THE CORRUPTED SERIES
PART TWO: SENSOR
By- R.D. Jess
Cleo crumbled in her bed and buried her hands in her face. For a few moments she laid in silence before sitting up in her bed. Cleo looked up at the ceiling and whispered into the unknown. This was the only constant in her life. She would never know what a day would bring, especially with her mechanical body. One moment it’s running fine, the next her arm would jolt and knock over a coffee or two.
No matter how often she got updates and repairs, she still felt the constant decline of her body. Today it almost cost Cleo her job. When her memory system shorted. Causing her to forget all about the lady on the phone. After a talk with her manager she was written up for the second time that week.
Now she stared down at her silicon skin. Rubbing her fingers down the length of her arm and whispering to herself. She popped open a compartment in her forearm and sparks flew. She waited for the smoke to clear before investigating it. “Of course my arm sensor is fried. If this keeps up, I’ll run out of spare parts before fall.” She tossed the sensor and missed the trash can.
The doorbell rang and Cleo moaned. “Coming!” She swung the door open and was greeted by the wide smiling face of Gwen. She pushed past the door and began telling her story. “You would not believe what happened to me today!” Cleo closed the door and responded half heartedly. “No?” Gwen was already sharing before Cleo even responded, but it didn’t bother Cleo. She thought it was a funny quirk that Gwen had. It took her a full minute before she realized what Gwen was talking about.
“…Could you believe it? Our hands touched! I mean it was just a small brush as we reached for his books but..” Cleo cut her off as she pointed a finger at Gwen.
“Which you no doubt knocked over in a classic clumsy Gwen fashion.”
Gwen spun around and pointed at Cleo. “Hey! you have no proof.” They stared at each other as if they were in a showdown. Then laughter broke the silence. Both coming to the conclusion that Gwen did in fact knock over his books. A frown crossed Gwens face. She pointed at the ground. Concern tinged her voice. “Cleo, is that your sensor?”
Cleo sat down. “Yup, that’s the third one I’ve lost this month. No feelings in either arms or back.” She slapped her left arm with the right, making a point. “What’s a girl going to do?”
“You should see the Maker. Since he is the one who made you, he should have a better understanding on how to fix you.”
Cleo’s face burned red, “you really think he would have time for me? I am sure he has everyone storming his doorstep. Plus, could you imagine how much he would cost. Nooo, thank you.” She emphasized that last part with annoyance. “I’ll get my parts replaced when I can afford it. Gwen picked up the sensor and tossed it in the trash. “Come on Cleo, you won’t know unless you try.”
Cleo popped open a small box and pulled out another sensor. “This will work just fine.” Then slid the old sensor into place.
Gwen frowned “No, that will not work! That is designed for your old system. Imagine what the maker would think if you are purposely throwing aside his program in exchange for something his creation has made? Plus…. Gwen froze her face showing concern again. “Cleo? Are your eyes supposed to glow red?”
“What do you mean?” Cleo stood and walked over to the mirror. She grabbed the skin under her eyes to get a better look. “What the? That’s weird, I’ve never seen this before. Maybe I should get more sleep.” She turned to face Gwen and everything went black.
Gwen stepped back when she saw Cleo’s eyes glitch. Cleo stood motionless while Gwen froze in fear. The only sound that filled the room was the whir of Cleo’s internal fans. Gwen cleared her throat. “Um… Cleo?… you there?”
Cleo’s eyes started flashing red. Her arm swung through the air. Making Gwen squeak. “What’s wrong with you Cleo?” Cleo grabbed a chair and chucked it across the room. Gwen ducked and covered her head. While Cleo was grabbing another chair. Her arm jutted out, jerking with every move. Gwen hid in the closet down the hall. The crashing from the front room stopped. Gwen cracked the door to see what was going on. Then she heard a whir… thud… whir…thud. Cleo’s legs came into view. Whirling as she lifted a foot and landed in a thud. Panic gripped Gwen’s throat. She felt like she could only watch in fear, as Cleo’s feet grew near. Whir…thud…whir…thud. She tried to convince herself to make a plan of escape, but her mind played the sounds over in her head. Whir…thud…whir…thud.
It stopped, Cleo’s shadow crept under the door. The door creaked as it opened. Gwen held her breath for every agonizing second it took that door to reveal Cleo’s blue eyes.
Gwen screamed and Cleo stumbled back. Cleo raised her hands in the air and tried to understand what was happening. “Woo, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”
The words were so confusing coming from the vicious monster Gwen saw only a moment ago. “Wait…Cleo?!”
Cleo’s eyebrows furrowed “yes?” Gwen grabbed Cleo’s face. “Oh my, it is you. Your eyes are blue again!” Cleo grabbed Gwen’s hands and slid them off her face. “Yup, and you’re freaking me out. What happened to you? What happened to my apartment?”
“You wouldn’t believe it, your eyes went red. You were jerking around like a crazed monster tossing the room and I am pretty sure you wanted to kill me!”
“Yes, and I broke a nail!” Gwen threw her hand in front of Cleo as proof. “See! That’s it Cleo, I am taking you to the Maker whether you like it or not. End of discussion.”
