Currently trying to revise a plot hole.
Everything was so very bright for a few moments, and then as if a candle had been snuffed out, darkness descended, the night had swallowed the day. This was my first memory as a sentient creature. I didn’t know where I was, only that there was the ever-pressing blackness, like an abyss covering me on all sides: vast, endless, and unyielding. It both fascinated and terrified me.
I heard voices around me; they were outside of the ebony prison that held me, distant, but at the same time, so very close. I could have reached out to touch these beings, if I had so wanted, hindered only by this intangible wall that separated me from them. But I refrained. I wanted to listen to the sounds and the noises that they made. It was all so new and different to me, and it sparked a curiosity within my soul.
"Something went wrong with the optical receptors, Isaac. They just malfunctioned—in fact, more than that, the hardwiring totally rejected them and burned them out completely," one of the employees of Yun Enterprises informed his superior.
Another voice, one tinged with compassion, responded, "Ah, I see. Well let me have a look then." I could feel a presence leaning in closer to me, scrutinizing my being, but I held still, probably giving the appearance of sleep. I knew that they were speaking of me; I was not a stupid creature, and, being new, with nothing to occupy my mind as of yet, I learned quickly.
I felt a touch underneath my jaw, and felt my head being tilted up. His fingers were a little cold, but not freezing, and felt of the same material that I had been created with. "Hmm," he continued to observe, "On a positive note, it looks like that is all the damage that there is, nothing more. However, on the flipside, I do not think there is much that can be done about that."
The employee was perplexed at that, "What? Why not? Isn’t it just a simple matter of changing the optics with a new set?" But Isaac shook his head, lowering mine back onto the table carefully. He turned around to face the man before him before explaining.
"No, you see, we built this prototype similarly to how real creatures function. The central nervous system is connected with the brain. It’s not a problem of the optics themselves blowing out, it’s the way we built the cerebrum. I meant it to have a good portion of power; I wanted these pets to be intelligent, as perfectly capable of their flesh-and-blood counterparts, so that the good people of Subeta would see them as no different, and love and treat them the same. It appears that the power is what caused the optics to short-circuit. Essentially, were we to replace those receptors, the same thing would happen. Apparently they just cannot keep up with the brain’s full capacity. It looks like Steamwork Keetos will have to wait to be released until we can figure out this problem."
The man still did not seem to fully comprehend what the problem was, "But can’t we just replace the cerebrum with something more compatible?" This comment frightened me, but I did not show it. I was beginning to understand what they were saying… something was wrong with me. But that lack originated from something far more vital. What if they had to tamper with my being to fix this? It might be only my first few minutes of life, but I was enjoying what I was—I didn’t want to lose the progress I had already made into understanding the mechanics of the world.
"That is out of the question. These pets are more than just machines; they have lives and thoughts and feelings of their own, and I am not about to destroy that. They might look like robots, but for all intents and purposes, I wish them to act and be the same as the pets they are modeled after. And if my hunch has any merit, I can bet you she is listening to us as we speak," Isaac commented, pointedly looking my direction with a kind smile, one I could not see, but felt.
I started, surprised he had known I was conscious. He nodded then, touching the top of my head with care. "It will be alright little one, you will see. I have faith that the good people of Subeta will take it in their hearts to love you despite you not having eyes to see them with."
I clung to that promise. Day after day, I sightlessly observed people that came to Yun Enterprises, all sporting schematics and keys to place their orders with eagerness, or pick up the pet that was designed for them. Even though I couldn’t see the world around me, I felt it and interacted with it in other ways—sound, smell, touch, etc. I hoped that one of them might take an interest in me, but never did. There were other Steamwork pets, but I didn’t talk to them. I wasn’t interested in them, but rather, the people. They didn’t seem to want to spend their time with me anyways, which was just as fine.
But it wasn’t just the other pets… that I would have been content over. The people, as well, seemed as if they wished to avoid me. A blindfold had been wrapped around my head since they had taken out the glass lens where my eyes should have been. Isaac had not told me why it was important to keep this on, but I had the feeling that the humans would be even more repulsed by the dark holes. The cloth that obscured this from their vision told me, despite whatever Isaac had to say, that they would never accept me as I was.
They did not want a less than perfect pet. They did not want something that lacked the ability to see. I would never leave this place until I managed to fix this somehow. But how? I thought, at first, to beg Isaac to restore my sight. But he probably would have done so already if he knew the way. However, I was curious – what was so important about these "eyes" and "seeing"? What made them work and what made them so desirable?
