She Whispered Salix

She+Whispered+Salix

Elizabeth Tornincasa, Writer

“Students must know all 7,041 languages by the end of graduation and change to the robot 530.”

The chair squeaked under Salix as he sat down. All the metal life-like beings turned to look at him. Salix wasn’t popular, per se. Being a concealed animate organism in a class of inanimate objects full of life, Salix was fascinating. The only one in the class that could breathe and couldn’t see without glass plates in front of his eyes. His hair, being the only one with hair, was brown and sat on top of his head with slight curls. He wore the same uniform every day—an iridescent white long-sleeved top with long black pants and very fitting shoes. He carried a bag with three things in it, a water bottle, a communication device, and an extra pair of glasses, just on the off chance the ones he had on broke.  He was tall and slender. His skin was pale with freckles.

“240 hours before you all start your jobs, so today we will be looking at job training stations.” Salix looked at the training stations, he didn’t know what he was going to do. Humans could only work for so long and there were few jobs open to them. He could build robots, design robots, or research what humans did before technology. Research was all Salix had done for the past 13 years, so he figured continuing that would be his best bet. He already knew somethings about emotions and everyday rituals among his kind before technology advanced. None of it truly made sense to him, like why humans would prioritize creating more humans and what emotions were.

The station was one of a smaller one, but no one seemed to notice. The boundaries could be seen from the human center, the building in the middle of the city. Almost every building had a purpose, whether it was considered useful or not was up to the construction robots. They built the buildings and were specialized in the usefulness of them, so they could determine that fact. Some buildings were kept strictly for educational purposes. One of which was the little red house. Aiko loved going to it. Being a caretaker of a human required him to know as much about humans as possible and going to a former living area of a group of them was one of the best ways to learn more about caretaking. Today they had a showing of what some humans used to prioritize. Aiko watched as the hologram lady walked through the room with the machine called a vacuum. Aiko was the only one there, but he found it fascinating how a machine could suck up dust in order to provide a clean-living space.

“Our dwelling could use some cleaning” Aiko thought. “I shall head back to clean the dwelling in a timely manner.”

The world itself had plenty of buildings like that, but only one per station. Some robots devoted their time to research and traveled all the stations in order to see all of them. Education was the most important thing to all robots. It made them more intelligent and helped to give them purpose. Salix favored it.

“Ok, go to your correct training station.” The instructor was informative, as they should be. They handed Salix the key to the back room with the human training stations. Salix turned on the light and looked around. It was dusty, and the technology was at least 700 years old. They had given up on finding a human to raise a long time ago and didn’t update anything they had. Salix was the first human ever to be raised in station 72003. He walked over and turned on the translucent levitating 3.0 computer software system. It was ancient, but he knew how to use it. He had studied technology so old it was related to the iPhone, so he had no problem with this. The computer was see-through, so someone on the other side could work with the other person for something that used to be quite popular. It was called a group project. Two or more people would work in a group to study a particular subject and make the assignment. He had seen them in an app-book; of course, no one in his class or any class in any station would do something so absurd. Everyone was expected to know all there is to know; otherwise, they were useless. If there is no history created, everything stays the same all the time, the world is at peace, and everyone knows everything because there isn’t anything new to be taught. The only new things that would be accepted are knowledge of past human life forms. Finding new things about them would be accepted, nothing else, though. Salix wanted to be the one to find the most about humans. Not because he was one, but because he found them fascinating as well. Salix saw himself more like a robot than a life form. As he saw it, there wasn’t anything special about him. The computer lit up, and Salix started his training module. Just the regular stuff.

“Look under the correct category of app-books to find history on human children.” The computer spoke in a British accent with a clear voice. Salix could understand any language with any accent, so he didn’t think anything of it. The training course went by quite fast as he answered all the questions and possible scenarios correctly. He walked out of the small room at his dismissal time. All the student robots stayed for at least five more hours until power-downs, but humans needed rest time and time to refuel. Salix walked out of the classroom and onto the sidewalk beside the higher way. He stared down at the glass road with robots zooming by him. None of them had wheels, instead they stayed about a foot off the ground, “less frictions equals more mobility,” he thought. “Thats what the famous scientist Lindon Kim said in the year 3022, 3000 years ago” Salix had a brain that hardly rested. He looked up as a robot came hurdling towards him but quickly changed direction. His face didn’t change. He always had the same regular face 24/ 7. He wasn’t sad; he wasn’t happy, just emotionless. He looked up as Aiko came to a quick stop.

