Life is so Wonderful
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
May 28th, 1979, San Diego, California
Someone leaned on Walter Manor’s front doorbell for a good thirty seconds. When Norman Becile at last opened the door, the ring-and-runner was gone, but something white and fluttering caught his attention. A note made from cellophane taped-letters stuck to the door with thumb tacks read “deer R0butts. We HaVE youR PA Walter 5. 2143 E Belt St. WAREhouse. BRING $1,000,000.00 or he DIEs”. Norman informed The Spine and soon all three automatons were bundled into a black 1957 Chevrolet and barreling toward the aforementioned location.
Rabbit barged into the warehouse clumsily; his saw blade spinning, having just cut through a sizable chain and padlock. There in the middle of the abandoned space sat Peter Walter V, or “Five” as the robots liked to call him. He was bound to a chair by rope and a gag stifled his attempts to shout a warning to them. From the shadows a man in a grey jumpsuit wearing dark goggles stepped forward and leveled a sizable gun-looking apparatus at them. Wires and tubing ran from this to a large satchel that seemed to weigh him down a considerable amount as his movements were slow and his footsteps plodding. “Thank you for coming!” he shouted, drawing their attention. The weapon glowed pinkish and small, brightly colored points of light seemed to be generated in the air then sucked into the satchel. The barrel of the gun glowed with a similar light and in a split second, it fired.
It seemed its wielder was almost as surprised as those he was attacking that the beam cannon had as much force as it did. It expanded from the barrel into a radius of about four feet and struck Rabbit in the chest as he dove bravely in front of The Spine. His action was intended to save his automaton friend from being struck, but the path was just too wide. It enveloped him, pushing him back to collide with The Spine and both robots were pushed into the far wall, crashing into a heap as the blast terminated. The weapon had a surprising kick and the wielder stumbled backwards a step. He growled in frustration but before he could aim it at the remaining robot, The Jon was on him. He leapt across the room, wrenched the weapon from the wielder's arms and smashed it down on the ground where it snapped in half. A bright, twinkling explosion like fireworks or fairies dying illuminated The Jon’s usually happy face as he snarled, grabbed the wielder’s right arm, spun him around and efficiently flipped him over, pinning him to the ground with a firm knee to the back.
32-year-old Peter Walter V struggled in his bonds, shouting through the gag to The Jon. He didn’t have to hear his words to understand what he had to do. The Jon tore at the sleeve of the wielder’s jumpsuit and using the fabric tied his hands and feet tightly then ran to his master and released him.
“Good work, Jon!” Peter cheered and dashed across the room, yelling over his shoulder to him as he went. “Keep an eye on that lunatic, I’ll see to the others!” The wielder was silent; his eyes were fixed on the destroyed beam cannon to his left. The Jon picked up the stock end and noticed an insignia with the letters BI embossed into the metal. He gripped it tightly and scowled at the wielder. He trembled slightly with anger.
Peter Walter fell to his knees before the two crumpled and unmoving figures on the far side of the room. He gasped and froze in place for a moment before reaching out and touching Rabbit’s back. “Oh my...” he whispered.
“Are they ok?” The Jon shouted anxiously.
Peter grasped Rabbit’s shoulder and pulled, rolling him off of the Spine. “Oh! Holy mother of...” They were breathing. They hadn’t hit the wall very hard. It looked as though they were just sleeping. But something was very, very wrong. Peter just could not believe his eyes. “They’re not robots!”
“WHAT?” The Jon cried. He easily picked the wielder up like a sack of potatoes and bounded across the room with him. He dumped him unceremoniously a few feet before the forms of his friends. “If they’re not robots, then...?” The Jon stared down at Peter. He was holding the wrist of a pretty young brunette woman with dark skin who was wearing Rabbit’s clothes. A pale, thin, young man with black hair was lying slightly under the woman and wearing The Spine’s clothes. The Jon shook his head. “That’s not right,” he said firmly. “Not right at all. Where are Rabbit and The Spine, Five?”
Peter shook his head and laughed lightly. “Jon, these are they!”
“No. These are humans.”
Satisfied that the two were breathing and their hearts were beating regularly, Peter looked up at The Jon then then over to the wielder. “This was the intended effect, wasn’t it?”
“The anti-confetti beam cannon was a complete success!” The wielder laughed a deranged sort of giggle which petered out into a sort of manic sob. “But I missed the most important one...”
“Anti-confetti...cannon?” The Jon whispered.
The wielder sobbed “If The Jon hadn’t destroyed it I would have...”
Peter leapt to his feet and charged at him, but The Jon stepped in front of him. “No, Five, don’t! He wants you to do that! We’re not like them!”
The wielder used the distraction to wriggle on the ground and pull a small device from his pocket. With another sickening laugh he pressed a button and disappeared in a burst of green light. Small pieces of green-and-white-striped candy were left spinning in his place.
