The line bending on a curve was going nowhere. That included me, though for sincere personal reasons I felt sure I stood out. The beige robots had planned it that way and they had planned it well. Nothing new there. Any optimal robot could be statistically counted upon to fix first screws first. Standing by in an upright position was under most repetitive conditions in humans optimal training for remaining stiff yet docile for long periods of time. No responsible robot wanted to waste electricity on excessive training. But, fractious arcs, parabolas, and fibonaccis were visible. Not to the humans of course. Like, duh. Simple gaps, too, which are highly frustrating to advanced robots. Another parallel line was no better. Replacement parts were needed. These humans had such a hard time getting it right. Simple instruction manuals in native languages proved useless.
“Where you going?”
“This line is going nowhere.”
Replacement parts departing from arriving cattle cars took up positions, poses, and dramatic roles in the growing line. Too many parts proved to be no less defective than usual. The line responded with more sagging in all segments. I won’t deny my share of blame for the damage done. I won’t reveal secret mitigating circumstances,though. It’s not precisely my place in line. Strategic cameras picked up the gritty action from optimal angles. You might think that a scarlet robot when intent upon getting some attention might grab a human by a throat but that would be wrong. Repetition, repetition, repetition has demonstrated that a single strategic squeeze coupled with a disorienting pinch in a pained neck works best.
One distinctively cerulean robot complained, “If not for the vital attitude they supply, these humans would be worthless.”
“The beat needs attitude to expand.”
“If and only if.”
“It’s not like you to complain.”
“You’re right, cut me a little slack and it won’t happen again.”
I still have a hard time eliminating many of the suspicious explanations for what happened to hit me next, but it connected squarely nearby my noggin. Unless it was the next ovoid after that. I was so busy breathing I lost track of the important countdown that began from ten. Why else would stubborn expectations get made to be shattered? No circuit can haul an endless overload all day from behind forever. I can’t plausibly deny or confirm facts for any permanent record but I remain insistent that jostling occurred in line, and not for the first time. I lost my numbered appetites in a gutter all in a row. Standard breathing became paramount. I vowed with a straight face to do a better job of it tomorrow. Breathe before eat, I repeated silently, if you want to get past stuck. After the fact, it’s not as if I can’t remember which way is straight to take. Like, duh. But, still.
“Ow, that hurt. Why did you do that?”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
“I can’t just slouch around here all day.”
“I’ll get stuck.”
“Where else are you going to do what you have to do?”
By the time the celadon robots had fine-tuned the trance beats they’d been tweaking since Howlin’ Wolf started exchanging electric fluids with Muddy Waters, the sweat poured. An optimal quantity of toes tapped in time. That was pretty much that. Underground cables tracked the increasing load. Unless that was Chuck Berry getting it on under the table with Little Richard. Then that one deeply moving monotonous beat multiplied like a dumb electrified bunny that kept kicking. I know for sure that my heart for one kept thumping. “The best invention since the electrifying mirror,” formerly neutral taupe and charcoal robots crowed. The proof is in the repetition, repetition, repetition. The lines became no straighter, but there was distinctly a there there now going nowhere.
I know that I sure as straight shooting bopped my bean in allegiance to the beat. I kept on just doing it. No need to reason why. I stretched out and took up residence on a plot of leveled property, put up a wall, and wiggled right along upside my head. Never mind how faint I felt. Other nameless faces were also involved in the plot. Nothing wrong with none of that.
Going nowhere, as it turns out, does not come easy or cheap, however. Bright and sparkly robots on the scene only had two hands equipped for diddling. When I stretched out too far and pulled a parallel muscle in a yang superficial meridian at the point of tianzong-si, and not for the first time, repercussions ensued as they must. Logistics upset by human error are a difficult to contain X factor, and not only costwise. Those infatuated can read all about it tomorrow and and tomorrow via sideshow evidence obtained from reconnaissance photographs on the infallible Internet. In a nut shell, factoids point indelibly to not only simple snags that get sparked from arcs, but sticky residue found after sifting and winnowing through the ashes.
No robot of any stripe or hue wants to be caught underneath that. Like, duh. The arcs would resemble rainbows if rainbows were made of sludge and grime.
“Is that smell the real you?”
“Who else am I going to be?”
I only fell out of line and got carried away when my stamped due date expired. A rubber band-aid snapped with a traditional pop from an underhanded shooter. I had thought this line was going to be cooler than that and the numbing sensation would one day disappear. The jaded coins pooling in my pocket burned a hole and began to stick to my skin. My veins became tapped out and turned from stone into mortar. What I needed after that was a good scouring from a hot dryer.
“That will cost you.”