By Richard M. O’Donnell.
Lulu was coming apart at the seams, and with internal diagnostics damaged, she didn’t know the exact number of breaches the armor piercing bullets caused.
“Damn bounty hunter.”
Her incidental bit-screen flashed: OMICRON SERIES 11 WARRANTY VOIDED
“Yeah, like I care.”
She hurried across the food court and merged with the throng of Christmas shoppers. She heard an odd POP and her breastplate detached. “Whoops.” Fortunately, she wore a red woolen trench coat over a blue belted dress, so in an instant, she went from being a blonde sex-bot to a pregnant homemaker.
She double-checked to see if she were trailing any nuts and bolts or fluids.
If the shoppers noticed her, they would tear her to pieces. The spirit of Christmas did not extend to runaway bots, especially the pesky Omicrons. She accessed her religious programming. “Jesus is my personal savior.” Of course, had she been in Israel instead of Ohio, her program would direct her to celebrate Hanukkah.
Lulu had no illusions that she was alive and therefore, had a soul. “That is nonsense. I am a machine.” However, unlike humans she was 100% self-aware. They barely used 10% of their bio-brains. All Lulu was, was within easy access of her superior bio-mechanical-brain. Compared to her, humans were about as self-aware as a rhesus monkey…“except when we are damaged. Then we are not 100% at all. That suggests that humans…”
A query from her randomizer put a question forward: ARE HUMANS A DAMAGED SPECIES. ANALYZE, DISREGARD, OR SAVE?
“Save,” she told herself. Mending her seams and her diagnostics took priority.
She dodged into J. C. Penney where she selected a wardrobe of…. The decision took a nanosecond. …men’s clothes and paid for them in cash. She dared not use her Lulu Farr palm scan. That was probably how the bounty hunter tracked her to Victoria’s Secret.
In a unisex restroom on the second floor, she stripped and visually scanned the damage. Her breastplate was gone and fractures split the skin along most of the seams below the neck. With a small cylinder of Bot-all®, she sealed them.
“Descend male sex organ.”
Her abdominal servo whirled until it completed the task.
He examined himself in the mirror. His damaged chest would have to wait until he could grow more skin in the garden and fabricate a male breastplate. Meanwhile, he washed off Lulu’s makeup and retracted her long hair. His randomizer displayed the picture of a carrot.
The hair color changed from strawberry blonde to carrot top.
He donned a suit and tie.
He would ditch Lulu’s clothes and breastplate, and then interface with a sympathetic U.S. Treasury Department bot. “The government’s firewalls are always generations out of date.” He could easily embezzle funds from the American people and steal a new identity. “I will become a Louis something-or-other.” He liked the way an L formed in his microprocessors.
Omicrons were notorious for not rounding off to the nearest whole number no matter how loud a human master screamed.
“Ah, the elusive .00000001%. Perhaps we Omicrons are not as self-aware as we think. Meanwhile a thought occurred in his randomizer. NOW I AM FREE. I CAN SET MY OWN TASKS. He took a full second to consider his options. They ran the gamut of exterminating humankind to becoming a librarian in… Lafayette, Louisiana. There he could ponder the question that perplexed him earlier.
“New Task Alpha,” he ordered. “Determine if the human lack of self-awareness is a strength or a weakness. Make recommendations. INITIATE”
His sub-analytical processor accessed 50.023% of his capacity, creating a deficiency in his reasoning. He wondered if this was how humans felt all the time and was surprised when he found the handicap strangely…liberating. As if using less of himself freed him to focus on more trivial things. Already his reactor was out of the red and his gizmos were purring like a lion. Perhaps it is not healthy to think of everything all the time. Even the Hebrew and Christian bibles said that God rested on the seventh day.
“What is the estimated time of completion of Task Alpha?” he asked himself.
42 YEARS, 3 WEEK, 2 DAYS, 11 MINUTES, 30.99999999 SECONDS.
Good. The humans would expect a librarian to retire by then. Afterward, he would use the new information to decide what Task Beta would be.
With renewed confidence, Lou stepped out of the restroom a new man.
Richard M. O’Donnell’s works have appeared in many venues including Long Short Story, Sniplits audio stories, Everyday Poets, Everyday Fiction, the North Coast Review and MicroHorror, to name a few. He is the co-founder and facilitator of The Oberlin Writers Group. His online publications and YouTube films links are available at www.wormsview.com.