h1

Glint – Part 1 – Piece 10

June 6, 2011

10.

 It was an important question. It should have mattered, but the robot had only briefly pondered it. It must matter, it thought. It must, but where are my memories? Why is nothing there?

While the robot thought the cockroaches left the cracks of its body and crawled over its shoulders. Guus flinched as he saw the insects.

“Look at that!” he said, pointing. “Are they bugs?”

Bernie stood up and grabbed a rag, ready to swat them and the robot took two steps back. Tomas grabbed Bernie’s arm.

“Don’t,” he said, “remember the story.”

“The bugs? They’re real?” Guus said. “I thought…”

The cockroaches crawled down to the floor and then marched around to the other side of the furnace in a tight pack.

“Well, I hope they’re not a gift,” Bernie said. “We’ve got enough creepers around here already.”

“I guess they’re just hungry,” the robot said, knowing through a strange intuition that they were.

“Oh, great!” Guus said, jumping after them. “I’m going to lay out some crumbs. They might be with you, but if they start laying eggs in the pantry, I’ll be the one cleaning them up!”

“And where do they fit in this tale?” Tomas asked.

“I don’t know.” The robot replied, not ready to add one more thing to its troubles. “They don’t.”

Why not just kill them, then? It thought. But, it knew it wouldn’t. Or couldn’t. How did it know they were hungry? Somehow it knew. Somehow it actually felt it. Bugs don’t run around following people. What could it do with them? It knew that soon enough it would have to deal with them, but for now there were more important things to deal with.

Tomas could not read the emotion in the robot’s face. That was impossible. But, he could sense the deep thought within it. “Ok,” he said. “It’s nothing to worry about. We’ll sort that out. Just one thing at a time. Don’t worry.”

“Tomas,” Bernie said. “You said you think you know who she is, so why don’t you tell her.”

“Alright. I think it’s pretty obvious who you are.” He put his hands on his lap and took a breath. “I believe you’re Mrs. Bree. The girl’s mother.”

“I’m…Mrs. Bree?”

“Yes, Magdeline Bree. Your husband was Bertrand Bree. The creator of the gilten.”

Guus had come back in time to hear. With a little trepidation he placed a hand on the robot’s metal shoulder as Tomas continued.

“He wanted to make his – your – whole family immortal, and not with your consent, I think. He started with you, but when he went for your little girls, you must have interfered. You lost one girl and so you killed Mr. Bree just as the emperor’s men got to the manor. Your maternal instincts made you flee with your only daughter…even now you’re still trying to find her and protect her.”

“You have to admit,” Bernie said, “it makes some sense.”

“I guess we should call you Magdeline,” Guus said, “if that is OK with you?”

“No,” the robot said. Magdeline? She thought. Magdeline doesn’t feel right. Not at all. The robot shook its head. “Don’t call me that. Not until I can remember it by myself.”

“Then what do we call you?” Tomas said. “I mean, everyone needs a name.”

“Well, you’re gold and your a robot. How about Goldbot?”

“Goldbot?” Bernie said. “Leave it alone will you, Guus.”

“Just call me Freij,” she said. “That will do.”

“How about Goldfreij?” Guus said and Bernie and Tomas laughed.

“What’d I say, ya goose?” Bernie said ruffling Guus’s short black hair. “Just leave it. We could do worse than Freij. It’s an old name from Umber.”

“My great aunt was called Freija,” Guus said. “It means the same thing – Fair. I guess you forget it used to be a common name because of, you know.”

“Besides, it’s better than calling you roboton. And it will do until you remember it for yourself.”

My name is Freij and I am a women, she thought and looked down at her metallic body. She did not see a woman, only a carapace of alloys. The men all looked at her like she was a diamond come down from the sky. If she hadn’t been so tormented recently, she may have been able to appreciate her own beauty. Or maybe not. The men had been a help, but they had also made her feel trapped. The body hadn’t felt like a prison before, but with the men telling her how they could get her out of it, it had started to. Everyone looked at her differently. She could not just go out and walk the streets or talk to people. She was alone in the world.

The men still stood there, filling the silence with their concerned looks and wonder. All three had the honest and open faces of men used to working hard for love and not money. She could trust them, she thought, but more than that she could use them – must use them- to survive.

Her eyes and face gave none of this away. How could they? They were still and crafted in purposeful ambiguity. No emotions showed but for those that were put there, interpreted there, by people. She might be depressed, but if someone thought she was happy, that is what they would see.

Despite this, she still looked down to hide her thoughts and when she did, she noticed her own elegant hands, like it was the first time she had seen them. She rubbed her fingers together and flexed. When she touched one finger to another there was a small moment of expectation that skin would touch skin. The hard tap of metal destroyed the sensation and left her cold. There were no memories of her human life, but there was a residue of feeling. That was proof that she was human, right? That there really was someone in there? She looked up and found the men watching her little movements.

“Thank you,” she said, not really feeling thankful at all. “I couldn’t have asked for more help, but I still need more.”

She had lost herself, but that still was not what felt important. A deeper need beat inside her like it was her last grip on life in this madness. It would have to solve everything. So she told them, “I need to find the girl.”

 

AJG

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