fiction: robots doing drugs

I’m giving you another excerpt from The Adventures of Jimmy Stick, from much later in the book.

This scene comes about after Claire gets pregnant with Robot Jimmy’s spermbots, the real Jimmy comes back from the dead, and both Jimmys team up with the mysterious Mr. Fixx to get Claire an abortion at a secret government lab run by clones of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wayne.

“Your Heroes Work Here”

The wait was not long.  A few moments only had gone by before the inner door opened and a tall man wearing a lab coat came into the room.  The man was middle aged, with salt-and-pepper hair and horn-rimmed glasses.  He pushed these up his nose and peered around the room at each of them in turn.  His eyes lit up when he saw R. Jimmy.

“<beep>Dr. Rossum,” said R. Jimmy.  “It is good to be seeing you again, sir.”

Dr. Rossum frowned.  “Is it, now?” he asked in a musing tone.  “Well, it seems our little R. Jimmy has grown up some.  Emotions, is it?”

“<beep>I have learned to be feeling,” R. Jimmy explained.  “<beep>And there is so much to be feeling. . .  <beep>Things I was never expecting.”

“No, I’d think not,” agreed Rossum.  “You were never meant to develop feelings, R. Jimmy.  Simply isn’t in the design parameters.  However, I must admit it’s a thrilling development.”

“<beep>Are you then… <beep>proud, father?”

“I’ve always been proud of you,” said Dr. Rossum.  “But tell me, R. Jimmy, how did this happen?  How have you developed feelings and emotions?”

R. Jimmy glanced at the couch where Claire sat, watching this exchange with a perplexed expression.  Rossum saw the quick look that passed between them, and he knew his creation had sinned.  His face darkened.

“A woman,” he said flatly.  “I might have guessed…”

“The woman, sir, is the reason we’re here,” interrupted Mr. Fixx.

“You are indeed correct, sir,” Rossum answered.  “Without woman, we’d all be in Paradise still.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said Jimmy, stepping forward.  “Listen, we’ve got more pressing problems here than the garden of Eden, okay?  We came here because we have a pretty big problem.  That robot over there seems to think you can help us.”

“And what is this problem?” Rossum asked.

“<beep>Claire is pregnant.”

Rossum stared at R. Jimmy in shocked silence for a moment.  At length, he asked hoarsely, “Yours?”

“<beep>Affirmative reply.”

“Dear God.”  Rossum was plainly horrified.

“Yeah,” said Jimmy.  “That’s kinda how I feel about it.  Your robot son knocked up my girlfriend, and I’m not happy about it.”

Rossum looked at Jimmy again, then at the others each in turn, finally bringing his eyes back to Jimmy.  He cleared his throat.  “Who are you, exactly?”

“I’m Jimmy Stick,” Jimmy told him.  Rossum’s jaw dropped.

“But you… you were eliminated.  I saw the report.”

“Right, yeah,” said Jimmy,  impatience seeping into his voice.  “Righteously exterminated by God’s lightning and all.  It’s been a long, strange trip, Doc.”

“Jimmy Stick has come back from the dead,” Fixx told Rossum.  “Sent back to earth by the god in whose name you people had him murdered.  All so he could save this young woman’s life.”

Rossum blinked.

“The baby’s going to kill her,” Jimmy explained.  “It’s going to be a horrible mutated half-robot monster and it’s going to tear her to bloody shreds when it comes out.”

Rossum blinked again.  Then he said, “The robot was not supposed to copulate.  It’s nanite spermbots were never meant to be used.”

“Then why’d you give them to him?” demanded Jimmy.

“His celibacy would have been meaningless without temptation and the genuine need to resist it,” Rossum explained.  He turned an irritated glare on the robot.  “I truly expected you to be stronger willed, Robot Jimmy.”

“<beep>Shamefaced apologetic response,” said the robot.

“Yes, well, it’s too late for that now,” snapped Rossum.  He looked again at Claire and her enlarged belly.  “My God.  What manner of wicked thing grows there?”

“I told you, it’s a fucking monster,” said Jimmy.  “You’ve got to get it out of her.”

Rossum put a hand to his chin in thought.  After a long moment, he nodded.  “Yes,” he said.  “I see.”  He tapped his chin with a finger, still nodding.

“You can do it, then?” asked Jimmy.

“The fetus could be removed to a surrogate womb,” said Rossum.  “We have suitable devices – unnatural things which we use for the clones.  It would present no danger to the device.”

“Thank God,” Jimmy muttered.

“Come with me,” said Rossum.

Rossum took them through the inner door into a long, wide room.  There were several tables bristling with scientific equipment.  The room bustled with hushed activity.  Each of the labcoat-wearing men working here were clones.  Jimmy recognized some of them from his wallet.

“Is that George Washington?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Rossum.  “We’ve found the Washingtons are quite good for experimental research.  There have been absolutely zero instances of erroneous conclusions, because the Washingtons never bungle the experiments and they cannot tell lies.”

Fixx rolled his eyes.

A couple of the Washingtons and one of the other clones approached them.  Jimmy couldn’t be sure, because the other clone was clean-shaven, but he thought it was Abraham Lincoln.

