Short Story: The Machination

Forty years had passed since the bombs had been dropped on the United States. The great plains that had once been thriving with life have been burned to ash, while the cities that once touched the skies had become nothing more than steel jungles that collapsed under their own weight as time went on. What the bombs did not destroy, the residual radiation did. Humanity had been diminished to nothing more than roving pockets of survivors, searching for the illusive sanctuary that would protect them from the horrors around them.

Along a broken concrete road, a young woman walked along searching for something that would help her survive. Tools, food, medical equipment; these items were more valuable to her than gold. She searched her surroundings, scanning the derelict buildings around her for something promising. But each of the stores around her appear to have been raided, now devoid of anything useful. She sighed as she knelt down to examine the contents of her beaten and worn satchel. All that remained of her supplies were a few rounds of .45 ammunition, a series of tools, a compass, a bottle of water, and a bottle of radiation medicine. She took out the bottle for a moment to check the contents, shaking it to listen to the rattle. From what she could tell, she only had a few pills left on her. She didn’t know why she still carried the pills on her, one way or another, the radiation was going to kill her. It had been a day since she ate the last of her food, a military ration pack of food that was past its prime. She didn’t know how her luck would play out, but she knew well enough that she would not survive without food.

Suddenly, she heard a sound coming from one of the side alleys. She turned quickly, her pistol drawn to determine what the source of the sound is. She soon figured out what was approaching her; a large dog that had been affected by years of exposure to the radiation. From its size, she guessed that it was once a Mastiff. Patches of its skin peeled off of its body, while scars from conflicts past decorated the rest. She tried to pull the trigger to put down the dog, only to find the pistol misfiring. She lifted her satchel and tried to back away slowly, but as she took a step back, the beast let out a large growl. Not taking any chances, the young woman sprinted as fast as she could to escape the beast. The mastiff began its pursuit, chasing the woman through alleyway after alleyway. She soon came across a steel doorway to a large concrete building that was once a quaint post office and saw it as an escape route. Reaching the doorway, she rammed the doorway, throwing it open and felt the impact in her shoulder. As she entered the building, she slammed the door behind her quickly and pushed one of the dust covered tables in front of it. The mastiff charged at the doorway, its body pounded against the door as it tried to catch its prey. The beast’s assault on the doorway echoed through the office space. The woman tried to catch her breath for at least a moment as she searched the small building for another exit. Unfortunately, the only other exit had long been buried by the rubble. From another part of the building, she soon heard a loud whirring noise. Fearing what could be coming soon, she went to investigate the sound. Uncovering the source, she was shocked at the discovery.

Under one of the piles of rubble, a large robot laid trapped, unable to move more than its arms. She recognized the model, an old Serias mechanical soldier, though she never thought that she would see one in real life. The machine looked up at the young woman and let out a screeching scream as an attempt to scare the woman. It tried to reach her with its long mechanical arms, but it was unable to reach her. Realizing it was unable to reach her, the machine decided to end its attempts. She looked down on the machination, unsure of what to do with it. Looking into its red eyes, embedded in its human like face, she saw abandonment and contempt in them. She felt sorry for the machine, unsure of who would leave it behind.

From behind her, she soon heard the steel door being forced open as the mastiff continued its hunt. She knew that she did not have long before the beast would broke through the door and hunt her down. Out of solutions, she rushed to the soldier and began to remove the rubble covering its body. Piece by piece, she threw the concrete and debris to the side, slowly revealing the machine’s dusty silver legs. The robot looked at her and tried to analyze the human that was helping it escape its imprisonment. She eventually pulled the last piece of concrete covering the robot’s body, exhausted from the labor. As the mechanical soldier began to stand to its feet, the mastiff broke through the door, forcing itself through the small space. It eventually saw its prey, standing in exhaustion in the room adjacent. In a rampant fury, it rushed to the young woman. The soldier picked up on the mastiff charging at the woman and reacted, picking up the dog by the throat as it approached the young woman. It let out another screeching scream at the beast as it tried to escape from the robot’s grip. The soldier slammed the dog against the floor, shattering the dirtied white tiles lining it before it threw it to the wall. The mastiff let out a whimper from the impact and struggled to get back onto its feet. The machine walked over to the mastiff, its heavy footsteps echoed in the store with each step. It picked up the broken dog and heaved the beast to the floor one more time to finish it off.

The young woman slowly approached her savior as it stood there over the defeated beast. As she walked closer, the soldier turned to face her. Unable to speak out of fear, she simply nodded in appreciation to the machine. After a moment, the machine looked around and walked back to the pile of debris that once imprisoned him. It moved the rubble in the farthest corner with relative ease and pulled out a beaten can of food. It returned to the woman and handed the can over to her as it nodded back to her.

Having survived the encounter, the young woman left the desolate town with the Serias soldier, content that she would not be travelling the sparse roads alone anymore.

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