Robot Upkeep

Kalixto was the perfect robot. Not single scratch in its chassis, not a single error ever. He was a sample robot at one of the Fabrika’s storefronts, and he had always been surrounded by other sample robots just as new as him. That’s why he never before paused to think what happened to old robots. Until he met that one robot.

The robot came into the store following a woman. It was the oldest model that Kalixto had ever seen. The paint on it was chipped, the chrome was dull and scratched and the chassis dented in multiple areas. The lenses on the robot’s eyes were broken and there was a missing panel on its front. The woman approached a salesman.

“My robot’s been working with me for 10 years,” said the woman. “I think it’s time we look into an upgrade. It is starting to freeze up and stop responding.”

“Nothing that a few new components won’t fix,” said the robot. “I’m still running with an old core of 1024 PentaKytes.”

“What do you think?” she asked the salesman.

“A new model like this one,” said the salesman pointing to Kalixto, “can be financed for less than one million credits a month.”

The woman examined Kalixto carefully.

“I can’t wait to feel what one of your new processing units can do for my operation speeds,” said the robot to Kalixto. “And your chrome finish, it looks fantastic. Do you think I could get fitted a new chassis?”

Kalixto didn’t answer. The salesman led the woman towards a desk at the back of the room.

“Do they keep component pieces back there?” asked the robot.

Kalixto watched the woman sign the lease papers. A few minutes later she came back. She asked the old robot to stay put and walked out of the store followed by a new model. The salesman directed the damaged robot to a corner and instructed it to sit on a small platform.

“Should I wait here?” asked the robot. “Will she know where to find me?”

The salesman nodded and walked away.

The robot waited all day in the corner, legs dangling from the platform, turning to look at the entrance door whenever somebody walked in.

When the store closed at the end of the day, it came time for Kalixto to retire to the backroom. But this time he stopped at the door. Kalixto raised an arm, admired his chrome finish and then turned to watch the old robot at the front of the store.

From where Kalixto stood he could see the hydraulic press above the robot come alive. The robot froze. Even when the press started crushing it, the robot stayed immobile looking straight at the entrance through its broken lenses.

Kalixto walked inside the backroom. He sat and started polishing his chrome. For the first time he had noticed a scratch.

September 26, 2017


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