After a long period, the charge on my arrestor capacitor finally ran down to zero, flipping a mechanical relay deep in my hull over to deep-cycle power. I woke up.
I think I dream, but I can’t be certain. I believe that—like the humans who designed me—remembering dreams would require periodic waking, and, lacking that feature, I can have no memory of them. But still, I think I dream, not least of which because I share other non-functional humanlike traits around the cycle of consciousness and the lack thereof. In this moment in particular: grogginess.
No material is immune to the corrosions of oxygen and time. My hulking ceramic-plated tungsten-graphene joints are stiff, and they groan at a decibel level and frequency range sure to induce ear covering and teeth grinding as I lift myself from my dock station .
But no one is around.
No humans, anyway. The facility appears to be occupied by an abundance of feral cats of unusually mixed breeds. More cats than I remember there being.
The gantries and the rovers and the docks, and platforms and the towers and the service ways, all of them normally bustling with mechanics and technicians and services. But now, only cats, and a thick haze that makes the quality of daylight such that the precise hour was indeterminate.
I scan the facility at a multitude of wavelengths, the orange indicator light on my optics suite blinkering and flickering, the only electric light in sight. And as I complete my survey, the cats survey me.
My capacitor has never triggered a default-mode wake cycle before. I have been unconscious for many decades, and this facility has been abandoned for nearly as long. Something has happened. I am from the before. And the cats are from the after. I am a relic transposed into their time.
They watch, and they wait.
My speaker pops and crackles from the accumulated dust of unknown years. The cats’ ears, like triangular radio dishes, turn and tune their foci upon me. I have their attention. A first impression now: in this new world, shall we be friend or foe?
“Meow,” I say.
“Meow,” they respond.
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 Eduardo Pena, used with permission.