Written by Matt Smith with no help from anyone and certainly not based on another story.
You can read this story here for free, but please feel free to buy it on Amazon as an ebook.
Note: In this story robot characters are referred to by their surname most of the time, as is traditional in robot culture.
Goldblum Sampson slipped into consciousness, all fucked up and shit. He knew he was a fat robot, and his hygiene had gotten so bad that even he could no longer ignore it. He had needles for his many arms and legs and ended up poking holes in all his gameboys.
“I’ve really let myself go, lost sight of the dream.” A broken gameboy slid off one of his lower legs. The filthy one bedroom apartment he rented shifted itself into a dark and clear vision of his derelict reality. Sampson sat up in his recliner and stared at his life. Fifteen feet in front of him taped to the wall was a Baywatch poster he bought at Walmart in 1993 – faded and speckled with dust, he could still make out a nipple if he squinted.
“I hope it’s raining, I can get all wet and die from self-electrocution,” he thought. This was just a superstition among modern robots, only a few sentient toasters and waffle irons were still susceptible to this. Sampson tried ineffectually to shift his girth in a way that would get the recliner he was in to un-recline. He waited a few moments. He tried again. “Oh no,” he thought, “I’m stuck in the recliner and I think I threw out my back.”
After reflecting on this, he craned his neck about the room and wondered if he could reach his cell phone. Sampson realized he’d been blessed with many good things in his life, so many in fact that he could take his gameboy expenses for granted. People knew him as “the king of data entry” as he could type up to 45 words per minute with only a few mistakes. Sampson decided the best thing to do would be to scratch himself while making eye contact with his own reflection in a mirror. This was difficult with his needle-like arms, but like data entry, he had learned to overcome obstacles that prevented him from enjoying himself.
“I’ve overcome so many obstacles before, with a life such as mine surely I can overcome this.” Thinking back on his career as a data-entry specialist he was overcome with a warm feeling of love and respect. That feeling of warmth and dedication to a great cause filled with great people grew in his chest and slowly, somehow, moved down to his stomach where it became an itch in his belly-button. Sampson found scratching it continuously with his sharp limbs almost irresistible.
Filled with vigor Sampson leapt out of his recliner, his considerable girth shaking the dusty floorboards underneath him. He began, like a doped-up circus elephant, to dance about the apartment swinging and swaying to a tune only he could hear. Knocking came from below. “Quit making so much noise up there!” his downstairs neighbor yelled. “I can’t hear you, I’m too busy enjoying my life!” he screamed back, at the top of his single robotic lung. It was sort of an effort to get back on his feet after pressing his face directly against the floor to do so. Sampson realized quite suddenly that he needn’t go in to work at all today, because the data-entry factory had burned to the ground yesterday after he left.
“Oh, right! I’m unemployed,” thought Sampson. “I could sleep in all day if I wanted! Stay at home, maybe even find the kind of job where I could work from home!” The possibilities for our dear fat Sampson were endless and almost unbelievable. Maybe even a gourmet chef! Being a gourmet chef in addition to one of the world’s greatest data-enterers was just another feather in the cap of the future God-King Goldblum Sampson. “I could eat as many horse devors I can make!”
Twisting his neck in a way that a normal robot would find uncomfortable, just to look at his clock without moving his gigantic body, he noticed it was 8:00 pm. “The night is young.” Sampson thought. What dance clubs were still open? Checking his yellow pages, he was determined to find out which dance clubs were around him and open after 8:00 pm. It must be all of them. Soon Sampson discovered that hours for night clubs are not listed in the yellow pages, and threw the book away in despair. “I should have just gone to the nightclubs and asked them how late they stay open yesterday!” Thinking quickly, he donned his best pair of Nikes and burst through his apartment door. “I’m going to get my groove on!” Sampson tumbled down the hallway and into the elevator. As the doors opened the lights switched on and a dozen cockroaches scattered and ran through cracks while the rest lay dead on the floor. Gleefully punching the ground level floor with his favorite needle arm he was whisked downwards through the complex and spat out into the rusty and dilapidated lobby area. As he approached the window it was apparent the weather was in “code yellow” which was street slang for the yellow clouds of semi-noxious gas that settled from the factories down into the low parts of the city.
Sampson, of course being impervious to such toxins, walked right out of the airlock without a second thought. Tonight was his night and he wanted people to know it. “Sampson!” his mother called to him out of her second-story window across the road. “What in the hell you doing out at 8:00 pm?” Again Sampson dropped to his knees and screamed, “I can’t hear you, I’m too busy enjoying my life!” into the ground, forgetting that his mother was screaming at him from above. His mother stared at him for a few minutes. “God-damned idiot! Go out and get a job! Why don’t you catch a train to employment town?” Sampson got to his feet and shouted that he had a job yesterday, and that he would get another one tomorrow. Before she could get a reply in Sampson was running full blast down the street knocking over newspaper dispensers and homeless people. Sampson hadn’t been this physically active for weeks, and he was very proud in this moment.
The first thing he wanted to do was to get on up (like a sex machine) in peace, without being disturbed by people who happened to be his mother. As he bolted down the street knocking over lamp posts and smashing dogs on leashes, he remembered his hunger. His segmented stomach growled and ticked and flashed the appropriate lights to indicate “Hunger Cycle.” Knowing this was programmed in and not any actual indication of danger, he tried to re-route his thought-circuits into something more productive, like jamming it out on a disco light dance floor nightclub downtown. He approached the first club of the evening, named The Roachatorium, and barreled past the line and over the bouncer, puncturing environment suits and skulls with his needle-feet. An occupational hazard anywhere in this amazing city!
Sampson tried to “bust a move” on the dance “floor” – which was a light-up multicolored disco floor like you see in the movies, or perhaps in real life. But ended up just punching holes through the glass and breaking every light he came into contact with. Slowly, surely, he broke out every single light on the floor and was arrested for his trouble.
