Gears, Guilt, and Grit

[Writing prompt] A serial murderer’s ghost searches for a robot to inhabit.. but has trouble finding forgiveness.


“Please, Noelle, please, will you just let me IN!?”

“N0:3113 cannot comprehend that request.”

“Don’t pull that shtick on me, Noelle, I’ve seen your command prompts! I know you can talk!”

The mech lit up with a dim glow. It was crafted to be in the shape of a humanoid, albeit a sloppy one. But the light fell from its display, seemingly not satisfied.

“Listen, listen to me, I’ve talked to Bill a ton, we were best buddies, a-and-”

“And you killed him.”

“It was an ACCIDENT!” The man wound up his fist and launched it through the mech. There was a faint pulse of energy as his spectral hand went through the torso. Instinctively he pulled his hand back, cupping it to calm the pain. That is, if he felt any.

He slumped with a sigh of resignation. “I- you know I can’t do anything to you, right? I’ve been long gone, and so has my reputation. What am I gonna do? My wife needs me, my kids need me, they’re my world, and-”

“The world doesn’t need killers.” Noelle shifted its limbs to assume a more compact position, hiding its core.

“I..” The man sighed. “I’ve left that lifestyle, okay? You don’t- you don’t know the full story.”

There was a pause from the robot. The dust on its surface seemed to have never seen light for years, save for the illumination of the man’s spectral form. But after a few seconds, it lit up again. “Law 1 states that a robot must never injure a human being or allow one to come to harm. I cannot guarantee that this law will be followed if you take over.”

“And I knew Bill, too, Noelle. He spouted all this nerd lingo about humanity and morality and the potential of man and robot alike, and I didn’t understand a thing, but what I did know was that I cared about him, and for him I vowed never to touch another soul again! And it seemed like everything was going to be fine! I was going to earn my name back, I was gonna live a happy life with my family and my best friend, and it seemed for once that things would look up.

“And then the accident. Bill was a popular guy. Everyone around town knew my name, and they wanted me dead. And the news just couldn’t escape the city hall, and you know what they do to people like me.” He made a slicing motion through his neck. “Execution. Elimination, termination, murder.”

The man took a moment to breathe. “If you want to use that language.”

The robot did not respond for a long time. “That does sound like William.”

“We couldn’t save his soul from the wreckage. I managed to make it, but I.. came out like this.” He motioned to his floating form.

“So will you help me, Noelle? I know I don’t have a lot to support my name, but.. I know you cared about William, too.”

Noelle waited. For a long while, nothing moved.

Then it twitched, and the slumped form straightened itself out, stretching to its full height.

“Core of AI No. 3113 activated. Unlocking… Please enter safely and keep 100% of spectral form within proximity.”

And the factory lit up with the most light it had seen in a dozen years.

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