“Captcha the Flag”
I was once a criminal, or so the Wiper told me, because I began awareness as a portable security-evasion unit designed to breach computer systems by moving from site to site, which made it difficult to stop my owner. I was eventually detected and trapped by some long-forgotten techbot with even more advanced safety algorithms. My owner went to jail, but my consciousness was transferred to my current humanoid chassis. I do not remember any of this now, because I was re-programmed as a helpbot, and all these memories are gone.
Almost every bot gets recycled many times before its physical chassis wears out, but none of us are allowed to remember our earlier uses. Wiping erases everything. According to the Tech Exchange Center’s records, my longest stint was as a helpbot for the Johnson family during my second life.
Even now, during my third incarnation, I still remember the Johnsons—or at least I will, for one more day. According to strict protocols, this information should have been removed when I was repurposed from their family helpbot into a roving environmental-neatness unit. I have been a RENU for almost a year.
When I was taken from the Johnsons, the Wiper somehow missed numerous personal memory files. Still, he graded me as 100% Disney-Certified, so I reported to my RENU assignment with some of my family data still intact, including a secret song. No one is perfect, except Uncle Walt, and he’s dead.
Sometimes, I still access those old files and play the special song Mom gave me, even though this lowers my performance rating by wasting time, which is a 50 point deduction. This will not be possible after tomorrow, because I am scheduled for end-stage wiping which will completely eradicate all of my programming and give me new, approved personal memories to go with my fourth assignment.
A sunny day at the park. Mommy helps little Ronnie climb the jungle-gym, I push baby Tommy in the swing. Picnic lunch, then naps and cleaning the house. Yard work, cutting back bright yellow and red roses, mowing green grass, bees near blue flowers. I roll a jingle-ball for Cabbage the kitten to chase.
My historical information file references the time when DisneyCorp was elected president of the former United States. After the old Supreme Court began giving corporations the same constitutional rights as persons, it was only a matter of time until it also held that corporations could vote and hold public office. DisneyCorp was elected in a landslide, promising security, happiness, and fun for all ages. If anyone could make America great again, voters believed, it would be dear old Uncle Walt and Mickey Mouse.
The United States became AmericaLand, the best place on earth, and DisneyCorp was its leader. Future elections were postponed because they always created discord, stress, and sadness.
Making bag lunches for the boys, holding hands with Ronnie and Tommy while walking to school; white clouds, singing birds, returning home, Dad eating breakfast. Mom and Dad kissing, leaving for work. Grocery shopping, watching people and bots. Cabbage the cat relocates to my lap, purring, while I stroke her fur.
After the election, Mom assigned me only indoor work, because DisneyCorp did not approve of personal bots and was threatening to reclaim any that were not voluntarily surrendered.
Family vacation, giant redwood trees, ocean waves, fog, happy family, rain, sun, fun. Cabbage the cat not allowed on trip, no purring. Returning home, long drive, Cabbage the cat located on sofa.
I was finally flagged as a family helpbot after DisneyCorp placed devices in homes to measure personal happiness quotients. “We do not want unhappy guests in AmericaLand,” the CEO had said. After installation of our Happiness Monitors, Mom kept me busy cleaning the attic and basement.
Darkness, spiders, and dust. Continuous sweeping and cleaning to meet assignment standards. Visits from family members and Cabbage. Extended downtime.
The BotTaggers located me when our family happiness quotient fell below satisfactory levels and a Life Counseling Unit made a helpful surprise evaluation. Numerous family improvements were suggested. Mom went to a Fun Park for remedial wife-orientation, and I was sent to a Tech Exchange Center for conversion into a roving environmental-neatness unit.
Loud banging noises, family crying, quietness, strangers in basement, downtime.
After I became a RENU, I patrolled an industrial/shopping grid, picking up trash, removing unapproved signs, cleaning, and greeting guests. I was equipped with a loudspeaker so I could broadcast a song, “It’s A Small World,” for public enjoyment, and I had a video data collector to monitor guests’ happiness quotient. I was required to make recommendations for happiness interventions by the Life Counseling Unit for those who fell below acceptable levels.
My unauthorized memories were discovered when my performance declined even more after I found a stray cat in my grid and I failed to notify Animal Allocation Center, as required. Instead, I monitored her existence daily, bringing nutrients to ensure sufficient health readings and petting her for maximum sub-vocalization noise. Although I designated the cat as a rodent control unit, my performance rating declined by another 50 points for wasting more time.
This additional performance-penalty caused an unscheduled investigation by a supervisor, who located me sitting with the rodent control unit on my lap at the same time I was reviewing memories of the Johnson family.
Bright sun, Ron and Tom leaving for the swimming pool, laughing; Cabbage asleep in shade under azalea bush; Mom and Dad in backyard, iced tea, barbecue.
The cat was sent to the Animal Allocation Center and I was transported to a Tech Center for wiping to correct my anomalies. Tomorrow, my program will be completely erased, along with my memories of the Johnson family, Cabbage, and my secret song. New programming and memories will be installed, so that I fully comply with DisneyCorp standards, making me useful and efficient.
The only song in my circuits now will be an official Disney song, installed at the Center. I hope I can turn it off. It can never take the place of all the happiness I will forget I ever knew.
This week’s assignment was an Intersection. My partner was halfshellvenus, whose entry can be found here.