule tutoring time. It was because Meghan Watson’s office was usually deserted at the beginning of the school’s semesters that Darcy had decided to make contact. Still, she thought, it was always possible that an eager young student had sought out tutoring services on the second day of classes. “Who is she with?”

A tiny man in an expensive suit had, in fact, been walking laps around the building when he spotted Meghan in the courtyard, talking to Ramses and Kelsi. Their presence, of course, had been reported.

“She is with the ape,” said the tiny man, “as well as a young human female.”

“Girl,” corrected Darcy. “Just say ‘girl’.”

“Girl,” he said.

It was beyond frustrating to talk to him. “Tell them to all off their attempts to contact the Watson woman for today,” she said, deciding that a tiny man in an expensive suit standing rigidly in courtyard full of college students would probably attract negative attention. “We will try again tomorrow. Same time. Same script.”

“Yes, my queen.”

“We’re ‘Darcy’,” she sighed. “Just say ‘Darcy’.”


As she turned away from the tiny man, she looked at the other women around the table and, without saying a word, let her frustration with her agent be known.

Through nodded heads, relaxed shoulders, and smiling eyes, the other women expressed their support as Elizabeth began relating her detailed reports on her territory’s production numbers, asset values, and hive population, but not on her worker’s general health and morale.


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