by Josh T. Alto
How it feels awakening in an alien world
|The monotonous drumming of the raindrops is suddenly interrupted by the violent ringing of my alarm clock. It is half past five, and it takes time for me to become fully conscious. I lie there motionless watching the darkness; then I open the shutters, adjust the sensors and look around in the dim light. It is the end of March and rather dark outside but I can already see the dawn’s early lights on the horizon.
I stretch and activate the machinery; it has been switched to standby mode during the night. The machinery means everything to me, I can’t exist without it, it is my hands, legs, eyes, and ears; it’s my only contact to the outside world. It’s still in fairly good shape but I make the necessary checks; make sure that nothing went wrong during the night. I bring the manipulator arms into motion and clean the screens and the sensors. The covering is made of organic material so I use only clear water. Sometimes it’s necessary to use more effective cleaning supplies but not now. It’s cold and although I can feel it only by means of the sensors, even the spectacle of the cold water drops makes me freeze.
There are lots of things I have to do every morning so I’m rather busy. I check and strengthen the panels on the outside, put on an extra layer of covering if it’s too cold and fill the tank with fuel. It is not raining any more, everything’s quiet outside, only the leafless boughs are rustling in the soft wind. I move slowly, it’s always difficult to make the first movements, like the first steps of a newborn. I feel a kind of dizziness, as always in the morning, my thoughts are in a whirl, what am I supposed to do today?
Even as a child I could drive my mother up the wall by asking her this question. As if it were obvious what people were supposed to do at all. I often made her sad and then she would only sit there looking into my eyes. You are supposed to be normal, she would say, but she didn’t tell me how. I could never find out why I was not normal and I couldn’t find a way to be more normal either. She always told me that I should stop playing my games and have a look around, see the world outside the window. People were working, doing their jobs and having fun but I was only making up fantasies about life.
She saw me as a shy and reserved little creature hiding in a far-off corner of my head, trying to avoid any contact with life itself. And maybe I was that creature, sitting there alone; and I had to control that clumsy body, while trying to do everything only with the help of my manipulator arms. And that wasn’t easy. Anyway, I grew up after all and my mother left me a couple of years ago.
I’m living alone now, or rather together with all my doubts. When she left me she told me I was adult but am I? Who knows? I used to have an inferiority complex but I eventually came to the conclusion that every one has his own failures; I’m not worth less than anyone else. I wonder sometimes whether she is someone like me or if she only adopted me for some reason. It’s also possible that she doesn’t know anything about me; she probably thinks that she is my biological mother and she thinks the only problem with me that I am always a little behind. If only I had known my father. I can’t remember ever seeing him; I never had a father like the other kids in school did. He must be the key; he must know why I am not like the others. He must be like me; he must be one of us. Shall I ever come to know it?
After filling the fuel, if any is around, I go out for a walk. When I say fuel you shouldn’t think of any kind of fluid that you can pour into the opening of the fuel tank. I use the diverse organic material available, or rather a mixture of all of them, that I think necessary to get through the day, or at least enough to start with. It’s not easy, I have to look up all my resources, but today it’s even worse than other days. My fridge is almost empty, not too much left from yesterday but I hope it will last a while till I can get some more.
It’s funny somehow but I don’t know how I control the machinery, there must be lots of electric circuits there inside that put my thoughts through. In a way it feels as if we were one, but I can also take distance and look at it - myself - from above. I used to play when I was younger, I rose from the body and floated above our house, watching what people were doing, I could see me, my mother, everyone from above. But I can’t exist without the machinery so I always came back after a while. Back to my ordinary life. And that’s what I call my ordinary life, getting up, going for a walk without knowing what I’m supposed to do at all.
So I go for a walk, I call it a walk like others do, although I find it a rather complicated series of movements, earlier even the coordination of all motions needed my total concentration. As a child I used to have a rather funny way of walking, I was too slow and clumsy somehow; the other kids called me the Robot, a nickname I even liked. It sounded as if in a way I was superior to them, and it relieved me. My motions have become much better now though sometimes I lose control of my feet and then I have to stop and take a short rest. People run around me, they try to catch their buses or loudly discuss important things with others sawing the air with their hands. I only suppose they are important because they act as if they were discussing important things. I am programmed to recognize the most typical activities of people and react if necessary but I don’t know why. I look similar to them thanks to the outer covering of the machinery that hides me. But who am I really? Who dropped me on this planet and why? Why are Earth-people important and for whom? And if they are important what should I report and how? I feel like a satellite that lost contact with its planet and is now flying without the control of gravity.
I stop for a few seconds, look up to the sky as if waiting for a sign, instructions from above. There are only a few clouds left by now and the first rays of the sun coming through slowly. Birds are twittering and people are taking out their dogs. I look at them and try to read their thoughts. I don’t know if they like me, do people like others at all? I know quite a lot of people, we greet each other when we meet but they never invite me into their homes. It’s strange somehow because they invite friends quite often. Do I have any friends? I don’t know. Am I too odd to fit in their company? I can’t be more like them, however hard I try. What’s wrong with me? I have never found out. Is it anything at all?
As I walk on the street I see that girl again whom I meet every morning at this time. We look at each other. I try to find out who’s hiding behind those beautiful blue eyes. Is there anyone like me or am I alone in this alien world. It’s nice to feel the warmth of the sun and as she passes I put an expression on the face that I usually have when I enjoy myself or meet people I like. They call it a smile.
(Word count 1372)