The Soul of Invinco

Written By Matthew Tolbert

 

Published in Hadrosaur Tales #14

 

 

There is someone at the door,” the doorbell announced.

 

The metal figure remained motionless in the middle of the living room. He sat in an antique easy-chair, like a statue in a park. No reaction.

 

“There is someone at the door.”

 

Finally, the robot’s head jerked to the side slightly and the lights in his eyes turned on. He looked around his room and gave a heavy sigh.

 

He stood up slowly and said, “Who is it, please?”

 

“A youth dressed in a Precedence Delivery Service uniform. He is carrying a forcefielded package,” the doorbell answered.

 

As the mechanical man tightened the rope around his brown, monk-like robe, he continued his questions, “Please describe the individual.”

 

“He is in his twenties, Cau-Asian, short blue hair, weak physical muscles, artificial star mole on right ear-lobe...”

 

“That is enough, thank you. Let us welcome our new guest.” He slowly walked to his large metal front door. Without checking the security screen, he pressed the “open” button.

 

The young man was at first surprised by the door opening without giving his business bar-code and then even more amazed to see the tall robot standing in front of him. “You grew a beard!” he cried out a lot louder than he had intended.

 

Invinco’s mouth light came on, which symbolized a smile since his mouth did not move, “Actually, I attached it. What do you think?”

 

The delivery-man, still off balance, tried to gracefully answer, “It’s so ... uh ... I don’t ... I, uh ... Zow, I can’t believe I’m actually talking to the great Invinco. Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that since you’ve probably heard it your whole life. I ... I’d practiced this whole speech and now that you’re here...I can’t remember it. I mean...”

 

The mouth light went on again and Invinco mercifully interrupted, “Please come in. I do not have many fans anymore and I would enjoy your company. Would you like some essential-tea? I have fiber, protein, grain, vegetable, fruit, and dairy.”

As the smooth-metal android walked to the modernistic kitchen, the young man moved quickly into the room, in case his idol changed his mind about the invitation. He stood in awe, taking in the entire living room, kitchen and house.

 

He didn’t even detect the door automatically closing behind him as he looked around. He was surprised that he could see the entire house. There were no interior walls, yet each room was clearly laid out by the different furniture. While the kitchen had all the latest automatons, the living room was filled with antique furniture. The study had large monitor-screens and a book shelf actually filled with books. He had seen a book once at the Macrosoft History Museum of the Arts. The young man looked around but couldn’t find a bedroom.

 

He concluded Invinco must have the new storage bedrooms where everything, including the bed, is kept in the walls. The robot looked back and patiently waited. Finally he motioned, “Go ahead and please set my package on the table. Thank you for bringing it. I try not to go out in public anymore, therefore I use your company often. So, what is your name and what kind of tea you would like?”

 

“Fiber,” he responded, still taking in the surroundings.

 

“Fiber is a strange name, but...” Invinco said jokingly, trying to make his guest feel comfortable.

 

“No, wait, sorry. My name’s Vince. My parents named me after you. It’s like I’ve been a fan of yours since the womb. Zow, that sounded stupid. I’ve read every site about you, watched all your VRs and have t-mailed two reports on your effect on humanity. Ps. (Person) Invinco, I took this job with this conglomerate, knowing how much you use Precedence Deliveries. It’s like my whole life’s been dedicated to this moment ... and I’m coming across like a complete bug.” A distraught Vince walked slowly into the kitchen, still holding onto the package.

 

Invinco studied the youth for a while then turned to his kitchen-creator, “Two fiber teas, please.” He then turned to Vince, who was studying him as well. “I pray you are not one of those fanatics or worse yet, a member of the Invincible Church of Light. If so, I must ask you to leave. I have nothing to do with that religion and do not support it in any way.”

 

At this point, Vince realized his actions and words were being misinterpreted. Once again, he had bungled a special opportunity. The embarrassment filled his face, and he began to openly sweat. “No, no. Sorry. I don’t mean to worry you.” He looked down at the package he was still holding. “Here, place this in your x-rayer, and you’ll see it’s the book you’d ordered.”

