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Wayless

Susanna Sousa currently works as a field scientist in New York, and often spends her days on boats or in the woods. This is her first published short story.
I am a Remote Coding Specialist. We are few in number, the work is demanding and requires a lot of travel. The education is rigorous and takes many years. We are a certain breed, they say, because at the word of a client we are on our way to distant field sites, accessing android codes and editing them as desired. Some need personality adjustments, others manual calibrating. Some express violent tendencies and others just stop functioning altogether. Protocol usually dictates that mechanics and technicians are called first, in case the issue is with the hardware. We are called in when all else fails. Their coding is something like the learning of fifty languages and translating different words of different languages within the same phrases. I can unravel it, make sense of it, and find the pieces that need fixing. It takes a long time to do, but is rewarding and exciting. Ever changing.
Not long ago I was contracted out by the government, they wanted me to gather the Wayless androids. They had made a name for themselves. The ones that weren't fixed, perhaps for economic reasons, left to roam the world like stray animals. Many are purposeless, found solitary in the wilderness places just existing, living out the rest of the life their hardware will provide them. Some group up and form small colonies, almost as if they find comfort in each other's company. Though we know this could not be the case, the sentimental mind relishes the thought.
The Cone World, more formally known as Deltar, had identified a large number of the Wayless and wanted me to find them, recode them, and have them rally where they can be recycled. Their parts used to cut government costs. It was efficient, really.
I began tracking my first droid in the Milky Complex. White swamps of Irvere, the world with three suns. The ground was moist with the milky liquid, and if you weren't careful of your stepping places, you could find yourself sinking into the oblivion, descending into sediments thousands of years old, and joining the fossils in a silent convergence of decaying souls. Large rocks and what I can only describe to you as moss-structures rose up from the ground. The formations dripping with the white sap.
Here I found my first droid. It had uncovered a pathway through the swamps and I followed for a ways, getting a sense of its disposition. It seemed indeed to be Wayless, it had no objective, no goal, no problem to solve. It just walked along its path, pausing here and there. Perhaps trying to make sense of a piece of damaged code, or attempting self-repair, or perhaps it was just taking in the moment. The latter is what I wished to believe, however unlikely. I followed it up out of the White swamps, we ascended the hills of Indale and made it to the cliffs of Patience. Here we stood for some time. It stared out at the vast earth. The horizon curved through the gradient of gentle atmospheric colors. The land seemed to roll. I stood next to the droid and gazed alongside it at the land for what seemed an age. I ran a quick diagnostic, could not find damaged code or inclinations for self-repair. What could cause this droid to stop so often as it traveled. What could make it wander so peacefully. Why would it behave so?
I watched, in awe, as it continued its journey along the cliffs. And then I decided I would not be decoding and gathering the Wayless. The Wayless indeed have a Way, it is just different from our own. And I dare not touch that.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019


Stopping everything to savor the moment. Just breathing. Listening to the sounds around you. Taking in the beauty that is invisible, at your feet, in the things you see every day. These have brought me inexplicable joy, and it has become my passion to keep them from becoming a lost art. I hope that I was able to capture and share some element of this in my story, thank you for reading.

- Susanna Sousa
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