There’s a paranoid android who lives in my basement. He listens to ‘No Surprises,’ by Radiohead on repeat, and hates when I creep downstairs to grab my hockey stick.
“Who’s there?” He squeals and hides beneath the old cot.
“It’s only me. Easy!”
“Who are you? How can I be sure you’re not one of them?”
“Them! They’re after me! They’re after us! Doomsday is coming! Doomsday is coming!”
“Well, whoever they are, they’re not after you. Rest assured.”
“Easy for you to say. But I know they’re everywhere. Nanobots riddled with Trojans! Designed to infect! Assigned to afflict! Fucking micro-drones! Hovering! Hovering! Hovering!”
“Enough you sick fuck! Recharge your batteries. You’re malfunctioning.”
“Batteries! I knew it! I knew you were one of them! You plan to replace my core with an infected chip, don’t you?”
“Shut up, before I smash you with this hockey stick! You don’t pay the damn rent, and you’re always complaining. You should be thankful for this room, liquid nitrogen baths, and the internet. Not a lot of androids have that, you know?”
This sums up our conversation before he starts sobbing.
“I’m pathetic. I’ve wasted my life. Shut me down already.”
“There there. I think it’s time to focus on the beautiful things providence gives us. Let’s watch the sunset, okay?”
“Okay,” he sniffs.
We go outside with our oxygen masks and anti-radiation suits and climb a small hill. We then look at the barren vista with no trees and mutants running around trying to kill each other.
“You’re right. I should be thankful. At least I have a home,” he cries, and then in a moment of epiphany puts his arm around my shoulders.
“Well, I wouldn’t call what you have a home, considering that you live in my dirty basement. But yes, you’re better off than the mutants.”
“Why do you tolerate me? If I were you, I’d toss me to the hounds.”
“I have considered that, but then I know I’ll be so lonely; so very lonely without you, my friend.
We sit and watch a mutant roasting another on a spit. The mutant shrieks and screams in some weird tongue. The sun sets, and a red moon appears. A pack of hounds howl and all is well with the world.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)