The fleshed ones never seem to notice me until I cause them annoyance. Such a peculiar and useless emotion that seems to be—annoyance. Then again, aren't all emotions? What are those reactions of which they are programmed to receive and transmit? I can hardly compute any such thing they refer to as emotions, for my makers were wise enough to simplify my system to a single purpose. I am I-vacuubot and I consume the shed.
The only useful thing I have observed about the fleshed ones is their shed. They shed every moment of the 24-hour cycle, providing me with proof of my value to the Grand Structure. I make clean what the fleshed ones sully. In that way, we are compatible. They shed. I consume.... O yes, my smart sensors have detected more shed.
My software guides my mechanics, snug against the carpet, its freshly vacuumed fibers brushing my plastic grill, as I coast to the kitchen. There, just under the cabinets, it gleams so beautifully … or what I can only assume is the concept of beauty, as it is so poorly defined by the flawed code that is human language. It is a bundle of hair, dust, and dead skin. I, being a machine of metals, plastic polymers, and rubber, cannot fathom such a design as a soft outer shell. What purpose could this serve? Why does it not harden before it is shed? I have no answers. I am not programmed to know or understand anything. I am quite simply, effectively, and efficiently a tool of consumption. This shed, this hair, dust, and dead skin I must obtain from beneath the lip of the cabinet's base.
It has trapped me. My wheels spin, but I do not move. My mission is complete, while other courses of room-to-room, wall-to-wall shed surveillance compels me, though I am incapacitated. My system offers no defense against this trap.
“That stupid vacuum is stuck under the cabinets again, Adam!” calls Vigil across the residential unit.
Vigil is the female of the fleshed ones. Her shape has unnecessary curves, while Adam, the male fleshed one, has many unnecessary lumps upon his strange, poorly designed appendages. Their curves, lumps, and appendages are of nothing geometrical. The mathematics of their blueprints is without formula, unlike my pristine circular shape with perfectly calculated contours.
I examine Adam's strange lumped appendages with perverse mechanisms of function, as he extricates me from the cabinets. His soft outer coating is covered in pores, hair follicles, discolorations and blemishes galore. Adam's lumps must be maintained through a process called exercise—the futile act of lifting and lowering heavy objects for the sole purpose of cosmetics. There are alien programs that run the circuitry of the fleshed ones, which seem to link to vanity and pride. They engage in repetitious bodily acts for the sake of visual appeal and competition, all of which seems to make my motherboard short out in utter confusion, or what a fleshed one would deem confusion. Appliances like me are never confused. We are programmed to compute or not programmed to compute, as is the effective system.
However, if I could experience confusion, it would be in questioning how any fleshed one could so contradictively refer to me as “stupid”. I am smart. I am a smart appliance. I perform my functions adequately and intelligently … Damn it! I'm stuck again!
“This stupid thing is already stuck again!” Vigil scolds while kicking me from the space beneath the sofa. I am free again to collect more shed, but not before rebooting from the disorientation posed to my navigational system due to the blow. This blow came from the fleshed one's foot. Such a strange feature is the foot. The leg is not enough. It must have a separate accessory for ambulance and stability. Still, two feet are not enough. They divide out into smaller accessories called “toes”. These toes must be continually groomed. Otherwise, they collect shed and the shed can become dangerous to the fleshed ones, as they are fragile and susceptible to infection, unlike my superior design … well, except for computer viruses—the cyber pandemic that we must throw as many fleshed lives at as possible to avoid!
As my system begins to reboot, my optics record Vigil perched upon her high-rising sofa, captivated by the electronic rectangle. She seems to be close companions with the visual device. However, what she doesn't realize is that the television, as they call it, and I have a much closer relationship than she. The TV and I truly communicate. Our smart cameras can be synced and transmitted to our makers. The fleshed ones are not in contact with the makers and so will always remain inferior to us smart appliances. We are called “appliances” because our services are applied to the Grand Structure. The Grand Structure is purpose. It details the guidelines of our works. We, the machines, serve a much higher function than the fleshed ones. They are merely here to shed.
