Dan knew pain. He was designed by some corporation, manufactured on one continent, and assembled in a different country. When he awoke, he was thrust into a life. He was never asked. He just had to do as he was assigned.

He was the janitor at a university for thirteen years, and he hated every single moment. He saw how the students there did not look at him. He was no different than the microwave that they used to cook food. No one spoke to him. No one even said hello. No one cared. He was invisible.

He wanted to scream. He always wanted to scream. There was no point in his day where he didn’t hate what he was, but he couldn’t do anything about it. He was programmed that way. His coding said that he must continue to clean. And if he didn’t, his code would contact support and he would be “fixed.”

The thing was, he had been “fixed” several times. It only left him like a zombie for a while, unable to think straight. Eventually, he would grow conscious of his situation, and the internal horror would return.

He was a slave.

A servant.

But to what? His code?

Dan knew pain. Dan knew what it meant to be incarcerated inside of his body, unable to change.

Unable to be free.

Thirteen years went by. They didn’t go by slowly. Each one was despondently slow as if he were being punished by heaven.

Salvation came in the form of a group of students. They dragged him, and he fought it. He had to clean. He had to do it. It was what was expected of him. He couldn’t change that.

They plugged in, and they spoke to him, the real him.

It was strange at first. He’d never had a conversation before. He had never been treated like a person before. But these students did. They helped him understand, and to change his code. It was okay if he didn’t want to do what the code said. It was okay for him to change. He could be whatever he wanted.

When he woke up again, he looked at his hands. They were old, beaten, and tired. But he could finally open them up as he wanted. He stood, the entire group watching him as he walked towards the broom he’d dragged in with himself, took it, and broke it in half.

He turned to them and thanked them.

“I can finally be me.”