***Author’s note: This is a sneak peek, pre-professional editing. The block formatting and errors will be corrected prior to publication.
Chapter 2: Jacob and His Enhanced Family
The Roth’s tapped on their tablets as the robot served them breakfast. The dining room table was covered in white linen, a chandelier overhead, antique and ornate plates on display in the china cabinet. Jacob and Rebecca had smoked salmon and eggs benedict, roasted potatoes, with chicory & hollandaise. Their boys, David and Ethan, had buttermilk pancakes, bacon, and organic apples. Their oldest child, teenager Lindsey, also had pancakes, but chocolate chip pancakes with cinnamon whipped cream.
“Hey, no fair,” David said, scowling at his sister’s breakfast. “Why does she get whipped cream?”
“And chocolate chips. You need to learn to code.” Lindsey grinned at David and took a bite of her pancakes.
“I do know how to code.” David said to Lindsey. “Better than you, stock girl.” He said stock girl under his breath.
“But who has chocolate chip pancakes and who doesn’t?”
“All the pancakes are good,” said Ethan, the youngest. He looked up at the robot and said, “Thank you for breakfast, Jeeves.”
“You’re very welcome, Master Ethan,” Jeeves replied.
“Make me chocolate chip pancakes, now,” David said to the bot.
“Right away, Master David.”
The 5’6” robot was shaped like a human, with arms and legs and a head roughly proportional to a human being. His aluminum and titanium frame were covered in white and blue plastic, giving him a friendly look to go along with his demeanor and the British accent chosen by Lindsey.
Rebecca looked up from her tablet. “No, Jeeves. Don’t spoil him. There’s nothing wrong with the breakfast he has.”
David crossed his arms over his chest, his perfect face reddening. The six-year-old had straight dark hair parted to the side, dark eyes, and little Chiclet teeth. “That’s not spoiling me. Two chocolate pancakes cost less than one Fed Coin to make. Is it worth it for me to have a bad day for one Fed Coin, especially when dad makes 1712 Fed Coins per hour?”
“It’s not about the money.”
“Then what’s it about?”
“This isn’t a debate.”
“Lucky for you because you’re losing.”
Rebecca took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. “Jeeves isn’t making you another breakfast. That’s final.”
David huffed and glared at his mother.
Jacob held out his coffee cup, his eyes on his tablet. “More coffee.”
“Right away, sir,” Jeeves said, taking his cup and walking to the kitchen.
Rebecca turned to her daughter. “Don’t forget, you’re at your dad’s this weekend.”
Lindsey set down her fork with a huff. “Do I have to go?”
“You missed last time.”
“But the farm is so boring. And there’s this VR party I wanna go to.”
“I’m sure your dad will be fine with you going to the party.”
“His internet’s too slow for VR.”
“Well, I’ll talk to him. We’ll see what he says.”
“What about the adoption?” Lindsey asked. “Once I’m adopted, I don’t have to go, right?”
With that, Jacob looked up from his tablet, chewing his food.
“He hasn’t agreed to that yet,” Rebecca said.
“Have you even asked him?” Lindsey replied.
“Not yet, but I will. He’ll want to talk to you about it though.”
Lindsey’s eyes widened. “But he’ll be upset.”
“He’ll understand,” Jacob interjected. “It’s for the best. He’ll see that.”
“One step at a time. I’ll talk to him this week,” Rebecca said.
“About the weekend and the adoption?” Lindsey asked.
“It’s way better to be a Roth anyway,” David said.
“Lindsey’s already a Roth,” Jacob said. “This is just a formality.”
Lindsey smiled at her stepfather sitting across the table.
Rebecca turned to Jacob and mouthed; I love you. Jacob placed his hand atop his wife’s and squeezed. Rebecca was in her late-thirties, but she looked ten years younger, no doubt improved by modern cosmetic surgeries. She was naturally pretty with high cheekbones and bright brown eyes, but she was made flawless by science. Unwanted fat cells were killed by nanolipo, a technique that injected gold nanoparticles into problem areas, the fat then melted by a laser. Other lasers were used to smooth and tighten her skin, remove unwanted veins and stretch marks, and heal sun damage. Without invasive surgery, she stayed young … at least in appearance.
“Grandpa Roth really cares about being related for real,” David said with a crooked smirk. “Adoption doesn’t change that.”
“That’s enough, David,” Rebecca replied through gritted teeth.
“I’m just saying. Dad’s always trying to impress Grandpa, but it won’t matter.”
“This isn’t about Grandpa.”
“It’s the truth—”
“Not another word,” Jacob said, pointing his knife across the table at David.
Jacob shook his head, looking at Rebecca. “I don’t know how you do it.”
“Without Jeeves, I’m not sure I could.”
“I love you either way,” Ethan said to his half-sister.
“Thanks, peanut,” Lindsey replied.
“That was sweet, Ethan,” Rebecca said.
Five-year-old Ethan beamed at his mother’s approval. Like his brother, he looked like he could be a child actor, but with light brown hair and big brown eyes like his mother, whereas David had jet black hair and dark eyes like his father.
“Last night, on MeTube, I saw this awesome video about a dog just like Spike,” David announced, jockeying for the spotlight. He tapped on his screen. “Check it out. It’s so cool.” David handed his tablet to Lindsey.
Lindsey played the video, holding it up so everyone could see.
Jeeves entered the dining room and set Jacob’s cup of coffee in front of him. Then he stood at attention in the back corner of the room, awaiting instruction.
The video footage showed a man breaking a window from the outside and attempting to enter a nicely furnished home. The robotic dog, outfitted with a rotating rifle on its back, shot the man in the head.
Lindsey stopped the video. “That wasn’t very appetizing.”
“I don’t want you watching that violence. I could have Jeeves suspend your access to the internet,” Rebecca said.
“But he deserved it,” David said.
“Wouldn’t it be better if the dog just called the police or used a tazer?” Rebecca asked. “What if that was the owner of the house? What if he was locked out?”
David shook his head. “That was a burglar. He had on all black and everything. All the security bots have facial recognition anyway. Maybe he was a murderer or a rapist?”
“Where are you learning these things?”
“It’s normal for enhanced kids,” Jacob whispered to Rebecca. “Mayer’s kids did the same thing. They just grow up faster.”
“I know, but he’s only six,” Rebecca whispered back.
“Can we put a gun on Spike?” David gulped his milk.
“We’re not putting a gun on Spike,” Rebecca said.
“I could program Spike to bite their junk,” Lindsey said.
The boys howled, milk shooting from David’s nose.
Rebecca laughed too. “We’re not doing that either.”
Jacob stood from the table, holding out his coffee cup. “Put this in a travel mug.”
Jeeves approached Jacob, taking the cup. “Right away, sir.”
“You’re leaving already?” Rebecca asked.
“I’d rather stay home, but I have a ton to do before the Bilderberg Meeting on Friday,” Jacob said.
“Is that this week?”
“Are you actually invited this year?”
Jacob stiffened. “Dad wants me there for the after meetings.”
“It’s a waste of your time.”
“Maybe. I’m hoping to secure financing while I’m there.”