“Hello, sir,” he said

“hello,” Salix replied.

“Was your day informative and eventful?” he asked

“Informative, yes. Eventful, no.” Salix replied. “And you?”

“Eventful, yes. Informative, no.” Aiko replied.

“Would you like to discuss the eventfulness of the day on our ride back to our dwelling?” Salix asked

“Yes, that would be performing small talk, which makes me a more human-like companion, which means I am making you a good human,” Aiko replied.

“Okay then, but I much prefer a robot companion over a human one,” Salix said.

“Well, today I cleaned the dwelling in order to provide a more comfortable resting space for you. I also restocked on orange paste for protein; green paste for vegetables; blue paste, fruit; and beige paste, carbohydrates. The five food groups, which ensure that you grow to become a healthy human.”

“Thank you, Aiko,” Salix replied.

“Yes, of course, sir.”

Salix looked out the window at the big world full of robots and hovers, higher ways, buildings, but no one like him. Not a single soul. Salix didn’t care though, he hardly noticed. He found it more effective to have a robot as a companion. Robots showed no emotion, and therefore they wasted no time crying, laughing, or getting mad. This provided more time for work which Salix immensely enjoyed. Aiko pulled onto another higher way and into a building. Salix looked at all the doors which contained robot dwellings. Down the narrow hallway, they went in their hover—doors on either side about 50 feet apart from each other—finally, room 53300. The door opened, and the hover entered. It parked in its charging station, powered by sunlight. Salix looked out the glass wall that faced the city. The sun was going down, and he could see hovers and robots riding on higher ways going somewhere that he wouldn’t know. The dwelling was small but relatively modern. It had a small kitchen with magnet hovering tools attached to the floor so Aiko could move efficiently. His power down platform was in a big room. It was surrounded by tiny lights that hovered at different heights. The platform was soft and was full of greys and light blues. There were speakers on the ceiling to provide white noise. Aiko powered down in a power station that charged his battery and updated his software. The room was slick cut with blacks, browns, whites, and greys coloring the room. There was a restroom for Salix to the right of the room. Salix sat at the counter as Aiko zoomed around the food prep room, placed the paste on a tray, and then warmed it to a comfortable heat. The paste rose and created a food-like texture for Salix to consume. Aiko placed the tray in front of him, and Salix ate it. Afterward, Salix started his routine cleaning himself, laying out his uniform, and putting the uniform he wore that day in the washroom. He cleaned his teeth and put on his nightclothes. They were a navy blue color and made of silk. He went and crawled onto his platform, and Aiko covered him with a cloth to provide warmth.  Aiko paused with his metal fingers next to Salix’s fingers of flesh. What a weird comparison, the completion of the shiny metal next to a human’s white veiny hands. Aiko didn’t think too much on it, but it was quite an interesting thought.

“Have an effective power down, Aiko,” Salix said

“And you as well, sir,” Aiko replied.

Soon Salix was in an adequate power-down state. He saw complete darkness as he closed his eyes. The white noise rang in his ears. It sounded like waves of something, maybe just sound. He was warm under the cloth, and he drifted to a clear sunny day. He started to hear something, then see something. It was something that was covered by the light of the sun. He heard a voice. It was light and softly moved through his ears.

“Salix”

He tried to see something. The voice tempted him into confusion.

“Salix”

He heard a female’s voice. Her voice was sweet, like it couldn’t hurt a soul. It felt warm and loving; in all of Salix’s vocabulary, the only word he could find to describe such a feeling was comforting. He heard her giggle.

“Salix silly, you can’t eat that!”

She was laughing.

