Glint Part 1 – Piece 6

March 8, 2011


A moment later the robot’s vision returned. Hazily light bubbled, spread, and turned into images. Metal body coiled and readied to spring out of the water, it launched itself forward. It felt its freedom immediately and found neither bank nor river nor water. The robot clipped a bookcase with dozens of shelves and sent it pirouetting on its wooden base. Clay jars and assorted junk flew from its shelves and smashed onto the floor. Unable to back-pedal from its initial burst, the robot ran head first into a tall, thin wood cabinet. The cabinet’s double-doors caved in and the shelves had no chance against the weight of the robot. The only thing solid about the cabinet was the wall behind it and the robot hit it with enough force to repel itself back the way it came and onto the floor. The cabinet wobbled, as if considering falling over, but settled back into its former position.

The robot laid there staring straight up at the wooden beams of the roof and listened as an agitated “Hey! Hey! Heeeeey!” started up from somewhere outside. Too confused to move, it stayed where it was. In a moment footsteps pounded through a door and crunched to a stop a few meters from where the robot laid.

“Curse the damned!” An old man wailed, almost childlike. “Me shelves! Whose been at me shelves!? Whose ‘ere in?”

The robot didn’t move. The man’s footsteps shuffled a little closer and he grabbed something. The robot nearly jumped as the man tapped a piece of wood against its head, producing a dull clang sound.


A younger, higher voice called from the window beside the cabinet that the robot destroyed. A second later a man’s face and arms popped into the window. He looked around at the damage and to the robot laid out flat on the ground. His nose, long and sharp, crinkled in displeasure.

“None’s been trying to steal that gilty, av they?” He said.

The old man expressed that he didn’t know with a single curt noise. A teenager put his head through the window next to the young man and had it pushed away. The top of another young kid could just be seen jumping up and down outside. The sounds of people gathering could also be heard.

The robot thought to itself. Just a few minutes ago it had been running through the woods. Before that it had been in a house. Before that… well, it couldn’t remember. And then there was the girl. It remembered the girl and asked itself; “Who was she?” It knew who she was, it felt that it did. The girl could explain all of it, surely. She was twelve, yes. That was old enough to know. It must find her. To protect her. And it couldn’t do any of that laying down on the ground. With people quickly gathering, its chance might slip away.

It slowly put its hands underneath itself and pushed itself to its feet. A women screamed over a chorus of gasps and “Oh my god’s.” The young man at the window ducked away. The robot faced a crowd of a dozen men and women. None were far from thirty except for the old man with the broom. The shock on his monkey-like face was quickly replaced by one of confusion and agitation.

“Well, don’t just stand there! Someone get some rope,” he said. “It’s ob’vus this thing’s all outta control.”

“I’m not out of control,” the robot said and at that moment a crowd of cockroaches emerged from beneath the crushed cabinet. Not even the robot noticed them until they had collected into a mass and started to swarm over its metallic limbs. For a moment the insects stood still and seemed to look across the people gathered in the workshop’s doorway. Then abruptly they turned and squeezed into the cracks in the robot’s body to disappear. Women and men shuddered at the bizarre spectacle. If anyone of them had a thought to grab some rope, the notion quickly vanished. Everyone held their breath and watched, waiting for what would happen next.

The young man from the window now appeared behind the crowd and started to push through them. Behind him another small crowd of teenagers followed. He walked up to the old man and put a hand on his shoulder, waking him from his trance.

“Well, if its working we can get more money,” the younger man said as he looked the robot up and down. The old man considered this and then shook his head.

“Nah, it’s all broken. Bug infested, too. Even if it stands it’s better off as scrap. And look at what its done to me home! That there thing is down en out of order, it is!”

“I’m not down and I’m not out of order.” The robot said, but the old man ignored the words as if it had never said a thing.

“Come on, Buddy, let’s try n fig’r a way to turn it off.”

“What?” The robot said. “Sorry, but I must go.”

Half the people were shocked and the other half laughed, scandalized.

“Well, Sir, I won’t keep you from going home,” the old man laughed scornfully and raised the piece of wood threateningly.

A deep voice came from the window. “What do you think you’re going to do with that piece of wood, Eric. She’s made of metal.”

Everyone looked towards the window. A man stood there, one hand gripping the sill. He was old, but the girth on him seemed to stretch his face and make him look at least a decade younger than he might have been. His stubbly black hair and his long black mustache also looked unusual to the robot.

“Oh, can’t people just mind their own business,” Eric said and shook his piece of wood.

“Your business? Do you really think this freijgilten is your business? Just because you dragged it out from a river doesn’t make her yours.”

“Her?” Buddy says. “It’s just a machine. A thing! There was a reason they stopped making the machines. Maybe we should remind ourselves of that and do everyone a favour.”

“That’s right,” Eric said nodding his old coconut head.

“And you would know why they stopped making them, would you, Buddy? You young bastard. Half the reason is that the stupid people in this world have been for far too long out breeding those with even half a brain!”

“You fat old – !”

Before Buddy could reach the window, the old man had stepped back from the sill. Not for running away, either, a few moments later he strode through the doorway and then through the crowd. Eric looked half ready to use the piece of wood on him, but the crowd groaned their disapproval, and the noise alone held him and his grandson back. The robot watched all of this silently, waiting to see if this recent addition might be of any help.

“So you’d scrap a freijgilten would you? And how much would you get from that?” The big man said, running both of his palms down the front of his blue over-all’s, that contained his considerable girth. He interjected just before the irate grandfather or grandson could even reply, “You’d get as much as you’d expect from a load of junk metal plus a whole lot of trouble as interest to boot. But, look here…” He slid his hand into the pocket of his over-all’s and pulled out a meaty fist full of paper notes. With two big steps he stood over the pair and thrust the money at them.

The money got everyone’s attention. Eyes peered at the wad of notes and they all made their estimations on the amount. With a little reluctance, Buddy snatched the cash and started to uncurl the greasy notes. He looked unimpressed and a little offended, but there was a glint in his eyes that he could not hide. He stopped and thought after he finished counting.

“You’ll have to add an extra two hundred for it to be at all profitable at,” he said.

“Hah!” The big old man barked “What do you think?” He said, addressing the crowd. “You think that is more than this pair deserve?”

Each and everyone in the crowd knew the price was over and beyond fair, especially since they would not see a penny of it for themselves. Most jeered. One lady suggested that maybe half would be a better price. This got old Eric to the end of his tether really quick.

“Oh, get out of here! All of yer! And take yer damn contrapt with ya, ya bastard man!”

Raising the piece of wood he started swinging it at the people crowded in his home. A few people caught a whack on the legs and the group hopped back. The robot, for one, needed no more persuasion and everyone cleared out even faster as it made its way out of the house. The large old man kept its side and straight away led it away.



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