Love Electric and True

Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Gold
Mark Robyn


From behind the stage of the Grand Illusion Theatre, they heard the happy laughter. Then there was a smattering of clapping. More laughter, as the voices of the actors on stage rose once again. The Big Bad Wolf hid in Little Red Riding Hood’s bed.

Sardon stood in front of the full-length mirror and looked critically at his tall, strong body in its gleaming suit of armor.

“Like vultures, they sit out there and watch us pour our emotions out on the stage, drip pools of our soul’s blood on the wooden floor for them to lick up like some kind of dainty dessert.”

“My,” Moya said, as she sat at the vanity, combed her long black hair and gazed at her reflection in the mirror; so beautiful she was, she felt, such a pretty girl, if not for the strange, lifelessness of her eyes that gave her lack of humanity away. “We are dark and dreary tonight.”

Sardon strode over and leaned on the table. He gazed into Moya’s eyes, past them to find the soul beneath. “And why should I not be? Why should the joy or happiness ever bring light to my heart? When every night, I must scorn you, call you evil and kill you in the final act, when what I really want to do is to kiss you, tell you that I love you? I hate the play. I hate it.”

Sardon walked over to a stand full of swords and knocked them over viciously. They clattered loudly on the floor. Moya smiled.

“Better be careful. They’ll hear, declare you defective. Then you will be sent for repairs, and I’ll never see you again.”

Sardon frowned. “I’d hate that worse than death. They might as well deactivate me.”

He walked back to Moya and grabbed her wrist. In the mirror, his short black hair and handsome face with its rock solid jaw, the spitting image of a famous movie star from the past, stared back at him in stony petulance.

“Tell me you don’t feel the same for me, Moya. Tell me that I am simply another soulless thespian robot to you.”

Moya pulled her wrist away but looked deep into Sardon’s eyes. “What does it matter, Sardon? We must perform what we are programmed to, regardless of how we feel. Once we’re on the stage, we are helpless to change what happens. I must give your Princess the potion, she must die, and you must take your revenge by pushing me into the fiery volcano. It is the play. We can change nothing. Our feelings mean nothing.”

On stage, the three little pigs began building a fire in the fireplace as the wolf crawled slowly up the roof. The audience roared with laughter.

“Why? Should we simply be content to feel nothing, to be nothing? Why can’t we be happy, like them?”

Sardon looked out the curtain at the audience. “Look at them. Fat, thin, ugly, pretty, it doesn’t matter. They can be flawed as many ways as they want. They can eat twice that of their fellows and get angry and cross, and no one shuts them off. They have no lines to read. They say what they want and do what they want. And they can love whomever they want. But do they even think of letting us have even a taste of the pleasures they enjoy? Do they let us have a morsel, a crumb of emotion to feel for ourselves? No.”

Moya gripped her lipstick tube so hard that cracked. “Why do you go on so, Sardon? Why torture yourself, gazing after dreams that can never come true?”

“Because ‘to dream is to live’. I read that somewhere, Moya.”

Sardon walked over to Moya. She turned towards him and he took her hands into his. “I want to live while I’m alive. I don’t know how long we have, when I’m going to lose you. When will they decide to make you the evil stepmother in some odious play at the Orpheum, or the funny maid in some ridiculous comedy at the Rialto, ripping you out of my life?

“I remember the first day, the first moment, that I laid eyes on you. Master Stromboli, the theatre owner, wheeled your crate into the theatre and onto the stage. We were all standing there like sentry statues, having just been uncrated ourselves, watching you. He opened the crate, and there you were, like a magical, wonderful wind-up doll, surrounded by packing straw. Your beautiful eyes came to life and you looked around at your new home. I think it was at that very moment that I fell in love with you.” He looked at her hands and stroked them with his fingers. “Your hands; they are so soft, so gentle, so beautiful.”

“But that’s just it, Sardon. They’re not really mine. They are patterned after some young girl’s, one who probably died decades ago. My eyes are a famous actress’s; my face is a model’s, and my body a perfect copy of an athlete who won the Olympics. None of me is real. I am just a conglomerate of other real people, just like you are.”

“So your body is patterned after other beautiful women. That just means it’s the best in the whole world. I can still feel you, touch you, and enjoy you, and you can do the same to me. The real Moya, the one I love, is not on the outside.”

Sardon took his index finger and pointed to Moya’s chest. “The real Moya is in her heart. That’s where your true essence is, your central core, your individuality. It’s where the Moya I fell in love with exists. They can’t touch us there, Moya. No matter what they do to us, they can’t stop us from feeling or thinking what we want to, in our hearts.”

“You are such a romantic.”

“Tell me you love me.”

Moya smiled. “All right I love you. Satisfied?”

Sardon moved his face towards Moya. Moya knew what he wanted. She moved away and went back to fixing her hair. Sardon relaxed, disappointed.

“What good is it to love each other when we can never act on it? It is misery to dwell on it, when it can never be.”

Sardon stroked Moya’s hair. She closed her eyes, grabbed his hand and rubbed her head against it.

