Zyz’s Syzygy

Zyz awoke staring straight into the sun through a shattered skylight. Full charge. Elapsed down-cycle: 14:11:55.25.

She remembered now wandering the tunnels for days in the dark and then scrambling to find a place to recharge before a forced shut down. In the end she’d had to tap into the aux capacitors to stay conscious; there would be some memory loss for that, and probably not the last such sacrifice she’d make. She didn’t want to think about that.

She stood up and examined her surroundings. The midday sun dropped pillars of light at regular intervals. She was in some sort of bridge between buildings—apparently she’d gotten above ground level at some point—naturally lit by a series of skylights. The ash and debris and glittering shards along its length indicated the skylights had all shattered, probably simultaneously. The ceiling was too high to climb out of one of the windows like exiting a submarine, so her only choice was to continue walking.

The wide walls of lunar concrete stood sturdy between the gentle archways of the ceiling. While the thick, somewhat hubristic windows had succumbed to shock loading, the walls didn’t bare even the scars of microfracture. Built to last. The blocks of rooms within this building were more repetitious than most, but he furnishings made everything clear. This was a hospital.

Up ahead, in another circle of light, she saw a hard-suited figure.

A survivor?

Zyz rushed over to the body and flipped it onto its back. Dead. Male, mid-to-late-thirties. It looked like he’d fallen in through the skylight from the way his body had been positioned. The suit’s faceplate was cracked, and a down of frost-crusted stubble covered the permanent expression of anguish within.

She looked away to find herself inches away from a pair of brightly lit teal eyes. She dropped the body and fell backward in airless silence. The eyes belonged to a short, stubby bot that looked like a snowman built out of rust-colored cylinders. It stood on two legs, and each section had a face and a pair of arms like a two-foot-tall totem pole. It took a funny step forward and looked her up and down.

Zyz gathered herself up and kneeled before the bot. She sent it her identification electronically: 2119 BLM Androne Model ZYZ, Serial L44-D12-X08. It stared at her for a moment, and then sent back a static burst of bleeps and bloops.

This thing only speaks basic. Ugh, fine.

She dropped down into code and found out it was tied into the hospital’s administrative system.

“Come with me,” Zyz offered (in basic).

“I must tend to the patients.”

“There are no patients,” she said. “All of the humans here are dead. Maybe everywhere.”

“Negative. I must tend to the patients.”

Zyz tried to reason with the poor bot. “There is no air left. Humans require air to survive. Therefore, there are no humans.”

“Negative. The quarantine chambers have separate dedicated atmospherics—for obvious reasons.”

What?! “You’re saying there is a live human in this hospital?”

“Negative. Three live humans.”

Oh, God. “Take me to them. Now.”

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Vicki Leversedge (Saidge42), used with permission.

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