Thursday, September 25, 2008

Deforested by Humphrey Erm

Desolate. That was the only word that Keith Manall could think of after seeing the newly cut down rain forest. Standing with his back turned to an unspoiled area he contemplated whether he would be out of a job after they imminently cut down the rest of the woods. He concluded that he would have to be told what to do.

"There you are. You're Keith right?" asked a man short of breath.
"Yes, yes I am."
"I was told to find you by the foreman. Said he needs to talk to you as soon as possible," he continued, leaning down gasping for breath.
"I understand. It will just be another minute."

The man looked suspiciously at Keith at this statement. Regaining his posture he walked through the trees and out into the open field and stood beside Keith's right side.

"You need a minute?"
"If I can spare it, then yes."
"Keith, what makes you want to stand here and look at your handiwork? Whats it matter to you?"
"I'm not sure, I find it soothing to take a moment and just wait"
"Wait for what?"

The man was once more surprised by what Keith had to say. By this time he had regained his breath and took out a water bottle, took a sip and offered it to Keith.

"Need a drink?"
"Thats kind of you, but I don't need to drink"
"But you do need a minute?"

Taking the water bottle back and putting the cap back on, the man looked at the same desolate grounds that Keith has been looking at for a near 5 minutes now. Seeing nothing but remains of trees as well as carcasses of a few unlucky forest animals, the man did not understand what could make Keith stare for so long.

"Do you have a problem?" he asked less politely than he wanted to.
"No, no I don't," Keith responded "But I am troubled by an imminent one"
"No kidding? What could trouble you? Didn't get a raise this year?" the man chuckled at his own joke and patted Keith on the back.
"You know I cant get a raise" informed Keith to the man who just now understood that the joke was lost on Keith,"I am however wondering what I should do with myself after this project is over"
"What do you mean?"
"There are is only a finite amount of trees here, and thus a finite amount of time until we have cut them all down. I will be out of a job in an estimated 3 years."

The man simply looked at Keith in astonishment, amazed at what he was hearing.

"I didn't know that you thought that far ahead."

He was responded by silence. Feeling awkward the man put his hands in his pockets and whistled a short tune.

"Well, there is always the Unemployment line," the man said with yet another chuckle,"You might find another job after this is done, don't you think so?"
"No, no I don't" Keith said flatly.
"You don't huh? Come on, it cant be that hard for you to get a job can it? I mean, aren't you the most skilled in your field? I would imagine that you would have a good resume"
"Take a look at these hands"

The man took a look at Keith's hands.

"The moment I came into existence I had but one purpose. To deforest entire areas. Once there are no more forests here, I have no more reason for existing"
"Well, cant you just cut down some other things? Or maybe you can learn how to do something else?"
"No, I am beyond learning new skills. Unlike you I cant adapt to new changes. Once this de-forested world is complete, my existence is naught"

The man didn't know what to say to this, so he remained quiet.

"I will go to the foreman now" Keith said after another minute,"Don't stay out too long. Despite the empty area there are still wild animals about"
"Thanks" the man said glumly while he looked at Keith walk back into the woods towards the foreman.

The man was thinking through what Keith had said. To think that after this entire project was over Keith's usefulness and will to exist would be over. He pitied him.

But what kind of name is Keith for a robot anyways? he thought.

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