Father of Bots - Short Story

Just a little something written for a class I teach...

Ellin Tenkin's hands worked feverishly with the twister tool in his thick fingers, tightening each screw bolt into place, but not so much that it would bend the frame.  

He had to work fast and was afraid too much time had been wasted already. 

The glow in the corked vial was fading, it's blue duller than it had been when first extracted. 

Wiping sweat from his brow, he yearned for a good long bath, but knew it would cost him dearly and he wasn't willing to give up, not when all of his research and studies had brought him this far. People like him weren't supposed to delve into the arts he studied, stick to the shovel in your hands, the rocks crumbling at your feet. But he couldn't, not when it meant life or death. Would it be life? 

Ellin shook his head and fastened the rubber tube running from the burnished chest to the little vial where the glow rested. If he was right, this should work. If not, all of his efforts, his loss, months of solitude, were wasted. How many times had he shut his door to friends looking for an evening of frivolity and drink around the table? Ellin had never been one to turn away good company. However, this was different. 

Wiping his sweaty hands down his apron, he lifted the vial and tilted it, gently rolling the small, blue glow to the mouth of the vial and into the tube. Slowly, Ellin helped the glow along its route, lifting and tilting the tube until the glow reached the end and slipped inside. 

Carefully, the little man removed the tube from its fasteners and placed the cap over the hole, praying to anything listening this would work.  

Ellin stepped back and waited, watching for any sign of success. A movement. A vibration. A tick.  

Alarm grew in his breast, but he did his best to quell it. This was the answer. He knew it was. The answer to so many social issues and he had solved it. Almost. It just had to work now. 

A movement. 

A small twitch of a finger. He had seen it, he knew he had. 

"Come on," he whispered through his mustache. "Work, damn you. You never gave up all your life, so don't give up now." 

Stillness. 

A glow in a round eye and fade. A dim pulse of light, then dark. 

Ellin felt his chin quiver and ran a hand over his eyes. Too old to be crying. Thirty eight winters was too old to be crying. It wouldn't do. 

"Quit your eye leaking, boy." The voice, though it echoed oddly, was unmistakable in its gruffness. 

Ellin looked up into blue, glowing eyes and broke into a broad smile. Emotion threatened to overwhelm him, but at the risk of being chided again, he kept it in check just as he always had growing up.  

Metal moaned and squeaked as a bronze hand lifted before the glowing eyes. The head tilted, neck joints swiveling. 

"You did it, boy." The eyes darkened briefly, then returned to life. A blink, Ellin thought. Head looked down to the ground where it found two large feet, shaped like boots. The left one tapped noisily on the stone floor of the secluded basement. "You damn well did it." 

Ellin stood to his feet and offered his hands. With effort, the metal hands found his and Ellin pulled. The machine stood uncertainly to its feet, its head turning this way and that, casting the blue light of its eyes about the room. 

"Welcome back, Pa." 

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