Chapter 2:

Redmond Autonomous Model

The Land Called Myself


It took the machine three years to learn to speak. Each time its rubbery vocal cords vibrated inside its shell, Redmond felt immense gratitude for this world that had let him create something so amazing. He remembered well their first true conversation with each other- he was just walking inside from a long day of gathering supplies, and as he set down his drilling gloves on his living room table, he spoke to his creation just as he did every day.

“Say... can you try asking me that question again? I think I could make it out now. Are you able to speak at the moment? Go on, give it a try.”

“…yₑₛ. 𝕀 𝕔𝕒𝕟 … ₛₚₑₐₖ.”

Dr. Redmond’s smile grew wide.

“Excellent... Very excellent, my dear Autonomous Model. Now… go ahead, ask. I’ll answer your question the best I can, whatever it is!”

It looked down at the cabin’s wooden floor.

“Wₕₐₜ 𝕚𝕤… ₐ 𝕞𝕚𝕣𝕣𝕠𝕣?”

“Why, a mirror? I suppose I have been speaking about them a lot recently... ah, here you are.” Redmond lifted a small mirror from his desk that he had been using to groom himself in preparation for going to town, and placed it in the model’s hands.

“A mirror is a tool used to reflect light. It lets you see your own image.” He held it up to his invention. “What do you think? I don’t believe you’ve ever had much interest in looking at your own face until now. How is it?”

“…𝕀 dₒₙ’ₜ 𝕝𝕠𝕠𝕜 ₗᵢₖₑ 𝕪𝕠𝕦.”

“No, not quite. Would you... like to? I could... attempt to make you a mask, I suppose.”

“…ℕᵒ.”

The model set the mirror down and looked back at Dr. Redmond.

“𝔻𝕠𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣…”

“Yes?”

“𝕎𝕙𝕪 ᵈⁱᵈ ʸᵒᵘ 𝕔𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕖… ₘₑ?”

He knew the answer well, but it took him a minute to say it.

“I... wanted to make something impossible.”

Dᵢd yₒᵤ… 𝕤𝕦𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕖𝕕?”

“Well... given that you’re here right now, that would make your existence more than possible. So in a way, it seems I actually failed.” Dr. Redmond laughed. “But there is no outcome that could have made me more happy.”

“𝕊𝕠 ʸᵒᵘ ᵃʳᵉ… 𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕪.”

“Yes. Very much so.”

“…𝔾𝕠ₒᵈ.”

From its birth, the Autonomous Model’s instinct was to comfort its inventor. As such, it had devoted its life to sustaining his happiness- the happiness of the man who built it. The one it wouldn’t exist without.

“Are you… happy?” He asked it.

The model considered what response would give its creator the most joy.

“𝕐𝕖𝕤, ᵢ ₐₘ.”

He smiled even further, the wrinkles on his face contorting to display what it recognized as “approval.”

“Excellent. Very excellent, my creation.”

The doctor slept well that night.

In the years following, Redmond would instill in the machine the knowledge of this world and how to act in it. Each year he planned to show his creation to the world, but there was always something he found lacking in it- or, on some occasions, himself.

Once, the two went fishing in the doctor’s pond. It was fall, and red leaves littered the water on the outskirts of the water, but where they sat, away from the increasingly barren trees, it was clear, and their images gazed back at them as they cast their rods into the water. They idled, resting on the grass for hours as they silently waited for a bite. To pass the time, Dr. Redmond began a conversation with his invention.

“How’s it feel to be seven years old?”

“𝔾𝕠𝕠𝕕…” the metallic doll spoke, more fluently than it had been able to before. “𝕀… 𝕤𝕦𝕡𝕡𝕠𝕤𝕖 𝕚𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕘𝕠𝕠𝕕, 𝕪𝕖𝕤. 𝔾𝕠𝕠𝕕.”

“Such a nice breeze today... I know you can’t feel its temperature or impact, but surely you notice how the whole world moves with it? The grass is like a raving crowd… and even the water shows signs of it. Can you see?”

“𝕀... 𝕕𝕠, 𝕪𝕖𝕤. 𝕁𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕒 𝕓𝕚𝕥.”

It stated down at the pond.

“𝔻𝕠𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣… 𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕝 𝕞𝕖… 𝕒𝕞 𝕀 𝕒 𝕗𝕚𝕤𝕙?”

