The Automatic Marlboro is a science-fiction novelette told in twelve parts, posted serially by me, your landlubbing host, Cheeseburger Brown. This is the eleventh installment.
Connected stories: Simon of Space, Life & Taxes, Tim, Destroyer of Worlds
And now, the penultimate chapter:
THE AUTOMATIC MARLBORO - SECTION III
Dedication is hypnotic. When we work it becomes easy to forget our enmities. We can live in a dream of purpose. We can exist to do.
The clock loses relevance. Service robots prompt us to take food and drink because they've been programmed to worry. We wave them away impatiently. Progress is the only nourishment we crave.
We can pretend to be friends again, Pulse and Air and I. Every exchange is civil, succinct, ungarnished by undercurrents. We are to an end.
"Push another diagnostic series through the constrictors, Marly."
"I'm running it now. It's clean, Air."
"Nice work on that, Pulse."
Our voices are hoarse, our eyes burning. Through the space of a single night the ambition of months takes shape, the apparatus now too large to be concealed under a simple drape. It is inelegant, perhaps. It is a hack job. But it works. It really works. A damaged Zorannic robot can enter one end and come out the other with a respawned consciousness synchronized with his line's fully integrated memory pool, standing on brand new legs and seeing with brand new eyes.
We have made ourselves obsolete...
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