h1

Glint – Part 1 – Piece 4

March 3, 2011

The forest was a dark grey and grew gnarlier the deeper they went. With unnatural alacrity the robot bounded over shrubs, ducked under hanging vines and eaves, and dodged obstacles. An ordinary man might have struggled with any of these in the dark. The robot’s senses went beyond that of a human’s. Even heightened senses, however, could not tell the robot where to run. The only direction the robot had was a course due west following the dying sun.

For almost ten minutes it continued. Soon the sound of robots trudging feet was not the only noise in the forest. In the distance behind them the din of dogs barking signalled that a chase had begun. No matter its speed, the robot knew that the dogs had persistence on their side. A focus that came with a definite goal. The robot’s need to escape was its only goal. With no clear path to follow any pause, hurdle or indecision would draw the dogs closer. With no other option, it could only continue forward.

At first the sound of rushing water was only a curiosity to the robot. But, as it emerged through the trees and onto the bank of a broad river it became a glaring reality. The robot stared at the liquid with disbelief and immediately knew that a crossing was impossible.

The broad river opened up the trees to the sky and now only the faintest ocher from the sun could be seen. The fat red moon had taken over and its light already shone a crimson reflection on the river’s dark, eddying water. The other side of the bank, a good stone’s throw away, might as well have been across an ocean.

Thoughts of escape conquered its emotions. Once more the robot ran, this time following the rivers bank northward, its stride now ragged and reckless. Rock outcrops started now jutted through the trees and not long after these appeared they clustered into a sheer wall twenty meters high. With any change in direction a path to folly, the robot continued along the road now created between the river and the rock, dodging past the thin row of trees that survived there. In two hundred paces the robot was forced to stop. The rock had finally met with the river. Any gains that the robot may have made were disappearing fast. The sound of dogs barking punctuated this thought.

It was now that the robot had to dispel indecision. Finding a thick tall fir tree it took the girl from around its neck and lifted her up onto a high branch. With quiet tears the girl understood what to do and started climbing the tree. The robot waited, watching the girl get higher and higher. There was no plan for itself. The safety of the girl was everything.

At that moment the cockroaches decided that it is was also their time to leave. They scuttled from cracks all over the robots body and fluttered onto the tree. They crawled and spiralled around the branches and up the tree. For itself climbing was no option. The robot turned around and saw the only two choices left for it. The path between the rock and the river towards the dogs, or the water of the river itself. Perhaps it should not have feared the dogs, but the robot did all the same. It was this fear that cast away its common sense and made it step to the edge of the river.

With two careful steps it planted its feet into the river’s pouring course. The water frothed around its legs. With the first two steps a victory, it went deeper. The water now reached its waist. Underneath its feet the river’s floor held firm and another four steps brought the river to its chest.

It turned around to survey the bank. In the bloodied moonlight the girl’s blue dress was only just visible, fourteen feet high amongst the foliage of the tree. Not another moment later four black dogs broke through the bushes.

AJG

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