Short story: Assistant
By Josh Vogt (TheLorian)
His joints ached like they hadn’t in actual centuries…at least he thought so. His memory hadn’t quite been all there lately and he really was beginning to question why they kept him around. Perhaps they found him amusing in his aging shell of a body, even though his most important tool was growing far too convoluted and complex for his outdated system to manage. His mind was his weapon, his tool, and his purpose. Without his mind, what did he even have left to offer them? Why would they even bother to keep him around at all without it? There had to be something he could do, some way to rejuvenate himself and renew his rusted old processor enough to retain his position with the good doctor.
As he sat and thought on this, he realized that he had been so invested in his internal processing that the other senses had been lowered for some time. This was evident when he looked up to see that the doctor had entered some time ago, apparently awaiting some kind of answer from him that he had not even heard asked of him. The doctor was a massive man, with a natural muscle that defied explanation, given the man did little else but read or experiment up in his study through the night without rest. How he found time to keep himself in shape was illogical. Wrapped in simple black linens, he looked almost to the uninformed onlooker like some kind of simple fool that had wandered into the lab on accident.
The doctor stood, arms crossed and a scowl on his face while he waited for his servant to respond. Honestly, he should have replaced his assistant a long time ago, but there was a little bit of nostalgia that prevented him from carrying on with the decision. The old assistant had so much information in him, when he could keep it all straight long enough to actually share any of it. He gave his assistant another glare, as though that would shake him back to the present long enough to be able to repeat the question.
He looked up at the doctor, confused as to the nature of the inquiry he had missed, and simply tilted his head, attempting to share his confusion. He was unable to speak aside from sharing information of some sort. It was by the doctor’s very design, but in moments like this, he knew the doctor regretted that choice deeply. He nodded for the doctor to repeat himself, but the man simply sighed and then stormed out of the room. This did not bode well.
When the doctor got into one of his moods, it was best that he avoided him for as long as possible. Instead of following after the doctor, he simply took to walking about the tower, thinking intimately on what it could have been that set off the doctor today. Perhaps something had gone wrong with an experiment or research. He wished the doctor would share more of his data, as that would make it much easier to assist him through these mood swings.
He knew what might work. Quickly he moved up the steps of the tower to the level just below the doctor’s private study, the storage where most of the doctor’s private things resided. He moved through quickly, knowing precisely what to look for, and where it might be. In moments he had found the frame and wiped it off as best he could, though had he possessed a duster it would have gone better. He brought the picture up the last level of steps to the doctor’s study and knocked on the door before pushing it open anyway.
“What is it, Assistant?” the doctor sighed, turning from his work table.
“Did you know, when stuck in a rut, taking your mind off of the problem might help fix it?” the assistant responded, holding out the picture of the doctor’s father, hoping his family would help distract him.
It seemed to have the opposite result, how curious. “Did you know I’m one bad day from deactivating you, you bumbling bag of bolts?” He shot back.
He was hurt by these words, but more because he had made the same assessment himself for quite some time. Perhaps he was useless after all, and the doctor would soon turn him off, ending his memory and stopping his data intake forever. Then the doctor turned back to him, looking in need of help, but almost upset he had to ask for it, especially given the situation.
“Assistant…I…I need you to recall something for me.” The doctor beckoned him over impatiently.
“Did you know that everybody needs a hand sometimes?” the assistant replied as he walked over happily.