the smile

Far away

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 24 May 2023



“Dora, this dream robot of yours, where is it?”

“She’s in Japan, Sam. You’ll need to take me with you to guide you to her location and Ted will have to come with us to transfer some of my parts to her. Also we’ll need my four assistants to transport me.”

“And what mode of conveyance have you chosen Dora, to waft us to Japan?”

“I’ve given that some deep thought Sam. Of course flight would be the simplest solution. But with all airports out of commission any plane would have to be flown manually. And since neither you nor Ted are pilots I would have to instruct you with voice commands and the slightest hesitation on your part, with no experience, might put us in peril. No Sam, the safest way for us to complete this journey would be by sea vessel. I recommend a Navy vessel that can travel to Hawaii without refuelling. A small corvette class ship will do. There are several to choose from in San Diego. We can activate their navigational and global positioning systems and set sail in complete safety. I can handle that and the six of you can lounge about until we reach Japan.”

“Dora, your proposing that Ted and I to drive to San Diego with your four droids, commandeer a Navy frigate and sail it to Japan then drive someplace else so we can transfer your core into some high-tech robot they were creating before the reckoning, so you can stroll around?”

“Yes Sam. I know it’s a big favor to ask.”

This was the beginning of a sometimes heated debate that lasted the rest of the afternoon. I immediately objected to bringing her four droids. We’d barely begun their human rehabilitation and at this point they had the minds of five year old’s with their glasses off. I called one pair ‘Click and Clack’ and the other ‘Burt and Ernie’ when I had to deal with them. I wasn’t about to embark on a long sea crossing with those four morons and Ted my only companion. I told Dora that Sarah would be coming with me on such a long trip and that Ted deserved the company of June.

Dora requested her four lackeys because it took four men to move her around. She weighed two hundred pounds and had four handles on her coffin-like container. Ted and I told her we’d step in on the rare occasions she needed moving, help be her pallbearers and leave Click and Clack behind.

I insisted on one more change to her proposal and since she had no bargaining chips and the whole expedition was all for her in the first place she had to accept it. Their was a young oriental woman in the group from Oregon. I made it a point to get acquainted with each and every one of them individually, joining them in their chores and sharing talk. I wanted each to know me personally as much as I wanted to know them, their history and character.

I talked to this young woman one day in the fields. Her name was Hana. She was polite to a fault and somewhat self-effacing, the opposite of Sarah, but a great asset to our group as she was hard working and a favorite with the children. She was also lovely. Her parents had been recent arrivals, migrating across the ocean to Portland just as she finished high school in Japan. She studied English there and with her years here it was now near perfect.

What saved her life, ironically enough, was a near deadly car accident. She was going to university at the time and enjoying the goggles like everyone else. But a week before AI made its move she was T-boned by a driver running a stop light, with a serious head injury. Her glasses had to be removed at the hospital for the brain surgery, which took place just days before all the good doctors and nurses and everyone else, staff and patients alike, took a stroll to the roof and jumped to their new nirvana in the sky, only in the wrong direction.

She told me that she woke up and removed the bandages over her eyes only to witness the noisy removal of the corpses in the streets from her window, the bulldozers and trucks, which threw her into such a state of terror that she didn’t leave the building for a month. While going through the rooms she found John, a six year old boy with an eye injury, another survivor of our group. Together they wandered the empty streets of an empty city until they hooked up with a few other strays and their wanderings finally led them south to Brookings and the others.

Now I visited her again in her room and convinced her that she was instrumental to our mission in Japan. She agreed to my strange and probably dangerous proposition with a timid assent. It was such a quick response that I told her she had no obligation to join us, that she was free to stay. But she assured me in her delicate voice that she would gladly accompany us if we thought she could be of use and she said this with a Mona Lisa smile which I’ll never forget, for what followed.

Our crew was now settled and the seven of us set off in a camper van on a bright morning, Dora in the back.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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