For months now, I’ve been slowly writing another book. The working title is “Rocket & H.I. 97 Destroy Everyone”, and it’s meant to be as kitschy and weird as it sounds. My aim is to create something expansive and unique that people can have fun with. I love science fiction. I love its unique ideas, its bizarre flights of fantasy, and the pulpy, dime-store novel nature that’s been associated with the genre. Science fiction is freeing. You can go places without having to worry about being grounded, and if you’re lucky, other people will want to tag along.
With this latest project, I’ve been writing by hand once again, so the process has been long and meditative. I really like writing by hand. It forces the brain to slow down and adjust to the physical, mechanical nature of writing, making my brain hang on every idea, plot device, or character description. Frequently I’ll plan out part of the narrative weeks in advance, and when my hand finally reaches that point, it’s not what was originally envisioned weeks before. The structure’s changed. It’s embedded itself deeper in this world.
I’ve talked about my obsession with robots previously. Since that time, I’ve put together a completed draft of the book and have enclosed just a taste below. Fair warning, this “taste” is still a work-in-progress pulled from a second draft. It may not reflect the finished product at all.
Having said that, I hope you enjoy it, and I welcome any comments you may have.
The door closed with the master on the other side. His pudgy hand slammed on the locking mechanism, and he immediately scoured the small, white changing room for something to clench tightly in his hands.
Humans never looked machines in the eyes when they committed bots to a death sentence. Rocket Pal Model No. 5.624 (“Rocket” for short) didn’t even bother to pound on the door window this time, either. It was no use. In a matter of seconds, he’d be purged out into space with all of the rest of the garbage — the storage bins, spare batteries, leftover food trays, dead bodies, and bloodthirsty alien lifeforms. He’d be another hunk of debris, condemned to endlessly watch himself float through space, preserved in a vacuum for all of eternity.
It was a grim thought, Rocket had to admit, but it was the reality he faced in a mere fraction of a moment. He had no other choice, so he sighed. Though the concept seemed illogical for a machine, it was something humans often did when they accepted their fates. It was supposed to beckon some sort of calm into the circuitry of the mind. It was intended as a welcoming of “the end.”
Through the tiny door window, the master was watching Rocket now. Those fat, brown eyes squeezed into that fat, greasy face bore the expression of sorrow. Of remorse. Of temporary guilt.
“I don’t need your pity, pal,” Rocket said.
The master shook his head and pressed one of his sausage fingers against the window. He tapped it three times, pointing to something off to the side.
Rocket turned 90 degrees. Three alien lifeforms crowded around a storage crate, scaly, bipedal brutes that looked like walking fish. They squealed like hogs, gleefully, as they split a hoagie sandwich. Their three-claw hands stuffed stuffed torn morsels of the delectable meal for a man on the go into their gaping maws. Rocket watched shreds of beef, salami, and ham get tossed around their massive jaws as they proceeded to chew with their mouths open. He watched for 0.67 more seconds before returning his gaze to the master.
Tears welled at the corners of his master’s eyes. Human lips quivered, and those grubby fingers of his wriggled like maggots up his chin and into his mouth. Son of a…
Just then, a red light flashed above, and a warning siren blared. Vents hissed as the last bit of air left the cargo bay. Rocket’s legs lifted off of the ground, and his humanoid body floated toward the infinite darkness.
Humans clung to a spiritual ideal when it came to the vastness of space. They’d see a distant star, become enamored with it, and set off to scour it, promising one another it’s where their Maker lived. Humans would convince themselves so well of their cunning and certainty, claiming they could hear Him calling them, could feel His embrace warming their hearts, could sense Him growing nearer to their souls.
There was no definitive science to prove His existence. There was no magic device to factualize this leap of faith. It was purely a human experience, and it was one that bewildered the subservient machines of man, as there was no machine in all of creation who could empathize and experience the touch of God itself. But in that moment, floating into the beyond, Rocket entertained the idea of invisible hands carrying him along to his inevitable resting place. Rocket was one with the current, a battery-powered hunk of scrap riding a ceaseless guiding force until he found peace in an asteroid, a comet, or some distant star. He shut down his eye circuits. One by one, Rocket placed his systems on standby as his body cruised alongside three dead aliens and little pieces of pastrami.
In his last thought, Rocket reflected on the image of his master’s tears. He committed the weakness of his creator race to deep-storage memory, archived as Rocket’s last will and testament. If an archaeologist eons from now was able to link up to this lost machine’s database, that explorer would see humanity for what it was: men despairing over uneaten sandwiches.