Sunlight streams through the window, but it's the voice from the living room that actually wakes me up.
"Yeah, a HealthBot. A few years by now. Okay. You're open until when? I will see you in a bit. Thanks, bye."
It's 10:38AM, Eliot has probably been up for an hour or so already. I'm really supposed to be awake before him. Moving has become more difficult lately, not to mention the annoying metal whining sound I keep hearing.
"Maybe I need to finally visit a doctor."
I look around my room, numerous paintings are in different states of completion but the one I'm currently working on is of a gigantic tree. I need more paint. The rustling sounds from the living room seem to indicate Eliot is about to leave.
[[Talk to Eliot ->Eliot]]
[[Wait until Eliot leaves -> The business card]]I open the door to the living room to see Eliot putting on his shoes.
"Hey, where're you off to?" I ask as Eliot pulls on his coat.
"Oh hey Thomas, I didn't know you were up." He said, grabbing his keys from the counter. "I'm heading out to do some errands, should be back soon."
"M'kay, I'll see ya later I guess." As Eliot opens the door a [[shrill -> The business card]] wind blows through the apartment.
"See you later."The wind dies down as Eliot closes the door, leaving the sounds of falling paper and a few paper plates in it's wake.
"Man and Machine: A History, that sounds boring as hell." The shrill whine from before keeps following me as I put the room back in order. The only thing that was left undisturbed was a business card Eliot left on the table.
"Paul's Robotic Repair. Maybe he finally has an interview?" A [[number of pills -> Medicine]] sat next to the business card. "Someone forgot their heart medication," scooping up the pills I open the nearest cabinet. Numerous pill bottles fill the shelves, some with meds, but most empty. Each bottle has different directions. Take with meals once a week, twice daily with water, only take with X medication not with Y.
"Glad I haven't had problems," besides the recent whining noise and difficulty moving I've fortunately never needed to go to a doctor, even as a kid. I grab one of the empty bottles and drop the pills inside. Paul's Robot Repair is located at the corner of 4th and Frontier Ave. I know the subway has a stop nearby, I can probably catch Eliot if I leave soon. Pulling on an old 'Class of 2110' shirt I grab one of Eliot's extra jackets and [[leave the apartment -> Stares]].For such a sunny day it sure is windy, at least it slightly blocks out the whining sound I keep hearing. Even though it's 42 degrees I feel fine, and the cold never really bothers me. If I'm being honest I'm only wearing a jacket to avoid the needless concern of 'Aren't you cold? Are you feeling okay?' questions. Still, people are staring at me, and they seem to be surprised for some reason.
Usually I'm with Eliot when walking around, but a guy walking by himself shouldn't be that unusual. Luckily the subway isn't too [[far away ->The Subway]].
I get to the subway without a problem, although people are still staring at me. They seem even more shocked as I stand in line for the turnstiles. A line of robots stand off to the side in their own line, metal chassis open to the elements as their owners wait for them. I always found it strange that robots never required a ticket, granted some models can fold themselves up into the size of a small suitcase but still.
There's a soft beep as I swipe my subway pass and push over the metal bar, just in time too as it's 10:54 and the Orange Line to 4th St. arrives at 10:55. A small gathering of people are already waiting for the train, careful to stay behind the yellow line as the distinct rumble of the subway comes into [[the station -> The Old Man]].I join the trickle of people getting on the subway car, the annoying whine grating at my ears as I look for a seat. My right leg in particular is becoming more difficult to move, I almost have to drag it along, yet it doesn't hurt me. I'll start doing stretches when I get home.
I catch a few of my fellow passengers casting glances towards me as I find a few spots near the middle of the car. I set myself across from an old man whose stare held more curiosity than concern. The others would at least look away as I caught them staring, but maybe this old man just doesn't care anymore. There's the familiar sway of bodies as the train starts moving, a few people looked to have prepared themselves for it in different ways. Leaning into it, gripping the seat, holding onto the bar overhead. The old man did none of those things, he just let the force rock him gently to one side before settling back into his seat, unconcerned, and still looking at me. Maybe I should say something?
[[Address the man -> Questions]]
[[Ignore the man -> Next Stop]]"Uhh, is there something wrong sir?" As I speak the old man's eyes light up as his bushy eyebrows raise.
"Oh ho, so you can start conversations huh?" Despite the words, his tone carries no hint of rude intentions. Although it is a wierd question to ask someone.
"Yes I can, why couldn't I?" The other passengers looked around at each other as I said this, as if double checking with everyone that a person talking is indeed normal.
"Are you usually by yourself?" The old man rests his chin on his folded hands.
"No I'm generally with Eliot, he's a friend." Everyone seems to be hanging on our every word.
"Oh a friend huh? Friends are nice to have. Did this Eliot give you those clothes?" I look down at my attire, my clothes don't seem too strange to me. Sure they're not brand new or necessarily brand name but they're not from 2076 or anything.
"Just curiosity, why isn't Eliot with you?" Again, there was no malice or bad intentions held within the man's tone, even though I don't know why he feels the need to ask such a question.
