Following, please find a little piece of fiction I concocted.
Tomas woke up with a smile.
“Ah,” he said with some not small degree of delight as he felt the warm sun on his face, shining in through the plexiglass window. “It certainly is wonderful to be alive!” he said. Tomas closed his eyes and stretched in his bed. He contemplated as he wiggled his toes the day before him: it was Tuesday the 26th of June, and he had probably 37.59 minutes before he had to even leave the house. After that, was to walk down to the park and go on a leisurely stroll. He would meet, if plans were not to change between now and then, Alfonse for a cup of tea and a game of chess. They would meet at the Garden’s Park Café and sit in their usual seat where they were afforded pleasant views of ducks, swans and other remarkable natural reproductions moving about with wonderful synergy in their concocted water landscapes. After that in the afternoon, Tomas would go to the Public Library and look for a job. He was in no hurry to do so, as his L.R.E. still was such that he had many weeks to enjoy before any real urgency could really interfere with his goings-on.
With a smile, Tomas hopped from the bed. His feet met the floor with a booming clank.
“What the –“ he said at the noise.
Tomas looked down at his pajama-clad body. He gazed suspiciously down at his feet. They shone brightly in the sunlight.
Tomas gaped at his glimmering feet. “What manner of madness is this?” he queried after staring at his feet for some long moments. He jiggled his toes about. The sensation was remarkably normal, but he could discern the slightest sound of metallic friction.
Then, astounded and confused, he reached out to touch his metallic digits, only to realize that his hand too was now crafted out of gleaming metal. He waved his fingers disbelievingly in front of his eyes. The metal joints where his joints once had been made mild pneumatic sounds of accommodation when he willed his fingers to do their dance.
“Good gravy,” he whispered.
Then he passed out.
2.79 minutes later, Tomas’ senses came back online.
He sat up in horror.
“Good god, I’m a robot!” he cried. He hopped out of bed again, this time ignoring the resounding clang of metal meeting hardwood floor, and dashed to the lavatory. Looking back out at himself from the bathroom’s small scratch resistant mirror was a handsomely-crafted robotic head. Tomas’ new metal hands flew to his new metallic cheeks. His eyes went as wide as they were able under the expressively-limiting chassis of the metal face.
“Sweet Jesus!” he cried.
Soon his deft metal hands were undoing pajama buttons to reveal what he had already guessed: his torso was made of the same luminescent metal that his hands and face were crafted out of. He tapped where his heart once had been. He tapped where his ribcage once had been. Metal notes rang out in response. “I sound like a tin drum!” sang out Tomas.
Then, in continued disbelief, he peered at himself in the mirror some more, going through the range of expressions he was capable of. He noted his new surprised face, and how the cheeks no longer had the degree of play they once had. His eyebrows, or the twin rounded edges that passed for them, hardly moved at all. His angry face seemed upon scrutiny to be more comical than anything else. And his look of sadness held no weight whatsoever. “Thank goodness I am not an actor,” distractedly thought Tomas. “I would not be able to find any work at all with this expressively-challenged tractor hood of a face!”
Tomas sighed. As he did so, he noted that no air entered his lungs at all. Yes, his chest heaved, but that was just in response to his will. It was in and of itself a meaningless act, except that in how it might portray to human eyes the act of breathing.
Tomas stopped moving his chest in the pantomime of respiration.
He chest laid still. He regarded the motionless chest. And then, if he had had skin, he would have shivered.
“This is decidedly spooky and unsettling,” Tomas declared after a minute (1.0047 minutes, to be precise) without breathing had passed.
He was even more unsettled, moments later, when a dreadful curious urge made him decide to pull forth the front of his pajamas to see what changes had been made with his more intimate body parts.
2.94 minutes later, Tomas’ senses came back online.
He lifted himself up from the bathroom floor. He gaped with horror at the metal face in the mirror. If he had had skin, he would have been sweating profusely.
Tomas dashed for the front door of his apartment and entered the world.
Betty the gardener lifted a robotic hand in greeting to him. “Hullo, Mr. Tomas!” she cried from her kneeling position amongst the petunias. “It is a mighty fine day, is it not?”
Tomas whimpered and scuttled past barely looking at her.
Then Mr. Heelworth, the post deliverer walked past him on the sidewalk. Mr. Heelworth’s metal face shone in the morning light. “Top of the day to you, Mr. Tomas!” he cried. “I have the new Consumer Reports magazine for you, as well as this month’s gas bill.” Tomas stumbled and dashed past, then spun on his heels to take in the sight of the postal robot. Then he turned and ran in horror down the street.
When the robots first began to appear, Tomas hadn’t really batted an eye. They were just another example of their fine and scientifically-enlightened society he had thought! Longevity in craftsmanship with aesthetically pleasing exteriors – guaranteed to keep the labor force strong and enabled, while allowing more leisure time for their biological counterparts. Why, since their introduction, Tomas’ L.R.E. – his Labor Requisition Evaluation – had gone so much in the favor of his leisure that it was difficult to look upon them as anything but a boon to graceful living!
But now – now Tomas was one of them.
Tomas was now a robot.
Soon Tomas was in the park as per his earlier wishes, though his strolling wasn’t as carefree as he’d imagined it would be upon first waking up that day. He made giant terse strides along the walkway. Anytime his path crossed that of actual living, breathing human beings he felt a shamed sense of horror, and moved off to the side of the path, shielding his metal face in his metal hands.
With an acute sensation of melancholy, he stopped to look at the robotic ducks and robotic swans navigate their way over the pond’s waters. Their motion he realized was soon plottable to a surprising degree if you created an algorhythm based on the axis points of their travel, applying, of course, a sensible degree of chaos math and Randometry Principle to their motions. After successfully plotting the path of one of the swans for 2.19 minutes Tomas had a realization that he was now quite bright. “Hm!” he said in response to that revelation.
