Town of Living Gears, Part 1

Hello once again and today I finally get around to posting what I’ve been working on for these past few days, which is a short not so short story, which is probably going to be quite long actually, but not the size of a novel. I have my plans with this one, and so here’s the first post of this series. This is a kind of steampunk-ish kind of sci-fi story. It’s based off of a song called Cruel Clocks, and basically has the dynamic of a human and robot, both of whom are dynamically different, and both of whom get to know each other to achieve a common goal. That’s what this story is from the onset, a story about two radically different people getting together to work towards a goal. But there are lots of other things that I sprinkled in, for example, the conflicts between high and low class, and even slavery. All of which is not in this first part, no, this is jut an intro, and even I admit it might be kind of slow from the start, but I like what I wrote, and so here it is, “Town of Living Gears, Part 1”.

I am incapable of feeling any human emotions or reciprocate them. Every time I am ordered to move, I hear the gears within my body turn and grind with the motion of my arms and legs. They work in tandem, and without them, I am no better than a worker who is crippled. I do not have a name, and I do not have a desire to obtain a name. My model is MCW-01, and as such I am most responsive when called by my model. It is the label I was given upon my creation, and as thus it is the most logical way to approach me. However, the one who has created me has long past, I know this. It is within my memory that he has lived but a mere eighty years, and I am that age. Humans are fickle creatures indeed, and for another twenty years, I have been kept in an old clock. I hear the ticking of the hands as each second passes by and the ring of the bell above this clock tower as noon and morning strikes. I have been counting each day in complete solitude as I lay in my coffin just directly below the clock. I believe my master has given the key to my coffin to his next successor. Despite my make, my creator had strange alterations to make me seem more like them. And as such, with each passing day, the memories of my creator, his words, and his orders, are slowly being lost. I was given a system to decipher through logic and reason. However, the decisions my creator has made goes beyond this system.

It was a strange day when the one who would open my door came. He climbed up the clock tower, traversing the stairs with what seemed to be great alacrity.  Upon reaching the base, he stopped. I heard him clap his hands together, and then there was silence. After a few moments, he moved forward, and dangled something in front of my doors. They clinked a few times before the sounds of a lock clicking resounded. The keyhole turned, and he opened my doors slowly. Light from the outside beamed into my eyes, causing me to readjust my lens. Once my doors were fully opened, he chuckled and said, “Welcome to the Town of Living Gears.”

He brought me out of my encasement, and inspected me with his rough hands. I could see that they were dirtied, and bruised. My joints were rusted, and could barely move, and even if I tried, I would dangerously creak out. The man carried me on his back, “You’re a hundred years old.” I could not compute why he would start with that, nor why that sentence would be deemed appropriate in any social setting. It was at this point that I knew that he was my creator’s successor. He was the spitting image of my creator, and despite my faded image of him, I was still able to make the distinction. He had short brown hair, large eyes and a rosy complexion. He was relatively slim for what he was, but had enough strength to at least carry me without breaking his back.

“Sorry for breaking you out this late. You were probably sleeping for quite some time now.”

“The concept of sleep is not within my domain. I am–”

“A robot. I know. My grandfather made you.”

“So you are not my creator’s direct successor.” When I had said that, he stopped. He was bringing me down the clock tower at that point, and we were near the last few steps. I tried using my detectors to see if a change in body temperature or pressure was made, but he seemed completely fine. I was incapable of understanding complex human emotions. That was a flaw my creator had left me with, and one that I am not sure why he did not fine tune himself. At that time, I had no idea that he would be the wrench I needed.

“No–” He readjusted my rusted body across his back, and then continued, “I’m not your creator’s successor, nor do I want to ever be like him. But I have a responsibility to take. And you’re that responsibility.”

“You do not wish to be like my creator?”

