The Warehouse

Endless rows of shelves, of packed boxes, of things, just sat, waiting in the warehouse.

He walked up and down the stacks every day, as they shifted and changed shape, sometimes taller, sometimes shorter. He wondered what was inside them all, each with numbers, incomprehensible to his human brain, printed on the outside on neat white labels.

The robots rolled, with almost soundless movement, up and down the rows with him, picking up the packages to ship them out. They scanned the numbers, and knew immediately in their brains who the items were meant for, which address to stamp on with their strange metal hands.

He talked to the machines sometimes. He swore that they listened, and even understood him. They would look at him, the little red light on their head blinking, slowly, as if contemplating his words. He gave them names, knew each one by sight.

“Hi, Bob,” he would say, and the red light would blink at him in return.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, they went on like this. Until one day, when he wasn’t there. His frail human body had finally given up on him, had finally reached the end of its cycle. The robots went on, running up and down the stacks, picking, scanning, stamping, just as if he had been there. He lay in his bed, and breathed his last. Far away, inside the great warehouse, every red light blinked in unison.

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