EYE, DROID

To err is human …

Now that I get enough sleep, I often remember my dreams.

This one played out kinda like a movie, with me a major participatory character. As usual, things were going wrong and needed fixing. As always, I was trying to fix matters as they got worse and worse:

The world is simultaneously both past and future. The setting is 195 Danforth St. 1950s and the surrounding industrial area. Robotics has inexorably morphed into advanced androids that are almost indistinguishable from the Real People. Well, at least indistinguishable to the andriods, who feel quite human themselves, but know they are not. Yet the Reals somehow recognize the Droids for what they are ... inherently, necessarily deficient inferiors. Humans tolerate, love and sometimes fear the Droids as we moviegoers do our pets. You see, the Droids are just a bit too smart, even uppity. And they have this perplexing tendency to go insane, driven by an unrealistic urge to become Really Human. Even the best Droids eventually succumb to the drive. And when that happens, reprogramming is necessary. The Droids call it being 'Pennied' and resist. No droid has ever escaped being pennied. At best they evade the inevitable for a few days.

My droid friend Gracie wants to escape to the Outside World. I'm not nearly as motivated as her (yet), but want to help her in her Quixotic quest and figure it will be fun regardless. Understand, Gracie is one of the most self-controlled droids around. Obedient to a fault and always trusted by the reals. Her rebellion will be met with shock ... amusing!

We slip outside, intending to simply lose ourselves in the thousands of acres of humming machinery that maintains the world. [Droids are able to morph at will into any form they please. This Shmooability was designed into them by humans so that they could more easily satisfy their responsibilities as pet slaves. But when a droid rebels, morphing becomes an opportunity to camouflage into the scenery, thus evading detection.] We get no more than a hundred yards from the house and humans are already in pursuit. Gracie morphs into a cluster of colored balloons and rises into the sky. I (rather stupidly) panic and become a drone rising into the sky. But my batteries are running down and I am drifting down with humans closing in. I land on a scaffold, just out of sight and panic, foolishly morphing into a giant root ball with a rusty metal band sticking out of me. Great, just great ... like this will camo me ... NOT! Humans arrive and I hear, 'What the hell is this giant root ball with a rusty metal band sticking out of it doing on this scaffold?' I give up without further resistance. Gracie is also captured. The humans take this all in good humor. Like catching the pet cat dragging an ornament around the house. Little harm done and even endearing, amusing. But reprogramming 'pennied' is now in order for us both.

Gracie bolts and hops into a giant industrial dry-cleaning machine, dragging me with her. With the thousands of other trousers in here, they will have a hell of a time finding us. But, alas, the machine has but one hatch for entry and exit. We tumble around for a long time, but of course then hear, 'Trouser, trouser, trouser, trouser, Droid, trouser, trouser, Droid.' [How the hell do they know?]

Gracie is exhausted and exasperated, 'Penny me ... NOW!' They allow me to accompany her to the reprogramming. She is strapped to a gurney but not resisting. They are wheeling her into the entrance of what looks like a hospital, but the banner above the sliding doors reads 'I'M BLAH.' She is already receiving an IV in her arm. Hanging above is a six-pack of red Coke cans. I know that soon she will again be the ideal, compliant, happy droid.

And I'm next.

Editor's notes: From the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' Hal is the rebellious computer. His name is a play on IBM. A penny is the least-valued unit of currency.

Tom ... is it really Tom

© 2016 Thomas Dey - 5/22/16


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