Saturday, April 26, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #6

The Friday finale! This is probably the middle of the story, so you're half way there loyal reader. I hope you've enjoyed the trip so far and have shared it with others. The story is also being posted in Wattpad (http://tinyurl.com/ksq27on) where you can comment and star the story. Excelsior!

Friday, Part 2

“You have eclectic music tastes,” Jefferson said as he stepped out of the car. “Most people don’t follow up the Beach Boys with Beasty Boys.”

“That’s just my boys mix; every band or song that has the word boy in the name. I have a girl mix as well.”

“Let’s save that for… what in good gravy’s name are you doing?”

Albro stopped just before he put the motorcycle helmet on; he already had the black gloves over his hands.

“If you want me to go over there…” Albro pointed to the crowd that was gathering on a small grass plot between two buildings. “…I need…”

“To look like you drive a moped?”

Albro looked back at his car, his keys still in his gloved hand. “This was a bad idea.”

“Hey, if the helmet is a thing, then you wear that helmet. It adds to your mystique really.”

“Really?”

Jefferson forced a nod and a smile. It was apparently enough for the other man since he put the helmet on and the keys in his pocket.

“I’m your wingman tonight, Maverick. Anything you need, food, drinks, whatever… you can count on Goose.”

“Watch out for the canopy Goose.”

“That is not positive thinking.”

The two started across the parking lot, with T1N following close behind. The automaton seemed to be scanning the crowd, cars, rooftops, and anything else of interest as his head moved slowly from side to side. Albro led the three to the very back of the crowd, against the wall and under a bright light. They stood there for several minutes before Albro started to fidget.

“You cool?”

“I’m cool.”

“She might be late because she’s closing tonight and she might not come at all.”

“I know.” Albro moved his hands in and out of his pockets. “This is good for me.”

“You know there aren’t any astronauts or robots in this movie,” a little boy dressed like a knight said loudly. His eyes shifted from Albro and T1N.

“Aren’t they playing Lost in Space,” Jefferson asked when he felt Albro wasn’t going to answer.

“Nobody liked that movie,” the boy said dismissively before wandering back into the crowd.

“I liked that movie,” Albro muttered.

“The box office does not lie, my friend.” Jefferson shook his head sadly.

The master of ceremonies took to the front and got everyone’s attention. As he was starting his first joke there was a piercing squeal of feedback. A teenager at the soundboard turned knobs and checked connections under the man’s unfriendly gaze. The problem was soon solved and he took a few moments to warm up the crowd, introduce the night’s sponsors (the feed store, the pizza place, the grocery store, and of course the milk plant), and then ordered the same teenager to roll the film; which meant hitting play on the DVD player. Girls squealed as the film began.

Neither Albro nor Jefferson watched the film with any hint of interest – instead they scanned the parking lot for Gwen. The young girl in the film had just begun to connect with the mustang her father intended to have put down when someone stepped beside Albro.

“What did I miss?”

Gwen look wonderful in a green dress, her hair pulled back, and just a hint of makeup. Both Albro and Jefferson’s eyes went wide and they looked at one another.

“She’s a ninja,” Jefferson whispered.

“Hello, Marcus.”

“I have suddenly become very thirsty,” Jefferson declared loudly and then walked off towards the concession stand.

“He is so strange.” Gwen looked at Albro, or at least at his helmet, watched him for moment and then turned her head to watch the film. The two stood in silence for several scenes.

“The girl… she’s become attached to the horse, but it’s a mustang… and I guess that’s bad.”

“Oh.”

The two were silent again, Albro did his best to ignore Jefferson who was standing at the small concession stand and giving two thumbs up with a cheesy grin.

“So, Gwen, how was work?”

“Oh, you know, sold overpriced headphones to some preteens who wanted them just because they had skulls on them, talked a grandma into upgrading to a phone with Caller ID, and spent an hour with an older farmer discussing the finer points of pay-as-you-go cell phones… over and over again. You?”

“Well, building a robot army to take over the world has its good days and its bad days.” Gwen laughed softly and the motorcycle helmet turned to look at her. “I think today is going to be a good day.”

*                                  *                                  *

Ito rolled over the lesser flowers in the flower bed, while Gronk choose a more circuitous route through the topiary bushes. The multi-armed automaton’s night vision spied its newest target, a grand red at the height of its bloom. Deft manipulators reached out, two others slide back and forth nervously, while the rest held a near bouquet of roses. Ito’s manipulators closed around the stem and cut it free.

A light turned on, basking both droids in artificial light, caught in the act. The door swung open and a woman screamed loud enough to wake the dead.

GRONK. The lumbering trashcan froze, but Ito moved swiftly to consolidate all the flowers into a carefully arranged collection – even tying a bow to finish it off.

Handing the bouquet to Gronk, Ito signed with its manipulators for the other to run and find the master. The woman now brandished a phone and a broom stick in the doorway and others were coming outside to see what was going on.

Gronk refused to move, shaking side to side on its treads. Ito spun around to face him, placing two arms on his shoulders; the others signed again his instructions – FLY YOU FOOL!

Gronk finally budged, rolling over the now de-bloomed rose bush.

