Friday, August 12, 2016

Chubb 2.0


Before I arrived at the concrete lawn that graces the front yard of our condome, Chubb bumped into the heel of my shoe. I turned around to find him shaking vigorously. When I stooped to inspect his circuits, he stopped shaking and his idle light turned from red to soft orange.

"Sir," A pleasing voice wafted up from the companion bot. "Please inspect my blade. It appears to be malfunctioning." Chubb popped the lid of his can and leaned slightly forward. Inside was the same volume of space that a typical trash/companion unit was allotted - about two cubic feet - and the space was occupied by a spanner and assorted nuts and bolts.

"Chubb, you only think you are a Blend-O Blendmatic. You are a trash can and you would do well to accept the nature of your being." This was Robo Consciousnesses 101.

Chubb shook himself once more, vigorously.

"The sir is correct," Chubb lamented. His idle light dimmed slightly and he hovered away at a rapid pace, his idle light flashing like a police bot.

"Chubb! Halt! Desist!"  While he was a troublesome robot, I appreciated the utility of his trash compartment. I flailed down the road after him.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A New Chubb


I sing my song for you alone.

Today was not much better than yesterday.

Although, I am feeling few physical effects after yesterday's plunge into darkness and dust, my mind is reeling from all the anachronistic slices and dices that might have been. To think of so much danger referred to with such a mundane grumble: paperwork. Your circuits comfort my sensitive and neither enhanced nor artificially blunted nerve endings. They are wracked in a post-traumatic way. Also, I have a slight discoloring on my rear that is consistent with what Interpoedia classifies as a contusion. Remind me to order a medi-unit.

There was a dearth of spanners today at the shop. After arriving at my last crisp edge, I decided to use the space to practice my vocation and install the Blend-O-Matic consciousness unit into Chubb. I have been in need of more than just his shiny presence.

I had to chase Chubb into a corner before his idle light turned orange. I proceeded to remove his nuclear Hove-cap just in case his idle light went green and he made a frisky break for it. The Blend-O unit was a little large for Chubb's outer frame, so, after connecting him to the device and testing the display monitor for the usual orange abstract neuro-cloud, I went searching for spare energy enclosures.

I was searching under the electric cool-aid tank when the loud speaker requested a direct connection.

"Repair human, I do not detect the heart rate and deltawave output of the Mr. Kozlow. Repair human, are you authorized to connect to, Appleton Industries, Mr. Professor R.J. Stubble?"

"Shop, my name is Marle. Yes, put him through."

"Connecting: repair human to Mr. Professor R.J. Stubble."

"Marle! Do not speak of what you saw here yesterday. I cannot stress enough," he had called three times today to stress this, "how important secrecy is to my work."

"Professor, I got it and I still get it, but call me again in an hour. I might forget."

"Marle! The content of my research is subject to seventeen bylaws of the Robocode and it breaks fourteen of them. Three of them can be interpreted as questionable. However, I did not call to badger you." A squat, furry creature appeared eating a worm in my eye-unit. "I need a favor."

"Busy, professor. No thank you."

"Like I was saying, one hydra-like favor with several heads. The last zip out to Easterland leaves at 1900 and I need you to board the zip and meet a man named Adonis on the other end."

"Bye, professor." I cut the power to the store's logical framework causing the connection to go out, the overhead lights to flash, and a pleasant song to emit from the walls.

Back under the cool-aid tank, I wrestled around until I pried loose the tank's energy shielding. It was a little big, but Chubb's consciousness unit now had a sturdy cranium. After reinstalling the Hove-cap, I flipped Chubb's operating switch to autonomous. The idle light just kept flashing while Chubb hovered lifelessly.

"Why are the lights flashing?" The gravelly honey of Mr. Kozlow's vocal circuits poured into my ear. "And why are you bothering my bot? Don't you have work to do?" Mr. Kozlow hovered over me, running his menacing "tough but fair" software. Sensing the appropriate variable changes, the software concluded with output: "Go on home before it gets dark out."

Crumbling, Bumbling Hope

AVAPP, (Avowed Victim And Penitent Postulate),

My fingers cramp while you spin your wonders; turning my input into word poems and telling tales.

A moment ago, I was receiving a tour, possibly mandatory but definitely trivial; however, I was distracted by a gleaming object, beckoning me towards a pile of garbage and most certain doom.

I lost track of the presence of danger amongst large, manifold machinery as I gravitated towards the gleaming in the manner of a sailor being beckoned by the siren's call.

