Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sudden Short Story 18

"Due to lack of response and absence of mammalian life-signs within, we shall initiate door override. Please stand by."
The door slid open, revealing a humanoid figure of grey metal and white plastic. It entered, moving its head about as it scanned the area more thoroughly. It walked toward the corpse that was seated in the armchair, arms folded in its lap, one hand gripping a small paperback.
"It appears that Bradley Montague has passed away. There is no more need to serve this reclamation notice."
Another, identical figure appeared in the doorway, with the handle of a reclaimer next to it. It turned, opening the angled hatch to it, and spoke: "He was such a strange one, always saying things like, 'You're mad! How can a book ever be obsolete?!'." The playback was uncanny. "Well, we should get started. This one has a long list."
The first looked about, noting that the task before them would be lengthy. Based on what he knew about Mr. Montague, every cabinet, every drawer, every chest would be filled with obsolete books. It saw a book that was within easy reach. It had to start somewhere, and this would be the first of many. It went for the book, but paused to say, "He once said, 'You can have my books when you pry them from my cold, dead hands!'. I suppose that, in this one regard, Mr. Montague was correct after all." It reached down, prying the fingers apart to let the text free. It handed the book to the other, so that it might be reclaimed for its material and energetic value, noting it as "Ballantine Books, Del Rey printing, paperback, 1996: Fahrenheit 451".

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