Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Artificial Imperfection Scene 6

This is scene 6 of my continuing series about Zamler an A.I that insists he's perfect. Zamler fears all his friends are leaving him one way or another. 

If you want to start at the beginning or catch up on any missed scenes, click HERE

*****

Becca’s daughter Ellie came around the corner. She too was on the small side with dark hair, except it was pulled back into a French braid. Ellie had her mother’s spunk, but lacked her stability. The young lady was always jumping from one interest to another, none of which included artificial intelligence units. 

“Mom, I was thinking we could have lunch together and talk about….” Ellie spoke slower as she looked around at the mess.  

Becca blushed. “I don’t know. As you can see, I’m a bit behind in my work.”

“Mom! Why didn’t you tell me about this. It’s worse than I thought. Maybe I could help you somehow.”  

“Oh no, dear, that’s not necessary. You have your own work and do what you love, and that makes me happy.”

Ellie’s eyes lit up. “I so want you to see my work in the new biosphere.”

Becca looked around. “Perhaps if we get these A.I’s done we can this afternoon.” 

“We certainly will,” Zamler said. 

Becca gave him a serious look. “As for you, sir. You are overdue for your diagnostic.”

“You don’t have time right now. Perhaps in a few days,” he suggested, suspecting she wanted to run tests on him because of what happened to Ralph and Suzy. 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” 

Zamler thought briefly of the memory that surfaced and dismissed it. “I’m perfect as usual.” 

Ellie chuckled sarcastically. “He still thinks he’s perfect.”

“I know I’m perfect silly child.”

“I’m twenty-two! Don’t call me a child.”

“Well, I’m two-hundred and fifty-two, so you seem like a child to me.” Zamler went back to his work. All the women in Becca’s line had been technicians and become his friends, except Ellie who had to be different. 

“Stop fighting you two,” Becca said.

Ellie smirked and lowered her voice. “I heard you made quite an impression on those students today. Nick is going around telling everyone how you taught him and how you let him drive a jeep. They want you back to teach them, and they all want to drive a jeep.” She smiled in a teasing way. 

“I managed the patience for one day, and that’s all I have.”

She lifted her eyebrows and quipped, “For someone so perfect, you’re horribly closed minded.” 

Zamler thought that over, unsure if it was true. It was better not respond because Ellie could argue for hours. 

She gave Zamler one last smirk and turned back to her mother. "Seeing as you can't go to lunch, I might as well mention that I wanted to talk about you retiring. I mean you’ve earn a break and just think, you could retire on Earth, and I’ll go with you!” Ellie stared at her mother with big eyes.

Zamler held back a cringe, dreading that everyone was leaving him one way or another. 

"Since when do you want to go to Earth?" Becca asked.

"I got to thinking about it. I've mastered landscaping in the biospheres and I want a new challenge. I'd love to work on Earth doing landscaping or designing of some kind. We have enough credits for the trip. What do you think?"

Becca looked around the shop as if she would miss it. Zamler avoided her eyes, not wanting her to see the dread in them. If only Ellie would stop talking and go back to work. 

Becca cleared her throat. "It does seem the time is right to retire. It would be amazing if we went to Earth together.” 

Becca squealed and jumped up and down. "When will you tell your boss?"

Beeca took a long pause and finally spoke, "Tomorrow." She looked sadly toward Zamler. "I guess the day is coming when we won't see each other anymore."

Zamler got up and forced a smile. "Don't worry about me. You do what you want to do. Every human deserves a good retirement. I’ll think of you relaxing on a beach somewhere free of this musty shop."

Becca nodded, smiling and still wiggling. “We’ll stay in touch, of course.” 

“Of course.” Zamler's internal communication unit beeped in his head. 

My meeting was cancelled. Come to my office now. 

