The Android

Listening to a particular piece of the Forsaken OST, I decided to try my hand at writing something that wasn’t fanfiction for a change. It was refreshing, and I thought I’d post it.

Your thoughts and constructive criticisms are welcome and encouraged!

The only folks you saw in Cromwell’s Folly were either those lead astray in their search for a new life on the frontier, or those looking to get as far from civilization and the law as they could. I was one of the former- fresh out of the university and desperate for any job I could put the fancy new degree to use for. Had I perhaps been more discriminating, maybe I wouldn’t’ve gotten stuck on the sorriest excuse for habitable rock in the stars, freezing to death two-hundred-seventy days a year.

That’s what made him stand out, you see; one look, and you could tell he wasn’t some wayward colonist, or a desperate outlaw looking to hide from justice for a spell. I had just opened the door to my pitiful abode, returning from another day’s work at the pumps, when the crunching of footsteps in the wet snow caught my frostbitten ear. I turned, for nobody with common sense- my little self only possibly excluded- would have any business strutting about so late. A thin slice of deep orange along the horizon was all that was left of the sun at this hour, tinting the clouds around it with varying shades of red and pink. Thin shafts of evening sunlight peeked through the dreary veil over the dark sky, and across the alleys between the worn, prefabricated houses. Through these rays, I glimpsed the figure of a man, tall and lean, striding down the unpaved road at a pace as brisk as the winter air, leaving a trail of shallow footprints in the frozen earth behind him. The armored greaves- maroon in color- that wrapped themselves around his shins were spattered with dried mud, and clumps of snow clung to them as they were repeatedly thrust into and out of the stuff accumulated on the ground. The black and grey bodysuit underneath those greaves, and other pieces of walnut-colored armor plating on the man’s chest and arms, clung snugly to the man’s contours, and through thin tears in its outer layer I could glimpse the silvery, mail-like pattern of the composite mesh favored by mercenaries, bounty hunters, and others whose business warranted bullet-resistant attire.

The man’s head was uncovered, exposed to the frigid winds, though I doubted that the cold bothered him anything fierce. His flesh was a black, lightweight metallic alloy, painted red over the sharp features of his face: his flat mouth, lacking anything resembling lips; the rows of tiny pistons stretching between his jaws, forming his cheeks; and the raised, trapezoidal plate over his brow that fixed his eyes into a permanent glower. Those beady specks of electric-blue light scanned the streets and porches, and I got the distinct impression that I didn’t want to be what he was searching for. The armor, that piercing glare, and the eggshell-colored cannon holstered on his thigh, visible through the folds of a murky green serape woven into his suit’s shoulders and neckline, told me everything I needed to know without so much as asking for the man’s name.

This android was here to kill someone; I could feel it in my bones as sure as the cold that bit at my nose. Who, and why, I couldn’t guess, but as a rule I’d made a habit of staying out of the way of folks- particularly androids- with murder on their minds. Less of a chance of ending up murdered yourself that way, I’d figured.

Too late, I’d realized that he’d seen me. Those blue eyes stared intently at my person and sent a chill up my spine worse than anything this forsaken moon could ever give me. My heart thumped in my chest something awful as the android came to a stop before the stairs leading up to the porch. He moved his arms, and I flinched, thinking that he was reaching for his gun… but instead, he simply folded them over each other below his sternum.

“Evenin’, miss,” he greeted me in a low voice that croaked out of his throat like it was coming from an old radio. As he talked, a blue light flickered in his mouth, in time with each syllable.

“You know where I can buy myself a drink in this town?” he asked me. “I’ve come a long way, and I’m somewhat thirstful.”

“What’s a robot got business needing a drink for?” I blurted, without thinking. Immediately, I figured this must’ve been a rude question to ask, but the android didn’t seem to mind. His mouth spread into what I assumed was the closest thing to a smile its structure would allow.

“ ‘S the way I’m made, ma’am,” he said, unfolding his arms and shrugging his shoulders. “My body might be circuits and motors, ‘stead of flesh and blood, but I eat, drink, and breathe like the most of men.”

“That right?” I replied, struggling to hide my nerves. I’d always assumed the appeal of a mechanical body was forgoing the tedious processes of biology. What was the point if you stayed pretty much the same? A burning question, but another one that I worried may have been impolite- and didn’t want to draw the android’s ire. I still had to answer the man’s question, and so I pulled myself out of my thoughts and back into the present.

“A-anyways, the saloon’s on the other side of town. Keep on the main road for fifteen paces or so, then make a left. Should be easy to see from there.”

Not the best of directions- a flaw of mine, to be sure- but I wasn’t about to take his hand and lead him to the place. If the android was fixing to put that cannon of his to use on some poor soul, I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. For his part, the android accepted my vague course- granting me much relief- and gave me a courteous nod.

“Thank you kindly, miss,” he croaked, flashing that uncanny smile again.

“Take care,” he bid me, as he turned to face down the road again.

“Same to you,” I hastily replied. The android nodded as he rolled his shoulders, and I could hear the faint whirring of the motors in his joints as he started marching again in that deliberate stride, bound for the saloon as the sun disappeared fully behind us both. I watched the android for a moment longer, before hurrying inside. I’d just then remembered I was cold, and looking to get some sleep before making the trip to the pumps again tomorrow. But sleep eluded me that night, as I lay awake in my bed, pondering the intentions of the android, and more than half-expecting to hear the harsh crack of a gunshot splitting the nighttime air…