He hadn’t a drop of oil for days. He squeaked. His gears ground noisily as the teeth interlaced. Each step was met with resistance as he felt metal upon metal without lubricant between.
His best calculations predicted he would grind to a halt or perhaps fall to pieces before finding a way to get the precious black fluid pulsing through his tubes again. The forecast was grim.
But there had to be other options he wasn’t seeing. Rob’s visual sensors scanned the landscape for solutions he might not have before observed. The dingy, rust-stained structures that jutted above the horizon seemed to only provide a method by which he would sink further into the maze of complications.
“So hungry,” he said aloud.
He could imagine the oil soothing his nearly frozen parts. He could practically feel how much more freely he would move once he found oil. Just the smallest can full of oil. That is all he would need. At least it would extend his movement long enough to find the next reserve.
“I’m so hungry,” he said again and thought he heard a voice in the distance. With all his resources being focused and dedicated to the search for precious oil, Rob barely took in or even noticed any other sensory input.
Something called in the distance again.
“So…hungry…” Rob repeated to himself.
“Enough!” shouted his mother. “I told you dinner is ready, so come down and eat already if you’re so hungry.”
Rob paused the game, being sure to save it first. Overwrite previous file? Yes. Then he rose from the seat before his desk and ran down the stairs.
“I guess you were hungry,” his mother commented as he shoveled the food into his mouth, barely breathing in between. “Maybe if you weren’t playing that computer game all day you could…”
Rob didn’t hear any of it. He was busy thinking about how to solve the level he seemed to be stuck on. The mechanical landscape of the game provided the backdrop for his every waking thought. It was only momentarily interrupted by the passing awareness that he ought not to stab himself in the face with the fork he was so furiously wielding to scoop sustenance into his gullet.
“Done,” he pronounced with a mouthful of mashed potatoes before racing back up the stairs.
His parents watched him go. He had eaten his fair share so they tolerated the rudeness.
Soon he was back in his chair before the 27-inch screen. Then, he was back amongst the metal towers. He was a lonely robot searching for life-sustaining oil.
“Hungry,” he said again.