I am Not a Robot
“Better to be hated than loved, loved, loved For what you're not. You're vulnerable, you're vulnerable You are not a robot” - Marina Diamandis
“Whether ya choose to lick (Muthafuckin’ mouth) Pussies or dicks (And you could just eat me out) People through out the world (In my mouth) Yeah, it’s your pick (Just put it in my mouth)” - Akinyele Adams - Crystal Johnson
Alan Pickering lay on his couch. How long had it been? Three weeks? Four?
For six weeks he cocooned himself in his apartment as his life crumbled around him. Before that, he had a celebrated career as a chief audio engineer in the US military's DARPA robotics division.
He remembers the moment everything clicked into place. The four-star generals celebrated his most advanced invention with bottles of scotch and warm pats on the back. He was assured his mobility and sound control systems would allow robots to succeed in missions deep underwater.
But he had been sitting on this very couch, sprinkling dark chocolate chips onto a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter, when the news flashed on his holowall and he realized the horrors he had created.
American military robots had killed 250 attendees of a wedding in the Kashmir region of India. The party had just finished dancing to “Maahi Ve” when a squadron of robots burst through the walls. The power was cut. The lights went out. The cellphone footage shows little of what happened next, but the sound was unmistakable to Pickering. A high-pitched siren knocked the happy couple, friends and family to the ground, shattering eardrums. They writhed in agony as blood poured from their ears. The robots rolled from body to body, executing each with a single bullet to the brain. These robots had received congressional funding because of this promised cost effectiveness, since they required only one bullet per kill rather than the usual barrage of friendly fire.
But that screech!
That screech was unmistakable. The mobility and sound programs were his creations! He had heard it, muffled by earplugs, for the past three years. He knew the military often deceived scientists. But he had clung to the hope that his creation would be used to better humanity. Instead, his greatest invention was used to incapacitate innocent humans, making them lambs ready to be slaughtered.
In the Pentagon's review, it found that it wasn't the machine's fault. A human error had sent these mechanical Angels of Death to the wrong location.
“Fuck!” Alan screamed.
He quit the next day. He was locked out of all his years of research. Any mention of his involvement was erased. In a day, he went from being one of world's greatest robotics scientists to unemployed with a black hole of four years on his résumé, sucking out all chances of future employment.
“Oh well. At least I'm not a murderer.” He thought.
And he still had his mind.
He took to unemployment well. A warm inertia wrapped around him like a comforter. The energy required to move from the couch seemed insurmountable and a waste to expend. He laid in a semi-staring stupor, convinced he wasn't depressed, just in a conserving energy state. He would be ready to fire on all cylinders once the world reactivated him.
But not now.
Today, the loneliness of the weeks ached in him. He realized he hadn't spoken to a human in ten days. Sure, he barked orders to his trinity of electronic personal assistants: Surly, Alexis and Eggo. But he yearned for the succor of spontaneity that dialogue with another human would bring.
Oh so illogical.
Oh so scatterbrained.
“Friends. What had happened to my friends? It had been so easy when I was younger. Right?” A dust devil of sadness and confusion swirls through him.
He came as a gay refugee from Hazard, Nebraska to a medium-sized city for college. He sought sanctuary at the gay bars there. He would ask each person he met where they were from and the hardships they had escaped. But he never felt camaraderie with these other refugees. Though each shared the same burden, an icy scorn kept them from becoming too close.
Only with music and liquor would they warm to each other. A bubbly disco beat would drop and the men would froth. The sweaty, shirtless men writhed in ecstasy. Their jaded exteriors would melt. And for a brief, shimmering moment, Alan felt in communion with this crowd.
One body, united in Beyoncé.
Oh, how he had contorted himself to fit in with his new tribe! He tried to play the part of a brunch-loving, tight-shirt wearing exercise-fanatic. He trained himself to coo for the alpha-gays about vacations and designer belts.
But still their claws came out.
