THE TRAINEE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Things are not what they appear for Patrick, the newest advanced model.

Submitted: September 20, 2010

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Submitted: September 20, 2010

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I remember the first time I opened my eyes. The first thing I ever saw was the workbench, then I looked up and saw Michael. He was looking me right in the eye and said: “Hello, Patrick.”
“Hello,” I said. “You must be Michael.”
“Indeed I am,” he said, smiling. Michael was putting away his tools and scratching the white tuft of hair on top of his head. “Welcome aboard, Patrick.”
Michael was a brilliant robotician, and it was his shop where I was made, Michael’s Domestic Robotics, Inc. All by himself, he told me, he carefully put my parts together, welded the joints, soldered the electronics. The workshop was a long rectangular room, with another room used for storage off to the side. A multitude of robot parts sat unanimated in a dark, quiet closet. The workbench was cluttered with tools and there was even a section for biological work, to produce synthetic skin and blood. “You’re good at robotics, huh Michael?”
“They say I’m one of the best.”
“What makes you so good?”
“I was taught well.” He bent over to grab a piece and slowly stood back up. He complained of his ache. “Ouch, that hurts. I also practiced quite a bit. I’ve been doing this for over sixty years, and I’ve made tens of thousands of robots.  They speak all different languages. They perform all different tasks.”
That night, while Michael retired to his bed in the storage room, I slept on the workbench. I looked out the window before falling asleep, and experienced my first night. A full moon lit everything and glowed beautifully. The quiet city street, bathed in moonlight, sat the same until the morning, when the golden haze of sun illuminated the neighborhood businesses and automobiles.
“You’re a special one, Patrick,” he said to me the second day of my existence. “How do you like those feelings?” Michael installed in me the ability to feel emotions. Not just senses, but feelings of happiness, fear, doubt, and so on. Michael was very proud of me. “You’re my best one, Pat.”
“Are feelings that special?” I asked him.
“You bet they are. It’s one more thing that doesn’t separate humans from robots.”
“How do I move, compared to a human?” I asked Michael. I was concerned with my physical prowess.
“You move as fluid and graceful as the most agile human, Patrick. All angularity has been eliminated, and you have a human’s full range of motion.” I couldn’t help but smile very widely. “Patrick, what you are feeling now is pride. You’re so proud, you’re blushing!” I could feel my face warm. My chest expanded.
“What’s my mission?” I asked Michael.
“You are my assistant. I don’t plan on selling you or anything.”
“I guess this is what you call relief,” I said with a sigh.
“Two days old and you’re already naming your feelings, huh Pat? That’s what I get for installing a dictionary in your CPU, I guess,” he said with a laugh. Michael’s eyes glowed whenever he laughed. It was an endearing aspect of his existence, and I wished my eyes could do the same.
“So I won’t be sold. Is that what you do here, Michael? You make robots and sell them to people?”
“Yes, pretty much.” He scrunched up his nose and his short, square glasses rode up his bridge. “You’re going to help me in the shop though.”
“How high can I jump?” I asked, testing the limits of my manufactured body. I leapt up and touched the top of a nearby shelf, about 10 feet tall.
“You’ve got the attention span of a teenager, Patrick,” Michael said. “You have another mission, too.” Michael smiled, the wrinkles around his eyes bunched together. “You’re going to learn from me. You’re going to be my apprentice. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
I felt excitement. I wanted to follow in the old one’s footsteps. “Yes, I can’t wait! When do we start?” I shouted.
“Soon enough,” he said with a laugh and glowing eyes. “See, I won’t be around much longer.”
“Where are you going, Michael?”
“I’m old, Patrick. Nothing lasts forever.”
“Even me?” I asked, disbelieving.
“Even you. But that won’t be for a while, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Now, time’s a wasting, and we’ve got lots of work to do. You’re a learning robot, so you’ll be able to deal not only with emotions, but also new technical skills.”
Over the next several months, I accompanied Michael on all his creations. Together we made twenty new robots. Some were for maidservice. Some were to be used as mechanics. Others were prototypes for military soldiers. I learned a world of new skills and I was able to discover how my emotions helped me be a better worker. If it wasn’t for Michael’s guiding influence, I would have been lost.
We were working on a construction robot one time when Michael turned to me. “I hate to say this, but I don’t think that humans can make robots as well as they used to,” he said with a deep breath. “Today’s robots are really advanced. You know, you’re doing really well, Patrick.”
I smiled widely. “You know, Michael. I feel something that I’ve never felt before. I feel like you could be my dad.”
“In a way, I am. What you’re feeling is love.”
“So I love you?” I asked Michael.
“Yes, I think you do. I think I love you too. Heh, loving a robot. That’s almost silly.” Michael shook his head at the peculiarity of what he just said and returned to his work.
One night, as we were cleaning up, he repeated to me that I would be successor. “Oh come on, Michael. Don’t talk about that sort of thing. I don’t want you to die.”
“It’s bound to happen, son. Everybody goes, sooner or later. There’s a lot of miles on these wheels,” he said, flexing his arm. “Just look around: some day this will all be yours.”
“Michael, do you think I’m ready to be your successor?”
“Absolutely. I have the utmost faith in you, Patrick. Before you know it, you’ll be running this place like a top, and the only thing that will remind you of me is my name on the wall.”
“You’ll always be in my heart, Michael.”
“Patrick, I have to say, you’re the most special of all creatures I’ve ever made. I’m glad to be handing the keys over to you. You’re like a son to me. And as funny as it sounds, I love you.”  He smiled warmly, his eyes glowing the way I loved it.
“I love you too, Michael.” I smiled, and I could feel the tears for the first time in my existence. I laughed to myself, thinking, imagine a robot crying.
As he continued to smile, the glow in Michael’s eyes flickered on and off until it slowly disappeared. He was gone. Then I heard a beeping. I pinpointed it to Michael’s back. I lifted up his shirt and a small red gauge reading “Critical Error” blinked in time with the beeping. Then the blinking stopped. All the time that I had known Michael, I never realized he was a robot too.


© Copyright 2018 Peter Amaral. All rights reserved.

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