As Markum glared at the robot he felt sure that Bob’s ‘mouth’ was somehow smiling slightly at his discomfort, but that thought was patently ridiculous and he immediately put it out of his mind. “Bloody hell,” he wheezed and sat back down in the chair. “You’ll cause me to have a stroke if that behavior continues.”
“Again, sir,” Bob said with no inflection in his voice, “I do apologize.” The robot moved around the chair to stand in front of Markum.
“I don’t want your damn apologies,” Markum snapped, “I want you to knock on the bloody door before you enter a room. Announce yourself from the doorway if the door happens to be open—make your irritating presence known, and stop coming up behind me so bloody quietly!”
“Ah, of course, sir. Make my presence known. Announce myself before entering a room. Yes, sir, I shall endeavor to comply with your wishes from now on, sir.”
“You damn well better,” Markum grumbled. “What the hell did you want, anyway?”
“Merely to see if there was anything further I could do for you before I retire, sir,” Bob said, while looking straight ahead at the far wall.
Markum picked up the wine glass and drained the remaining fluid in a single swallow, then held the glass out to Bob. “Yes,” he said as he wiped his mustache with the back of his hand. “I would like another glass of wine.”
“Of course, sir,” Bob said and gently took the glass in his life-like hand. As Bob turned away, Markum thought of something else he wanted.
“I would also like to ask you a question, Bob.”
The robot turned back to face Markum. “Of course, sir.”
He stubbed out the still burning cigarette he held and looked up at the robot. “Bob, what do you think is the meaning of life?”
Bob actually tilted his head to one side for a moment, as if ‘thinking.’ “Why, to grow, to gain knowledge and then reproduce to thus ensure the survival of the species, sir.”
Markum raised his eyebrows. “Really?” he asked.
“Of course, sir,” Bob replied.
“And why do you ‘think’ that simple statement answers the question to the meaning of life?”
“It seems rather obvious, sir,” Bob said, and Markum was sure the damn robot was smiling at him, now. “Every creature on this planet has but one purpose—they are born that they may reproduce, to increase the population size and ensure their survival. This way their offspring may also have the ability to reproduce and continue to maintain life and their species.”
“Indeed,” Markum said, somewhat flabbergasted by the robot’s response. “And what of humans? Do we fit into your idea of life having a meaning?”
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