“Not one bit. I don’t know what you know about my grandfather. But that man is not to be revered as anything but a heretic.” I heard within his voice great anger. His heart rate fluctuated for  a second, but he remained calm throughout. Upon reaching the town, I creaked my head about, scanning the buildings. They were all different now, some were larger and had more efficient roofs, and some had smoke coming on the top of them. The streets were colored a different tone, and the images in my head were coming up as errors. I readjusted the new information I now had and replaced the old ones, creating new memories in me, creating a new life. I went temporarily into what my creator called, “reboot”. It was a state of mind for a robot like myself to reset all system workings and create a blank processing session. During my reboot, I cannot move or speak, and thus as he spoke, I could not reply, even if I could understand the logics behind it.

“I only know about what my grandfather did through stories from my father, and word of mouth. All written documents that my grandfather supposedly had are either burned or hidden in some weird crevice of this town.” The man noticed that I did not speak, but continued, “My grandfather told my father that he had left a family heirloom, and gave him this key.” He dangled the key once more, and pocketed it quickly, “It wasn’t until now that we figured out where this key goes to, and what our family has left in this town. My father couldn’t handle it, but I have an obligation, and I’ll see through that I get you to do whatever my grandfather made you for.” The man walked through the streets rather ardently until footsteps became apparent. He then shifted through the buildings, hid under boxes, and made his way slowly while avoiding anyone who moved past. It was quite some time, but he opened the door of a small well attached house that to me seemed to be about two stories. He entered, brought me down under a flight of stairs and propped me down on a large empty table. Tools scattered this basement room, with only a few candles to provide a light source. I recognized this room for some reason.

“Still not going to answer me?” It was at this moment that my reboot had finished.

“I apologize. I was undergoing mental fortifications.”

“Look. I don’t know any more about you than you do me.” He began shuffling through piles of used gears and sheet metal until he found a decently sized jerry can.

“But now’s a better time than any to get that out of the way.”

“You wish to form a communicative contract with me?”

“If that’s how you see it, then yeah. First we start with names. I’m Wren.”

“My model is MCW-01. It stands for–”

“Marianne.” Wren shuffled the jerry can and listened for the swigging of oil. He then inspected my joints and quickly noticed that there were no openings for oil to go through.

“My body consumes oil in the same manner as which you consumer water.” Wren scrunched his mouth in surprise and then brought the tip of the jerry can onto my mouth. He held onto my head as he did this, and brought the jerry can slightly forward, allowing the oil to permeate my body. Once the jerry can was finished he asked, “Need any more?” I began moving my joints in unison, and the sound of the insidious creaking was no longer present. I had no way in determining how much oil I should intake, or how much I had, it was only a matter of that creaking and the slowing of my joints that I knew.

“My model is not Marianne, it is–”

“Your name is Marianne. Do we understand?” Despite having no logic within his words, I kept quiet, in my own tacit way of agreeing. He placed the jerry can back on the ground, and then rummaged through the junk again.

“If you will, Wren, please give me understanding in the name Marianne.”

“If I tell you would you understand?”  That question created a paradox within me.  If he were to tell me, they surely I would understand if he spoke in a manner devoid of riddles. However, human emotions and human meaning were foreign to me. To understand the inner workings of their words was something I was at the time, incapable of doing.  And even now, I am still incapable of fully understanding human language. It is with time that I build this up within my system.

“Perhaps you can try.”

“Perhaps I can, but would you understand?” He laid the question on me again, and once again, I could not give him a proper answer.

“You wouldn’t, and thus I will give no time to explain why your name is Marianne.” His words were cold, and dismissive, I know that now. But I took it upon me to adhere to what he had agreed, a communicative contract, and thus he by verbal contract was obligated to uphold mutual understanding. The only way to achieve mutual understanding is by both parties to express their opinions and views with clear alacrity, how much thereof.

“Wren, I advise you to explain to me what the meaning of my name is as much as I advise you to ask about me, and understand my inner workings.” Wren grabbed onto what seemed to be an iron rod from his pile of junk. There were symbols on it, and he wiped most of the rod to better see the symbols. My eyes matched them with the language of humans that my creator had embedded in me, it was a sort of old writing. Wren looked at it with confusion, but I took it in me to move and grab the rod from him. He didn’t object, and I read, “Klover Tore.” It was a name that sparked something within me. My database was desperately searching for the matching terms, and once it did, I believed I smiled, despite my lack of human emotions. Klover had given me all sorts of human expressions which I seldom used.