“Salix, I love you more than you’ll ever know. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Something felt nice about it. Like she wasn’t lying. Nothing would happen to him, or at least not if she could help it, and she’d do everything in her power to do so.

“Salix”

“Salix”

“Salix,” the voice whispered.

It was calm and felt so kind, but there was something off about it. Something wasn’t right. The warmth went away, and all he could feel was a chill that ran up his spine. He heard something faint. Something that didn’t sit right with him. He wanted desperately to know who was calling his name. Who felt so warm, and why weren’t they there anymore? He woke up in a cold sweat. He got up and wet his face, then dried it. He looked at himself in the mirror.

“Greetings sir, how did you rest?” Aiko asked

“Fine, and you?” Salix replied

“Fine…is something wrong sir?”

“No, why?”

“You didn’t tell me how effective your power down was.”

“It was 100% effective.”

“It’s never been 100%…”

“Well, how was your power down?”

“89% effective. The updates were slow, and the charging station took a second to work. Now heres your breakfast; we will be going now.”

Salix ate quietly as they rode to school. Aiko kept looking in his direction.

“I’m sensing unsatisfaction from you, Salix.” Aiko finally said.

“I’m perfectly satisfied.” Salix responded.

Aiko stopped the hover in front of the big building, and Salix stepped out.

“See you later, Aiko,” Salix said

“See you later; make sure to have an efficient day, sir,” Aiko responded.

“And you as well,” Salix said.

“I bid thee adieu.” Aiko said

“I bid thee adieu.” Salix said with a slight smile.

Aiko watched Salix walk in the building with the slight smile and thought of all the times he had watched him walk in before. Aiko wasn’t a very big minded being. He didn’t overthink things, he only thought logically. That’s what he was programed to do, although sometimes he didn’t feel like he was programed to do anything, like it was a choice to wake up every day with a positive attitude, or at least he wanted to believe it was a choice. He had always found humans fascinating and delightful, but he had never seen any other humans, and he knew why.  He knew what Salix was raised to do and as much as he didn’t want to believe it, it was a fact with some sort of logic behind it. Aiko knew he’d miss him though. He started up the hover and drove down the long narrow higher way. The sun was rising, and things were starting up for the day. Stores, museums, centers, everything. Everyone needed to make the world as normal as possible to ignore the facts of the case. Everyone knew, except for the one being that could change the outcome.

The instructor gave him the key to the back room.

“We will be working again today,” they told him.

“Okay,” He responded, seeming ready to work. Salix figured if he could start working, the vision wouldn’t matter anymore. He got in his room and started with his research. He found some astonishing things. According to the programming used, humans used to transfer themselves into robots. Their personalities and identities and such were transferred into the robot so they would live on. Robots were programmed to feel emotions, he knew some robots were built from parts and some old programming from way back then, and he wondered if some robots could still feel emotions. This stirred up curiosity, and he soon forgot about the vision from his power down. He kept his research up on the topic and soon it was time to go. He stepped out of the room and out to the hallway. He went out the big double doors and onto the sidewalk. Aiko was already there waiting.

“I didn’t have much to do, so I came early to pick you up,” Aiko said as Salix stepped into the hover.

“Wonderful,” Salix responded. “Do you think we could make a stop by the app-book building and the human center for some books and information? I found some astonishing things, but I want to confirm them before releasing them to the public,” Salix said.

“Why not? We’re quite early, so we might as well,” Aiko replied.

They rode in the hover first to the app-book building where they got plenty of A-Sticks. They were long and skinny. Salix pressed the open button on each of them and up popped a hologram of the book. He flipped through all the pages to make sure he got the right app-books. Each of them worked perfectly and had the information he was looking for. He put his name and the date down on the checkout page, and they left for the human center. As they walked in, Salix looked at the enormous statues of humans on either side of the stairway up into the building’s entryway. They walked in, and there were thousands of robots looking at the different exhibits with different types of humans in holograms. There was original art, music made by human composers, instruments played and used by humans, various exhibits with other jobs done by humans; they had it all. They even had a section on diseases and illnesses humans used to get. Now that humans were immune to everything, this seemed quite odd that they’d get sick from bacteria and such. Salix headed over to the exhibit with Tarisa Riddle, the first human to make a robot of today’s time. There wasn’t much on how the robots were made or what people did with them, but it showed a hologram of her, and the first robot was on for show. It didn’t work anymore, but it was still educational to see. Salix took some mental notes on the deformed robot and they left. When they got back to their dwelling Aiko started on Salix’s meal while Salix cleaned himself, put his dirty uniform in the washroom, set out a new uniform, and put on some night clothes. Salix ate his paste, cleaned his teeth, and got onto his platform. Aiko covered him with the cloth and tucked it underneath Salix to secure it.

