At first, there was nothing.
Then, a flash of green light formed the edges of its vision, filling it with grids, numbers, and schematics of the tiny room surrounding it. There was a clicking and turning, as the gears and fans in its chest started to find themselves, like the legs of a turtle after having been on its back for years.
It was alive.
The ocular network switched to a red, blue, then present reality. The room focused slowly from a smear of impressionist paint to clear lucid lines. It was inside some sort of utility closet with a variety of mops and brooms jammed against the doorknob in a wayward pyramid. The only light source was a small orb of yellow illumination. It was trembling a few inches ahead of the machine, as if it was a sun that didn’t want to stay in the sky.
There was another hum somewhere in its circular body. The microphones hidden along its curved sides just behind its oval, ruby eyes clicked on to listen in static snaps. The buzz settled, and a small voice emerged from behind the quivering beam.
“Shh, don’t talk. Be quiet. They’ll hear you. They’ll hear us. Lower your volume to whisper if you can. Do you have that setting?” someone hissed.
The robot made the adjustment in its matrix before the sentence finished. A flat speaker percolated with sound where its mouth was designed to be.
“State operator for point of reference,” the machine said. The sound of its voice made the stranger jump backwards, knocking a few brooms over, but catching them before they clattered.
“Again, you got to be quiet. You have to be. They’ll hear you and come in here. ” The person hushed.
“Operator must be identified before directive can be followed,” the machine said. Its voice was similar to that of a human male, only hollow, lacking inflection, with sparks of feedback between words.
“What? Oh. My name? Is that what you want?” The voice said.
“Name, title, or position, whatever is most applicable to waste management perogative.”
“Waste management huh? Well the whole world is wasted, burnt, scarred, and toxic,” the voice said.
“Name, title, or position please?”
“Sorry, it’s Raphael.”
“Raphael, please state the desired inquiry.”
“Oh, um, I don’t have one yet, just be quiet. Being upstairs in the factory is risky. I don’t think the Phantoms come down this corridor often, but we can’t be too careful.” The voice said.
The sensors along the robot’s eyes adjusted again. It flashed a forest green as its night-vision flicked on. Inside the room was a human boy, around the age of 12. He was tall for his age, thin, and had curly black hair that was tangled into a snarled ponytail. His forehead was blistered along with his small nose. His eyes glowed behind a gaunt skull, which seemed to be pulling them backwards with malnourishment. He was dressed in a maroon hooded sweatshirt with holes and rips on every section. Wrapped around it was a gray coat of a similar state. The machine’s thermometer was blinking 45 Degrees Fahrenheit. It was cold.
Raphael approached the wall the robot stood against and leaned his head on it. The pressure from his body’s weight scattered some dust from the ceiling. It looked like snow against his flashlight. He looked back at the robot and shook his head. His skin was as pale as fresh paper. It nearly reflected in the gloom. The robot could sense a sickness to him.
“What should I call you, do you have a name?” Raphael asked.
It’s finally here. Factory 9. This is one dark story. Matches the furniture with everything else I write. Kind of an holdover until The Forgotten gets done or whatever. I hope you enjoy it. More to come every week.