This is the last part of my science fiction short story, Auto-Park. I am pressing through the final part of first round edits and expect to return to some normal blogging next week. Thank you!
I struggled against David Henry’s arms but his body had gone cold and the steel arms that had tried to curl around me in protection now imprisoned me. I watched as the platform pulled back and the wall in front of me slid back. The clamp led David Henry down a track and came to a halt. A click sounded as David Henry was put into place.
My eyes started to adjust to the dim light. As it did I saw that beside us, above us, and below us were rows upon rows of cyborgs. They were all curled into the same fetal position David Henry was now in and they were all deactivated. David Henry held me tight in his steel grip. I looked down and saw the cars being stored by the Auto-Park swaying in the red glow that bounced off the cavernous storage bay. All of the new model cyborgs I had helped create had been stored here just like the cars.
The one advantage of having helped to create these cyborgs was that I also knew how to trigger their back-up systems. I pulled my right arm free from David Henry’s grasp and reached around the back of his neck. I felt along until I found the small notch hidden at the base of his hairline, hooking my index finger and pushing down on the button inside.
As I did so David Henry’s arms and hands went limp. A scream escaped my lips as I fell but there was no one to hear me. I grabbed onto David Henry’s arm as I fell, my legs dangling into the emptiness below. It was at least a ten story drop.
I looked up and saw a blue light start to form in David Henry’s eyes which meant he was powering up again.“David Henry. Please, I can’t hold on much longer.”
My grip on David Henry’s arm started to slip. I looked up and saw the blue light grow brighter and David Henry’s head looked straight forward. In this state David Henry would not be linked to the internal systems of Serv-Tech, but he would be able to perform voice commands. It was a fail safe that had been installed in case of massive power failure so that the cyborgs could be moved out of harms way.
“David Henry. Legs and arms up.” David Henry responded and I was back in a seated position on David Henry’s lap. I looked up at the Auto-Park unit. I was not involved in the system that created this. “Can’t be any more complicated that you.”
I looked at David Henry. “I only hope they haven’t thought to erase your profile from the system.” A tear fell from my face. I didn’t have time to mourn the loss of David Henry again; I had to get us out of here.
I pulled at the Auto-Park mechanism, probing into each crevice until I found something that felt like a button. I depressed it and the Auto-Park system disengaged and started to slide down the track. Instead of going back to the lab it started to head the other way, taking David Henry and I deeper into the building.
What I saw made my blood run cold.
David Henry and I were running along the outskirts of the building. We passed by several large glass windows and through those windows I could see the extent of production. Large robotic mechanisms placing arms and legs on each cyborg in an assembly line process. Sparking arcs of flame shooting out as each member was put into place. This was never how it was supposed to be.
Before I had been taken off the production team we pushed for individualisation. A cyborg with a personality and a code of ethics would be more apt to follow human protocols. Consciousness implantation was the next logical step. A person could donate their consciousness like they did the organs in their body.
But a machine was different, it just followed orders without any concern for the outcome. These monsters were machines, and worse still they were under the control of machines whose only protocol was domination of the human species.
The Auto-Park cycled around again until it had returned back to the tenth floor. The panel in the wall opened and David Henry and I were dumped onto the floor of the lab.
I looked up and realized we had been all but forgotten, but so had the air pressure. With each shallow breath I took in the level of oxygen depleted. These machines required none and so they had built a system which made sure that their foes would not be welcome.
David Henry lay on the floor curled into a ball. I crawled towards him hoping I could reactivate his systems. When I reached his body I realized I was on my last breath. With my remaining strength I reached under his arm and pressed my hand to his chest, hoping to reactivate the core inside that should react to the warmth of the human hand. I could only hope I wasn’t too late. For his sake and mine.
The feel of his skin started to warm beneath my skin as his system restarted. “David. ”He blinked and sat up starting to recognize his surroundings. David Henry looked at me and jumped up to key in a sequence on the computer panel. Air started to flow in through the vents.
“They know we are here. Who else would need the air?”I managed a thin smile as David Henry gathered me into his arms.
“You think I care? I am so sorry I brought you back here. I was weak.” He hung his head down.
“The fact that you can say you care. The fact that you remembered me. I have already won.” I reached out to touch David Henry’s cheek. The air started to return to my lungs and I felt a renewed sense of vigor.
“How can we stop production? How can we stop Serv-Tech from carrying out their plans?” As I said this I heard the ding of the elevator.
“They have found us too quickly. We have no time for formulating a plan.” David Henry walked over to the computer panel and started to type in commands.
From the wall came the sound of the Auto-Park system. Streams of red light shone in through the wall as each cyborg bounded in on their feet. I looked through the window into the expanse of space between the lab and the elevator bank which was starting to fill up with machines. They were forming a line and had begun to advance.
Both sides had armed themselves. A civil war between the cyborg and the machines was here and I was going to witness it first hand.
“You need to stay back. I will not be able to protect you.” David Henry walked out of the lab and the lines of cyborgs streaming out of the Auto-Park system followed behind him. I pressed my face to the glass and looked out on the scene trying to glean some understanding of what was about to happen.
Communication passed between the two groups at lightening speed over the electrodes that made up their internal workings. Two groups of humans about ready to charge into battle might exchange words and perhaps there would be some hesitation before initiating a battle that would ensure massive casualties on both sides. But before I could blink the cyborgs and machines were upon each other. Ripping each other asunder.
The glass in the window beside me shattered as the head of one of the cyborgs that had been torn from its body went sailing through. I stepped back and steadied myself on the door frame. I could see David Henry making his way through the melee towards the CEO. I felt something bump against my leg. I looked down and noticed the silver barrel bellied robot that had escorted me up the elevator had knocked into me.
I was so focused on what was happening that I had not noticed it approach me. I reached down and absent-mindedly patted it on the head.
At that moment David Henry looked up and locked eyes with me. “No,” he yelled and started to bound back towards me over the heads of the cyborgs and machines locked in combat.
It was only later that I realized he must have heard the robot’s thoughts. He must have known what was about to happen. I looked down and the red laser beam of the robot took one exacting swipe across my mid-section. I felt the warm blood pour forth from my abdomen taking me once again to my knees.
David Henry reached me as I fell to the floor. He swept an errant hair out of my eyes. My vision had started to fall out of focus and my voice no longer reached my throat. David Henry laid me to the ground and I felt the ground reverberate beside me as he smashed the robot. Flattened him like a soda can.
The next instant he had leapt back towards the CEO who was trying to make a final retreat back to the elevator bay. Before I lost consciousness I saw David Henry rip the head from the CEO and send it flying across the room. It landed directly in front of me.
The last real memory I have is staring into the eyes of the CEO and watching the lights behind those eyes dim and fade as I did the same.
I don’t know how much time passed between that day and the day I awakened. It happened suddenly. A bolt of consciousness ripped through my mind and there were certain things clear to me.
I knew that David Henry was okay and I knew that he and the cyborgs had won.
David Henry had transferred my consciousness just as I had done to him years ago when the disease that ravaged my beloved husband’s body had won out.
Before I could process anything else David Henry walked into my line of sight. “Good morning Zoe. Seems fitting that your name means “life” and you are about to start a new one.”