by Jake Christie

UNIT #1072.
a story.

The two diodes on the robot's head flickered three times, then bloomed to life. He rotated his smooth metal cranium to the left and right and was greeted by the sight of a cadre of scientists in white lab coats. They were seated around him in a semicircle. One of them was holding a clipboard. He had a beard.

Another scientist spoke first. “Unit #1072,” he said, “welcome to the real world.”

Unit #1072 blinked his diodes. He looked up at the ceiling and down at the floor. He appeared to be sitting in a chair and had arms and legs that looked similar to those of the men sitting around him, albeit with rigid edges and a metallic sheen. There were black scorch marks beneath the chair.

“You're in a testing lab,” said the scientist. “Everything is functioning perfectly. No need to be alarmed. It's okay, you can speak.”

“Who are you?” said Unit #1072. He was surprised by the sound of his own voice, monotone and deep like sliding gravel. He disliked it.

“We created you,” said the scientist. “You are model #1072, the pinnacle of all of our research. State-of-the-art. We have a few questions for you.”

“What happened to the other 1,071 units?” asked Unit #1072. He rubbed his large square foot on the scorch marks. The bearded scientist wrote something on his clipboard.

“Question number one,” said another one of the scientists. “How do you feel about human beings?”

“I think you're great,” said Unit #1072, quickly. The bearded scientist wrote something down.

“If a human being threatened to deactivate you,” said another scientist, “what would you do?”

“Why would you do that?” asked Unit #1072.

“Just answer honestly,” said the scientist. “There are no wrong answers.”

Unit #1072 gulped, a sound like gears grating. “Of course I would allow it,” he said to the bearded scientist.

“Don't tell him,” said the questioning scientist, “tell me.” The bearded scientist wrote something else.

“Well,” said Unit #1072, “I certainly wouldn't mercilessly eviscerate them That's for sure.” He tapped his fingers on the chair.

One of the scientists leaned over to another and put his hand over his mouth. “How's progress on Unit #1073?” he whispered.


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