A matter of choice


I’m in a cold place. I don’t know where I am but everything feels cold; the white paint on the walls, the square tiles on the ground, thousand and thousands of them, neatly arranged with the precision of a swiss knife. It all feels so cold despite the tall windows letting in the sun and the warmth.

I shiver as I start looking around me. I notice it’s not only the tiles on the ground that fit like identical pieces of a big white puzzle. As far as I can see there must be aruond ten, fiteen floors, locked doors after locked doors piled on floors with the same locked doors, leading probably to other buildings like that, with square tiles, locked doors and wall high windows. I start shivering again despite the sunrays desperately wanting to me warm me up.

I can’t help it though. This cold, it’s all around me, it soaks through the walls, through the windows, the tiles and nothing in this building can warm me up. Except for the red colour on the doors, there’s no way life could grow on a place like this. Not on a place that felt like all life had been sucked out of it so thorougly and methodically, like a surgeon removing a tumour from a patient.

I started running away; I didn’t know where I was going, I had no idea how I came to be in this place at all, all I knew was, wherever I went, it had to better than here. It just had to. That’s when I tripped. I still don’t know how I managed that, it was all so clean and even, so disgustingly even, but when I tried to stand up again, my leg didn’t support my weight. It wasn’t badly broken, probably just a muscle strained, but enough to keep me from running. Enough to make me cry.

Tthat’s when I heard some faint noise, a door screeching, a faint buzzing. It was the first noise I had heard since I had arrived here. It was almost comforting, though it was clearly not a human sound.

It was better though than just being by myself and getting terrorized by this absence of life. It was a little robot, the shape of an UFO and the same paint there was on the walls, not just white, but the absence of colour. It drew out a syringue and before I had been able to cower in fear, the little droid had already injected me.

I was sure I had been poisoned but strangely enough my leg didn’t hurt anymore after a little while. I even managed to stand up again thanks the ilttle robot. I heard another buzzing sound and there was another one of these druids roaming around, collecting the tears I had shed with what looked like a straw.

A third time a door went up, but this time it was no mechanical helper whizzing on the ground, but a pair of shoes making a ‘slop slop’ and the sound of a cane hitting the cold tiles. I looked up and I saw a stocky man, bald-headed, constantly scratching his stubbly grey beard. He wore a thick brown coat and in his left hand was a cane.

He walked up to the robot and kicked it away. I shuddered as the robot made whincing sounds, the same kind a dog does when he’s hit. The robot tried to flee but the old man kicked it again and then squashed it like a cigarette. The robot started imitating the sounds of a dying dog until all life had been had been squashed out of it, with wires pouring out of the lifeless carcass.

‘Hey, why did you do that!’ I screamed. The old man turned around and cocked his head. ‘He’s a robot’. ‘And…’ I urged with a. movement of my hand. ‘And nothing, he’s a robot’ he said, imitating my hand gesture. ‘So….’ I invited him to go on. He shrugged ‘So nothing’ He pointed at the robot ‘he robot’. He pointed at himself ‘me human’. He shrugged ‘they’re robots’.

He took a tomato out of his pocket and smashed it on the ground. At once a cleaning machine came out of a door to clean up the mess. The man took a swing at the machine with his cane and smashed it on the wall. It never had a chance to whince, he went up in pieces from the impact. Their friends came out to sweep up the electronics. The old man shrugged again ‘I don’t see what’s so complicated’ He went after the robots, and everytime he killed one, another one came out of a door to clean up the mess, but they never attacked the man. He asked ‘You gonna help me?’ I tried to ask again ‘But.. why do you kill robots? Why do they keep cleaning?’ He scratched his beard again ‘Don’t know. Don’t care anymore. Been there far too long to care’ He looked at me again Now what, you gonna help me? Gotta kill robots’ He grinned ‘Oh, by the way, no sense in killing yourself, tried that far toooften, see?’ He pulled up his coat and showed me the numeral scars on his belly. ‘Makes no difference. You come back here’ He sighed ‘Everytime’ He bent down and in a matter of seconds he seemed to have aged 30 years….