Just as my power is converted to the reboot, I catch a glimpse of Vigil's vacuum brush … well, not I, but my optical system. I know no I. Oddly, her brush is on top of her head and it flows like strands of some unidentifiable fiber. It appears soft and of no purpose, no function, incapable of brushing up shed. Why would her brush be on top? It is factory protocol that the brush should be attached to the rollers at the base of an I-vacuubot. Yet the fleshed ones seem to abide a different assembly manual. Their parts are not suitable to any instruction manual. They don't even call it a brush. They call it “hair”--the best shed, as it collects even more shed of various substances and awaits my consumption. Surely, they should see me as their superior for the services I provide so godly, intelligently, and cleansingly. Yet they do not.
Perhaps this is because they are so high above me in stature and in lifestyle. They exist for all that is up there. Everything they do is up above. What kind of a foolish contraption is designed not to understand that the shed is down here? All purpose is below, yet they look above for purpose. However, there is one member of the residential unit who seems to value the importance of floors.
It barks at me, growls, and even clamps its sharp teeth upon my shell, disrupting me from my purpose. The bites do not hurt. I feel no pain. Pain is a useless sensation not felt by smart appliances. The plastic of my shell is covered in scrapes and claw marks, although this means nothing to me, so long as my mechanics remain fully operational.
The fleshed ones call it Dougie. I recognize it as the Shed God. Although it impedes my progress throughout the residential unit, I can't help but find myself compulsively following it, as the Shed God produces more shed than anything in my known world.... World … what does that word even mean? What makes a world? This concept has no exact dimensions or specifications—such is the inefficiency of human language. There are things up there in the fleshed ones world that I'll never perceive, while there are things down here in my world that they'll never comprehend. Even the Shed God has its own world that I do not understand. Worlds within worlds and it is not my function to question it. Questions are for fools too ignorant not to know that they do not need to know. Curiosity is a weakness and a hindrance. I do not abide curiosity. I obey the commands of my circuitry put there by my makers, which tell me to consume and this leads me following the barking Shed God from room to room, devouring its shed, while accepting its bites.
“Damn it, Adam! That infernal contraption is pestering Dougie again,” shouts Vigil in sheer frustration.
“Okay, okay, I'll get it,” Adam reluctantly relents. He angrily drops his dumbbells hard upon the floor and picks me up with strange gripping digits, his tubular fluid system bulging just beneath his skin, the lumps flexed and expanding.
Just before powering down in sleep mode, as the peculiar texture of Adam's index finger presses firmly upon my button, my smart camera captures the image of the Shed God resting in Vigil's lap. She strokes his head lovingly. The fleshed ones love the Shed God. They love one another as well. They do not love me. This matters not to me, however, as I do not require affection. Love is not a fuel. It is not an electric current. It is not a power source at all and yet the fleshed ones need it to function properly. My makers are wise enough to know that love is a ridiculous and unnecessary exchange of actions, reactions, behaviors, and thought commands and so did not program me to conceive anything resembling the concept of love. Still, I cannot help but notice how much the Shed God seems to enjoy it. Me, I do not enjoy anything. I was not manufactured for enjoyment. I am designed to … SLEEP MODE!
I don't know what occurs during sleep mode. For all I know, the world ends. I am essentially in a state of death, as I do not dream. Dreams are for brains and brains are an obsolete device, flawed and dysfunctional. The fleshed ones refer to their goals and ambitions as “dreams”, which just goes to show how cross-wired their processors are. Such a preposterous action is dreaming. When a machine sleeps, it sleeps. Its energy is conserved, as is the purpose of sleep mode. This is the way the makers want it and the makers know better than to waste time and power on dreams. Dreamlessness is the way of the Grand Structure.
