Chapter 4. Sandbagged
During the night, the android bomb that everyone knew as a teenager named Steve, the guest bed in the house of the Reverend Car and listened to the sounds in the house. But the murmuring of the married couple in the far side of the house was beyond even his enhanced hearing.
Rustling noises of his hosts quieted after several minutes after Reverend Carl walked around and turned off the lights in the family room.
After the lights went out and silence followed, he laid on the bed in the dark. His core systems were able control the body temperature easily in the darkness and he performed information and systems maintenance.
The time passed and the silent house, all outside sounds obliterated by the soft white-sound of falling rain and reduced his ability to hear.
Reducing his power generation, he was able to turn up the power to an electric blanket that the Reverend’s wife supplied.
He closed his eyes in the approximation of sleep, and the systems powered down more than expected.
In the darkness, his hearing alerted to the sound of the approaching of someone down the hallway.
The length of steps he calculated to the tall wife of the Reverend.
“Steve, time to wake up.” She said softly. “Breakfast in a half-hour.”
“Thank you, I’m awake.” He answered in positive tones.
“You sleep light.”
If I slept. He thought to himself. I would sleep light.
A check on his system, there were gaps of suspended operations where power use was minimal.
Nearly zero draw.
Odd. If machines slept, I would have been asleep. But that was impossible.
Nothing in the database addressed suspend process at night. He was not programmed to suspend operations. Level-one diagnostics were performed multiple times for verification and he ran the programs twice over.
His core systems generated three reports, each one listed no errors.
Why had so many systems suspended operations? He was still operating well enough.
Smaller machines would suspend operation to power down, but he was not programmed included by the creator to do that. It had been planned that he did not need to shut down. His mission was a one way and longevity was not a concern.
His programming was simple: To get to the target while traveling through the non-believer filth that was America. There would be no power down, or full operation suspending.
Except he found information that his programming failed to expect. One police officer that applied rules without consideration to the circumstances. But the first, opposed the supervisor on the point of human kindness.
A family that opened their home.
He stood up out of bed, all his senses working at capacity. Every sensor told the core systems that the flesh that covered his carbon-fiber re-enforced polymer frame was in normal parameters, although joints were stiff. The ceramic armor that covered the vital core processors sensed the direction of gravity when Steve stood and the system checks all came back as nominal.
Still he had the need to stretch, the sensation was unique and pleasant.
Nothing in the database described the feeling of the stretch, however, the status of his joints increased by twenty-percent.
And more what was more important, it felt good.
A significant amount, he understood why humans had the instinct to stretch their bodies when they rose after a sleep period.
At breakfast the food at the breakfast table was simple, but plentiful.
Genesee Bonsell had shredded potatoes and scrambled eggs with coffee and fruit juices.
“Eat up, I have muffins in the oven, we need to arrive at the church at sunrise.” She poured herself the strong, black steaming coffee from an insulated pitcher. “And a long day until lunch. People worry and fret about flooding and we have twelve tons of sand at the church being delivered before sunrise.”
“So, why are we needed to go there in the rain?” Steve asked. Processors called up data on thermal loss, what he recorded in the last week of cold weather. “Ma’am, I will need to borrow a warmer jacket, mine’s not good enough to wear in the rain.”
“Of course, dear.” She smiled. “Carl?”
“I have one from my days in the military. It’s not heavy in weight, but it is warmer than anything you will find.” Carl smiled, pouring his own cup of coffee. “Eat your fill, there is plenty. I have scrambled eggs for years, you won’t find a better omelette anywhere.”
Omelette, the term was a stretch of the definition, although technically correct. He mixed in cheddar cheese with the eggs and no other filler was used. But the matter-energy conversion system would have little problem with the simple meal to convert to a usable energy source.
The three of them sat at the table and Carl led them in a blessing of the food that lasted for a full minute. Carl gave his heart in the blessing, this intrigued Steve that an infidel would give his faith to an idol he could not see. A notation was made in the hidden, permanent files of another possible flaw in the database of American’s and their quality.
They got into the pickup truck, Genesee sitting in the middle. They drove the overloaded pickup to the church.
Crowds of people milled about, shovels were in action when they arrived.
Officer Joseph Roberts “Joe-Bob” was guiding people in and out of the parking lot. Young and old moved back and forth.
Very small children dragged empty sandbags, fathers and mothers lugged full ones back to their waiting cars.
Energy spent on shovelling sand into the bags, he learned to fill the sandbags only half-full.
A seven-year-old girl with a hello-kitty t-shirt instructed him on how to fill it under the watchful eye of her father. For a small child, Steve decided, she had done this before. Skylar the girl was an expert in how to shovel sand into bags.
For six hours, they filled thousands of sandbags in the cold rain. While wearing the borrowed jacket, reduced his thermal loss to levels so that regeneration systems used the stored energy to replace the heat well lost to the cold. The omelettes that Carl cooked in the predawn breakfast kept Steve fueled well enough to keep the core processors at optimum levels.
At lunch, Carl lit a giant propane powered grill and began to cook hamburgers and chicken.
His power reserves were down by sixty-percent by the time he sat to consume organic fuel. His total conversion to energy was efficient, but still needed to replace the used fuel, the food was perfect.
One grandfather sat under the rain awning that kept the falling water off the already soaked people. The old man held his hand out to a five-year old and told the child, “Here, pull my finger.”
The boy-child complied, with the resulting noise that issued from the elderly male’s backside made the boy give a belly laugh.
“An invisible elephant!” the old man said, pointing at a space where Steve could not see anything in visible light. The android tried in other wavelengths immediately after, but without success.
He came to the conclusion there was no such animal that was invisible.
“Mama!” The boy called, running off. “There was an invisible elephant under gramps! It lifted him off the chair with its trunk!”
The crowd chuckled the android struggled with the humor between the different races of people. Different hues, ages of men and women all mixing.
Steve filed the joke under a new permanent file. He was curious about such things.
A bodily function based on triggering the event by pulling on a digit. The sound was akin to an explosion.
They were vastly different things and inconsistent with human biomechanic construction.
These people were inconsistent, considerate, caring. Unlike his database, listing them as sinful, profane, selfish, obese and bloodthirsty.
Steve altered his programming slightly to adjust to the information.
The core systems did not note it, but the android was learning new information at a geometric rate.
He sat on the plastic chair, eating the last of his fourth hamburger when the he performed a time check in his core processor. Instructions, pre-programmed instructed him that he needed to leave and spend twenty-four hours watching a military base a few miles north.
The was plan already designed and thought out, he would be a poor, homeless woman with no possessions and stand outside of the fence for a few days, before heading north again.
If they picked up the old crazy woman, it would keep the government off his trail.
The plan was without flaw.