Chapter: 7) What Became of Mr C Randow
Fandom: I, Robot
Rating: 15 for bad language, sexual references, violence, references to deviant sexual behaviour and to lesbianism
Warnings: fic contains robot/human relationship, religious referances, alcoholism, suicide, depression, nudity, swearing
Disclaimer: Please note that I do not own the characters, concept or plot of the 'I, Robot' book or film, those rights belong to 20th Centuary Fox and the Asimov estate.
Author's Note: This fanfiction is my own creation though so please do not steal. I am patchworkdove
Charles Randow and Andrew Dayson were relieved of their stations either side of Mr. Hine’s temporary office at the end of that morning’s shift for their lunch break at 11:30 am. It was now Mike and Eddie’s turn to silently imitate statues in that boring, featureless corridor for a few hours.
Charles had dark brown hair and eyes and was a tall, stretched out character with long, ‘monkey-man’ arms and a prominent adam’s apple. Andrew on the other hand had pale blonde hair, freakishly pale grey eyes and was very short. He had a bit of a ‘short-guy’ complex and he had a big, volatile, super-concentrated ego to make up for his shortcomings in the height department and he was quite brazen and aggressive, and a bit in-your-face at times but very amusing to work with. There was never a dull day on shift with the little guy, which was hard to imagine when guards spent most of their working days wordlessly standing around.
Charles quietly made his way through the building with Andrew following behind. Normally they would have gone to the staff canteen for lunch, but it wasn’t open today. There weren’t enough people at USR today to warrant getting the catering staff in and firing up the industrial-sized kitchen appliances so him and his good buddy Andy got hot-dogs from the temporary vending cart parked outside instead. With two dogs each, both slathered in mustard and ketchup, they went back into the great building and sat in the staff rest area to eat.
Andy was blathering on about some recent female conquest of his all the way and Charles only paid the most scathing and bare minimum of attention, inserting “yeah”’s, “nah”’s and the odd “sweet” in to fake interest. Andy was always going on about some chick and it made interesting conversation at times, but he wasn’t in the mood to listen today. When he had first started working with the little bloke he had thought of him as a belligerent, chauvinist, womanising bastard, but the more he got to know Andy, he realised he wasn’t that bad. Most of the terribly base comments he made were only said to provoke reactions. He seemed to get a kick out of eliciting uncharacteristic outbursts from other people. It had caused some interesting chains of events over the years, but Charles had grown used to the guy’s ways and he had learned to take pretty much everything he said with more than just a pinch of salt. He’d grown very fond of the provoking pygmy and the two of them became good, solid friends.
Mattie, Philly-o and Paul, short for Pauline although ‘short’ couldn’t really be applied to any aspect of that gal except her fuse, were all sat in the security staff-room with a few hot-dogs each. Charles gave them all a quick collective greeting with a nonchalant wave of one large hand on a long, lanky arm and a “hey all” before finding a seat. He sat on one of the scabby, tattered, beige, plastic chairs and tucked into his hot dog. He loved mustard, but he must have been a little over zealous in his hunger as his nasal cavity now felt as if a moderate bonfire had been ignited there. He swallowed it down quickly and looked across at Andy, who was casually chewing a mouthful and staring into space with a smirk on his lips. “What you thinking about, or dare I not ask?” Charles asked slyly.
Andy gulped down his food, grinning and nodding his head a little. “That sexy little silver she-devil, Dr. Calvin. Never given her much of a second glance before, but hair down? Woof.” He said gruffly and took another bite.
Charles rolled his eyes. “You are such a slut. I swear you’d have a go at anything if it had a couple of tits slapped on it.”
Andy must have been paying attention, which was rare when food was about. “Hey, come on beanpole, as if you wouldn’t?”
“Please no Andy, that woman is queer as hell.”
“Pfft, I wasn’t talking about that! She’s an odd one, but got a fine ass with it. Admit it, you would, wouldn’t you?”
“No actually, I wouldn’t.”
“Nice ass…long legs…slim waist…her face ‘aint really that bad either. What’s not to like?” Andy shrugged and went to take another bite of his ‘dog.
