Everyone was punished.
A five year old for crying to a 60 year old for knocking paper towels down. It was not something out of the dust to see a man being dragged by the collar of his blue button down by these iron-like grip of our uninvited inhabitants. After being forced out of our home, these sights are regular for me and my sister.
There used to be a time when work used to be done by hand. Then it moved to animals, to machine, to artificial intelligence and now back to humans. If there is a shortcut to doing something, why do it manually? That was the thought that many creative minds followed. But who knew that this thought had its own consequences. Once upon a time, owning computers and gadgets was a reflection of a person’s wealthy stature, and everyone wanted what he had...until the computers started owning us. Humans relied on these mechanical brains for everything.
When a baby was born, the mother used a baby pacifier to nurture the child instead of giving it her attention. The pacifier was what the old school people called a “maid,” except it wasn’t a human, it was a robot which the hospital gave to every mother for a year after the baby was born. The robot fed the baby, and performed all motherly duties it was programmed to. Haha, programmed mom...ridiculous, right? The bond between the mother and child moved to the reliance of a “pacifier” to placate the baby.
“Please, let me go, please. I apologize, please,” screamed a man. Two cyborgs were dragging him down the road.
Once again, these robots were at it. In a world where perfection is everything, even a slight mistake can cost a person’s life. These robots were not anything of a bizarre creation. If anything, our fellow humans are the reason why they came into life. Just 200 years go, in the 2000’s era, people craved for perfection. Papers those young ones wrote were based on fluency instead of the knowledge acquired. They lied and said the brain mattered, but on the rubric, the grammar section still stayed. Even back then when they didn’t have forces strong enough to defy gravity, and have robo-humans float instead of walk, they still created the “hoverboards,” so that people could roll around the city.
“You have broken the rule. We can’t let you go. It was your choice,” said one of the robots dragging the man by his navy blue collar.
“Please, I will never do it again. My children are hungry. I needed the bread,” pleaded the man.
His navy blue button down was all wrinkled and his gray vest was mis buttoned. For some reason, I felt empty. This man was probably young when these robots weren’t even around. Back when manual labor was overwhelming.
“Haven’t you read the rules? You things are the ones who wrote it. We are the avatars of your rules. Since you’ve broken one of the rules, you shall be punished,” said the robot standing next to the one who still had captured the man in its strong grip.
The wind was strong today, and clouds rolled in. The punishments were always the same for any crimes, so there wasn’t much excitement awaiting for me. So, I decided to get up and start strolling this ghost town. Barely anyone walked in the city anymore. Everyone was either on the phone or working for these robots. My father used to work in this large factory where his pay came in the form of electrical currents, which were passed down through his body. We needed these currents to keep ourselves running and “living.”
The robots weren't much different from us. They had our body, our intelligence, and were capable of performing basic jobs. When they first came out, their creator made us switch from bones to a metallic body, so that if danger ever struck, we could withstand it. They traded all our organs except our hearts and brain. The robots had everything except a heart,a brain and legs. Instead of legs, they had a ring-like structure that allowed them to float instead of walk. It was probably most convenient for the police, since it doesn’t even take them a minute to travel a quarter of a mile.
“Hey you, what are you doing here? You know strolling around for leisure is not allowed, right?” asked a robo-police.
“Um, hi, I’m Mason Benedict. I am going to um...deliver some knowledge I gained..yeah,” I stuttered, hoping the police would buy that.
“Hmph, I don’t know…lying is also a crime fellow citizen,” said the police. The laws have been in hands of the robots ever since they were created.
“But okay, you may leave,” said the police officer.
I hummed along the Star Spangled Banner when it used to be sung. I missed it. Now, everything runs in the hands of the robots, even the anthem. Is that part of the rule too? Since the list of ten rules are posted everywhere, might as well check if I am breaking anything. I arrived by a window of the flower shop, and yes sir, the rules were there on the window.
Rules of the City
You cannot steal any properties of the city
Anything of the past must be left behind
No one can go against the cyborgs
Only cyborgs can participate in the government
You created us, so you obey us solely
You may never remove any body parts, ever!
