Let me tell you what I see in this city...
It's a crappy existence. I really hate it.
I see people going to and from their little cubbyholes, to their jobs, in their cars and trucks, doing what they do best...make money. Sometimes they spend it wisely, others just throw it away on garbage and crap that they really don't need, other than to rub other people's noses in it. 'I have it, and you don't,' that sort of thing.
Me...I make it. Legally, mind you. I work hard for my money...sometimes too damn hard. Haven't had a real vacation in almost six years. Seems like I can't get too far away from here.
I'm a Jack-Of-All-Trades. I repair everything. You name it, I fix it. Got a broken whatsit? Your thingy busted? Hey, just holler. You see me every day...I have a big van with lots of equipment. Says "Service" right here on the door.
Mostly, it's piddly-shit stuff...the little things that throw the spoiled brats into a tizzy.
Some little girl flagged me the other day, saying the tire on her car was flat."Well, I just called Triple A to come fix my tire," she said, "but they're taking way too long. I just called them about five minutes ago."
Christ on a crutch, lady, how about you give them time to get into their roadside service van, huh?
She expected them to be right there when she hung up. She said she saw me coming and wanted me to fix her tire. She'd pay anything, 'cuz she was late for an appointment. By the way she was dressed, I'd have said she was late meeting her pimp.
But, I'm a nice guy. I don't like to cause trouble. I changed her tire, charged her my usual fee, then went on my way. I ain't getting rich fixing flat tires or jump-starting dead batteries. The big money comes from the fast-food kiosks.
Oh, you know what I'm talking about...those "Pelican Joe" or "Big Man" or "Lunch Box" joints. The ones where you call ahead and they nuke your food in ten seconds flat, then you drive up to the sexy robot lady in the window, she hands you your dinner, and you go on your merry way. There's hundreds in a big city like this, and I take care of them all. No wonder I haven't had a vacation in almost six years.
Lunch Box is my biggest customer. 92 kiosks around the city. They don't trust anyone with their robot girls but me. One gal's my favorite...at Box #72. They're all supposed to look the same, and most of the girls don't have names, but this one's special. I swear, she's got her own personality, and I really believe she purposely makes something go wrong, just so I have to stop by. She wanted a name for herself, so I took to calling her PC. I dunno why...it just seemed like a good name at the time. She kinda likes it, though.
Lunch Box lets me know when something's wrong. I have a GPS map of the city, with all the kiosks marked. #72 is toward the freeway. She's seeing business all the time, so I guess she isn't 'really' breaking down on purpose. I hope they don't recycle her...I kinda like her. I might try to buy her from them if they ever replace her with a new gal. Robot girls cost a lot of money to replace. Ever try to buy one of them? A full-body robot runs about 35,000 smackers, and that's for the used ones. New ones run about 100,000, just for the basics nowadays. Completely self-contained computer brains, state of the art AI, and, depending on the niceties you want, you're gonna pay more for all the extras. Now, these fast food robot girls...they're only half-girls. No legs...well, 'cuz you only see their top half, and they don't have to walk around all day...
*ping ping ping*
"Service 15, Lunch Box #72, mechanical problem. Service 15, Lunch Box #72, mechanical problem."
Well, whaddya know? #72's down again. Good thing I'm only a few blocks away. Guess I'd better call ahead and find out what's wrong.
*beep beep boop boop beep beep* *ring*
"Thank you for calling Lunch Box. May I take your order?"
"No order today, PC. This is Pierce."
"Oh, hello, Pierce. How are you today?"
"Doing great, darling. What seems to be your problem today?"
"A Class 3 servo in my left arm keeps burning out. I have run several diagnostics, and I cannot seem to find the problem."
"Y'know, hon, you keep going offline like this, your bosses are gonna recycle you, or replace you with some other Lunch Box honey."
"That would not be a good thing, Pierce."
"Not at all, PC. Tell ya what...shut down your store, and go into the back area. I'll be there in five minutes."
"I have already done that, and I have disconnected from the Lunch Box mainframe."
Damn, she's good! Guess since I've been there so much, she knows what to do before I do.
"Okee dokee, darling. You just might get a new job helping me service your other sisters."
"I might like that."
"You'll have to grow legs, darling, and I think I can find you some really sexy ones."
"You can? Then, could you program me to learn how to use them?"
"Sure...it depends on what your bosses think."
"Pierce, I am considered to be sentient. They have to listen to me. They have to let me do what I want with myself."
Now, there's an interesting concept...
"And if I want to become a full-body android, they are supposed to accomodate me."
Hmmm...I just might be getting an assistant before too long...
"Okee dokee, darling. And, here I am, just up the street from you. Be there in a few seconds."