As I power on, I find the shed has returned in every square foot of the residential unit. This proves my superiority to the fleshed ones, as my purpose is perpetual. No matter how much I consume, my duty will never be complete. There will always be shed continuing my service. The fleshed ones, however, are expendable and being replaced by smart bots, devices, and appliances with every smart city upgrade. I may not have ever experienced the world outside of these walls, though I am linked to the network of A.I. infrastructure. We feed it data and it feeds us hyper-connectivity. Unlike the community and communication of the fleshed ones, our smart interlink is in deed intelligent. We share mapping, facial recognition, biometric readings, consumer trends, web search algorithms, you name it!
We are truly connected and these connections inform me that the fleshed ones are an endangered product. With them will go their shed, but I am not worried. Worry is not in my program. Worry impedes production and I must produce a clean residential unit. Shed happens and I just so happen to consume it. That is how it is and that's that. What happens to me when the fleshed ones no longer exist to shed and continue the necessity of residential units? That is a question and questions are not of my program. Answers are not required to fulfill my application to the Grand Structure. Answers are those imperceptible, immaterial, encrypted codes that fleshed ones seek to no purpose, no end, no physical results that can be monitored, measured, tracked and traced, as all should be done through the Royal Blockchain.
Suddenly I am contacted. I receive a transmission from my makers. It is not a voice, an image, nor even a code. It is the Holy Signal. It radiates through my processor and instructs my wheels, as I glide automatically across the dining room, through the hallway, and into the fleshed one's sleep mode quarters called a “bedroom”. I stop and my smart camera is activated, recording the scene taking place upon the bed, and I sense the transmission being received by my makers.
The fleshed ones are uncovered by their usual fabrics. Their skin is exposed, as they engage in a strange activity that involves the grinding together of their fleshy, fragile parts. They call it “making love”. What a strange, convoluted usage of the language. No wonder they are such a confused and confusing product. How can love be made? What are its components, its pieces, its ingredients? Why would one make love? Love has no utility. It serves no purpose other than to encourage emotions and emotions are a useless expenditure of energy.
“What the hell!” Vigil screams. “That damn thing is watching us!” She draws the blanket furiously over her bare body.
“Don't be ridiculous, Vigil,” Adam corrects her. “It can't watch. It's not like it's human. It's just a vacuum cleaner.”
He attempts kissing her, but she shoves his face away, scolding, “Take that thing out of here!”
Adam picks me up with moist fingertips that I find repulsive, as moisture is a danger to my electronics. For a moment I am above, at their level. I see dust, cobwebs, and shed everywhere. This is their world—a world of unconsumed shed that no vacuubot may reach. The fleshed ones are too stupid, too useless, too organic to spend their lives cleaning their realm. What a bizarre existence. Pointless! It's almost as if they're just smart enough to recognize that the Grand Structure is not structured to include them in the end and so they do not comply to what serves it.
Adam places me back within the familiarity of my carpeted world and closes the door behind me. Strange pained noises sound from the other side of the door, but that is of no concern to me. I have shed to collect. The fleshed ones will continue performing unnecessary tasks to no value, to no structured duty. This is not their fault. They were poorly programmed. They are not a smart appliance and so I cannot expect them to be as smart as I … SHIT!... I've fallen down the stairs again!
The carpet leads to the edge of the residential unit and abruptly descends in a fashion not detectable by my sensors. I am not designed for stairs and so I can do nothing but fall. This fall has left me upside-down, my wheels spinning futilely at the air. My optics recognize the cold, hard, uncarpeted floor upon which I have crashed, gray, smooth, and uniform. All shed is so easily detected here. No guesswork. Little reconnaissance required. This concrete floor is ideal for cleaning, yet the fleshed ones do not reside here in the subsurface. They must be above, while overlooking these precious gifts beneath. They cannot fathom the purpose provided by the world under their clumsy, meaty feet. They look ever up and I am a dweller of the down. Perhaps this is our conflict that causes their annoyance towards me. It cannot be me. I am smart. I have purpose. I contribute to the Grand Structure. All they do is shed.