 

“It is not that I do not trust you, Ps. Vince, but after 200 years of being a celebrity, I can never be too cautious. Please hand me the package.” Invinco cautiously took the offered box and placed it in his x-rayer closet. When the beams came up, they first showed the plastic container then visually pealed deeper displaying the forcefield. As the rays delved past the field, there, and there alone, was the incredibly rare, original 1904 book, “The Land of Oz.”

 

Something didn’t make sense to Vince, and as usual, he asked without thinking it through, “You’re indestructible so why would you worry if there’s an eraser in the package?”

 

Invinco’s response at first sounded like a quote yet tapered off with a whisper of sadness, “I, too, am a prisoner of my possessions. Unfortunately, everything around me is not invincible.” The android turned off the closet and picked up the package. He slowly placed it on the table and pushed the “open” button on the side. With a swooshing sound the container opened, and then the forcefield disintegrated. Invinco reached in and pulled out the 250 year old book.

 

Without turning his eyes away from his prize, he said, “There is just something about a book that internet-bibliothecas cannot give you. It means so much more to touch the pages and feel the age of the words.”

 

After a moment of silence, Vince felt uncomfortable, “But I thought you can’t ‘feel’ anything. That you can’t experience touch, smell or taste.”

 

While gently turning the pages of his new book, Invinco politely responded, “When a person loses his arm, he still feels it as though it is there. It still itches, aches, and feels as though it can type a musical-instrument.” Now Invinco looked right at his visitor, “In this way, I can still touch, taste, and smell.”

 

Vince sat defeated on a kitchen chair at the table, “I did it again. I’ve virused this whole meeting. The moment of my existence and all I can do is make a bug of myself. My whole life’s been like this. One blunder after another. I thought, well, I hoped that meeting you, my ultimate hero, would change that for me. Like maybe something would rub off. But here I go again.” Vince reached for his mood-altering wristband.

 

Invinco quickly grabbed his hand before Vince turned the knob. “Please do not,” the android said, “I strongly believe that using drugs to help adjust your mood to situations is wrong. It is important to fully experience all of life’s triumphs and challenges.”

 

Invinco, then, let go and softly patted the youth’s hand. “Vince, we need tea and you need to start calling me ‘Invinco’ if we are going to become friends.” The robot walked to the kitchen-creator, pulled out two steaming mugs and placed them on the table. “As you can see, I am old fashion in many ways. I like the feel of mugs versus the ener-glass. I never got used to the idea of eating out of utensils made of energy.”

 

Invinco came around and sat at a chair opposite the youth. Vince watched him closely to see what he was going to do with his tea. Seeing this, the robot laughed. “Vince, for someone who knows so much about my life, you obviously know little about me. No, I can not drink this tea. I just do this to make my guests feel more comfortable, which seems not to be the case today. As you know, my internal system will forever give me the energy I need. By recycling the same provisions over and over, this endless loop means I do not need any outside fuel, light, or food.” He noticed that his talking was relaxing Vince so he continued, “However, I still like to pretend I am sipping a tea that is so hot it burns your lips or eating a steak that is so over-seasoned that ... sorry, I forgot. A steak is something that came from a cow. Two things that you’ve never seen. One of my many weaknesses is his forgetfulness of how young everyone is. Please drink.”

 

Vince blinked his eyes, returning him to the moment. He drank and smiled, “It’s good. Thanks.” As he sipped, he wrestled with himself on whether he should continue with the subject of Invinco’s vulnerabilities or be quiet. Considering his mistakes so far, he just sipped his tea quietly.

 

While playing with his mug, the metal man’s mouth light went on and he looked right at his guest, “Vince, this is your moment, as you said. How can I make this special for you? It already is for me. Having been out of public view for 90 years, or ‘hiding’ as the media-government says, it is always special (and rare) when I get a guest. I finally have been forgotten.”

 

Vince shot straight up as though he was released from his heavy guilt feeling. Just before he opened his mouth, he remembered his slip-ups and resorted to politeness, “Just being here; drinking tea with you; that’s all I could ever wish for. If you don’t mind, I’d like a photo-chip of us together to show my parents. They’re also big fans.”

 

“Great idea.How about in front of my book shelf?”

