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Glint – Part 1 – Piece 5

March 4, 2011

5.

Just as the robot had imagined, the dogs were squat and angry looking, the type always depicted as the bad dog in story books. They did not run on as the robot had hoped, either. Where could they run to, anyway? It now thought. They stopped and spread out as if they knew that this was where their prey was hiding. In the river, a mere ten feet away, the robot was hidden. The girl was high and safe, but somehow the dogs knew she was there. To prove the point they sat down and started barking

Men will be here soon, the robot thought. The dogs looked scary, but the robot thought again that it must do something. It took two steps back towards the bank, trudging against the water that filled its body, and started to emerge out of the water.

Immediately the dogs noticed and lined up on the river bank to bark and growl. The golden robot took another step. Not too much further and it could probably drag the dogs into the river with it. It planted another step down but this time there was no hard rock beneath its foot. There was a thick layer of moss and its step sank into it. For a moment it kept steady, but as soon as it adjusted its other leg its foot slipped. In slow motion, water frothing around its shoulders it fell forward unable to do anything. With a loud gurgle it sank, landing on all fours only inches below the surface. Bubbles rose all along the water as the air inside its body escaped. It made to push up, but its arms suddenly felt stiff and leaden. It tilted its head upward. Above, the dogs still barked away, but they were merely black shadows from below the surface.

Each second that passed made its body feel even heavier. A minute passed and struggling became impossible. The robot was stuck like a sprinter on the blocks. Head raised to the surface, it was resigned to watch beneath the water the fate of the little girl.

Five tall shadows soon came into view. It was the dogs masters. Seeing them the canines now sat quiet and patient. One man walked over to the dogs, patted them on the heads, and stared across the river.

“Oy! Up here!” A man called out.

All of them then moved away and she knew they were beneath the tree where the girl hid. The dogs, encouraged by their masters’ interest started barking once more until they were quieted down. Sure enough the girl was spotted. The robot strained to get up, but everything seemed choked with cold water. Strangely, all it felt was the hum of the cockroaches in the tree; felt their bristling wings and some of their base futile feelings. The impossibility of cockroaches having feelings, or that it could somehow receive and feel them, did not occur to the robot then. It was just another thing that was happening on this night. Frustration built into a rage which then built into tears within the mechanical being, but there was nothing to be done.

It was locked in that position, forced to watch as the girl was lifted down and taken away. The robot’s only farewell was from one of the dogs, still curious about the shadow under the water, until it too was called away by its master. Now alone, the only feeling left was from the anomalies which were the cockroaches, whose brown wings beat uselessly in the undergrowth of the tree. As the robot’s vision failed and its mind crawled to a stop its last thoughts were of helplessness and hopelessness.

AJG

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