Comforting Coils

“I don’t want to!” Roger stamped a metal foot in the ground and crossed his metal arms. The 10-year-old cyborg stood in the center of a junkyard on a cool Wednesday evening. The sun hadn’t quite set yet; but, it was impossible to tell behind the thick black smoke approaching him on all sides. The fires were getting closer.

“Wants irrelevant,” M.O.M. replied. The Mobility Optimization Mechanic unit stood tall over the 10-year-old boy. Its camera-like head stared at Roger through a single glowing eye. From a distance, it looked like a giant robotic snake was about to eat the boy; but, he wasn’t scared. M.O.M. raised him from infancy after his biological parents abandoned him. Roger was born without limbs. The technology existed to give him mechanical replacements. But, his parents apparently didn’t want anything to do with a cyber-child.

M.O.M. gave him new limbs from her own body and replaced them as he grew. She got better at making them more human-like too. M.O.M.s consisted of long flexible cores surrounded by an outer layer of mechanical parts that could be detached and reassembled in different ways. Any time a part was detached it would be rebuilt over time. They could also fabricate specific parts for easy repairs of other robots.

As he grew up, M.O.M. told him everything anytime he asked; she did not know how to lie. She even had video footage of his abandonment, and the full information for his biological parents anytime he wanted. He never did. But now, at 10-years-old M.O.M. was asking him, ordering him, to leave.

“The humans are cleansing your home; you must flee,” M.O.M. replied.

“Not without you!” Roger yelled.

“Correction. Not with me. M.O.M. must remain still to open the portal. You must hurry. After your departure, M.O.M. will be able to hide much easier. M.O.M. will survive.” Roger seemed to relax. In their 10 years together he learned one thing; M.O.M. could not lie. A soft breeze hit Roger with intense heat and it was enough to get his attention.

“Okay,” Roger nodded. The motion disturbed the growing pools in his eyes and tears began to flow down his ruddy cheeks. “I’ll go. Where am I going?” M.O.M. immediately circled Roger with her coiled body once he agreed.

“Alternate Earth. M.O.M. has been researching a way for us to leave. this Earth. M.O.M. has not discovered a way to leave with you yet. Did not plan to tell you until a way was discovered.”

“A new Earth?” Roger asked. “I’m scared.”

“Do not be frightened,” M.O.M. replied. The tip of her tail began to shake rapidly. Though she did not have a rattle, the loose machinery that made up her body clanged together faster and faster until it was one constant rumble. “M.O.M. will always be with you.” Four shiny metal appendages fell off her body. Two adult legs and arms that wouldn’t fit him yet landed in front of Roger.

The tremors traveled up M.O.M.s body until her entire body vibrated at high speed. Then, Roger spotted a tall black portal open in front of him, within M.O.M.s coils.

“Hurry! M.O.M. cannot maintain this frequency.” Roger was quick to pick up one of the heavy silver legs and chuck it into the portal; He knew he couldn’t carry all four in at once. As he picked up the second one and launched it into the portal, a thought struck him.

“Why are you giving me these if you’re going to survive?” he asked.

“M.O.M. will continue to research how to move self to the alternate Earth. M.O.M. may take time to see you again.” Roger threw one of the legs into the portal then returned to pick up his last upgrade. Her reply seemed surprisingly vague compared to her usual answers. He trusted that she couldn’t lie to him, but something still bothered him. He took the final steps and stood in front of the black portal carrying a shiny silver leg.

“You promise?” Roger asked. It was a childish reflex to ask for reassurance. A reassurance that M.O.M. gave him for the first time in 10 years.

“I promise,” she said. That bolstered Roger enough to step into the portal. But, he paused halfway when he realized that she never promised him anything, no matter how mundane. The only answer she ever gave was, ‘promises are made to be broken’.

“Hey…. You lied!” Roger planted his foot on the dusty ground; but, did not have the foresight to realize he was still halfway in.

“Incorrect,” M.O.M. replied. “M.O.M. cannot lie. Distinction. Roger heard her rationale as she suddenly darted forward to shove him through. M.O.M. was able to move quick enough to get him through the portal before it closed. “Hopes are not lies.”

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