Title: Lights and Clockwork
Author: Jordanna Morgan (
librarie@jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Rating/Warnings: G. Spoilers for I, Robot.
Setting: Just prior to the beginning of the film.
Summary: Detective Spooner finds a reminder of his past a bit too close for comfort.
Disclaimer: Asimov created the ideas, Fox put them on film. I’m just a fan.
Notes: At the time of this writing, more than two months after the release of I, Robot, I have not yet seen another fanfic based on the film. I’m sure there must be a few out there somewhere, though.

 

Lights and Clockwork

Tick… tick… tick.

Detective Del Spooner tossed uneasily and buried his head under his pillow, trying to muffle the sound of the ancient wind-up alarm clock on the nightstand.

The antique had once been one of his more prized possessions. In a world of digital clock radios and LCD displays, telling time by the hands on an old-fashioned dial face was becoming a lost skill—but Spooner preferred to do things in quaint, time-honored ways. Sure, the clock was always a few minutes slow, but it got around to jangling its wake-up call eventually. It was simple, and he trusted it. Unlike the computerized electronic jobs that lurked silently in most people’s bedrooms.

Now, however, the clock intoned an ominous reminder.

Tick… tick… tick.

Spooner rolled onto his back and raised his left hand, staring at it in the dim light of the sleepless city that filtered through the window. He flexed his fingers, clenched his fist, and felt nothing but the slight tensions and pressures of the movement. The fingertips pressed to his palm were insensitive to the smoothness and warmth of the synthetic skin.

Yet the artificial nerves that gave the hand refined movement were sensitive enough to transmit a shudder, as he remembered what lay beneath that skin. Remembered stolen glances, during the haze of his recovery, of circuits and wires where muscle and bone had once been.

Tick… tick… tick.

For as long as he could remember, Del Spooner had tried to surround himself with things he felt he could trust. Old things, tested by time. Simple things, which even he could understand.

And now…

His right hand crept up to his chest, slim fingers finding the scar where the organic met the robotic. Now the new and the complex was physically, inextricably bound to him for life. Now lights and clockwork took the place of human flesh and blood.

Now he did not trust himself.

Tick… tick… tick.

The air felt hot and thick in the grip of the summer night. Growling through clenched teeth, Spooner rolled over, wrapped his pillow around his head, and shut his eyes tightly.

The darkness behind his eyelids was no help. Within it he saw flashes of the crash, of the river, of his last moments as a whole man… and inevitably, worst of all, the frightened face of a blonde-haired angel pressed against a window.

It should have been him.

The sound of the clock penetrated the pillow, each tick bearing witness to another moment that she would never see.

Tick… tick… tick.

With a savage snarl, Spooner reached down, closing his hand around the sidearm tucked under the edge of the mattress. It took only the space between two heartbeats to raise it, aim, and pull the trigger.

A single, sharp burst of noise… and then, silence.

 

The next night, a new clock sat by the bedside.

A slightly dented refugee from a pawn shop, it was not new; however, it was modern, electronic, and silent. And in a few hours, if Spooner had managed to set its confusing array of buttons correctly, its shrill alarm would wake him at seven-thirty sharp for his first day back on the job.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Spooner stared at the clock, and then down at his own left hand.

Welcome to the future.


© 2004 Jordanna Morgan