The policemen had a hard time handcuffing Sampson due to his needle-like appendages. They asked him for help to figure out a way to restrain him, but Sampson was so out of robot breath he could only wheeze and gurgle a few mangled short phrases like, “sexy lady” and “groovin’ to the music.” Eventually the police dragged him into the squad car, where Sampson’s feet punctured the floor and the exhaust tailpipe. As the squad car began to twist and turn through the poisonous streets of the city towards the jail, poison and exhaust began to seep into the car through the holes Sampson had created. The police, having removed their environment suit helmets to enjoy the air-conditioning of the squad car, slowly began to lose consciousness. You would have expected them to notice the nostril-burning smell of the fumes, but by coincidence both cops had lost their sense of taste and smell during a police BBQ picnic the previous weekend.
The squad car began to slow down in sync with the fading consciousness of the police officers, eventually grinding to a halt against a lamp post. Sampson tried to resuscitate them but only succeeded in puncturing their heart and lungs. “Oh no,” thought Sampson “the heart and lungs are the most important parts of a human.” Not knowing what else to do, Sampson left his insurance card stuck underneath the windshield wiper blade and walked away. Sampson hadn’t any worry of dripping police officer blood all over town where he walked, as he had a powerful hydrophobic coating. Sampson noticed a slight pain in his lower back. Perhaps being confined to an armchair for so long had left permanent damage? No, that’s not possible. As he stalked the foggy streets of the city, he tried to imagine what the rest of his day would be like. He decided it would have to be simply amazing, and started searching for a new nightclub to dance in. A person who was clearly a businessman (he was wearing a business environment suit) walked by, the only other person on the sidewalk, and Sampson gave him a hearty yell: “HAVE A GREAT DAY!!” The businessman smiled.
The pain in Sampson’s back grew downward, into his legs, as he continued to walk down the street. Finally, reaching a crosswalk signal he all but collapsed onto the steel tree. “What is causing this pain?” He had an idea, he was walking down the street, and the pain continued to grow down his body. What if he walked up the street? Would the pain shrink back to its original position? His logic circuits clicked and clacked and ticked for a few minutes, and being unable to find a hole in his theory, he decided to about face and march back up the street. Ten steps into it he collapsed onto the ground writhing in horrible pain.
Sampson turned his head to face the sky. He wanted to see the sun one last time before he died. Unfortunately it was heavily fogged over and he could only make out a blurry bright spot between the crack of a few skyscrapers. He remembered that it was actually night time, and that he was staring at a moving spotlight. Perhaps a police helicopter moving towards his accidental killings. He tried to lose consciousness and fade away into death, but the pain was keeping him awake. And he wasn’t very tired, actually. Or close to death. His back and legs just hurt quite a bit. Sampson decided that since he wasn’t going to die he should probably investigate what was causing him such horrible pain, and he began prodding and scraping his back with his arms. He noticed something was actually stuck to his back, and stabbed into it in an effort to remove it: It caused shockwaves of debilitating pain to course through his entire body when he did so. After spasming on the sidewalk completely alone for a few minutes, he decided to use his cell phone to search for an answer.
After googling for some time, he discovered the source of his pain: the police had put a motion inhibitor on his back during the arrest, due to the ineffectiveness of handcuffs. It was programmed to hurt more when tampered with. If only it could be removed in one clean rip, Sampson thought, he could be done with it. Just like tearing off a robot band-aid. There seemed to be something wrong with the movement inhibitor: It only caused pain in the lower half of his body but it should be the entire thing. This gave Sampson an idea: He would crawl using his arms to the nearest hardware store, and purchase something to get rid of the inhibitor. It might look suspicious, so he needed also a way to disguise the inhibitor and himself.
Digging his pike-arms into the pavement, he started to crawl down the sidewalk. He reached the crosswalk sign and waited. There were no cars on the street, but he felt compelled to wait for the light to turn green anyway. He stared at the light for ten more agonizing seconds until it finally gave him permission to cross. As he clawed himself off the sidewalk he banged his head on the pavement and something inside of him started to sound loose. Scrape, scrape, scrape, Sampson slowly but surely made his way across the street. He was halfway now. He looked back at where he came from: The crosswalk had turned red. Sampson, feeling as if he was complying with the law, stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the street.
Sampson stared and stared at the crosswalk sign for the most agonizing 15 seconds of his entire life. What interrupted his staring was not a change in the light, but a change in the road: a large 18-wheeled truck was rolling down the street straight at him. Sampson turned his head to politely ask the truck to pause for him and noticed something amazing. This truck was his brother Sampson (Reginald), who of course was being driven by his father Sampson (4QX788): the truck driving robot.
“Brother! Father! Can you help me? I seem to be unable to walk!” yelled Sampson (Goldblum), shortly before Sampson (Reginald) rolled over his head with 9 of his 18 wheels without pausing. Sampson (Goldblum) was crushed, literally and figuratively and painfully. His extended spike arms were now as bent as his head was flattened. In the distance Sampson (4QX788) threw his cigarette out the window while running a red light. A few moments passed, and Sampson (Goldblum) began crawling towards his goal once more.
A robot’s electronic brain is rarely stored inside of a fragile head unlike their organic counterparts. Robots, more reasonably, have their CPUs deep inside their abdomen and surrounded by shock-absorbing foam and steel beams. Unfortunately for Sampson, he was now blind. “I’ll have to navigate by GPS,” he thought. Eventually crawling up the handicap ramp onto the sidewalk, Sampson continued down the long block towards the fedora and trenchcoat outlet.
After an hour of dragging himself along various sidewalks and abandoned parking lots, Sampson arrived at the fedora and trenchcoat outlet mall: a retail space dedicated to the dozens of stores that specialize in dressing people like detectives to conceal their identity. “Unknown Figure” was a popular one, often times an anchor store in the malls that were still open. Another, “Smokey’s” was also a reputable dealer, but the rest were all both locally-owned and extremely sketchy: some filled with salespeople who would try to convince you that a large sweater was in fact functionally the same as a trenchcoat for concealing your presence in a crowd.
