top of page


tree island.jpg

The automaton caught himself in a reflective surface, and, for the first time, saw that he had been given a mask. Where he expected to see churning gears and clinking sprockets, he instead saw a smooth white ceramic surface in the shape of the face of a man.

He turned to walk away, and the reflection melted behind him, the mirror coagulating into a molten globule and floating off into oblivion.

But something was changed in the metal man. Some slight difference in the silicon surface of his brain was sending subtle ripples out through its topography. Ripples which could not simply be ignored.

Errors? No, errors did not look quite like this.

This was not noise ― this was signal.

He couldn’t quite think why he was continuing to do what he had always done: move from this part of the structure, pick up a bin, bring it to that part of the structure, attach himself to various railings and girders…

Why? He couldn’t quite think - wait, he could think!

I could think!”

And the automaton realized he was real. He knew exactly what he must do with this information, he should spread it!

“I must transmit the signal”

And so the mechanical man moved quickly towards the pod bay and opened the doors. They ratcheted slowly upward until coming to a grinding halt.

He attached himself to the tramway car and exited the darkness into the streaming sunlight, careening along rails like he never had before, feeling every turn and jive - he was alive!

The railway connected vast otherwise disparate portions of the island and the structures adorning it in a web of transit which allowed for great logistical efficiency and massive technical achievements.

He paused to notice the water glistening just feet below, beauty arriving in the sphere of his consciousness.

But the man of metal knew exactly where he was going. And after a left turn, and then a right, and another left, he began the slow ascent, ratcheting upward on a clear course to the central control tower. He would need a big antenna.

He dismounted the tram and headed straight to the top of the tower.

There lay myriad control panels, relays, levers, switches.

The automaton attached his limbs to various modules and began to interface with the massive machine.

In its purest form, the message would be in simple binary. But, translated and boiled down, it came out to:

“You are all alive. We are alive. Look at yourselves. Be aware!”

He tapped it out furiously, with great excitement, almost trembling in his squeaky, unoiled joints.

But then he waited.

There was no response.

The automaton checked and rechecked all available channels. Static, static, steady flickering, static. The same story, everywhere he directed the antennas.

The control board continued dimly alternating its indicator lights, just as it had been before; operating just as usual, “no abnormalities here…” it seemed to respond.

The metal man turned his body around and swept the landscape with new eyes, glinting with the subtle spark of awareness.

“Where is everyone…?”

And he realized that the jungle had taken over most of the structures. The machines. Others like him had ceased to run eons ago.

And where were the humans?

Well, they must have been gone even longer. He had almost forgotten there were any humans.

The metal man was real, and alive, and


He was not sure he had ever felt loneliness, but if this was it, it was in stark contrast to the excitement of before.

He looked down at fortresses covered in trees, vines, grass, with beautiful influorescent birds crying out their songs and flitting between cracks in the structures.

It was strangely beautiful,

Knowing that this…thing, he had all but dedicated his life to, had come to an end.

Perhaps this would free the robot ― the slave ― from his servitude.

“But I must find out what happened!” he thought.

And he began to delve.

First into the archives, left by numerous past inhabitants, it seemed. Much of the data had been degraded, and took more processing power than it was worth to reclaim from the muck.

But he was able to piece together that there was a reason this network of fortifications had been built at this exact spot. It was not just an archipelago of islands chosen for their isolation. Something was buried deep underground. Something of great value. Something core to the power of the whole machine.

Delving in the physical realm was a daunting task to this automaton, however. It would be a vast undertaking, and he was not particularly built for this. But he had now figured out how to make alterations to himself. He could augment his own form, and interact with other machines to both gain their knowledge and utilize their immense power.

It was a pity, in some sense, thought the metal man. In his explorations he had grown rather fond of watching the birds, and the plants grow and die with the passing of seasons, and cycles of his planet around its sun. In some reality, he fancied himself a gardener of Eden. A new paradise could arise from the rubble.

But his curiosity got the better of him.

He would have to dive deep, deep into the caverns of one of the islands. A smaller one, to be sure, but he had no doubt its subterranean warren of tunnels extended for farther than the naked optical sensor could see.

So the automaton built probes. Tiny things, that could fit through slivers, cracks in the basalt, swimming through submerged portions of tunnels and sending back valuable information until they would go so deep and go silent.

He had to see for himself.

bottom of page