By Matthew Sanborn Smith
They marched us around in parallel lines, from bed to breakfast to work. After seventeen generations of the New Order, we humans had become so efficiet at our assembly lines that the programmers studied us in order to improve their robot designs. It was nothing. My job was to stick a doodle on the end of a pipe. I didn’t need to know the names of the parts or their purposes. There were always doodles there and there were always pipes and I always stuck one on the end of the other. Job training took about seven minutes. I’d like to say that mastery took a lifetime, but in fact, mastery only took about three more minutes once training finished. That was on my sixth birthday. I was coming up on my seventy-first now. The neural pathways for pipe-fitting doodles were as fat as tree trunks in my brain. I wasn’t even aware that I was working most of the time. It had become as mundane as breathing. While my body doodled, I sat alone inside my head and made my thoughts. When the shift completed, they marched us to supper, hosed us down in parallel lines and marched us to bed.
I wanted to do something special for my birthday. As we marched to work, I kicked my leg out to the side once, like I was some sort of crazy person. The guards beat me senseless with remarkably efficient swings. I could have kept it up after I got out of the infirmary, but I figured I was getting too old for this anarchy game. It was time to retire and let that hero of the next generation kick his leg out or do something even more crazy. I had done enough for the revolution. The seeds had been sown.