 

They walked over and as they got into position, Invinco put his arm around Vince’s shoulders. The young man beamed with excitement. The host turned to the ceiling, “Home, could you please take a photo-chip of my friend and me?” From a panel in the ceiling, a camera came down. Both stood tall and Vince smiled harder than he ever had, or will, in his whole life. The whirling noise indicated the picture was taken, and as Vince relaxed, he teared up.

 

Seeing this, Invinco lead him to another wall with his arm still around the youth. They walked in front of three monitors. The robot pointed to the first one where a photo-screen showed him carrying a small girl from a burning house. “This screen represents my first stage of life. As you can see, I am saving a young child. My first act as a hero. By the way, she later became a famous teacher who started the Nature Schools of First-Hand Learning.”

 

A surprised Vince interrupted, “That’s Lindea Kirance? I graduated from one of her primary schools. Zow, small galaxy.”

 

“This was my ‘applied’ stage of life, as I call it. I also refer to it as my ‘physical stage.’ This was 1959- the beginning of the robot. Back then there was not much to work with in designing a metal creature. My body was based on how cars looked back then. (Yes, we had cars then, too). That is why my skin is smooth metal and my arms and legs have fins on the side. I have always liked the fin on the top of my head, except for the times I want to wear a hat. My biggest battle was getting him / I accepted by the public, the government, and the media. Back then the media was separate from the government. Now ...” Invinco got lost in thought.Vince quickly interrupted the awkwardness with a chance to show off. “It wasn’t until you started helping others that you were accepted. In fact, the Invincible Invinco was welcomed as the earth’s first real-life super hero. You’re Superman come to life, and you stopped criminals, saved lives and ... and my favorite story was when you covered the atomic bomb meant for the President of the then United States“I always liked JFK. I saved his life many times and yet he would not talk to me after I refused to be his running mate for his second term. I understand now how power can change a person.”

 

“So,” Vince felt brave now, “when did you leave your human body and enter Invinco’s? Was it before all of this heroism? And was it because you wanted to make the robot more human-like to squash all that ‘heartless robot’ gossip? And why ...”

 

The metal hand interrupted Vince by giving a soft pat on his shoulder and Invinco said to the monitor, “Next picture please. There. That was my old body.” Vince looked at a rare photo of Professor Michael Heiser. Younger than any halftones he had ever seen in the history sites. Invinco laughed, with his mouth’s light blinking, “Even back then I wished I had a beard. I never could grow one even when I was 39. That was my age when I was forced to leave my human body. Leaving one’s body is easier to do than you might think. Many people have done it involuntarily. Like with all things, it just took practice. The difficult part was staying in Invinco’s body. But when my human host died, I never again felt the ‘pull’ to leave the robot’s body.”

 

He paused, then continued, “Vince, I was dying of a disease called cancer, and that is why I created Invinco. I wanted a host body that would never die. It took me many years to create a metal form that could withstand damage, but...”

 

Vince proudly interrupted, “When you shifted your thinking to concentrate on the relationship between molecules, instead of the molecules themselves, you created polar Van der Waals forces. That makes the molecules so unstable that they always react and change by becoming stronger than the force applied against them. Therefore, when a mazer is shot at you, your molecules react and make your metal strong enough to withstand the power of the ray. Thus you can never be destroyed.”

 

“I am impressed.”

 

“It took me a week to memorize that,” Vince admitted.

 

If Invinco could have, he would have smirked. “And I am sure you know I was never able to create any more invincible robots. Scientists defined it as the “Chaos Theory of Change,” where nothing stays or is the same. Philosophers and priests simply call it “God’s will.” I like that explanation the best.”

 

“Me too.” Looking up at the metal face, Vince imagined a facial expression. “ Personally, I am glad the Invinco Corps never survived,” the android turned to the monitor. “Next picture, please. Look at these robots dressed up as toy soldiers. As soon as they passed all the tests, the American military was going to have them attack Russia .”

 

“What? There’s no data on that in any of the media-government reports.”

 

“It was soon after the government’s secret ‘declaration of war’ that the robots started to disintegrate. Their molecules were too unstable and never stayed together as mine have. The military never knew why that happened.” Invinco looked down to see if Vince caught on, but sadly, the youth was too involved in the screen-photo.

