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"In trying to build a clone robot, what does Charlie have to do to get it to work?"
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Archie stared at the equipment and apparatus before him. Something simply wasn’t connecting, literally, as what lay on the table was his prototype, his robot. With synthetic skin peeled back around the humanoid form before him, he was attempting to create a human-like automaton, but it was failing. He knew he had all the parts; there was nothing to salvage, buy, or bribe from anybody.

The basement of the house was where he worked. It was his sole aim, to bring life to the five-foot-nine sexless being, or object before him. He hoped everything was in the right order. The eyes were connected to what was effectively, a hard drive, within which a compact disc could be inserted from outside to retrieve stored data or insert new information or instructions. Yet, there was nothing to indicate that his efforts had been anything approaching successful. Not a twitch of the hand, or an electrochemical impulse within its transistors. To all intents and purposes, it was dead.

He stood up, looking at it with a frown of irritation. Perhaps I should sew it up, he thought. Cut open the human body from head to toe, and it will die. Perhaps this is in that state. Maybe if it was to be sewn up, and resemble a human from the outside, it would come to life.

It didn’t need actual sewing, however. As with a cut on real human skin, it will heal as it fuses together. All he needed to do with this, was make it touch and it would meld instantly leaving no scar.

Before he did that, he gave it another once over, checking the connections and making sure everything was where it should be. Yet, there should be some flicker of indication to denote the fact that what he was doing was correct or along the right path, but obviously, it wasn’t. There was something, he knew, something that just did not connect. Everything was in order as far as he was concerned, but he could not work it out.

When satisfied that everything was in its right place, he was about to begin melding it when he decided that whatever the fault was, might be covered by the skin, therefore making it difficult to access. He guessed that there should be some indication, no matter how small, that indicated that it was not a failure.

He stood back from it, looking at its synthetic face, the only part covered by the skin, and at its closed eyes. It looked like Archie. He was trying to make a robotic version of himself. He stared at the innards, but nothing lept out at him, nothing designated the problem. He then heard a door opening, and footsteps on the basement stairs and the basement door opening.

A younger man than Archie by around five years walked in carrying a clipboard. He walked across.

"Still nothing?" he said, more of a statement than a question.

"No," said Archie, "I do not know what it is." The man sighed, and nodded, then wrote on his paper.

"Then you’ve failed," said the man.

"Yes," said Archie "I have." He turned on his swivel chair and looked with concern at the man.

"What happens now?" he asked.

"The mission is aborted," said the man. "You await my instructions as I may find another use for you, but until then, you can rest." He then reached into his pocket and pulled out what resembled a lighter. Archie turned and looked back at the innards of his robot.

The man pressed a switch, and Archie closed his eyes, his head and shoulders slumping, as though he’d fallen asleep. The man began to write on his clipboard:

‘Mission cancelled, automaton failed to create a copy of itself. Archie is not intelligent enough yet. It, however, knew that it did not work properly, and acknowledged its lack of understanding. I recommend the Archie series be halted until the anomaly is corrected. If Archie cannot create a copy of itself, then its other characteristics are sufficient to allow the line to continue. I recommend a period of four months to improve Archie’s intelligence; perhaps then he can activate the copied automaton. Should its intelligence then fail to create a copy, then I recommend reactivation, and the Archie series can join the ‘Ivan’ series in public interaction. We are a long way, however, before machines can procreate, and evolve along their own pathways without human interaction’. He walked across to look at the innards of Archie’s copy.

Not understanding mechatronics or robot technology, what he was looking at made no sense. He wondered, however, why there were four small lights in the middle of the chest, three of them green, one red. He turned and crossed to the entrance, walking up the basement stairs. He would later send in other workers from the electronics factory where he worked to take everything back to the laboratory. They had simply run out of space in the relatively small building and had bought a nearby derelict house at auction. It was much cheaper than extending their premises they had discovered.

As the man left the house, the red light in Archie’s clone’s chest, which was one of four batteries, flicked to green. It had been on a timer and had been counting down to zero before it activated. Archie’s copy slowly opened its eyes.


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