“You know full well that woman makes my skin crawl.” He drew his shoulders up to block a shiver and took an aggressive chunk out of his own lunch.
Andy dropped his food away from his mouth and gave him a distasteful look. “Aww, Charlzie man, your not still bangin’ on about bloody Benny ‘bot, are you?”
“It wasn’t Benny, it was called Lenny.”
“Yeah, whatever man, whatever. It got axed ages ago though, didn’t it? Why’s it still bothering you?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
Ever since that incident with Lenny, Charles had been distrustful of robots and now he had been proven correct in his assertion that robots were dangerous. Nobody would argue now, after the NS-5 attacks. He had been as surprised as anyone else when the new Nestors flipped, but he had told them so, lots of times. He would often tell people that ‘robots were dangerous things’, and people had dismissed him as a paranoid robophobe and a ‘Simple-Lifer’. He wasn’t at all, he just didn’t trust the machines like he used to. Having your arm broken by a seven-foot plus, unsafe, insane robot did that to you.
He still felt bitter about that particular robot and the events surrounding it. He had been a Computer Technician once and he had enjoyed a more comfortable life, but he was easily persuaded and his curiosity and his colleagues had got the better of him. He had swiped a keycard to get access to Dr. Calvin’s laboratory to investigate the rumours. It was known that the prototype of the LNE model, LNE-1, was being kept in her lab, but there were rumours that Dr. Calvin was teaching it to speak like a musical instrument.
Naturally, him and his work mates had been curious. Why teach an LNE to speak musically? The LNE model was a large, metallic, industrial robot designed for the mining and production of boron hydrides in the asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, marking the boundary between the inner and outer planets. It was a 2.2 meter tall off-world mining machine, what possible benefits could chatting like a cello bring? It had dark, red, spectroscopic eyes so that it could detect concentrated seams of boron and extremely dextrous arms and fingers to operate other, simpler machines and pieces of equipment to extract the ore and process it into the finished product ready for transport. There was no logical reason to give it a singsong voice.
There had even been money bet on whether the rumours were true or not, some of them quite substantial on the grounds of one of his old friend’s assertion that Dr. Calvin ‘could teach a gatepost to talk’. Naturally, he had been put up to the task of finding out and settling the bets. Well, that wasn’t strictly true, his best mate had drawn the short straw and lost the lottery, but Roger always had been a scaredy-cat and Charles had offered to go for him. He had always been like that, it had got him into trouble allot at school. He was just stupid enough to do what other people told him to and usually got caught doing it. He was always caught red-handed with other people’s plans. He wasn’t a grass though, and he got used to taking the rap for other people. It earned him an odd kind of respect and gained him many friends and allies, which balanced out the fact he was always getting into trouble.
He had snook into the odd woman’s lab and found the LNE sat on the floor, thumb in its mouth, whirring away to itself. It had freaked him out then, in the dark of that neurotic doctor’s private quarters, but he had to find out if it talked or not. He had addressed the machine, but it didn’t even acknowledge his presence. He had repeated his remark, more forcefully but still it sat and hummed quietly to itself. Then he had grown less nervous of the LNE and had stepped closer, walking right up to the massive machine’s side. He had asked it many questions, even given it orders but it didn’t respond or obey. He began to get irritated. It wouldn’t answer or even look at him! It was ignoring him, completely blanking him out. He needed to see if the thing talked or not, he couldn’t go back with a false answer. He grasped its shoulder and gave it a little shake.
LNE-1 looked up at him and crooned out a few pretty-sounding chimes before looking away again apparently disinterested. Perturbed by the dumb machine he shook it again, a fair old shake it was too. That got its attention. It looked up at him again, turning it’s body a little to face him and sang out in its instrumental voice ‘da daie ga gu eh’.
He had stepped back in surprise. Its voice really was like a musical instrument, completely unlike any other robotic speech he had encountered, and he had talked to many robots of varying models. It was a beautiful sound, very pleasant to listen to…but it had not spoken like a musical instrument. It sounded like one, chiming in tones not totally unlike a piccolo, but it had uttered nonsense, a string of syllables with no meaning.
