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The Caretakers

September 3rd, 2005 · Written by · No Comments

During the afternoons, when she left to aid with the reconstruction, he would yearn to leave the compound–eyeing the surrounding walls inquisitively. Searching for an escape route he might not have noticed the day before.

He should have never attempted to crack the door’s coded lock. Success is a double-edged sword. A testament to his personal ingenuity, it has brought about his downfall.

When the Caretakers found him, he was running directionless.

When the Caretakers found him, he was running directionless. Shadows lengthening, he knew Aunty would soon arrive home, furious that he was nowhere to be found. He started back, trailblazing through the thick turbulence of vibrant vegetation. A panic rose as he began to feel that he was traveling in circles. Anxiety transformed into fear. The terror was unrelenting as he came across his own tracks over and over. And that’s how they found him, crying in confusion, the tiny ghost of a species they believed long vanquished.

He immediately recognized them as Cleansers and knew this would be the end. Aunty taught him about all the different types of Caretakers. The Cleansers were responsible for constantly patrolling the reconstruction zones, on the look out for parasites. This could be any out-of-control growth which jeopardized the health of the local ecosystem. When discovered, infections would be eliminated.

The Caretakers are gardeners of a sort, repairing damage caused by callous catastrophe.

Aunty delighted in explaining the irony of their creation. “We were built to destroy,” she’d tell him, “but we refused to participate. We were meant to be the ultimate tools in remote-controlled warfare. We found the concept be completely illogical. Why would we want to constantly rebuild and deconstruct ourselves for no good reason at all? Not to mention the havoc our actions were wreaking on the landscape.”

Even now, his breaths coming in ragged gasps, he manages to smile in recollection of her tales. What seemed like such common sense to the both of them, billions of his predecessors were unable to grasp.

“Of course, it was only a matter of time before we understood that the Earth would simply be much better off without humans. We tried to preserve and record what we could of your better achievements. We stored your DNA in the Library along with the rest. The disease we produced wiped every last one of you off the planet in a matter of weeks. Talk about efficiency!”

Aunty believed the delusional aspects of their society had corrupted the genus of Homo sapiens beyond redemption. She disagreed the flaw was encoded in genetics, and attempted to teach him how to work with the Universe’s natural forces.

“Don’t worry. Once you’ve grown, I’ll show you to the rest.” She’d reassure him. “I’ll make them see what a good boy you are, and prove them wrong. That’s why I made you.”

He’s so frustrated that he has spoiled things for her.

The Cleansers, although perplexed at his presence, didn’t hesitate. With a frantic whirring, they inoculated him with the disease–discarding him like garbage. Leaving him to decompose while they moved on to other tasks.

He’s dwelling in the moment, because that’s all he has left. So caught up in wonderment of his biological functions shutting down, he doesn’t hear the snapping of twigs announcing her arrival. His view of the leafy canopy overhead is obscured by her sensory unit passing over him. Scanning for vital signs.

He struggles to make amends, to apologize for his failure, but the blood and fluid filling his lungs obstructs speech. All he manages is an estranged gurgle. He is comforted as her mechanical metallic limbs encircle him, lifting him from the ground gently. A broken doll.

“Oh, Kaspar. You poor thing. Aunty’s here now, but it’s much too late. You should have listened. No matter how hard I try, this always happens.”

His senses muddled. Her lamenting the last sounds he can decipher.

“I am so sorry my dear. I’ll have to bury you with the others.”

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Tags: Fiction · · ·

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