The Ultimate Experiment

by Thornton DeKy

Public Domain

Science Fiction Story: No living soul breathed upon the earth. Only robots, carrying on the last great order.

Tags: Science Fiction   Novel-Classic  

“They were all gone now, The Masters, all dead and their atoms scattered to the never ceasing winds that swept the great crysolite city towers in ever increasing fury. That had been the last wish of each as he had passed away, dying from sheer old age. True they had fought on as long as they could to save their kind from utter extinction but the comet that had trailed its poisoning wake across space to leave behind it, upon Earth, a noxious, lethal gas vapor, had done its work too well.”

No living soul breathed upon the Earth. No one lived here now, but Kiron and his kind.

“And,” so thought Kiron to himself, “he might as well be a great unthinking robot able to do only one thing instead of the mental giant he was, so obsessed had he become with the task he had set himself to do.”

Yet, in spite of a great loneliness and a strong fear of a final frustration, he worked on with the others of his people, hardly stopping for anything except the very necessities needed to keep his big body working in perfect coordination.

Tirelessly he worked, for The Masters had bred, if that is the word to use, fatigue and the need for restoration out of his race long decades ago.

Sometimes, though, he would stop his work when the great red dying sun began to fade into the west and his round eyes would grow wistful as he looked out over the great city that stretched in towering minarets and lofty spires of purest crystal blue for miles on every side. A fairy city of rarest hue and beauty. A city for the Gods and the Gods were dead. Kiron felt, at such times, the great loneliness that the last Master must have known.

They had been kind, The Masters, and Kiron knew that his people, as they went about their eternal tasks of keeping the great city in perfect shape for The Masters who no longer needed it, must miss them as he did.

Never to hear their voices ringing, never to see them again gathered in groups to witness some game or to play amid the silver fountains and flowery gardens of the wondrous city, made him infinitely saddened. It would always be like this, unless...

But thinking, dreaming, reminiscing would not bring it all back for there was only one answer to still the longing: work. The others worked and did not dream, but instead kept busy tending to the thousand and one tasks The Masters had set them to do--had left them doing when the last Master perished. He too must remember the trust they had placed in his hands and fulfill it as best he could.

From the time the great red eye of the sun opened itself in the East until it disappeared in the blue haze beyond the crysolite city, Kiron labored with his fellows. Then, at the appointed hour, the musical signals would peal forth their sweet, sad chimes, whispering goodnight to ears that would hear them no more and all operations would halt for the night, just as it had done when The Masters were here to supervise it.

Then when morning came he would start once more trying, testing, experimenting with his chemicals and plastics, forever following labyrinth of knowledge, seeking for the great triumph that would make the work of the others of some real use.

His hands molded the materials carefully, lovingly to a pattern that was set in his mind as a thing to cherish. Day by day his experiments in their liquid baths took form under his careful modeling. He mixed his chemicals with the same loving touch, the same careful concentration and painstaking thoroughness, studying often his notes and analysis charts.

Everything must be just so lest his experiment not turn out perfectly. He never became exasperated at a failure or a defect that proved to be the only reward for his faithful endeavors but worked patiently on toward a goal that he knew would ultimately be his.

Then one day, as the great red sun glowed like an immense red eye overhead, Kiron stepped back to admire his handiwork. In that instant the entire wondrous city seemed to breathe a silent prayer as he stood transfixed by the sight before him. Then it went on as usual, hurrying noiselessly about its business. The surface cars, empty though they were, fled swiftly about supported only by the rings of magnetic force that held them to their designated paths. The gravoships raised from the tower-dromes to speed silently into the eye of the red sun that was dying.

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