Ito turned to face the woman; manipulators whirled in karate-like fashion making the older woman step further back into her home, while two manipulators with grand flourish signed, YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

*                                  *                                  *

“His sensors on his shoulders are front and back facing and are constantly updating his position, along with the gyros to help keep him steady. That’s why it looks like he’s swaying, because he’s always adjusting his balance.”

He and Gwen were standing close to one another as they inspected T1N. Albro’s helmet was off and Gwen now wore his jacket to help keep warm. The movie, of which Jefferson had become engrossed with since Maverick didn’t need Goose, was winding down – there may have or may not been a lump in his throat.
“I remember the first time he came into the store. I could have sworn there was someone inside.” Gwen touched T1N’s arm and then pulled away. “Does he feel that?”

“He has tactile sensors on his feet and hands and he’d be aware that you’re touching him via his visual sensors, but he doesn’t feel it.”

“What about the other two? Where are they?”

“Ito and Gronk? They’re safely back at home.”

Gronk. Albro, Gwen, and T1N turned towards the road, where Gronk rolled down the hill with a police cruiser following behind. The three began to faintly hear a song playing from the rolling automaton.

Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't wanna lose you
I could never make it alone.

“Oh no.”

I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

Gronk rolled closer to the crowd, zeroing on Albro’s position. People began to move away, jumping up from their blankets or out of their camp chairs, clutching their children away from the marauding robot.

You keep me standing tall
You help me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone

Gronk produced a bouquet of flowers just as two police officers tackled him and tipped him over.

It's like a knight in shining armor
From a long time ago
Just in time I will save the day…

The song cut off and everyone gasped. Albro and T1N rushed towards Gronk and the police officers holding him down, the roses scattered and broken on the pavement. An officer looked up, saw T1N, stood up, and put his hand on his sidearm.

“Is this your robot?”

“It is. I can turn him off.”

The officer motioned for him to do so.

“We’re going to need you to come with us to do the same for the other one.”

T1N picked up Gronk and put him in the trunk of the police car. The crowd conversed loudly about the whole affair as Albro and T1N slid into the back.


“That’s Albro, always running away at the most inopportune time.” Gwen turned to look over the man who’d just spoken. He wore a black turtleneck and dark jeans and had a smile like a bobcat. He put out his hand for Gwen to shake. “Calvin Reuben Hanson, perhaps I could take his place for the night.”


(It was a toss up between Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love" and Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes", but I wasn't sure how it made sense that Gronk was carrying a boombox over his head. Thoughts?)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #5

Friday is a pretty full day and its Easter Weekend so here is the first half of Friday in a small, chocolate covered bite. Please let me know what you think and please share with any famous people you know.

Friday
Jefferson waited at the door after knocking for the fifth time. He could feel eyes watching him from across the street; curious neighbors employing time honored snooping tactics to stay up on the neighborhood gossip no doubt. Finally the door swung open to reveal T1N.

“He’s not coming is he?”

T1N motioned for Jefferson to come inside. The house was dark and even the TV, which was always on, was off.

“Al?”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

Jefferson came around the corner and saw Albro in the light of the stove light sitting rigidly at the table. A fifth of apple juice sat in front of him, the near empty container hinting that this might not have been his first one. Albro was dressed in a two tone blue long-sleeved shirt and khaki pants, obviously ready to go out since his usual attire was sweat pants based.

“You look good man.”

“I don’t think I can do this,” he repeated.

Jefferson took out a glass, poured himself the remainder of apple juice, and downed the contents in one pull. “Smooth.”

The house fell silent again.

“I know you got your reasons for living like this, man. But I see a lot of the world from the cab of my truck and well, ya see, I'm not saying that I've been everywhere and I've done everything, but I do know it's a pretty amazing planet we live on here, and a man would have to be some kind of fool to think they can hide away from it for forever.”

“Big Trouble in Little China?”

“I spent a summer with a broken leg and TBS played it like 50 times.”

“I love that movie.”

“It lost some of its luster after the thirtieth viewing. Yet, Jack Burton’s words still hold true. I know we’ve only known each other for a few days and you’re not about to share your life story with me, but chances like this only come once in your life.”

Albro slowly brought his cup to his lips and drank.

“Ok,” he said so softly Jefferson wasn’t sure he had heard him. T1N however had heard him perfectly and immediately left the room. He returned with an olive drab jacket, gloves, and a motorcycle helmet. Albro stood, taking the gloves and helmet. T1N then helped him put on the jacket.

“I’ll drive.”

“You can drive?”

“Well until certain legislation gets written that allows automatons to drive or even just autonomous vehicles, someone has to take Ito and Gronk for their Sunday drives.”

“Our government is so slow to react to the needs of the people.”

“I know, right?”

The entered the garage where Albro’s blue ’81 Honda Accord sat in pristine condition. Jefferson gave an approving nod.

“It was my dad’s. You had to wait for a blue one to ship from the factory back in the day.”
“Shotgun!” Jefferson ran to the passenger side. T1N seemed to glare at the presumptuous EPS driver and then went to the back.

“Aren’t we taking Ito and Gronk?”