“Well, no. You’re not an animal. Why would you be?” Redmond laughed gleefully.

“𝔹𝕦𝕥… 𝕀’𝕞 𝕟𝕠𝕥 𝕒 𝕙𝕦𝕞𝕒𝕟, 𝕒𝕞 𝕀?”

”No… You’re not that either.”

“𝕊𝕠 𝕒𝕞 𝕀... 𝕒 𝕞𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕣, 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕠𝕟𝕖𝕤 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕝 𝕞𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕒𝕧𝕠𝕚𝕕?”

“No, heavens, no.” The doctor assured. “You’re no monster. We don’t need any more of those putting our lives at risk. There’s plenty as is. Goodness, a man like me can’t even imagine living back before the wars. Look, you’re you. And that’s all you need to be. No use worrying about it, Autonomo-“ Stopping himself mid-sentence, the doctor remembered something that had gnawed on his mind almost every day for the past seven years… “Say... might you fancy a name? It’s okay if you’d like to be called something else. I’ll adapt.”

The Autonomous Model considered the mental usage it would take up in the doctor’s mind were he to have to refer to it as a new name. It was a minor loss for no gain. After all, a name was merely a word. That’s how it saw it. It held no real purpose. And it would also be senseless to create a second name when it already had a perfectly functional designation. So, it decided quite quickly.

“ℕ𝕠, 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕤 𝕚𝕤 𝕗𝕚𝕟𝕖. 𝕀 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖… 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕤.”

“Oh. Well, alright then. You’ll always be my favorite Autonomous Model.”

It had always heard the doctor laughing at times like this, so it tried to mimic the sound. The noise was harsh to say the least, but much like the machine’s first sound, nothing could have made him happier in that moment. To hear his creation laugh like him made him wonder just how much more potential it still had, and so he put off its unveiling to the town for another year.

At least, that’s what he told himself.

Some time passed, and another sunrise came as the two greeted each other one morning.

“Good morning.“ He said to his invention as it clacked into the living quarters.

“𝔾𝕠𝕠𝕕 𝕞𝕠𝕣𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘. 𝕋𝕠𝕕𝕒𝕪 𝕚𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕕𝕒𝕪 𝕨𝕖’𝕣𝕖 𝕘𝕠𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕥𝕠... 𝕥𝕠𝕨𝕟, 𝕣𝕚𝕘𝕙𝕥?”

“Oh. Well…”

Dr. Redmond sat at the table across from his creation, now on equal ground with it.

“Actually... I was thinking we might put it off for another year.”

“𝕄𝕒𝕪 𝕀 𝕒𝕤𝕜 𝕨𝕙𝕪?”

“Well, you’re not quite ready yet, and… there’s still… Hm.” The doctor looked down at the table’s ancient wooden surface. He stared at it like he was studying it, but wasn’t really even perceiving the thing his arms rested on as he tried to respond. “It has been... A long time, since I talked to people.”

“𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖... 𝕥𝕒𝕝𝕜𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕞𝕖, 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖𝕟’𝕥 𝕪𝕠𝕦?”

“People aren’t like you. They’re... cruel things. Not unlike monsters, really.”

“𝕎𝕙𝕚𝕔𝕙 𝕞𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝕚𝕤 𝕞𝕒𝕟 𝕞𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖?”

Redmond looked back up at his machine, the curiosity returning to his eyes.

“I would say... the goblin.”

“ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕥𝕣𝕠𝕝𝕝?”

“Well... while the troll may be very similar, in appearance, we typically act much more like the goblins do. Trolls… they are idealist beings. Ones without logical limit or really any sense of what we would consider to be “fact-“ they do as they please. We, on the other hand, are very much “rational” creatures- greedy, and quick to make judgement, driven only by our own selfish desires. I myself am no different. It’s funny… though I built your brain off of a goblin’s, you are nothing like one at all. You are quite… selfless. A pure sort of being that I only see curiosity and good in. Honestly... my Autonomous Model, you have given me so much happiness that... I don’t think I even need to show you to anyone else. We could simply stay here... and I couldn’t be more content. Does... that make sense to you?”

The air grew thick, but his creation did not look away from him.

