Chapter 4: Ian's Interview

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Review Chain

Reads: 95
Comments: 2

"Recycle my body O-Lord. That I might never die."
-Traditional Robot Proverb

 

Ian sat tense in his best and only dress shirt and pants borrowed from his roommate on the leather (real leather? Was that even legal?) couch in the ante-room of Sigmund Royal. Getting dressed for an interview, cleaning up, having all his paperwork had been incredibly stressful, but he was here, on time (early!) bright eye'd and bushy tailed ready to go and he didn't look like a slob. Or like a robot. Not one bit.
 
The relief was already washing over him. The hard part, for Ian, was done. He generally enjoyed interviews. He knew how to be charming, how to seem, smart, but personable, prepared but not too uptight. He even began to entertain that he might just get this job.
 
He was working his way through some paperwork. His opinion of the esteemed offices of Sigmund Royal had already dropped a little as they had already asked him to write his name and human (heh as if) identification number not twice but five times on the various forms and sign-in books. Efficiency dictated that any piece of information, a name, an address need only be given once. That they were even using paper at all was a bit insulting to his sensibilities but at least it gave him the chance to use one of his lovely pens. He printed his name and the answers to the various questions in neat, bright round letters in his brightest blue ink.
 
The old fashioned touches in the office were appealing to Ian. He'd always had a bit of a fetish for the late 20th century: desktop computers, filing cabinets, cellphones and ink pens. The trappings of a bygone era that only really seemed to live in old scans of magazines and low-res TV shows. His roommate Howard wondered how he could stand to watch it. "People still read books, Howard, and people still watch TV" He'd said. Howard had just smirked and said "we're not people"
 
He touched off the last of the forms efficiently with a signature that he had designed after reading about personality analysis through handwriting. Apparently many of these executive types thought that loopy idiosyncratic writing indicated creative but sloppy personalities, small letters were a sign of anal retentiveness, straight lines and sharp corners indicated risk taking, boldness but also possible anger issues.
 
Ian Manning had devised a signature that exemplified balance. And it looked fantastic in the blue ink. He thought about working in this office, sitting at a (real wood!) desk and printing out letters to various clients and signing them just like the people in his favorite shows. He thought about what an asset his perfect memory and unflappable charm would be to a company like this one. He felt like he understood them, their quaintness, their anachronistic way of operating. Ian thought "I get it. I know what this is about."
 
He waited a few moments for the ink to dry then stood, carefully tucking his black leather notepad holder under his arm, presenting the paperwork to the secretary.
 
"There you are, Carol." He said with a smile.
 
Carol seemed pleased with him. This was going well!
 
"You are the 2 o'clock, yes?" she asked.
"I am." Ian said. He glanced at the clock. It was 1:58pm. He'd been a bit early but not too early. Perfect.
 
She looked over the papers. Then shuffled through a folder that must be his file.
 
"Everything seems to be in order there is just one more thing." She said. "I know that Mr. Sigmund is very excited to meet you so you might as well get this out of the way." Ian had to stop himself from beaming it sounded like he had the job already! He contained his smile. Carol went on. "You'll need to take a blood and urine test. It's company policy."
 
Carol handed him a small card with an address on it as she said this.
 
The world seemed to be falling away from him. On autopilot determined not to lose his composure, he took the card. It was just a tiny piece of paper but it felt heavy and cold. Stiffly, he looked at it. His eyes were unable to read.
 
Caron went on "Mr. Sigmund, will see you at about 3:30, this is why we said the interview might take a few hours when we spoke on the phone. Our testing service is just a few blocks away, just down Broadway. Stop by, show them this card and give them your name. They'll be expecting you. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, I know it's a little silly, but we screen all applicants."
 
Ian smiled, but had Carol been looking at him carefully she would have seen that it didn't reach his eyes.
 
"I'll go right over." Said Ian, forcing himself to still sound bright and happy. He tucked the card in his front pocket and left the office.
 
He willed himself to smile pleasantly as he walked to the elevator. He smiled pleasantly as he rode from the 145th floor to the first. Not until he stepped out onto the street did he allow his real emotions to show through. He might as well just get on the lift and go back down to level 5 right now. A blood test! Ian didn't have any blood! or any urine! And the test, placed like a roadblock between him and the interview could mean only one thing. No robots please.
 
Oh he could have made a fuss, could have outed himself then and there, asked them to follow the law but that never ended well. He wondered if they asked everyone to do the test, or... if there was something that he'd missed some subtle detail of human expression that he got wrong, something in the tone of his voice or the way he moved that cued them off, made them think "we'd better test this one" or "we'd better send this one packing." He checked that thermal coils that kept his skin warm to the touch were working... they'd been on the fritz. But that wasn't it.
 

"It's not my fault" Ian thought. He always tried to stay positive. It wasn't his fault but it was his problem. He began to wonder if he should give up on working on level 2, go back down to the depths. Work with other robots; give up the horrible clothing and the cumbersome heated silicone suit that smothered his metal frame. Heck, get back on wheels again. Fuck walking. It's as inefficient as their stupid paper work.
 
At the same time he wondered if he'd ever find a good enough job to allow him to buy a tear duct upgrade that would allow him to cry. That would be very useful right now.

 




Submitted: October 17, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Susan Donovan. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Susan Stec

Watch commas. In places you need them, in others, where you have them, you don’t. Read your work out loud. It will tell you where you need a soft pause(,) or a hard one(.).
I put in some suggestions and comments. Hope they help.

I also think you can make this chapter move along at a better pace by editing out what is not necessary in the beginning to make your section stronger where Carole asks for the testing.

Try to take out some tell and add some see or action.

I think you have an interesting concept. Your last two paragraphs are very powerful.

I enjoyed the read.
Susan

Mon, October 26th, 2020 7:49pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for reading. I think you caught some bits of awkward prose that need to be reworked. I'm a bit sad that you found it slow so I'll be looking at the reactions of others to see if there is a pattern.

Tue, October 27th, 2020 5:06pm

Lucinda Amare

Well, I like the character Ian and the fact that he's not human. I think it's pretty original to read about a robot wanting to work in the 'human' world. So the idea works. I felt his struggle when he thought about not having blood or urine and having to take a test. That's a detail that shows the difficulties of being a robot in a human world haha.

What I did find difficult reading this was that the text didn't really have a good 'flow'. I found it was hard to read sometimes and try to put more words in than you need to. I'll check back and give some examples in the text itself.
It's something I used to struggle with too, wanting to say TOO much and explaining too much about the scene. Sometimes it's best to keep things simple and just write actively and let the reader envision things for themselves :)

Sun, November 29th, 2020 8:49pm

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