"He's out running errands, but he forgot his medication. I'm bringing it to him." I hope this conversation can end soon, something doesn't feel right. A recognizable ding comes from the old speakers above.
"*DING* NOW ARRIVING AT 4TH ST. *DING*" Thank God. I stand up, grateful that I won't have to keep talking to the old man.
"Technology sure is amazing, isn't it? Keep taking good care of Eliot." The old man gives me a smile as the doors open. I give the old man a brief nod as I step [[out of the subway car -> Paul's Robot Repair]]Don't talk to wierdoes on the subway. I actually try not to talk to weirdoes in general. The old man's stares are hard to ignore, but it's the glances from the other passengers that are getting on my nerves. A few keep looking at my clothes, especially my coat.
"Who dresses them? Where's the owner? Can they get cold?" The whispers aren't hard to overhear but I'm not sure what they mean. Can I get cold? It's in the low 40's you dumbasses, of course it's cold! I mean it doesn't bother me but still. A recognizable ding comes from the old speakers above.
"NOW ARRIVING AT 4TH ST."
Thank God. I stand up, grateful that I won't have to keep dealing with the stares and whispers. The doors slide open and I make my way [[out of the subway car -> Paul's Robot Repair]].I walk out of the subway terminal on to 4th St. The buildings here are acting more as a wind shield, rather than a funnel and the sounds of the city aren't doing much to block out the whining sound. A thin layer of grime covers everything, and the brick faces of the old buildings are faded with age. This whole area is a sharp contrast to the shining steel and glass of the central skyscrapers. It's as if the buildings are saying they're here because they have to be, not because they want to be.
It's only a 5 minute walk to Paul's Robot Repair, even with my hobbling. A plastic sign saying "We're Open!" hangs on the door. A small bell chimes as I walk [[inside the shop -> Meeting Paul]].The shop is small and made even smaller with the number of parts and robot chassis filling the space. There's nobody at the counter but a free swinging door looks to lead to a back room of some kind. The whining sound fills my ears as I walk up to the counter.
"Oh man, those servos sound toasted!" a voice, presumably Paul's, yells from the backroom. The back door swings open and a stout man with a very large box steps out. As he set the box on the counter he peeked around. The fluorescent lights above highlighted his receding hairline as well as the gray hairs in his bushy black mustache. A small patch on his shirt verified that he was indeed Paul. His eyes glanced over me but he seemed to be looking for someone else.
"Hello," I say, giving a small wave. "Was a young man just here by the name of Eliot?" Paul jerked his head slightly back as I spoke.
"Yeah, you just missed him. He left about 10 minutes ago." Realization seemed to dawn on him as he looked me over once again. "Holy shit, you must be the Thomas he was talkin' about!" He pointed his finger at me.
"Uh, yeah I'm Thomas. Did he say where he was going?" I don't know what the issue is but the faster I find Eliot the better.
"Said he was heading home to getcha, I know what he's talkin' about now. You sound messed up." Paul nodded his head knowingly.
[[Go back home -> Going home]]
[[Inquire further -> The Robot]]"Okay, well have a nice day I guess." I leave Paul's as quickly as I arrived. I'm messed up? What the hell is he on about? Why would Eliot talk to a repair guy about me anyway? I make my way back to the subway without much issue, fully ignoring the strange looks people are giving me as I pass by. The ride back and the walk home go by in a flash and soon I'm standing outside the door to the apartment. I press my hand up to the bio-scanner.
"*BZZT* ERROR," I try it [[again->again]].
"What do you mean messed up?" I ask. "Why would Eliot talk to you about me anyway? It doesn't make sense."
"Doesn't make sense? Don't ya hear yourself? Speaking without being talked to first. Wearing a damn coat. You're acting like a human." Paul's arms move wildly as he speaks.
"Why wouldn't I act as a human? And of course I'm wearing a coat, it's cold outside!" Paul steps from behind the counter and starts looking me over again, walking around me as if expecting to find something.
"Even sound mad, bots can't get mad." He started fiddling with my head before I could stop him. I smack his hands away.
"What the hell? [[I'm not a robot! ->Acceptance]]""*BZZT* ERROR," [[Again ->again2]]."*BZZT* ERROR."
I thump my head against the door as I keep getting the same message. This old lock never works right, it works fine for Eliot though. I hear the sounds of someone racing to the door and suddenly it opens.
"Thomas!" Eliot puts his arms around me with his exclaimation then steps back to look me over. "Where did you go man? I was looking all over the building for you, I was about to call the police."
"You forgot to take your pills," I pull the pill bottle out of my pocket and hand it to him. "We must have just missed each other." I step inside, the whining sound is even worse now and my leg really doesn't want to move.
"Your servos sound even worse than before." I walk over and let myself fall onto the couch.
"What are you talking about? People don't have servos Eliot." Eliot gives me a guilty look as he sits down in the nearby chair.
"People don't, but you're not a person Thomas."
"You're a [[robot -> End]]."It's 10:30AM, sunlight once again glares through the windows into my eyes, or I guess I should say optical sensors, and I can hear Eliot in the other room humming to himself. As I walk into the living room Eliot looks up from his school notes.