One day I finally voiced this, making my way into his workshop, "Isaac?"
Looking up from the newest pet he had been working on, Isaac turned towards me, giving me his full attention. I tried not to show what my true intentions were as I asked, "What exactly are eyes? What do they do?"
He then leaned back in his chair, contemplating what I was asking, "The eyes are sensory organs that help us better understand the world around us. They process the light in a way that turns it into an image for our brains to read. These objects that you touch, you know them by the way they feel, but what the eye shows us is the way they actually appear. It’s difficult to explain it to someone who cannot quite relate to what I mean."
Isaac was right; I did not truly have a grasp of what he meant, but still I wanted to know more, so I nodded, then sat down, trying to cue him to elaborate on the subject, which he did, "The eye is made up of several parts that all work together in order to achieve what we call vision. For instance, the iris and pupil are some of the parts that are most readily recognized. The iris determines the amount of light that enters the eye, and it will work with the pupil, which is the hole in which the light can enter by. The iris is also what people are referring to when they talk about an eye being a certain color."
"But what are colors?" I asked, interrupting his lecture.
"Ah… now that is an interesting question indeed. Colors are attributes that our eyes interpret from objects much like… oh, how your fingers determine the feel of what you touch. Something may be hard or soft, rigid or smooth, whereas for colors, we have categories such as red or purple, green or blue, and so on."
"I understand. Please continue."
"Next, you have the white of the eye, know as the sclera—"
"Sclera," I breathed, something about the word making a connection with my whirring brain. It was one of those unexplainable moments where something just clicks, and not just the gears and cogs that made up my being. The feeling that the word gave me fascinated me even more, and I found myself repeating it, "Sclera. What a beautiful word. Sclera."
Isaac merely smiled and continued on with the lesson.
One may have thought that over time, my fascination with eyes would have decreased. Nothing could be farther from the truth, for my fascination turned into obsession as I eagerly, almost greedily, drunk in the information there was to be had of them. I was becoming a regular at Yun Enterprises, becoming known as Sclera to the workers. It was little wonder why; I was always seeking more data on eyes and seeing. I had to know. For some reason, eyes became salvation to me – I felt that if I could somehow learn enough about them, I would be able to build a pair for myself that would work just as fine, if not better, than what Isaac himself could do. I would show him my worth, and in doing so, win the affection and love of an owner willing to take me home.
Isaac was willing to humor my eyeball infatuation, even giving me a small workspace in which I could experiment around with parts to try and build my dreams. It was difficult, not being able to see what I was doing, but I began to figure out how to rely on listening for the right noises that a working gear makes when functioning, or the feel of the metallic ore in my hands, and sliding the pieces together into a perfect fit. If I concentrated hard enough, I believed I could end with success. I had to. Everything depended upon it.
One such day I was busy tinkering around, attempting to get a lens attached to a wire correctly. The lens, of course, was very delicate, and required meticulous and careful application. All was quiet throughout the building, for it was night. I did not need to work by the light of day—objects felt the same to me whether it was dark or not, so often I found myself working when I could concentrate the most, when others were asleep.
However, soon, I felt it was time for a break. Even with my passion, I could only work with something for so long until I wished to have respite. Leaving my work on the table, I crept out of the room, intending to find the oil can I frequently used to keep my hinges well cared-for.
I stopped as I heard voices, coming from behind a closed door. They were slightly muffled because of this, but my hearing was not lacking whatsoever, and I pressed my head to the side, curious as to why anyone would be having a conversation this late at night. I recognized one of the voices as Isaac’s, and the other one was female—it was that Victoria Ventura. I knew her. I hadn’t seen her very often, immersed as I was with all that I did, but I did know she operated the Purveyors of Plans, a branch of Yun Enterprises. But what did she want with Isaac?
"You can’t keep letting her do that, Isaac. Not only is she using up materials, but I have the feeling she won’t be getting anywhere with what she’s trying to accomplish! She can’t even see what she’s doing," Victoria said, trying to get Isaac to dispel the keeto’s futile dreams.
"Vic, you don’t know that. She could be as capable an inventor as my father was. Just because someone isn’t 100% perfect doesn’t mean she isn’t talented. I really think she’s got the potential. Look at how intelligent she is, how she soaks up every piece of information you care to throw at her. She’s very bright, you know, I think she will be able to solve what I couldn’t."
"I don’t know anyone more talented than you when it comes to building robots. You have both of your eyes to see what you’re doing, and she doesn’t. I have no doubt that she is talented, but I really feel like she is wasting her time with this little project of hers when she could be doing more important things, such as helping you."
