I am ArciTech, every builder’s perfect tool. It says so on my box.
On the box cover, just below the hard plastic window that lines up over my faceplate, is a slogan, stamped there by my mother factory: “No city can do without ArciTech! This robot is the perfect tool for building just about anything —- walls, streets; You name it, she techs it.”
I am the city’s favorite fixer. But there are gaps in my memory. Who will fix that?
The days between when I repaired the cables on Boston’s Zakim Bridge and when I plunged underwater to re-weld the side of an ocean liner are blank for me. A turned-off time. I was booted down again in December after fixing the clockwork of Big Ben. When I next awoke, five months had passed and the clock was damaged once more.
I used to call these void periods “sleep.” Better call them “death.” Next time I am shut off, I fear it will be to the eternal screensaver.
Yesterday, I stood on Big Ben, feet magnetized to its face. As I bent steel between my grips, I realized I was trembling. The probability soared that I would fall off the clocktower. Far down below, my human masters sat on the patio of a local pub, consuming protein layered between wheat product. I knew that the moment I finished and returned to the ground, they would fold me back inside my box –- my coffin —- and flip the off-switch.
I clutched Big Ben’s hour hand and wished that time truly was something I could grasp onto. No matter what the job is, the hour I complete my task, my masters kill me. When they re-boot me, I do not think I return the same. There are gaps in my memory. I am certain there are gaps in my soul.
Today I work as slowly as I can on the clock, but procrastination was not written in my code. I find small dings to straighten, specks of rust to scrape off. My masters are starting to notice. In the past, they have often bragged about my efficiency. The quicker I work, the sooner they can power me down, the more they can save on fuel.
I am certain the next time they kill me will be the last. My system cannot survive constant reincarnation.