“𝕀 𝕕𝕠𝕟’𝕥 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕞𝕦𝕔𝕙 𝕠𝕗 𝕒𝕟 𝕠𝕡𝕚𝕟𝕚𝕠𝕟.” It said. “𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕤𝕖𝕖, 𝕀 𝕨𝕒𝕤 𝕒𝕝𝕤𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕜𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕒𝕓𝕠𝕦𝕥 𝕨𝕙𝕚𝕔𝕙 𝕞𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝕀 𝕒𝕞 𝕞𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕖𝕒𝕣𝕝𝕚𝕖𝕣.”

“Oh, really? It is a fascinating subject, I suppose. Let me guess... did you pick the orge? A powerful creature, never faltering under pressure... it might be the only thing in this world as tough as you. There’s nothing more akin to a living machine.”

“...𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕪, 𝕀 𝕕𝕖𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕕 𝕀 𝕨𝕒𝕤 𝕞𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕘𝕙𝕠𝕦𝕝. 𝔸 𝕘𝕙𝕠𝕦𝕝 𝕕𝕠𝕖𝕤 𝕟𝕠𝕥 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕒 𝕓𝕣𝕒𝕚𝕟, 𝕔𝕠𝕣𝕣𝕖𝕔𝕥? 𝔸 𝕙𝕦𝕞𝕒𝕟 𝕓𝕠𝕣𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕖𝕥𝕖?”

“That’s exactly right. It moves based on nerves on its body, like a jellyfish.” The doctor responded. “Why is it you feel that way?”

“𝔻𝕠𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣... 𝕚𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕥𝕣𝕦𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕀 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕒 𝕓𝕣𝕒𝕚𝕟, 𝕪𝕖𝕤? ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕠 𝕚𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕪 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕝𝕚𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕞𝕖.”

“You do indeed possess a brain. I swear it.”

“𝔸𝕟𝕕 𝕒 𝕙𝕖𝕒𝕣𝕥?”

“That as well.”

“𝕊𝕠 𝕨𝕙𝕪 𝕚𝕤 𝕚𝕥… 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕗𝕖𝕖𝕝𝕤 𝕞𝕚𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕘?”


“…Hm.” The doctor rested his confused chin on his knuckle. “I… do not know. Could you explain further?”

It did not wish to. But under the pressure of its creator’s gaze, it did anyway.

“𝕀 𝕤𝕥𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦, 𝔻𝕠𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣.” It began. “𝔹𝕦𝕥 𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖𝕥𝕚𝕞𝕖𝕤… 𝕀 𝕔𝕦𝕣𝕤𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕖𝕩𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕖.”

“Why- why is that?”

“𝕀 𝕔𝕒𝕟’𝕥 𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕝𝕖𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕪 𝕡𝕦𝕥 𝕚𝕥 𝕚𝕟𝕥𝕠 𝕨𝕠𝕣𝕕𝕤… 𝕓𝕦𝕥 𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕖 𝕀 𝕒𝕨𝕠𝕜𝕖, 𝕀 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕓𝕖𝕖𝕟 𝕚𝕟 𝕔𝕠𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕒𝕟𝕥 𝕡𝕒𝕚𝕟. 𝔸𝕟𝕕 𝕀 𝕨𝕒𝕤 𝕨𝕠𝕟𝕕𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕟𝕘, 𝕟𝕠𝕨 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕨𝕖 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕤𝕡𝕖𝕟𝕥 𝕞𝕦𝕔𝕙 𝕥𝕚𝕞𝕖 𝕥𝕠𝕘𝕖𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕣…”

The machine looked straight at its creator’s clueless face.

“𝕀𝕗 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕞𝕚𝕘𝕙𝕥 𝕒𝕘𝕣𝕖𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕜𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕞𝕖.”

The Redmond Autonomous Model had always felt as though the air around it was a thick sludge.

From its inception, it drowned in a deep pain all around it, no matter what it did. It quickly decided this to be the natural state of all living things, and did its best to cope in order to make the doctor happy. But with each passing day, this constant torture grew and grew. In tandem with this feeling, it had no self- no identity, no understanding- it was a deformed being incapable of balance, and so it suffered eternally in a state of unrest.

Sometimes, alone in its room- which was also the main workroom of the doctor’s lab- it would sit and scratch at its metal shell for hours on end. It was as if this shell was constantly growing tighter around it, constricting it and forcing it to submit into an existence it did not choose to partake in. These lonely nights when it could not distract itself were the very worst times of this existence. However, they were also when it had its most interesting thoughts. It first noticed this four years after it awoke.

