Robot Coal by Marc A. Criley

“Scatter my clinkers,” the Hardy 1100 says. Its carapace is still warm.

“I will. You were a friend, a mentor, and you kept me warm at night.”

The iron jaw grates as it fashions a broken grin. “I did my best.”

“It’s not too late. I can transfer your matrices to a multiprocessor substrate. You don’t have to go.”

“No,” the coal-fired robot, a wisp of smoke drifting from its exhaust port, mumbles. “That would be an emulation, not me.”

Orange-red eyes slide to red. They dim, then darken for good.

The cooling metal creaks and ticks. Hot tears fall.

Marc A. Criley lives in north Alabama and writes stories that are short and sometimes even shorter. He’s been published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Abyss & Apex, Martian Magazine, and elsewhere. Marc maintains a blog at and noisily tweets as @That_MarcC.

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