300-word story: An intelligent machine finds itself all alone in the world.
When the last human died of natural causes, her robotic attendant found itself without a purpose. For centuries prior it had walked across the sparsely populated lands, seeking new home after new home, but now there was nowhere left to go.
Due to the uncompromising nature of its logical brain, the robot had long understood that the scattered remnants of the human race would soon disappear entirely. Regardless, the sudden discontinuation of the species caused an unfamiliar reaction within the unfeeling machine. It was not anger or sadness, as its programming was incapable of such emotions, but there was a clear sense of loss and an urge to fill the void.
Forming a plan, the robot set up a laboratory inside an ancient church. The symbolism was not wasted, as the automaton fully recognised that life would be created where humans once worshipped an omnipotent creator. However, it did not believe in such things; its choice of surroundings was based on the spacious interior and natural coolness, nothing more. Eventually, with infinite patience, the robot began its mighty task.
The intelligent creatures that now call Earth their home are not too dissimilar from those that came before them. They tend to their farms, raise families, make music, and construct increasingly sophisticated dwellings. They also argue over trivial matters and bear unnecessary grudges, traits that the robot found impossible to remove.
It will be many generations before these beings discover how to split the atom and harness solar energy, if indeed they ever do. Until then, they habitually thank their maker for bestowing on them the gift of life. That is why this strange new version of humanity will survive far longer than its forebears, as none dispute their origin, nor will any shed the blood of others in its name.
Copyright © 2020 Rich Sutherland