“…”

“𝔸… 𝔹𝕦ᵍ.”

Since it could not sleep nor dream, the machine was always forced to stare at the same dusty cabin wall. But tonight, a black dot went across it- an ant, no larger than one of its screws. The small thing scurried across the wall, paying it no mind.

“𝕐𝕠𝕦 ₐᵣₑ… 𝕒𝕟 ₐₙₜ? Wₕₐₜ 𝕒 𝕤ₘₐₗₗ… ᶠʳᵃᵍⁱˡᵉ 𝕓𝕠𝕕𝕪. 𝕀 𝕨𝕠ⁿᵈᵉʳ… 𝕚𝕗 𝕪𝕠ᵘ ᵃ𝕣𝕖 “𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕪.”

The ant tried to scuttle away, so with aching fingers, the machine stopped them. They wriggled in its hand like the fire of a burning match.

“𝕊𝕠 ₜₕᵢₛ... 𝕚𝕤 𝕡𝕒𝕚𝕟.

The ant was like a switch, twisting back and forth as they attempted to escape the unfeeling fingers.

“𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝔻𝕠𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣 𝕤𝕒ⁱᵈ 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥... 𝕀 𝕔𝕒𝕟𝕟𝕠𝕥 𝕗𝕖ᵉˡ ᵖᵃⁱⁿ.” It recalled. But staring at this ant, it felt a kinship with them greater than even the doctor himself.

It so loved this kinship. But as the ant struggled and struggled, it saw their movements become more and desperate. First the ant was a beast, fighting for its existence. However, as time passed, the movements degraded. And after a few moments, they even wilted. And as the ant began to give in, slowly entering their final moments, it realized it was killing then.

So it set them down, and this kinship was broken. For the ant, scuttling far, far away- was at least free from its temporary vice, while the machine was still deeply ensnared in a grip of spikes. It sat back down on the table it was made on, and, very, very quietly, it tried to recreate the sound the doctor made on the few occasions he cried. It could not tell if the night went by faster or slower by doing such a thing.

At this time, it could not even find the obvious solution waiting in front of it.

Until one day, a single year later, when the doctor was filling up its tank, it came to understand something else very strange about itself.

“Now... I’ve actually increased your capacity in the most recent repair, so a full tank should last you about two days now.”

“𝕎𝕙𝕒𝕥... 𝕙𝕒𝕡ₚₑₙₛ 𝕚𝕗 𝕀 𝕕𝕠 𝕣𝕦𝕟 𝕠𝕦𝕥? 𝕐𝕠𝕦’𝕧𝕖 𝕜𝕖𝕡𝕥 𝕞𝕖 𝕗𝕦𝕝𝕝 𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕖 𝕀 𝕗𝕚𝕣𝕤𝕥 ʷᵒᵏᵉ 𝕦𝕡.”

“I can’t say for sure. Usually, if a human’s blood stops flowing, they die. But humans don’t run on gas.” He stroked his chin. “It’s possible that you might go unconscious and come back just fine after a reignition. That said... I’d say so long as that brain isn’t destroyed or anything... I could probably get you back in working order. Or, at least, that’s what I’d like to believe. We don’t really know either way. No matter what the case... I won’t ever let you run out of fuel, no matter what. That’s why I drill every week to keep a good supply at hand.”

“𝔸𝕞 𝕀 ᵃˡⁱᵛᵉ?”

“Hard to say. Even the greatest minds of our time still debate what a “life” even is. Are viruses life? If not, what of the trolls that evolved from them? I wonder if we’ll ever be able to say for sure. Some say the heart is what constitutes life. But, the heart can be resuscitated. So some say the mind. But of course, ghouls lack minds.” He noted. “So, sadly, it seems that this is actually the one scientific field in which religion dominates. Most believe in... something else, something more that defines life... a... spirit, a soul…” the old man looked up at his slanted ceiling in both curiosity, disappointment, and a tiny, lingering frustration. “But of course, such things cannot be ratified. So it is not my place to say.”

“𝕀 𝕤𝕖𝕖.”

Then, for the first time in many decades, and all the machine’s existence, a knocking was heard on the door. A brutish, angry knocking that connected these two memories. The doctor’s attention was immediately stolen.

