A fiction story by Melpomene based on characters and backstory created by Melpomene.

Questionable Beginnings

Mary stood on the front steps of the hospital. She had an appointment for that afternoon but she'd arrived too early to justify entering the building yet. She glanced down at the watch that was strapped to her wrist. No matter how many times she checked, it wasn't going to change the fact that she had an hour to kill before she was supposed to see the doctor.

Sighing, she tripped back down the steps and headed toward the park across the street. At least she could enjoy the fresh air until it was closer to her scheduled meeting.

The trees swayed gently in the easy breeze, tossing their leafy arms up to the warm sky. It had been a long winter and spring was a welcome reprieve from the icy blasts of frozen air that had seemed to never end. It had been a long winter indeed.

She walked slowly past the statues that lined the walk, their serious, stony faces watching in frozen disaproval and she kicked at the gravel beneath her feet. Probably they would have been greatly distressed by what had become of the world they had striven to help, had they lived long enough to see what it had become. But they weren't alive and so it made no real difference one way or the other.

A jogger passed her and she smiled in greeting as he nodded, a pair of headphones blocking out the singing wind while he bounded out of the park. Some things would never change, some things couldn't change.

She had found herself wondering recently what the point was to anything anymore. Nothing changed, it just moved in a loop, repeating over and over again. She had even voiced her distress to a professor and found herself on the receiving end of a letter from the hospital and a scheduled appointment.

She had been reassured that her meeting with the doctor would help her adjust. She feared it would merely make her forget. She didn't want to forget; the realization she had come to was too important to just sweep under the rug and disregard. It was far too important. Maybe she would be able to speak with the doctor before he began the procedure, maybe he would understand and be willing to help.

She wandered along the winding trails of the park until it was finally time to return to the hospital. The silence of the park was refreshing after a day filled with lectures and exams at the university and the anticipation of an evening filled with the noises of her workplace. Not a sound to disturb her save the whistling of the wind through the trees.

The doctor's waiting room was empty when she arrived and she sat near the door, reaching for a magazine to pass what little time was left before her appointment. She had only begun to read an article about deforestation when she heard her name spoken aloud.


She looked up from the glossy pages of the magazine and set it down again on the table, careful not to damage it lest the aging paper disentegrate in her very hands. Media had ceased to be printed when they had gone away, leaving only old magazines and yellowed pamphlets as memory. "Yes, I'm Mary."

She followed the doctor into another room, wondering how to broach her concern.

"How are you feeling today?" he asked, motioning for her to have a seat on the chair that sat in the middle of the room.

"Doctor, do you ever think that maybe they made a mistake?"

He walked across the room to the counter and pulled open an instrument drawer. "What do you mean?"

"Well, what if they did too good of a job." Mary looked down at her hands, studying the swirls on the pads of her fingers. "Maybe they should have considered the ramifications."

"What ramifications, Mary?" The doctor withdrew an instrument and closed the drawer again. He held the slender bit of metal up to the light befroe approaching his patient.

"Everything is just getting worse, we're repeating their mistakes. We were made in their image but maybe they were flawed." She dared to look up into the doctor's dispassionate face.

"I believe they knew what they were doing," was his only reply.

"What if they didn't? What if they were only interested in seeing if it was possible to create a few of us, a single group of automatons capable of emotion and reason? What if they created merely a replica of their already flawed personage, without introducing any improvements?"

The doctor walked closer to her, lifting the thick dark hair from the back of her neck and draping it over her shoulder.

"What if when we began to replicate more, we continued to copy the flaw within each replication? The humans wiped themselves out with their own selfish desires, they made this planet devoid of any animal life through their foolishness, through their weapons of mass destruction. We were created in their image, doctor. How long will it take us to wipe out ourselves? Should we not learn from the past mistakes, even if they aren't our own? Do you ever wonder what a living planet would sound like or even look like?"

The doctor hummed what might have been an appropriate response as he set to work readjusting the intricacies her circuitry. After a few moments he stepped away, smoothing her hair back over her neck.

"How are you feeling, Mary?"

Mary looked up at the doctor and smiled. "I'm fine, sir. How are you?"

He smiled and nodded for her to show herself out. Reaching for a folder, he noted the changes he had made. It was the newer ones who produced the most problems, had the most convoluted circuitry. He would have to write to the manufacturing house and suggest they remain true to the original blueprint.

They couldn't have these young ones rushing about determined to save the world. There was no world to save, at least there wasn't any more. The last of the humans had died more than a century earlier. They, the automotons, the android lifeforms were all that had survived that final battle, they were the last hope of a dead civilization to preserve itself. They were responsible for upholding the memory of the human race by living as the humans had, flawed or not.

Mary stepped out into the sunshine of the bright spring day. She was scheduled to report to the nuclear power plant for her shift that evening. Maybe she could spare a walk through the park first, it had been such a long time since she had been there.

the end

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