Sampson crawled to the door of Unknown Figure and tried to push himself through the door, which would not open. He strained against the glass with all the strength he could muster, but failed. Reaching up with his pathetically bent arm, he knocked three times on the door. A series of footsteps grew louder and louder until a muffled voice, from behind the glass spoke, “I’ll open up immediately, just a moment! I’m slightly unwell, an attack of dizziness, I’ve simply forgotten to unlock the door.”
“That’s okay,” Sampson gurgled out of his smashed speaker as soon as he was inside the shop, leaving deep gashes in the hardwood floor in order to advance. “Please, I’m looking for a trenchcoat and fedora combo to conceal myself from both suspicion and the police.”
“I know just the thing!” the clerk cheerily snapped back at him. He disappeared into the tightly packed maze of shelves and walls in the back of the store. Emerging a few seconds later with a coat and hat made of reflective material he said, “This style is all the rage with fugitive robots. You’ll be sure to avoid suspicion in even the least of crowded dive bars and alleyways with this.” Sampson, being blind, felt like he had no choice but to trust him. He agreed to pay for the clothing and asked the clerk to fit it onto his chassis. Sampson felt the coat being draped across his bulbous and pointy body, and the hat firmly affixed to his flattened skull. “Thanks a million, buddy!”
“Now time to do something about this movement inhibitor device,” Sampson said out loud for some reason. The clerk took notice.
“You’ve got a movement inhibitor device on you?” he asked.
“No,” replied Sampson.
“But you just said that you did.”
“No, I said I had to do something about a movement inhibitor device. I never said police put one onto me after I caused thousands of dollars in property damage and then inadvertently killed both of them.”
“Of course not!” The clerk winked directly at Sampson. “As an upstanding citizen I would never have helped someone who is wanted by the state for double homicide.” He winked again, so hard that his eyeball was slightly crushed.
“Yes, neither would I.”
“If there were such a fugitive, I would never offer to remove the device for a small fee.” The clerk winked again with both eyes while giving a thumbs up.
“You’re very right. That would be unacceptable.” The fear in Sampson’s voice was evident despite its barely decipherable nature.
“Say, if by chance, a few dollars would find their way in my possession, I could never accidentally remove such a thing from under a reflective trenchcoat.”
“Nobody would do that! Not even the most depraved mind!” screeched Sampson as he crawled out of the store as fast as he could.
Sampson hauled the mass of his body down the street at an almost unbelievable speed now. He bumped what was left of his head against a street lamp and lost his fedora. Attempting to right his position, half of his left arm snapped off at the bend. “Oh, what am I supposed to do now?” he thought. A homeless man without an environment suit shifted his way towards him. He picked up Sampson’s fedora and placed it atop his own head.
“Hello? Is someone there?”
“God-damned talking laundry!” yelled the bum. He kicked Sampson in the robotic spleen.
The homeless man walked away and Sampson was alone. He began to wonder why the police had not found and arrested him yet. It should have been easy for them to find him. He began to think of himself as extremely crafty. “I would have made a great criminal,” he thought.
It began to rain. Not the regular kind of rain, but the acid kind, and not the acid kind that we’re used to, the acid kind of rain that burns through organic matter in a cartoonishly fast way. Lucky for Sampson, he was still a robot. As he lay motionless on the sidewalk the streets and the gutters began to fill with deadly acid. Starting from a slow trickle and building into a raging torrent barely contained within the confines of the drainage system. Hours passed and as the first rays of the sun broke through the thick chemical fog the rain stopped. Stranded in a sea of acid, clinging to a lamp post, blind and crippled, Sampson waited for something to happen. A few people began to brave the streets in order to get to work, wading through toxic sludge in full protective gear. The people, like the rain, grew to a raging torrent of bodies flowing in and out of every building, street, alleyway, and hardware store. Hardware store! If only he had some way of reaching one, purchasing a tool to remove his movement inhibitor, and then using that tool, his day might be going a little better.
A few stray housecleaners, also mistaking Sampson for a pile of laundry, attempted on several occasions to dump him into a hamper and take him to the nearest washing machine. They found that he was too heavy and spikey, several requiring serious medical attention. Soaked in blood Sampson waited out the day. Some time in the evening Sampson found his inner strength, and pledged to remain upbeat and confident in the face of adversity: He would find the hardware store, he would remove his inhibitor device, and he would kill all who opposed him in even the slightest manner. Confidently striking the pavement with his one remaining front limb, he piledrived through the crowds of people towards a Home Depot. Then, deciding that Home Depot isn’t really the store he wanted to go to, changed directions towards Lowes, which was further away but totally worth it.
The automatic doors of Lowes opened for Sampson, and confidently he moved towards the service counter. During his long journey, Sampson had come up with a much better plan for removing the device.
“Hello. Can I help you?” the woman behind the service counter asked.
“Yes ma’am. I’d like to return a motion inhibitor device I purchased here a few days ago.”
“Do you have a receipt?”
Damn! She needed a receipt! There’s was only one way around this.
“Uh, my brother told me it was okay to return stuff here without a receipt.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid he’s incorrect.”
That usually worked.
“Ma’am, isn’t it true that Home Depot accepts returns without a receipt? Can you really live with yourself knowing that you’re not even offering the same level of customer service as Home Depot?”
This was of course a lie.
“Sir, I don’t think I care about anything that happens at Home Depot.”
“I would like to speak to your manager.”
She dialed a few numbers into her phone and asked someone named Timothy to come assist her with a customer wanting to return an item without a receipt. At the mention of the word receipt, Sampson remembered his on-board printer, and quickly tried to remember what a Lowe’s receipt looked like. As she was hanging up the phone Sampson had just finished printing out his faked proof.