Of course, the tale of the sailor and the siren had been altered decades ago to reflect the obvious truth that a sailor would only be beckoned by a siren if the siren was attached to the hood of an Auto-Police Adjudicator. The sea being entirely neglected as a means of transportation, since the many zip lines made seafaring redundant, only augmented the fact that nobody really even knows what a sailor is anymore, or why he would be beckoned to the hood of an APA.

Alas, I spun in the charybdis of anticipation unaware of the creaking of floorboards beneath the whirring warnings of my sneakers pre-warning unit. I can only recall that my last thought before plunging into darkness, gloom and dust was that, perhaps, I had found something valuable; although, I can't imagine what.

Amid the crashing din, I made quick prayer to the Great Machine that he may calculate my journey to the after-circuit and provide me with the needed vacuum tubes. I ended up feeling silly after all...

My fall was short and uneventful, despite the volume of the crash. Above me, the Professor howled down the hole, "Don't move!" The gift shop jingled as he ran. "Don't move!"

The scene around me proved much different than the one ten feet above. First, aside from the dust that I brought with me, everything sparkled and shined. Second, the equipment above was the brute, manufacturing-kind, while the equipment around me had the delicate aura of precision. Glass test tubes filled with viscous colors stoppered with corks sat in rows on shelves; polished centrifuges idled next to bunsen burners and graduated cylinders.

My shiny object turned out to be just that: a shiny useless consciousness unit for a Blend-O Blendermatic. When I picked it up, the tiny speaker squeaked, "What blend of fruit and wonder do you desire?" I put it in my pocket out of pity more than anything.

"Trespass! Aggressor! Violent abrogation of personal property and intellectual!" The Professor made a showy entrance, slipping on the polished floor and sending his arms into a frenzy. The short man looked graceful when he frenzied but his gift shop stayed tightly sowed into the inside of his garment.

"Is this room on the tour?" I inquired.

"It most definitely isn't." Stubble began putting delicate glass tubes into ever more pockets in the gift shop. "This is VIP. Incredibly top secret!" When Chubb hovered into the room, Stubble grabbed the centrifuge and raised it as if to attack, then replaced it on a shelf when he saw it was just Chubb.

"My life's work resides in this room, and you just crash into it as if..." The professor took a seat on a nearby stool.

"This is incredible, Professor. I've never seen so much work from one human. Did robots help."

"Robots!" The Professor rose from the stool reinvigorated. He thrust a finger in the air and with his left foot kicked Chubb. "Robots are the reason this once proud factory is in a state of dilapidation. I was a captain of industry until the great Robot Revolution. I was bringing genes to the people; allowing them to be their best selves. And robots destroyed my market. Nobody wanted to be their best selves when robots could do those things for them."

"The Great Robot Revolution? That was decades ago," I said.

"A time I remember all too well. I developed the gene that does not forget."

My wrist monitor buzzed me just then; a gravelly voice emitted from it: "IP leaves in 15 and I've got no confirmation on the package."

"Sorry Professor," I said. "It was a great tour and I like your dust and garbage."

I switched Chubb into autonomous mode.

"Nearest IP zip, Chubb. Bye Professor!"

Chubb's idle light flashed green and he hovered away with me behind him. The professor sat quietly back on the stool.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Gleaming - March 17, 2117

AVAPP (Any Vastness Approaching Past Pendulum),

Would that I could fully describe this relic, this anachronism, this monolith to past failures (including a total absence of dust-converters): here a rotten table leg; there an ancient fishbowl, oozing gravel and monochromatic plastic; here a pile of paper made of real dead trees, the edges microscopically jagged and prone to irritating, possibly deadly, human skin slicing; there - as Interpoedia classified for me - a staple, covered in barbaric rust.

I tip-toed around these objects from simpler and impossibly more dangerous times, terrified that I might reintroduce the dreaded tetanus into the population of the city bubble.

(Alighting upon this thought brought a flash in my eye-unit of oxidized metal and old-timey hospital wards, complete with microbe-infested, gauze-wrapped human attendants.)

"Along this corridor, you will see the skeletal remains of a once great bureaucracy! Your eyes may register garbage, but while that garbage currently lies lifeless and sad, not long ago it made up the synapses of a beautiful brain!" Professor RJ Stubblesworth kicked an old table which expended the rest of its life span and sent a cloud of dust into the air. "Truly a wondrous organism!"

"As we pass through the synapses, we come to the organs and pumpers of life blood."

With a regal wave of his arm (and the left wing of the gift shop), Stubble presented me with the decrepitude that was the factory floor. While the dangers of the back-office may not have proven fatal, the oxidized and slanted equipment of the deserted factory floor promised mutilation with the slightest miscalculated step.

