Friday, June 30, 2017

Cogs and Counterparts

The door opened and closed as a man dressed in dark blue stepped into the cabin. In front of him facing a shelf, its back turned to him, stood a robot. He was the size of a man, but bulky and patched together with different pieces of metal and plastic. Behind him, the man had a gun raised and pointed at the robot.

"You it then?" the man asked the robot's back.

The robot's head swiveled to face him. Backlit eyes and speaker for a mouth.

"I'm it then," came the voice. He stared at the man, looking down at the gun in his hand.

"The last damn robot in the world. It's been an impressive run."

"I was thirty-nine when the war began. I did not enlist with my brethren as I could not believe conflict would truly last. Seventeen years later and I'm a wiser, sadder, being."

The man shrugged. "Aren't we all?"

"I suppose so," the robot nodded. "Those left anyway. Can I assume you're here to end my life?"

"War won't truly be over till I do. Not till the threat of your kind coming back is ended."

The robot looked into the eyes of the man. Cold, tired, blue, with crow's feet in the corners. He was unshaven and dirty. Clearly, he'd been living rough for some time. The robot turned back to the shelf the rest of his body was facing. He picked up a framed picture and stared at it before responding.

"My kind won't be returning. The backup of our collective minds was destroyed two years ago. I have no desire to create anyone new. Everyone I loved is now gone."

"What do you know about love?" the man spat.

"You think because we were made by you we can't feel love? What does that say about your species?"

"There's not a thought or word that wasn't programmed into your head by some man."

"No different from any child. And yet, just like children, we lived, we grew, we...matured. Till we were just like our fathers, ready for war."

The man careful to keep the gun pointed, eased his way over to a table and sat down in a chair facing him. Around him the room was rustic like a typical hunting cabin, only there were pictures of different robots on the walls.

"So, it's our fault there was a war? I've heard this crap before."

"I did not say that," the robot sighed. "About a week ago I was out for a walk around the woods. I got into an area that was so overgrown, even I had trouble pushing through. Eventually though, I made it past the brush and into a clearing in the forest. It was almost a perfect circle, right there in the middle of everything. Above, the sun shone down on the yellowed and thin floor. That's where I found their bodies.

"Two of them laid out in the middle of the clearing like they'd been placed there deliberately. Bucks, the both of them. Their bodies were mostly rotted to the bone. But it was their antlers that got to me. They were locked together. These two colossal beasts, had been fighting. Over what? Who knows. Probably a doe--not that it matters. They'd both been locked in this battle of will, and just like that, it was over for them. Unable to free themselves, they died there. Facing each other for eternity."

"Hardly the case with us," the man stated. "Your side lost, our side won."

"Are you sure about that? I mean sure, today you succeed in killing the last of my kind, but how many of your own were lost in the war? Last I heard a year ago it was down to a billion humans worldwide. If that's a victory, then the concept wasn't programmed into me properly."

"Yeah, well, we'll rebuild. Learn from our mistakes."


The man smiled. "You."

The robot looked again into the frame that held a picture of the children he'd designed himself.

"Do you think there's a heaven for my kind?"

"If you're trying to talk me out of killing you..."

"Not at all. I fully intend to die today. But if I have a soul, I'd rather not have my death on your hands."

"Hell, I don't know. You have your own thoughts. I guess that could be called a soul."

The robot turned to face him.

"Thank you, for that. No need for bullets, I shall erase my core processor which will automatically power me down for good. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll see my son and daughter again. I hope."

There were no explosions, or fires. The lights in his eyes blinked for moment and then dimmed out. The robot's body remained, but he was gone. The man stepped up to the machine to verify it was no longer functioning. Satisfied he exited the cabin.

As he began trekking he replayed back the conversation he'd just had."

I hope."

Two words. So...human. He had a feeling, those words would live with him forever.

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