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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.
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.