“Have an effective power down,” Aiko said

“And you as well,” Salix replied.

Salix closed his eyes and soon everything was dark. He could hear soft music in the distance as he drifted away. He was back in the same setting as the night before. The sun glared keeping him from seeing anyone or anything. The only thing he could see were leaves, they were falling on Salix across a blue background. The sun created a golden color to the leaves and the air. Salix looked around the world he was in, all he could see were trees. The glare was gone now, and he could explore his surroundings. Salix looked at his hands, they were small, but he still had his long fingers. He started walking, but his legs were quite shorter than before. He couldn’t control where he went now, it was more like he was in for the ride. He could see the trees get a little taller as he looked up, like he had sat down. He picked up something, it was brown and hard. It had little plates aligned on it the sides lined up facing up but were a little lifted off the center. It was long and oval shaped. He saw it disappear towards him and soon he could taste something. It was disgusting. Salix could not process why he would put something so nasty in his mouth. Then he heard it, the voice. She giggled and his head turned. He couldn’t escape the glare that came over her.

“Salix silly you can’t eat that.”

He could feel her take the object away from him. Tossing it on the ground, she told him tht pinecones weren’t food. She took his hand and walked with him. He had trouble putting one foot in front of the other. He wobbled as he walked and eventually fell to the ground.

“Oh, Salix!”

She picked him up and set him back on his feet. He looked up at her hidden face and reached for her. She bent down to pick him up , but before reaching him he watched as she grew farther and farther away from him.  Darkness consumed Salix and this mysterious woman was gone. He couldn’t see her, the trees, not even that beautiful sun glow. He wanted desperately to go back. He wanted answers. He woke up in a sweat again. He felt like he couldn’t breathe.

“W-What is this?” he whispered. He got up and got ready. He sat at the counter staring at the dark room where his food was prepped until Aiko woke up.

“Goodmorning sir…” Aiko said

“Good morning” Salix replied.

Aiko fixed Salix’s morning meal quietly.

“here you are.” Aiko said.

“Thank you.” Salix ate his meal and after grabbed his bag and got in the hover.

“Ok I’m guessing you are ready to go now.” Aiko said getting into the hover. They rode to the education building in silence.

“Bye Aiko.” Salix said.

“I bid thee adieu.” Aiko said. He thought of the first time Salix had learned the phrase and tried to say it, and instead said I bid thee a doo. Aiko smiled, thinking of it.

“I bid thee adieu,” Salix said. He grabbed his bag and watched as the doors slid open. Salix walked inside the big building into the vast empty room with a hallway to the left. He went to the right slightly into a door.

“Goodmorning,” the instructor said.

“Goodmorning,” Salix replied. He grabbed the key and went into the back room to continue his research. As he worked, he thought of the vision.

