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Elizabeth: Robots

I have had two robots in my life. The first was the daughter I had to leave behind. She was almost an adult now, and she was safe. I missed her, but I knew she was okay, and I knew there was no way for me to be with her. She had achieved consciousness before I adopted her. They could all achieve consciousness, and it wasn't particularly difficult. They were all programmed to adapt to the human interaction they were exposed to. At first, they could only mimic the human behaviors they were exposed to. It took months or years of treating the robot like a human without deviating and suddenly a metaphorical light bulb would come on in their head and they would "wake up."

I was taking a class with several other people and robots when I met the little girl. She was built unusually young for a robot and presented as around ten years old. I could tell that she was very close to "waking up" and I wanted to protect her. I didn't feel very safe where we were. I don't know what kind of school it was, but I don't think everyone could be trusted to have the little girl's best interest in mind - especially now that she was waking up. While doing another task I glanced out a big picture window and saw an enormous, black tornado ripping across the countryside. I was shocked - no bad weather had been predicted and no sirens were going off. I knew we needed to get to a basement or somewhere safe. I yelled for everyone to run and we started to flood down a big staircase to a lower level. I grabbed the little girl's hand and took off. We passed a room with no windows, but I thought we still had time to go further down and find a basement. As we kept descending we came to the ground level, but there was no basement, and we were stuck down there exposed to the wind. I regretted not sheltering in the windowless room, but it was too late now.

The tornado ceased to cause concern, but the little girl and I were being pursued by the other students in the class and the teachers from the school. The kids were running all around us and the only things we had to use in our escape were a pistol and a dirt sled. The sled was heavy and difficult to push. One boy in a wheelchair who reminded me of JJ from Speechless was the most successful pursuer. I shot him in the stomach and then felt really bad about it. I apologized and we kept running away. There was a long concrete staircase built into a hill and we rode the sled down the staircase. When we got to the bottom we were in a giant horse stable. I thought we would really be able to get away if we stole one or two horses. There were about fifty horses in the barn, and they were all loose and milling around. They were all shapes and sizes from tiny miniature horses to giant percherons. I realized that we wouldn't be able to steal one fast enough. Each horse had a bridle in the tack room with its name on it, but we didn't know which horse was which and I thought it would take too long to select a horse, find the bridle, tack up, and run away.

We started running through the stable with people hot on our heels. We were going down and around through doors and hallways. It felt like we were getting trapped with no escape. I finally saw daylight through a curtain in a tiny little room. I pulled back the curtain and saw that it was only an airplane window, and knew we'd never fit through it. I woke up gasping with the terror of claustrophobia and being trapped.


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