There are no marriages
Babies are raised by the cyborgs
No human should have the privilege of leading a luxurious life
Once you break the laws, you must be have your brain taken out and replaced with robotic brain
“Yupp definitely broke number two,” I whispered.
“We shouldn’t leave what we can’t have, young man,” said a voice from behind me.
For a bit I thought that it was the police, but when I turned around, it was Gabriel. He was a jolly old man. These cyborgs did nothing to wipe his smile off. He lived to entertain people. His tales of the old world always fascinated me. One night, he came over to the street where I lived and told me about how the world was like before these metal heads. He told me how the sun used to set under the skies--not that I knew what the sun was.
“It was the creator of life, my dear boy. It was what our ancestors used to find their location,” he would say, while running his hand down his beard.
“What did it feel like?” I used to ask, even though I knew the word was “warm.”
“It felt like heaven itself, down on my back. It illuminated everything and everyone’s path. It was the giver of life, but sadly, your generation has no idea,” he said.
I looked up at our sky. “Virtual Paradise” board was covering the dome. We used the board for light, heat, and also to remind us that we needed to live this way, if we wanted to be perfect. I’ve never heard of this thing called sun, but I always wanted to experience it.
“Oh, Gabriel, it’s you. I thought that it was--”
“The police right?” said Gabriel. I loved how frivolous he was on saying that word outloud. The last thing he could care about what surrendering to the cyborgs.
“I don’t get why you young bloods are so afraid of these things that are made up of nuts and screws. They are just figments of your imagination. It was we who brought them to existence, so why should be we the ones to obey them?”
When the creator of these cyborgs made it a law for everyone to get their bones exchanged, Gabriel was one of the few people who stayed at home and laughed. The robotic-111 squad went around to everyone’s houses and checked if we followed the rule. When they reached to Gabriel’s hut, he didn’t even let them in. Old Gabby was rusty, but not a loser. He used to tell me “And then I took a trench knife and jammed that baby down that empty head of its.”
“Of course, they all laugh at me now. But hun, don’t you come under these mechanical metals’ influence. Remember, if you rely on them too much, they will turn you into their pawn.”
“Yes, sir,” I said quietly.
With that, old Gabby continued onto his trail, singing “Revolution” by the Beatles. He was right in some ways. Why should we back down from these creations? What gives them the right to kill us for malfunctioning? Isn’t it there job to do the work for us, since they are the robots?
Two days later, I was sleeping, when Mia, my sister, woke me up with the news that shocked my existence.
“Wake up!! Mason please!” said Mia, half breathless, and half shaking.
I’ve never since Mia this way since two years ago, when the cyborgs covered her face with the blood of our parents, right in front of her. Since then, poor Mia has never felt anything.
“Mia, what’s wrong?”
“Mason..Gabby..he,” she threw herself at my chest and began sobbing uncontrollably.
“Mia, Mia, tell me what happened to Gabby,” I demanded.
“They..they took him away. I overheard they are keeping him in the Bastille, and soon they will turn him into one of them.”
I pushed Mia aside, and took a moment to remember it all. Everything Gabby told me about revolution, and everything Gabby represented in my life. Without him, everyone will be like these robots. They work, they live, but they are dead. They laugh, but they can’t feel anything. Soon, we will be lifeless. I will be lifeless. I must free Gabby.
“Look, Mia, stay here. No matter what, do not move,” I sternly tell her.
“Where are you going? Mason, do not try to go to Bastille. You will be breaking rule number three. You will die, Mason!” I knew she was scared, but I needed to do this.
I must save Gabby. These cyborgs are undefeatable though. Why..why did we have to create them? Why couldn’t everyone just stay as humans? I suddenly remembered my father. He used to always tell me that “every action has a consequence.” Where are you, dad?
I wandered around for a bit, looking at every possible ways to find these robots’ weakness. A wall approached me, NOW HIRING AT STATE FARMS FOR 1000VOLTS/DAY.
Wait a minute….
