I'm hoping someone will recognize this short story. It involves a culture of robots on a planet, and the story is told from the perspective of one of them. One day a rocket lands. The robots, thinking that this is a fellow machine in distress, do what they can to help it. They hear muffled noises inside (the reader understands that there are actual humans in there, which the robots can't even conceptualize) but they eventually cease (inferring that the humans have died). The robot narrator ends the story by remarking on an unknown red liquid leaking from the inert rocket that, for some reason, makes it think of rust. Any ideas?
I'm hoping someone will recognize this short story.
One day a rocket lands. The robots, thinking that this is a fellow machine in distress, do what they can to help it.
It became obvious that the stranger had been pitifully deranged. I reproduce his words phonetically from my record, although some of them make little sense. Emphasis, punctuative pauses and spelling of unknown terms are mere guesswork, of course.
He said: "For godsakemann stop talking nonsense, whoever you are. If you're outside, can't you see the airlock is jammed? Can't shift it myself. I'm badly hurt. Get me out of here, please."
"Get you out of where?" Chirik looked around, puzzled. "We have brought you to an open shed near our museum for a preliminary examination. Now that we know you're intelligent, we shall immediately take you to our assembly shops for healing and recuperation. Rest assured that you'll have the best possible attention."
There was a lengthy pause before the stranger spoke again, and his words were slow and deliberate. His bewilderment is understandable, I believe, if we remember that he could not see, vrull or feel.
He asked: "What manner of creature are you? Describe yourself."
Chirik turned to us and made a significant gesture toward his thinking part, indicating gently that the injured stranger had to be humored.
"Certainly," he replied. "I am an unspecialized bipedal manufacture of standard proportions, lately self-converted to wheeled traction, with a hydraulic suspension system of my own devising which I'm sure will interest you when we restore your sense circuits."
There was an even longer silence.
"You are robots," the stranger said at last. "Crise knows how you got here or why you speak Inglish, but you must try to understand me. I am mann. I am a friend of your master, your maker. You must fetch him to me at once."
"You are not well," said Chirik firmly. "Your speech is incoherent and without meaning. Your fall has obviously caused several serious feedbacks of a very serious nature. Please lower your voltage. We are taking you to our shops immediately. Reserve your strength to assist our specialists as bast you can in diagnosing your troubles."
"Wait. You must understand. You are—ogodno that's no good. Have you no memory of mann? The words you use—what meaning have they for you? Manufacture—made by hand hand hand damyou Healing. Metal is not healed. Skin. Skin is not metal. Eyes. Eyes are not scanning cells. Eyes grow. Eyes are soft. My eyes are soft. Mine eyes have seen the glory—steady on, sun. Get a grip. Take it easy. You out there listen."
"Out where?" asked Prrr-chuk, deputy chairman of the museum board.
The robot narrator ends the story by remarking on an unknown red liquid leaking from the inert rocket
A billow of smoke puffed out of the orifice. Despite my repugnance, I thought of my duty as a reporter and forced myself to look over Chur-chur's shoulder.
The fumes came from a soft, charred, curiously shaped mass of something which lay just inside the opening.
"Undoubtedly a kind of insulating material," Chur-chur explained.
He drew out the crumpled blackish heap and placed it carefully on a tray. A small portion broke away, showing a red, viscid substance.
that, for some reason, makes it think of rust.
There is something I wish I could forget. I can't explain why it should upset me so much. But I always stop the tape before it reaches the point where the voice of the stranger rises in pitch, going higher and higher until it cuts out.
There's a quality about that noise that makes me tremble and think of rust.