It was Adam. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Artificial Imperfection Scene 5

This is scene 5 of my continuing series about Zamler an A.I that insists he's perfect. Zamler is looking for answers about his deceased A.I. friend, Suzy 


If you want to start at the beginning or catch up on any missed scenes, click HERE

*****

Zamler walked through the A.I. maintenance area. He passed by the repair bays each with a technician and several A.I.s to either repair or build. The sounds of drills and the clang of metal echoed throughout the floor.

He figured the memory had been a freak incident triggered by the stress of losing his colleagues. Somehow, he had picked up on a stray memory of his creator’s wife. It probably wouldn’t happen again. He kept telling himself that losing a moment of concentration wasn’t really an error and the whole thing was just a fluke.

Zamler came to manager Adam’s door and knocked.

“Sorry,” said the clerk. “He’s out on the floor somewhere.”

He decided to see Becca first instead as she might know something about the shuttle crash. Before he even reached her section, he could overhear Adam complaining about two units not being completed in time.

“They need to be in the new biosphere working today,” Adam said.

“Yes sir.”

Zamler turned the corner. Adam stopped talking and stared at him. Most managers he knew were over forty years old, however, Adam was twenty-eight. His small stature and baby face made him look even younger. Some people didn’t take him seriously at first. Adam handled that by raising the productivity requirements. He was always one to let everyone know of his fast success.

Beeca looked up, her wrinkled face smiling. She was a small woman with big dark hair streaked with gray and spiraling curls. Despite her size, she was a strong, feisty woman who still never hesitated to speak her mind. All the benches were cluttered with all sorts of parts, including body parts of dismantled A.I’s. The two new A.I’s sat on a center bench inactive, a male and a female - at least in appearance.

Adam walked up to Zamler and folded his arms. “I’m well aware you’ve been helping her keep up, but obviously not enough.”

“Sir, there is something urgent I must talk to you about,” Zamler said. “I was out there training a student when I came across a shuttle crash with Suzy’s body in it. What happened?”

Adam flinched. “You took a student outside with you?”

“Yes, he said he was failing and begged me to train him.”

“But you weren’t authorized to take a student out there. You were only supposed to teach the class.”

“Look, you needed a fill in. I didn’t have time to read the rules on five minutes notice. Besides, the boy will pass the class. Isn’t that the important thing?”

Adam sighed loudly sounding like a growl. “From now on you must never take a minor outside without permission.”

Zamler figured it wouldn’t be a good idea to mention how much Nick enjoyed driving the jeep. “What about my question?”

Adam shifted toward the door. “I’m late for a meeting and can’t discuss it right now. See me me in my office tomorrow in two hours.”

“Of course, sir.” Zamler figured he was stalling.

Adam ducked out and hurried away.

Zamler waited until Adam was well out of hearing range before speaking. “Becca, do you know anything about Suzy?”

“No, I’ve been too busy trying to keep up.”

“Maybe I can ask the base director?” Zamler suggested.

“We’ll have to wait. Linda is on vacation.” Becca adjusted the neck of one of the A.I’s. “At least I have you to give me a hand, but I always feel like I’m keeping you from your work.”

“Now, now, I have an advantage. I only need to recharge, which only takes an hour.” He couldn’t imagine having to sleep eight hours a night.

In her day, Becca had been the best technician, and he wouldn’t forget it. He went over to the male A.I and began finishing some of the wiring in the upper thigh.

She went through a toolbox. “You know, Adam has been giving me plenty of hints that I should retire. He’ll be sure to bring it up tomorrow.”

“Never mind him. He has no respect for the years of hard work anyone puts in. All he thinks about is production and looking good in front of the executives.”

“Well, he’s under a lot of pressure from the higher ups always wanting more living space for our growing population. A.I’s are still the most effective working outside and as you can see, it’s not easy to keep up with the demand for your kind.”

“This may sound strange, but I don’t consider today’s units my kind. They’re just not the same as Ralph and Suzy.”

“There’s truth in that old saying - they don’t make them like they used to.”

Zamler nodded. “That’s for sure.”


