Mr Dalloway

Mr Dalloway said he would buy the flowers himself.

For the char-bot had its work cut out for it, polishing the numerous tinted windows of their nonagonal, metallic, majestic mansion, co-ordinating gadgets in the gadget-filled kitchen and preparing the capacious dining room for tonight's celebrations.

Celebrations: they were such tiresome things. He would much rather spend the evening quietly, reading a book, snuggling up next to his beloved, his only, whispering words of attachment. Yet, celebrations, tiresome as they were, were necessary when your partner was a successful politician, especially when your partner was Richard Westminster.

Trotting over to the Teleportation-pro, his partner's most prized, most recent acquisition, freshly polished for tonight's do, Mr Dalloway spoke his destination, 'Dot's Flower Spot', into the automaton's tiny, yet conspicuous microphone.

Flash. Bang. Pop – and he was there. He did very much enjoy walking outside, watching the birds singing sweetly and the leaves swirling artistically in the breeze, but time was scarce. He was always planning this party and that for Richard and – Was that the electronic clock screeching the hour? – 6pm it repeated, over and over in metallic, monotonous zaps dissolving in the air. He must hurry, he had but five minutes to buy the flowers and return to meet his Richard. Richard was really awfully particular. Deep down he knew, somewhere along the line, he had failed him.

What would he buy? – Not roses, roses symbolised love, nor daffodils nor daisies, far too big, bright and old fashioned. It must be something subtle yet important, important just like his beloved. What about Warat-aisies? The newest flower, a monohybrid cross between Waratahs and Daisies, a reflection of Richard Westminster's political desire to support the world in the science age, and to encourage innovation.

Yes, Warat-aisies would do.

************************************

Holding his nosegay of subtle yet important Warat-aisies in his arms Mr Dalloway commenced and executed his journey home within seconds. As he stepped out from underneath the precise rectangular frame forming both the entrance and exit of the Teleportation-pro, he distractedly gazed at his bouquet and smelt the artificially scented flowers with abstracted apathy. Then he placed them in a box-vase on box-like drawers, the hiding place of junk and special secrets from days of yore.

Sweeping along the wide corridor, adorned with shiny mirrors and equally shiny doors, Mr Dalloway (reflected on all sides) rushed rapidly towards his post, for the host must not be right on time, a host must be early, prepared and ready to greet the guests upon entry. He was not the perfect host. He always failed Richard.

The hum of chatting voices, chatting eloquently, yet without inflection or emotion, emanated from the dining room.

He was too late!

They were already there and Richards familiar face emanated anxiety relieved by acute displeasure at the sight of poor, timorous, but affectionate Mr Dalloway as he waited outside the door.

"You are late," said Mr Westminster, "There is no-one to see your silly flowers now."

'Silly Flowers,' thought Mr Dalloway overcome by pride in this second, 'how impertinent, how ungrateful!' Then in another second Mr Dalloway thought, 'No. I always knew he was particular. I'm wrong. I knew I must be early. Who needs flowers? There's plenty of metallic décor besides, no-one would notice the flowers.'

Hastily, Mr Dalloway grasped Richard's impatiently beckoning arm, ready to make an elegant entrance.

"Finally our host has arrived," announced the fluent Mr Westminster with not a little humour, "and now we may begin."

Mr Dalloway felt himself tense, all the senators and Ministers were frowning at him with disapproval. His party was a failure. The atmosphere was wrong, so wrong!

Still, he forced a Cheshire cat grin and asked the char-bot to come and serve the oil punch and white wine.

Promptly, effectively the char-bot first poured Mr Richard Westminster a glass of oil punch and Mr Dalloway some White wine, then commenced serving around the table according to need.

'It is okay, they're talking,' thought Mr Dalloway, 'they're comfortable. It is not such a failure.'

And then Richard rose to give a toast.

'I prefer cauliflowers to men,' he said, 'to the machines!'

************************************

An expectant silence pervaded before the screeching of the hour. Then the warning chime jingled.

'Any second now,' thought Mr Dalloway despondently as he mused among the vegetables and gazed out the kitchen window.

7pm repeated the electronic clock, 7pm, 7pm, 7pm… repetitive zaps dissolving, he thought, right before the tip of my nose.

He held a singular Warat-aisy before his eyes, which he had picked from the bouquet as he wandered away from the dining room where dull political talk had commenced threatening to lull him into sleep.

'I am glad,' he thought, 'that I can see the flowers,' while handling the delicate thing with care. 'Though' he continued mournfully, 'there are not so many proper ones anymore.'

'It is strange, how mortal I am!' Mr Dalloway sighed gazing at the electronic spear-like fence below, 'I could end it all now, if I wanted… and… sometimes I do want to. I am weak, foolish and submissive. I hate this life, this existence but'

'but – I know I won't,' thought Mr Dalloway. He now looked upwards towards the cloudless, star-filled night sky and watched a big golden helium airship bedecked in streaks of silver and Richard Westminster's steely countenance.

'To the machines,' it said, 'to the science age,' for that it was, and he was just a man.