Gasping awake I remembered a time from when I was first modeled. I am the next human on this earth with only the resurfacing memory of who I came to be.
“Lets go!” shouted the rugged man who appeared to be the death of me, grabbing my ankles as I was thrown like the trash that made me straight onto a loading ship. With a grimacing look on his face the man in camouflage announced to his colleague “This is the strangest thing I have ever seen in Iraq…” It must’ve been the electric current over my rusty old parts or maybe the lack thereof.
Oh that’s right! I was shot in the head on Iraq and existed only to run from “the humanity” who denied me the “priviledge” of life because I existed from, a time that was yet to be determined. Oddly enough, maybe it was me they were after. It would explain a lot. Putting it simply I am a computer modeled human. Unfortunate as it may sound, I resented the fact that I was to be treated like a product.
Just like software grows stale to sell your zero day, or an app gets loaded onto “exclusive” markets, I was denied an entire life.
Why Products Are Killing Us…
Held up in traffic I was trying everything to get Kathryn “off” the phone.
“French you are so not your age!” said Kathryn, laughing hysterically at the remarks about my past.
“This is the truth though! I may be from a war torn country, surrounded by occupation, but the truth of the fact is still there. If there is any reason to hate America, it would be that American products murder more innocent people than anything American made that has ever exploded in Vietnam.”
“Take care French, I have to get going.”
It’s odd, where I’m from mere existence killed you faster than a bullet ever would.
“How was it that they found me?” In a quiet dark lit room I asked a friend who I met at this prison.
“I don’t know sir, it must’ve been because you were in a village. Normally IMF and WHO are the only ones who drop by to fill the “void” in our lives. However, American presence and occupation is there in our lifetime. I’m just a doctor though, what would I know?”
Strangely enough, a doctor’s presence as a prisoner helped others, however I puzzled him because I only exist on a battery.
When showing guards what I’m really made of “It’s metal, not meat. A hard drive, not a headache.” they immediately scorched the idea of me being a threat to their way of life.
“Maybe you should ask the engineer.” joked the doctor, laughing hysterically making his way back to the grave he slept on.
Way of Life…
“My lungs, my sight, my unforgiving body…” I thought as I raced to find the nearest outlet for my stomach. When I last spoke to Kathryn she had the clever idea of leaving me with the advice to get enough for myself the next time I use the damn thing. With technology I realized the future.
“What the hell?!” I immediately jerked straight up, knocking over a cup of coffee in the process when I noticed my hand was missing from my vision entirely. Nowhere!? Gasping and panting I started running for the bathroom in my apartment. “They’re gone!” My hands missing, as if worn from a photograph the same way dark room doubles are faded.
“My arms!” praying, it was into the shadow, ironically to keep a grip on what was left. I never once in my life imagined a death like this.
It’s sad, in such a time that the world became faster than the human light speed barrier, “oil”, who I was never changed.
Eventually I made it to the meeting with Kathryn. I found it was just more science fiction to her.
“No! Not ON the screen, ON my laptop!” I told Kathryn as she stood at a distance, an entire loss of words. “I don’t know what to tell you French! Maybe you should see a doctor...”
On the Street…
The Digital Divide
Being back onto the mainland and out of prison didn’t seem too different for me. While solar is great for planting yourself, being a robot lost all it’s appeal when there came no purpose for my life.
“I’m just a human being!” I shouted to a nearby pedestrian. “This can’t make me who I am!”
The sedentary lifestyle of being imprisoned had the perks in the company you were forced into. However savage as they may seem it made me sad to realize that even after justice was delivered to me I was unable to return to anything outside of the norm on America in this time.
Somehow I recounted the trial attracting more of them than I imagined only to be stuck in the forefront of loneliness, despair, loss of self righteousness, and the digital divide.
Craving an outlet I would jump cars just to get through the day reconciling myself just watching others digging through trash cans.
On the Ropes…
Behaviorism v.s. Cognitivism
“Mr. Art, I find it a bit odd that you can only recount your memory back to when you landed in Iraq, however I dont think I can examine your magnetic circuitry as my specialty is in neurons of course.”
“Alzheimer’s? Even without biology I believe the rules of psychology would still apply. I am you after all.”
Stuck on the street didn’t make this place feel so different after all, it was still a prison in my mind.
The dry atmosphere of a psychiatrist’s practice.
Eventually thrown into a halfway home I only exist for the sole purpose of re-inviting the future I belonged to.
I can’t believe it. For so long subject to the themes of psychiatry I find it nearly impossible to find a reason to live.
I ran as far away as I could’ve imagined from my living space to find an electric car just to relieve the night from becoming a desert. How did it come to this? Where and how did people find it in themseleves to make me into such an animal?
I immediately reached for the outstanding electric car that made my rest at night easier than rotting under the sun during the day to survive.
“Get out of here!” screamed the distance. A man in the middle of the lot appeared running faster than the head lamps could make him out.
“I’m sorry! There’s nothing I have left in me and this is the only connnection I have with the life that awaits me.”
“What in the hell?!”
My Car, My Life!
