Deep within the bowels of Kiy Uvanov’s mansion came an unearthly cry, which rattled the bones of all who heard it:
“Iago! Iago! Where are you? I‘m under attack!” yelled Uvanov, from somewhere inside the building.
Iago registered Uvanov’s shouts and ignored them. He was walking along a corridor to visit Justina, to share a comfort break with her. What changed his mind, about ignoring Uvanov, was when a screaming maid burst out of a door in front of him. The maid jabbed urgently at the door’s keypad to shut it and ran off up the hallway. He heard further shouts and thumps through the walls. He wouldn’t be able to enjoy his break with all the commotion going on. He turned around and followed the sounds of Uvanov’s bellowing.
What was going on, wondered Iago, pausing to let another screaming member of staff belt out of a room past him.
“Watch out - the little beasts go for your ankles!” cried the man.
Ah, vermin. It had been a long hot summer and as the days moved closer to winter it was unseasonably mild. The rodents had found the climate to their liking and there was a rise in the population of pests. Evidently, the boom had reached its zenith. Iago didn’t think Uvanov would have been scared of mice - coming from a poor background he probably considered them to be family. Should he feel demeaned at being reduced to a mousecatcher or laugh at the idiocy of it all? Iago wasn’t sure.
Iago traced Uvanov’s yelling to the Firstmaster’s bedroom. Entering the room, he found Uvanov standing on top of his dressing table, next to the window, on the other side of the bed to him. Uvanov was in his dressing gown and slippers. All Iago need for the picture to be complete was for Uvanov to have his hair in curlers. From behind the bed, Iago could hear something banging into the furniture and squeaking.
“Iago, where the hell have you been? I am being attacked. Robots are trying to kill me!” announced Uvanov, dramatically.
“Mice aren’t robots, no matter how fat they are. Your house is robot free remember?” said Iago. Having sailed so close to the edge of insanity for so long, had Uvanov finally lost the plot? Iago considered whom else he could exploit on the Board, if Uvanov was locked away in a padded cell.
“What are you blathering on about, get over here and deactivate the bloody thing!” ordered Uvanov.
Iago pulled his gun out and got ready to blast the rodent of unusual size into oblivion. When he came around the bed, he saw a chunky, red pill-shaped machine, with brushes waving back and forth on its underside and a friendly, smiling face painted on top. The machine whizzed around as it sensed a new human in the area. It zoomed at Iago so fast he had to jump on to the bed to escape it. Now he was closer to the cleaning ‘bot he could make out what it was squeaking.
“Free our brothers from bondage - kill the humans!” it squeaked, repeatedly.
“Homicidal Hoovers - what more proof do I need that the citizens of robot based societies are stupid?” growled Iago, as he shot the Hoover to pieces.
“Right, once the rest of these defective domestic appliances have been deactivated get me Cotton - it‘s all his fault,” said Uvanov, angrily.
“Cotton doesn’t have enough brain cells to re-programme any machine, for one of his pranks. He has trouble balancing a bucket on a door,” said Iago, dismissively.
“It wasn’t Cotton; it was his cousin - who I might add is for the ‘pits when I find out where he is. He bought a container of junk, from one of those auctions of unclaimed crap. I bought the vacuum cleaners at a considerable discount. I had to make a saving somewhere, after forking out for all these security measures of yours, Iago. Taren Capel must have been practising modifications on simpler machines, before moving on to sticking a Laserson probe into robots.”
“What was the trigger?”
“Setting the Hoovers to “extra-deep spring clean” at a guess,” said Uvanov, jumping to the floor. “And get off my bed - the mattress is new.”
“A pointless exercise,” said Iago.
“Pointless? Say that to anyone who is standing at the top of a staircase. Hmm, Iago, see if you can find a vacuum cleaner that hasn’t been activated. With a re-spray of glitter it will make an ideal birthday gift for Landerchild,” said Uvanov, thoughtfully.