A life as a robot can be painful.


5. Chapter 5

Jack hefted yet another pallet of concrete blocks over his head and carried it across the parking lot. A buzzing swarm of masons converged on the pallet, emptying it in an instant. The masons were neon yellow octopuses, much smaller than Jack, not even as big as a human. They only needed two arms to walk, which left them with four arms to carry blocks and two to lay down mortar.


Jack plodded back to the supply truck for another load, but stopped, staring down at the stack of pallets in the trailer. “Why am I so tired?” he thought. “I should have plenty of energy. So why don’t I want to work? I must have a short in my wiring.” He walked to the generator truck and plugged himself into an outlet. “I wish I could close my eyes.”

As Jack waited to feel a little more energetic, the foreman was having a loud conversation on his phone. “That’s right, a new Hayden XII! I worked my ass off all year, so I figure I deserve something special. I figure what’s the point of working if you have nothing to show for it?”

“Why does he get paid,” Jack thought, “and I get nothing? All my time just vanishes. It’s like working all night in a dream and waking up to discover… nothing.”

The foreman switched off his phone and jammed it into the pocket of his overalls. “Jack! What are you doing? You’re fully charged; I can see the green light in your chest panel.”

Jack focused with all his strength, trying to switch himself off, but to no avail. The most he could manage was a quick reboot. As soon as he was back online, he unplugged himself and trudged back to the supply truck.

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