Author: Ashwin Dayal

Notification. And so, rings the phone. Pounce on it and check. The Writer gritted his teeth. Darn insurance. Where was it? He had thrust his finger on the ‘Submit’ button six months ago and They could not thrust their ruddy fingers on the Acceptance. The Writer scoffed. Hell, even Second Round would be heaven. The Writer’s room, you know it. Bottles and clothes and rubbish. He took a deep breath and walked to the big bag lying in the corner of the room. He bent down and pulled the zip. Inside the bag lay the metal body of A.P, rolled up.

At first, the Writer thought it was dead.

They sent a defected piece.

He grabbed its arm. The machine sprang up. “Function,” the Writer said.

“Func… Functioning, sir,” A.P said.

“Task list.”

“Your order is my task, sir.”

“Good, that’s the answer I’m looking for. Do you know how to write?”

A.P nodded.

“What can you write?” Writer asked.

“Reports, files.”

The Writer raised his eyebrows. “Can you write stories?”

A. P’s shining, silver jaw shook and it looked curiously at its hand.

“May… Perhaps, sir.” The Writer closed his eyes. He gulped and left the room. A.P looked around, scared out of his circuits.

The Writer entered his small room and bit his lip. He didn’t like it, not at all. He picked up a rod lying on his bed. He returned to the drawing-room. A.P stood exactly where he was moments ago, frozen. It looked at the rod in the Writer’s hands. Lethal, could damage the system. It stepped back.

“Stay right where you are!” The Writer bellowed. His pace quickened and he stood close to A.P. He raised the hot iron rod. He said,

“The next time you spit out a word, spit it out completely. Don’t murmur.” The heat conducted from the rod to the metal arm of A.P. Its mouth opened. The Writer said,

“Now, tell me: can you write stories?”

“Yes, sir,” A.P said. The Writer nodded lightly and turned.

“So, write a story for me.”

The Writer was just about to leave the room when A.P said,

“The story, sir? What do I write?”

The Writer looked at A.P. He blinked and left the room.

The Writer did not return to that room for a long time. When he did…

“Is it done?”

A.P was still sitting at the desk, staring determinately at the page lying in front of him. It looked up and its eyes widened. The Writer approached it. A.P fixed its hydraulic fingers on the page. The Writer snatched it. He smiled and smacked his finger on the page. There it was, the trigger for the Writer. The truth, revealed.

Every day, he picks up that page where it all started. The page with that one sentence:

Once a Robot was a slave.