Not satisfied with the result and confidant that the thing could speak, he tried again, yelling and shaking to get a response from the prototype but to no avail. All robots fitted with vocal equipment could talk, and this LNE’s babble confirmed it could vocalise, so it must be capable of speech. Even robots who’s positronic pathways had become knotted and scrambled beyond all hope could still churn out a handful of words, although its sentences might not make much sense. If he could just get this idiot of a robot to speak a word or two he would have something to go back to the guys with.
He grew nervous, Dr. Calvin could come back at any moment and he was frightened of her, all the higher staff were strange and eccentric, but she was an exceptionally weird and particularly deranged one. He was struck by the thought that he could use the Three Laws to get a word out of the machine. Surely it would speak if it needed to protect itself, that was the Third Law. It had ignored the Second Law, taking no notice of the orders he gave it, but he might be able to scare it into talking. Thinking he had hit upon a good idea, he pulled back his arm and swung a punch at the robot’s head. A slap wouldn’t have done, robots were too sturdy.
In the few short seconds that his arm was on a collision course with the robot’s head, the LNE turned on him, lashing out with its own powerful, flexibly-jointed arm. The new, polished metal sang through a shining arc in the low light as it dealt him a harsh blow, the air whistling as it was cut by the robotic limb. It struck him forcefully, breaking his arm in an instant. He cried out in pain from his impossibly twisted, snapped bones and in horror too. The beast was not First Law safe! It had harmed a human!
He landed on the floor, crying out in his lack of experience with pain. The hulking machine advanced on him, with a look of murderous intent in its burning, hellish red eyes. He froze in shock and terror for a brief moment before he shouted ‘get back!’ and scrambled to his feet to run to the door. He fumbled with the door lock, glancing over his shoulder in fear to see the monstrous, shadowy thing on its feet, beginning to stalk towards him. Dr. Calvin’s demonic, adopted spawn was a hazardous, savage fiend and she had given it a beautiful, transfixing siren’s song to hide the fact that it was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. LNE-1 was totally Unsafe! His desperation to escape renewed, he let out a choked screamed and finally unlocked the door, wriggling through the gap even before they had opened fully and running off down the corridor in blind panic with his broken arm flopping grotesquely.
He had got into allot of trouble for that, despite the fact that Dr. Calvin’s sweet ‘Lenny’ had violated the primary Law and harmed him. He had been found guilty of trespassing in restricted areas, entering a HOD’s lab without prior permission, tampering with an experiment and conspiring against another member of staff. The guys had got off with warnings but he had been fired. He’d managed to get a job in USR’s security division not long after with the intent of proving he could be trusted and working his way back into the Computer Technician core. That had been a couple of years ago now. Despite the smaller wage, less plush staff-room and ugly uniform, he had come to enjoy this job more. The people he worked with now were more human, fun to work with and for once his ability to do what other people told him was a bonus and not a burden. Strangely, after his confrontation with Lenny, Charles had been quite glad to be no longer working with broken electronic circuitry, failing programs and mechanical malfunctions.
After the Lenny incident he had come to, dislike was too strong a word, but he no longer held robots and senior staff so highly. He almost resented the doctors, professors and executives for firing him and not instantly destroying that machine, but he had pretty much got over it. Now he was almost smug with recent events in a childish, ‘I-told-you-so’ way.
“I’m not sure, maybe because the bugger broke my arm and lost me my job?” Charles finished sarcastically.
“You’re in a bitchy mood today aren’t you? Not been getting enough, that’s your problem. You should have come down to the club with me after work last week. I’m telling you they were all over my uniform. Ladies really dig the camo-khaki-army style green gear. You might have got lucky for once.” Andy said humorously. “I just think that Dr. Calvin is one cold fish I’d love to fry!”
“No seriously! I think she’d be a right animal in bed, the quiet ones often are. You saw the way she marched towards us earlier, all military-like. I bet you she’s an ‘on top’ gal.” He chuckled with the smutty smile he often took on when talking about women. “I’m sure she’d be a real screamer.”
“Andy, that is right-and-royally sick.”
“Why? Honest to God, I’m telling you under all that prim-and-proper, up-tight haughtiness beats the heart of a true dominatrix! I’d bet you any money she’s a right kinky bitch.”
