ToysThe planet had one city; the rest was jungle. The city resisted the jungle and wept glass tears. The robot hung in geosynch orbit above the city. 2000 years before there had been an archeology craze on a planet in a galaxy far away. Two brothers had purchased the robot, told it to "find something" and sent it out into the universe. The brothers had long since died, their descendants had forgotten the robot. The robot descended, landing on the outskirts of the city. Its rocket exhaust burned away some of the jungle from the edge of the city. One of its landing pods punched a hole in the sidewalk. On the long journey from the edge to the core of the city, the robot detected no movement or sound except the occasional shattering of window glass torn loose by time and wind from the city's skyscrapers to plummet to the pavement far below. In the central core there had been a ghetto. The robot moved through a crazy quilt of shacks and shabby buildings squeezed between the tall steel and glass buildings of the richer city. It entered one shack. Time spun about the shack like a spider. The robot grasped an object from the floor. Six stubby appendages paired in three groups stuck out from a vaguely cylindrical center. A patina of dust that once might have been cloth stuck to the object. The robot moved out of the shack with the object. High above it, a pane of glass fell from a window. It fell as the robot examined its find, and it shattered directly over the robot's central computer. Something broke. The object slipped from the robot's grasp. The robot did not move. The city resisted the jungle and wept glass tears.
28 Oct 2009; 29 Oct 1996
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