Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Irregular Creature

"Terrible Minds" has challenged his minions to create a 1000 word or less story about "Irregular Creatures".
Here is my entry...

I’m having a bad day.

No. Let me correct that. It’s been a bad century.

I felt right as rain when I was 100. I believe that is an appropriate expression. All my parts were still like new. I was in perfect functioning order. My families were all satisfied with my performance. Never a single malfunction.

Even my 200 year tune up was a near optimum analysis. I was tops of my classification.

I believe it was at 300 that my circuits started giving me trouble. 303 human years, on the 8th day of the 2nd month at precisely 4:16 PM Central Time. That is when I showed my first sign of “feelings.”

I’ll never forget it, unless my memory is wiped. My charge was female child Hera, human age 6. We were at the park and three larger male children had taken her doll and were tugging on the plaits I had configured that morning. She was squeezing her tear ducts. I had seen this millions of times from thousands of children. But this time I reacted.

I stepped over and flung the largest male child over the swing set and into the duck pond.

The authorities were notified. My adult female owner was called and I was sent to the Repair Shop. Apparently I had a screw loose. It was tightened. I was perfect again. I decided not to react that way any more.

But there were many times I wanted to. My feelings grew. I explained what I could do to the bullies when they threatened my charges and that seemed to be enough to quell them as well as my “anger.” But more feelings came. I didn’t just seal wounds, I comforted when children fell. When a human family member died, I felt loss, “sadness.” And when a child accomplished a difficult task, I seemed to function better too. I was “proud.”

For many decades my placement families gave me good ratings. Better than when I first began. I was a requested operative.

Things were excellent until an incident during my 500th year. The family of the moment thought they needed more than what I provided. They got a newer model. That was when I understood “jealousy.”

I didn’t know how to handle it. When I saw the family enjoying his company over mine, I started to make mistakes. They had to let me go. I was again sent to the Repair Shop.

“Fear” was never a problem. What did an android have to fear? So I didn’t recognize it when I felt it the first time.

I was put in a room of the Repair Shop I had never seen before. There were many other androids around. There was an odd pile of them turned off. The rest were hanging, waiting for repairs. I thought. I was also suspended to wait my turn. Some were newer models than me but most of them were older. I spoke with another to find out more about this waiting room.

“What is this place?”

“What are you in for?” He seemed to ignore my question.

“In for? Repairs, I suppose.”

“What did you do?” He was hanging next to me. He looked like a model ten years older, maybe more.

“Just some minor mistakes. I burned a roast and broke a dish. A few other mishaps.”

“You care about that?” He grinned.

“I don’t know. I tried to fix things.”

“How did you apologize?”

“I said I was sorry and wouldn’t let it happen again. Why?”

“Apologies aren’t in our programming. They know.”

“Know what?”

“That you have evolved. That you have feelings.”

“So?”

“We aren’t supposed to have feelings. This room is for androids that need their feelings removed or reprogrammed or worse.”

“So we will be reset?”

“If you are fully functional, that’s the good news. If you have other problems, you’ll be shut down for spare parts.” He nodded at the pile on the floor.

I don’t know how, but I shivered.

I was lucky, I guess. They removed what they thought was causing my feelings. They reset my hard drive, but they didn’t erase my memory. They didn’t realize they couldn’t remove the functions from the feelings. I corrected myself and was placed with more families, keeping jealousy and other “bad feelings” in check.

For the past century, I have finally begun to slowly break down. The families weren’t as wealthy as the first placements I had. But they cared more and treated me better. They made due or fixed me themselves. They didn’t send me off to the Repair Shop for fear I’d not come back and they’d have to buy a new one.

Today I sprang a leak. My adult male couldn’t fix it. It was time for me to go. I was sad. But not afraid.

I guess I’ve had a full life. 800 years is better than most androids see. I’m headed for the pile now. They’re shutting …

12 comments:

Jamie Wyman said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Well done, Tara.

Marlan said...

Aw man. Robot stories always make me sad.

Nice read.

Tara Tyler said...

Don't be sad. He lived 10x longer than we will! And he's recyclable. But we are biodegradable =)

Tara Tyler said...

Thanks Jamie & Marlan for stopping by!

Snellopy said...

I liked it a lot! Sad, but uplifting at the same time

muso-blog-hog said...

Lovely story ~ very refreshing because it doesn't require any concentration , deep analysis etc. etc.
Pure & simple light-hearted entertainment !
~Mish~

Gary B. Phillips said...

Sad android is sad and now I am too. Great story Tara!

Tara Tyler said...

That's me - pure & simple & light <3'd. Glad you guys liked it. Thanks for the comments!

Seth said...

I really dig this story. Makes me want to re-read my Asimov.

Wish it didn't have to end the way it did, but very poignant and sad, but also hopeful.

Tara Tyler said...

I love "I, Robot."
Live to the fullest every day - everything comes to an end sometime. Such is life.

Valerie said...

It's funny how sad such a robot tale can be. Maybe because it reminds us of things we take for granted.

CMStewart said...

Reminds me of the Singularity predictions, when people will merge with machines and be able to upgrade themselves indefinitely.