Deadlock Bzzz! Bzzz! The alarm went off, and Susan Calvin rolled over.


“Bzzz! Bzzz!” The alarm went off, and Susan Calvin rolled over. It was 6:30 in the morning, and RoboTimer(tm) had done its job admirably, waking her up to the second of the time that it had been factory-programmed. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been set to the correct date, and when it announced “Saturday, December 14th! Good morning!” in a load cheery tone, she groaned out load with the realization that it was Saturday, and after that affair with the hyperdrive motor, she wanted to sleep in, since it she had just come back to earth.

“I hate this stupid robot!” she yelled out loud, then suddenly closed her mouth.

For Susan Calvin had just remembered that her pact with the Satan’s, as she thought of them, known to the robotics world as the team of Powell and Donovan. She stretched, rolled out of bed, and went downstairs, wrapping a robe around her as she went, to get some coffee. “Well, since I’m already up, I might as well take a look at the rest of those Rasssjemani-Quazaric-Smith Equations and see why they were causing all those robots to go psycho,” she thought. “Good thing that U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men hushed up that little incident, I’d be out of a job if the whole world, the xenophobic and primally-fearful lot of them, knew about that!” As she got out and buttered her toast, she mulled the day ahead of her in her mind. Weekends were never truly weekends for Susan Calvin, as she was forced to work for most of the weekend, with her only respite being Sunday, which she was allowed to come in an hour late for. However, she usually found herself working late into the night on Sundays, out of an artificially induced guilt that she knew was not real, but could do nothing to correct.

After being driven to work (working for the company that produced every

MechTaxi(tm) in existence did have some perks after all), greeting the doorman, and going up to her office, Susan Calvin was ready to look at those equations! She only needed a small period of time to warm up, and the wakeup-breakfast-come to work routine sufficed.

Almost as soon as she had sat down to work, the Founder of U.S. Robots came in and said, “I need to speak with you, Calvin. There’s been more reports in across the nation of those psycho robots, all of them with positronic brains built using the Rasssjemani-Quazaric-Smith Equations. We will be ruined, and drawn and quartered by the masses if we don’t start hushing this up again and fix that problem!” Susan smiled at him, with an evil glint in her eye. “Junk the equations. They are obviously unstable. Why do you bother me with this? I am not even a full-time mathematician! Have completely new equations written up, not those kludges that the robots have been running on since the late nineties almost!”

The Founder laughed, his white beard and flowing locks shaking slowly as his chest vibrated. “That is possibly the first joke I have heard you crack in the thirty years we have been at this company that I founded!” He paused. “It is a joke, right?” he whispered. When Susan shook her head, he simply stared at her, astonished, with a growing look of perplexity spreading across his face. “You do understand what would be entailed in the creation of an entirely new set of robotic codes, right? The hackneyed name of the last ones show by their complexity that it took a group of seven hundred men an entire year to build the codes! They are the building blocks of everything that we now know of the various fields of Robotics! You, yourself, would become useless, with all your knowledge outdated! Rasssjemani, Quazaric, and Smith were only the principal authors of the code, all of them geniuses! There are not even three geniuses in the field of robotics alive today!” He paused for breath after this long exposition, and Susan Calvin stepped in with some comments of her own.

“Calm yourself, man! I was just offering a suggestion! I have been making the same type of suggestions such as those for the last thirty years!”

“If you had made suggestions such as that all the time, you would not be here after thirty years! You must be losing it, Calvin!”

“I am the chief robotics in the entire field, and you are treating me as if I know nothing at all of the field!”

“You are the field, Calvin! Don’t kid yourself, you are the only rob psychologist in the entire world, and a decreasingly useful one at that! Why do you think there is only one? There is no need for one even!”

“Hah! You pathetic Moses imitator, you don’t fool me, your entire education consists of a G.E.D.! And you were born when they still had G.E.D.s! So don’t say I’m useless, I’m not trying to create the next generation of mechanical men without a college diploma!”

At this the Founder left the room, swearing vengeance in his mind against all

Rob psychologists, then correcting himself and remembering that there was only one. Susan Calvin sat down, realizing that this day might be her last with the company that she had served so faithfully. Sadly, so called over her robotic child, Eddie, and sat all of his 400 pounds on her lap. Groaning slightly, she told him that she wasn’t going to be seeing him anymore, but she would be back someday to see him again.

“But Mommy! I’ll miss you! And what will they do with me once you’re gone? They’ll junk me! Mommy, don’t let them hurt me!” And he went on like this for hours, but the end of which they were both crying.

“Don’t worry, the only reason I’m leaving is because of some stupid man here who hates me, and won’t listen to reason!” She cried, and thought of all the happy times she’d had at the factory…

Then she remembered. Remembered everything. About the pact with the Satan’s, and how she had prayed every day to be released from her job, as that was the only way she could be free forever. She got up, knocked the heavy childish robot aside, packed up her desk, and walked out.

Just then, as she was walking home, something appeared in front of her. She thought she might be hallucinating, since it had been a long stressful day, until she thought of the way that the team of Donovan and Powell had come to propose the ill-fated deal to her. She groaned out “Leave me alone, please!” and fell to the ground. The now fully formed ghostly team grinned at each other, grabbed her, and carried her back to her house.

Susan regained consciousness lying on her couch, to see the two men walking around her living room, critiquing her design taste.

“Rather homely designs, don’t you think, Powell?” “Oh stopit, you crazy redhead! She hasn’t had anyone over she had to impress for the last 20 years I’d bet!” Susan reached over, and grabbed the two men from her position on the couch my arms, and made them come closer. “Well,” she asked, “what is it? My pact with you is dissolved, and I shall see robots nevermore. Goodbye.” She got up to leave, and was stopped firmly by the hand of Powell, who reached out while Donovan was still getting up. “Sit down, the agreement does not release you that easily! As you recall, U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men must release you, you can’t quit!” Calvin sat down and began to speak. “After today, I think that as soon as I call the office, the first message they will give me will be the date of my official retirement! You should have seen that fight I had with the Founder!” However, here she was cut off. “So, you are saying that you were the one who provoked the fight, and therefore you will not be released from your agreement!” “This is ridiculous! I did nothing of the kind!

Susan Calvin took of the helmet, and breathed a sigh of relief. “I am tired of these new virtual reality dream simulators. The private sector may just have to own up that there really is absolutely no use for mind-reading machines in commercial life. Everything is either an invasion of privacy, or it simply scares the customer. And did you see how foolish and emotional I was in that?!” She walked away from the machines, her guides in the factory arguing heatedly with her, as they showed her the new applications for mind-reading that they had extracted from the data that she had given to them from her work on finding the cause of the defect in the positron brain of the mind-reading robot that she had worked with so many years ago, and had thought that she had killed.