R.O.B. woke up with a splitting headache, which he realized was impossible; since he was a robot. His head still bothered him none the less. He glanced around wondering what happened. One minute he was organizing the shelf on quantum physics and the next thing he knew he was waking up to a mess. He thought of being shocked, a feeling that he learned about not too long ago; in which a person is utterly surprised. At first, when he learned about the word, he thought it meant to be electrically shocked; he didn’t understand how a human would have been able to do that. R.O.B. thought that this was the perfect situation to be shocked. There were cracks in the ceiling running back and forth in the vast archives room. There were books strewn all over the place and bookshelves were toppled on top of each other. This would take a human lifetime to clear up. For some reason, R.O.B. felt his ‘headache’ get worse. When he was built, he was given the job of managing and organizing the archives collection and helping with research; hence the name Research Operations Biotech robot or R.O.B. the Robot. R.O.B. could learn as a human can, his ‘brain’ worked just the same, he even had the look of a human; yet he was a robot. He dug around the area searching for his communicator which he dropped when this all happened. He found it under a pile of books on gardening. It was smashed beyond repair. Darn, he thought. R.O.B. needed to get to the stairwell on the other side of the room and go up to the next level. He climbed over the rubble and got to the door. At first, it was stuck and with a little more effort he yanked it open. The stairwell was in darkness.

“Well, this is not good.” R.O.B. said to himself.

He switched on to night vision and went up. R.O.B. opened the door and was shocked again. Obstructing the doorway was a mix of blocks of cement, books, and metal. It was so thick that he couldn’t take a peek through a hole to see what was on the other side. He shoved at it, but there was no give. He decided to call out. There was no answer. He kept calling hoping that someone would show up and get him out. Some time passed and he gave up. R.O.B. went back down to his archives room. He tried to think of what happened. He remembered Cynthia the Boss had sent him down to work there for the morning and then go to the research desk in the afternoon after he had his break. What else happened? He was having trouble thinking with the feeling he was having in his head. R.O.B. touched his head and then looked at his hand. There was a little bit of fluid in his hand. He was hurt. He wasn’t sure if he should worry or not. Worrying is for humans, he thought. Yet if it was a bad injury; he might not survive from it.

“No, I refuse to worry.” He said out loud. “If it was serious, I would have shut down by now.” He was trying to convince himself.

R.O.B. distracted himself by reciting the numbers of PI. It was almost PI day, so it was appropriate. Even the year had the number 314 in it. Except for the 2 in front of them. This exercise pleased him. Time passed and he got bored with the reciting. I believe It’s time for my break, he thought. R.O.B.’s break consisted of him walking to the park across the library and watching people. He disregarded the other robots that passed and focused on humans. He wanted to be like them. He would copy their behavior and speech. When he went shopping, he would choose clothing that best reflected the people around him. He didn’t have hair, he tried wigs, but didn’t like them. He was fine with not having hair because he noted that there were people that didn’t have any. His whole break consisted of him imitating people. Looks like today he was not going to be able to go to the park. I’m going to sit here and wait until someone comes down to get me, he thought.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months; no one came down to get R.O.B. He didn’t understand why no one came. He stood up from where he was sitting. His joints were stiff, but with a bit of movement, he was able to get around easily. I don’t think anybody is coming, he thought. R.O.B. decided to accept the fact that he was going to have to either stay here or break his way out. His mind started to hypothesize scenarios. What if he stayed here? He could organize the archives again and have it ready for when people began to need it. Or what if he broke out? What would he find out there? Maybe this was all a joke. He knew that humans liked to play jokes all the time. He never understood them, yet this could be one. How would he know? What if it wasn’t a joke? What if he broke out and no one was around? Where would they go? Why would they block the archives and then leave? Maybe they are protecting it from someone or something? The word fear came to R.O.B.’s mind. He knew about fear and that it was a strong emotion for humans. Images flashed in his brain of what humans considered scary: spiders, ghosts, clowns, and deformed vegetables. He had fears too. He feared that someone wouldn’t return a book and that it would make a collection incomplete. He pushed that thought out of his mind. R.O.B. decided to do both. He would organize the room, just in case. Then he would break out. Satisfied with his decision, he got to work. He started from the back so that he would finish where the door was. It was slow work. He felt the best way to go about it was to group the books that he found into collections. He remembered how it was all organized. Slowly, the archives room was starting to look the way it looked before, the majority of the collections were in place and whatever was broken or damaged he discarded into a pile in a corner. R.O.B. came across a ripped newspaper clipping, it was dated about a week before he found himself stuck in the archives room. The headline read:


He recalled hearing about this on TV for some time. It seemed that the US was trying to make amends, yet it seemed dire. He read more of the article and then looked up. R.O.B.’s circuits kicked into high gear as he realized what happened. The US had been bombarded with nuclear bombs and he got trapped in when it blew up the library and the surrounding areas.

“This is terrible!” He said loudly. He shrugged his shoulders, imitating a sad human.

As the days passed, R.O.B. continued with his plans. He had the last book in his hands. It was a book on sapiens. He had read it before, along with all of the other books on the shelves. He began wondering what was going to happen with the world and if there were any survivors; when he noticed water coming in through the archives’ door. R.O.B. dropped the book and dashed to the door. Water was cascading down the stairwell. It didn’t take long for it to cover his shoes. I think I’m alarmed now, he thought. He noticed that the water was gushing through the cracks of the rubble in the upper stairwell entrance. How was he supposed to escape now? Perhaps the library is not entirely flooded, he reassured himself. Even though he is a robot, he can still get destroyed in water. He knew he couldn’t be underwater for too long. The rubble started to break and fall on top of the stairwell. This might be my only chance to get out, he thought. R.O.B. glanced back at the archives room, not knowing if he would be seeing it again. He raced up the stairwell and shoved at the blocks and debris. It gave and it toppled on top of him. He was slammed back into the handrails. The water poured over him onto the bottom level. It started to rise rapidly. There was a pause in the flow and R.O.B. used all his robotic strength to push through the doorway. He was chest-deep in water. The library had no roof and it barely had walls. Furniture, books, and other objects floated about him. He swam out into the street. Everywhere he looked there was water. It was as if a tsunami had occurred. Most likely the dam nearby ruptured, he figured. He detected low traces of radiation in the air. He swam past the park not knowing where he was going. Should I go back home? He wondered. There probably wasn’t a home anymore to go to. He trod water and thought of despair. That’s the appropriate word for it. He remembered seeing a poster that was popular many years ago of a kitten hanging on a rope; it was another one of those human jokes. Is that what despair is? Then he noticed a boat drifting towards him. There were humans on it, four of them. They noticed him. The boat stopped next to R.O.B.

“Are you alright?” A male child asked him.

“Yes, I believe so.” R.O.B. replied.

“Here, let’s get you onto the boat.” A man said to him.

The two men grabbed onto R.O.B.’s shoulders as the woman and child leaned back on the boat to keep it from tipping over. Once he was on the boat, the group paddled forth.

“What’s your name?” the child asked.


“Rob, you happen to be a robot? I thought I saw a code on the back of your neck.” One of the men asked.

“Yes, I am. I am a Research, Operations, Biotech. I was a robot that worked in the library.” R.O.B. explained.

They all glanced at each other, with what R.O.B. thought was relief.

“Well, Rob you’re going to be one of the ones that will help put this country back on its feet.” The man said.

R.O.B. smiled.

Photo by Laura Meinhardt on Pexels.com


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