"Moving alright?" The whining sound is now gone and I'm moving normally again.
"Yeah, these new servos feel nice. Paul says he might be able to get in a new battery soon, supposed to hold 50% more energy." I turn on the oven and check the fridge. We still have a couple eggs left. Opening the cabinet I take out one of the pill bottles and set it on the counter.
"I'm still paying off those servos dude. By the way a few of my professors want to speak with us about your human-interaction core." Eliot grabs the pills I set on the counter as he sits on a stool.
"Sure, whenever you want to bring me along. Want your eggs scrambled or fried?""Yes you are." Paul steped back to lean against the counter.
"No I'm not!" I shout, balling my hands into fists.
"What's the temperature outside?" His question catches me off guard, and I take a moment.
"44 degrees." I answer. Paul looks smug.
"How about in Celsius?"
"Almost 7 degrees." Paul looks me in the eyes.
"Now how do you know that?"
"I..." I don't know, well it's more like I just know it. I know the temperature, I even know there's a 62% humidity level outside.
"Why don't you come back here if you still don't [[believe me ->I'm a Machine]]?"
We step into the back room of Paul's shop, the sound of warped gears grinding as I move. Where as the front of the shop was cluttered and cramped, the back room is clearly organized and spacious. Small intricate tools line the walls and near the back of the room I see two chairs and a computer.
"Take a seat there," Paul points to the chair beside the computer and I sit down. "I'm going to open the connector on your neck, okay?" I give him a small nod and he starts messing with my neck. Soon I see a small cord running from my neck to the computer.
"What are you doing?" I ask as he starts typing.
"I am taking a look into your system files here Thomas," with a few deft keystrokes a long list of data starts filling up the screen. "Yeah, your human-interaction drive is corrupted, seems like the data was offloaded across several of your other drives. Here." Paul put in a few more keystrokes and suddenly I could see myself. I didn't have skin, not real skin. A thin layer of clear plastic kept the numerous gears and metal that was my body from the air.
"I... what happened? What do I look like?" I try not to panic as Paul passes me a reflective disk to use as a mirror.
"Some of your visual data was corrupted and replaced. I just reset and repaired it for ya. Want me to change it back?" My face was gone, an emotionless mask merely imitating the human form took it's place. I've seen this before, on the numerous LifeTech commercials and robots on the streets. I saw a few on the subway ride over here.
"No, leave it." Paul continued to look through my data on his computer screen.
"I'm surprised you're still functioning, I bet LifeTech would pay a load of cash to look at you." The loud ringing of the phone on the front counter interupts Paul's idle musings and he [[walks out -> Choices]] to answer it.So I'm a robot. Of the things I expected to happen today this was not one of them. On top of being a robot, I'm not even a functional one. Paul's loud voice carries into the back room.
"Hello, oh hey it's you! Yeah Thomas is here, said something about your pills. Yeah, sure one sec," The door swings open as Paul pokes his head in. "Hey, Eliot's on the phone, he wants to talk to you."
[[Talk to Eliot]]
[[Leave Paul's]]I unplug myself from Paul's computer, which he winces at, and I walk over to pick up the phone. I can hear Eliot's labored breathing.
"Thomas, you okay?"
"I'm... I'm a robot Eliot."
"Yes Thomas, I know that."
"Why didn't you tell me? I'm not even functional. I belong in the garbage!" Paul shuffled to the front door and flipped the sign over.
"No you don't, don't say that. I'm already on my way over there."
"Why Eliot? Why keep me?"
"That's simple stupid, you're my friend before being a [[robot -> End]]." I unplug myself from Paul's computer, which he winces at, and walk over toward the front of the shop. Paul holds out the phone to me but I walk past him.
"Thomas, where are you goin'?"
"I can't stay here," I say as I push open the front door, the chime ringing once again. Paul follows to the door but I'm already walking down the street.
"Eliot's on his way here right now. Don't ya want to wait for him?" Paul shouts after me. I don't answer his question. I just [[keep walking ->Bad End]].It took a while. 63 days in fact. I'm no longer in the city anymore, actually I'm not sure where I am since I took out my locator chip and smashed it. I just know that it's nice out here. There are a lot of trees around, and I remember passing by a few small streams. I don't see many animals, although that's not surprising, the grinding gears in my legs probably frighten off most of them.
"BATTERY LEVEL CRITICAL, PLEASE RECHARGE."
[[*BEEP*]]That's new. I guess it was to be expected ever since my solar panels fried. I wonder if it's considered littering if I die out here. I'm not bio-degradable.
"BATTERY LEVEL CRITICAL, PLEASE RECHARGE."
I think I'll sit by a nice tree. Maybe moss will grow all over me and I'll become part of [[the woods]].
"BATTERY LEVEL CRITICAL, PLEASE RECHARGE."
I wonder what Eliot is doing. I hope he's remembering to take his pills. I still have one of his [[pill bottles]] with me.*BEEP*
"BATTERY LEVEL NOW AT ZERO PERCENT."
I hope his new robot actually works.