“What is that over there?”

“A reminder,” said Father, sadly. “Do not approach it.”

Son squinted at the squat shape, shambling about on steel legs and examining the odd rock with steel arms. It looked to him like a can of synthehol come to amiable, blocky life. “Why not? It looks cute…and sad. What’s it a reminder of?”

“A reminder of the limits of making any construct too much like a human without clear purpose,” said Father. “They were built with human memory engrams, with the ability and drive to grow and learn not unlike us.”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“It might be in other circumstances. But they were designed to take the most toxic, the most radioactive waste that humankind produced and secret it away to places where it would be safe and undisturbed for ten thousand years. Their engrams–the humanity we built into them–led those constructs to question their mission, to abandon it, to seek out others to assuage their loneliness.”

Son looked at the distant automaton with pity. “It’s lonely?”

“Yes,” said Father. “If you let it, it will reach out a hand of friendship to you and speak to you of its thousand-year journey. And the poisons with in, the invisible rays that it was designed to shield beneath miles of earth and stone, will kill you in minutes.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!