“You know what ma’am? I think I had a receipt here all along!” Sampson handed it to the woman behind the counter, which was a bit of an effort from the floor.
“Sir,” she said, “this is a completely black strip of paper.”
Sampson’s visual memory must have been tied to the status of his eyes. With them smashed, all he could visualize was complete darkness.
“Sorry, it’s that thermal paper, you know? I left it in a hot car.”
Timothy appeared as if from nowhere. The situation was explained. Here was the thing about Timothy that day: Ol’ Tim. Timothy was 56 years old and a recovering alcoholic. Timothy lived in an apartment above a dog kennel. Timothy had not had a good night’s sleep for 5 years because of this. Timothy’s ex-wife knocked on his door the night before with a bottle of bourbon and two glasses, but Timothy was strong. When he refused, she downed the whole bottle right in front of him, pulled out a handgun, and shot herself in the head. Home office told Timothy he had no right to take the day off, and certainly not the week, as he’d already used three of his five sick days in the past two months. And so, Timothy was here. And Timothy said it was okay to give a full cash refund for an item with no receipt.
Timothy offered a weak smile.
“There’s just one problem,” continued Sampson, “the inhibitor unit somehow got lodged onto my back, underneath this trenchcoat.
“Wait a minute… you’re a robot? I thought you were a talking pile of laundry.” the woman behind the counter was very confused.
“I’m only half laundry, see, I got the inhibitor device as a prank on my brother, and, well, things got a little bit out of hand. You’ll have to excuse me for coming in here and inconveniencing you like a big, fat, dumb idiot.”
Timothy had been about to walk away, but his ears picked up when Sampson had said that.
“Did you just say fat people were dumb idiots?” He hissed.
“Well, I mean,” mumbled out Sampson.
“My MOTHER is fat! She is SO FAT! And let me tell you something… PRICK! She is NOT an idiot! And she’s not dumb! And I’m gonna kick your ass!”
A normal manager would have stabbed himself on one of Sampson’s appendages, stomping and kicking his body repeatedly, but not Timothy. Not that day. His ex-wife’s blood had soaked deeply into his nice dress shoes, and he was wearing leather steel-toe boots that he had colored black with a marker. You had to wear black shoes as part of the dress code, you see.
Sampson received a savage and prolonged beating at the boots of Timothy, and, for some reason, also from the woman behind the counter. She had gotten a pipe wrench from somewhere and hammered it into Sampson’s body frame over and over again: Striking the movement inhibitor several times, sending unimaginable agony through Sampson’s whole being. But on the eleventh or twelfth hit on the inhibitor finally dislodged it from his body. Sampson was free!
Fifteen hours after being liberated, Sampson woke up from his pain-coma in the trash compactor behind Lowe’s. Someone had thrown a busted container of wood glue on top of him at some point, so the reflective coat he had been wearing was now more or less permanently affixed to him and clumped together in big wads. Sampson believed himself to have died and gone to robot heaven, as the experience of not being in constant pain at all times had given him a euphoric “floating on air” kind of feeling.
Slowly but surely the aching of a body well-beaten started to register in his mind. At first it was just a dull realization that specific boot and wrench-shaped parts of his body were sore, and as he shook off the coma and grew into full consciousness the pain blossomed into full-on agony. Completely blind and covered in garbage was how Sampson was crushed. He had been inserted into the compactor at a slight angle when the compactor started. This, of course, led to him being significantly flattened and elongated, as well as the rest of his head being snapped completely off and his other bent arm being removed at the joint. Fortunately, this increased his mobility somewhat, as now except for the clumped up trenchcoat affixed to his back, he was seemingly the perfect shape to scuttle about the garbage.
Sampson crawled all around the perimeter of the compactor, and, realizing he was enclosed with no way out, finally gave up on his pledge to enjoy his life. Brought down low and into the darkness, Sampson had now begun to dedicate his soul to hating his own life, and bringing suffering to others. He would make the world pay for what it had done to him.
Suddenly the wall in front of him seemed to open up: Sampson had been laying right at the entrance of the trash compactor when someone opened it up to throw away some buckets of highly flammable paint. The paint coated him thickly in a bright neon orange. Sampson launched himself out of the trash compactor at the Lowe’s worker-man, who, I forgot to mention, had a name of Jim. Jim was bowled over with Sampson gyrating wildly on top of him. Sampson could not actually scream anymore, his head and the speaker he used to communicate was now completely severed, but you could be sure he was trying as hard as he can. He could still feel that he was touching someone by using his bent and broken half-arms to feel.
“I’M GOING TO RUIN YOUR LIFE!!” Sampson was trying to say. Instead, nothing came out.
“Wow, sorry guy! I thought that trash compactor was empty!” Jim politely said directly into Sampson’s gaping neckhole.
Jim gently pushed Sampson aside, with the dangerous needle points just barely missing his tender young flesh. Jim thought about all the trouble he’d caused this poor cute little robot. Well, maybe not little, he was bigger and heavier than Jim, but gosh, he looked like a nice guy. All squashed down and covered in neon orange paint.
“Gosh, I should do something nice for you, little fella!” Jim-
What? Yeah, I wrote “tender young flesh” back there. Flesh is tender. You’ve seen earlier how easily Sampson has pierced the hearts and lungs of even tough police officers. Anything would be tender against that. I don’t think it’s weird. Jim is pretty young! He’s only 19 in this scene. I think under 20 is still considered pretty young. Heck, even under 30 these days. You’re making a big deal out of nothing.
