I woke up last night after a weird dream and wrote this down (I guess falling asleep with your laptop open on the bed comes in handy), editing typos etc out this morning. Rereading it today I can barely remember any of the actual dream. I wish I could make it come back and find out what happened.
The last time Jill saw light was when her grandfather took her to the river to watch the fireflies, and they’ve all been gone for years. The sun died long ago and the moon went with it. And when her grandparents bundled her into the car that day ten years ago and drove to the middle of nowhere and never came back to civilization - well, that’s when Jill saw the last of the other lights. The artificial ones in the city powered by towering, walking generators that patrolled the streets like five-story tall metal goliaths wading through the world in slow motion. Jill wasn’t sure she remembered what light even looked like anymore. But she still remembered the echoing of the robots' gears and bodies like mournful calls of metal whales. She would never forget those.
Jill remembered them now as she picked her way through the brush. Her fingertips trailed across the leaves and branches around her and the dirt underneath when she hunched down to pick bloodberries into her satchel. When she was little she’d never have guessed that telling edible bloodberries apart from the poison angelberries by feel was even possible. But now that sight was crippled the other senses unveiled a new world. Bloodberries were in fact very different from angelberries. The way they tensed when pinched between thumb and forefinger. Or the way the taut skin had just that right amount of resistance as you pierced it gently with a nail to test. Or the way their juice stung your tongue like a dozen little pinpricks. Then again, by that time if it was the sweetness of the angelberries you tasted instead it would be too late anyway. You’d be lying dead in a pile of your own- well…you know.
Jill paused mid-berry-pinch when she saw it. “Saw”. There’s a funny word, she thought. She blinked and raked the mop of hair from her eyes with juice-stained fingers, squinting into the distance. She knew that direction; there was a clearing there. And now a glow. “Glow” - another funny word. Jill began to pick her way through the brush toward the flickering yellow beacon in the distance.
When she reached the edge of the treeline Jill could make out outlines of trunks and branches and even leaves around her in the faint light. “Light”. These words were not so funny anymore. And when she heard the low, hollow wail her eyes - dead for so long - finally comprehended what they were seeing. A generator, one of the slow motion giants, sat hunched and dying in the clearing as black oil bled from its metal mouth.
“Dying”…There’s a funny word for a robot.
I can’t remember why I didn’t jot this down in first person, seeing as the dream was probably in first person.