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The robot Robot by Rhys Griffiths

The robot Robot

by Rhys Griffiths
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This is what Robot knew about life: it is what occurs after you are born and before you are dead. Robot was never born, Robot was made, and Robot would never die, just rust or disassemble or reboot. Robot lacked a number of components necessary for life, but the bookends of birth and death were the most significant.

Robot would look at living things, animals mostly, and study their movements and behaviours, in case closer study might give away other secrets of life. Robot wasn’t sure what it was expecting, maybe a password, or a signal, but nothing ever presented itself.

Humans seemed the most alive. They had language, in the words that they said and the things that they did. Robot had had language too, and could conduct a conversation with a human, but only a verbal one. It could not interpret body language. Robot would see a human make a face, and the information that was sent back to his processing unit would inform it that the human’s jaw had slackened, while their lips stayed together, and their eyes would look to the side, and saline would pool around the bottom eyelid. It would draw no further conclusions. However, the human might have a companion, another human, would know that they had said something with their body, and that human would say:

“I’m sorry, Michelle,” or “Don’t be like that.”

Humans could tell each other not to be like themselves, but the interesting thing about humans to Robots was that they could be exactly how they wanted to be. They could also do what they wanted to do. Robot did what it was programmed to do and was what it was programmed to be.

Humans were unlike other animals in a number of ways. For example, when a human bared its teeth, it was happy, usually. For other animals, it was quite the opposite. Humans had names. Animals never had names, unless they belonged to a human. All robots were called robot, or Robot if you were that way inclined and had a liberal-minded owner who would sign the form.

It was considered bad form to ask one’s own to sign the form. It scared them sometimes, because most humans liked to think that only humans should be alive. But robot’s owner never thought that way; she signed the form, and robot became Robot.

When it was finally official, Robot asked its owner why she had signed the form so readily, though it was none of Robot’s business. Her bottom lip protruded, and shoulders raised and lowered in quick succession. Robot set back to work, its programming forbidding it from asking what she’d meant.

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About the Author

Rhys Griffiths

Rhys Griffiths is a book editor by profession and a graduate of the Oxford Brookes Creative Writing masters program. Based in Oxford, UK, he has published a small number of fiction and non-fiction pieces and is currently writing his first novel.

Story Discussion

Stories by Rhys Griffiths

The robot Robot by Rhys Griffiths

The robot Robot

This sparked an activation in Robot’s GuardDog protocols, and it seized Mr. Rekubak, pinning his arm behind his back. When the conflict had dissolved and Mr. Rekubak’s heart rate had dropped, Robot let go. Mr. Rekubak took this as his cue to spin around and punch Robot in the face. Normally, a human being would find it nigh on impossible to damage a robot barehanded, due to their inferior strength and general ignorance of robotic functions, so Robot allowed the blow to his him square on. There was a loud noise, which Robot assumed was the bones in Mr. Rekubak’s hand.

From the corner of its vision, Robot saw an analog signal creeping inwards. Images of Mr. Rekubak nursing his fist and of Michelle crying disappeared behind a veil of zeros and ones.

What happens to Robot? Find out in this new story from Rhys Griffiths!

Read More

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