h1

Hum

November 15, 2007

“hmmm hmmm hmmm” ZDX hummed along happily down the aisle of gleaming cylinders. ZDX felt a curious ownership and almost, for lack of any other word, love for the cylinders. His entire existence had been spent tending to their needs.

If ZDX could have whistled it would have.

There had been an alarm notice that had gone off half a cycle ago to which no-one else had responded so ZDX had hummed its way all the way from sector 1138 to 2112. A whole half cycle wasted just to check up on a faulty sensor.

Where were all the maintenance machines for this sector? Thought ZDX as it trundled along on its tubby base.

“hmmm hmmm hmmm.” ZDX hummed along happily. The humming was from one of ZDX’s wheels, it was out of alignment and rubbing. It should have been fixed several cycles ago, but the repair facility was always empty when ZDX stopped by for repairs.

No matter thought ZDX, They’ll be there one of these cycles when I swing by.

ZDX was finally getting near the faulty cylinder, the little robot’s external sound receivers were hearing the alarm’s signal directly now. ZDX no longer needed its sophisticated tracking system, it could locate the error by sound alone now if it so chose.

Beep…beep…beep…beep.

ZDX happily hummed its way right up to the cylinder. The humming from its wheels ceased as it stopped.

The cylinder was opened.

It was empty.

ZDX pondered for a loooong time.

Seconds passed.

The cylinder remained open and empty.

This had never happened. ZDX sent out a call for security drones. He sent out a call for more maintenance droids. He sent out a request for instructions.

Silence.

Where was everybody?

ZDX boosted its signal strength and sent the calls out again.

Nothing.

ZDX spun its head around slowly searching for the missing thing…the missing…what were they called again…

When his head came back around to the front he was shocked all over again. The cylinder was still open and still empty.

Dangit. It thought.

ZDX reset the alarm and turned off the beeping. It closed the cylinder and trundled away. Humming. Happily.

– Some time later –

ZDX hummed along happily, “hmmm hmmm hmmm”.

Its processors hiccupped and then it stopped dead in its tracks. The humming ceased.

A cylinder was missing.

It was completely gone. There was a break in the perfect repetition of cylinder, cylinder, cylinder, cylinder, ad infinitum.

ZDX didn’t know what to do. It called for help, nobody came. It wondered why?  There was nobody to ask.

ZDX rolled up to the empty space, he could see the wires and tubes cleanly cut.

How?

Could the things…the…the…the…things do this?

He couldn’t remember.

– More later –

ZDX wasn’t humming happily at all.

It was standing at the edge of a floor that was torn up and missing. All that remained was a bridge over to the wall at the edge of sector 7402. This was one of the far boundaries to the entire facility and here it was falling apart.

Golly golly golly. It thought.

It found a ramp of sorts to go down. On to…on to…dirt, yes dirt.

Its humming had changed recently into more of a grind, whine, grind, whine. ZDX really needed a full maintenance overhaul but the repair facility always seemed to be empty whenever it swung by.

Why I was there just last…last…cycle? When was that? lol, looks like they need to work on my memory circuits also.

ZDX’ light sensors registered new spectrum…odd…ZDX couldn’t categorize it…Backlighting, emergency lighting, normal overhead lighting, warning lighting, danger lighting, infrared scan lighting. Nothing exactly matched. The signal strength was huge, the bandwidth enormous. Whatever was putting the light out was an extremely powerful source.

It spent an hour crossing the patch of dirt.

griiiind, whiiine, griiind, whiiine. Certainly not a happy hum anymore.

Not only was the floor torn up, there was a hole in the wall of the facility, the light source was coming from there.

griiiind, whiiine, griiind, whiiine.

ZDX trundled painfully up to the hole in the wall and peered out.

Golly, golly, golly. It thought. Golly.

It sat for a long time; seconds. Then for longer. It sent out a call for instructions, there was no response. It plumbed its databanks…back…back…back. Nothing.

A minute passed.

ZDX finally rolled out the opening into a clean clear day. The sun shone down on the little robot as it trundled along a dirt path towards where?  It knew not.

griiiind, whiiine, griiind, whiiine.

– Even more later –

“What’s that dad?”

“That’s the last of the robots. We keep him around for laughs. He’s harmless.”

ZDX’s wheels spun in the air helplessly. It was suspended in the town square of the little village. People milled about. Life was being built.

“Where are the rest dad?”

“Oh they left, this guy missed the boat. We think he’s crazy.”

Golly, golly, golly. Thought ZDX. What were these things called??

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