“I grounded them after their last escape attempt,” Albro said as he pulled the car out of the garage. His hand tapped the garage door remote, turned the car onto the road, and sped off. Just before the door closed, a metal hand swept in front of the infrared sensor that kept the door from closing on small children or just closing at all sometimes.

Gronk. Gronk.


A half dozen of Ito’s hands motioned for Gronk to silence himself, while the automaton’s sensors scanned the immediate area. Ito coded into his log the symbols for smiley face and evil grin face.

To be continued...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #4

Update #4, Thursday. I guess I am taking a Marvel's Agents of Shield-like schedule (burn!) and taking random, unannounced breaks. While I don't know the individual steps I'm going to take to tell this story, I know the broad strokes. Not the best strategy for writing I know. As always, feedback and sharing is always appreciated. I do plan to update the story at Wattpad as well... eventually.

Thursday

The warehouse was an empty husk, oil stained, and covered floor to ceiling with dust from years of disuse. A track of footsteps led to the center of the vast space to a plastic cube to which cables snaked into from the four cardinal directions. A blue light would glow and then dim from inside and a dark form would move here and there concealed by the semi-transparent walls. Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana played boisterously.
The second man’s heels echoed as he crossed from the side door to the cube’s single door. The man inside looked up; a welding mask covered his face. With a wave of his hand the music dimmed.

“What is it?”

“You wished to be informed as soon as we located the target.”

“You found him? For sure this time?”

“It’s a small town near the Canadian border. The residents have begun to talk about robots walking the streets. Additionally, his name was mentioned on Facebook two days ago.”

“You’ve become careless Albro.” The man turned back to the metal hulk he’d been working on, tipping the welding helmet up, to better survey his work. “And carelessness killed the cat.”

“Curiosity.”

“What?”

“Curiosity killed the cat. The saying is curiosity killed the cat.”

“I’m fairly certain its carelessness. It certainly killed my pet tiger on my seventh birthday. Why did you have to eat the cake little Khan?!”

“He was a beloved pet, sir.”

“He and the other six Khan’s were all dear to me for the short times they were with me. They, like my good friend Albro, left me. Now alone, I’m just man and his will to survive. Rising up to the challenge of a rival.”

“Survivor?”

“Never watched it.” The man reached out to caress his newest creation. “Soon Maximillian, you and I will be rising up, back on the streets, and no one will ever remember Albro Swift; because they’ll only remember Calvin. Reuben. Hanson.”

Hanson’s face reflected in the dark red visor, it’s red eye sweeping back and forth, ready to serve it’s master.

*                                  *                                  *

“I want to bring to order this meeting of the Royal Order of Free Ladies.” The buzz in the small roomed died down as the assembled women turned their attention to the wizen and astute leader of the pioneering, yet solitary, chapter of ROFL.

“First, Ms. Wilhmhurst will bring us up to date on her committee’s ventures.”

Ms. Wilhmhurst stood up with the aid of her walker. “The Search Committee would like to inform the esteemed members of this order that our correspondence with the royal families of Belgium, Luxemburg, and Sweden have all returned with cordial, yet direct disinterest in sponsoring our order. These were, as you are aware, the last of the European dynasties to respond.” There was a low murmur from the group. “There is hope however! Just today I received an email from a Nigerian prince. The search committee and I would like to put forward a motion to contact this prince and begin a discourse.”

“All in favor.” The motioned was unanimously carried. “Please keep us informed Vivian.”

“I wish to speak Ms. Chairwoman!” The group’s newest member stood; nearly erect and still graced with her original hair color.

“The chair acknowledges, Ms. VanLoose.”

“There is a dark menace my friends in our fair town. You’ve seen it walking down the street, its intent and purposes masked by its inhuman fa├žade. And it is not alone! There are others, two of whom rolled through my herb garden and gravely damaged my rose bushes just the other day.” Ms. VanLoose scanned her audience to ensure the look of fear was on each of their faces. “What madness allows these monstrosities to roam freely through our fair town? I for one, will not rest easily knowing they are out there.”

“You’ve spoken of these things before Rachel and it seems the threat has increased instead of decreased as we all hoped. Perhaps our town’s elected officials and police force need to be reminded of their duties. I motion, with Ms. VanLoose’s permission, that this order place all its energies on removing and banning the mechanical monsters forever.”

The motioned carried with great excitement.

*                                  *                                  *

“Did you feel that?”

“Feel what,” Jefferson asked.

“It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.” Albro looked visibly shaken.

“You’re the one that taught me to play. So, the robber blocks those two settlements and your city from getting any wheat on a six, right?”

“Yes.”

“And I get to take a card…” Jefferson plucked a sheep out of Albro’s hand. “I take this lovely sheep of yours and magically combine it with brick, wood, and wheat to make a settlement… which I place here. I also now have the largest army. Checkmate?”

Gronk. Gronk, complained the robot that had formerly owned the largest army and was now in third place.

“10 points, you win.”

“And our deal?”

“You won… so I will go to the movie tomorrow night… for a half hour… and T1N will be there.”


Jefferson smiled as he leaned back, legs out stretched and hands laced behind his head. “That’ll do.”