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Meilleur Bon

By Richard-Michael Calzada

Action / Mystery

Winter Skin

Act 1

Winter Skin

The first rays of morning light penetrated Roger Smith's room as Paradigm City entered a new day. Roger snored contently under a mound of blankets, occasionally shifting his position and grunting before resuming his deep slumber.

Downstairs, the milk man handed butler Norman Burg two small crates of bottled cream. "Thank you, good sir," Norman said in a friendly manner, setting the boxes on the inside of the double-doors and pulling out a black money bag. "Two-fifty, correct?"

"Yessir," the man replied, wiping a bead of sweat off his brows with his forearm.

Norman handed him the money, gave a second thank you, and re-entered Smith mansion. A young woman with red hair who had been mopping the floor looked up mechanically and said, "I see you got the cream Roger needed, Norman."

"Yes Dorothy," he replied, walking past her into the kitchen and setting the boxes down on the counter, "Master Roger always enjoys his morning coffee with fresh cream."

Dorothy, being an android with timely routines, suddenly set the mop aside and said, "I will wake him now." She walked to the elevator and pressed the call button.

"Oh, that's really not necessary Miss Dorothy," Norman called quickly as he opened a shelf and pulled out a coffee can. The ding and gentle clack of the gate closing was all Norman heard in response. He half smiled and allowed himself a sigh. "My, that woman must drive master Roger mad!"

Roger stared at the ceiling of his room, thinking. He had awoken at 11:37, pleased that he could sleep in without any musical disturbances. Now, with his arms folded behind his head, he reviewed what he had learned during the past few days. Memories…the great enigma of this world. Had Roger really learned the truth behind them? But before he could delve any deeper into his thoughts, a faint piano concerto met his ears. Dorothy had begun playing that damn piano, like always. With an annoyed huff Roger tossed the sheets aside and jumped out of bed. He grabbed his bathrobe and wrapped it on in one fluid motion, then threw open his bedroom door with an abrupt bang. The piano played two softer, harmonious notes before concluding its sonata peacefully, and Dorothy Wayneright looked up slightly from the keys.

"Good morning Ro-,"

"Don't good morning me, Dorothy," Smith spat, rubbing his eyes before he directed a cold stare at the android. "You consistently play that piano everyday, Dorothy, as if you think this is your own house!"

"No, Roger," Dorothy said composedly, placing her pearly white hands on her lap. "I play simply because I enjoy the sound of music."

Roger opened his mouth to reply, but then contemplated her words and remained silent. He hated to admit it, but with each passing day Roger was becoming more and more tolerant of Dorothy's antics, mainly because she seemed to be becoming so much more…human.

'Is that why I first despised the idea of having an android living with me in my home?' Roger asked himself, sighing and closing his eyes. "Because I couldn't stand to see such a lifeless person around, yet who was still at the same time so…alive?"


"Hmm," he murmured, opening his eyes.

"You haven't forgotten what today is," Dorothy asked him, "have you?"

Roger, shaking his head and smiling boyishly, said, "Well, Miss Wayneright, I suppose I have. What day is it?"

Dorothy stared at him wordlessly for a moment, then turned and looked out the window. Curious, Roger followed her gaze and glanced out the large window at the enormous walk around balcony that formed the outskirts of Smith mansion.

The sky had grown grey and heavy, and a single pure white snowflake drifted down from the dome's pinnacle. Roger and Dorothy both watched silently as it fell farther and farther. Suddenly caught in a light gust of wind, the snowflake spun and swirled frantically before finally landing softly on the balcony banister and resting in an upright position. There it remained, poised and glimmering like a diamond that could never lose its luster. The world seemed to hold its breath.

It was then that Roger finally remembered: it's was the eve of Heaven's Day.

It was exactly 12:45 when Roger got into his black griffon and sped out of his underground garage and onto the streets of Paradigm City.

Dawning his narrow, black sunglasses, Roger hastily clipped his seatbelt on and relaxed.

The passenger's seat next to him was empty.

After realizing the date, Roger had immediately showered and dressed. Without a word he had walked past the piano, where Dorothy was once again playing, and headed downstairs. Norman greeted him with a hearty breakfast of eggs, coffee, sliced fruits, and - Roger's favorite - French toast, all of which Smith quickly downed. After he was finished, Roger hurriedly grabbed his keys from the kitchen and boarded the elevator, yelling out 'I'll be back later' before the compartment began to descend.

Upstairs, the piano paused for a moment before resuming its soft, sweet song.

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1. Winter Skin
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