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A De/composition

In those few seconds, the light from the other side blinded me.  The road evaporated; I drove on instinct.  A black hole blossomed in the brilliance, off centre.

The truck passed and I could see what had happened.  A bug had died against my windshield.  The blotch in my vision spread, but I kept on; full tilt into the winds of progress, faster than a human should ever go.  I should have stopped, we should have at least slowed down –


Inconsequential. The recon-and-recovery unit dropped the scrap of paper back onto the corpse.  The message contained no code or vital information about human resistance, or valuable data that could be archived.  It was a subjective recording of a meaningless event.  The droid harvested the watch, necklace, radio, and the eyelets from the boots, and moved on.


For a long time the message lay dormant; trampled, overgrown, but protected by the remains of her waterproof jacket.


The new-generation salvage android probes the mud.  [Directive: locate and retrieve high concentrations of metal and mineral for recycling.]

From a bundle of useless cloth, it recovers the spring and nib from a shattered pen. It untangles a few bones that haven’t been carried off by scavengers.  It removes a cellulose sheet from one bone.  [Discard.]

[Hold. StopDiscard]  Its sensors are alerted by faint but regular markings.

It gently frames the scrap in its spindle fingers and holds it up to its scanners.  It attempts to reconstruct the damaged sections.

[Symbols.  Pattern: unrecognised.]  It processes, the calculations intricate and cumbersome. [NoMatch.]

[Find?] queries the voiceless transmission.

A drop of rain falls onto the scrap and turns it to pulp in the android’s hands.  It lets the message fall.  In the mud, the cellulose disintegrates.

[NoFind.]  It closes the file, and moves on.




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