The End Is Just The Beginning
1st place in Derby #227: Sci-Fi Kawaii, with 1394 votes!
“It’s so dark out, Robot,” the old woman whispered. “Are you still there? Have you finally left me behind?”
From the door to the shed, the robot came. “Still here, my dearest friend. I thought you were asleep.”
The old woman coughed into a handkerchief she could no longer see. “I’m cold, Robot. The whole city feels cold. Is there a fire?”
The robot’s energy was low, but he transferred what he could to his energy beams. Weak as they were, he could use them as heat lamps. The old woman smiled as they warmed her.
“You were always there for me, Robot. I remember when I was a girl, and you tried to fly away from me. Do you remember that? Or the day you came to rescue me from those corrupt politicians? Oh, you were so brave that day. I was so proud to have you there for me.”
The robot heard a rattle from the shed, like the rattle in the old woman’s breathing. He seemed unconcerned. “I never could forget,” he told the old woman. “But lie still now. Save your strength.”
“Strength, indeed.” The old woman reached out to pat her robot’s metal hand. “You always needed me to be strong for you, Robot. But I’m not so frail that I can’t see what’s right in front of me. Your batteries are failing, just like mine. Just like everything in this city of ours. In a few hours, there’ll be nothing left.”
From the shed, a whisper of gas and stretched plastic. The robot lowered himself onto the bed. Sitting meant he could deactivate his legs and conserve 43% more power.
“It’s no different than it was, my friend. Just another journey. Soon the two of us will fly together once more.”
The old woman’s eyes were closed now, her cough very deep. Then she reached out a hand, as though something was missing.
“Robot, where is my bear? The one I kept from when I was a girl?”
From outside, the robot heard the sound of a knot being tied. He said nothing, but pulled up the old woman’s covers. She seemed not to notice the sounds… until the tiny, heavy footsteps caught her attention.
“Robot. You found the plans I made.”
“I found them. I completed them.”
“The last of your charge.”
“Not the last,” said the robot, moving his left arm off-line. He calculated the 22% of remaining energy this would save should allow his heat beams ample time for conclusion. The old woman would not need them for much longer.
“I’m glad we made something together,” the old woman said firmly. Then she sat quietly. Perhaps now everything had been said. The robot did not move.
Outside there was a light breeze and the smell of a fresh wind. Something was looking up into the sky. Something had taken flight.
“Robot!” The old woman’s final breath. “Robot, are you there?”
1% remaining. All power to the arm. With the last of him, the robot closed metal fingers around the old woman’s hand.
“Don’t look back,” he told her, “I’ve- ”
And then it was so quiet, except for the birds, and squeaks of fresh metal in the sky.
Wear this shirt: when you’re starting something new from the smoking ashes of the old.
Don’t wear this shirt: with regret. We have it on good authority that our little robot has a bright, bright future.
This shirt tells the world: “Always forward, never back.”
We call this color: High Above The Asphalt
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