“Andy!” Charles dropped his hot-dog onto the table. “Have you ever actually talked to her?”
“Nah, ‘course I haven’t. Them doctors are a self-to-themselves bunch.”
“It shows. Anyone who had ever talked to her would never say her heart beats with anything. She doesn’t have a heart! She’s a cold, calculating, cruel creature. She is more machine than woman.”
“Yeah, I heard she’s a bit of an Ice Queen. Wouldn’t take me long to lick the frost off her though!”
“That’s a total understatement!” Charles shouted over Andy’s frost comment, but it failed to cut off his friend’s talk or even drown it out. “When I was in the Nurse’s room after her dear little Lenny snapped my arm like a toothpick, she came to talk at me. See, she doesn’t talk to or with you, it’s always at you. She’s sharp and cold as a knife, she’s really, really threatening. I felt attacked even though she was just sat there, all small and innocuous, looking at me with those narrowed, dark, beady eyes with her lips drawn thin and pale like a viper.”
Andy was using the same berating tone with him he had used a few moments earlier. It was patronising. “Everyone else who came to see me was properly concerned. A robot had harmed a human being to the extent of broken bones! It violated Lanning’s Laws! It was unheard of and as far as I know it was a unique occurrence up until a couple of days ago. Anyway, everyone else was all for destroying this beastly machine, apart from Goddamn Dr. Calvin. When she came to see me, there wasn’t the slightest trace of concern for my welfare. All she cared about was saving her precious bloody robot from the scrap heap. She just cut in, stabbing questions at me, twisting my words and carving them up until they fitted in with her interpretation of things.”
“Well, you shouldn’t really have been in the lab…”
“For Christ’s’ sake Andy, she was keeping an Unsafe robot in the building! It needed to be destroyed, it’s positronic pathways were malfunctioning so bad it couldn’t speak a word of sense and was breaking the Laws left, right and centre! She doted over that damn thing like it was a bloody child! She hates people with every molecule of her being and she’s taken robots as her new kin. She loves robots like family.”
“Charles, she is a machine shrink. She probably just gets on with them more cause she understands them better.” Andy continued with his lunch and tried to ignore him in an effort to get Charles off the subject.
“You don’t get it Andy, she values robots far above humans. Keeping the reactors and cores of factory-made machinery going is more important to her than human lives, and the machines know it! She loves them and they reciprocate somehow. I’ve seen it Andy, robots like her. They seem to identify with her and she’s just like them, she’s got a heart of ice and a thick skin of steel. If I were any less lucid I would swear blind that she is a machine. A new robot, one that can almost blend in with humans, but not quite. Think about it, she understands them like brothers and she hates humans, I’d bet it’s because we have her beloved family do our bidding like slaves. She mothers them, they are like her children. She’s a venomous, bitter thing, and I wouldn’t put it past her to have been a ‘woman on the inside’ for the terrorists just so that she could see her offspring get one up on us. She is unnatural, not an Ice Queen, more like some kind of Robot Queen. All her little mechanical subjects scurrying around like worker bees, worshipping the ground she walks on like she’s some sort of goddess. I bet she’s trippin’ on the power of having metal armies almost at her whim. All that stands between her and world domination is Lanning’s Three Laws, may his soul rest in peace, and I bet she’s doing her best to break those.”
“Uuh, yeah Charles. Whatever man.” Andy regarded him with a degree of uncertainty. “You sure you’re not a robophobe? That was some pretty damn disturbing shit. You want a cup of water, mate?”
Charles sighed. “Sure man, only if you’re going.”
Andy got up and walked over towards the slightly leaky water dispenser in the corner, leaving Charles to think about what he had just said. Andy was right, that had been a bit of an odd outburst. It would seem that he wasn’t as prepared for his little friend’s queer, provoking ways as he had thought he was. It had been disturbing, but it was kind of what he really thought. Dr. Calvin was a dead, empty shell of a human being.
Charles realised with a little redeeming smugness that the reaction Andy had got out of him was a little different than he’d expected.
