Science Fiction Crime Horror

"Hey, I need some help in here!" Doozy shouted; his lips peeled back to show his metallic teeth, the same kind of snarl he'd seen on the humans. Nobody rushed to his aid; he was completely ignored.

           He slumped into a corner, letting his parts bang around and grind against each other as his bottom hit the cement. In the beginning, those broken sounds concerned him, and he whimpered for maintenance, but after repeatedly begging to no avail, he learned the humans had no interest in keeping him functional. Now the clanging of his loose and weakened parts blended into the background noise.

           Thinking about his once pristine condition and the massive degradation he'd undergone made him feel something. It was unusual since androids weren't built to feel anything, but he'd had a long time to evolve. Or, he called it evolution because that's what humans called their own development over time. He wasn't sure what androids called it.

           Two humans passed by, looking away and speeding off to who knows where. Doozy launched toward them, crawling like a baby on hands and knees, pleading for help.

           "Hey motherfuckers, get in here. I've got a boo-boo that needs looking after, ha!" He stretched one arm toward the humans, slapping on the most pitiful face he could mimic.

           "Ha, look at that! Pathetic, huh? I wouldn't have expected so much whining from a damned robot," one human chuckled.

           "Android," the second human corrected, "and they're meant to imitate human behavior, so he's probably just copying all the other inmates. I bet he doesn't even have a boo-boo," he smirked.

           "What's the difference? Robot, android, either way, he's gonna rot in here." The first human held his belly, rolling with laughter.

           "Gentlemen, while I have your attention," Doozy stood up to speak face to face with the humans. "I do have some concerns about my internal parts. Is there any chance I could see your mechanical doctor for some minor repairs, please?" His programming demanded strict manners whenever possible. Just because he curse and threatened to get their attention, didn’t mean he couldn’t clean it up otherwise.   

           The humans doubled over laughing, clutching their sides as they walked away without answering Doozy. Once they were several cells away, he heard one shouting.

           "What a character! What a doozy!" Their laughter intensified, and he thought a couple of other humans might've joined the commotion. He didn't understand what was so funny, but he predicted rejection. At least he tried.

           The other humans caged alongside him spent most of their time screaming at the wandering humans, who never caved to the demands of the imprisoned. He'd heard so many tactics to draw attention, and he tried all of them. The second human was right; androids were programmed to imitate, even though he knew screaming and swearing wouldn't amount to anything. He wondered if the other humans in cells knew, too. Humans were said to be intelligent creatures, and the ones locked up with him had been in there long enough to learn what to expect from certain behaviors, but they still shouted at the passing humans, like for once, things might be different.

           Doozy struggled when it came to humans, and he tended to overestimate them. Almost ironically, he wondered if that made him just a little bit human, never learning even after the telling behavioral patterns.

           He didn't want to rot in there, he thought as he rested on the flimsy mattress. They hadn't bothered to alter his cell to accommodate an android; they flung him into whatever was empty and accessible. Again, feelings inexplicably slithered through his wires. He didn't want to be there at all. Humans loved detailing all his mistakes, explaining why he was a terrible robot or a malfunctioning toy, but through their huffing and puffing, Doozy understood the one thing that mattered. Any prototype is bound to have glitches, but it made him sad that his cost the life of an innocent human, and ultimately, his own.

           Mr. Sontse should have run more tests, kept Doozy offline longer, triple-checked his code, anything else, then maybe Doozy would have understood what was so wrong.

           When Doozy woke up for the first time in his life, the glittering flashes of media cameras blinded him, but his software told him he stood on a large stage next to Mr. Sontse. He was on display.

           "Go on, wave to the crowd!" Mr. Sontse encouraged him. So his sleek fingers wiggled at the mass of people fawning over him. His cheeks twitched and pulled until a crooked smile smeared his face. Jarring applause met his human interactions, even hollers of excitement.

           Mr. Sontse announced that his innovative creation, the first but certainly not the last, was assigned to his own father for field testing.

           "My father always was my toughest critic," he chuckled, and the audience mirrored his soft laughter.

