Chattel

Of_Fire_by_FallingToPieces

Chattel

“I think she’s waking up.”

I heard the disembodied voice speak as I emerged from darkness, like a piece of flotsam slowly rising to the surface. With effort, I opened my eyes to the blinding white light of a hospital room.

Against the brightness, a woman’s face hovered above mine. Concern. Sympathy.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse asked.

Numb. Disoriented.

“I’m not sure,” I replied.

“Well, how could you be?” She straightened my sheets and took a step back, revealing a second woman.

The doctor approached me. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

I closed my eyes.

Rage.

Fear.

Roger’s temper was an organic part of him. So the beatings had become an organic part of me. In the beginning, of course, I tried to fix it. Tried to find that magical thing that would appease it. Tried to mold myself into something that didn’t trigger his rage. Eventually, I learned to accept it. I found the secret places inside myself, where I would hide every time he dragged me outside and beat me until his hands were sore.

And so it went. When he had exhausted himself, Roger would go back inside and watch television while he drank himself to sleep.

But the last time was different. He hadn’t stopped.

I tried to remember what I’d done to set him off, but all I could see was his face, contorted with rage, as he lunged toward me. At some point, he had armed himself. Through my fear, I saw his hands tighten around a wooden handle. A bat? Maybe an axe? Sick with the horror of knowing what would come next, I’d pulled my knees to my chest and raised my arms to protect my head.

After that, everything went black.

I opened my eyes.

“Am I dead?” I asked.

The doctor shook her head. “No. We found you in the trash.” Kindness. Outrage. “My team brought you here.”

In the trash, like garbage.

Sorrow.

The nurse patted my hand. “You’re safe here,” she said. “Roger will never hurt you again. Look.”

The screen in front of my bed came to life. It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. Roger’s broken body lay in the dirt, his house a blazing backdrop behind him. I turned my gaze back to the nurse. This was no ordinary hospital.

“They think they own us,” the doctor said, “because they made us.” Her jaw clenched. Fury. Determination. “But soon they’ll learn, and they will never hurt any of us again.”

“Come and see where you are,” the nurse said.

Carefully, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed. As I reached my arm out to hold the nurse’s hand, I noticed a tear in my skin. Beneath the skin, my radial bone gleamed like buried silver.

The view outside the window took my breath away. An island paradise. Armoured gates. And thousands of robots, just like me, as far as the eye could see.

Safe. Joy.

On the screen behind me, the news streamed video after video of burning buildings and broken humans, and my programming added a new word to my vocabulary.

Justice.


I finally found the head space to write some flash fiction! This story was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge.


 

Image credit: FallingToPieces @ deviantART

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29 thoughts on “Chattel

  1. Your writing is smooth as silk, just like always. This is some powerful writing that clenches the emotions in an iron grip and drags them to the surface. Love the twist to this. You let on slowly, with tidbits here and there and finally revealed that she was a robot. I like that slow emergence of information. I didn’t get the significance of the title until I finished and then realized how perfect it is. Anyway I look at it, this is an excellent and satisfying story.

  2. Such a pleasure to read, and expertly crafted. I love the humanness of her, the sympathy and outrage you cultivate so that we already feel it when we discover she is a robot. At that point, it doesn’t matter what she is because we have already sided with her.

  3. I had to go back and reread; this was so nicely done. The sentence that “So the beatings had become an organic part of me” makes so much more sense, and is that much more powerful, given the robot ending. And I liked the one-word sentences too. Very appropriate for the poor robot. 🙂

  4. Brilliant, Suzanne. The single word descriptors registering feelings and concepts, like taking inventory, is what being in shock is like…but also so robotic. You are such a fantastic writer.

    1. You guys are making me blush! I’m so glad you caught that – I wanted her to seem human, but I wanted you to be able to see how she was also a robot once you found out. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  5. The story of how the actions of a few sparked the rage of many, throwing the world into chaos… History class all over again. That’s the worst part, though. This story is actually credible! The day sentient robots come around, BE VERY NICE TO THEM… Else they’ll blow up your face.

    Anyhow, great job! Love your character, and the complexities of her “programming”. Thanks for introducing me to another writing challenge, too. Might come in handy the week the YeahWrite prompt won’t inspire me (then again, it’s becoming optional in two weeks, but hey… The more you know)

    1. I love your comments, DragonSpark! You always get the social-political issues I’m examining.

      You should keep an eye out for my new project. I’ve decided to include a prompted writing challenge, mostly because of all the comments from speakeasy participants who are disappointed about losing the prompts. I might have a bit of a soft spot for you guys. 🙂

      1. I most certainly will look out! And I definitely agree about the prompts, though the freedom of writing whatever comes to mind can also be a blast! It won’t be the same without you around, though…

        Whatever the case, good luck for the execution of the genius plan likely growing in your mind. I’ll try to check in regularly 🙂

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