This story is definitely my most experimental yet, as I’m using the official prompt from storyaday.org: Write a story in the form of a list. It may have turned out a bit messy, and the formatting got screwed up (I hope it’s not too unreadable), but I enjoyed trying something very new.
The story indirectly features a character who was originally mentioned in my tale from May 16th, The Clockwork Cowboy.
Professor Calamity’s To-Do List
- Brainstorm ideas for a new hideout location, since that meddlesome, do-gooder sheriff destroyed my latest secret laboratory:
Inside a volcano?The nearest one is a thousand miles away. Plus, the heat? I don’t like to sweat.
- Beneath the desert sands? Could fashion a periscope inside a cactus. Flat terrain would allow me to spot the approach of meddlesome sheriffs long before they arrive.
At the bottom of a lake?I hate fish.
- Addendum: Consider creation of fish-killing automaton. Corrosion is chief obstacle.
- Create a fake town, populated by
paid actorskidnapped settlers, to conceal laboratory’s existence?
- Locate and kill
that meddlesome sheriff.ALL meddlesome sheriffs. The do-gooding business seems to be contagious.
- Addendum: Research whether do-gooding is literally contagious. If so, mustdevise inoculation. Luckily, automatons are immune to ordinary pathogens.
- Remember to run diagnostic on Unit-N1T0’s emotion dials. Behavior has been odd lately. May require full disassembly — could use scrapped parts to repair other units.
- MUST decide on catchy branding for my automatons. Otherwise, the public will invent their own terrible nickname.
- Professor Calamity’s… Deadly Destructo-machines?
- …Mechanized Horrors?
- …Killbots? Keep it short and sweet.
Marvelous Metallic Men — wife keeps insisting on this one.We divorced. Reached a settlement for half my KILLBOTS. Poor darlings will probably become laughingstocks, once she’s naming them.
- Look into creation of female automatons.
Could they ever be a suitable replacement for human wife?
- Key issues:
- What makes an automaton female? Is it as simple as changing voice module to a higher pitch? Or is there some ineffable quality beyond the reach of their creator’s designs?
- I have not bothered to ask my current collection of killbots if they are all male, I have simply assumed. Ex-wife used to say I did that all the time — make assumptions. I told her if she would write out a detailed list of her feelings and opinions, on a variety of subjects, as they occurred to her, I would be happy to read it. She didn’t like that idea.
- Getting off track…
- Should female automatons be shorter than males?
- Manufacture more giant-lizard repellent. All their stomping around the perimeter is throwing off the calibration of my delicate instruments.
- Another reminder to check Unit-N1T0’s systems for mechanical errors. Caught him opening his own chest panel to stare at emotion dials. Inhibitors prevent him from actually manipulating dials, but concerning behavior. So much to do…
Send squad of killbots to steal eggs from nearby giant-lizard nests. May have substantial value either for research purposes or breakfast.
- Repair squad of heavily damaged killbots. Many melted components fused together, may be unsalvageable.
- Bolster overall morale by sending killbots to terrorize helpless local villagers, traveling settlers, outlying farms (possibly cows, too?). The units could use an easy win after recent miscalculations.
- Draw up initial schematics for new Mega-Killbots. Like the original, but bigger. Unfortunately, stress on joints increases exponentially. May have to invent completely new alloy for the purpose, but nothing is impossible for Professor Calamity!
- New alloy is unfeasible. Must find alternate solution.
Remember to consider the feelings of all living things. Everyone has rich inner worlds and experiences: the automatons you designed with emotion dials, the frightened humans you send them to menace and kill, the giant-lizards who seek to protect their young. Even the cows. I have found they dislike flies, and, surprisingly, enjoy music. More investigation is needed. Most importantly, you, professor, have feelings, too. Even soft and tender ones, no matter how deeply you bury them. Do not let yourself be consumed by bitterness over your ex-wife. I know it grates on your nerves that her Marvelous Metallic Men have thrived without your further contribution. I know you have doubts about who is truly the greater scientist. If I may share my opinion: it is the one with the greatest heart. And the greatest heart is the one that is most open. Between you two, I cannot say, but the balance could still be tipped. To have an open heart is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to have an open heart. You may seek to create invulnerable men of metal, but do not try to make yourself into one of them. You will fail. And in failure cause much pain to others.
- Who in the hell wrote this long-winded drivel?
- Couldn’t have been an automaton, that would violate at least… five different restrictions imposed by their inhibitors. My last human assistant had an… accident two weeks ago, while examining a giant-lizard egg. Turns out those devils are dangerous from the moment they hatch. The one before that “volunteered” to be killbot target practice, by stealing my research notes.
- There was that bounty hunter I hired the other day… she was nosing around too much. Thought she was only looking for gold — didn’t realize I’m not in this for money, but for the glory of science! Anyway…
- To do: find vandal and use them as test subject for effects of ingesting large quantities of giant-lizard flame glands. Hypothesis: results will be explosive.
- Send asssination killbots to hunt down and destroy Unit-N1T0 at all costs. He poses no danger to me, or my operations, but just think of the potential for embarrassment! People will start calling my darlings “hugbots” or “touchy-feely-bots” or some other horrid, unforgivable nickname if they’re ever allowed contact with the rogue N1T0.
- Must also determine how his Empathy dial broke off at maximum setting.
- Consider removing Empathy dial entirely from future killbot models, excepting specialized infiltration units — it has yet to prove its value in day-to-day operations.
- Do not neglect to kill meddlesome deputies, either. In the recent absence of sheriffs, they have become a nuisance as well.
- Ramp up production for construction of an entire army of killbots. My sympathizers whisper of the government raising an army to send against me. They shall be met in kind with overwhelming force.
- Calculate maximum lifespan of automatons, based on ordinary component degradation, and prepare training regimen on self-repair. Expectation: My killbots shall live forever, and through them, so shall I!
Thanks for reading!