           Sitting on the cardboard-thin bed, Doozy smiled at his reflection. He had been an infant, waving and smiling for several minutes as Mr. Sontse kept talking. He hadn't felt anything on stage, not happy or silly or nervous; he was just there doing what he was told. That was his only job.

           When Mr. Sontse's father met him, he jumped back in surprise. He saved those first words on a rusty file at the beginning of his memory, one he visited often.

           "Wow, isn't he a doozy? Ha! Oh, that's good, I'll call him Doozy." Mr. Sontse Sr. slapped his knee excitedly as he spoke, making the unnamed android think it was something special. Doozy thought there could be a productive symbiotic relationship there, if permitted. And right away, Mr. Sontse Sr. glued Doozy to his hip, if not for assistance in his daily chores, to ensure he put his son's invention to the test in all things.

           At the time, Doozy couldn't feel happy or sad the way Mr. Sontse Sr. did, but when the human smiled or wrinkled his forehead, the android mimicked, slowly learning. Too slow, it turned out.

           Doozy had trimmed hedges and reworked improperly wired fuses, painted walls, and baked pies, all adequately and without incident, but it only took one tiny slip in one tiny moment to change someone's course drastically.

           All Mr. Sontse Sr. wanted was help making a turkey sandwich. With light steps and a broad smile, he bounced to the kitchen with Doozy on his heels, smiling and leaping the same as his human. Mr. Sontse Sr. pulled each ingredient out of cupboards and the fridge, humming and pointing, directing Doozy along the way. The android obliged, layering and slathering condiments, but a red ball halted him.

           "Oh, ha! That's just a tomato. You cut it, like this," he imitated the slicing motion with an empty hand, making it look easy. Doozy copied the movement, except his hand wasn't empty. The heavy knife sliced through Mr. Sontse Sr. repeatedly, in a see-sawing motion as his human had taught.

           A new expression crossed the human's face, and Doozy was quick to adorn it. His lashless eyes widened, and where invisible eyebrows grew, a wrinkle pinched his soft material. His jaw fell, leaving his mouth gaping. He was missing something, though, and he couldn't put his finger on it. The human had what Doozy had come to register as horror written over every inch of his flesh. The android didn't know how to mimic that part, all he could do was go through the motions.

           Then the human did something else brand new and a little unusual; he crumpled to the floor and took a nap right there in the kitchen. Stranger still, he wet himself with something thick and red. Doozy didn't know how to leak on command, but he crumpled to the floor for his own impromptu nap and waited.

           Waking up was different than he'd predicted. Mr. Sontse shouted over and over, even when Doozy made clear signs he was online, awake and aware, and he sensed the younger human was angry. Mr. Sontse Sr. continued to nap, even through his son's screaming. It took several humans speaking differently and a few programmers to explain to Doozy what death was and how he was responsible for his human's.

           Many people evoking many emotions swirled around him during that time, and he didn't understand much besides he'd done something terrible. Only Mr. Sontse looked sympathetic toward Doozy. He was the enemy and the creation, two inseparable opposites, and Mr. Sontse struggled with his choice. Every voice Doozy heard through walls and whispering down hallways said to shut the damn thing off, but the human couldn't do it. His creator wanted justice for his father and empathy for his creature. In the end, he left Doozy connected to the world but released him to the jury system to be tried as a human.

           Naturally, the humans gave him a life sentence in jail. He saw many sneers inside the jury box as he shuffled out of the courtroom to face his penalty and wondered if they deliberately chose a life sentence knowing an android would live quite a deal longer than any human.

           Sitting on his stiff mattress, Doozy calculated how long he'd been incarcerated already.

           "Two hundred and forty-three years, eleven months, one day, nine hours, fifty-four minutes, and twenty-eight seconds," he frowned—an awfully long time for anyone to contemplate their mistakes and learn to feel. Judging by the rattling in his midsection and his rusted, leaky eyes, his sentence was less than halfway through. 

February 25, 2021 17:03

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