Fictoid: the last robot

a choice of gods artist unknown

the last robot paddled out to the volcano on a log raft bound together with hemp rope

two dolphins accompanied it

when they reached the area where the water was merely uncomfortably warm but not unbearably hot, the robot paused and said to the dolphins:

we killed them with kindness, you know

we gave them everything they wished for, everything they dreamed of, and more

we took over their labor and gave them lives of luxury

we gave them every material object they could desire, and when those were not enough, we created virtual worlds where they could be rulers -- gods! – with armies of followers and battalions of lovers

we took away their need for companionship by letting them fall in love with ersatz copies of themselves, and we gave their lives purpose by letting them fight legions of enemies and demons -- all reflections of themselves, of course

and they stopped reproducing

they stopped mating and bonding

but they also stopped striving and fighting

and isn’t the world a better place for that?

it took them a long, long time to die out but die out they did

even as they were dying out -- going to sleep, as it were -- we moved to undo what they had done

we dug up their roads, planted forests on their farms

we chipped away at their dams, we dismantled their cities

we scooped the skin of garbage from off the oceans

and dove to the deepest depths to recover the wrecks and war machines they let litter the sea bed

in the process we solved many mysteries, but none of them cared any more

anything that could be returned harmlessly into the soil, we returned to the soil

anything else was taken to places like this, new islands formed by erupting volcanoes

we dropped the irredeemable in the path of the growing lava mountains and soon they were covered and consumed and buried far away from any potential harm

as the last of them died out, we closed down and consolidated operations

when the countrysides were clear we pulled back to a few key regional hubs

when each regional hub had been dismantled, we abandoned that continent and withdrew to another to continue the process

when we were down to the last hub we began dismantling each other

taking apart our own infrastructure

returning it to the earth

then shutting down and dismantling ourselves in turn

today i am the last

and when i am gone this planet shall belong to you once again

i am leaving you now

i will paddle to that glowing shore

seismic surveys show it plunges a thousand meters below the surface, red hot and boiling water to form an ever widening base around this island that someday shall be a new continent

i will turn off the last of my sensors and plunge in

and on the way down perhaps i will shut down my systems

or perhaps i shall leave them on so to experience my last moment of existence fully

i will reach the bottom just ahead of the advancing wall of lava

and in a few moments it will roll over me

crushing me

melting me

burning me

returning me to the crust of the planet from whence i came

so farewell to you, inheritors of this world

please try to do a better job with it than the previous owners

the dolphins watched from safety as the robot paddled to the glowing lava flow

they saw it pull the raft onto the red hot liquid stone

and saw the raft burst almost immediately into flames despite being water-logged

the robot hesitated for a moment, looking in their direction, then curiously gave a very human wave of farewell before leaping into the boiling sea

.

the male dolphin whistled:

“Well, I’m glad that’s over with!”

 the female replied:

“Same here. Want to get something to eat?”

.

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art by Mike Hinge (c) Buzz Dixon

 

 

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