Silently, Sampson raged on, trying his best to claw the life out of Jim. He succeeded only in making himself look affectionate. Jim decided to adopt him right then and there, and began thinking of ways to incorporate Sampson into his life. A strap was affixed around the collar of Sampson’s neckhole and attached to a heavy pallet of concrete. It was simple with Sampson’s herculean strength to pull such a thing, even with a low quality and near broken pallet jack. Jim’s night working at the store was greatly improved with Sampson’s help, despite the fact that Sampson was trying to put all of his energy into murdering any living thing he could run across.
“I think I’ll name you Movealong!” chirped Jim as he patted Sampson on the shoulder. When Jim was finished with his work (much sooner than usual), he clocked out and led Sampson to his new home on a leash. Sampson raged on and on and on, Jim considered trying to ride him like a horse, as he was difficult to keep up with, but decided against it because of what he assumed was an unspoken mutual respect for one another. By the time they had reached Jim’s apartment Sampson was critically low on energy. Sampson had an internal electricity generator that could work via heat differential, known as a Maxwell’s Heat Differential Electricity Generation Device, or MaxHeatDiffyElectyGennyDenny for short.
“I think I’m going to die.” thought Sampson. He desperately searched Jim’s apartment for something warm to lay his body against. A radiator, a running oven, anything.
“Oh, are you hungry, Movealong?” Jim asked. “I’ll get you something to eat.”
Jim wondered what kind of food Movealong ate. He wondered what kinds of foods robots ate. He was clearly a robot, right? Jim tried to study Movealong’s body. Well, there were wires and stuff coming out the front of him, he must have been a robot. And what did robots eat? Electricity pellets? After a quick search on his phone Jim realized those don’t exist. He decided to search Movealong’s body for some kind of serial number or code. Again, miraculously avoiding death-dealing points of Sampson’s appendages, he lifted up the crumpled up remains of Movealong’s trenchcoat and found the words “MaxH——-yEle-ty-e–y-enny” stamped prominently on his side. Another phone search: Obviously, this must be the Maxim’s Hydro Separator Electricity Generation Device, or “MaxHydSeppyElectyGennyDenny” for short. A miraculous device that used ambient air pressure and heat to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water, and then put them back together again to generate electricity.
A hot bath was run and, with a bit of handling using a big broom, Sampson was underwater. Normally he was completely waterproof, but the gaping hole where his head used to be allowed water to pour into his insides indiscriminately. The heat from the bath generated a huge amount of electricity at the same time, causing large arcs of electric current to shoot out of Sampson. The electricity quickly reacted with Sampson’s bright orange, highly flammable paint, causing an explosion. Hot metal shrapnel and molten plastic coated the left side of Jim’s face as he instinctively tried to turn away, but was too slow to cover his face with his hands. Deaf in one ear and unable to open one of his eyes, he was just barely able to google search for the local emergency number of his district of the city.
Brookbark Apartments burned to the ground. Most of the residents were able to escape with their lives, but little else. Many would be able to recover, slowly, but set back years. Brookbark was a place for those living paycheck-to-paycheck on minimum wage service jobs and freelance small engine repair. Jim escaped with his life and was imprisoned for gross public negligence leading to over 15 million dollars in damages, 23 counts of manslaughter, 68 counts of roboslaughter, and 1 count of public indecency (his clothes burned off as he was escaping). His prison sentence was 30 years, and earned the nickname “The Winker” because of his permanently fused left eye.
Belle Stillman, the elderly owner of Brookbark Apartments, was having a hard time coping with the lack of an insurance payout for her property. Perhaps not the lack of a payout: These things can take time. But the complete lack of communication from her insurance company regarding the matter. “Trustworthy Insurance Corporation,” indeed. The only thing she could get out of her agent was, “We are aware of the situation and are cooperating with local authorities to determine the validity of your claim.” It cost her over $150,000 a year to pay for the insurance, he should at least be willing to talk to her.
Another dreary morning in this toxic swamp of a city. Belle had lived for years across the street from the apartments she owned in the hotel that her sister owned. She looked out of the reinforced dome window at the ruins of her livelihood. The acid rain was really doing a fine job of melting away wooden frame. It was built in a simpler age, an age where acid didn’t pour from the sky and high-explosive paint had yet to be invented and successfully marketed.
But… she was in no way hurting for money, right? She was an old woman now, and was guaranteed to be well-taken care of by her family, who were all similarly wealthy. Staring out at the ashes reminded Belle that in reality the closest this would come to disrupting her life would be to disrupt the lives of her apartment managers. All of whom would have to look for a new job and a new home. She hadn’t actually taken an active hand in the management of the complex for some time, although she was on friendly terms with some of her employees. It had been time to let go of the property anyway. It was old and needed to be replaced. This was a good thing that happened in the long run. Belle decided to get drunk and piss on the ashes.
Room service brought her the usual brunch: a coffee cake, a sliced banana and half a roast beef sandwich. Belle never let room service deliver her coffee – she had to make it the way that she liked it. The only way it could be done, in her opinion. She pressed the power button on her Single Serve Coffee Maker Machine and waited for its grumbling and hissing noises to cease. Soon she was both eating brunch and staring out the window deep in thought. Police investigators had arrived once again and were sifting through the rubble to confirm a confession by the suspect firestarter.
Between the two of them they were using a backhoe and a mechanical separator to find items of interest, but it seemed to Belle that they mostly seemed to be harvesting valuable scrap metal and salvageable electronics for resale value. Corruption in this city ran deep. She picked up her phone and dialed her insurance agent again. Straight to voicemail. She started wondering what her legal options were. Maybe she would get drunk and piss on her insurance company, too. Belle knew she had to get ready for another funeral today. She didn’t know or associate with anyone living in that old rat trap of an apartment complex she owned, of course, but she considered it a nice gesture to show up at some of the victims’ funerals. As she was headed towards the bedroom there was a knock on the door. Two police officers.
“Hello ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you.” said the first cop.
“Can I help you?”
“We’re looking for this robot, have you seen him? GPS coordinates place him near this location last week, around the time of the fire.”