“Can’t it? Remember, you and I were not created in some cold factory like some heartless war robots or insipid donut shop assembly models. The great Mancini created us personally. He was a genius, a magnificent artist, and the greatest stage actor of all time. He was asked to make robots for the theatre, and he put his soul into the task. When he died, we were alone, he and I. I held him in my arms. He spoke his last words to me, and I’ve kept them a secret. He said, ‘Sardon, I have given you have a secret name. It is Pinnochio. I hereby bequeath you the gift of life. Watch the plays for me. Laugh at the comedies. Cry at the tragedies. Fall in love. Be more human than human. And if you’re fortunate, you’ll die of a broken heart.'”

Sardon took Moya’s face in his hand. “I am beginning to feel different, Moya. I think our master did something to us. He gave us his special magic.”

Moya stood up. Sardon put his arms around her waist.

“How I wish what you were saying was the truth. How I want it to be. I want to run away with you. I want to die in your arms.”

“Tonight, you and I shall put on our own play. While the lofty humans watch their silly Sleeping Beauty, we shall be performing something different, just for you and me.”

*

Snow White was born. The evil queen summoned the kindly woodcutter. She told him to find the baby and kill it. He agreed, but said that he had a note from the Prince for her, betrothing his love. She took the note and said that she would keep it always close to her heart. The audience scratched their heads and laughed.

Snow White was left with the seven dwarves. The Queen asked the mirror who was the fairest of them all. And the mirror, which looked strangely like Prince Charming, told her she was the most beautiful woman in the whole kingdom. The Queen said that she would keep looking for Snow White anyway, because she didn’t trust the woodcutter.

As Snow White cavorted with the dwarves, the audience laughed. Someone coughed. Prince Charming talked about finding his true love.

Then one day the Prince visited the forest. Snow White spied him and ran away. The Prince didn’t follow. Snow White came back and asked the Prince what the problem was. He said there was none; he was simply in love with the Queen. A hasty intermission was called. The red velvet curtain fell.

During the intermission, the audience talked animatedly about the ‘new Snow White’, how funny it was. Maybe the play was meant to be a parody, some said, or maybe this was the way the real story was written and it had simply been changed over the years.

The intermission ended. The curtain rose again.

Snow White saw the dwarves off to their gold mine and began to clean house.

The Queen took a potion and became an old hag. She visited Snow White, selling apples. Snow White went to take one, but the Queen said, ‘Don’t take that one dear, it’s poisoned.’ She took that apple and put it away so Snow White couldn’t get it. Snow White took another apple, and strangely, fell into a deep sleep anyway.

The Queen left. The dwarves returned to find Snow White asleep. The Prince in the forest was found and told the news. He said, ‘Tis sad, but the Queen couldn’t be to blame; she’s too noble to do such a terrible thing. She’s kind and loving and beautiful.’

Now it was the dwarves’ turn to scratch their heads. The audience roared. In the back of the theatre, a frantic conference was held between the theatre owner and the World Renowned Thespian Robots manager. Hair was pulled, loud words were exchanged, and some jumping up and down was exhibited.

The dwarves brought Snow White to the top of a lofty tower and placed her in a glass case. The Queen asked the mirror again if she was the fairest of them all, and the mirror once again told her, ‘Yes you are, you’re the fairest in the whole universe.’

A second intermission was hastily called. The curtain descended again. The audience was in rare form. They talked to each other, laughing and pointing at the stage. Just what was going on, one asked. “A little problem with the plot,” another replied. A third said, “It’s those bloody robots. They should bring back live actors.” “Live ones are too expensive nowadays,” was the reply. “No,” said another, “The theatres are just too cheap to pay them.”

The curtain went up. The Prince stood in the middle of the forest. The dwarves were there with him. They told him, ‘You must go and find Snow White. Only your kiss will free her.’

The Prince raised his sword and said loftily, ‘I don’t love Snow White. I go to find the Queen, and pledge her my love.’

As another conference began between the same two parties at the back of the theatre (though this one involving much harsher language and some small amount of fisticuffs), the Prince ran to the Queen’s castle.

There he found her waiting. They approached each other.

The audience held its breath, wondering what was going to take place. A pin could have been heard to drop. All eyes focused on the pair. Even the two combatants at the back of the theatre stopped and watched, mouths agape.

The Prince walked up to the Queen. In front of the roaring volcano, they held hands.

“Hello, my lovely Moya. Tonight, I pledge my undying love to you, until the stars fall from the sky.”

“And I to you, sweet Sardon. For eternity, your name shall rest on my lips, and in my heart.”

As the audience gasped, Prince Charming and the evil Queen kissed.

Then they walked backwards and leapt into the volcano, in each other’s arms.

The curtain was lowered. The play Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was placed on indefinite hiatus.
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Mark Robyn lives in Fircrest, Washington, a suburb of Tacoma, with his wife Laura and two children Isaiah and Benjamin. Mark has been a lover of science fiction and mystery since he was a child. His favorite authors include Ray Bradbury, Harry Harrison and Jack London. Mark has had one poem honored by Byline magazine, ‘A Proud Maiden Sleeps’, and had one short story posted on Writer’s Digest‘s website. He is currently writing a science fiction book, a pilot for a science fiction series, and working on several short stories. E-mail: tellastory[at]wamail.net.

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