“Ew, is that what you're wearing?”
“What happened to your hair?”
“Oh that shirt looks cute, it hides your gut so well.”
No, this wasn't the community for him. His personal growth was stifled by the perpetual shade they cast on him.
A dork he was born, and dork he shall remain.
He was surprised how easy it was to sever ties with those “friends.” But they were relieved by his disappearance. One less bourgeoi-gay for brunch reservations.
But that loneliness...
As he suffered in solitude, five hundred humans in his forty-story high-rise apartment complex felt the same loneliness. Each turned on their holocubes and turned up the volume to drown out the deafening din of emptiness.
Technology had always been there for him.
But now... Now he felt confused.
He turned to his holophone and opened an application that promised hot, fresh man-meat, hungry for sex, delivered to his door in less than fifteen minutes. Faster than a pizza! No longer would he need to suffer the hand wringing over coffee dates as two strangers attempted to form a connection. Now he could cut to the carnal chase. He spent his nights staring into a glowing screen as he judged and swiped. This parade of torsos took navel gazing to new lows. If he succeeded in ensnaring one, there was the terrifying thrill of ripping open the door for his mystery date.
Who would it be?!
Thankfully, gone were the days of faked photos and deceptive appearances. Ugly suitors had hoped that by the time they arrived at their host's homes, these hosts would be too horny and accept any inferior substitute. But now the guessing was gone.
His holophone vibrated.
A message from “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woof” flashed on his screen. He had been chatting with this man for two weeks. The wit of Alan's first message, “What a cum dump!” fizzled into a prolonged correspondence of:
The days of this banality had somehow passed the threshold to intimacy and this man sent him the schematics.
“Now this, I'll get off the couch for!” Pickering springs to life.
“Alexis, send blueprints to my 3D printer.”
“Blueprints sent,” the robotic personal assistant responds.
The machine whirs to life and whizzes for two minutes.
The life-size replica of this paramour's penis stood erect on the table, warts and all.
Pickering notices these fleshy bumps but shrugs his shoulders. He had been vaccinated against HPV in the narrow ten-year window it had been available, before religious and alternative medicine zealots conspired to rid the country of another vaccine. He shakes his head remembering the footage of the Portland T-party. Eager Anti-vaxxers had derailed a truck carrying Tdap vaccines. In a ceremony aching to replicate the Founding Fathers, these self-appointed patriots poured protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough into the Willamette river.
But that wasn't his problem, he was immune to the stuff. Oh yeah! And these phallic speed bumps could create a delightful, rocky road.
He lubes up the polyamide masterpiece and suctions this dong firmly to his artisanal stool from Blaine, Missouri. His prostate eager for a stool boom of its own.
“What big girth you have!” Pickering puckers as he balances on the tip, adjusting. “He hadn't belied his length, but that circumference! What a wonderful surprise.”
He had eased halfway down the dildo when the video phone rings.
Eyes closed, teeth clenched and sphincters spasming to relax, he groans.
“Answering call from---”
“What?! NO! Alexis. Hang up.”
Higgins face appears on the wall in front of him. He's looking to the side.
“Pan up! PAN UP! PAN UP!!!” Pickering screams.
Alexis orders the holowall camera to pan, showing only Pickering's face.
“Hey Buddy. Whatchu up to?” Higgins inquires.
“Nuthin'... Chillin'.” Pickering says as he slides down the last three inches. His eyes widen. Drops of santorum froth to the floor.
In the corner of the screen, Pickering sees his face. What a horrible image! How heinous he looks. He hadn't seen himself from this angle for years. From above, his face looked marvelous. From below, gravity pulled out all his imperfections. His facial fillers sagged and the pock marks on his forehead from the at-home botox cast a terrible shadow.
Sweat trickles down Pickering's face as he hopes the stinging sensation isn't a fissure forming.
“Come down to my studio Pickering, I've got an idea I wanna run by you.”