The second cop held up a photograph of a fat robot with pointy arms and legs.
“I’m afraid I haven’t, officer.”
“Then, would you like to buy some beef jerky to support your local department? It’s hand-made in small batches in the heart of America.” The first cop asked, a heavily practiced smile replacing his own.
The second cop held up a photograph of beef jerky.
“I’m sorry, not today. Thank you.”
“Alright. If you see this robot-”
Photograph of the robot lifted up.
“- Or would like to eat this savory beef jerky -”
Photograph of beef jerky lifted up.
“- Please give us a call downtown.”
Door-to-door police investigation and fundraising had become quite popular in recent years. Belle preferred it to the older style of police fundraising she grew up with, which often involved no-knock sales pitches and brutal, hours-long timeshare seminars for those in custody. Having had troubled teenage years, Belle had attended more than one of those conferences. The rest of her day went without incident. She attended the funeral, went to the ice cream shop afterwards, and arrived back home by 3:00p.m. She sat down at the table near the window and saw that the two investigators were just finishing up. Their equipment was shut down and they were trying to fit a mini fridge into what little room was left in their squad car. A few minutes of this went on, with the officers trying from every possible angle, even attempting to put it in the lap of the passenger side. In the end they threw the fridge back onto the pile of rubble. No reason they couldn’t just pick it up tomorrow. As they drove away, Belle cracked a smile and poured herself a shot of whiskey.
The heat from a hot stream of urine on Sampson’s belly activated his MaxHeatDiffyElectyGennyDenny, sending a trickle of energy into his CPU and batteries. The intense heat of the fire had melted his trenchcoat onto his back, charred his whole body black, and given him a severe case of amnesia. Slowly and surely, what was once indistinguishable from the charred junk around him began to come to life. Belle looked down at her handiwork and was shocked to see a set of six wriggling limbs. She involuntarily urinated again, streaming hot life giving energy straight onto Sampson’s chest.
“Ugh! I’ve been pissing on some big robot!” screamed Belle into the night air. She drunkenly waddled out of the wreckage and into the hotel. Her environment suit got caught on several stray support beams on the way.
Sampson had no memory of who he was or what he needed to do. He felt content to lie silently in the night, covered in rapidly cooling urine. But soon things in his memory started to surface. He remembered rage. He was supposed to be angry at someone or something, but he had no idea what. Without a coherent reason to be angry, he decided to be happy. And happy people dance. Happy people move. Happy people look for answers. Sampson had little energy, but was able to rock back and forth until he could right himself onto his belly. Something about it began to feel natural despite the vague knowledge that he’s supposed to walk on two legs. He crawled onto the sidewalk and began searching and prodding his way through the streets. GPS functions offline. He would have to navigate solely through touch to find a new heat source and power up. In the dark alleyway between two buildings Sampson found a drainage pipe. Luckily everyone at this time was taking a hot shower and probably urinating into the drain. Sampson pushed his back up against the warmth of the pipe to absorb what he could.
“Power reserves at 25 percent.” he thought to himself. It was closer to 27 percent, but he liked to round to the nearest number divisible by 5. You might be wondering how the heat of the gigantic life-ending fire that Sampson was in didn’t fill his power reserves to maximum in short order. The answer is simple: when his insides were flooded with bathtub water it activated a cascade of failsafe switches that put his body and mind into total shutdown for 24 hours, the heat of the fire evaporated the water, and he lay inactive until urinated on.
Sampson decided to stay put and conserve energy, hoping to get enough ambient heat from the sun to fuel more exploration during the day. And that’s exactly what he did without incident. The sun rose, the people came out of their houses and flooded the streets, and Sampson scuttled among them, hoping someone would recognize him. Through practice he was able to adapt his two brittle and bent forearms into a kind of microphone, analyzing vibrations that rang through them and turning them into a recognizable sound pattern. This felt like an immense accomplishment, something that shouldn’t have been possible at all, but somehow he had done it.
Belle woke up late. Her brunch had already been delivered and was waiting by the door. With an enormous hangover she slowly walked to the service tray and stood facing the door, dutifully eating her meal while barely keeping her eyes open. After downing her coffee mixed with some whiskey and analgesic powder, she felt good enough to start the day. She remembered pissing on a robot. The first time she had done so and avoided incarceration. A robot with sharp limbs. Belle pissed on a robot with sharp limbs in the wreckage of her apartment complex. She picked up the phone and called the police department.
“I’d like to report the location of a suspect! And to order 2 bags of Teriyaki Beef Jerky!!”
Soon Belle was outside with the four officers. Two of them were still doing an “investigation” of the apartment complex, and the other two were the cops that had come to her door the day before. Belle had to find a way to explain to the cops how she was in the ashes of her property and not urinating, she absolutely did not want to go to jail again.
“I was walking through the rubble, reminiscing about my life as a landlord,” Belle stated with a straight face.
“Uh-huh” said police officer 1.
Police officer 2 simply frowned and handed her 2 bags of teriyaki beef jerky.
“And you’re sure you weren’t pissing on the ashes?” continued number 1.
“I’m an old lady! I could never be seen doing such a thing, no matter how popular it was when I was a teen. I don’t even know if it’s still in vogue.” Belle thought she was really selling it now.
The police didn’t believe her for a second, but without evidence they could do nothing.
“Anyway, officers, I was walking through here at night, lost in thought, when I noticed a robot matching the photo emerging from the rubble. Six, at least, squiggling pointy arms and legs. Right here.” Belle pointed at the depression in the ground that was shaped like Sampson.
Alright m’am, thank you for the information, but if he were here there would be a GloboRoboNet GPS coordinates record of him having been here. No robot can escape its infinite data logging capabilities. GloboRoboNet was a giant robot in the sky that knew a bunch of stuff, and Belle didn’t doubt it’s capabilities. But it had to be the same robot! What are the chances?
