The Mechanic - A fable in six parts - Part Four

 Part Three can be found here.

Inside the cabin, he found no sign of recent human or drone activity. A work table was in the center; that was familiar. The Mechanic's attention was drawn to other items inside the cabin, strange things that might give him a clue what it meant to be human. A device against the wall, a container of glass - did it pertain to human sustenance? A dark stain in the bottom like liquid settled into nothing. Storage cabinets at face-level held metal cans and cardboard boxes with their contents escaping through jagged holes. Cloth he knew to be  human coverings hung from pegs in the wall.

In the corner he found a soft pad on a low bench - is this where humans rest? - with a manual lying on it. A manual might bring comfort where everything is unknown, the Mechanic thought to himself. The manual seemed brittle; he lifted it carefully, in case it might fall apart. Its name was written large across the cover:


The illustration on the cover of the manual included a small human female and a very ancient-looking style of robot. But as he turned the pages, he became more confused. It was no instruction manual for any procedures, but seemed to be a chronicle of the human walking a trail as he'd just done. So maybe it's a human Here it is. This manual contained the story of the first meeting of human and drone.

The Mechanic was rapt. The human female wasn't complete - she wouldn't have been a manager at the factory - but yet she still found fault with the robot. Parts missing. 

"I haven't got a heart," the robot in the manual said. And so, the small human invited the robot to join her on a journey to find a wizard: someone who could make them both complete. He put down the manual. 

There isn't any wizard, he thought to himself a little peevishly. There is only me, with a chicken bone lodged in my face. It was then that the Mechanic decided to take himself apart completely, to determine what he was. 

He couldn't take himself apart all at once, of course; just an appendage at a time. He took off his face-plate, first order of business, and laid it on the work table. He jiggled his head, but the chicken bone did not fall out. He noticed the chicken smell had become stronger. 

The Mechanic surveyed every inch of the cabin, collecting on the worktable any tools which might be useful. He collected several bolts, screwdrivers, a roll of wiring, a prybar, and sheets of covering material, but there were items with which he was unfamiliar. He assigned names for his own reference. The pronged flillbg he used to excise the chicken bone was laid next to the hyperstereoscope in his work area, a place of veneration. He found a manual with blank pages, and some tools which caused print, and wrote down each step taken as he disassembled himself. As with the tools, he named parts for which he hadn't learned a label.

His work was painstaking: removing his covering, identifying what he found under it, and then removing those parts to see what was beneath and how they were joined. Sometimes he was inspired to build a replacement for one of his parts, either because it weak or because he saw a way to improve it. He took extra care to accurately depict these new parts in his manual – perhaps future generations of bots would benefit.

At first, he tried to maintain a proper schedule and return to the padded bench at shut-down time.  He felt it was important to reassemble what he'd taken apart before sleeping, but that didn't always correlate with the schedule. He chose to deviate.

The lighting in the cabin was archaic; none was generated within the cabin so total darkness came when the sun went down. Disassembling a part of himself he knew well, he could continue working, but he couldn't be sure he was writing accurately in his manual. Also, he couldn't stop thinking. He was nearing completion on the manual of himself, but feeling more and more strange. His processes were frazzling and becoming incohesive.

Read the next installment here.


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