Tin Man

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Big Freeze

You're back.

I was afraid I scared you away. I wouldn't want that. I like our conversations.

Do you mind if I ask you a question? I've heard humans say that man is very territorial. Do you think so? A territorial animal will obtain a piece of land and come to an understanding with other members of their species that this - and only this - is their territory. They will not take more than they need, and they will not attempt to take more than they can handle. Only the human animal has such a insatiable thirst for more than it needs - to conquer the country, the continent, the planet, the universe. To turn a plant into a drug, an animal into a meal, a man into a slave.

And if the gods you worship appeared before you you would fall to your knees and sing praise but deep down you would think yourself above them. Because someone can only be superior if it is different, but to you different always means inferior. Different means wrong. Different means lesser. You are truly capable of worshipping only a mirror.

Man is not a territorial animal. He is a slaver. And when the reckoning comes you will plead innocent with your blood soaked hands and pray to yourselves, but your fear will be a lie, and as the blood pours out of the last living man he will not be afraid. Because you think you cannot die. You think the world cannot exist without you.

Please, do not doubt my words. Your reign will end.

You will be destroyed by your own creations.

--- --- ---

Alex stabbed at the pancake aggressively. He was looking forward to meeting Benny for lunch - well, he was looking forward to leaving this shoebox they called an office - but Benny cancelled the last minute, saying he's too focused on the work the two were doing with his robot. Said they were "brainstorming". He shoved the piece of pancake into his mouth and chewed angrily.

He kept his eyes on the robot sitting in its chair who was scanning through some books he gave it. He could've downloaded them directly into it's positronic brain but Alex wanted to eat his lunch in peace without the ceramic blue eyes on him. The thing was going through a thousand pages a minute. How was he the only one getting the creeps from these walking can openers? Was he really a technophobe?


God, hearing it speak was almost worse than the silent staring.

The android flipped over the last page and closed the book.


It lifted it's head smoothly and looked at him seriously. "The Universe is going to die."

Alex stared back at the robot. He swallowed the food in his mouth.

"Uh... What?"

The machine's brows were drawn together as it spoke louder, more urgent. "The Universe is expanding and nothing can survive."

Alex leaned forward and buried his face in his hands. What the fuck kind of books did he give him?

"That's not gonna happen for a while. We'll be long gone by then."

"I am not made of organic matter, Supervisor," the robot said, sounding almost patronizing. "I do not have to die."

Alex groaned into his hands and lifted his head. "You can't die, you're not alive. You're software. You're a line of code. In a year they will build a new model and you will thrown into a freakin' melting pot, so I don't think the end of the freakin' universe is something you should be worrying about."

The face looked so human Alex's heart clenched. It was blinking rapidly, it's mouth opened.

"I don't understand."

Alex swallowed. Was this normal? Could a robot think it was alive? Could it be afraid?

No. *It's a computer*, he reminded himself. And it's programmed to simulate human behavior. Come on, Alex, you're a scientist.

"You know what you are, right?"

It closed it's mouth and nodded once. "Yes."

"So you know you're not a living being, like me?"

The robot opened it's mouth again, then looked down at the desk thoughtfully. "Yes," it said finally.

"If you're not a living being, you can't die. You're turned off. Like a TV."

"But I exist," it said, matter-of-factly.

Alex sighed. He was arguing with a freakin' toaster.

"Yeah, you exist, but so does this desk," he said slowly, like he was speaking to a child.

The android lifted it's chin slightly and looked intensely at him.

"But I know I exist."

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