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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 6

The human stood  in the corner of the cell; her feet bare on the cold stone floor.
 Her back shook; rising and falling to the rhythm of silent sobs.
 Suddenly her back tensed when she heard me coming.  I am sure she suspected that I was one of the cops, coming to no doubt verbally or physically abuse her.
 Slowly she turned; her arms involuntarily taking a defensive position.
 “What is your name human?”   Human names never meant very much to us bots.  If the humans had names, then we would be forced to see them as individuals and not just a virulent group of organisms.
 Her face was tear stained and filthy.  I suddenly knew what to call the expression on her face…despair.  I knew because my response system fed me the same emotional sequences.  I “felt” despair in my own way.
 FridaFrida Tamarind,” she whispered in a voice that a human would have found to be almost inaudible.
 Frida began moving toward the long bench in her cell, but stopped suddenly.  “They said that I forged the letter,” she said softly.  “I tried to tell them-” she stopped as if her voice was too weak to go on.
 “I know,” I said matching the quiet tone of her voice; guilt present all over my face.
 “I just needed food and medicine for my family.”
 Finally she sat down, “just food and medicine,” she repeated.
 Then she sat as still and quiet as the walls surrounding her.
 Giving her a moment, I called out to the guard to bring me a chair; just so I had something to do to give me time to think.
 Frida…they want to make an example out of you…”
 She did not respond, but the fear in her eyes told me everything she was feeling.
 “But…” at first I was not sure what I was going to say.  Suddenly my mouth reacted autonomously, “I want to help you.”

This got her attention.  Her eyes filled with hope.

 “Can you get me out of here?”
 I did not answer.  I did not want to give Frida false hope.  Trying to get her out of here would place me against all of the other bots, including my bot mate Chas.  There was no way I could defend such an action.
“It’s okay,” she said softly; reading my expression.
We spent a few moments in silence.  The only sound to be heard was Frida’s hand rubbing against the fabric of her prison jumpsuit; echoing off the walls.
Fresh tears began to fill her eyes, then escaped; running a dirty trail down her face.
Again, the hand rubbing.
She stared ahead intensely and I looked away to avoid the look in her eyes.  The flame of hope was gone from them.  Now a cold, empty void took its place. 
Then she did something unexpected.  She reached her hand out toward me; as if she felt sorry for me…as if she wanted to help me.
I did not understand it and it bothered me.  How could this human care about my emotional responses when she was in a far worse position?  I stood up; a look on my face that did not match my internal response.
But then I figured out why I had the slight smile on my face; I realized that my smile may be the only friendly gesture that Frida would see for a long time. 
Being here with Frida, my emotions were taking over more and more.  Never before, since I had been created did my emotional microchips act on their own accord.
“I have to go now.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt a different response.  A pressing need.  I had to help Frida.
“I am going to tell them what I did.  I am going to tell the other bots that I tried to help you.”
“No!” Frida said suddenly.  “You can’t!”
“I do not understand.  If I tell them, they would have to-”

“Continue to say nothing.  Don’t you see, you are the only
bot that has ever attempted to help us.”
“But I can get you out,” I repeated.

“No please.  I’ll be okay.  The rest of my people need you.”

“You would be in here for the rest of your life…or worse.”
“Better to be in here with you on our side, than out there free and with no hope.”
What she said made sense and gave me a new purpose.  Maybe I could do something to change the fate of the humans.  I turned to leave.
Frida stood silently, watching.
Then she said something that stopped me where I stood…
“Vice President Ardis…you have a good heart.”
A good heart?  My responses could not comprehend it.  My heart is made of gears.  What does it mean to have a good heart?
“I do have one thing to ask,” Frida continued.
“Please look after my daughter.  My mother is sick and cannot care for her much longer…please help her.”
I did not respond, but I believe that Frida had put her trust in me and was satisfied that I would do as she asked.  Although I myself was not convinced.
She watched me until I had completely walked through the door.
Although we both knew what the future would hold for her…
I think that Frida was able to find peace.
If my duty was to remain silent and protect my position of power, this would easily be the last time that I would see her.
The officer nodded to me as I left.  I knew he would not have been as civil to me if he knew what I had just discussed with Frida.
But I also knew that I was walking out of that police station with a new purpose.  Frida, being the bravest of the two of us, had placed her hope in me and I was determined not to let her down.



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