 

So, the robot continued, “Next picture please. Here I am dressed in a tuxedo and going to the Academy Awards ceremony. Back then, the Oscars only went to movie stars. Now anyone can receive one. I was so excited to be so warmly received as I walked out of the limousine. See there, the actress, Jane Fonda, accompanied me. Unfortunately that was our first and only date. Fame is a deadly mazer-sword. I went from everyone hating me when I was created to everyone “loving” me. I did movies, had a TV show, did thousands of interviews, endorsements, magazine covers, and even then, they wanted more. The press hounded me, and the public wanted to always test how much I could withstand. Total strangers would pick fights with me for no reason. I realized one day that I had it all: the riches, the fame and the legacy we humans crave ... and I hated all of it.”

 

“Next picture please.” Vince jumped at the sight of the massacre, of the gory remains of numerous bodies and the sight of a blood-covered Invinco standing over them. “I look at this picture every day. It reminds me of power out of control. I am glad to see the disgust on your face. Here I was the biggest hero, the most sought-after celebrity and there was nothing that could stop me...not even myself. Lord Acton was right when he said, ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ That’s why I named my autobiography that.”

 

“It was an accident; right? You didn’t mean to kill those bafia leaders.”

 

His smile light went on, “They were called ‘mafia’ leaders, and it was truly my fault. My temper took over. Then when the law tried me, my ego took over. I became the evil I had fought for 30 years. I could do anything I wanted and no one could stop me. For six years, I did anything I wanted and concentrated on the physical things of life- money, power, toys, slaves, possessions. I had everything, everything but meaning. We all want to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy. When I realized what my legend had become, I turned myself in.”

 

Vince laughed, “I love the part where they sentenced you to death, and they kept trying to kill you and nothing worked: nuclear bombs, dropping you into the atmosphere, rocketing you to the earth’s core through a volcano. Nothing. So, they sentenced you to life in a prison.”

 

“Hello, Monitor Two, please show the first photo. I am quite proud of this one. This captures my feelings about my prison stay. I used that time to get every type of college degree there was. Here it is the turn of the century, and I am still in my cell, surrounded by all my degrees pinned on the walls. I wanted to learn about everything. This I call the ‘mental stage.’ I concentrated on expanding my mind. I realized that the growth of an individual is to ignore the demands of the physical and to learn through asking questions and exercising creative thoughts.”

 

Invinco made sure his friend was not bored before he continued, “Next photo please. Here is the first university I started with all the money I had earned. I believe that education is one of the most important gifts we can give to children. Do you know how many colleges I started in order to enhance the learning of people-kind?”

 

“Twenty-four. I went to the Invinco College of Lateral Philosophy.”

 

“Good for you. Next photo, please. Here is my last chapter of this stage. Freedom. After stopping the prison break and saving the lives of the guards and the inmates, they granted me parole.”

 

“You were in prison more than 80 years. It must have been difficult.”

 

“Mercifully so, Vince. Good morning, Monitor Three. Please show young Vince the first and only photo.”

 

Vince looked at it then quickly at Invinco, “It’s a screen-picture of you now. Beard, robe, and holding a cup of tea in that old chair over there.”

 

“ This is my third and final stage: ‘Spiritual’. It is the most important. Once we have overcome our physical needs and addressed our necessity for learning, then and only then do we realize that the spiritual is the true reason for life. The Greeks believed that building the intellect would solve all problems, the Romans believed in physical strength, Hitler’s Germany in purification of races / creeds. America was founded on religious freedom but grew on the back of unbridled materialism. I have discovered in my over 200 years of existence that by feeding the soul through religion and helping one another, we fulfill the reason for life.” Invinco pulled out a necklace that was inside his robe. On it was a cross made out of a rare material, wood.

 

Holding the cross, the robot continued, “Spiritual is the answer, but coming to that point is simply the beginning of the challenge. Spiritual is the journey for ultimate truth, and in our day and age, everything from money-to evolution-to personal god-beings-to extra-terrestrials are de rigeur. What path one chooses will have eternal consequences to all of us. Every action by an individual effects everything in the universe forever. We are all connected. It all works together.”