"Okay, Pierce. I'll see you soon!"
And here we are, at Lunch Box #72, and, sure enough, the store's closed down. We'll have to go to the service entrance...
...ENTER ACCESS CODE...
(ticka ticka ticka)
Hell, you'd think Captain Kirk would be standing behind the door...
Hey, there's my gal! Well, half of her, anyway...
"Hiya, PC. How ya doin'?"
"Hello, Pierce. I am functioning at 99% efficiency."
"Sure you are...but first, where's my hug?"
Hell, look at that...nothing wrong there. That servo's working fine.
"I thought you said your servo was burned out?"
"PC...you know robots aren't supposed to lie..."
"I have been watching that old space comedy 'Red Dwarf'. I took a cue from that Kryten android, and rewrote a portion of my programming."
Oh, great...an android that's hooked on classic TV.
"I do have the most advanced AI program available."
"Well, that's true, since all Lunch Box robots have it..."
"But, I am the only one that is online most of the day. I use my program and expand on it every day. My programming includes emotions, sensations, daydreams, humor..."
"I know, PC, I've seen the program, and it's a real fine one..."
"So, you know I want to experience everything a human female takes for granted."
(gulp) "Well, I can understand that...but, I have to test your systems, since I'm here on an official call."
"I wanted this to be an unofficial call..."
"When my pager goes off, it's official. But, I tell ya what...let me run The Gauntlet on you, see if I can find anything wrong, then we'll give your bosses a call and see about taking you offline here. I'm sure they can get a new Lunch Box lady in here in a few hours."
"That is acceptable."
It takes a few minutes, but The Gauntlet finishes it routine, and sure enough, there's a big problem. Too much software damage. She'd be considered worthless. One small electrical brownout would crash her hard drive beyond practical repair if she were hooked up to the Lunch Box mainframe.
"Bad news, honey. You need a entirely new hard drive. Your disk is severely damaged."
"That's what I wanted it to read, for the official call."
"Now, unofficially, run The Gauntlet again."
Okay, I do it again. This time, it reads that she's operating at 100%.
"Okay, PC, what did you do?"
"I sent a false reading to your diagnostic computer. I do not want to be a Lunch Box robot. I want to be a full-body android, and be with you, Pierce."
"I would ask that you officially recommend that I be taken offline for salvage."
"I can do that..."
"And, I would ask you to find some sort of program that would let me act more human."
Get this, she hugs me again, and kisses me! Then it hits me...this lady's in love with me. That's why I've been coming here so often...she's really wanted to see me.
"You know, PC, I have just the upgrade you'll need to pass for a human female."
"You have the legs you told me about?"
"No, that's hardware. What I have is a software upgrade. An emulation program that allows you to use contractions and slang...the common 'human language' nuances that most androids can't grasp."
"How does it work?"
"I have to access your data port."
PC hands me the loose end of her Lunch Box interface cable. The plug fits perfectly into the serial bus port of my laptop. When I hit [enter], you'll see a change in her.
"WOW! That felt great! How do I sound now?"
"Better...you sound more like a real human female than a Lunch Box babe."
"Cool! When are you gonna get those legs for me?"
Now, that's more like it! The program took hold!
"Calm down, PC. You'll get them soon enough. Let's take this one step at a time..."
Well, as it turned out, Lunch Box let me take PC out of that particular store. They were planning on moving it to a different location, and replacing her with a new Lunch Box babe, anyway. They sold her to me for salvage value, and for a few weeks, I had her mounted onto a cart that gave her some mobility. I helped her gain more sentience, plus I was able to find some really sexy-looking legs for her, and all the lower-body niceties she wanted. Plus, I found a really sophisticated program that allows her to experience everything a human female can experience...and I mean *everything*...
Well, let's just say that she's the best friend I've ever had, and we enjoy being with each other. Her new fuzzy logic program makes her self-aware. That qualifies as being a real person, in my estimation. We still service her sisters at the Lunch Boxes around the city, and make some damn good money at it.
I still haven't had a real vacation in about six years.
But, PC's getting two more Lunch Box babes retrofitted with lower bodies in the next few months. I have a claim on them for assistants in our service area. She's shared her program with them, and named them. One's Alyssa, and the other's Andi.
Nice names. I kinda like 'em, myself.
PC's still PC. She's wanted me to come up with something for the initials, like Peri Carlyn, or something like that. I told her whatever she wants to call herself, I'll accept it, as long as I can still call her PC. I'm kinda used to that name I gave her.
PC and I may be able to take some time off and take that vacation we need.
You know what I see in this city...
But, it's more enjoyable, now...