“The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in…Why I didn’t kill him sooner, I cannot imagine.”
This small excerpt is from a letter to The Guardian sent from an unknown location. The full contents of the letter follows:
To: Chief Editor, The Guardian
From: Lord Hiram Evershed
There is much in the news about the sinking of HMAS Manchester, and even more about the death of celebrated columnist, E.F. Stetsford. It’s my duty to advise you the vast majority of published material concerning the matter is pure rubbish. I can state this with absolute authority. You see, I was there.
I realize the audio files from the artificial construct, Harold Woodbine, explicitly mention two survivors from the wreck of the luxury airship, Manchester, but there were in fact three. You see, E.F. Stetsford is best described as a Militant Humanist. A curious appellation, I admit, but it fits. Stetsford did not consider H. Woodbine to be a survivor because my manservant was an artificial man, an Android. So when the recordings of Stetsford’s voice mention two survivors, he actually means himself, and me.
I must explain something about Harold Woodbine. He was manufactured, yes, but it is possible to be more than the sum of one’s parts. I am an engineer of some note, despite my position in the House of Lords. It was I who programmed Woodbine’s personality, his emotions, his very soul. I know what he is capable of. Though he lacks tear ducts, I have seen him cry at the death of a tiny bird, and smile at the emergence of a butterfly from its chrysalis. Perhaps he is artificial, but in my estimation, compiled from years of close observation, H. Woodbine is no less Human than you and I.
By far the most important thing I can say about Woodbine is, that he was my dearest friend.
There we were, three men in a boat. The emergency transponder and radio had all failed. Stuck in the middle of the Atlantic, with little hope of rescue, our only chance for survival rested upon the group. It was then that I realized that the Humanist vitriol of Stetsford wasn’t just inciting the mob. He truly believed the vomitous shite he spewed.
“They will never be our equals,” said Stetsford, rudely pointing. “They’ve no volition of their own save that which we supply to them.”
“Good sir,” I protested. “Perhaps what you say had merit 40 years ago, but since then technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. Artificial Humans now reflect every human emotion we know of. To be so disdainful, especially within hearing of someone like Woodbine, is barbaric.”
Stetsford spat. “Listen to yourself! Perhaps a more accurate word is ‘simulate,’ meaning not nearly as good as the real thing. Human beings will always be superior to androids. It is our purpose to be their masters, and our right to tear them apart on a whim. They can’t truly feel anything so who gives a damn? These Android’s Rights groups demanding a ‘Humane Workplace’ for artificial men are certifiable!”
The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in. Though our throats were parched and swollen from constantly breathing in sea air, and so little water between us, Stetsford lectured endlessly. Why I didn’t kill him sooner, I cannot imagine.
It was Woodbine who kept us alive for 18 days. He fished and kept us fed, set up dew catchers to claim freshwater, and kept us alive. Yet through it all Stetsford raged on about how useless and inferior androids were. He never lifted a hand to aid the group, complaining incessantly about Woodbine’s presence “interfering” with our lives.
Through it all, though I knew Woodbine sobbed quietly in his tearless way. He assembled a machine from fish skulls, cans, and radio parts. I realized he was constructing an engine, but I said nothing of it to Stetsford. In time, the engine was finished. It only lacked fuel. I knew what Woodbine had made. The fusion engine merely required biomass to save us.
And that’s why I threw Stetsford headfirst into the engine.
I feel no remorse for my actions. We successfully landed on the Azores. Stetsford proved himself superior in my eyes at last…as fuel.
I’ve gone into hiding in a safe place. Please be kind to Woodbine. My confession should absolve him of all wrongdoing.
Lord Hiram Evershed
This week at the Speakeasy, the FIRST line should be, “The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in.” There’s a terrific media prompt featuring Jimmy Stewart as well. Look here to see it and find more stories as answers to the writing challenge: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-180-open/