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Excerpt from: Out of the Clear, Blue Sky
She was a young android and didn’t know her place. When the humans give up, when they quit on their foolish dreams, you follow. And if they wish for you to stay, you stay. You die and rust in heaps of twisted metal among the human corpses where, at the last minute, they killed each other for money and love and only God knows what else.
Take the women and children and leave. Leave your homes and all of your possessions, and run. The sky is falling. The ground is cracking. We will die here.
It was a last minute message from the American government; as their prize, their glory, the space bubble known as the Astronomy Dome, spiraled into death and destruction. It became everyone’s hell. Looting and shooting as horrible corrupt humanity ran rampant in a city the size of New York, stuck out in space and floating in blackness. The wealthy left first, and left the poor to murder each other and themselves as they fought over possessions and seats in the emergency spacecrafts that were supposed to be their saviors.
And when they were all either dead or gone, a million miles away in distant skyways, she ventured out. And it was terrible.
All of the robots had been ordered to stay put and de-activate themselves. Precious space in the emergency spacecrafts couldn’t be wasted on machines. But she had a different idea. She could live in the tattered remains of the city, and when they came to tear it down she’d go home. And children, she’d watch over their children again.
The amazing NANA, a new android nanny.
Everyone “had to have one”. Oh, they made life such a breeze! They will love your children, as you go to parties and get drunk. Synthetic love. But when these NANA androids couldn’t be taken on the ships, they weren’t so important anymore. And so the humans decided to get newer, better models when they finally got to Earth. And their beautiful synthetic mothers were left in heaps with all the other perfectly useless machines that had once been revered as “must haves”.
This NANA, however, was the NANA, the first NANA. And she had developed something that humans hate for synthetic life to have, a personality.
Children… she lived for their children. But upon NANA’s inspection of the city, they hadn’t left her one. And she was lonely.
For, she silently walked down their countless rows of sidewalks. She surveyed their abandoned buildings and shops. A human could live for years here and not have to worry. Maybe. All the animals in the zoo had escaped a few hours earlier, she could hear them in the distance, in the city’s fake outskirts, where the trees grew… until you hit solid wall.
NANA walked and walked, her shining black high heels clicking on the pavement, the only sound except for the distant cries of those wild creatures. The only sound in that great big sad city, what was left of a city. What was once so teeming with life.
The only sound…
NANA stopped her sullen, silent walk. There, in the distance. A sound she knew, she knew by heart. Not an animal, not a machine. A cry…
NANA took off through the city’s remains, her high heels clicking so fast they were almost humming. A baby… a baby… her long skirt was getting ripped and dirtied at the bottom. It was stained with mud and blood from the corpses. But it didn’t matter. A baby… a baby…
“What sick fool would leave a baby in this place?” She hissed. Her hatred for humans was boiling.
She finally came upon the origin of the cry. A Chinese laundry… A dry cleaner’s… She ran through the broken glass door, past the body of a man who had tried to rob the business there was a puddle of blood on the floor, from someone he’d shot, who had decided to return the favor. To the back, past piles of clothes and broken robots who had burned straight through the ironing boards when de-activated in the middle of ironing a shirt.
And the cry became louder as she reached a laundry bin, filled to the brim with sheets. A baby… nestled in the middle of the madness, placed there, no doubt, by the little old man slumped over in the corner with a gunshot wound to his chest. The wonderful man, the man who’d bled out carefully hiding an innocent child from the city’s demons.
She slipped her delicate metal fingers under the child. And it stopped, comforted by a touch that wasn’t even real. “Darling child, don’t you cry.” NANA cooed in her soft voice, a voice that had been digitally enhanced and programmed to be comforting… She held the baby close, and wrapped it in her apron. Ginger colored curls, big green eyes like emeralds, framed by lashes so big and feathery they could have been butterflies.
A beautiful baby. And they left it. They left it in a Chinese laundry… left it to die.
She fished around for a clue, a name tag, a hospital bracelet. All she found was the brand name printed boldly on the inside of his little blue nightgown.
“Carter it will be.” NANA decided quickly. “My lovely Master Carter. And I will bring you home, and watch over you.” She squeezed the baby tight and quietly walked out. When she got to the door she turned and gently smiled at the old man’s corpse. “Thank you sir. Thank you, so much.”