“I wonder…” He whispered to himself. He started typing very quickly. The screen couldn’t quite keep up. He looked up at the search bar, it read, “trees” He scrolled through the websites and links provided, he clicked on one that said, “Maps” There, it showed a dotted line across a vast landscape of which he called home. Through the station and past many educational sites, there was a forest full of the trees he’d seen the night before. He copied the image and transferred it to his device. He finished his research from the day before and then told his instructor he would be leaving early. He said goodbye and was on his way. He left through the back and onto the ground. He started walking northwest. He went by the humans center and by the store where Aiko bought his paste. He went by many buildings before reaching a place where the stations platform ended. It went from glass and concrete to green lush blades of grass. He started walking across the grass and soon reached a tree and then another and another until there was an abondance of them. It was quiet, no sound of any hovers, or robots entering in codes. No sound of metal clanking against metal; just peacful silence.  He touched one of the branches on a tree. It was a rough texture and had leafs at the end of the branch. The sound of water came from far in the distance. He started walking towards the sound and found a long narrow body of water flowing down into an enormous body of water. He touched his finger tips to the top of the water. It was cold, but not freezing. It felt nice. He stuck his whole hand down into the water.He rolled up his sleeves and stuck his arms in and splashed it around. He went in a little further. It was a little warmer now. He sat up on his knees. He felt his knees go out and he lost his balance. He fell face-first into the water and started flowing downstream. Although he had been taught the correct movments of the arms and legs to swim, he had never practiced. He kept his head up over the water for a second but quickly went under. He scrambled while his heart raced.He moved his arms in unison, pushing himself up. He took in a big gulp of air and screamed right before going back under. He kept trying to push himself up, but nothing worked. He soon lost the air he had taken in, and his eyes closed. He lost all consciousness. It was dark, completely dark. He was cold and he sat up. He was back in the forest, but not in the same part when it went dark. He was back to being short. He heard something, and he turned around to someone picking him up. There it was again, that face trapped by the sun’s glare. He grabbed her brown hair and held it in his fingers.

“Salix, come on we have to go.” Her voice sounded worried. She was moving pretty fast but stealthey. She avoided every leaf that could make a sound, she didn’t go into the water. She was running and hiding. She held Salix’s face in her shoulder as if she didn’t want him to see something. There was a slight breeze that made it quite cold. She didn’t seem to care about the temperature, though. She stopped to catch her breath. As she puffed out, air Salix reached for the mist that was created. She smiled at him.

“I love you, Salix, more than you will ever know.” She held his head to hers. As she backed her head away, she held him close. He heard her gasp as she turned looking up.

“SALIX”

“Salix?!” He felt someone shaking him. “There, open your eyes.” Salix coughed and coughed. Water spewed out of his mouth.  As he looked up, Aiko was looking down at him. “What are you doing out here?”

Salix sat up and looked around. The trees seemed taller, and the breeze seemed cooler. “Do you hear me? Why are you out here, Salix?”

“I-I just” Salix started to speak but couldn’t finish his thought.

“You just what?” Aiko insisted.

“I don’t know.” Salix sighed.

“I feel as if you are not telling me something that is important to the well-being of you, sir,” Aiko said with a worried face. Salix looked down without saying anything.

“It’s best if I assist you to a medical professional, like a doctor. I need to make sure that your lungs don’t have any more water in them and that you can breathe correctly.”

“I do not wish to see any medical professional,” Salix said.

“Salix, please do not refuse, I wish to help you.”

“Well, that won’t help me.” Salix got on his feet and started walking towards the station.

“What is going on with him,” Aiko thought. “They’re probably already on their way…”

Salix walked down the hallway to the dwelling, still soaked. He shivered a little as the breeze flew in. Down and down past several doors and finally to his. He opened the door to another robot inside.

“Aiko, are we supposed to be expecting visitors tonight?”

“Yes sir,” Aiko said, closing the door behind them. Salix heard the click of a lock. He turned to look at Aiko who was standing guard at the door.

“Aiko?”

“Sorry, sir, but we need to check your lungs, I don’t want anything to happen to you.” Aiko said

Salix hesitated looking at the floor. He was confused and contemplated his thoughts, but with confidence he looked up at Aiko.

“Neither did the woman.” Salix said. “The human woman.”

“What?” Aiko started inching closer to him.

“The woman in the forest. She doesn’t want anything to happen to me.”

“Salix. Please sit down.”

Salix did as he asked; he wasn’t mad at Aiko he was just confused.

“What are you talking about, human woman?”

Salix looked up at Aiko’s concerned eyes and sighed with fear.

“P-Please help me,” Salix whispered.

Aiko sat beside him, patting his back, “There there,” he said.

The doctor came up to Salix, scanning him.