Hunched over, away from the street lamps all I could think was “must be a heroin addict.” Kathryn settled for waiting under the street lamp as I approached the figure, somehow a blue hue stayed under him as if he was from outer space.
“Get out of here!”
“I’m sorry! There’s nothing I have left in me and this is the only connnection I have with the life that awaits me.” said the man. Sitting upright with his arm blanketed on the side of my car.
“What in the hell?! What are you doing?”
The man stood up to introduce himself, but I rarely have time for the homeless.
Suddenly, he closed the latch on his upper torso and the disturbed sickness started getting into my head.
“There’s no way!” I stood in shock and awe looking over a robot that resembled a human being.
Before products were killing me! This man must be the death of me.
“I’m sorry! But this is the only life I know!”
Before he had a chance to leave I immediately screamed with the thought of death refraining in my mind “Hang on a minute! Are you a real robot?”
“Yes, but that’s not what seems to surprise people. What surprises people more than anything is that how can I even come into existence when it’s not even permitted by the time.”
“How can you exist? Do you have a.. erm.. manufacturer or family? How does that work?”
“I am not quite sure myself. I only have the concious recollection of memory that brings me to my existence. It must be my neural circuitry bound to random access.”
“I work in technology. Kathryn! Get over here and get a load of this!”
Kathryn, still waiting as if it could’ve been a nightmare ran over, “oh my God!” she gasped.
“This has to be the first robot I’ve ever seen! In fact, he’s probably some showcase for Sam-dung or Mc-intosh!”
The atmosphere got a lot lighter absent of the street lamps that illuminated the wet concrete.
“No, my story nor my stay will be very long. I apologize for your time.”
As fast as this man turned I almost wanted to ignore the hardware centered around where a rib cage and sternum should be.
“Just a second! Mister…”
“Art. What can I help you with?”
“I’m Khoa and this is Kathryn, but you can call me French. Can you join us back at my place? I just wonder how in the hell someone like you can even be here on the south side of the city!”
Sitting in the living room I was in utter shock that a robot was joining me for a late night cup of coffee.
“How are you powered?” Asked Kathryn gleaming over him like Tim Crew or some other famous actor.
“I can plant myself to become solar, but refueling off of an outlet works well for me. It’s a hard lonely life. More often than not, I can be listed as a liability for someone because in the end I am just old rusted hardware.”
“Well enough about you…” I was so eager to keep this man in my company I didn’t want our overzealous attitude to tear the man apart.
“Like we talked in the car, I’m originally from Vietnam. I grew up with family well after the French changed the language, but America occupied everything south of Hanoi. From there I moved here. I started a business a few years ago that recycles computers, mainly the same rusty parts you require to breathe and function, to wholesale back to smaller businesses. The licensing and everything we can talk about, but what I needed from you was your story.”
“Well, I just go by Art. I was found in Iraq and recognized as a hostile. What surprised everyone was that even though I was created human my hardware made it obvious I was not. I was sent off to Guantanamo Bay until people determined that I was no longer a threat and I should be granted my own life. Ironically, my life started with it being taken from me to begin with and here in America laws and differences in what makes you human creates a conflict with achieving success and future goals.”
“How?” I asked curious to know if this man was the real deal.
“To keep it simple: A robot who is an indispensible employee on minimum wage still created more problems for people. Also am I “property”? Who would assume “liability”? It’s almost as if I would function better in society as if I was employed as having a handicap, but have no special needs.”
“This is so odd, being a business owner I can definately see the implications of your life there.” said Kathryn. I think we had the same thing in mind.
“Hey Art, just out of curiousity are you familiar with the “plague of shadows” that has been following people?”
Laughing hysterically I think Kathryn and I both had the same idea, worried.
In this age of silicon products started killing people with no reason as to how or why. The way the media puts it is in our age of technology we have to create or represent progress in fitting ways to keep from the un-negotiable death that dooms us all.
“I’m not too familiar with the plague of shadows. What has been happening that seems out of the ordinary?”
I turned on the news to show Art what happens to people who abuse technology.
“Thats not necessary!” Kathryn snatched the remote from my hand to turn it off.
“Umm… Art do you mind filling me in on your value?” Kathryn had a sinister smile on her face almost smirking with internal laughter.
“Honestly Kathryn, you are right. I think this might work out for all of us if you give us the chance…”
Immediately Art collapsed with the last light dimming to nothing.
“OH MY GOD!” Kathryn screamed at the top of her lungs as she started fading. My legs gone from under me I collapsed as if the reality was just a nightmare and there were no more dreams of never ending success.
The Last Train…
“For how long!?” screamed Mr. French, his own man in his own right realized somehow that even though this chaos consumed him he saw only a reflection of himself.
“This was yourself, but being the hero from the customs you defended and the man who died standing over me only made you.”
“Was I wrong?” I wondered. Should I have told French the truth about what it really meant for him to be human? A past that he still hangs on to, the idea that products can help him forget the tears that never needed to dry.
Trying to rob someone of their life after having mine taken from me made me realize the grimacing headache of if I’d lived the same man. As unfortunate as the unsettling guilt struck, I knew in my own life whoever walked away with my life was only the name he contradicted.