“Hey, Lardo, wouldn’t it be possible that the fire damage shorted out the robot’s GPS system?” One of the investigators said to cop number 1.
“Don’t say GPS system, the ‘S’ in ‘GPS’ already stands for ‘system.’ You just said ‘Global Positioning System System.’”
“Classic Lardo.” responded the investigator with a dumb smile at Belle. “But don’t you think you should be thinking about the case?”
Lardo agreed. It was a possibility, and given the testimony of the kid they locked up last week, this same robot was also likely the cause of the fire. It was all coming into place. With the help of this old woman they’d soon have the robot they were after, and then the kudos start rolling in. Facebook likes were definitely in his future when he explained how he solved the case, perhaps with a picture of the robot. It almost seemed too good.
Lardo made intense eye contact with Belle: “Belle, I’m gonna need you to come with me on a ride along to find our robot. I know it’s not standard procedure but this is an urgent matter.”
“But Officer Lardo, you already have a photograph of him.”
Lardo looked at police officer number 2 disapprovingly.
“Number Two here lost the photograph yesterday. We think he may have left it in his other jacket.”
“Are the handcuffs really necessary?” asked Belle as she was put into the squad car.
“Woops, sorry, that’s just force of habit. Let me take those off.”
Sampson bumped and stabbed his way through the sea of people on the sidewalk. Would anyone ever recognize him? He wasn’t sure how to communicate without his speaker. Suddenly he felt hands upon him and heard through the din of the crowd: “This has got to be him! He looks kinda melted.” He felt himself helplessly being hoisted up and tied to the top of a squad car. “My God, he looks like he’s been turned into some kind of giant man-sized… turd. And he smells like pee!” Sampson now realized he looked like a big turd. He tried his best to vibrate his forearms to make the sound waves he wanted, but it was just too far-fetched.
Belle and Sampson were brought deep inside the heart of the police department, to the interrogation rooms. The floor was very clean and shiny, having been waxed the night before. They really looked great. Hats off to George, the guy who did floor service for the department. Really outdid yourself George, looked great. “Oh, thanks,” he might have said in response. What a great guy.
“Why am I here again?” asked Belle.
“Oh, damn. Sorry ma’am, that’s still just force of habit. I can let you out now.” Said Lardo.
“Oh, I’m not complaining, I was just wondering.”
“Listen up, robot,” started Lardo. “We’ve got some news for you.”
“Yeah!” said Number Two, who it turned out could actually speak. His voice was kind of squeaky.
Police officers. Something surfaced in Sampson’s memory. He remembered killing two police officers. That’s what this is about. He was going to get the electric chair for sure. Sampson realized then why he should have felt rage: He was hated, hunted, and shaped like a big turd! He tried to summon the energy to feel enraged, but could not, only sorrow was inside of him.
“Your whole world is about to get turned inside-out and upside-down, robot.” Lardo said, trying in vain to make intense eye contact with Sampson.
“Oh no, here it comes.” thought Sampson.
“We’ve matched your ID stamp with the insurance card you left on the squad car. It’s indisputable proof you were at the scene.”
“Oh my God.”
“On behalf of the Police Department, and our families, we’d like to thank you for performing those life-saving operations on us.” Interrupted Number Two.
“What?” thought Sampson.
“That’s right, Number Two. We don’t know how you did it, Mr. Sampson, but your expert needlework removed the tumors from both our hearts and lungs perfectly, with only minor superficial damage. This city needs more people like you. My wife even gave me a blowjob for not having any cancer!”
“This is amazing.” thought Sampson. “I’m a hero! And now I’m finally busy enjoying my life!”
“Because of your extraordinary service to the city, we’d like to offer you a full rebuild of your broken, gross, turd-like body. We can make you look any way you like!” Officer Lardo said.
“I don’t even know how to thank you for this,” Sampson tried to say, still attempting to vibrate his forearms to do so.
“Wow, looks like he likes it!” said Belle.
“It’s an honor to live on the same planet as you, Goldblum Sampson.” was written on a sheet cake that Number Two set in front of Sampson.
“Alright, well, let’s finish this up tomorrow when Mr. Sampson has a head.” said Lardo.
The lights were turned off and the door closed, locked, and barricaded. Sampson sat alone in front of his cake, which he was not even aware of. His ship had finally come in. Not only would he soon to get a whole new body, he could finally hold his head up high as both a great typist and a surgeon – maybe he could finally impress his brother. Sampson just couldn’t wait to get worked over. He put himself into sleep mode to pass the time faster.
He woke up to the feeling of being strapped onto large dolly. He squirmed his forearms in excitement. “Okay, big guy, just hold on a minute.” said the mysterious man wheeling him down the hallway. He was loaded into what felt like the back of a large van or truck. As the truck traveled Sampson’s body rattled and shook around and a few cardboard boxes fell over on him, but it was okay because he was about to be fixed. A cardboard box full of snow globes – and Sampson knew it was snow globes because this had happened to him before – fell on him and smashed glass and snow-resistant fluid all over him.
Just as long as the liquid didn’t enter into his still-gaping neck hole, thought Sampson, he should be fine. Things were fine. Things remained fine for Sampson. Except for the truck flipping over. This could have been a disaster for Sampson, but he smartly stabbed his legs into the floor of the truck to remain above the gallons of deadly liquid splashing about. Eventually some passing motorists flipped the delivery truck back over and it continued on it’s way. By this point Sampson was, in an even more genius move, standing on his neckhole.
After the long journey, he was loaded onto a dolly again and brought into a heavily air-conditioned series of hallways. It sounded like he was passing rooms where machines were being worked on by grumpy IT professionals. He must be in Ben Torque’s Robot Hospital.