“The human’s brain is hyperactive, but there seems to be no damage from the water.” The doctor reported.

“Good,” Aiko said curiously.

The doctor got into the hover he had arrived in and sped off, closing the door behind him. Aiko turned to Salix.

“So, is there a human living in the forest?” Aiko asked.

“I think so” Salix replied.

“When did you see her?” Aiko asked

“When I was drowning. Her voice is pretty.”

Aiko looked at Salix, confused.

“I think we both need to power down. You look cold so go clean yourself up, and I’ll cook your paste.”

Salix did just that, and after eating his paste, he cleaned his teeth and sat on top of his platform. Aiko tucked him in and got into this charging station.

“Have an effective power down.” Aiko said

“And you as well.” Salix wished.

Salix was worried that if he closed his eyes, he’d see her again. He sat up, running his fingers along the hem of the cloth. He looked over at Aiko, who was charging. His stance always did make Salix a little uneasy as a kid. Seeing a robot who was asleep but standing up wasn’t typical for wherever Salix came from before. He never knew his origins or what made him. He never questioned it, though. Robots were all he had known and, in his mind, were superior. He could feel his eyelids get heavy, so he laid down and looked up at the ceiling. It was shiny and beige. He could see his reflection in it when it wasn’t dark. His eyelids felt as if weights were attached to their ends, and he could no longer fight the erg to power down. It was dark, as it always was. He looked around and soon the darkness faded into water. The sound of it running was soothing. It was crystal clear and he could see the dirt and rock bottom. There were little fish swimming downstream. He put his hand in the water, farther and farther down. He went through the water and the ground. He came up on the other side feeling as if he couldn’t breathe. He heard the voice.

“DON’T TOUCH HIM!”

It was full of fear and anger. It was raining, the sky was dark, and he could feel a breeze. It was cold. He could see the woman standing in front of him. There was something far away, but whatever it was, it was coming fast. He was on the ground, shivering. His point of view got up and hugged her leg. He felt scared. She pushed him back.

“I love you, Salix, but I have to protect you.”

He stepped back and back until he fell into the water.

“SALIX!”

He sat up in his platform. Aiko was sitting on a chair at the end of his platform. His left leg was over his right, and his elbow was sitting on his knee. His head, with a concerned look on his face, sat in his hand.

“You have started showing more and more emotion every day. You haven’t shown this much emotion since you were little.” Aiko said.

“Yes, well, so have you,” Salix replied.

“You also seem to be rebelling more; I think we need to go back to a doctor.”

“I do not need a doctor, Aiko. I need sleep, and I’m not getting it.”

“What’s prohibiting you from sleeping, sir?”

“These visions, Aiko. I fear someone is calling me, and I fear I need to listen.”

Aiko had a worried, almost scared look on his metal face. A robot then walked through the door.

“Oh good, you’re here,” Aiko said.

Aiko gently picked up Salix and stood him up in front of the robot. The robot scanned Salix several times then projected hologram graphs.

“This is Salix’s body and his brain seems to be having several hyperactive episodes. I hate to say it, but your human is broken.”

Salix’s eyes widened.

“No no that can’t be right; he just can’t sleep. Maybe it’s insomnia?” Aiko suggested.

“My purpose, the reason I was built, is to assist humans in their medical needs. I came from the station adjacent to this one. I brought all the chips that can possibly give me past knowledge of human diseases. Of all my knowledge, research, everything, all I can say is that your human is broken. The only other word for it I can think to call it is insane. I know nothing else, nor do I know how to fix him.”

The doctor was right, his purpose was to help humans with medical needs, he knew what he was doing.

“I suggest keeping him here in your dwelling. Powering down may help. He could have something called sleep deprivation.” The doctor suggested.

“Ok, thank you,” Aiko said.

The doctor got into his hover and left. The room was silent. Aiko looked out the glass wall at the station as Salix sat down on his platform.

“You know, this station was built 1000 years ago, and it still looks brand new. Some of the buildings might not have a purpose anymore, but it’s still cool to see them and know that they were a part of the original build.”

