Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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The Robot Animals Come Out Of The Forest At Night

Theresa Lockhart

The robot animals emerge tentatively from the forest
While men sleep at night
Beneath oxygenated domes.
Automatic joints creak
As they instinctively probe
Among dead trees,
Their original programs running on
What some would say are batteries.
Motorized heads sway on rusted necks
While olfactory sensors search for fallen
Warriors, their bones unearthed by metal claws,
Their skulls crushed by metal jaws.
Obsolete dogs and cats walk upright,
Smooth legs still gleaming silver
Where owners once polished them.
Acid rain smothers their cries,
For some still want to be pets.
They want a scratch behind the ears,
A soft lap, a synthetic treat
Tossed to them occasionally.
Some can still access memory files,
Maintenance checks, system updates,domestication uploads
Blinking within degraded brains.
Mechanical failures also reroute former instincts.
Freed from the rubble of blasted civilization,
They are wilder now, preying
On robot rodents and stray humans
Who leave the oxygenated domes and come too close
When the robot animals come out of the forest at night.

© 2008 Theresa Lockhart

Theresa Lockhart is a Spanish Teacher who lives in Michigan with her husband and a cat named Sasha Boots. Her poetry has appeared in Barliman Butterbur's Big Book of Delvings and the Minas Tirith Evening Star.

Find more by Theresa Lockhart in the Author Index.

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