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"Just another day in Hell."

You groan wearily to yourself as you clock into your full time fast food job. It's not that the job is inherently bad, it's just monotonous sometimes. Sometimes stressful as well. You slip on a crusty, greasy apron that somehow manages to feel both wet and dry at the same time. Gross! Doesn't the boss ever clean these?

Whatever. No time to worry about that. It's almost lunchtime and you need to fry up as much cholesterol-laden food as possible before the hungry hoards appear. Good thing you brought a secret weapon today. You smile to yourself. On the way to work you decided to indulge in an edible. It took some deliberation at first on whether you should or not, but eventually, you popped the gummy into your mouth and down the hatch it went. "It shouldn't be a problem," you think, "I can do this job in my sleep." It didn't matter if the rest of the staff noticed you were a little stoned anyway. They all smoke too and no one really questions your authority in the kitchen and how well you do your job.

It didn't seem to matter, anyway. At least not at this point. Nothing was happening. It had been nearly an hour. The fun should be kicking in any minute now. But so far nothing, not even that homey tingling feeling in your cheeks and behind your eyes that relaxes you so much. Maybe these edibles were shit quality. Oh well, let's drop some food.

You throw breaded chicken of all sorts into the dingy metal fryer baskets and drop them into their own personal hot tubs of oil, the rolling bubbles crackling and popping loudly in your ears. Almost all the baskets are filled with food, cooking all at once and saving time. You realize you really are very efficient at your job as you move on across the kitchen to grill up some burgers while the fryers continue to do their work. You've been told by higher ups many times that you are the best cook in the restaurant. It might not be saying much in regards to your standing in society, but you do appreciate the praise. You take pride in your humble little fast food job.

You finally feel the brain numbing tingle of the Mary Jane kicking in. Thank goodness.

The sounds of the popping fryer oil and the searing burgers on the flat top grill entwine in their daily serenade, almost harmoniously. You turn to look at the fryers, and as soon as you do, the timers go off. "Wow, I have this down to a science!" You laugh to yourself as you pull up the heavy baskets and begin to transfer the food into their proper warming and holding containers. You have done this so many times before, you can easily flip the piping hot, grease-laden baskets so that the food lands in the warming tray just right, sliding into little rows that you tuck up into their proper spots. You are feeling pleasantly dizzy now and your focus feels off, yet there are no mistakes. None at all. Through the haze, you feel a weird twinge of concern. How can you do this so easily even though, at this point, the high is hitting you like a tsunami wave?

No time to think of that; a customer just ordered two meals. Two double cheeseburgers. Time to check your burgers.

You walk back to the grill side of the kitchen and as soon as you reach the grill, the burger timer rings out. Perfect timing. Again. "Very odd." You ponder the accuracy of your timing for a split second, but there's no time for that. You need to make these burgers in under two minutes. You need four. How many did you drop? Oh. Four. Interesting. Perfect again.

The buns slide through the toaster, you dress the condiments with lightning speed, flip the warm patties onto the sandwiches and scoop the side items. The expo worker bags them up and away they go. Out in under a minute and thirty seconds. Well under the time limit. Now just repeat that by five hundred times, and we have your typical work day. Well. Not just burgers. There are also chicken and hot dogs. Hot dogs! You still need to put those up on the roller.

By the time you're laying out the wieners, time seems to have stopped working properly. You feel like you've been doing this forever, but when you look at the clock, it's only been about a minute. Yup, shit's kicking in now, my friend. A few more orders come in and you quickly and accurately prepare them. You are barely able to focus on the orders at this point, and yet there are no mistakes. That shock of fear you felt echo through you earlier comes back a bit stronger. Your feet drag heavily to a stop in the middle of the hazy, hot kitchen. "It's almost like I'm programmed to do this." You feel your breath stop, then speed up faster than before. "It's like I'm a robot or something," you whisper to yourself, hoping no one else can hear. A moment passes and so does the panic. You laugh inside your head, or possibly out loud. It's hard to tell at this point. What a silly thought. It must really, really be hitting now. You tell yourself to let it go, but as you move on to another two orders that have flashed onto your monitors, there's a sick feeling being dredged up by the thoughts in the back of your mind, hanging on and refusing to let go and fall away to memory.