Soon though his trepidation returned and he, with an airless sigh, continued down the pond-side path. Then, seeing the Garden’s Park Café ahead, he decided to approach that, though he knew chances were that Alfonse was not yet there. Though he knew that, even if Alfonse were there, chances were his old friend would not even recognize him in his new metallic form.
To Tomas’ surprise, not only was Alfonse there, but also, his friend gave a merry cry out to him upon viewing him. “Tomas, you old fiend!” he yelled. “Get your metallic butt over here, and take a load off!”
Tomas’ mouth hung open in surprise, but he obeyed, and went over to the table where his friend was sitting, and sat down heavily in the plastic chair. Alfonse looked up with a gentle but wry smile on his old man’s face. “You’re a little bit early, old friend,’ Alfonse said (to which Tomas thought, “yes, 1.62 hours early, I suppose”), “but it is good to see you nevertheless. How are you enjoying the transition?”
Tomas gaped at his friend. “The… what?”
“Oh, gracious,” said Alfonse with a small frown. “Your memories are a bit out of synch, aren’t they?” He scratched the grey whiskers on his chin. “Hm. Well. They warned us that this could happen to you.” Alfonse sighed a real organic sigh that pulled his chest down and out while his head lifted a teeny bit: Tomas measured the amounts of corporeal travel with envy. “Well, I’m sorry for your befuddlement, my friend. Let me try to fill you in as best as I can.” Then, spying a waiter on the other edge of the patio, Alfonse called out for an espresso. “And a cup of steaming hot oil for my friend here!”
“Alfonse,” Tomas said quietly, drumming his heavy fingers on the faux marble of the table top. “What in the name of heavens has happened to me?”
Alfonse smiled at his robotic friend. “Ah, Tomas. This must all be very confusing to you, but no worries. All will become clear very soon.
“Do you recall how you were not the happiest of campers, Tomas? No? I didn’t suspect so. You were past your prime as an athlete, and no longer the shining luminary of track and field you once were. No. Instead, you were relegated by the L.R.E. to meaningless tasks that endlessly frustrated and depressed you. And the time off you were given started to get imbued with a nihilistic sense of despair in you: you had the time and leisure to better yourself and improve your mind, but you couldn’t get over that stumbling block of personal worth in how it’s related to one’s work.
“Oh, you tried! You tried so hard! You asked the L.R.E. for innovative assignments, and you got them! You got the job on the oil rig, and the wild fire duties in the Adirondacks. And you got the deep sewer disease assessment duties (though they’d automated all the processes for that at that point, and were just trying to amuse you) as well as the needless forensic examiner job. But the truth was, the oil processing is antiquated and unnecessary. And the few wildfires are soon dealt with by robotic choppers. And forensics? What were you thinking, you poor dear old fool? There’s been no murder and hardly any crime to speak of for years and years! And – ah - thank you for the espresso. Now drink up your oil there like a good fellow.
“Where was I? Oh yes. And then came the health problems. Your heart was giving out, Tomas! And your spirit? Well, let’s just say that it wished no more for the trials and tribulations of this time and space. So, after some long consultations with me and our dear friend, Dr. Landfrynce, you decided to take the L.R.E. Enhancement Program.
“This way, you were promised no more bodily decline. And your spiritual malaise? Well, just let me ask you this: How did you feel when you first woke up today?”
Tomas was biting his lower lip, quite overtaken by everything he was learning. “I, ah, felt like a hundred bucks,” he shared in a whisper.
“Exactly!” Alfonse said in triumph. “Do you know how long it had been since you last woke up and actually felt good about your life?”
It was at that moment that memory synch began to commence. Yes, Tomas recalled the bitter mornings, the despondant putting on of socks, the heavy and ennui laden drinkings of morning coffee. He remembered the looming empty days, and the deflation of spirit.
Yes, Tomas recalled too Dr. Landfrynce’s explanations of brain chemistry, though at the time the heavy-handedness of the explanation went quite over Tomas’ head. Now though, he was fully able to appreciate the chemical truths behind the synaptic degradation his former biological self had been subjected to. Ionic disparity! The neurological impact of time on memory due to the organic relationships between gene 24A and time!
Tomas knew then with sudden intuition (and some quarter millions of emotio-intellectual calculations) that he had done the right thing. He felt it in a deep well of optimism and intellectual regard that seemed to thrum inside his circuitry. He felt it in the inner processors of his being.
“Good gravy,” Tomas whispered.
Alfonse nodded his head. “Exactly.” The old man took the final sip of espresso out of his cup. Then he grinned mischievously at Tomas. “Which is exactly why I am slotted for the Change myself. Next Tuesday!”
“Well,” Tomas said.
He looked out at the park, at the ducks and swans swimming about lazily in the pond. He looked at the families going past. And there was a robotic citizen going somewhere with a big smile on her face. And there was little boy with a kite under his arm. And there was Mr. Heelworth, done with deliveries for the day and noticing Tomas now, and giving a happy wave of his robotic arm. Tomas waved back. And he felt a deep joy begin to bloom inside.
“Why, you know what, old friend?” he said to Alfonse. He smiled a big metal smile at the old man. “I think this is going to be alright.”
“Of course it is!” his friend exclaimed. “This is the fountain of youth, and the well-springs of happiness! Now… Are you going to calm down and let us play our game of chess?”
Tomas’ grin got a bit bigger as he calculated in some few seconds tens of thousand of potential opening tactics. “You know I’m going to kick your ass, don’t you?”
Alfonse smiled ruefully, “Oh, I know it alright. But, next Tuesday, after I’ve done the Change myself, things are going to get real interesting!”
The two old friends began their game of chess.