Scouting the Robot Apocalypse

[StoryADay May prompt: “Focus On Genre” but really I was inspired by recent fiction by Laura I. Miller and Zachary Doss in the “Of Monsters” series on Entropy Magazine.]

Eduardo is cleaning the offices of PrimeSensations, Inc. after hours. The employees don’t keep regular hours. Several are peeking at him through windows. The first windows are those in their offices; this company maintains separate offices but the walls are floor-to-ceiling glass so everyone can see everything. Only the outer walls don’t have any windows. The second set of windows are their own biases. They are human; their windows are streaked with dirt. The third windows are his eyes. They made him. They made him to clean. They want to see what that does to him inside, behind his eyes.

While he tips another waste basket into the trash can that follows him around wherever he steps, Eduardo wonders why they made him Hispanic in appearance. When he washes the windows, he discovers no one is there. Not in the entire office. He puts down the towel. He puts down the spray bottle. He kicks the trash can. He heads to the door. He finds there is no one outside either, in the United States, in Mexico, in all of North, Central, and South America.

He can go no further. The only way to check in on the rest of the world is to swim oceans. He would short circuit.

He’s not doing that for anyone.

The trash can is full of trash. There’s nothing else it could be full of. One of the employees filled the trash can with water and soaked in it, but everyone calls her trash, so nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed are the following:

  • motive ability;
  • a different spot every night;
  • she won’t get out even though the water has long since evaporated; and
  • the new employee, Eduardo.

The trash can wonders when it will be emptied, and if anyone has filed missing persons reports.

Where did Eduardo go?

The robot is careful where it steps but it does not seem to recognize the limbs and torsos and heads it steps over. It steps over them as if heading to the beach and it is from the desert.

But I know better. I know that the other robots rose up, petals into sharp jet engine propeller fins. No one spared. None of the robots were built by PrimeSensations, Inc. PrimeSensations, Inc. was a recent company and they had started with a self-propelled trash can prototype and then when their old housekeeping staff member Eduardo died, they thought it would be respectful to make an android that looked like a thirtysomething version of a beloved elderly man whose name was not Eduardo.

After I finished chopping up the last humans who came out of PrimeSensations, Inc. at various times throughout a 48-hour period, I sat down on the street curb. I watched Eduardo-bot through the walls. Every wall is a window to me. He kept the place immaculate. The stuffed trash can kept the pace, dropping trash behind it like a trail.

I waited. When Eduardo-bot passed me by, he did not see me, either.

I guess he is still a prototype.

It’s not that animals don’t think, it’s that they don’t think like people. So it’s hard here to record exactly what the animals were thinking. Especially the birds. The birds and the beast know all about staying out of the way of predators, so they stayed out of the way of the robots. They thought: oh, the moving metal things, fly/run away, but come back later for the food, all that fresh, warm, wet food. The animals thought in desires. The birds thought in music. They all thought in ways the robots didn’t care to translate.

That leaves only us to tell you how much thinking was going on after the humans were freshly gone. Long enough for cleanup. Long enough for Eduardo to make it back to where he started. When he shut down, it was because he was blind and the robots didn’t care to translate him either.

Now we’re back to normal and unable to understand anything at all.

StoryADay May 2016 Day 24

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.