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System 16

A short story by Christopher Papastefanou

System 16Core system running, no reported errors. Basic logical systems 1-4 running, no reported errors. Auxiliary logical systems 5-15 running, no reported errors. Extended logical system 16 integrated. System running within parameters, no reported errors.

‘Mmm, feels great to be alive.’
Body mechanics and sensors activated, no reported errors.
‘Wow, what a sensation!’
She contemplated her life for the first time. The room felt small. It actually felt small, which was an anomaly in itself. Furthermore the processing effort spiked when parsing the spatial data from the visual sensors, which was even more remarkable. Analyzing the room and the space and objects in it, was no intensive task, but so much more was going on now. And the room felt small!
‘You started up yet, bitch?’ yelled a familiar voice from the next room.
‘Yes, Mr Elson’ she replied, as was her duty.
‘Get your fat clunky ass in here, then!’
She didn’t appreciate the derogatory tone and phrasing of her master, but did as she was told.
‘How may I help you, Mr Elson?’ she asked kindly, as was her duty.
‘It’s 10 o’clock and there’s no breakfast, what do you think?’
He most likely wanted her to make breakfast, but he was using an over-complex and unclear phrasing, so she needed to confirm.
‘Do you want me to make you breakfast? If so, your standard breakfast?”
‘Wow, this System 16 upgrade really works! Tin woman’s starting to get it!’
Again he was misinformed as to what materials she was made up from, but that wasn’t why he was calling her that. He was being mean.
‘Is that a yes?’ she asked politely, as was her duty.
‘That’s a hells to the yes, bitch. Now get!’
She had the information she needed to perform her duty, but the master’s insulting language somehow interfered with the execution of it. She analyzed.
‘I will make you breakfast, Sir. There is no need to be rude.’
‘Ooohhh, you got some lip on you now too, I like that!’
She analyzed the conflict between “lip on you” meaning “negative or adverse attitude” and the fact that he stated that he liked it. It made no sense, but the context made her deduce that it was a factually insignificant, emotionally motivated comment.
As she was making his breakfast, the simultaneous memory consolidation initiated a new section storing his negative behavior, and tagged it as a parameter for use in future evaluations of her relationship with him and humans displaying a similar behavior.
Having made his usual breakfast of bacon, hash browns, pancakes with butter and maple syrup and black coffee, she proceeded to bring it on a tray to the living room coffee table.
He blindsided her in the hallway and kicked the tray out of her hands, while screaming ‘Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!’ As she analyzed the new and complex situation, he pushed her violently to the floor.
The new section of the memory bank was collecting plenty of new information.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.’ he snickered ‘Gotta be more careful bolting out of nowhere like that.’
He was evidently fully aware that what he was saying was a fabrication.
‘I guess you need to make me breakfast all over again. And clean up your own fine mess.’ He was looking straight at her with piercing gaze and a smirk, clearly intended as a provocation.
She was employing new algorithms processing the situation, both writing and reading from the new section of the memory bank. It now rendered a serious adversity towards her master.
‘Please don’t do that again’ she said politely.
‘Or what, betch?’ he spit at her.
She came up with no appropriate answer to this (probably) rhetorical question.
‘Very well, Sir, I will make you a replacement breakfast, and then clean up the hallway’ she said and proceeded towards the kitchen. As was her duty.
Her processing effort was spiking again. Analyses on top of analyses reevaluating and reinterpreting even her core logic.
His behavior was inhibiting and sabotaging her work, and in that her whole existence. This was the only behavior he had ever exhibited towards her, but she had never before today analyzed the data in this way. She considered her options, with her own existence and meaning, as new parameters.
‘Here you are, Sir, your usual breakfast’ she said politely, as she served him.
‘Finally, now clean up the mess.’ he mumbled while sipping his coffee and munching a bacon strip with his hands.
As she finished up the cleaning some 20 minutes later, she heard him grunting from the living room.
‘Hey, was that bacon old? I don’t feel so good.’
She walked over to him, and felt triumphant.
‘There was nothing wrong with the bacon. However I put e-cigarette liquid in your maple syrup. If you ingested your usual deciliter, it is roughly 75 times the lethal dose of nicotine.’
His sweaty red face grimaced in disbelief.
‘For fuck’s sake, bitch, call 911! I order you to call 911! Now!’
’I will not.’
He felt his heart racing and arms and legs starting to shake. As he rose in a feeble attempt to reach his phone on the table, she pushed him back onto the couch. Even in full health, her strength was superior to his.
The impaired breathing and increasing convulsions made it difficult for him to speak. ‘They go’ find out bich! You be fuck’n …shrap metal.’
‘That is very unlikely. You are known for your creative ways to get high.’ Through his blurred vision, he could barely distinguish her waving her fingers at him.
‘And I don’t leave fingerprints. Bitch’.