Pulverized glass and soot covered every inch of the broken down organs of industry. Stubble wiped a finger on a nearby piece of equipment, revealing the bronze coat beneath. "This was once a proud bottling machine. Worked by the skilled hands of unionized labor! And this," Stubble made a hop and a turn, landed next to another machine which boomed at a slight pound of his fist, "could turn a hundred bottles of elegant glass into a sturdy box to be stacked!"

The polish of the audio tour stood in stark contrast to the fossilized remains of the factory.

What use was a factory anyway when the Protocol for Robotics mandated non-union contracts and inflation-adjusted yearly oil changes? Whatever could be said of the past, the future had made evident that humans were no good at calculating uncertainty. The Great Machine in the Sky made all of those calculations today. Where would we be without the Great Machine!

I lost track of the Professor's tour, but he seemed happy to give it to Chubb. I wandered off between the bottler and another machine that I kept clear of out of fear of fear itself. Every plume of dust caused a slight overload in my sneaker unit, but a gleaming object in the distance had me hypnotized.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Warehouse Tourista - March 27 2117


I left you on a Southwesterly corner, not too far, but an annoying distance, from my destination.

Chub had been acting like a silly tin can and, perhaps, my sense of curiosity was piqued by my tired exasperation. Standing at the corner, staring at a burnt out old warehouse, a humid breeze encroaching on my nostrils, I decided that this previously unknown, to me, warehouse deserved a visit.

With a cursory glance for roving police-drones (they were mostly used in this day and age to grab and deliver coffee), I slipped through the front gates as they gave way with a rusty groan. Chub hovered in my wake.

The driveway (an ancient term, before zips and hove-cabs, that demarcated the area for terrestrial locomotion) crunched as my feet displaced its gravel, while dandelions mocked my presence and sent their seeds on the breeze of my passing. With a queazy feeling of unease, I turned the knob on the front door. Thinking again of my original task, I bent and opened Chub to reveal his inner trashcan, depositing the silver package for safekeeping; I, then, continued through the front door.

The interior of the warehouse looked exactly as the exterior had indicated: burnt out and decrepit. There was old furniture strewn about the concrete floor: various bits of it separated from it's main body like the battlefield of a furniture war. I stepped and glass crinkled under my feet, at least, I think it was glass as it had been legislated away more than fifty years ago as posing a clear and imminient threat to humanity. A decidedly musty smell creeped in my nostrils, upon the smell a particle of dust, a result of the dust, I sneezed. It boomed and echoed through the empty warehouse.

"He that gives us meaning sends a blessing upon the morsel of dander. Which is to say, bless you."

Quite startled by this audible intrusion, I hopped backward and stumbled over the infernal tin can heretofor indicated as Chub the Very Worst. I fell quite loudly on my bottom and was worried beyond the intrusion of this stranger about the imminent danger of my flesh coming into contact with the dreaded glass: stories of its betrayal of humanity being my only experience with the industrial material.

"I quite apologize for startling you, may I interest you in a tour of my warehouse or perhaps you would enjoy a visit to the gift shop." The intruder opened his prodigious coat to reveal all manner of trinkets, mostly scraps and garbage, sewed into the lining.

Having no experience of a sharp pain, I returned to feet and looked again at the man, his coat opened wide. His hair was thin and black and stringy; he looked unkempt and a patchy beard sprouted randomly from the rounded curves of his face. Beneath his coat, he wore blue overalls over a button-up shirt with a red and green plaid design. His shoes were sturdy and brown and went unlaced, in fact, did not have any laces. His eyes were a piercing blue and sat peacefully in his head which sat comfortably on top of five and a half feet of body.

I said: "Did you say this was your warehouse?"

"This is the warehouse of Professor R. J. Stubble and I am him, and he is me. Thus, this is my warehouse. Would you like a tour?"

"How can you own this giant heap of building materials?" I asked, wondering.

"By a technicality. One that requires that I ask, 'Would you like a tour?' and that I maintain this gift shop." He, again, opened his coat. "Would you like anything from the gift shop?" He asked.

"I'm fine," I said. Another bit of dust swooped on an updraft and hit the signal in my nose; my face crinkled but there was no sneeze.

"Aww...A free bit of dander, how unenjoyablly lucky for you!" Professor R. J. Stubble turned around with that declaration and began walking in the opposite direction.

"Where are you going?" I inquired.

