Steel Supply Serenade

Jerry missed his father dearly, but even more so when he woke up that morning. His father had passed recently and it had caused a domino effect that provided just the right conditions for absolute disaster.

First, he had inherited a robot from his father. Second, the robot had taken up an affinity for steel crafting. Third, it had begun to build a network of engineers and drafters to drive its hobby into a full-blown compulsion – taking up the attention of the entire manufacturing industry. All of these factors culminated in the scene that Jerry stepped into as he groggily entered the living room.

Piles of blueprints, pipes, beams and welding equipment littered the floor. The robot was beeping happily, working away at its bench. “Good morning,” Jerry yawned, catching a glimpse of the project it was working on as he approached a pile. 

“Please tell me you’re out of available metal suppliers near Melbourne,” he joked as he took in the height of the offending beam stack. There must have been a dozen of them blocking the door to the kitchen. 

The robot was quiet. Jerry caught a glimpse of something orange in his peripheral vision. He ignored it and nudged over the first steel beam. Something smelled burnt. It reminded him of toast. His stomach grumbled; he couldn’t wait for breakfast. There was a flash of heat from his left. What was it that he wanted to eat again? And why were these steel beams so heavy?

Flames licked at the ceiling. Flames licked at the ceiling. Suddenly, the dots connected in his half-asleep brain enough for him to fully turn toward the robot. It was on fire. 

Heart racing in his chest, Jerry had just enough sense to rush over to the desk and pick up the fire extinguisher. Clouds of smoke filled the apartment as he sprayed it, not stopping until the extinguisher was completely empty. Foam covered the floor and wet his knees as he crouched down to the robot’s smoking body.

Jerry thought to say its name, but realised he couldn’t remember it. “Please be alive,” is all he managed instead. The robot stayed quiet. 

“I’ll let you witness every Melbourne steel fabrication process – bending, joining, cutting – you name it!” His voice was growing in desperation. The last thing he had to remind him of his father, gone. “Please, just be alive.”

His heart skipped a beat. The robot did nothing. Until, finally, a soft red light began to blink. Slowly, the robot lifted itself out of its seat. Its metal was charred and ashen, but the robot was alive.

Jerry couldn’t stop smiling. “You need to rest. I think you overheated.” A lightbulb flashed in his head as a distant memory returned. “I’m so glad you’re okay, Tom”.