by Resha Caner
“Rosie, from The Jetsons, was always my favorite, but George is growing on me.”
“Don’t do this again, Mel.”
“I can’t help it, Jack.” Mel stood and stretched, an impact wrench extending from the end of his arm. He studied the landing gear on the shiny new ship with a displeased frown on his pale face. “Take this disappointment as an example.” He indicated the flying machine. “She’s supposed to make Warp 5 in only fifteen seconds. Maybe, but you won’t have enough ship left to land when it’s all over. I say the old guys were smarter than we are.”
“Having trouble fixing it, Mel?”
“No, I can do it...”
“Let me help.”
Jack bent at the waist to peer under the belly at the damaged landing gear.
“Back off!” Mel moved to block Jack’s view, pointing his wrench like a menacing weapon. Though his voice growled, his head tilted to allow a plastic smile.
Jack laughed. “Who are you now? Ironman?”
“See.” Mel switched out the wrench for a torch and connected to the acetylene supply. “Now that’s a good idea, mixing the strength of machines with the intelligence of people. Why couldn’t we have done something like that?”
“Because it’s not real.” Jack wiped a hand across his square face, leaving an oily streak. “I say we’re better off than the old guys. We’ve evolved.”
“Nah.” Mel shook his head in disagreement, and then bent his arm with slow deliberation, rubbing the reluctant elbow. “We didn’t evolve. We were built.” He flexed his elbow a few more times. “And not very well.”
“I think you’re just getting old. You need maintenance.” Jack grabbed an oil can from the work bench and squirted a few drops toward Mel.
Mel darted out of the way with a laugh, and then took a look around the maintenance bay. Pointing to the oil drops glistening on the floor, he said, “Better clean that up before the super comes back.”
The servos in Jack’s joints whined in protest as he took heavy steps toward the mop bucket. “You need to relax, Mel. You haven’t been the same since they sent Mary to the scrap heap. You can always get another to replace her.”
Mel turned back to his ship in silence. As he passed under the belly, he paused to rub the gleaming sides like Aladdin trying to draw the genie from the lamp.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” Jack said. “I keep forgetting how sentimental you get about these things. Somethin’s not wired right.” He tapped his head, and then his shoulders slumped with a sigh. “Why don’t you come with me tonight? There’s a demolition derby over at the amphitheatre.”
“What about Star Trek?” Mel asked, his voice echoing from beneath the ship like a cheap speaker inside a tin can. “I liked that one too. We can’t claim to be anything like that, with Data and all. I tell yuh, though, that android wouldn’t be what he was without Picard and the others.”
“I can’t help it.” Mel stepped out to observe the fake, rubbery skin on his arm, and then brushed a hand through the stiff brown fibers representing hair. “I miss the humans now that they’re gone.”
Copyright © 2011 by Resha Caner