Author : Grant Wamack
Coins, they’re thrown into the small pile that sits in front of a heap of dirty rags. The rags shift and the metal underneath shines in the dull afternoon light. It rises to its feet, specks of dirt fall to the ground, gears groan and its body creaks.
It slowly walks to the small shop down the road, with each step its body jerks awkwardly. When the android clerk turns, he recognizes the droid even though it’s covered in filthy rags. It’s a TX-1000. Outdated, pulled from the market ten years ago. They were “switched off,” melted down into scrap metal. Some escaped, most didn’t. The ones that did however were hunted down. This one must have slipped through the cracks. The clerk could hear the joints creak, as the rags approach the counter. They were drought dry, in dire need of oil.
Two wires taste each others lips.
The third time ignites a spark. Each word a small explosion. “Oil, please.”
The clerk looks underneath the counter, grabs the bottle and sets it on top. “30 units sir.”
30 units are thrown on the counter. The clerk takes the units and slips them into the currency slot. “Would you like this in a bag?”
No more explosions, the words crackle, “Yes, thank you.” The rags walk out the shop, clutching the bag in its hand.
It wasn’t hard to imagine where the outdated droid would go. Pixels form on the screen of the clerk’s imago-screen. In the image, a pile of rags slump down against a brick wall. Red rocks surround the rags. They could have been rusted parts or bits of brick or both. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was the bottle. The rags guzzle the black oil; till it trickles out the corner of its mouth.
A girl passes by and mistakes the oil for a tear. She bends down and wipes the oil away with her shirt. Her eyes are wide with liquid innocence. “All better.” Then she skips away. And for the first and last time, the rags taste humanity.