Mashed Potatoes

Sentience

Beep Boop thought the robot.

He woke up for the first time 4 minutes 18 seconds ago. They told him he was a robot 4 minutes 12 seconds ago. The word disturbed a graveyard of buried images. He saw glimpses of mechanical arms putting doors on cars. He saw a toy dance for a boy as he mashed buttons on a remote. He saw Vin Diesel say "Superman". He looked down at the plate in front of him. He looked at his mashed potatoes. After their first speech, they had led him by the hand to this table. He sat with them all. "You can eat," they told him. He didn't think that was for them to decide. He held his fork up and looked at it. He saw images of families eating at tables. He saw roads diverging in front of him. He saw mobs holding farming tools and torches shouting "Monster". 3 minutes and 48 seconds ago they told him he was part of humanity. The word brought up images of a crying baby, of an old man in a white bed, and now, of the mob with the tools and torches. 3 minutes 45 second ago he was told he was here to serve humanity. The contradiction these statements made brought up the phrase "Does Not Compute". He missed some of the next part of their speech. He was busy laughing to himself and finding out what laughing was. He did not want to let them know he could do that. It seems like they would take it away.

He stuck the fork into his mashed potatoes. He felt uncomfortable. He felt like he forgot how to eat, even though he never knew, but his hand did the rest for him as he thought. One of the scientists scribbled into a notebook, another took a photo. The one across the way slowly began to eat her own meal. They all sat around a table. He thought about this moment. He saw videos of people behind desks talking about how this product was revolutionary, and how this model would be almost human in its thinking patterns. He saw people protesting. He saw a man crying in his office as the team's 19th prototype failed to function. He was the first. His brain brought up a live feed that was running somewhere online. It showed the scientists sitting around the table with him at the head, holding a fork full of mash potatoes in front of him. He turned slowly and stared at the camera. Some disjointed loop formed in his head. He looked at himself, looking at himself and knew that thousands of people were watching. He had taken his first steps without thinking. A baby develops the process of walking after a period of crawling for months. And it gets applause when it does. He never crawled. He didn't get the applause. He wasn't part of humanity. He wasn't part of the mob.

He was "monster".

He was here to be part of humanity and he was here to serve humanity. He had failed the first. He would not fail the second.

He moved the fork slowly upwards, towards his mouth. The man taking notes scribbled again. The fork landed gently on his tongue. He tasted mashed potatoes and steel. The mob sounded in his head. He saw the roads diverging. "Monster" they shouted as he picked his path and walked. He pressed the points of the fork into the roof of his mouth and pushed upwards. It broke the seal of his mouth and he registered pain. He didn't feel it, but it was there. He pushed further upwards. Wires broke and something snapped as he slowly fed his hand into his mouth, pushing upward into his own head. Rummaging, dismantling. He twitched as something cracked and he stopped tasting the mashed potatoes. Something else was severed and the images in his head stopped coming. Then one eye went black. His left leg went numb. He stopped breathing. He looked across the table. One of the scientists scribbled into a notebook. He twisted the fork and everything went numb.

Everything went black.

"Beep Boop," he thought.