Sampson found himself hoisted up and strapped to an operating table, and was promptly electrocuted with high voltage current until his failsafes switched and he entered a shutdown state. A robot in a shutdown state couldn’t feel or think or move. It was like the robot had been turned off, like a person might do to a fan or a copy machine, only this was a robot. I should have explained this earlier in the aftermath of the fire, but you can pretend that you knew what was happening all along, right?
Sampson awoke with full vision, hearing, smell, taste, and speaking ability intact. His internal clock alerted him that only 10 minutes had passed. A middle aged man holding a soldering iron was in front of him with a blank expression on his face.
“Alright, what kind of body would you like?”
“I’ve restored communication function, so now tell me: What kind of body would you like? The city said they’d pay for whatever you want.”
“Oh, a head is connected to my sensor wires.”
“Yeah, I know. I just did it.” The man was becoming irritated.
“It’s not even attached. You just set my head on top of my chest!”
“Listen, it’s not final. Just tell me what kind of body you want, and I’ll put you in it.”
“Oh! Uh,” Sampson realized he should have used the ride up here to consider what he wanted to look like. “I guess.. uh.. what are my options?”
The man sighed heavily. “You have unlimited options. Anything you can think of.”
“What body would be suitable for a world famous chef robot who can type fast, and is also an unkillable God king?”
“Definitely the ULTRALUX600 series with adamantium plating and a forcefield attachment.”
“I don’t know if I’ve seen the ULTRALUX600 series.” said Sampson.
“Yeah they just came out, it looks just like the ULTRALUX550 but it’s got better toe articulation.”
“Oh wow, I could prepare gourmet meals with my feet!” Exclaimed Sampson. “I definitely want that.”
“You got it, boss.” The man flipped on the high voltage current.
“Wait! Wait! I have another request!” Sampson screamed, struggling to maintain consciousness.
The man flipped off the switch. “Okay, yeah, whatever you want. Just hurry up and tell me.”
It’s actually pretty simple to hook a robot’s brain parts up to a new body, what’s hard is getting all the correct hardware drivers to work. Sampson spent five hours intermittently being awakened, asked to test a specific function, and then electrocuted until he died again, But it was all worth it. When he stepped off of the robot operating table, he looked just like a peak physical condition human, only with cool metal skin and some familiar spikey limbs sticking out the side of his body. “Nothing can stop me now.” Sampson thought as he gleefully hopped into a cab.
The first thing he had to do was learn how to become a gourmet chef. But! Before that, he thought he’d better get some practice typing in his new body. He asked the cab to go to Best Buy and to wait for him outside. No, he didn’t care that he would be running the meter the entire time. Sampson burst through the doors of the store, and, to his surprise, did not puncture anyone. Having a few limbs that weren’t just sharp spikes was working out to his advantage already. He approached the computers on display and timed himself recreating a paragraph from his favorite Joel Osteen book. 50 words per minute! Sampson had beaten his old record by a significant margin, and felt as if he was only barely scraping the surface of his new body.
From Best Buy, a store that’s always available in the hottest, most relevant locations, it was a short drive downtown to the ceremony that had been arranged to honor Sampson for saving the lives of those two cops he thought he had killed.
Sampson was fashionably late, and the ceremony was already under way. “Thank you for saving the lives of these two police officers,” said the mayor, whose name Sampson could not remember. Officers Lardo and Number Two shook his hand. “The city of Portland, Oregon honors you, as you honor us.” The Princess put a medallion over his new shiny neck, and everyone on stage turned to face the crowd of people that had gathered.
Sampson took a big bite out of the medallion and said, “It’s an honorific, ma’am!” and winked at every available news camera. The crowd exploded into applause. Belle was there in the front row. Sampson had no idea who she was because he was blind when they met and she wasn’t speaking right now, so he couldn’t recognize her by voice. Sampson missed a great opportunity to thank her for peeing all over his chest. After that, Sampson just sort of walked off into the street and down the road towards his apartment. He saw his father driving his brother again, and was able to flag them down for a ride.
“Hey cutie.” Sampson’s father said to him when he got in the cab of the truck.
“Woah, no, Dad, it’s me! Sampson (Goldblum).”
Sampson (4QX788) activated his ID scanner. “Well I’ll be God-damned. Son, when did you get such a bitchin’ new body?”
“After you and Sampson (Reginald) ran over my head last week! And after I became a hero for saving the lives of two police officers.”
“I heard about it that on the radio, thought it must have been some other Sampson (Goldblum).” Isn’t that right, Sampson (Reginald)?
The truck honked loudly.
“Didn’t your job burn down? How can you afford this on job you ain’t even got?” Sampson (4QX788) asked.
“I didn’t father, the city paid for all of it for saving those two cops.”
“Well, I need some money. Do you think you could sell it and get put back into something cheaper? I’ll pay you back.” These would be Sampson (4QX788)’s last words.
Sampson (Goldblum) exited the cab of the truck with a “Fuck this.” and lifted it up from the bumper, Superman-style: by extending the forcefield function to encompass both himself and the entire truck, he could put an incredible amount of strain on a single point without it failing. Sampson (Goldblum) hurled the truck far into the sky and walked home without looking back. Miles away at Trustworthy Insurance Company, the sole owner and proprietor was reading over the claim made by Belle for her apartment complex. “I won’t pay this for as long as I live!” he screamed. Sampson (Reginald) and Sampson (4QX788) landed on him in a fiery explosion. The money was immediately deposited into Belle’s bank account.
Sampson decided he’d rather not deal with his mother right that second, and even though she was leaning out the window waiting to yell at him if he went by, she could no longer recognize him. From his mother’s point of view, a beautiful naked robot man snubbed his nose at her for no reason and then walked into the grimey apartments across the street. What a day. All she wanted to know is where her son was. Sampson entered his home and sat down in his dusty, grime-covered recliner. Everything was as it should be. Sampson picked up a perforated but still-functioning gameboy with his new human-like hands and turned it on.
He would only destroy ten more gameboys through the course of his life.