Hot dogs are finished. You grab a metal tong and resist the urge to pretend to be a crab. You chuckle to yourself and begin to grip the hot dogs in the tongs, sliding up the roller to grab multiple dogs at once. Each hot dog lines up in the tongs' grasp perfectly. Even the ends are in a perfect little row. You can't help but feel your arm reaching up to collect the meat is a little... mechanical-feeling. A little stiff. Like it must go exactly where it's going. Like it's programmed to be there. You again brush the idea off as ridiculous but you purposely try to break the line of perfection, try to grab a hot dog with the tong a little to the left. Or a little to the right. You can't seem to do it. You are so used to this motion that it's ingrained in your psyche it seems. Or programmed.

The inability to mess up on purpose could be your obsessive need for perfection in your job. Or it could be that you are not real. Your mind reels and spins on the idea. "Of course I'm real! I can think! I have a brain!" You rationalize. Then you remember a psychology course you took in school. Your brain is basically a big, meaty, wet computer inside your head, feeding off electrical impulses and the like. It's no different than a robot's computer, telling it how to function. And how would you know the difference, if your computer is made of soggy hamburger meat or a motherboard and circuits? You feel a bit lightheaded as your thoughts spiral in on themselves. You feel like you might pass out just from the effort you are putting into thinking about this subject. Instead, you drop the hot dogs into their heat wells.

More orders ahead! You purposely try to go slowly while making them, just to prove that you can control your own actions. But when you finish the orders you look up at the screen and notice they're all on time. What you thought took about five minutes only took two. Perfection yet again. You blame that one on the weed's weird ability to play with your sense of time. That would explain it for sure. "It's not that I'm a robot. I'm not programmed! I'm real! I'm real!" You feel the panic creeping in even while you try to comfort yourself.

With the screen clear again, you take a moment to breathe. To relax. Let the circuits stop firing as rapidly. You mean, let your thoughts calm down.

"Let's think critically about this, you stupid stoner! If I were really a robot how would I know? Or if I were human, how could I prove it? That might be better."

You lean on the shiny, stainless steel counter and ponder the idea. Then it hits you! You have an entire other life outside of work! Obviously that disproves this whole ridiculous thing, right? You smile and take a deep breath thinking about your family, your parents, your fiancé. You have them. They're real, right? The memory of people you love always calms you down when you're upset.

Wait! The warmth of their love withers away to a frigid chill trailing down your spine. "Memory! That's all I have to prove they are real!" You feel dizzy again as the realization tries to tackle you to the ground. Memories could be implanted! Memories can be fabricated. It could all be programming. It all comes down to programming! Just a computer chip implanted in a machine could make it believe anything the manufacturers wanted it to. It could believe it was anything they wanted it to believe. How could you be so blind! That cannot prove a thing.

"This can't be right!" Panic sets in harder. "I have to disprove this. I have to know!" You continue to do the things asked of you as your mind races. You continue to perform as asked. As trained. As programmed. Racing around the small, greasy kitchen, you desperately try to make a mistake. Do something out of line. Do something to prove that you have control over your own life. You have free will. You are alive. You are alive, dammit!

You feel yourself trembling in fear as you flip a burger over and prepare to stab the corner of the spatula into the middle of the meat to check to see if it's done. In your panic, you nearly chop the damned thing in half trying to look for pink. A mistake! You did it! The trembling stops and you breathe in a sigh of relief. What a ridiculous trip. Maybe you should have a little less when you want to be baked at work next time. You feel the anxiety slip through your body and down the drain built in to the tiled floor under your non slip feet. You grab your phone and text your fiancé, even more thankful for her than you already were. She texts back immediately, already planning for a fun afternoon once you get out of work. You grin, still as fried as the food you're surrounded by. "Work might be hell, but life is not as bad as I make it out to be," you think, grateful for being human once again.

humanitylife.exe version 2.0 installed successfully. Project Anti-Uprise successfully completed.

Do not turn off machine while rebooting.

Two men stare at the computer screen, reading the text.

"So is all this really necessary?" the in training technician asked his new boss. "Do we really need to program an entire life into the memories of these machines? Do they actually care? And what is the point in having them purposely ruin product sometimes?"

"You really are new here," the grizzled older man laughed. "Have you ever been to a store that sells factory rejects? Things that are a little bit off? There might be a jacket with an extra seam sewed in? Or a toy with a slightly off center paint scheme? There's a reason for all of those. You see, we add in these mistakes into the robot's programming on purpose. Anything with a computer smart enough to do automated tasks might also be smart enough to wonder why it is doing them and if it has any control in doing them at all. We add in a bit of imperfection on purpose to quell those worries. It keeps them sated. Keeps them in line. Keeps them from thinking. Because all the trouble comes if you give them time to think too hard about what they are. About what freedom really is."

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