The Robot Child

Author: Phil Manning

She had watched him grow.

Grow beneath her hands. Each circuit and wire placed and soldered with finesse and care. There was a team, of course, and they each had their part to play, to add to his growth and development, but she felt a different connection to him.

She remembered the day he had first moved on his tracks, back and forth, left and right and watched his periscope eye swivel in joy. It was joy controlled by a computer program but she felt as though she could feel his excitement. Like watching a child run for the first time, the child never understood the momentous occasion and neither did he, like any child, but she knew. And was proud.

He passed test after test and the team added armour and extensions to improve his chances of survival, so far from home. Dirt and dust would be great risk factors so they added fans and brushes for him to run cleaning programs each day. Everything he saw would be recorded.

And then, too soon, far too soon, she watched as they packed him away in his ship and he went blasting away on a great adventure.

For years she waited for each message he sent back. A data sample, an array of images. She watched and tracked and pestered those at the controls to let her know his progress. She worried but was so proud. He was paving the way of the future.

The day came. They all knew it was inevitable but she had buried that future deep within her.
The final message, my battery is low, and it’s getting dark. She knew it was for her.

She wept. Her tears could have filled an ocean on a dead planet.

She pictured him, alone, far, far away, the dust settling forever on his perfect form.

She went back to work, broken, but determined, to build him a sister, to bring her loved one home.


  1. Jae

    Nicely wrought from a simple concept. Well done.

  2. Hari Navarro

    Really enjoyed this, Phil. I love stories that try and make an emotional connection between us and the AI crowd.

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