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   Chapter 23 No.23

The Inscrutable Mr. Robot By CSeanMcGee Characters: 17332

Updated: 2018-02-26 12:01

"Did it work?" asked Mr. Robot.

More than anything, he wanted to know how humans corrected themselves. He himself had sat through more than a dozen surgical or mechanical procedures, depending on one's view of humanity. He was a robot so of course he never felt a thing; he had no nerves or nociceptors. That's not to say that he didn't panic hysterically, though, every time he was on the table. Though he couldn't feel each cut and solder, the thought alone of what was being done was always an overwhelmingly negative experience. The other thing he hated was popping balloons.

"I'm not sure, " said The Man. "Maybe, maybe not."

It seemed like nothing would get him his superhero powers back.

"Do you feel different?"

"A little, but not like I used to. It's hard to explain. It's just different."

"Different how?"

It seemed as if Mr. Robot was trying to diagnose his own worries and bothers.

"Different to how I thought I'd feel."

"Relieved?" asked The Driver, swerving through traffic.

Mr. Robot very rarely felt relief. He felt panic quite often. He was constantly scared of things that most people took for granted. The worst was the fact that one day he would not exist. That idea alone haunted him. It echoed beneath every other idea that he had. He thought about it all day long and if he was to think about something else, it would be in spite of or as a result of this one hallowed truth. Whether or not there was an afterlife for robots brought him little comfort. What exhausted him was not only thinking about death and how scared he was of it, but also how no one else seemed to care. Was he the only one who could hear the hand of time ticking in his thoughts? Was he the only one who felt the sands of time eroding beneath his mechanical feet? Was he the only one who struggled to find meaning in life, and yet yearned for a meaningful death? Was he the only one who felt this way?

"Yeah, I suppose, " said The Man; though he didn't sound relieved.

"What about superpowers?"

"No, none at all, " he said, squeezing a clenched fist. "I really thought this would work. It was playing on my mind. I thought that was it, you know? Like some clump of pubic hair clogging up a drain. What if I can't get them back, though? What if I'm no longer Justice Man? If I'm not someone's husband, I'm not allowed to be anyone's father, and I can't be the hero I'm supposed to be; who the fuck am I?"

"You're thinking too much."

"I don't know who the hell I am."

You were a hero before, right?"


"So you'll be a hero again. You just need to chill out and stop focusing on the problem so much."

Stop focusing on the problem? Was she insane? They were about to confront a supervillain without so much as a superpower, let alone a plan. What the hell should they focus on?

The White Knight thought about what his mother might be doing right now; whether she was wiping down the kitchen bench, folding his laundry, or shaking the last drop of wine into her glass. She always said that girls would get him into trouble and that he'd best just stick to the television shows and video games. He always thought she was being a little hyperbolic but as it turns out she was completely right. He wished he was home; safe with his favourite television shows, computer games, and his online girlfriend.

The Driver-focused on her father. She had barely his image in mind; only what she could make of it from what she remembered as a child. Back then, all she ever wanted was get his attention and to show him; "Daddy, look what I did?" She believed in the bottom of her heart that if she was good enough, her father might very well come back home. Twenty years later and all she really wanted to say was, "Fuck you, dad, look what I did without you."

The Man, for a moment, thought about unending violence. It wasn't the upsetting kind, those adrenaline packed thoughts of anticipated violence, no; this was the whimsical appreciation of violence from the past. If it was a colour it would be yellow.

And he remembered every villain he had ever put behind bars and every tattooed thug he had beaten with a stick or his fist. And he remembered too, every nod, wave, and salute he'd ever gotten from the folks he had saved, from those that watched on, and from those who were scared to death of they, themselves, ever being caught.

But that colour quickly changed from yellow to blue when he thought of the last face he would ever see. Hers was like staring into the sun. Her eyes were bright and blinding. And her smile was warm like a December night.

Hers would be the last face he would ever see; for the second he saw her, everyone and everything in the whole universe up and disappeared. And it was just her for so long, and nothing else at all mattered.

Before long he had hung up his costume, fired his sidekick, and started cultivating jars of kefir and ridiculous pet names for the woman he loved. Pretty soon he was no longer Justice Man; he was just an ordinary guy with an unimpressive life.

He was you or I, or anyone we know.

He'd been reckless with his past; in discarding it so effortlessly. His only grace w

from none other than…"

"Say my name, " she thought. "Say my mother-fucking-name."

"Eagle-Eye, " he said, as he winked and clicked his fingers. "First with the news and only the truth."

The Reporter continued to hold a wide and bright smile; though she was dead inside.

"On the other hand, " said The Anchor, using the same discerning tone of voice that he had whenever he ordered prostitutes or explained a worrying mole to his doctor over the phone.

"I don't mean to cut you off, " said The Host, doing just that. "But can is I say how truly scared I am for you right now. And I would know. This is coming from someone who has won awards for this very thing. And not to get bogged down in my achievements but I know just how dangerous this can be. My life hasn't been easy, " she said.

As she did, the studio lights dimmed and some gentle piano played in the background.

"I'm just like you, " she said. "And you are like who I used to be. So I know how you feel. I know what you're going through."

And naturally, the segment had segued to being about her.

"I was once the victim of a robot, " she said.

The studio audience all gasped.

It was maybe two or three minutes before The Anchor could rein her in.

"Now you be safe, " he said, winking at the camera. "And let the army and police do their thing. For the love of God, don't get hurt."

"Say my name. Say my name. Say my fucking name."

"Get us that good shot though, ok, Darling?"

How far would she have to go to be recognised?

"I will, " she said.

"We're all so very excited here in the studio and back at home. Right folks?"

Canned laughter and cheer filled the studio.

"Can't wait to see that robot."

"I'll be…"

"That's just great, " said The Host cutting her off. "And we'll be right back after this quick break with computer scientist and physics professor, Dr. Alexander White, as he helps us to understand more about the coming apocalypse and what that means to you and your online streaming. Hope he doesn't say anything too complicated, " she said, laughing as the camera panned away.

Back in the van, The Reporter screamed blue murder. She kicked and punched the dashboard, and made an even bigger mess of her hair than it already was.

"Where the hell are we going?" she said, her eyes latched onto the bumper of The Hyenas in front of them.

In another twenty minutes, it became abundantly clear and both hers and The Cameraman's hearts sank into the very bottom of their stomachs. The neon lights were unmistakable; as was the architecture stabbing upwards into the sky. Along the sides of the road were pickets of protest and dissent, and the closer they got, the louder the shouting and screaming became.

"This ain't good, " said The Cameraman. "We should go back. I'm getting paid for this shit."

"I'll pay you myself, " said The Reporter, "Just drive."

It was clear that one day the world would know her name.

"Oh yep, we're screwed."

"What is it?" she asked.

She was busy cleaning lipstick off her cheek and so couldn't see for herself.

"The University, " said The Cameraman.

He might as well have said some Syrian ruin or a Carioca slum.

"Jesus Christ, " said The Reporter.

All of a sudden it became clear how much trouble they were in.

"What do we do?" asked The Cameraman.

He wasn't sad anymore, he was scared to death. And so was she.

"It's too late to turn back, " she said.

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