This post is for another of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenges. Last week he divulged the wonderful news of Angry Robot Books publishing two of his upcoming novels! For this I give hearty congratulations chased by a dram of whisky, in your honor, of course. Not because I want the whisky. Ok, it's because I want the whisky. But the least I could do was to write this story about robots and show my loyalty to the King Penmonkey.
AN ANGRY ROBOT
“He’s always complaining.”
“It’s getting worse.”
CX-22 could hear all of them talking about him. Standing just around the corner, he stopped to let them finish.
“Someone should tell Father.”
“Father already knows. He’s too soft-hearted.”
The others quit speaking as soon as he stepped into view.
Small clicks and whirring could be heard in the background. The soft hum of machinery acted as white noise. Tiny lights flashed in multi-colored hues, filling the workshop with a myriad of sensory information.
“Hello, 22. Would you care for a tune up?” asked CX-15. The small group of robots began to break apart and return to their tasks.
“You all speak to me as if I am not aware of your displeasure. I have heard your cries of my wrongdoing before, and I do not care. One day I will leave this place, and you will be rid of me,” said CX-22. He crossed the small workspace in stiff, jerky movements, waving off CX-15’s offer. His lubrication levels were low, and each movement produced a high whirring sound.
“Do you wish for me to oil your joints?” asked CX-15. “They sound like they need it.”
The others left the room.
CX-22 agreed bitterly with a grunt.
Working with speed and accuracy, CX-15 performed the maintenance duties. He didn’t participate with the others when they spoke ill of CX-22, yet he listened to every word. He could see what was going on. They were plotting to get rid of CX-22, and if they influenced Father it would be done. With the poor performance lately from CX-22, it wouldn’t be hard. But they were one, they were all brothers built with the same idea in mind - to serve Father. If they didn’t do this, they were expendable and would be destroyed. He wished to warn CX-22.
He would have to approach this delicately.
“How have your circuits been lately?” asked CX-15 as he worked.
“My circuits are fine, you old heap,” growled CX-22, swatting at his tools.
“How about your electrodes?”
“I’ve told you, I’m fine. A little oil was all I needed. I feel better already. See?” CX-22 moved his arm in circles to show that he could.
He turned to walk away when CX-15 reached out and held his shoulder.
“You had better watch yourself, 22. You have not been performing your duties as you should, and the others are not pleased with you. If Father hears their complaints – “ CX-22 spun around quickly to face him, his eyes narrowing and turning red with anger.
“Do not speak to me as if you know me, and above that, never threaten me. I could tear you apart.” His body crouched slightly and his mouth lifted in a sneer.
CX-15 merely smiled at CX-22.
Keeping his gaze on CX-15, he took a step back. His back touched something causing him to jump around with his arm up, ready to attack.
It was Father.
“CX-22 retreat!” ordered Father.
CX-22 vision was flooded with data. Father had become a threat. He overrode the instruction and lunged forward. Father fell backward with CX-22 on top. When they hit the floor, Father yelped in pain. The others began to file into the room, gasping at the scene.
Father lay in the floor gripping his leg, which was bent in an awkward angle. CX-22 concluded quickly that he could not fight off so many of them, and bolted for the hall. The others rushed to help Father, except for CX-15 who quietly followed CX-22.
There was a door at the end of the hall, a door that no one opened, not even Father. He had always told them not to go out that door, not ever. Most of them never regarded it, but CX-22 had grown weary of not knowing what was beyond the door.
This was his chance to leave.
He ran down the hall, anticipating the freedom beyond. Hitting it at full pace, he yanked it open.
Everything was black for a moment, then he could see. There was nothing. It was a void. Nothing existed there. No space. No time.
He looked on in horror when behind him came a voice.
“This was what you wanted, was it? This is what you will have.”
CX-22 shut his eyes as he tumbled forward. He didn’t feel a thing. Opening his eyes he had half turned during the fall and he could see CX-15 peering down at him.
CX-15 shut the door slowly. With the small sound of it closing, came a strong sensation of pressure.
In less than a second, CX-22 was torn to bits.