“My grandfather kept an iron rod around huh.”

“Is the language too old?” I was referring to the fact that he could not read. He took the rod from me, and inspected the symbols on them again, tracing his fingers.

“No clue. Probably not.” As he got up, he swung the rod as if chopping down a tree, and broke the air in the room.

“My grandfather was no fighter. But maybe you are.” He threw the rod at me, which I instinctively caught, and as I did, he charged at me with a bronze knife in which he swiftly grabbed from his pocket. He came at me low from the right, and brought his arm up in an arc to his left, trying to jab the knife into my sides. My body went into action the moment I saw his actions and the moment I detected ill intent within his actions. My legs shifted back in an instant, and I brought the iron rod to meet his knife in the middle of his strike. He smiled, and then retracted and came at me again from the other side. I traced his movements and brought the iron rod down to his head and used my other hand to grab his wrist. I didn’t strike him directly, but simply restrained him, “I do not wish to do you harm Wren.” His grip weakened, and I retracted my grip as well. He brought his knife back to his pocket and then smiled.

“I could care less about what you are, and what makes you work. But I have something to uphold, and if that requires getting to know how you work, and if that requires you getting to know how I work, then so be it.”

“I appreciate your cooperation. I know I have been created for a fixed purpose, however, that purpose has not been disposed to me. And thus if you do not know of my purpose let us both learn of each other, and hopefully of my creation.”  He grabbed the iron rod from me, in which I gracefully did not object, and mulled it over his hands, seeming to give it a hard stare.

“I’ll make you a holder for this. Klover– My grandfather, made this for you. I know it.”

“If I may inquire, this is his old workshop, yes?” He placed the iron rod on the table, and took out a long wooden stick that was etched with numbers on it. He placed them side by side, and then began rummaging the room.

“Yeah. This entire house is his. Passed down through bloodline, one of many things that I didn’t mind.” I remembered something he said before. I was playing our previous banter and I noticed some holes, and things that I wanted to know to fill them in, in order to better the profile I had of him.

“You wish to not be of his descent?”

“That’s an easy way of putting it. But I can’t help it you know, in the same way that you couldn’t help to be made.”

“In that manner, we are one of the same.” He smiled at that.

“Cursed to the same old man who contrived us. Sister and brother.” His smile persisted, though it was a bit smaller. Once he found the leather, he placed it on the table, and with his knife and yarn, began cutting and sewing.

“By the way, you’ve been asleep for a long time. I’m sure the town’s changed since the time you remember.”

“I have rebooted my systems, and thus any new information is of great benefit to my functioning.”

“Well, first of all, I’m going to have to make a robe for you. Not just because it’s weird if I’m seen with a robot, but because robots in this town are a taboo.”

“A taboo?”

“There’s quite a bit of history that has happened since your time. Me telling you won’t do any good, I can never do it any justice.” Wren stopped his work for a second, and thought. His eyes were closed and his lips were pursed. Once he was out of his stupor, he proceeded with his craft, and then said, “But the only thing you need to know, is that robots have been enslaved. We are the Town of Living Gears, not because we live with robots, but because we force them to do our labor.” I ran the information he gave me through my head, trying to make logic of it, and came up with a variety of conclusions. It seemed to be the most logical decision, and at the time, I harbored no ill intent over what humans have become over the past century. It was inevitable for this to happen, I thought. It had to be. The creators can use their inventions to do whatever manner of work they choose, and to make them slaves of prosperity is simple deduction.

“Well anyway, I’ll be down here working on this. We have quite some work to do afterwards. I’m a citizen of this town, and as thus, I have to uphold those obligations as well.”

“Will my identity be remained as a secret?”

“Yes it will. For the most part, if we have to, we’ll make you as a human if you need to go out. Why don’t you go rest your gears, or something. I can’t work with an audience.” I left aptly, and didn’t question his logic. However, he seemed rather apathetic when he told me to leave, and it seemed as if his eyes were beginning to water.

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