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Glint – Part 1 – Piece 7

March 22, 2011

Here is piece 7 of Part 1 of my novel. This is only the first half of this piece (Around 750 words) as the full piece is twice that. The last half is boring anyway, full of scene creation and internal monologuing, so I’m doing you a favour.

 

7.

The only ones that followed were seven teenagers. They wore scruffy brown suits, the kind that scribes might wear, however the ones those boys wore looked like they had been given to them by charity. The robot was curious of their fashion; the way they rolled their jacket sleeves up and popped their collars, but the old man looked to be trying to avoid them, so it decided to do the same. Still they followed at a distance and they seemed in no way harmful.

The first road the man took was a narrow dirt street between the tall wooden buildings of the neighbourhood. Most of the streets were a dusty orange colour. Similar too were the shades of wood that the tall houses were crafted with, the clothes that the people wore, and even the thick glass in the windows. Dust seemed to run through everything.

Although well made, this part of town was obviously not for the affluent. The robot, however, paid these things little mind. They were just observations that flew over its head and were quickly replaced by another on each new twist and turn. The whole day’s experience had been a whirlwind, from the mansion, to the forest, and then to this city. Nothing was certain. Despite having no memories it was sure it had not been in a city before. It was not sure that this was even a city, though, a place with so many buildings must be a city, it thought.

More and more streets they passed and no word was yet spoken between them. The robot just followed, looking from the man to the path ahead. It noticed that the only metal to be seen in this part of town were bronze signs, lamp-posts, and gutters. The only trees it saw were broad-leafed with pruned lower branches and these only lined the wider roads. What few people it saw seemed to have collected the dust of the streets onto their clothes and faces. They were either upon second story balconies or in windows and only a few were outside. No one bothered them, but no matter where they were or what they did as the robot passed all people stopped to gawk.

As the roads took on a gentle upwards slope, so did the streets and houses change. From street to street the transformation was gradual. Dirt roads became paths of neat, grey bricks. Metal lamp posts, signs, and features, more ornate than practical, became common. The gradient seemed to defeat the dirt and soon enough the wooden houses had gained stone foundations and steps. The teenagers, too, had not followed too far into the changing scenery and returned the way they had came.

Turning a corner a house lined hill rose before them. A bright golden sun rested at its crest and the robot shone warmly in the light. The old man huffed just staring up the hill and took slow, laboured steps as he climbed. As the man put his bare arm up to shield his eyes, he said his first words to the robot.

“My name’s Tomas,” he said, taking a few deep breaths. “But, if you hear people call me Old Bubble or Bubble, then that’s what they also call me. You can probably tell why, right?”

He didn’t laugh, but smiled earnestly, sweat now beading on his brow and dripping onto his long grey mustache. He paused, either to catch his breath or for the robot to reply, but the robot kept silent.

“Well,” Tomas said, “what’s your name then?”

The robot thought about the question and nothing came to mind. Instead it changed the subject. “Back in that man’s home you called me ‘she’.”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Why a women?”

“Sorry, I thought I knew who you were. You’re not a woman, then?”

The robot didn’t know how to respond to that. It spread its fingers and looked at the fine spirals and carvings across its hands, like waves of flowers. It was so pretty, it thought. So pretty, but not human. Not a man or a women. Not like the man beside it, covered in hair, skin, and sweat.

And it could not remember being human. There was no life beyond the lounge room of that large house. Why was it there? Who were those girls? Despite having no memories, the feelings were there. The emotion and connection to everything. The whole situation was about it, but there was nothing to explain it all or anything.

Old Bubble thought it was a human, though, and how did he know? It thought. How could a robot be human? It looked at its metal hands and then clenched them, repelled by a feeling inside telling it that it was human and the reality that was right in front of it. Tomas’s question still lingered and the robot answered in a low, curt voice. “No. I’m not a women.”

“I see,” he said and said no more.

 

AJG

 

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