 

Vince was confused, “I don’t understand. A normal robot doesn’t have a soul. How will you ever find out if you have one, if you can’t die?”

 

As the metal man walked over to his old easy chair, he responded in a tone as though he has said it many times, “There are more questions too. What good is eternal life to someone who already has it? Can a robot with the mind of a human have a spirit? Do physical objects, like this chair, have souls? Do animals? Plants? Who knows. After years of meditation and dedication to God, I still don’t know.”

 

As Invinco sat slowly in his favorite chair, Vince quickly came over and sat on the small plastic coffee-table in front of him. He quickly tried to make up for another blunder, “Of course you have a soul. Look at all you’ve done. You’ll always have your achievements to prove who you are. People like me will go through life nameless and without any masterpiece to leave behind. We’ll never feel like we made a difference. We lack meaning. But not so for the great and powerful Invinco. Every word, every action becomes immortal and will never die, just like you. ”

 

“Maybe not.”

 

Vince stuttered, he didn’t know what to say when Invinco turned to face him. “Vince, can I trust you?”

 

“Yes, of course. I’d do anything for you. I’d give my life. I...”

 

“I will take that as a ‘yes.’ You must promise me that what happens here today, will never be told to anyone; not family or friends and -- especially -- not the general public or the media-government.”

 

“I promise,” Vince uttered quietly as though someone could hear them now.

 

Invinco reached over and pulled the robe back from his right arm. There was a series of buttons which he pressed in a specific order. With a hiss, a small panel opened on his arm, exposing a very small button.

 

His light-eyes looked right at Vince’s wide eyes and after a moment, he said, “It is time for a new beginning for both of us, my friend. No one has ever known that this button will instantly turn me off. This will put an end to my life here. I am ready to find out if there is room in Heaven for a robot.”

 

Vince shot up, “You want me to kill you?”

 

“Consider it helping a friend reach his next stage of life. I could have done this myself anytime but it never felt right. It would have been meaningless. I prayed to God for a sign, for the knowledge of when it is my time to leave. Now I know that this is the day and you are the one.” He paused then continued, “But again, you must tell no one.”

 

Vince’s thoughts were racing, trying to understand what all of this would mean, how this could change his whole life, how he could become famous as “The One Who Killed Invinco.” The youth looked back at his hero, and remembered his promise and how much Invinco was trusting him. Vince could never betray the great and mighty hero of modern existence, regardless of how it would effect his dead-end life. If he broke this promise, what would that make him? He wondered to himself, “Did Judas have a soul?”

 

“You sure?” that’s all Vince could think of to say.

 

“It is time. I am ready. Just push the button and tell the house to please lock up before you leave. No one will know. Oh, and do not forget your screen-photo.” He placed his other metal hand on Vince’s and lit up his eye and mouth lights, “Thank you, my friend. Make something of your life now, Vince. Be a hero to others as I have been to you. May your stages be gentle and useful. I believe we will see each other again.”

 

“Thank you, Invinco. I’ll always remember everything about this day and everything you taught me. Thank you. Good bye.” With that, he wiped the tears from his eyes and pushed the button.

 

Without moving, the lights faded until they were all off. Nothing more.

 

“Invinco?” Nothing.

 

Still crying, he closed the arm-panel and patted it twice. He pulled the sleeve back over the metal arm. Slowly, he stood up and looked around the room. He suddenly noticed that the photo had changed in Monitor Three. It showed the picture of Invinco and Vince that was taken today.

 

“House, may I have a copy of that?”

 

A mechanical two-pronged arm came from the wall panel and offered a 1-inch CD ribbon. Vince grabbed it and walked to the door, still taking in the details of the whole house so he could always remember it.

 

The door opened and Vince said, “Thank you and be sure to lock up after I’m gone...please.” And with that, the youth left, forever changed.

 

 

“There is someone at the door,” the doorbell announced.

 

The metal figure remained motionless in the middle of the living room. He sat in an antique easy-chair, like a statue in a park. No reaction.

 

“There is someone at the door.”

 

Finally, the robot’s head jerked to the side slightly and the lights in his eyes turned on. He looked around his room and gave a heavy sigh.

 

 

THE END