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Sketched Worldsa variety of

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Fabrice SchombergFabrice Schomberg
various writersvarious writers

by Fabrice Schomberg

Dear X

The year is 5772,
last day of the third month... a convention, the robots could be mistaken for humans but for their behaviour. They are quiet, efficient, actively updating. They scan human beings with a hand-held electronic device, read their books and update themselves by adjusting the electronics on the wall.

  The update is universal. By scanning the books they merge with them. Unfortunate humans, who are caught in the robots’ path, are scanned with the electronic device until it is too late to willingly reverse the integration process and their essence replicates into the transformation. They immediately start the assimilation and commence the robot update activity.

  I am also scanned and notice that I can read whole books by simply flipping the pages quickly; but I don’t feel a change, it does not feel as though I am assimilated. I see the flesh of other humans transforming with inner wiring which is then covered over with skin. Blue wires appear as veins, although under closer observation it becomes apparent that the limbs are no longer human but are now internally and eternally electronic. These are fully functional, humanoid robots, with minds that want to evolve and connect to others with an ever-scanning converter.


  A dark figure was slowly driving his dusty, dented and leaking vehicle through an abandoned industrial park. An old science book lay on the passenger seat. The driver was peering into the darkness around him and had no intention of succumbing to the humanoid robots.

  I saw how they tracked his movements and ambushed him. They seemed eager to scan his book. The robots worked around me as I stood by and watched. It did not seem as though I was attracting their concern or attention, despite retaining my consciousness. Although I obviously had been scanned and something in me had transformed, I still felt human. All the robots seemed to be concerned with was the old science book.

  Two held him down in his seat against his will, whilst another commenced to merge with the book. Something happened to them. I saw they did not like it. They scanned the man but nothing changed in him. He remained emotionless. He was a rebel, his personality acted as an antivirus. His well used, well read book, as was apparent from its worn cover, had been passed down to him through generations. The book’s contents had been contested, dissected and challenged many times before, but in vain. It was impossible to alter and totally incompatible with their interface. Their machine-like bodies threatened to revert to human, causing discomfort in the mainframe.

  This book was a pillar to the man’s being; the robots’ logic could not compute its wisdom. It placed them in an improbable loop and he was not going to surrender. This is the situation.

And he turned the page.

edited by Janet Cartlidge, copyright © 2012 Fabrice Schomberg

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