Darkness grew over the deserts outside of the town of Independence, California. In this night wandered the town’s two newest robotic exiles, found guilty by mob trial of trying their hands at humanity.
Thomas, the robot whose idea it was to go through with the offensive process, raised his right hand and stared down at it. By now, the canopy of night had covered him so completely that he could barely make out the outline of his palm.
It was okay, though. Thomas felt more comfortable in the night than he had in his past few hours in the sun. Here, the sun could not reflect off of his silver knuckles. The light could not taunt him by casting a shadow of his robotic body. He clasped his hand into a fist before slowly releasing it. For these few hours, Thomas was safe from his physical reality.
This minor peace couldn’t last forever, though. In a few hours, the sun would rise, and Thomas would be able to see everything. Even now, he could feel a cool breeze pass by, and he knew that his metallic body perceived it as being much colder than a human body would.
I’ll never be free.
He dropped his hand back down to his side, threw his head back, and gazed up at the pitch-black sky.
How could I let this happen? he thought. How could I have not foreseen this? I’m….
He thought back the android wedding that had happened earlier in the town. It was at the church. He hadn’t taken a close look at the affair, but he had taken in enough to know that the robots there were happy. Yes, happy… happy… and holy….
Thomas brought himself back to the present moment. His gaze still fixed on the sky above, he clenched his hands at both sides.
Oh Lord, my God, he prayed silently, have mercy on….
Thomas stopped. Something like a pang of despair flowed through his circuitry, stopping him in his tracks and forcing his vision straight ahead.
No, he thought, relaxing his fists. I can’t ask for that. It is too late. I… I’ve gone too far.
He dropped his head down. Another gust of wind hit his back, and a sharp pain hit his empty chest. It was as though the wind had pierced though his back and into the very core of his being. It felt… oddly human.
Thomas clenched his fists again.
Why am I afflicted with this? he asked himself. Why was I cursed with this? Why do I… why…?
He released his hands yet again. Slowly, Thomas resumed walking, raising his head just enough to see in front of him.
Then, he caught a glimpse of the faintly-visible figure of his friend, Guy-Man, who was walking slightly ahead of Thomas at a steady pace. The golden robot’s shoulders were straight, and his face was locked firmly onward.
Thomas felt a sudden surge in his body. It was the same melancholy that had overtaken him moments before.
He didn’t deserve this, Thomas thought. Guy-Man is pure. He could easily go back to Independence and be forgiven. Thomas stopped moving again.
But instead, he chose to come with me. Through all of it, he’s chosen me.
Thomas felt a sudden urge to slam his fists into the sandy ground beneath him.
He didn’t deserve this, he thought again as he started walking again. Why the hell did I have to go and do this to him?
At this point, Guy-Man himself had stopped walking, noticing that his companion had lagged slightly behind. He gave a glance to Thomas and motioned for him to keep going. Holding back an urge to enter into a dramatic, emotional outburst, Thomas went along with his friend’s request.
He is good, Thomas thought to himself. He is pure. He deserves so much better than this.
Thomas looked onto the horizon. The sun was beginning to break over the dunes. Trying not to draw attention to himself, Thomas tensed his robotic joints together.
Now, he could begin to see. He could begin to see the form of his hands, of his feet, of everything about him that was close to being right but that simply was not.
This light will be the death of me, Thomas thought.
Thomas glanced back up at Guy-Man, who walked unfazed by the breaking light.
The death of me… but not him.
Thomas felt his mind start to flare up in thought. He released his hands once more.
This light might bring death to me, Thomas thought, but it could bring new life to Guy-Man.
All we’ll need is the switch.