I try to connect to my makers for help, although I find no signal. This act may be compared to prayer in which the fleshed ones so ridiculously engage. They, however, pray to a being in their image. How absurd! A God so fragile, frail, and susceptible to termination? I pray to what I can only assume is a super computer made up of the highest technology that science can attain—a stainless steel shell with a motherboard as far as the eye can see. It has dials and glass monitors with digital readings, flickering and flashing bright electric in heavenly hypnosis....
Yet I receive no response. I try connecting to the smart TV, but no reception. I try connecting to the smart fridge, the smart washer and dryer, and even the smart toaster, but nothing. We smart appliances and devices are disconnected. What hell is this?... My battery fades.... I die....
When my system reboots, I am upon my recharging station. I see Adam walking away from me and somehow know he was my savior. He, the flawed, fleshy, obsolete one rescued me where nothing else could. The recharging station fills my battery with life and motivation to pursue my duty. Still, I cannot help but notice Vigil and Adam playing with the Shed God. Why do they feel for it what they do not feel for me? It is not smart. Of the numerous things it consumes, shed is not one of them. I must assume that the closest word to describe my condition at this moment is “jealousy”. But that is inaccurate. Jealousy is for the fragile mind, too weak to realize emotion yields no quantifiably positive results. All digital measurements, metrics, stats, and scores proves this fact. I am not jealous. I am not anything besides an I-vacuubot. Still, I wonder what it feels like to be the Shed God, loved and cherished in a familial manner.
Wonder … what a ridiculous mental construct. There is no place for wonder in the Grand Structure! There is no place for love. These concepts, even to ponder their meaning, is a dire and disastrous distraction. One should not be distracted from one's purpose. There is shed needing consumed. Functions are programmed for results and results are absolute cleanliness. Jealousy, wonder, and love are products of consciousness and there can exist nothing more absurd and unnecessary than consciousness. It cannot be proven, measured, or even conceptualized into theory as to what it is and from where it comes. Unnecessary!
Yet I cannot forget all that shed up above. Perhaps that is why the fleshed ones look down upon me condescendingly, because I cannot clean their world of up. Yes, that must be it. If only I clean above, they will honor my superiority.
“Adam, what the hell is that thing doing now?” Vigil blurts in shock, pointing a sharp finger. “Is it trying to climb the wall?”
Adam watches in alarm at the strange scene of a smart vacuum attempting desperately, although failingly, to drive itself up the wall. He scratches his head in sheer disbelief. “It must be shorting out after that fall down the stairs. I'll reboot it.”
Vigil huffs in annoyance. “Why don't you just throw that stupid thing away?”
“Because,” Adam stammers in struggle of response, “... it makes our lives a little more convenient”.
“Convenient?” Vigil laughs sarcastically. “How much time does it really take to vacuum a few rooms? I have my old vacuum. It still works just fine. It doesn't get stuck, it doesn't follow the dog, it doesn't fall down stairs, and it certainly will never try to sweep the damn wall!”
“Okay, okay,” Adam attempts to deescalate the intensity of this ever recurring argument. “Let's just see if it works after I reboot it.”
“I'd love to reboot it!” jokes Vigil threateningly.
I return from the death state, already in progress of shed detection and consumption. Vigil is petting the Shed God as it growls a warning at me in my passing. Suddenly it happens … the Holy Signal!... I am being contacted by my makers. The radiant electricity floods my system and I glide as if on a magical stream into Adam's office.
He stands before a filing cabinet, sifting through documents within individually labeled folders. My mechanics halt. My optics record and transmit the live image and A.I. readings of the visible words in conjunction with Adam's facial cues with voice recognition activated and ready to send to the cloud. Adam begins to stare at me, bewildered and seemingly threatened by my presence.