In a few hours, they had transported The Spine and Rabbit back to Walter Manor and Walter Girl Barbara and Peter Walter V set them up in the hospital rooms in the basement usually used to treat injuries to humans incurred while working on robots. The Jon moved obsessively back and forth from room to room, checking on both of them, not wanting either of them to wake up alone. Barbara sat with Rabbit and Peter sat with The Spine. Rabbit was the first to wake.
When he came to, it was clear he understood something was off. He had trouble speaking and swallowing. His eyes darted around the room and he blinked and squinted frequently. Barbara had been instructed to give him as little information as possible so as not to frighten him, but she was not prepared for how he would react to the feeling of being human.
Rabbit stuttered. “Wh-whe-wha-wha what ha-ha... ha-ppened to me. What ha-p-pened. Where i-is th’ Spi-spine. Where is he wha-wha-what hap-ppened to me!” His breaths became shallower and faster and before Barbara knew it, Rabbit was having a panic attack. All she could do was administer a shot of diazepam and try to soothe him the best she could. The shot initially served to heighten the frenzy, but as the sedative took effect he quickly relaxed.
“It’s ok, Rabbit,” Barbara soothed. “The Spine is ok. You did good. He’s fine. You’re fine. Things are a little weird, but everyone is fine.”
The Jon heard the commotion and darted back into the room. Barbara grimaced, fearing he would just add to the confusion, but for once, this was not to be the case.
“Rabbit!” The Jon cried. “You’re awake!” He fell to his knees by the hospital bed and took his friend’s hand in his. Rabbit rolled his head over and smiled weakly but his eyes quickly looked to the hands--one hard, gleaming metal, the other soft, copper-colored flesh--and he pouted. Tears sprouted from his mismatched green and blue eyes. “The. Jon. Wha-hap-ppend to me?” he asked, his words still coming out at a stutter.
“The bad man hit you and Spine with a laser and you turned into a girl!” he chimed, grinning like a lunatic.
“Yeah! He’s a boy! A real boy!”
Rabbit took a stuttering gasp and let it out slowly. “A real boy?” he said slowly. “A hu-man?”
“An’ I’m a... girl?”
The Jon grinned wider if that was even possible and laughed. “Yep! All these years I never knew that Rabbit was a she!”
Rabbit squeezed The Jon’s gold-plated metal hand and chuckled softly. “That’s cra-zy. This is crazy. I’m a ‘she’...” the former robot repeated and relaxed. “An’ The Spine’s ok?”
Barbara took the young woman’s other hand “Don’t worry, Rabbit. We’re here for you.”
Rabbit rolled her head over to the right and looked at Barbara. She squeezed her hand and chuckled again. “That feels warm,” she said. “That feels... I feel... So weird.” Rabbit smiled.
Barbara squeezed back. “I gave you some Valium to relax so you’ll feel weird for a little while. It’ll wear off soon, though.”
“Ok,” she said dreamily and rolled her head back to the left. “Jon, go tell Spine t’come see me.”
“Ok, Rabbit,” he agreed and skipped out of the room.
Rabbit tried to push herself up against the pillows but Barbara had to help her to sit up. “This is so weird,” she said and felt her bare arms, running her hands over the skin and up to touch her face. She laughed deliriously.
“Now, Rabbit,” Barbara put her hand on her shoulder. “There’s probably some things we need to talk about. You know... Lady things.”
The young woman rolled her head to one side and gave her a knowing look. “Barbara, I’ll be 84 this year,” she said. “I’ve been pro- well, I was programmed with everything ya need ta know about human anatomy, girls included, so...” She made a face and her hands moved down and around to investigate. “Oh, does this mean I’m gonna have a cycle?” she groaned and made a disgusted face.
Barbara had to laugh at that. “I suppose so. We should probably have you checked out, though.”
Rabbit nodded with a serious look that soon melted into giggles again. “So weird!” She bent at the waist and stretched her arms to touch her toes. “Toes!” she cried happily and buried her face in the blanket that covered her legs, shaking with laughter.
From across the hall a man’s voice shouted excitedly and Barbara grinned. “I think he’s awake.”
Soon, the shouts and laughter stopped and he called her name.
“Rabbit? Rabbit!!” The Spine’s smooth, deep, human voice shouted and his bare feet slapped on the polished concrete floor as he ran into her room. “Rabbit...?” He was pale, tall and thin. His tie had been removed and his shirt was unbuttoned to the third button. He was breathing heavily and his cheeks were flushed.
Quickly, Rabbit awkwardly sat up and beamed at him. “Hi, The Spine!”
“Oh, wow, look at you!” she squealed. “We’re human, Spine!”
“Yeah, but you’re...” He raised a brow and pointed at her.
“A girl! That’s weird, right? And it looks like I might also be Indian, I’m not sure.” She held out her bare arms in front of her and turned them over, noting how much darker they were than Barbara’s ghostly white and The Spine’s pale pink.
“Yeah...” His cheeks went brighter. “Are you ok?”
“Think so. You?”
He nodded and The Jon bounded up behind him, hugging him around the middle. “Yay! We’re ok!”
The Spine looked down on him with a worried look then back to Rabbit who was playing with her hair and laughing in a drug-induced haze. The Spine frowned.