"But Vic, she is helping me. While she works away understanding the mechanics to Steamwork pets, she increases her knowledge about them. She’ll only come to know more over time, you know, and right now it allows me to focus on my own work simultaneously."
Victoria sighed, "That wasn’t exactly what I meant. She could be helping you with your work right now, helping you build what you’re doing. I mean, it could take loads of strain off of you and free up your time. And we both know she’s never going to get adopted. You shouldn’t just continue to feed her fantasy because it’ll only get worse over time."
"I suppose you do have a point," Isaac considered, "If she can become my work partner we could be making twice as much production as we do now, thus helping out Yun Enterprises as a whole. Fine… I will talk to her tomorrow about it."
I heard them shuffling around, signifying that their conversation had ended and that Victoria was making her way out. Quickly, and with the agility of any normal keeto, I darted out of the way, fleeing back to my workshop before anyone could manage to figure out I had been eavesdropping on the two.
Anger rose up inside of me, nearly as overwhelming as my desire to see. A little project, was it? Only a little? I think she failed to see that it meant so much more to me than that—this was my life! My dream! How dare she belittle what had become a reality to me, if only a small fantasy to her. The remarks that Isaac had made about my intelligence pleased me, but it was overshadowed by the pain and hurt I felt. And perhaps what added insult to injury was the fact that they had both agreed—both of them!—that I was never going to be adopted. Never.
That brought my hopes crashing down, and my dreams with it, as if they had stumbled over the edge of a waterfall and died mercilessly on the sharp rocks below. Rage built up from my core, and I lashed out at the nearest object—the worktable—and split it in half quite easily, my knifelike claws cutting through the wood with a vengeance. The entire piece of furniture seemed to explode, the splinters flying into the walls and past me in lethal grace. The fine lens I had been working with cracked and shattered as it was flung into the wall.
The noise was magnificent, an array of crackles and harsh scrapings that seemed to please the wrath within my soul. I ripped the blindfold off and then shredded its remains, dropping the torn pieces to the floor. By now, some of the employees burst into the room, wondering what on Subeta was causing the sounds. Consumed by the fire of hate, I turned, snarling, the black holes of my defunct eyes bore into their own unmarred ones. It was as if the black abyss that forever stayed with me was reaching out beyond my mental state, clawing its way into reality through those gaping holes. And then it occurred to me – I wasn’t without vision; they just couldn’t see the darkness that was ever-present within me.
"I SSSEEEEE," I hissed ominously, spreading my jaws wide at the revelation, a half-crazed grin that marked my descent into utter understanding—or was it madness? They were the ones truly without sight. They were the ones lacking—and I would blissfully show them the error of their ways. I cackled, going over the edge, stepping over that line into something far more than reality. I could sense the workers’ anxiety, unsure what to do. But their hesitation was all the time I needed.
I lunged, tackling the one nearest to me, bringing him to the ground. There I pinned him, and despite his desperate struggles, he could do nothing against my superior strength. I was metal, hard and unyielding. He was only flesh—soft and tender, easily punctured.
Screams washed into my ears, the sound strangely sickening and sweet. I could sense total chaos around me, but instead of recoiling in fear, I found it absolutely fabulous. It was as if a euphoria that I had never known existed, and it animated my core, setting my brain into a high I had never thought possible. My heart was thumping wildly, every inch of my being consumed in the rush of adrenaline.
It was then that I struck, feeling my talons sink into the flesh of the man’s face, my first victim. Oh how utterly delightful it was, feeling him thrash beneath my grip, his gargling cries choking on the copper-scented blood that trickled from his eyes into his open jaw. I ripped out his eyes, cooing to him in sheer bliss, "Now you see! Now you see, without these infernal appendages hindering your sight! The darkness, don’t you feel it closing in now?" I began to cackle, absolutely overjoyed at sharing my understanding with another. I didn’t know if he would survive the ordeal, but what did that matter? He would truly know, now. I was bestowing him a gift!
I heard others making their way towards me, hoping to restrain me. If I was caught, no doubt they would disassemble me, for they did not understand. No, I would not allow that to happen – I must allow others to share in my knowledge! I would bring sight to all, one day, and it would be truly glorious! But for now, I had to bide my time, and plan carefully… I was intelligent. I would lay in wait until things simmered down, then strike again. Nobody would ever catch me, nor contain me. I was free, no longer hindered by the futile need to impress others. I lacked nothing. I was whole.
I am Sclera!
To be continued...