NICOLE CARPIO - TINKERING OUTCAST
A beating drum races as I wait in line. In front of me are well-constructed and ready for business robots while those behind me are waiting with anticipation. Out of the bunch, I am the tinkering outcast. Unlike the others here, I have a mind of my own, a sense of feeling, and a beating heart, pounding at each second. One thing we do have in common is that we want a job. That’s why we’re here, after all.
The line gets shorter as we head further in, yet it still feels like we have a long way to go. This is no issue for most robots, but for someone like me, it is quite tiring. The sharp piercing in my heel and the scorching temperature would make a human faint. Not these guys, however. They’ll continue to function until the job is done, which is why I must follow.
Finally, I’ve reached the front of the line. There are many laboring robots around and advertisements posters saying, Laboring Jobs for Robots. Only clashes of machines and metal parts resonate through the room. There’s a sign that restricts any humans from entering the facility.
A small robot approached me. Unlike the other robots in this room, this robot almost resembles a little boy.
“Good evening. I am CLANK 3000. I will be assisting you today,” CLANK 3000 says. “Hold still as I try to scan you.”
The temperature becomes more steaming. One scan would be like pulling the plug out.
“Actually,” I say, stopping the robot. “I’ve already been scanned by someone else.”
“Have you now?” CLANK 3000 asks.
“Yes, I was just on my way to receive my assignment.”
“I see. My apologies for the misunderstanding. May I have your name to verify your new location?”
“Oh uh… I’m CLANK 4500.”
CLANK 3000’s eyes blink green and blue as it tries to locate my number. Although he looks like a boy, he doesn’t sound like one. His voice is deeper, more robotic, similar to other robots here. As the robot tries to look for my name, I examine the room around me. The room is mostly filled with various new model brands. I’m an old running 2030s model with still some juice left. Even so, I’m still the outcast here.
The robot’s eyes blink back to its original grey color as he successfully finds my number.
“CLANK 4500, if you would follow me, I will guide you to your workspace.”
Without further questions, I follow the small robot to a big door. The big door opens as it allows us both into a dark hallway with dim lights on the platform. The door then closes, allowing CLANK 3000 to turn on his emergency lights. I stand behind him, consuming the darkness. The heating temperature becomes a cold sweat as CLANK 3000 turns to me.
“CLANK 4500, where are your emergency lights?” he asks.
“My emergency lights are broken,” I reply back.
“I see. Do you want us to bring you back to the professor for tinkering?”
“No, no, no! I…”
I stood there, overly steaming. There is no single line that can be walked. The path is blocked by an unanswered question.
“I have already been checked out from the professor,” I say, nervously. “Instead of emergency lights, I have night vision.”
“Night vision? I wasn’t informed on this new model,” CLANK 3000 says.
“I am just a test prototype at the moment, so nothing is official just yet.”
“If you are a prototype, why would you be in this faculty?”
My systems steam heavily, not sure how else to compute to this. He’ll know that I’m an outcast. I’ll be moved to the professor, where he’ll rip me into parts, I think to myself. A broken machine is not meant for the real world, but I’m not like all robots. I am different.
“If you ask me, I would say that you’re acting very strange CLANK 4500,” CLANK 3000 says.
My body has been overheating that no other words can be said, nor can any movements be made. I couldn’t process anything other than fear. By now, I would be transferred back to the professor. CLANK 3000 moves closer to grab my hand, guiding me further into the hallway. Everything is pitch black except for his glow, lighting the way.
We drudge down endless hall after endless hall. I couldn’t think anything else aside from the lights dimming from the professor’s office and a sharp tool with my name on it. Suddenly, we halt midway. I feel a deep fear as CLANK 3000 turns to me.
“Just beyond this door is where you’ll be heading to,” CLANK 3000 says.
I tilt my head up to see the door. It’s a big door like the other one, but it could lead to either two paths: golden opportunity or death.
“The first day is hard from what I hear,” he says. “You’ll face many humans up there who will beat you, scream at you, and do anything that will make you stop your task.”
“I am not afraid of that,” I reply. “Worse than that.”
CLANK 3000 proceeds to hold my hand as he re-adjusts himself to face me better. He tilts his head up to look into my eyes. My vision is blurred up from the steam that I could not see much of him.
“No robot should be afraid. Robots should be prepared for what’s out there,” CLANK 3000 says. “That’s all we can do.”
CLANK 3000 releases me from his grasps, moving out of the way to allow me to move towards the door. My vision became a bit clearer as I walk further into the door. The small robot still remains behind me.
“One more thing,” he says. “Fear is what make someone human. You almost seem to apply to that.”
The robot left me to be in the empty hallway. The doors in front of me open as I face a new opportunity ahead.
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