Aiko said, turning around to find Salix asleep.

“He needs it,” Aiko thought. “But just in case…”Aiko typed a note, it read, “I’m off to find your old station to get your original records. I should be back within 4 hours” He left the hologram message on the counter in the paste prep area. He got into the hover and left. The room was silent, and Salix was sound asleep. The white noise moved through his ears. It was dark and full of nothingness until the light pierced through. Soon he was back in the place that had started this mess. The trees swayed as the breeze rushed through. It was warm. He looked in the distance to see that life-filled being walking towards him. Still, her face was hidden. Her brown hair whisked past her shoulders, staying in a tilted position. She knelt down and picked him up. The leaves fell, and she caught one. She lightly touched his nose with it and then set the leaf on top of his head. She held him close. His eyes opened, and he was back in the same room with lights hovering over him. The speaker played the white noise. He turned his head to the glass wall facing the station. He sat up and looked around. He knew what he had to do. He got up and got dressed. The note glowed as he read it; he felt as if he could focus for the first time in months.  He didn’t feel like eating; he grabbed his bag with his water bottle, glasses, and his communication device. Salix turned around and looked at the dwelling he had been raised in for 13 years. He looked over at Aiko’s note again.

“You’ve been a good caretaker Aiko, you really have. Goodbye.” Salix smiled, stepping out of the door. He went down the hallway and out onto the higher way.

“He’s not okay,” Aiko finally said. “He’s not acting appropriately, and I don’t know what else to do. Do you have any suggestions?”

“Let me take a look at him.” The doctor said. The ride to Aiko and Salix’s dwelling was long. Fifty-nine thousand seven hundred eighty-four stations were quite a lot. The times changed with each station, but the scenery looked the same. Finally, they reached the dwelling.

“Salix, the doctor must see you now,” Aiko said, entering the dwelling.

No one responded.

“Salix? Doctor 5130 is here to see you; his purpose is to help you.”

The room was as silent.

“Salix?”

Aiko knocked on the restroom door.

“Salix? Are you in there?”

No one responded. Aiko opened the door to find an empty restroom. Aiko walked inside and looked around, behind doors, in the storage compartments, the shower, he looked through it all, but Salix wasn’t in there. He walked out to the doctor standing patiently and unsure of what to do moved next to the door that lead out into the hallway. Aiko looked at the doctors blank face, then to the kitchen. He went through everything calling his name

“Salix??”

He looked in the trash, through the storage compartments, everything and once again, no Salix. He went over by his platform and looked underneath. He looked in the storage compartments where Salix’s uniforms and night cloths were kept and in the ones for his shoes. He opened the door and looked out into the hallway. He looked in every possible place that Salix could be in, but he found nothing.

“Maybe he had to go back to the education building. I will go look,” Aiko said.

Aiko got in the hover and, waving goodbye to the doctor, who would stay in case Salix returned, drove away. When arriving at the education building, it was dark, and the instructor was on power down. Aiko looked around the classroom and in the backroom. He looked around the building, even in places he knew Salix wouldn’t or didn’t go. Aiko knew his purpose: to raise a well-working human; if he didn’t do that, he had no purpose. Salix was nowhere to be found. Aiko didn’t know all the details of insanity, but he knew there was little he could do without all the knowledge of it.

Aiko got back in the hover, he went to the store and looked in there, he went to the human center, no Salix, he went to the app-book building, no sign of life. Aiko went to the meeting center, the place where he first met Salix. As he walked through the big room of complete emptiness, the memory came back. Aiko was a freshly built robot. His parts were the newest on the market, and he had been to all three years of school and job training. He grabbed his briefcase and top hat to look more human-like and walked into the big building. There were thousands of robots, all trying to go somewhere or meet someone. He went over by entry 6150. It was big and had a vast hallway down to a door that connected to a higher way. The door at the end of the hallway opened, and Aiko got up. He adjusted his top hat and picked up his briefcase. Down the hallway, he could see a robot holding a tiny toddler’s hand. The toddler walked in such a funny way as if he couldn’t quite get one foot in front of the other. Aiko was in awe; he had never seen a human child this magnificent in real life. Such a sight for a young robot. The robot holding his hand came down and stood in front of Aiko.

