The robots never “sleep” for lengthy periods of time; this makes wandering their cities both endlessly fascinating and exhausting. I am especially drawn to these crowded alleys: they are always buzzing with all manner of activity and always in a state of perpetual dusk.
As much as there is out in the light, there is probably just as much in the dark. A robot took me down to what appeared to be storm surge tunnels beneath an older part of the city. I didn’t go too far into the tunnel but the robot did not follow me. Strange. They provided no explanation for why they would not venture past the mouth of the tunnel.
This is the first in a series of drawings using the contents of Marker Universe‘s “January blind box”: A curated selection of various markers and pens from Karin, Graph It, Sketchmarker, and Aristo.
After a few days of travel, the robot encountered an oddly designed structure, overgrown with tenacious weeds and shadows. They had been monitoring low-level background EMF noise for the past day and moments after stepping inside the structure there was a tremendous spike in the energy level. Logging the event for investigation later, the robot proceeded to walk deeper into the structure…
“I know your ways,” the robot said to me. “I know that you can not tolerate a state where you lack information.” Even so, the robot shared with me stories about ‘places I should not go.’ The robot continued: “There are places far from here; places without label, without map. They once must have been known, marked, and organized. Now there are nothing but blank sectors and noise. I circumnavigated one such area, attempting to add to the borders of mapped locations. Some of the topography was familiar but out of place. My attempts to build a map failed due to localized EMR causing errors while I was writing data…”
It was not notable that this structure did not appear on any maps. While the maps on file were highly detailed and thoroughly annotated, there were large areas outside population centers that were completely unknown. This was one such area. What was notable was that this structure was apparently abandoned and showed signs consistent with a lengthy period of vacancy without any maintenance. That such a structure would go unused (and unmaintained!) for so long seemed irrational.
Having assured me that it did not require my assistance, the robot returned its attention to the paper map it held. As I continued on my way down the street I turned momentarily and called back to the robot “Remember: the map is not the territory!” The robot looked back up at me and continued to follow me with its eyes.
I’d come to the realization that I’d left large portions of the city unexplored and thus set off deeper into the heart of the urban environment. Some hours later I emerged from a dark alley into an obviously “1.5” version of the city; older and more worn but no less vibrant and active. Upon catching sight of me, the resident robots paused in their activities and—stared—at me. I got the feeling that perhaps I was the first human they had seen in a long while?
The sun had set some time ago and all that was left was a lingering blue light refracting through the atmosphere. I paused for a moment in a bubble of quietude, noting that I had an observer. The robot did not move, and continued to watch as I continued on my way up the street.
“We are going out tonight,” the robot told me. “We will wander the streets and alleys. Gather for some ad-hoc networking. Enjoy the way the city lights diffuse and reflect in the rain and puddles. What are you going to do?” I thought a moment. “Stay home,” I said. “Read a book; draw pictures of you and your friends.