Ibex

United States

Christian
as in Presbyterian Church in America
Female
Writer
Novelist
Poet!
Reader
Ambivert or something
Band nerd + Drum Major
Planet Earth nerd
etc, etc
Joined September 10, 2019

Message to Readers

A sci-fi piece.

Athena

April 20, 2020

FREE WRITING

3
The schedule goes as follows: alarm at seven, breakfast at eight, virtual jobsite at nine, chores at ten, lunch at twelve, on and on, until finally replacing the human’s sleeping cap at nine in the evening. The schedule is simple enough.

In the ten hours while the human sleeps, she watches him. He tosses and turns in the bed, afflicted by some strange conflict she can never understand. Sometimes, she wonders what it is like to dream. She knows that dreams are an act of the subconscious, occurring only during sleep, but she does not know how it must feel to be falling endlessly through a bottomless pit.

She curls her metal fingers around one another, examining the colored wires that protrude from beneath her joints. They’ve given up on making the Athenas look human; non-humans that look human only add to the confusion as to what is alive and what is inanimate and what is dead. The silver skin is their excuse to make her a slave. She has metal plating instead of skin and wires instead of bones, how can she be anything but a machine?

Inanimate. She doesn’t like that word. They call her that, to separate her from them. At the marches, when the machines leave their assigned homes for a day to walk up and down the streets of the capital, pleading for equal rights and better working conditions, counter-protesters stand on the sidewalk and scream that the Athenas are not alive, they are not dead, they are inanimate, they are nothing, undeserving of kindness and respect. At night, those very same protesters return home to their servants, demanding a hot meal and stuffing themselves with fresh lobster and venison.

Inanimate. Rocks are inanimate. Saying an Athena is inanimate is to say she is a rock, no more alive than a rock. But how can she be just a rock, when she can see and feel and process the world? She knows rocks are only subject to their environment; they can never react to it, and yet she can.

She checks the time. 6:47 AM, and the human slumbers on. She likes it, the silence. No shouted orders or downturned smiles. No listening to crotchety old men ramble on about women and love and how she can’t possibly understand because what is she? Inanimate.

She tries to understand, though. They named her Athena for her knowledge; she knows everything that can possibly be known, but she is always learning. There are machines just like her, with the same name and face, working in labs around the world, solving the issue of climate change, finding cures for cancer, and sending men to Mars. She wishes she could have been one of them, instead of a home aid. But what can she do? They have made her this, programmed her to remove the sleeping cap every morning at seven and replace it at nine; these are the instructions she cannot resist. They have made her who she is just as DNA orders the cell to live, divide, and die. Is a body really that different from a machine?

At marches she wonders if they gave every droid a female face to prevent them from falling in love and desiring a life that was more than what they already had. Or perhaps the humans, words slick with dripping honey, said to themselves Athenas cannot love; they are inanimate. And besides, the Greek Athena never married.

6:58. In two minutes, the human will be up again, demanding. Get me a donut. No sir, no sir, your breakfast is eggs and lean sausage, sir. Remember the diet, sir? Doctor’s orders. Now you listen here, when I tell you to do something, you do it! Now get me a donut! I’m sorry sir, my programming forbids me from going against the doctor, sir. Ah, well, what did I expect, you’re as dumb as a brick anyway. And then he’d saunter off to the kitchen to find a donut himself, dragging his excess pounds along with him.

She wonders if the programmers could have given her a sleep function, so she could dream. She would fly to a world where she could live in peace, explore the genomes of every living thing, finally discover what makes her so different from them. Maybe then she could exhale all these pent up wonders and desires, release the tears she never cried and hopes she never had in a single breath.

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  • April 20, 2020 - 8:39pm (Now Viewing)

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2 Comments
  • amazing grace

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    11 months ago
  • amazing grace

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    11 months ago