The Dancing Android by Michael de Waal-Montgomery


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SUMMARY: This short piece was influenced by the films Days of Being Wild and 2046, both directed by Wong Kar Wai, and the novel Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

The android danced in the kitchen. But not alone. It's owner danced with it.

Hand-in-hand, the two drifted from place to place. The dim light revealed a sleeping moth as the only witness to the strange affair. Or perhaps it wasn't sleeping, perhaps it was wide-awake and feigning consciousness. Either way, the android could not tell. Or if it could, it didn't care. Or it had forgiven the moth's intrusion... if it could be bothered to forgive. But whatever the case, for now, the two danced.

Section 122 of the Android-owner's Guide states that, 'when left alone for prolonged periods of time, an android's response mechanisms may begin to wear out. Should this occur, the android in question should be brought into your nearest servicing station as soon as possible'. It then goes on to say, 'androids that do not receive proper maintainance may malfunction and potentially become irreperable.'

But this particular owner no longer cared for a healthy android. He no longer cared for a healthy self. All he wanted was someone or something to keep him company. And someone to dance with. That too.

When he was younger, he lead a playboy lifestyle. Handsome and charming, he went through lovers as often as the seasons changed, but found it impossible to hold down a deep, meaningful relationship. A trail of broken hearts were left in his wake.

He compared himself to a legless bird that could never land, and so was forced to go on flying forever until it finally died. Now, old and alone, he was haunted by the faces of all the women of his past. His 'days of being wild' had long since come to an end.

And so it was that every night he danced with his android. An android that was lonely like him. Sometimes he wondered about its past, about what it had done to end up with him. One thing he knew for sure: it could not love. No, that was one thing it could never do.

Their dancing often went on well into the night. But not tonight. This would be his last dance. At sometime between 20:46 and 20:47 the old man's heart gave up.

Since the days of his youth, he believed that only when he died would he know which girl had been the love of his life. But when death finally came for him, all he could see was a bird with no legs, unable to land, flying on and on, forever and ever.