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Someday

By day, Filip Wiltgren is a mild-mannered communication officer and lecturer at Linkoping University. By night, he turns into a frenzied ten-fingered typist, clawing out jagged stories of fantasy and science fiction, found in lairs such as Analog, IGMS, Grimdark, Daily SF, and Nature Futures. His thoughts, email, and stories can be found at wiltgren.com. Author's Comments: Someday started with the image in my mind of a dusty, dilapidated street, baked by the sun in a clearly abandoned town. As I started writing, the post-apocalyptic setting came to the fore. Where the robots came from, I have no idea.
"This," I tell you, "used to be a record store when I was young. People used to come from all over to browse the records."
You look at the dusty building, press close to the scratched and dirty glass. The desert sun beats down upon your back, but you don't mind. The walls inside are covered with dried-out posters so faded that even your clear eyes have trouble reading them, and so brittle that I don't want to open the door, afraid that the wind will shatter them.
"And people would look at the covers," you say, "and read the titles, and buy them, and take them home to place in vaults where they would live forever."
You take my weak fingers and cradle them in your strong hand, and I love you for it, for the gentleness of your grip, for your willingness to let an old geezer past their prime babble on.
"Tell me more," you say, and I smile, my skin cracking a little at the motion. Another part of myself turning to dust, but I know you like it when I smile. It reminds you of home.
"There were records by all the greats," I say. "Nick Cave and Bruce Springsteen. Celine Dion and Edyta Geppert. Laleh and Seatbelts."
"And Kiss," you say.
"And AC/DC."
Your grip tightens, and I feel my steel bones bending.
"Careful," I say. You instantly let go, humming your distress, and I instantly regret it. What are a few bent bones when I get to feel your hand on mine?
"I still don't like it," you say. "Naming yourself after food."
"Those were strange days," I say. "Innocent."
"Not so innocent," you say, and I don't want to argue. I know how you feel about fading, and how it triggers you, but I want you to remember all the names after I am gone. Maybe that's selfish of me. I hope not.
We turn away from the ruins of the record store, cross the grey asphalt of the street, almost invisible beneath a layer of orange sand, and head over to the abandoned gas station. The roof above the fuel island has collapsed, and I walk into the shadow, where the mechanical readouts on the two crushed gas pumps declare a sale that never ended, but you stay out in the sun.
Your gripping claw clicks gently, opening and closing, and I imagine that you want to hold my hand in yours, yet you do not follow me into the shadows.
I understand. Your solar collector array is degrading. You need all the food you can get. Sometimes I forget that, the silica in my slowly oxidizing memory circuits failing. For a few processing cycles I wonder which one of us will fade first, but then I push the thought away and give you another smile, cracking my skin and sending more flakes of faded dye and dried polyurethane into the dust.
"This," I tell you, "used to be a repair shop. People used to come here to repair their cars."
"And us," you say.
"And us," I agree.
You still, the sun baking your shell. For a moment, I'm afraid that you have finally shut down, unable to boot, but then you speak.
"Will they come back?" you say.
"Someday," I say, wishing for the days gone by, when we weren't all alone.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, August 26th, 2020


Someday started with the image in my mind of a dusty, dilapidated street, baked by the sun in a clearly abandoned town. As I started writing, the post-apocalyptic setting came to the fore. Where the robots came from, I have no idea.

- Filip Wiltgren
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