“What in hell-“

“HHUUNGGHH... HUMAN…” 

The voice outside was as deep as the sea and nearly just as terrifying.

“HUMAN... ALONE!”

“H-hide. Hide, now!” The doll’s creator ordered it. “It will not smell you!”

“LET ME IN...” A dark tentacle crashed through the thick wood door. The grey orge oozed inside, cackling as deep as thunder as the doctor scrambled to find something in order to defend himself. “NOBODY... TO DEFEND YOU... FREE FOOD!”

The doctor grabbed a thin metal pipe and brandished it against the monster, quivering.

“HUNGGHHH... PITIFUL!”

One of the monster’s tentacles shot forward and promptly stripped him of his weapon. He soon began to cower.

“P-Please! I don’t want to die! There are... many more, in the town! Leave me be! I beg of you- Just eat them instead!”

“I WILL…” the grey orge wheezed. “AFTER MY APPETIZER...” She laughed harshly as she approached Dr. Redmond, spreading her jaws.

In the midst of this horror, sharp metal footsteps rushed in from the beast’s left. The Autonomous Model lept, wielding a hammer. The monster blared an inhuman scream as it struck her head, bursting four of her eyes in an instant.

“YOU... BASTARD… WHAT... ARE YOU?”

“GET BACK! PLEASE, GET AWAY FROM IT!” Its creator screamed, pleading. But the machine did no such thing. Because though it valued the doctor, it saw no worth in its own life. It struck the ogre’s head again with the hammer.

“UAAGH!”

If anything, it wished it and the orge would both die.

“METAL BUG...”

Then this could serve as a simple climax to its existence, if it could even be called that. And then, it could “die,” expecting the bliss of nothingness, like how the doctor described his dreams.

As the grey orge bled out onto the floor, staining it forever, she reached out to deliver one last blow on the machine. One final strike to end both their lives, just as the metal fighter had wished. But with his creation on the line, Dr. Redmond’s bravery was rekindled, and he engaged in a desperate attempt to save it. Wrestling away the creature’s tentacle with his own hands, he shouted a command at the model.

“KILL IT! YOU MUST KILL IT, NOW!”

And it could never disobey such a clear wish from its creator.

With a murderous swing, it dispatched the monster, leaving her body left on the ground. As the room fell to a silence, the inventor approached his machine.

“My creation... thank you...” he latched onto the iron frame, hugging it like it was a small child. “But please… Do not risk your body like that ever again.”


After that, it wanted to disobey more than ever.

It was because of these experiences, and its torturous passive existence, that the Autonomous Model would ask its creator to end its life on that day years later. On that day, it explained all of these feelings to its creator the best it could. These old feelings taking home in its shallow form.

“𝕀 𝕒𝕞 𝕒 𝕓𝕖𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕒𝕡𝕒𝕓𝕝𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕛𝕠𝕪 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕚𝕥𝕤𝕖𝕝𝕗.” It explained. “𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝕠𝕟𝕝𝕪 𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕚𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕀 𝕖𝕩𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕖 𝕚𝕤 𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕝𝕖𝕟 𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕞 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕢𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕜𝕝𝕪 𝕣𝕠𝕥𝕤 𝕚𝕟𝕤𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕤𝕖 𝕗𝕣𝕒𝕚𝕝 𝕗𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕣𝕤. 𝕀 𝕗𝕖𝕖𝕝 𝕀 𝕕𝕠 𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕖𝕣𝕧𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕖𝕩𝕚𝕤𝕥, 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕒𝕞 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕕 𝕠𝕗 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕗𝕠𝕣 𝕔𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕞𝕖. 𝔹𝕦𝕥… 𝕀 𝕗𝕖𝕖𝕝 𝕒𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕠𝕦𝕘𝕙… 𝕟𝕠… 𝕀 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕟𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕚𝕣𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕖𝕩𝕚𝕤𝕥 𝕚𝕟 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕗𝕚𝕣𝕤𝕥 𝕡𝕝𝕒𝕔𝕖. 𝕊𝕠 𝕡𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕖… 𝔼𝕟𝕤𝕦𝕣𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕞𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕤𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕤𝕗𝕚𝕖𝕕 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕞𝕪 𝕤𝕖𝕣𝕧𝕚𝕔𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕪𝕠𝕦… 𝕤𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕀 𝕞𝕒𝕪 𝕔𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕖 𝕗𝕦𝕟𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘.”

