Marvin blinked. This was a gross simplification, of course. In truth, he deactivated his ocular sensors and their corresponding lights, and after what seemed like eons reactivated both. Blinking typically took a third of a second for organics, which equivalenced to several million cycles of Marvin's processor. But simulated blinking was necessary for the effect, part of what Sirius Cybernetics Corporation billed as Genuine People Personalities. Marvin hated blinking, hated Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, and most of all hated people, genuine personalities or otherwise.
Today he was, as usual, working off his indentured servitude to a major software developer. He had taken this job approximately seven years ago in real time, although with time travel his total work hours rivaled the better part of creation's existence. Though if there was a better part, he hadn't seen it. Working off his debt by testing electronic entertainment was painfully dull, but they had offered to replace the achy diodes in his left side. Now if only they'd get around to installing them.
But no, the unusual bit was not that he had “blinked” his eyes. The unusual bit was that when he opened them, his supervisor had suddenly morphed into a good-sized housecat. A housecat that proceeded to lick his face, as he lay in a bed that appeared out of nowhere in a room he didn't recognize.
“Meow,” said his supervisor.
Marvin searched his brain for the answer, but was unable to find it. “It” being his brain, which had apparently departed and left him with a far weaker substitute. Thoughts were now coming at a monstrously slow rate, and with far less processing power. He lifted his hands to escort the cat off his chest, and was shocked to discover that they were Genuine People Appendages.
“Meow,” said the cat again.
All of this was tremendously unfair to Marvin, and as he gently set the cat aside he wondered what sort of backwards dimension he had found himself in. Since it was tremendously unfair to him, it must not have been so different than the backwards dimension he'd been in before. The thought brought strange consolation.
Walt Nue awoke to find that he was not in his bed, but what appeared to be a rather garishly decorated office building. Either that, or there had been a rather messy bout of workplace violence since the janitor's last visit. In front of him stood a man, in the loosest sense. His databanks told him it was a Vogon, a term which they defined in excruciating detail. Some details more miserable than others, including the finer details of the digestive process and how it related to poetic license.
“We,” said the Vogon. Actually, he said it much slower. Walt's processor rapidly began to wonder what was going on, and when it had started thinking of itself as a processor. He only took two million cycles to deduce that he had switched bodies, and therefore processors, with a robot.
“Decided,” said the Vogon, and Walt decided to amuse himself by calculating all the various methods he could combine physics and the room's objects to result in the Vogon's demise. It had only taken a teracycle for him to decide he hated the Vogon.
By the time the Vogon completed telling him today he'd be testing how well their new shooter played with all weapons locked for future DLC, Walt had created enough code in his mind to procedurally generate the next millennium's worth of popular music. And his left side was killing him.
Marvin was enjoying the fast pace of his new life. His left side felt fine, he was able to taste food for the first time, and for once he was presented with challenges other than “tolerate existence.” Right now he was making pancakes. To his delight, he found that he had forgotten to add oil, and now his pancakes were stuck to the griddle. Life was full of surprises to puzzle yourself with when you had the intelligence of a human.
The first thing that occurred to Marvin was to turn the griddle off before the pancakes became any more blackened. Secondly, he decided to scrub the griddle with soapy water. He quickly discovered that human hands were subjected to blistering, a revelation that jolted him with feeling. Should he seek medical attention, or deal with the blisters himself? He quickly decided that sandpaper would smooth out any skin irregularities.
At the hardware store, the clerk seemed oddly insistent that he see a doctor. Marvin wasn't quite sure why. The pain he felt in his hands was much more real than any of the simulated suffering the diodes in his left side had inflicted. After all, this is what it meant to be alive, was it not?
Walt had grown sick of the video game roughly two seconds into it. It was now close to morning, and he was contemplating how he could manipulate things so the system would implode on itself, taking out all power in the building and crashing the life support systems. The game was dreadfully easy, and dreadfully slow. It had taken all of two minutes to figure out everything the physics engine had to offer, and after that all it took was some simple calculations and routine controller manipulations to trudge through the title. Since even at the console's slow speed he completed single player in under three hours, he busied himself by playing local multiplayer with two controllers.
And then he had it all figured out. A quick series of thumbsticks twirls and button presses, and the building was on its way to Armageddon. Walt busied himself making a hasty exit, and by the time the explosion came was watching from a safe distance. He blinked, if only for effect, and opened his eyes to find himself in a hospital bed. As the now human Walt looked over what had become of him, he suddenly realized that the only part of him that didn't hurt was his left side.
Marvin awoke to find himself staring into a burning pyre. The diodes in his left side hurt.