The other night while I was researching at my office in Waterhead, a copper-skinned beauty and a penguin atop a robot exoskeleton dropped by, to tell me of their travels.
"We sailed from the other Western side of the continent," the penguin announced proudly. His name was Eoin Widget. "Was interesting to see that the waterways are indeed connected."
His companion was called Taina Heart, and she smiled prettily at that. "Was just stretching my sea legs. I play music during our travels." (She has a flute, and performed from the deck, while the penguin was at the helm.)
"Yes," Eoin agreed, "the music made it fun."
They stood close together comfortably, and it made me think they were romantic, so I asked them.
But Taina only laughed. "We aren't a couple. Are just friends."
I suspected a prejudice, so I pressed. (Because what kind of world would it be, if there were no place for love between raven-haired women and penguins on robots?)
"What," I asked her, "you got something against dating penguins?"
Taina Heart laughed again. "Yes. They smell ungodly in real life. I worked at the Bronx Zoo. I KNOW what I am talking about. The salt water discharge from their beaks, it's like boogies...but smells like death." And she coughed at the thought.
"She educated me about the smell of penguins in real life," Eoin Widget interjected, though not bitterly.
"The first time I was in the enclosure," Taina continued, "I nearly fell backwards. I walked outside for about five minutes to take in air... and my eyes were watering." She learned this as a docent at the Bronx Zoo, taking school children on tours, "giving out my knowledge to lil' ones." Now she's a docent at a famous East Coast aquarium. "And it's stellar," she grinned brightly. "My new babies are the seahorses... I love it, it's my passion." She purred at that. (Really purred, a bass rumble trilling out of her body.) She studied biology, she told me, with an emphasis on marine life.
At that, the robot-empowered penguin seemed a touch overshadowed. "I didn't major in anything quite as interesting," he offered humbly. "Just computer science, mostly sitting in front of a computer."
"But," I pointed out, "that enabled you to build penguins on exoskeletons and meet hot zookeepers from New York."
And Eoin Widget laughed at that, glancing down at the magnificent Taina Heart.
"True," he said.