Beneath a shining sun and clear blue sky, reflecting the sunlight off its silver skin, an android sat on the ground with its gaze towards the horizon. It had been waiting for a person to wander by, waiting for someone to find him out there in the desert. His sight zoomed in towards the distant shrubs and trees, hoping to catch a glimpse one day of a city man. Its concentration never dwindled and its focus never blurred, but in its long wait for the improbable passing of someone by the road, it didn’t notice one coming towards it from behind.
“Hello there.” The man said.
Such beauty in his voice. Such rareness in its tone. The wind that blew from inside his lungs was quite unlike the wind that blew across the land and sky. It had within a purpose. It contained emotion and it contained life too. And the android that then sat watching for a man in the distance became aware of the one by the sense he least expected.
“Oh.” The android paused, never in a long time rehearsing the words he’d say in such ocurrance. “Oh, hello.”
“What are you doing way out here? You waiting for someone?” The man asked the sitting android.
His eyes were a light brown, gleaming in the sun. His skin was a burnt pink color, covered only lightly by half-torn clothes. The dirt from the ground had crept up into his hair, and from there it seemed to drip into the pores on his face.
“Yes. I’ve been waiting for someone. I’ve been waiting for anyone. I’ve been waiting for you.” The android said to the standing man, “I’m afraid one of my legs has stopped working and I can’t move very fast. I just need a little help.”
“Yeah, well… I need some help too. You taken?” The standing man said to the sitting android.
The android knew what the question meant. The man wanted to become its master, but it had a master already. He had asked of it a task, and it hadn’t yet fulfilled it.
“I’m sorry. I need help so I can go to my master, but if you help me, I will help you. My master will understand.”
“Alright… well, what’s the problem?” The standing man asked.
There were many problems. Why had his leg stopped working? Where ware the people of the city? Why did the trains stop passing? But only one the standing man could help with.
“I need to get into the room back there,” the android said, pointing to a grey concrete room standing by itself in the desert, “it is my task, but I lost the key. I don’t know where it is. I think I dropped it somewhere between the room and the city, but it’s a long way. I’ve looked for it many times. Perhaps a mouse got it, or an eagle. I don’t know how to get in. I have to get in. It is my task. My master is waiting for me. Help me.”
The man glanced at the room and walked to it. He took a quick look at the door and kicked it. It wasn’t a very hard kick, but the door broke open anyway.
“Oh no! No!” The android dragged itself across the dirt and towards the room, “No damage!”
“Uh… there’s nothing here.” The man said as he stared into the empty room. “How long have you been waiting there?”
The android stared inside, incredulous. “Sixty two years…” And while the man opened his eyes wide in surprise, the android didn’t think it was too long a wait. Not if it meant completing its task. Not if it could get back to the city with the news of an empty room.
“Juno city was destroyed about sixty years ago. I don’t think there’s anyone left out there.”
Summers, winters. The rising sun. The setting sun. A cycle in a cycle. A ticking of an invisible clock. The stars shifted, the grass grew and died. The wind whistled and the rain screamed. A never ending dream of a never waking life. The decades seemed like seconds and in its mind the android watched its master wither away and die. How could it have been so careless? How could time have passed him by so readily?
The man watched the paralized android by his feet. “He probably sent you this way to save you. ‘Cause there’s nothing in here… That’s what I think.”
“I’m sorry.” The sitting android said. “I know I said I’d help you, but I won’t.” And then it dragged itself across the dirt, beneath the clear blue sky, in the direction of the defunct city. “I have to find my master. I have to tell him that the room is empty.”
The man did not object, and he watched the android for a few minutes as it left a trail on the hardened dirt, and then he walked away too.