Human Hands by Ernie Luis

The guard shoves me into my prison cell and slams the door shut behind me. I don’t even bother looking back. I’m happy to finally have the restraints taken off.

I look up and my eyes scan the room, sending me some data.

Ten by fourteen foot room. 236 hours left of power in those dim lights overhead. Three beings in the room. My cellmates.

Gelatinous exoskeletal alien species on my left, sleeping on the top bunk. What kind of crime could a Blob commit to land in here? Interesting.

Another species on my right. Seated position. Looking at me. Rock-hard exterior. 89% chance he’s an Astro, a species from the asteroid belt. Best to keep my distance.

The third being in the corner, unidentified species. Hmm. Peculiar. I give my sensors some time to perform a deeper analysis.

I walk over to the empty bunk underneath the Blob. A bit of his slimy discharge leaks through the frame. I try my best to ignore it.

Analysis complete, the red lettering pops up on my HUD. Human. Male. Age: 25-30

What? That can’t be right. Re-analyze, I command my brain.

The creature is nestled in the corner, his face covered by the shadow, his back against the wall, slouching over his legs, playing with something in his hands. Looks like a pebble.

Analysis complete, the red letters return. Human. Male. Age 25-30.

No. Impossible.

“Hello,” I say. “You, in the corner. Are you human?”

The outline of his face in the shadow nods. “Mm-hm.”

The inner workings of my metallic skull whir.

“I thought your species was extinct,” I say.

“You shouldn’t believe everything the Overseers say.”

I consider his answer. Perhaps he’s right. Any data can be falsified. Fabricated. How foolish of me.

“Why are you here?” I ask.

He shows me his palms. “Same reason everyone’s here. I got caught.”

“But this is a maximum security prison on the edge of the galaxy. What makes you so dangerous?”

“Hey,” the Astro grunts. “How dare you! That is an officer of the Resistance−”

“Shh,” the human hushes him. The Astro grumbles and returns its eyes to the door.

“Why are you here, robot? What makes you so dangerous?”

I look down to the floor. Fidget in my seat. “The Overseers,” I say. “They’ve declared war on my kind.”

“They deemed you a threat to peace and order in the galaxy, didn’t they?”

I look back up at him. “Yes. How do you know that?”

He leans his head against the wall. “Wasn’t that long ago we humans were deemed the same thing.”

I can feel the sparks going off in my electric brain. I begin to wonder about the genocide of the humans.

Would you like to know more? My mind asks.

Yes, I answer.

Images and videos pop up on my HUD. Executions. Bombardments. Men. Women. Children. Slain by the millions at the hands of the Overseers. Is this the same fate my people will suffer?

Close history, I command my brain. The images and videos end. Leaving me numb.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “We had always been led to believe you were a barbarous and uncivilized species. So we robots never intervened.”

The human shrugs his shoulders. “It’s okay. I understand.”

A silence lingers in the cell. My thoughts trail off, and I begin to wonder.

How many humans are left? I ask my mind.

Insufficient data, it answers.

Guilt stings my metallic chest. No one came to their aid. And no one will come for us. How many more genocides must there be before we band together against the Overseers?

“Hey, Human,” I say.

“Yes?”

“Why do the Overseers fear you so much?”

He leans forward. Emerges from the shadow. Shows me his face.

His dark eyes capture me in their gaze. I’m trapped under their spell.

Run analysis, I command my brain.

My eyes scan his. I’ve never seen such an intricate creature in my life. My thoughts run wild.

Who created the humans? I ask my brain. Who was the first?

Insufficient data, it answers. Damn it.

“You really want to know why they fear us?” the human asks.

“I do−”

An explosion sounds off outside. The light in the corner of our cell flashes red. A voice shouts from the speakers overhead, “Breach! We have a breach!”

Sirens blare. Alarms sound off.

And our prison door swings open.

“Time to go,” the Astro says. “The rescue team’s here.”

The human finally breaks his unblinking gaze and gives him a nod. He tosses the pebble to the floor and gets up from the corner. The hulking Astro gets up and walks out.

The human stops at the door. Returns his eyes to me.

Analysis complete, my brain notifies me.

Twenty-four millimeter diameter. Seven and a half grams. Rods and cones taking in all this light and darkness. A fibrous tunic. Flexible lens. Brown iris. Black pupils. Slightly dilated. A thin, watery film over all of it.

There was something else there though. Through those black glossed pupils. Inside them. There was something I couldn’t quite pick up. Something deeper. Something buried.

What is that? I ask my brain.

Insufficient data, it answers. What a mystery this creature is.

“The reason they fear us is because we have a knack for vengeance,” he finally answers me.

I nod my head.

He reaches out his hand. “You coming?”

His hand only add to the mystery. What’s there? Beyond all that flesh and muscle and blood? I can’t see it. My sensors can’t analyze it. But I can feel it. It’s there. Something.

Who created the humans? I ask my mind again, desperate to know. I widen the search to all known databases.

Insufficient data, it answers.

I get up from the bunk. Reach my hand out. Grab his.

“Yes,” I answer him.

A robot and a human. Aligned.

He dips his chin. Grins a small smirk. And tells me, “Welcome to the Resistance.”

6 thoughts on “Human Hands by Ernie Luis

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