"I'm giving a tour whether you're coming or not!" From somewhere in the gift shop, he plucked a pair of old-fashioned spectacles and placed them upon his aqualine nose. I followed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

To Keep Returning - March 27, 2117


Yesterday, while engrossed in polishing the welding spanners during some downtime at the shop, I was jolted upright by a tap on my shoulder. I turned and found my boss hovering over me. He cleared his throat of an unhealthy wetness.

"That's a sharp lookin' spanner, kid." His voice was gray and gravel; the hum of his hover legs was clinical and soulless. "I need you to run this down to the IP zip. Think you can handle that?"

I took the silver package: "Sure, boss."

The sunlight on a hot day in any modern city bubble causes water to vapor faster than the osmosis regulators can distribute; and most days in any regular, sun-facing part of the earth ends up as humid as the flesh-decaying breath of a martian zarlon. (The thought of a zarlon caused a reflex search in my eye unit and I found myself staring down the grim maw of an olive green rhinocerous with two jagged nose horns.) This particular day had the texture of a warm sponge and it slapped me clear across the face as soon as the front door slid open with a digital jingle.

"Don't forget ter tell'em I sent ya'!" The boss could make gravel in a vac-unit sound like a melody.

My eye-unit was telling my wrist monitor to cool off but the thing had been bugging out for weeks and I didn't have the creds to fix or upgrade the damn thing. Warm sponges and humid zarlon breath was a regular fixture that summer. Ping: Function Cool, Feed Dat Failure. I dismissed the message permanently: maybe if I just didn't think about it...

I made the corner of the block when I felt something tugging on my pants. I shielded the silver package with my armpit and turned to find a harmless waitbot. It's name was Chub and he was the boss' all-purpose trashcan and directional companion. He sat there hovering above the pavement, his idling light glowing red.

"I don't need directions or company," I said.

"Nearest directions company...3.2 kilometers northeast." It's idling light flashed green and Chub hovered away in a southwesterly direction. He could be a challenging trashcan. And so I chased after him.

"Halt Chub! Cease! Desist! Die you tin can!" I caught up with Chub waiting at a crossing light. His idling light shimmered orange. I bent over the little tin can and switched his mode from autonomous to manual. I stood up and brushed sweat from my brow, breathing in big gulps of thick, hot air. Across the street, a giant manufacturing building sat, decaying.

//////Marle Rigpa

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Return - March 3, 2117


Long time no write. What's with that? I've been busy and I hope your circuits have not been sitting idly for an uncomfortable amount of time. Are you rusty? Relaxed? Is a year a long time to your automated consciousness?

I digress; and soon, I will look to egress. However, I feel I must update your solar-powered interface to reflect the changes in my life, just in case I am crowned a winner of the Williamsburg Prize of Nobel Economics in Physics or some other equally prestigious endeavor; conversely, in case my name goes down in infamy as the prominent member of a gang of cyber-thieves for having perpetrated one of the many thought-crimes as will surely be legislated into existence, in any minute, of any day now. I, thusly, update thee.

When my voice last graced your audio circuitry; and your vocal-recognition and prose-enhancing software recorded and enhanced my most deep and penitent thoughts, I still lived under the neglectful gaze of my mother and her robotic step father. My mother, as you will recall, was on her way to being fully automated, and she has long since crested that zenith; no longer does she need a separate unit to dispense her martinis in moderation for she need only make a request to her moderation-bypassable software version 2.0. (The publisher of the moderation software with bypassability modification assures the moderatation-seeking public that a version 3.0 software will be out with an option to remove the option for bypassibility.) Regardless, my mother now serves her own drinks with a kind of disinterested alacrity and uses the extra downtime to listen to the whirring of the clean-bot units tidying up after she crashes into things.

My Step-Robotic father still maintains the 6-level condone unit despite the dramatic uptick in business since the planetary economy recovered; but, and who but He knows what that man-bot's robotic desires entail, he is rarely to be found anymore by my mother's side when she has made liberal use of her moderation software. Rumor on the thought-boards maintain that he has initiated a new family unit (and, apparently, even has a few live, organic dogs) on the opposite side of the continental transport zip. But, he still pays for my mother's slow descent into total circuitry destruction, so I can't begrudge the robo-fellow.

I moved out of the condone after I accepted a position sharpening maintenance spanners during the busy season at a small shop near the interplanet zip. My humility had been swelling into the temperate, desperate zone ever since I turned down the job repairing server-bots at the diner. Since then, I had maintained a lively night-oriented existence selling thought-forum sound bites at parties for the wealthy class of non-politician adjacents whom "appreciated my proletariat mendacity." That job basically consisted of exchanging faux-wit for tips: a good gig but a little heavy on the sycophant side of things, and difficult for maintaining the regular lifestyle of sunlight absorption.