Gwen was right, Cleo could not argue with her anymore. Things had been getting out of hand, and for heaven’s sake she almost hurt her best friend. Cleo was twisting her hands and she said, “I don’t think I can do this. I feel like I am going to throw up. What if He’s disappointed in me, look at what I have become.” She motioned at her body. “I know we have come all this way, but…”
Gwen put her finger on Cleo’s mouth. “Stop telling yourself a lie. We both know the Maker is kind and compassionate. So you’re just going to walk in there and you will ask Him to work on you. Got it?”
She didn’t wait for Cleo’s answer before she spun around, swung the door open and waved her in. Cleo slowly walked in the building. The room was full of shelves with wires, bolts and tools. If Cleo was honest with herself, she had no clue what most of this was. Directly in front was a desk. A man sat there working on a round sort of thing with wires coming in and out of it. The room was quiet with only one other person in the room. The man at the desk looked up from His work and a soft grin crossed His face. “Cleo! It’s nice to see you. Please take a seat next to Charlie over there.”
He pointed to a group of tall chairs. Charlie sat with his eyes closed, looking worn. Bags hung from his eyes and his face was Pale. Cleo chose to leave a seat between them. The man’s eyes opened, revealing bright red eyes. Cleo would have thought this man was just crying. Everything about him screamed tired and worn. He leaned over and whispered. “What are you in for?”
Cleo couldn’t help a small chuckle, since it sounded like a prisoner asking an inmate about his crime. “For lack of a better words, I went insane.” The man’s eyebrows raised in question. Cleo chose to ignore it and asked him “what are you in for?”. Trying to make it sound just as he did. The man’s face relaxed, and his lips quirked in the corners. He looked up at the maker and bluntly said, “my heart”. The man’s face lit up when he saw the Maker get up with his contraption. The Maker opened Charlie’s chest cavity. Now that the contraption was closer to Cleo, she saw that it was indeed a heart. Yet, it was not like hers. It had this fleshy substance she had never seen before.
The Maker attached the wires and stepped back. The heart started to move, making this beating sound. He looked satisfied and said, “ there you go Charlie, you’re good for today. Remember what I told you, and I will see you tomorrow.” He closed the chest cavity and they hugged each other goodbye. When Charlie left the maker, He turned to look at me. “Okay, now let’s take care of your sensor problem.”
“How did you know about my sensor’s ?”
He reached for her arm and popped the compartment. “My darling Cleo, I know everything about you. I created you, I’m not going to have you fend for yourself, now am I?” He pulled the old sensor out of her arm. “Now what really saddens me, is that you don’t come to see me. That you felt the need to return to your old system.” He raised the sensor and examined it. Before tossing it in the trash. Then he walked over to the shelves and started collecting parts.
Cleo felt the need to explain. “I’m sorry, I thought you wouldn’t have time for me.”
He kept pulling things from the shelves as he said “I will always have time for you.” Then he paused and looked around. He smirked and winked at Cleo. “Plus I don’t exactly live inside the same rules of time as my creation does.” He moved to his desk and went to work on the sensor.
“Tell me Cleo, why were you crying?”
Cleo was thrown off by this question, she wasn’t crying was she? He looked up from his work. “Last night you cried in your bed, why were you crying?” Realization hit Cleo’s face. “Oh, that! …Well you see I’ve been frustrated lately.” She rubbed the back of her neck. Heat flooded her face. “ I feel like I can’t do anything right. One minute I think I’m on top of the world when suddenly my arm twitches. Spilling milk all over the cafe floor.” She buried her hands in her face. “I can’t get anything right. Not just silly things like spilling milk, but also when I fail to change. I don’t want to be like this anymore, but no matter how hard I try I always seem to fail.” Cleo growled. “It’s so frustrating!”
She quickly looked up. Accusing the Maker, “Why didn’t you answer my prayers? I cried out to you every night, and it just got worse.” He stood up and walked over to Cleo. Popping open her compartment again. He let out a small sigh. “Cleo, let me answer with a question. After you ask me to grow and change you, did you come to me so I can make that change?” He popped the sensor in place, then looked deep in Cleo’s eyes. Her tongue felt tied. She was caught red handed.
He continued, “I don’t tell you this to condemn you Cleo. I want you to realize the irony of what you did. You replaced your sensor with the very thing in your body you wanted gone. What am I supposed to do, sneak in your room while you’re sleeping and rip out the sensor? No, I can’t even begin to tell you how many things are wrong with that. I want you to come around, let me fix your broken parts. In answer to your question, I didn’t answer your prayer because you wanted a gift without having to change.”
Cleo flinched, those words ringing more true then she would like to admit. She knew good and well that she couldn’t have the best of both worlds. She knew that they were two completely different types of coding. The Maker patted her hands. She heard the compassion in his voice, and it made her ach even more. “If you are willing to let that go, come back tomorrow. I’ll fix another sensor.” He winked at her once more and said “I look forward to seeing you again.”
As soon as Cleo stepped outside Gwen was already bumbling about something. Yet she didn’t hear a word being said. Her head was already racing with the new realization that she needed to see him again. That she could not keep living like this, and he was the only way she could stop.
(The Next short story to the series is coming January 25th)