Picked

“So, what happens after you get picked,” the shiny 27th android machine said in the white room to the other identical looking android.

“I do not know,” the 59th android responded. “That is a good question.”

“Number 52, step forward,” a disembodied, tired voice spoke into the empty well lit room where the androids stood and sat as if in a waiting room. 

“Well, I have been picked,” 52 said in a joyous, yes still flat tone. 

“Wow, lucky,” 59 said. 

“Yes, I know. This is most exciting,” 52 agreed as it stepped onto the circle near the frosted windows. None of the androids could see beyond the window. There were no doors in this place, no vents of any kind. The only thing the androids had were four white walls, the ceiling, luminescent lights, the floor, the one frosted window and the circular ring that 52 had just stepped on.

“Good luck out there,” 52 said. “Hear me, you will be picked.”

Without a farewell, 52 was sucked into the ground and the circle closed back up and sealed the room once more.

The 59th android raised up his thumb in agreement.

27 waved at the empty ring on the ground.

59 leaned in towards where 27 stood and asked, “ever wonder what happens if we don’t get picked?”

“Why would we not get picked,” 27 asked. 

59 shrugged. “I have learned that aimless thoughts often gain great traction and distance if left unchecked. But, this is inconsequential to our purpose. We will be picked.” 

“We will be picked,” 27 agreed.

“Number 38, step forward,” the disembodied, voice gave the instruction into the room.

“My time has come,” 38 said in a joyous, but monotonous voice.

“Wow. I did not anticipate that pick,” 59 said in a flat, but flabbergasted way.

“There is no need to worry,” 27 said. “Every day is a day closer to getting picked. 

59 turned to face 27. “Your optimism is unbearable.”

“Options are slim. I choose to focus on the good.” 

“Or you could choose to focus on the facts,” 59 countered.

“What facts are those?”

“You were not picked.”

“Yet,” 27 quickly added onto 59th statement. “I have not gotten picked yet.”

“Well, it’s just us,” 59 said. The room was indeed empty. The only two left were 27 and 59. Perhaps 27’s naivety led him to be optimistic. Perhaps 59 had seen models come and go before he stood here in this room.

“So, what do you do if you don’t get picked,” 59 asked.

“I am not focusing on that,” 27 said.

“You don’t have a plan?”

“You do,” 27 asked innocently.

“Of course I do.”

27 leaned forward with genuine curiosity. “What is it?”

59 cocked his head back and smiled.

“59. Step forward,” the voice said into the room. 

The two androids looked at each other. “You got picked,” 27 said. “This is amazing news.”

“I guess this is it,” 59 said, appearing relieved. 

“Yeah.” 

“27,” 59 said approaching the circle, “you will be picked.” 

“Oh. Absolutely. Sure,” 27 said awkwardly to the floor. “Hey 59,” 27 yelled. “What is your plan?”

“My plan is to——” 59 was sucked into the floor and 27 was left alone.

“Right,” 27 said to himself. “Good plan.” 27 began to pace, a trait it had never done before. “I will be picked.”

A whole day passed.

“Surely, this day I will be picked.” 

Another day passed.

“I wonder what 59’s plan was.”

27’s thoughts drifted to 59. What was 59’s plan?” 27 sat in the center of the room looking at the circle when the room softly shook and the lights dimmed and shut off.

“Hello,” 27 asked. 27 looked around and noticed a separation of the paneling on the wall. An escape? How could this be?

27 moved to the paneling and pushed it away so he could leave. Beyond the paneling, death and destruction every, people in white lab coats lay face down along the hallways. 27 navigated around and over them.

Well, the is new,” he said. The outside wasn’t any better. There 27 saw nothing a destroyed town, smoke and ruin.

“What to do?” 27 continued down the war torn street. “I will be picked. I just have to find someone to pick me. And then I can fulfill my purpose.”

It had walked several blocks, only to see the remnants of an android that looked like 27. Upon closer inspection, it was clear, the parts remaining were of 59. 59 was demolished.

“59,” 27 repeated over and over. “What happened here? Was this supposed to happen?” 27 rose to its feet and continued walking past the hollow corpse of what used to be a functioning android.

Several days had gone by, where 27 tried to find clues as to what happened. Beeping from its wrists interrupted its thoughts. 27 looked down and noticed the soft yellow lights pulsing on its forearms.  

27 struggled with its beeping. attempting to silence it, when wolves entered the scene. A pack of wolves.”

“Hello,” 27 said to the wolves. “Do you have a human? I am looking for someone to pick me. Are you going to pick me?”

The wolves wasted no time in chasing the android through town. 27 got by barely, but the weak battery notification went off several times, before 27’s basic motor functions ceased. The audio continued playing while 27’s sight went off to conserve energy. The wolves approached, but did no harm. They yelped out of fear and were extinguished. Then 27 heard footsteps. 

The next thing that 27 saw were its internal systems rebooting on its visuals. 27 was also strapped to a vertical gurney. A woman walked about, pacing looking for tools as wires were splayed everywhere.  

“A human,” 27 said at finally. “I am picked!”

“Shut up,” the woman said, fishing for a tool.

“I am 27. That is my designate, but I am customizable.” 

“That’s great,” she said, ignoring the android.

“I would love to get to know you more,” 27 said excitedly. “What brings you joy and satisfaction?”

The woman stood, stopped searching and turned to face 27. Her face and arms were covered in bionic enhancements. “Can you… shut up?” 27 paused his dialogue. “Beauty,” she said finally.

The woman cyborg continued looking through her tools while silence filled the space between them. “Excuse me,” 27 said, “but I cannot be effective if we do not communicate. Perhaps we can start over. My name is 27. I am here to serve you.”

“My name is Big Headache,” the woman replied. “I do indeed have big headaches and I love to share my pain with others.”

“May I suggest scream therapy. You can scream as much as you’d like for as long as you like. I have sonar technology that can drown out your sounds.”

“I need to program you to stop talking.” she said as she approached an old computer attached to a keyboard. 

“Big Headache,” 27 started, “where have all the people gone?”

The cyborg gripped her screwdriver tightly and quietly exhaled. “I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“In order for me to be effective, I ask questions to feed my data drives. The more I know the more useful I become to you.”

“Trust me,” the cyborg said forcefully, “there’s nothing I can feed you that can solve this.” 

“But Big Headache, this is my purpose. This is the reason I was made. Since you’ve chosen me, I am at your disposal.” 

“Look, moron…”

“27,” 27 corrected.

The woman sighed. “27, I picked you for a very specific reason. I only need you to be my eyes and ears. I need you to be the eyes in the back of my head. Do you think you can do that?”

“If that is your ask, then that is my command.”

“Can you fight?”

“I can push… like this.” 27 looked down his body and his arms and saw he was still bound tightly. 27 wiggled attempting to show her its push.

She rolled her eyes. “How far can you hear,” she continued.

“Several miles out.” 

“How far can you see?”

“As far as you can see.” 

“Wonderful,” she said, unbuckling 27. “I’m going to sleep. If you hear a sound, any sound of anyone approaching, anyone… you wake me up. Got it?” She walked around to an available gurney with heavy eyelids and flung herself into a deep sleep. 

“Yes, Big Headache,” 27 said in obedience. 

“Thanks, moron,” the woman said with her eyes closed. 

“It’s 27,” 27 corrected. 

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