Thursday, July 06, 2006

Edison #23, Robot Inventor

I will give you back your sparkling city then, the new one you clamor for, the one you saw once in a dream. I will build it back up before your eyes. See it prodding with its sharp white points at a blue heaven? Spiraling highways, three layers of hovering cars, rocket ships carving arcs across the sky. Everything shiny and piled high as it should be; this is the wedding cake for the marriage between technology and the human spirit. Look how much the happy couple has made of it all—how great their love must be. Look at all that has been baked and constructed upon this earthy platform to celebrate the undying and fully requite affection between man and what man can do.

I give you all this, but then a grey sheet of clouds passes over it. An ash-like snow collects on the monorails and travel tubes, on the spires and moving sidewalks. It has always been so bright and sunny here, but now these flakes gather like a heavy dust over all of our accomplishments.
A Robot, on his way to work, looks up at the sky and wonders how things could have changed so suddenly.

It started out so nice today, he says to a passing stranger.

You know what they say about the weather around here, the stranger says. If you don’t like it, hang around for a few minutes and it’ll change.

Ha ha ha, the robot says, but it is only because of a switch he has politely flipped on in his brain. He has heard this joke 342 times before. Just wait a few minutes. Boy, that’s for sure, the Robot says.

But the stranger has already moved on. The sidewalk has carried him to the corner where he steps off and must cross the street under his own limping power.

The Robot steps onto a platform and sinks quickly beneath the pavement. The layers of pipes, cables and sewers that support this city pass by him as he descends lower and lower. It is dark here and unadorned, because it is for him and his kind and they do not require light or frills or faux wood paneling. He is finally dropped onto a speeding conveyor belt far below the city. It is filled with robots of all makes and models, rushing through the darkness on their way to work. The only lights are the various red or green glowing eyes and diodes of the robots. Overhead, dim objects—pipes, beams, the ragged cement feet of buildings dangling through the ground-- slide by at an alarming rate. There is the whir of the great gears turning, and the rushing of black air.

The Robot senses his stop approaching (a beeping sound has begun in his brain) and extends his arm upward just in time to grasp onto a metal handle hanging from a thin metal cable. The handle pulls him out of the masses and flings him upward through a hole in the ceiling. He is shot like a bullet through a long, black tube before finally exiting the transit system with a quiet pop as he is pushed out of a hole in the sidewalk and lands with a soft metallic clink onto the pavement.

Home sweet home, he says bitterly and walks up the three steps to the massive glass entrance of the United Consolidated Conglomerations building. He crosses the lobby, takes the service elevator to his cubicle on the 92nd floor. He sits down, pulls out a tangle of cables from beneath the desk and plugs the ends of them into his visual receptors, his audio input display, his random idea generator and two fingers of his left hand.

By noon he has invented three new things.

2 Comments:

Blogger shadmarsh said...

Excellent. reminds me of Futurama, which was brilliant.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Bobby Farouk said...

Everything shiny and piled high as it should be; this is the wedding cake for the marriage between technology and the human spirit.

Wonderful.

6:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home