I'm a week late with this post. Here is my Friday Frights tale from last week. The theme is Manical Robots. I dedicate this to my buddy Bobby Phillipps, who is the best guitar man I have ever heard!
“C’mon, Herb, we’re on a schedule, you know.
“Yeah, yeah. I know, but the job has to be done right. If we don’t have the micro chips installed just so, we’ll have done all this work for nothing. We’re making these guys to exacting standards. The government would be pissed if we botched this up.”
“The government will be upset if we don’t have their pets finished on time, either.”
Sam was right, Herb thought. The military insisted on perfection with product quality, but when they placed an order, they expected it to be filled on time. After all, the mission could not be put off because the lab botched up.
“Shit!” Herb muttered to himself. “The damn Feds are breathing down our backs now, practically taking the tools out of our hands so the job gets done faster.”
Shortcuts! Some of the technicians, Sam among them, took short cuts. The check list was our Bible, and they were not adhering to it.
The military boys were happy. Never mind that the final testing hadn’t been completed, and in some instances, hadn’t been started. Quality control down the tubes.
Herb’s prototype was the only one run through the gamut of full testing. He performed to the most exacting standards, surpassing all of them.
“It looks human,” Herb thought. The artificial skin covering the body made of highly machined metal and micro chips gave his creation the appearance of not only strength, but intelligence as well.
Herb felt the strength of the robot’s eyes as they peered into his. Looking at the assigned number for the android, 1 1 1, he dismissed it as mere luck. Numerologists believed the number 1 to be positive and strong.
“You deserve more than just a number,” he said, holding on to the robot’s hand as it lay on the table. “You are worthy of a name. Would Bobby be a good name? Do you like that?”
A sparkle registered in the eyes of the robot. “Yes,” he said. “I like that very much.”
Herb jumped backwards. His creation had not been engineered for speech, but here he was, talking not in a stilted, computer like manner, but in the way a human talks. Even . . . even better.
“Bobby! You can talk!”
“Are you really that surprised, Herb? You did everything in such a masterful way. Every bolt, chip, and bending of machined metal was done with pride and perfection. And when you installed my flesh, you did it with love, making certain I had no imperfections.”
“Well, yes I did, but you seemed special somehow. I did what I had to do. Why? I don’t know. And look at you now! You are more human than I am.”
Bobby laughs. “Herb, that is because you are my creator. You are a God. You are my God.”
Wait! This made no sense to Herb. How could he have conceivably created such a wondrous being from the materials he had at hand? Did he breathe life, real life, into this marvelous “person” before him. Damn it! He was a person; he was different from all the others. Bobby was special.
“I can not be a God,” Herb said. “I have been on the bottom of the shit pile too many times in my life. I am just a mere man, and I am truly blessed to have created you.”
“But your hands worked the magic. The same as your God moved the clay and created human kind, you used other materials and formed them into me. I owe you my life and my allegiance.”
As Herb was thinking everything over, the military came to claim their products. One of them came to collect Bobby, but Herb stood in the way. “You can’t have this one,” he said. “He is not ready. There are things that need to be done to make him function the way you want.”
“Him, huh?” the soldier said. “I think you scientists get a little too close to your work. It looks fine to me. I’m taking it.”
Herb shoved the soldier away. “I said he’s not ready, and I mean it!”
Other soldiers crowded in, ready to take the fight to Herb if need be. Make no mistake: they wanted these robots and they wanted them now.
“Leave Herb alone!”
The soldiers looked at the android staring them down, not believing their eyes. It was . . . it was as if it was human, some kind of a super human, and not a mere robot sent in to areas that were unsafe for human soldiers. There was something wrong with this one. The scientist was perhaps right. But still, this thing should be able to do their dirty work for them.
They attacked Bobby, but that did not prove to be a wise move. Not only Bobby, but the other robots as well, attacked the soldiers and the scientists when they intervened. One by one, the androids, even though the others hadn’t reached the perfection of Bobby, tore into their antagonists and ripped them apart, blood flowing throughout the floors of the lab. Broken, torn off limbs were scattered everywhere, leaving the soldiers writhing on the floor in pieces, and the scientists and engineers skewered to the tables in the labs, the electrical equipment jammed into every conceivable part of their bodies, blue sparks starting up, dieing down and emanating once more from the huge machines until they ceased to move.
Bobby looked down on the soldiers and said, “They deserved what they got, Herb. No more will you have to bow down to scum such as that. You will be able to be the God you are.”
The robots and Herb were the only ones left alive. Everyone else was gone, off to wherever they were remaindered to now.
“Others will come, Bobby,” Herb said. “They will want what they feel is theirs.”
“We will be ready for them,” Bobby said. “My God will make certain that all of his creations are pure and strong.”
Herb gathered the androids, his people, around him. No one would destroy his people. Bobby would not be the only special person. Yes, he would be the most special, but the others would become his children too.
He did what was necessary to correct the injustices done to his family by the rushed actions of his former associates.
As Herb brought all of them to complete life, one at a time, Bobby picked up Sam’s guitar and strummed Billy Joel’s tune The Piano Man on it, singing the lyrics as well.
Only Bobby could turn a guitar into a piano . . .