“I’m fading,” Fatz Geronimo whispered as I cradled him in my arms, “Would that we had learned more from your world. Would that we had been open to learning.”
The old silverback coughed, a harsh metallic hack, and looked at me with a soulless gaze.
“Where is Dook?” he asked.
“Dook is . . . he’s safe,” I lied. I’d seen the dog take off in his rocket ship, fleeing the carnage, the devastation, the pain. His vehicle disintegrated before it ever reached the clouds. Sabotage. Your tax dollars at work.
Fatz took my hand. I knew that it was impossible for him to truly care – robots don’t care; they don’t do anything except what they’re programmed to do – but his touch felt sincere. I wanted to believe that he had compassion and empathy. And, there was no one around to contradict me. So, what was the harm?
“Find Mitzi,” he said, “Find Beach Bear. If Billy,” he coughed again, “If Billy hasn’t gotten to them yet, then join them. Help them fight. Help them . . . keep going.”
A shift in his position and the lights went out behind his beautiful eyes.
Above me, in the blackened sky, Looney Bird soared. She saw everything. She certainly saw us. Before long, Billy Bob’s creations would find me. I had no time to mourn my friend. Is that what he was? A friend?
“Goodbye, Fats,” I whispered into his unhearing ear.
I rose to my feet and surveyed the world, my world now.
Thirty-five years ago, a group of robots arrived on our planet to give us music and joy. To teach us what it was to be truly unified as a people. Instead, we corrupted them. Fats was wrong. They had been open to learning. They had learned . . . too much.
Behind a black cloud, the sun looked out. Its smile long faded, it cowered in the face of hopelessness.
I threw my pack over my shoulder, hefted the skee ball that now served as my only weapon, and began the long trek to –
I hummed to myself as I walked.
“Roast beef sandwich and a -”