“Dr. Rossum,” said the Lincoln.  “We’d heard that the robot had returned.  We’d like to deactivate him and run some diagnostics, if that isn’t inconvenient.”

“<beep>Deactivate?”

“Temporarily, of course,” Rossum assured R. Jimmy.  He nodded to Lincoln.  “Go ahead, C. Abraham.”  Lincoln smiled his thanks, then he and the two Washingtons led R. Jimmy away.

“Come on then,” said Rossum, and led them further into the room.  They passed into another room, much larger than the last two.  The ceiling was very high, and pipes of all sizes hung down from it connecting into the row of giant vats that dominated the room.  Clones in labcoats and safety goggles moved around, adjusting knobs and dials or taking readings from gauges.

Rossum led them quickly through this room without stopping, and through the door at the far end.

They found themselves in yet another laboratory.  This one was filled with medical equipment, and there was an operating table to one side.  Opposite the table, the wall was made of glass and they could see through into another, similar room.  Rather than an operating table, that room held a curiously shaped metal tank with a small window on the side through which they could see it was filled with a bubbling, purplish goo.

There were two men in that room, and when they looked up Rossum gestured to them.  They came through a small door beside the glass section of wall.  Jimmy shook his head when he saw that one of them was John F. Kennedy.  The other was Albert Einstein.

Suddenly, Jimmy remembered the strange slogan on the sign outside the dome: Your heroes work here.

“Dr. Rossum,” the clones greeted their master.  So far, he was the only genuine human being Jimmy had seen in this place.  Assuming, that was, that Dr. Rossum wasn’t a clone of somebody he didn’t know about.

“C. John, C. Al,” said Rossum with a nod.  “I’ve got a sticky one for you.  This young lady—”  Here, he gestured to Claire, who was looking positively lost and afraid.  “This young lady is carrying a most unnatural child.  We’re going to have to transfer it to one of the tanks.”

Kennedy and Einstein nodded their understanding, and set about gathering instruments together.  Rossum turned to Jimmy and gave him a reassuring smile.

“This won’t take long.  You and your friends might want to wait in the room across the hall.”

Claire paled.

.   .   .

R. Jimmy came online and experienced fear.

His internal clock told him it had been just over nine hours since his last memory was recorded.  He had been in a diagnostics lab deep within the installation, surrounded by a horde of cloned Lincolns.  Looking around, R. Jimmy saw he was still in the same room; the Lincolns were gone.  He was alone.

Claire.  He did not know if she was even alive.  Nine hours … the thing would be done by now, but had the operation been a success?  He needed to find the others.  R. Jimmy sat up, determined.

At least, he tried to sit up.  The servomotors in his hips over-revved, nearly sending him catapulting into the floor.  R. Jimmy gripped the edges of the table he had been lying on to keep from pitching over headfirst.  Something was wrong.

“<beep>Your processes, they are not yet one hundred percent.”

R. Jimmy, startled by the unexpected voice, nearly fell off the table again.  He had thought himself alone, but when he turned his head – it took three tries to get his optics pointed in the correct direction – he saw there was another robot in the room with him.  It seemed to be a less advanced model, though R. Jimmy had been unaware the installation’s scientists had built any others.

“<beep>Who are you?” R. Jimmy asked the other.

“<beep>I am designated R. Timothy,” the robot answered, gliding forward.  R. Jimmy looked down, once again nearly losing his balance, and saw that R. Timothy had two wheeled treads instead of legs.

“<beep>You will be taking time to return to optimum efficiency,” R. Timothy said, extending one arm to brace R. Jimmy’s shoulder.  “<beep>It is best to be taking it slow, are saying always the scientists, after full shut down and running of diagnostics.”

The other robot fell silent, and with a gentle whir it turned its head first to one side, then the other.  Then, it leaned in close and brought up its other hand, clasping a slightly battered white aerosol spray bottle.

“<beep>This will being helpful,” R. Timothy said in a simulated whisper.  R. Jimmy examined the offered bottle; it was dented and more than a little grimy, but he could make out some of the words on the label.

“<beep>Ether?”

“<beep>Ether,” confirmed R. Timothy.  With the hand that had been on R. Jimmy’s shoulder, the other robot tapped four spots on R. Jimmy’s chestplate in rapid succession.  The chestplate slid open smoothly, revealing R. Jimmy’s innards.

Looking down, R. Jimmy saw his primary motor chugging along amidst a seeming mess of wires and cables and things that blinked or whirred.  At the heart of the complex motor itself, electricity arced and fired between two coupling points.  R. Jimmy’s spark seemed to be firing slower than design specifications called for.

R. Timothy, still leaned in close, brought the spray bottle of ether to bear on that arc of electric life.  R. Jimmy felt the urge to protest, but before his lagging processors could send the command to his vocoder R. Timothy had depressed the button.  A fine mist of liquid ether sprayed out, coating R. Jimmy’s motor and all-important power couplings.

Instantly, the spark of life intensified.  The arc of electricity fired faster, glowed brighter, and crackled audibly.  R. Jimmy could feel his processors speeding up.  His limbs gave a brief spasm as scores of tiny servomotors received an unexpected boost in power.  There was a slight fluid leak, and a low, drawn-out beeeeeep of satisfaction issued from R. Jimmy’s vocoder.

(c)2010, John A. Underwood

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