*****

Next week I'm going to be taking some vacation from the day job, and I'm going to the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. I was last there about 15 years ago. Anyway, I hope to get some good pictures to share. 

Thanks for all feedback.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Artificial Imperfection Scene 4

This is scene 4 of my continuing series about Zamler an A.I that insists he's perfect. He finally finds out what's down in the canyon. 

If you want to start at the beginning or catch up on any missed scenes, click HERE

****

Zamler got the grappling hook and cable out of the jeep. As he walked over to the ledge, there were a few scattered track marks still left uncovered by the drifting dust. Someone had been there recently. He dug the hook into the ground, hooked the cable to his belt and descended into the canyon with the ease of a bird. Down he went and landed right in front of a crashed shuttle. Several of the panels had fallen off. The nose was crushed and main door missing. From the light layer of dust on the wreckage, this hadn’t happened too long ago.

He made his way into the shuttle. It was partially dark and he activated a light on his belt. There were no bodies left behind, except one - Suzy. She lay on the floor in front of the helm. Her eyes remained open and seemed to stare at him as if to ask for help. It’d been her job to fly shuttles. No doubt some human had missed a mechanical problem. Although those had happened before, and Suzy had always detected any problems. In any case, they should’ve had the decency to tell him about it.

The top of her head was taken apart. Zamler knelt down and discovered they had removed her brain core, but didn’t even have the decency to bring her body back. He clenched his fists, thinking of burying her somewhere, yet over time the shuttle would sink deeper and Mars would bury it. Plus, he didn’t want anyone to know he was snooping around. Perhaps Suzy could be restored since they had her brain core.

Zamler went back up the cable and pulled the hook out of the rock. Nick had waited patiently in the driver’s seat.

“Did you find out anything?” Nick asked.

“It’s an old shuttle wreck. There wasn’t much left of it,” he lied, not wanting to talk about it. “Now come here and pack these items. Do it neatly.”

Nick hurried over and struggled to wind up the cable by himself.

"No, you have to wind it tighter or it will never fit. Try to concentrate.”

"It's easy for you to say since you’re perfect.”

“True.”

“But doesn’t anything ever distract you?”

“No.” Yet, he found his mind wandering. No doubt Adam, the manager of the A.I's, knew more about this. He had to see him at once.

“What about women? Do you even like them?”

“Yes, but not in a romantic way. Certain aspects of my personality and memories are blocked for safety reasons. Regardless, my brain core is highly disciplined to stay on task.” At least this evening, he would be back to work on biosphere W2 - a new one that recently passed inspection and was just starting to develop.

Nick finally wound up the cord correctly and went about repacking it.

As Zamler watched, for no reason at all, his mind wandered to an image of a woman. She seemed familiar as she set a table with dishes and plates.

You’ve been working all day, Mike, take a break and come eat dinner.

He recalled the scent of roast chicken and longed to eat it, even though he never had to eat. She smiled, her brown eyes lighting up, her face framed by thick brown hair.

I’ll be right there, Tess.

She waited for him, smiling, and always so patient with his long work hours. Mike Zamler got up and kissed her on the cheek.

“Zamler! I’m done packing. What do you think?” Nick’s voice broke through Zamler’s thoughts.

He found it hard to answer Nick as his mind spun. What did I just remember? What was that?

“Zamler, what is it?” Nick stood next to him, peering at him the best he could with that helmet on. “Are you alright?”

“Uh, yes.” Zamler realized he wasn’t even watching Nick.

“Is everything alright?” Nick asked.

“Oh, oh yes, and good job. Let’s go inside and you can get some lunch.”

“Awesome!” Nick hurried back into the driver’s seat.

Zamler sat next to him and realized he’d recalled a bit of the real Zamler’s life. He wasn’t supposed to be remembering that sort of thing. While he had Zamler’s personality, the memories of his past had been blocked years ago, before he even came to Mars. Dr. Zamler himself had said it was safer that way. Whatever he’d remembered, he wasn’t going to admit to it. 

****

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