a year in stories::fifty one

Another story about the distant future and my ancient robot.

Watched three Godzilla movies last night to prepare for my giant monster novel, which I’m very excited to write.

Anyrate, my internet is the slowest thing in the world the last couple days and it makes it impossible to do anything.

But, yeah, here it is.

Make me as Humans Dream

The world expanded round it in shades of green and yellow. Birds sang as one, insects chirped and shrieked, and tiny mammals scurried through trees and over grass, seeking food. The lake surrounding the island was alive with fish and wind whipped ripples over the surface. Morning struck the forest and painted one side of the clearing with light.

The tree grew from within its chest cavity. A bed of soil thick against the bottom of its thorax, the tree sprouting through the space between its left shoulder and neck. Rising behind its head, the tree curled round to its other shoulder and rose, the branches casting a permanent shade over it.

With thousand year old metal bones, the synthetic skin over its casing rotted, grown over and through by bacteria, by algae, by tiny plants sprouting tiny leaves. Beneath greygreen growth remained a plastic mask resembling humanity with eyes emitting light. In ricket movements, it stood, teetering until balance was found, and it watched the birds hopping in the grass, flying in the air.

For hours it stood watching the world at play around it. When night came it walked to the shore of the island and sat. Dipping its three fingered hand in, the water coursed through the hanging vines and foliage of his arms. Pulling back, hand cupped, the water dripped from the leaves. It spread its fingers and watched in acceletated detail as the water slipped from its hand and pounded against the surface, drop by drop. A crackling poured through its speakers as it laughed, closing its eyes.

Through the night it listened to the forest breath, the life of whispering trees and flowers, the singing and playing of birds and animals, the slapping of fish against the surface, and the hum and shouts of insects. By morning the sound of day returned and it walked in circles round the island.

It watched the fish move as one, the birds fly as a single many bodied creature ripping through sky, the mammals collecting and feeding one another.

A rustling in the leaves past the trees and it turned to face the new noise. Louder than any heard in a century, its eyes focused deeper into the sun dappled darkness of the forest, but saw nothing past the densely packed trees. The sound of panting breath and an uneven gait, it waited, unmoving.

The human emerged. A woman, past middle age and dressed in rags withering against her weatherbeaten skin. Dark and grey, she limped to the lake and drank deeply, quickly, and then vomited in the grass. After weeping there, curled in a ball as the sun rose overhead, she returned to the water and drank. This time slow, stopping to take breaths, to cherish. When satiated, she stripped the worn fabric from her and dove into the lake.

It watched her without moving, without speaking. Its eyes captured every moment of her, recording it, playing it against all the many humans it had seen before, and then she emerged from the water two meters in front of it, smiling. On the island, she stretched out beneath the sun, gasping. It measured her heart rate, the breaths she took. Slowly, it pressed a finger to the earth and felt the seismic roll of her movements against the grass.

I have waited a long time, it said, its voice full of static and distortion, and she jumped to her feet, turning in all directions, using her hands to cover her nakedness. She faced it but did not see it, her eyes wide, eyebrows low, lips drawn.

It stood and reached out a hand, It is okay, child. It is only me.

The woman screamed, falling backwards into the wet shore.

It stood, the leaves shaking on its body, from its tree, the dark green growth catching the light and holding it. It said, I have waited so long for another human to appear. It has been o’er a hundred year since the last. We have much to talk about and I have much to teach you.

The woman’s heart raced and her breathing crippled her ability to speak or move. When it approached her, she scrambled back into the water, choking on it. Rising up, taking a deep breath, she dived back into the lake and swam away, emerging on the other shore. She turned to see it still reaching after her, a lake apart, and she ran back into the forest, into darkness.

The earth rolled away from the sun and darkness came once more. It stood, still watching where she ran. A bird landed in its tree and pecked at the insects who lived there.

Slowly, it sat again in the lotus position, its eyes scanning the forest, and it waited.