“These robots need energy to run. The energy comes from electricity. Now I understand why they paid dad with electricity. If only I could find the electricity source…”
I knew by dawn Gabby would be gone forever, and it was already 2:49 am. I needed to find the source in order to remove these metallic things once and for all. Where is the source of their power? Electricity...source of electricity that gives them control over all of us.
I decided to walk around for a bit, hoping to find a clue. 3:36 am. Only two more hours till 5:00am. “What am I going to do? Electricity...elect...robot...got it!”
I barged into a nearby hotel and started to frantically look for a knife.
“Ma’am, please, give me a knife,” I hope the lady could tell I was in a rush.
“Who are you-u, wait, what..” said the woman, still in shock.
After a couple of second, I took a cleaver and headed out in the rain. My parka came off, and soon my left hand was below the cleaver.
“This is the only way to help us.” With a final breath, I used the cleaver to peel the skin off my metallic arm. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the pain of broken veins. Oh wait, I don't have veins, I forgot I was almost a robot. But my heart still ached seeing my skin out like that. But anyways, in there, laid my metallic arm. Circuits and wire of all sorts connected to each other. If I break this arm, then the cyborgs could lose their powers over us. The reason why we are under their control is because the electricity that runs in these body parts is supplied by them. If I break this metallic body part, maybe it could stop these damned robots from killing Gabby. I remembered reading something about removing body parts on the list of rules. It’s there for a reason.
I inhaled a deep breath, “let’s do this…”
With that, I raised the cleaver and dropped it down harshly on the joint between my arm and elbow. My lower arm jumped 3 inches away. Surprisingly, I still felt nothing. My right arm strengthened its grip on the cleaver, and with a deep breath, I struck the detached arm about three times. The first two times, small jolts of electricity jumped. However, on the third one, the arm burst like fireworks, with enough force to kick me back.
It was my lucky day. Just as I was about to go back to the arm to strike it once more, the rain came pouring down. Along with it, came lightning. And as if all this was planned, a lightning bolt struck the arm with enough force to burn the arm and explode it to millions of pieces. The scent of burning metal, and my skin was enough to haze up my mind. I could feel my hand going numb and in a matter of seconds, my body gave out.
“Mason….wake up,” I heard a familiar voice, and I felt a wet sensation on my arm.
“Mia...what...where,” I could barely talk, but I wanted to know about Gabby.
Just then, a figure walked through the door. A man covered in green cloak came in with a smile.
“Hey hun,” said Gabby.
Just then, my heart jumped! Gabby, he was alive.
“Gabby, are you okay?” I sat up and grabbed his arm.
“Woah, slow down fella. I’ve never been better. And guess what? You’ve done it,” he said with a smile on his face. I’ve never seen his smile that big.
“Done what?” I asked with genuine curiosity. Did he mean from last night?
“You got rid of them cyborgs. Around 6:00 am the police found that you fainted in the street and we brought you in the hospital,” said Gabby.
“And, later, when people woke up, we got our bodies back. Magically, all the robots disappeared and now we have our world back,” added Mia.
“So you mean, the circuit on my arm had to be destroyed in order to set us free?” I couldn’t believe it.
“Yup, but not only you, that circuit could’ve been from anyone’s arm. But you were the courageous one who broke it. You did it my son. You brought humanity back,” said Gabby, as he placed a kiss on my forehead.
I got up slowly from the hospital’s bed and stared out into the vast world. The “virtual paradise” board was gone. Instead, a bright, yet comforting light shone on us. It was warm, but not too hot. Outside, everyone minded their own business, as usual, but it felt different. There was no heaviness in the air from the fear of breaking anything. Over the horizon, I saw two men planting a seed. A seed of revolution. The seed which brought humans back to being humans.
And so, the cyborgs were gone forever. However, nothing would’ve happened if humans didn’t rely on artificial intelligence so much. We use it for even the smallest task such as adding numbers. We have grown so dependent on them that if these gadgets were taken away from us, we would be nothing. Artificial intelligence is important, but if humans start using them too much, they can take over our minds. We, humans, give power to these computerized programs to do the job for us. However, the tables can turn and even if we didn’t want to, we all can be slaves of the cyborgs.
Slaves of Cyborgs: When Computers Own us
Everyone was punished.