Oh, my goodness.

Poor little guy. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s going to be anything you can get fixed. That’s, what, three different circuit boards that look like they got splintered there? And look at the way the chassis is dented. All those little pieces are scattered everywhere, too—I think that’s its tail on the sidewalk. Must have been quite the collision.

I feel terrible, really. Poor robot kitty.

No, I didn’t see what happened. I was in the back. I’m in the middle of the second season of Homicide: Life on the Street. I was watching The Wire on my commute last year, and the car kept suggesting that I watch this after that. I didn’t want to at first, because, let’s face it, there’s a limit to how many Baltimore-based gritty crime dramas you can watch. But the car kept nagging me, so I tried it, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

Let me see if I can get you a Kleenex. You must feel awful.

You know, that shouldn’t have happened. When I brought the car in for the new software update, they were supposed to have improved the interface between the regenerative braking and the proximity detector system. The car should have slowed down as soon as it sensed the transponder on your cat. It had a transponder, right? The newer models have it factory installed now.

Really? Wow, you must have had that cat a long time. Like I said, I feel awful.

Hold on a sec. I got two messages. The first one’s from my car—it says it’s been in an accident. Well, duh. Says there’s no serious damage but I might want to get the front tires checked. The other one’s from my robot insurance agent. He wants to know the model number on your cat. Can I check that out for you? It ought to be printed on the chassis somewhere. It’ll just take a second.

It was weird at first, getting messages from your car. At first it was sending way too many; I had to get them to dial it back. I drove to Buffalo for a meeting last year and I decided to do it overnight and just sleep in the back. I woke up and there were like forty messages from the car. It was unreal.

Are you going to be okay?

It must be tough. My son got a robot hamster for his eighth birthday. He loved the thing. The only problem was that he was playing with it in the backyard one day, and the neighbor’s robot dog started chasing it. Poor thing was all skittish after that. He’d just hide under my son’s bed all day and wouldn’t come out. I think his fear subroutine just overloaded.

I am really sorry. Look, the recycling robot is going to come by here any minute. Why don’t you go inside and fix yourself something to drink? I’ll wait here until it finishes cleaning up. No? Okay.

Oh, look, I got a message from my insurance robot. He’s willing to settle with you for six hundred, which is ten percent over replacement value. If that’s okay with you we can just do it that way. Obviously, you don’t have to make a decision right now. He’s a pretty good robot for an insurance agent. Only thing weird is he got an up-modification for himself and now his eyes are all orange and glowing. Looks menacing, almost.

Tell you what. If you don’t feel like going inside, I can have the car make you some coffee. Really, it’s no trouble. I don’t run the coffee machine in there that much because it cuts down on the gas mileage, and it kind of makes a mess with the grounds and all. But the coffee is okay. I mean, I didn’t spring for the cappuccino maker or anything.

Great. Another message from the car. Says the right front tire pressure is down to 95%. I guess a whisker got caught up in there somewhere. You know any good robot mechanics around here?

I am really sorry about your cat. It’s going to be okay. Really it is.