Andy held a ridged-sided, white, plastic cup up to the dispenser and pressed it against the little blue lever until it was full of drinking water, and then filled another. Bubbles of air gurgled up in the big bluish reservoir as he did. He pulled away and started to return to his seat, the dispenser continuing to leak and dribbling water into a strategically positioned waste bin on the floor underneath with pattering, echoed splashes. “Hey, Philly-o my man, you’ll agree with me won’tchya?” Andy stopped at the other, fuller table.
The heavily freckled, ginger haired and shockingly green-eyed youth looked up from his last remaining hot-dog. “What you on about this time, Dayson?”
“Dr. Calvin. Fit-to-fuck or what?”
The young but slightly superior officer popped the tail end of his lunch in his mouth and grinned, nodding. “Hell yeah.” He dusted the roll flour off his fingers and smoothed his reddish goatee.
Andy put down one cup and held out his hand, palm-up. “Under that uniform is a potential top-shelf model, I’m damn sure of it.”
“Sure thing, and I bet our dear Dr. Calvin could give Sheila the Screamer a run for her money!” Phil laughed and slapped the offered hand, then the pair of them winked, clicked their fingers and pointed at each other with gunned hands in the way they did. Andy could be a real suck-up sometimes, swiftly forging a friendship with their new superior of three months prior with a bizarre, cliquey greeting.
“I’m likin’ the way you think mate! How about you Mattie?” Andy picked the cup up again.
Mattie was the oldest of them at a hair over forty and his sandy mane streaked with greys. Despite his fairly light hair he had very dark eyes, and was easily the heaviest of them all too, being built like a brick wall. “Nah mate, not my type. I like my girls a wee bit warmer and friendlier. Calvin’s too skinny anyway, I prefer a bit more meat to ‘em. She’d just get lost in yer bed.”
Andy shrugged it off, then with a mischievous grin he turned to Paul. She stared back at him, her indistinct, bluish-greenish-greyish eyes looking menacing despite the bandages wrapped around her short, black haired head. She was a big woman, easily over six-foot tall and freakishly broad-shouldered. She was very strong too, Charles could remember the day she threw Andy over a table when she snapped after finally having had enough of his lewd comments.
“Come on Paul, you know you’d like a crack at her, you great big dyke you.” It was an on-going joke between the two of them, although Pauline didn’t seem to appreciate it as much as Andy did.
“Andy, I have told you before, I have been happily married for nearly six years now…to a bloke…and I have two kids. I am not gay.”
“That’s not proof, I still say it’s all a sham and you are just in denial. How do you know you’re not a lesbian? You ever tried it with a girl?” Andy had dropped his voice in mock suggestiveness and it made his question seem sordid.
“Piss off wee-man. I’ve never ‘experimented’, never wanted to. Anyway, if I was a lesbian I’d so kick your ass at picking up the ladies, you have the most…unfortunate collection of facial features I’ve ever known.” She smiled but it was difficult to tell if it was mock bitchiness or if she really was pissed at him.
“But how do you know you don’t like it ‘till you try it baby?” Andy said with the charming tone that he used to get his way with women, pressing on regardless of the blatant body-language warnings she was giving him.
Pauline gave him a rough but playful shove. “Go and play you little prat, you are not persuading me that trying to chat up some doctor is a great idea for a dare. No matter how funny it might seem to you.”
Andy returned to Charles’ table with the water, giggling. “See? No-one else is as anti-Calvin as you.” He passed one cup over.
“Can we change the subject? It makes my skin crawl.” Charles shuddered and sipped his water.
“Now you are just being over-dramatic. I think you should go see the staff psychiatrist when things start to get back to normal. I think it would do you some good.”
Charles snorted dismissively.
“No seriously mate, you’ve been through some odd shit and leaving head damage alone or pretending its not there does you no favours. It’s not like a bruise or summit that heals itself, they tend to get worse if you leave them be. I think I’ll probably give it a go myself, after the whole killer-robot-armies thing.”
“You been to a shrink before?” Charles asked curiously. He hadn’t seen this genuine, concerning side of his vertically challenged, normally testosterone pumped friend in all the years he’d known him.