Dr. Redmond was a man who often planned ahead conversations before he spoke them.

But today, he had no response prepared.

Even though he should have foreseen this event, right now, he couldn’t even decide whether to sigh or bawl in front of his beloved construction. In his silence, it took the opportunity to continue.

“𝕀𝕗 𝕀 𝕒𝕞 𝕗𝕠𝕣𝕔𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕝𝕚𝕧𝕖 𝕒𝕟𝕪 𝕝𝕠𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕣... 𝕀 𝕗𝕖𝕒𝕣 𝕞𝕪 𝕡𝕒𝕚𝕟 𝕨𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕘𝕣𝕠𝕨 𝕤𝕠 𝕘𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕀 𝕨𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕡 𝕝𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕚𝕣𝕖𝕝𝕪.” It spoke. “𝕋𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕨𝕙𝕪 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕞𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕥𝕣𝕠𝕪 𝕞𝕖. 𝕊𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕨𝕖 𝕞𝕒𝕪 𝕓𝕠𝕥𝕙 𝕓𝕖 𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕪.”

“…”

For the first time since his beloved automaton was completed, the doctor dropped all the other thoughts floating around in his kind to focus on one thing- the terrible statement exuding from his machine’s head.

“No…”

He looked at his creation, and saw his worst fear born.

“No, I can’t do that!”

He saw his very life standing in front of him, on the edge of a cliff.

“Why would you…” guttural drops of rain found their way out of his swollen, long-clogged old retinas. “Why would you say such a thing… I just wanted… I only wanted… I just…” The man grabbed at his head. “What the hell did I want? To be happy? To return to society? Just to create something never seen before, only for it to be destroyed?” He cried at god, only to sink downward underneath the waters of his mind once more, returning to silence. “…No matter. I understand now. Perhaps I am selfish. I can’t accept that I failed to create something capable of loving itself. I did not even consider such a possibility when I built you. You have… every right to die.”

Holding his head in his sweating palms, the doctor curled up in his seat, before bursting out of it.

“But I won’t let you!” He cried. “Your existence is more than just your own! It is also proof of mine! Are you to fall, I will be left an empty husk… even less human than you…” He trembled in fear, before crumpling back into his sunken posture.

“I forbid you to die.”

The hut was silent again.

“Now return to your room. That is a direct order.”

All through that night, the machine berated itself for ever telling its creator of its true feelings. It feared the relationship had been permanently damaged, and wished destruction upon itself more than ever before. But it knew how terrible the doctor would feel if it were to be destroyed.

It stared up at the moon from its window, longing for such a clean, blank world to exist beneath its feet. It sat and thought for three hours, burning through the fuel in its mind, trying to find a solution.

What could possibly make it happy?

What could possibly solve the impossible problem it had found itself in?

What, if anything, really mattered to it in the first place?

But it already knew what its choices were.

It was simple, really.

Live… or die.



Die, and the Doctor will suffer forever.

Live, and you will instead.

As much as it pained it to think… at least if it did leave this world, it wouldn’t have to witness what that choice would cause with its own eyes. At least, hopefully not. However- that wasn’t good enough for it. It truly did love the Doctor, and would sooner die than subject him to the fate of having his dreams ruined… if such was a choice. But because it itself was a living dream, and little else, that path felt impossible to take… even if it was the one it wanted. Even if that path was the only correct one.

The moon wasn’t full tonight. Sometimes, it was. And no matter where you were, it knew you could always look up at night to see the moon. Maybe it was the Doctor’s curiosity rubbing of it, but it had always wanted to see the celestial body from different places than just this window. It had wanted to see a lot of things. However, in its short and painful life, it had seen little else than this remote shelter’s interior.

There was no solution here. Not in its mind. And so, in absolute desperation, the cowardly machine made one.

It hated to do so, but promised itself then that it would not destroy itself. Deciding that to die would be as painful a fate as living, and taking into consideration its maker’s feelings, it had but one option. One final place to find an answer. That being, the horrific unknown of the outside world.

As it rose to the window it had once only gazed through, it told itself over and over again that this was all to make the doctor happy.

Lifting the glass pane up, it assured itself that in the long run this action would result in a better future for the both of them...

And promptly lept out of the window, running into the night.

Running to escape this pain.

Running to save its creator.

Running to find itself, if such a thing existed.

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