Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Kai tread along the metal edge of the inner ocean, leaving oil tracks like wet soot behind. In his pack was a book, and it was about witches. How they had been burned in ancient times. He did not understand completely what a witch might be, but he could clearly see them lined up, black sticks of dynamite on a shelf, searing and sizzling until they combusted. He had watched the decommissioning of hundreds of androids, such as himself, and this was what it was like. A crush, a pop, the immolation, a final moist cry that the commanders said was only the melting down of plastic and wire synapses; a purely scientific reaction.
From the other side came a yelp. He paused. He took one more step. Paused. He rewound audio, replayed. Investigated. Result: organic.
Rewind. Replay. Result: organic, no known creature in the database.
But he had been programmed with so much information; the encyclopedias of lost Cartagena resided in him (and him alone; the thought gave his circuits a warm vibration, which he thought might be pride, and the thought that he might be experiencing pride gave him only more of that emotion). What information he did not know was in the few books he'd scavenged along the deserted corridors outside the Nexus. What sort of thing made a sound that he did not know? This was his world.
Translocation revealed precise coordinates. The ships were leaving now; they would not notice one, harmless, curious android slipping like coiled electricity through the banks. He hurried.
Beneath the dock the Atropos had only recented vacated, his circuits began to hum. A sound, a sound like metal longing to be fit into place -- for he had no other way of defining this sound -- a sound, a sound.
The organic thing lie huddled, matted, reeking of oil and heat. It looked at him with eyes of darkest brown, its ears swiveling like satellites, pointed and yellow. Kai paused. Searched the database once more, using the visual clues before him.
Canis Familiaris, came the answer.
Kai knelt beside the organic thing, the dog, and reached a hand to its greasy flank. It shivered and bit him, which he expected, but then it peed itself and crawled, ears back, to fold itself against his knees. He put his pack on the ground and touched it again. Dog.
Dogs belonged to man, once. Now Dog belonged to Kai. His circuits buzzed, for now he had both books and dog. Kai stood.
"Come, Dog," he said. The dog began to follow, tail yet between its back legs. Slowly, they made their way from the empty docks, and back onto the plains outside the inner ocean. The Nexus was no place for a dog, as it had been no place for humans for five hundred years now. They would walk outside, Kai and Dog.
Kai's thoughts returned to witches; the mark of the witch, testing of the witch, the witch's familiar. Dog nudged him and hoped for food. The Nexus faded behind them as they strode beyond, into the gray atmosphere where once a city had stood. Their tracks were oil and grease.
Thank you for reading. It's always wonderful to return to the 3WW community.
Besides the three words, I drew inspiration from this:
Convergence by *tarrzan, a worthy DD for today.