This is my entry for December’s Blog Battle – the theme or word for this month is Heart.
“I have exciting news for you Emily.” Libby told Emily in her usual flat robotic but clearly feminine tone.
“What is that?” Emily asked excitedly. At sixteen years old Emily was often told she was too old to hang out around a library all the time, especially with an ancient robot librarian.
“I’ve been told I’m going to be retired soon so that improvements can be made to the library.”
Emily’s face fell “So… so, you’re going?”
Libby pulled the the wheel round and the huge shelf moved, closing the gap. “Yes. I will be replaced by a more efficient librarian that will be able to give you a better service. This must please you.”
“No!” Emily said sternly, not sure whether to be angry or cry… or both. “I don’t care if the new librarian is more efficient, I want you to be here!”
“I do not understand. My reason to exist is to the serve this library as efficiently as I can, when a mechanoid is available that will do this job better that must surely be a good thing. I don’t understand humans.”
“How I feel is not logical, I have come here for many years and I know you. I feel you are my friend. You have been here for so long even my grandmother knew you when she was young!”
“This is true Emily, I have known, your mother, grandmother and great…” Libby paused, a computerised buzzing sound came from here and for a moment was still. Then the episode passed and she continued. “grandmother. I have been in operation for 40,264 days, twelve hours and seven minutes. I have had two complete chassis replacements in my operational lifespan. So the robot you see before you now is not the robot that stood in front of your great grandmother. Every part of me has been replaced.”
“But you are the same robot Libby!” Emily protested. “Every part of you might have changed but your heart and your soul and memories are the same!”
Libby thought about this for a moment, a buzzing noise came from within her, something seemed to not compute. A man in a suit came strolling by, Emily knew him to be the Library officiator.
“But I do not have a soul!”
“That’s right!” The officiator told Libby. “No soul and no longer any use here. I bet you can’t wait to be retired!”
Libby looked up at the officiator “I do not know. It is not something I have experienced.”
“Oh it’ll be quieter than even in here and those joints won’t be aching any more!” With that the officiator walked off, patting Emily on the head.
“What does he know?” Emily scorned at him behind his back. She looked backup again at Libby “Our bodies are renewed every seven years, that means there is nothing left of the body I was born with or the one I celebrated my seventh birthday. You can I are more alike than you think!”
“This is very trrruue Emily!” The robot stuttered “But I’m not sure how this will help. I am due to be retired and that is that as you humans say” Libby sorted through a section of books, sorting and placing back into order before moving along to the next shelf. “It seems that my job is done and I have served my human masters well I hope.”
Emily looked up sad and not sure what to do or say next.
“I sense you are experiencing emotional sadness, if it helps I have something for you.” Libby told her secretly. “Come with me.”
Emily followed Libby into a part of the library which was only meant for the librarian, there were spare parts and robot stuff all over the place. Then on the wall there were pictures, Libby had been drawing! Could robots do that? Closing the door behind Emily Libby pointed at a picture drawn simply in pencil and paper of Libby and emily together, drawn in near perfection.
“You drew that?”
“Yes.” Libby stated.
“How? This is something from your memory?”
“I am not sure. It feels like memory although I do not recall the time and place of the occasion.”
The picture was of Emily and Libby together in a face shot as if a selfie had been taken of them both. But Emily knew this hadn’t happened.
“You imagined this!”
“I cannot have imagined this, I have no -“
“But you must have! Don’t you see? I told you! We’re more like than you think, you have a soul, you have heart, you have imagination!”
Emily did not know how this had happened, why or maybe even who had done this to Libby. But she did know one thing. Libby had to be saved, the first conscious, maybe even self aware robotic life form could not be left to die.