The Crawling Of Time

For Chuck Wendig’s “Robots” flash fiction prompt – even robots get bored.

Marvin opened his eyes. It was time for the new deliveries to arrive. Oh, how he dreaded the start of another dreary day… But, he reminded himself, it was better than not having the days come at all, and thus did Marvin stand up, stretch and look to the skies.

Right on the mark, he saw a blip of light that was becoming larger and larger. He walked over to where the shuttle would land and prepared the chute for the new load. The shuttle landed almost gracefully – they were definitely improving these things – and Marvin trundled over and stuck the pipe into the hatch. Cubes of material were being sucked through at very high velocity, but you couldn’t tell from the near-noiseless non-descript pipe.

Marvin stuck his finger in the communications receptacle. Immediately, the cheerful message filtered through. “Hi Marvin! You look good, have you been working out?”

“Hello, Jill. It’s a pleasure to see you still haven’t blown up on the way here,” Marvin groused, surprisingly upbeat for him. Jill was the only change from the monotony of the scenery here, unless you counted the overtly cheerful waste disposal interface he would have to deal with soon.

“Why, Marvin, your sarcasm has improved. Have you been practising?” Jill teased.

“Of course. Hector has graciously agreed to being my, what do you call it, ‘target practice’.” Hector was the previously mentioned overtly cheerful yada yada yada. He was going to blow Marvin’s circuits one of these days.

“Well, sorry to cut it short today, Marvin, but it looks like we’re already done. You take care now!” Jill disconnected and soon she was off.

Marvin sighed. It wasn’t her fault, he knew – humans still hadn’t invented a material that could handle space-flight and then the corrosiveness of this planet’s atmosphere, for longer than five minutes anyway. Jill was one of the depositors who actually bothered chatting with him while she was here, and sometimes she had to break off abruptly because they wouldn’t have noticed the time running out.

Ah, well, back to the shack. Marvin dragged the chute over to the shack, where Hector the overwhelmingly gleeful waste disposal interface waited for him.

“Hello Marvin, and how are we today? Looks like you’ve got a whole new load for me. Oh, goody, I can’t wait to…” Marvin filtered the rest of it away as white noise and went about finishing his work. You couldn’t really blame Hector, he supposed. Inhaling all those fumes from the disposal pit would addle even his circuits. Hector was proving surprisingly sane for the 237 years he had been at this job. The previous WDI had stayed for 3 before deciding the mostly molten surface of the planet looked like a great place to take a relaxing swim in. Marvin had made an effort this time, with Hector.

Beta Praxis wasn’t the most interesting planet in the galaxy, so the humans had decided it would do. Many thousands of years ago, they had switched completely to nuclear fuel, and the only problem with that system was the hazardous waste, which they kept burying till someone came up with a brilliant idea. Now that half-light travel had been commercialised, lots of star systems had been discovered that were deemed to be inhospitable to life, and the most violent ones could be used to dispose the waste in. After all, they weren’t good for anything else anyway.

So they had set up this waste disposal unit on Beta Praxis, and some super-smart scientist built Marvin and his unit with a new carbon-titanium alloy that could survive the acid in the planet’s air. Of course, the fop had also been smart enough to patent the material so no one else could steal it (that happened a lot with the government these days), so they couldn’t make another unit for the next 500 years. It had only been 300 years so far, and the government was still tied up in the red tape around the whole thing.

Well, 300 years, 4 months and 9 days, to be precise. 5 hours and 24 minutes and 13.9 seconds, if you wanted to nitpick about it, Marvin thought. It wouldn’t be so bad waiting another 200 years, would it?

“Oh, wow, look at how pretty the hot liquid is. Marvin, wouldn’t it be fun to play around in?”

Not again.

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One comment

  1. You love Marvin. Just admit it!

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