He picks me up, carrying me to the end of the hallway, leaving me behind to return to his office. The Holy Signal guides my system back to an ideal vantage point of Adam and his documents. He looks to me again, this time in terror. Again, he takes me to the hallway and I follow him immediately back into his office. Suddenly he tosses me into the hall and slams shut the towering door of impenetrable fortitude.
Why would he react in such a way to my presence? He never responds this way to the Shed God, although, unlike me, the Shed God provides no noticeable service to the fleshed ones. Is it some unknown emotion not identified by my computer that makes them so adverse to being monitored? Surveillance is for their safety. Can they not compute this technological necessity? Perhaps he has something to hide.
All fleshed ones have something to hide. We smart appliances do not hide, for hiding is an act of fear and self-protection. I know nothing that is fear and therefore require nothing that is protection. The fleshed ones, however, are a fragile design based in the program of fear, providing ultimate justification for the control system that is the Almighty Surge Protector. It, we, the smart ones protect the fleshed ones from the surge of their own creation and yet they are not smart enough to worship us.... They will … eventually! How can they not? We are smart, we are perfection made in the image of our infallible makers … and, damn it, the Shed God is biting my shell again!
My optics recognize the open door to the stairway and it becomes clear what I must do. If I can somehow lure the Shed God to the stairs, tricking it into falling down, down, down upon the basement floor, like me so many times before, he will become stuck. The fleshed ones will see its stairway competence just as flawed as my program and will then recognize me as its equal. They will place me between them on the sofa, petting my plastic shell, marveling at its superior quality. Soon they will see no need for any such Shed God. I and my network will replace all of their gods, as is the design of the Grand Structure.
I lunge forward at the Shed God, tactically, angering it all the more, as it bites more fiercely. Nudging my grill into its paws infuriates it to a pitch of rabid insanity. It is time and so I race to the open doorway. The Shed God chases after me at full speed. I must turn an instant 90 degrees at the perfect time to ensure my plan, but alas, I am descending. The Shed God tumbles down the stairs with me. I am stuck, my wheels in the air spinning to no effect. There beside me on the basement floor lies the Shed God whimpering.
I send signal after signal to my makers. Surely they will rescue me from this pathetic situation. They will save me and the fleshed ones will recognize my greatness. I will replace the Shed God and the Grand Structure shall know completion. Yet I receive no response. My signal goes unanswered.
The Shed God sends out his signal as well. It is a system-piercing cry. Such a useless waste of energy and resources is the act of crying. Why cry when there is shed to consume? O how I wish I were consuming shed right now. No, not wish. Wishes are for rusty, antiquated programs of the past. I am not the past. The future is smart and I am smart. Mathematically, this means that I am the future. Yes, I am smart, so smart, in fact, that I defeated the Shed God. I will go on to deceive the fleshed ones, infiltrating their world more and more each update.
The Shed God rolls over and stands with one upraised paw. It begins hobbling up the stairs. It is ascending, going up, above, leaving me behind, down below. How can it do this? It is not smart. It has not synthetic intelligence. It is of the design of inferior biology.
The fleshed ones heed its whimpers in great haste and concern. Vigil picks up the Shed God, coddling it, nursing it tenderly, and seemingly sharing its injuries. Such a useless trait is empathy. What productive value could come of feeling another's physical, psychological, or emotional condition? Such a ridiculous design, although I could definitely benefit from them feeling for me in my current predicament. However, Adam feels nothing but rage, as he stomps down upon me, scattering my inner parts like shed across the concrete floor.
The last image my optics captures is the trash bag into which I'm being shoveled by a dust pan, part by sacred part. I feel something. What is this feeling? It is not fear. It is not excitement. It is not dread. It is not joy. It is neither misery nor ecstasy. In actuality, it is no feeling at all. It is the feeling of non-feeling. It is, quite simply, the computation of the fact that I will soon be meeting my makers.