Author: Lisa Jade
My battery’s running low.
I jiggle the connection to my hip, hearing a beep as it clicks into place. In a few hours, it’ll be light out – and I can sit at the window and gather some paltry amount of solar charge. It won’t be much, but with luck, it’ll be enough.
I lift my communicator to my lips and start listing names. Ethel35, James61, Millicent18. I say the names of every android who’s ventured into the ruined city over the past two years. It’s pure routine at this point; stating every name, just in case they’re listening. Just in case, by some miracle, there’s anyone left.
Nothing. I stare at the communicator for another hour, biting my lip. It’s been months of silence, but I still half-expect to hear another voice crackling down the line. I touch the side of the device softly, recalling the last voice I heard. Jemima8.
I stand, dragging the heavy battery pack behind me. The weight sends shivers of pain through my legs, pulling unpleasantly at my connectors. Androids weren’t meant to use battery packs. My body simply isn’t made for this.
The city is soundless. Like it has been for over two years. There was a time when it was bursting with life. A bustling metropolis, occupied by both Humans and Androids. The crumbling building around me was a Repair Centre, hidden far from the rest of the city. After all, it was considered ‘inappropriate’ to see an Android in a state of disrepair.
I cast my eyes over the darkened structures outside, tracing the lines of silent skyscrapers. To this day, I don’t know what happened to all the people. I’d arrived here after a minor charging issue, to be kept out of sight while awaiting a new battery, so I was absent for the catalyst. All I know is that within three weeks of being here, the whole city fell entirely silent.
The other Androids didn’t last long. Many ventured out to find their loved ones, never to return. Others tried to stick it out, but were too damaged to function without the repair supply chain. After several months, we all but stopped searching.
My battery pack beeps again and I curse under my breath, scowling at the hateful thing.
By the time my internal battery fully gave up, there were only a few of us left. They hooked me up to the last external pack we had – but it left me hindered, unable to move beyond the range of the Repair Centre.
Jemima8 was the last to leave. She’d pulled me close, vowing to find a replacement battery and bring it back for me. She assured me that everything would be alright, as long as we had each other.
That was ten months ago.
I stare into the city, tempted to grab the communicator again. Perhaps, if I just said all their names one more time…
Something hot pricks my eyes.
They’ll come back eventually, right? They have to.
I can’t possibly be alone out here.
My chest tightens. I bite back a sob.
I barely hear the crackle of the communicator.
Then, it comes again. I lift my head, staring at it. Disbelieving. I bring it to my lips.
There’s nobody out there, surely. My battery’s lower than ever, so it must be messing with me. Hell, maybe I’m losing my mind. Nothing would surprise me at this point.
So when the line crackles again, my whole body is ablaze with excitement.
“Hey,” says a strange, sickeningly familiar tone, “still need that battery?”