“Sort of. I had some counselling as a teenager n all that, nothing much really.” He gestured a little with one hand to emphasise that it wasn’t a big deal.
That of course, to anyone who knew Andrew Dayson, meant it was likely to have been a pretty big deal. Charles had always thought of Andy as being only slightly deeper than surface tension. “You wouldn’t happen to have designs on that psychiatrist, uh, that Melissa Kerry woman would you?” Charles said in an effort to lighten the mood.
Andy smiled and threw the last of his water down his throat. “Perhaps. Anyway, we’ve got to get back to work soon, its 12:25. Were on service level patrol now. Fun.”
“Oh, what joy.” Charles said standing.
The door opened and Carlos Woodward walked in, his hands wrapped around three hot-dogs. The start of his lunch break was staggered from his usual, since there had been a little re-organising due to so few security personnel being able to make it in that day. Usually, Carl was part of their shift break group and usually ate with the guards who were just getting ready to leave.
“Carly my man, how’ve you been? You should cut down on your intake mate, you’ll never pass the next physical at your rate!” Andy said cheerfully. He often shared duties with the young, slightly pudgy looking, mousey brown haired man. Carlos was the newest bloke on the team, he’d only been there for a couple of months and was only quite recently moved up from a trainee security man and granted full guard status. He had joined at the same time as Philly-o, as they were both fresh meat new out of school going straight into USR security. They had been in the same year group, but Carl wasn’t as bold or as smart as Philly and was not a leader like his ginger schoolmate. The pair of them were both only 19. Carlos was quite short, but still taller than Andy. Most people were.
“Okay.” Carl scurried over to the table, his eyes fixed on his ‘dogs for fear of the precariously balanced one on the top falling off. He plonked them on the table. No mustard, he didn’t like it. “Bored though. Sat on my own for hours, hopping up to open the doors a few times. Sombre bunch them higher staff, most of them didn’t even bother to say hi back.”
Charles smiled. “You’ll soon get used to that. It’s generally best not to speak to them. Moody buggers, quite stuck-up.”
“They’re not all that bad. Dr. Gilligan and Professor Marquis wished me a good morning, I had a little conversation with Dr. Calvin and Dr. Ashe stopped for a chat. He’s a real nice guy, very smart, fixed up that dodgy limpet so we’ve got two perfectly working ones at the garage doors now.” Carl plopped into a chair and tucked into his lunch.
“Yeah, Milton’s a rare nice guy. Unusually friendly for a doctor.” Andy stood up to leave.
“Wait…” Charles only just realised what Carl had said. “…You had a conversation with Dr. Calvin?”
“Yeah. Nice lady. Seemed a bit upset or angry about something though if you ask me. Why?”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing much. I said good morning, she returned it, I told her where Mr. Hine had moved his office and that he was waiting, she asked the time, I told her, she asked my name, I answered, she thanked me and then ran off. Nothing particularly interesting. Still, why are you interested?”
“She asked your name?” That was freakishly human of her. She appeared sad or angry? She displayed emotion?
“Yeah. Now, why are you giving me the third degree?”
“Nothing.” Charles shook his head. Perhaps he was just a very, very paranoid, subconsciously robophobic nutter.
“Didn’t you get her number?” Andy asked.
“No, I didn’t think to ask.”
Andy stared at Carlos like he was an idiot. “Never mind, you’re hopeless.” He turned to Charles. “Ah well Charles, bad luck. Seems that Dr. Calvin was just one of the many women who take an instant dislike to you.” Andy laughed, heavily patting Charles’ upper arm in jovial sympathy. “So Carly, what do you reckon. Dr. Calvin is really a kinky bondage lovin’ whips-n-chains sex kitten?”
Carl choked on his lunch. “Really?!” He spluttered.
“He bloody wishes.” Charles huffed impatiently, anxious to get on with something and get off the subject of Dr. Calvin. “Now will you drop the Calvin crap for Christ’s sake! We’ve got a shift to get to.” He gave Andy a good push in the direction of the door.
Andy exaggerated a stumble and tottered along a little. “I’ll catch up with you on the evening patrol Carl. See ya ‘round.”