This summer I’ll continue writing my short story series ‘Alice in Numberland’, but before I do, I’d like to share with you a SF-like story I wrote several years ago. What motivated me to write it was, believe it or not, Edward Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. Gibbon’s work is pretty far from a short story (six volumes; 3500 pages), but it made me wonder: how can it be that one of the greatest empires in the world was ruled by such lunatics? Take Caligula, who made his favourite horse senator; or Nero, who set Rome on fire. Or that time when the emperor Commodus was killed by his own bodyguards who then sold the throne to the highest bidder – does it even matter who’s in charge? This blogpost contains the prologue to my story… enjoy!
“My name is CD-2. I am the second cleaning droid in a team of five on board the first manned interstellar mission that was launched from our world. Just as most other robots I can make zillions of calculations per minute. I can read, I can talk, I can even play chess. I am the first robot, however, that is programmed with a desire. The desire for cleanliness.
I am cylindrically shaped, about 50 centimeters in height, and have two horizontal, multi-functional appendages. These are probably best compared with what you would call ‘arms’. With them I can soap, sponge, brush, scrape, disinfect and deodorize. For stability, my designers have attached another horizontal appendage on the opposing side. This design has earned me the nickname ‘dinosaur’.
Most inhabitants of our world don’t really care about space travel. But for some reason they have given political power to a small group of people who do. Frankly, I was very glad to go on this mission, away from all the technophobes on our world. Often one of my kind would wake up to find an evil grin graffittied above his multi-functional appendages. Some activist had wanted to emphasize the dangers of a computerized society. “Those bots steal our jobs!” They claimed. Maybe if they’d just paint a wall instead of us, they’d get paid for it.
When I rolled down the assembly line, I was painted an eye-catching, reddish golden color. But not anymore. Now I am lying here, in a dank cave, covered in dust. How did it come to this? …”
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