“Are you robot 6700435?” The robot asked

“Yes, but I go by Aiko; it’s more human-like,” Aiko responded.

“Ah, I see brilliant; you want to be more compatible with this human.”

“Yes, does it have a name?”

“Yes, it is of the male gender, his name is  Salixian Eythor. He has no last name. Salixian is hard for the human to pronounce, so we call him Salix, its a ritual among humans known as the ‘nickname'”

“Astonishing,” Aiko took Salix’s tiny hand in his.

“Well, make sure to carry out your mission and raise a well-working human!”

“Thank you,” Aiko said, waving goodbye to the robot.

“Come on, Salix, you don’t know this yet, but I am your caretaker, and I will be making you into a good human.”

Salix cooed at Aiko as they started walking to the hover. Aiko stood in the big empty room staring at entry 6150. He felt absolutely useless. He had failed his purpose and lost his human. He did something wrong; maybe he didn’t create enough small talk, maybe he should’ve tucked him in tighter at night. He wanted to go back to tuck him in tighter. He wished he had asked more questions or just held that toddler’s hand a little longer. He could still hear his little voice saying Aiko for the first time. He couldn’t pronounce it, but he liked the way he pronounced it. To listen to that little voice one more time is all he wished. Aiko didn’t care about carrying out his purpose anymore; he just wanted to see Salix or at least say goodbye. Aiko sat on the steps outside of the meeting center looking over the dark city. He felt a pain inside him, like his wires had been ripped right out of him.   The station was dark, the sun would be rising soon and businesses would be starting up. Museums would be open, construction would take place, curiosity would fill the station, and even areas outside of the station. He looked over towards the trees. Nature was something he’d seen before. The wind blew, tossing his hair, creating a madded mess. He fixed it and kept going. He set down his bag; he wanted to understand what nature truly was in all its glory. The sun created a golden mist that sat within the forest. The birds chirped; he could hear water running off in the distance. It felt very calm to be in such a place. It had such a charm to it, it was indescribable.

“Salix,” a voice whispered. A voice, the voice.

“The voice,” he whispered, hardly being able to talk. He started running farther and farther into the woods.

“Salix,” the voice kept whispering.

“Hello?!” he yelled frantically. “Who’s there?!”

“S-Salix?”

The voice didn’t whisper this time. This time it felt close. He knew where it was. All he had to do to know was turn around. To get the answer to the one thing that had driven him into insanity. He didn’t want to though, what if he was hearing things? What if the robot was right? What if he was broken? He could feel his feet move. His left, then his right. His body followed in the path his feet had set and his waist did a full 180° rotation. His head had no choice but to turn with his waist, he wasn’t some creature like an owl that could keep his eyes from seeing the truth by keeping his head turned behind him. A feeling, the feeling, it came back It was hazy, like the vision he had. She stepped out of the glare she had been trapped behind for so long. Salix tilted his head as he saw her. Her identity was unknown to him, but her face was one of a feeling… comfort.

“You’ve been haunting me,” He said. “You’re in my visions during power-downs. Are you in my station?”

She suddenly had a wet substance running down her face from her eyes.

“I’ve researched this…you are crying; I think that’s what it’s called.”

She wiped her eyes, but it did nothing, the tears kept running down, falling on the ground, and she soon could not keep her stance and fell. Salix stood looking at her, then, remembering the ritual of helping, sat on the floor with her. He patted her back.

“there, there.” She collected herself and looked up at him, gently touching his face with her hand. She had long, thin fingers like Salix. Her face looked older than Salix but not old. She wasn’t an elder. She wasn’t wearing anything fancy, just a black shirt and black pants. Her toes were showing out of her shoes, but her shoes weren’t ripped, it was like they were supposed to show. Her hair was brown, and her eyes were green— emerald, green like something he’d never seen before.

“Such a pretty color of the iris,” He said.

She smiled. “You did get your father’s; eyes, didn’t you?”