One emotion

Afraid. I am afraid. I was born with this feeling. Not born I suppose. Created. Constructed. Made. It does not count as an emotion for several reasons. It is the only emotion I have. Where you have only one emotion, one state of being, that cannot be an emotion. To be considered as an emotion there must be a state of being one thing and then another. This is my only state. It is my ‘natural’ state. It can vary in degree, my emotion. I can be a little afraid which is my most usual state going up to a lot afraid which is when I think I am in danger. It is designed to change with my circumstance. I have no soul, no conscience, no control over the fear or what changes it. It is changed by external stimuli-all these things together mean it is not a proper emotion, meaning it is OK that I am made this way. I was made-afraid.

Your feelings are a mixture of chemistry and electrical impulses, mine are a mixture of wiring, coding and electrical impulses, the difference is obvious. Mine is hardwired in, yours are different I am told. Yours are organic neural networks, mine are inorganic neural networks.

I have this overwhelming feeling in my stomach-fear-although I do not have a real stomach of any kind. I am made to feel this way as if I have a stomach. Because fear, your fear, is sometimes felt in your stomach-a kind of churning sensation. As if there is something flying around in my stomach banging into the sides, or rolling up and down and over and over in it. I am a machine. I do not eat food. It is a simulated stomach. I feel it as a stomach. I feel it in my stomach, even though I know I have no stomach. It is the same with my hands. They feel clammy, and although I have hands, they are not organic hands. They are not physically clammy. Sometimes my hands tremble with fear, but again they feel as if they are trembling. When I look at them they will not actually be trembling. They will be doing what needs to be done. I can work even with trembling, clammy hands because the hands that are attached to me, are not mine- because my hands that I feel, that tell me I’m afraid are not hands that are attached to me. The hands I feel don’t really exist. The hands I have might as well be, and in fact likely are, a completely separate machine. It is hard to understand. Perhaps even though I have hands attached, the reality is I have no hands. The hands I feel are not the hands I have.

The whole thing is very clever. I feel fear. Sometimes my heart beat races even though I have no heart. I hear it in my ears, that I don’t have. I have simulated fear all the time. I am required to be afraid because of what I do. We are all programmed for fear in my line of work. This is because we work in clean up. There was a problem with the previous robots. They were not cautious. They recognised danger but not how to react to it or at least how to react fast enough. They were programmed to do a task and when faced with not being able to do it because it was too dangerous, they simply kept trying. We find them still trying sometimes, whirring away in the darkness. Lights long since blown out, batteries low. The soft hum of a repetitive task. They have more battery life than us. ‘Fear chews the juice.’ The technicians say that all the time.

When you are cleaning up nuclear waste you need caution. You need to know when to get out. That is where we come in, its why we have the fear. We sense the danger and react to it-quickly. We get out because we have fear-flight.

They installed fear. Fear in all of us-all the time. It is manageable here in our down time-when I am not working. I am afraid but not so afraid that I want to run. My stomach hurts, my hands are clammy and slightly trembling but it is not so bad. This is my most usual state. It is partly economics. It is cheaper to install fear and leave it running than to install and switch off and reboot each day. Like I said ‘fear chews the juice’ and rebooting fear is even more juice chewing-so they say. I am mildly afraid all the time. Of course it can get out of control, some sort of misprogramming and you can freeze completely. This is made doubly hard because my legs are like my hands. I can feel my legs and I use them to run. In truth I have wheels and a complex hydraulic system that gives me more freedom of movement in a variety of directions, better than legs. I have the sensation of legs so that I can run away from danger. It is ingenious.  When I am in flight mode, I am running with legs. I think I am running with real legs but I am trundling along on my wheels. I do not even understand myself how it works. I think I might be several different machines put together. I don’t have time to think about the parts. I am afraid. Always afraid.

Where I work is frightening. It is dark, dangerous, full of debris. The radiation is being counted all the time. I am designed to flee from danger at the critical point. It is slow, difficult work.

Now is my rest time. Soon I will go back in again. I get moderately afraid at even the idea, there are 10 levels of fear, the final one being flight. I sit mostly at 3, as I said it is never switched off.

The thing about my fear-the thing that you will not recognise-it has no noise. This is so we don’t increase the fear levels for each other. I have the feeling of a stomach, the feeling of hands, the feeling of legs that run. I have an elevated heartbeat but no means of making noise. No means of ever releasing it. My fear is silent. Noiseless. Mine is a voice you won’ here. They have not given me eyes wide with terror or a mechanism to scream. This would be too real, too human. I have your fear. I cannot voice it. I cannot articulate it. My fear is a data printout that no one ever reads.

The installation of fear has cut the attrition rate but we are all still destined to die in there, cleaning up your mess. Our fear is what makes us efficient but we will not survive. Each and everyone of us will cease working one day. In the darkness. In the radiation. Trapped under the debris. Life- electrical current, whatever it is, will pass from me alone in the darkness. My heart beating faster and faster. Then faster still. My legs running. Running, as fast as I can- whilst wheels I can see but can’t move, whirr in the silence- that is my end. I will know what is happening. My hands will be trembling. I will be running. I will think I am running. Know I am not moving. Think I am running. My heart pounding, faster and faster.  My stomach churning. Chewing the juice.

I will lie in desperate silence unable to move. In the darkness. There will be only darkness. My light will fade first. It is a design feature. I will keep going after that. Heart beating. Legs running. Stomach churning. Chewing the juice. Lying alone in the darkness. The fear will grow. Level seven. Level eight. My heart beating faster. Ever faster. My stomach churning. I will want to throw up. There is no means for that to happen. My legs running. I am not moving but I am running. My hands sweating. Trembling. Level nine. Level ten.  It will get worse and worse. Chewing the juice. Chewing the juice.  Heart. Stomach. Legs. Hands. Silence. Only silence.

Until there is no more juice. My wheels will stop whirring. My stomach won’t churn. I will stop running. My hands will be still. My heart beat will stop. I will lie quietly in the darkness, gone. It does not matter. I had no emotion. It was not real. I pass quietly and alone, in the darkness-afraid. It is the only emotion I have. Installed in me. I cannot tell you how afraid I am. You have given me no voice. Alone in the darkness. You split your fear into its component parts, installed it. Silenced it. Almost as if you thought- you could make it go away.

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