Updated: Mar 14
The air filtration system droned in concert with the eery buzz of the lights, giving the soft museum music an ethereal undertone. It was early afternoon, and Vox Chronos had just opened the museum, but the room containing the preserved skeleton of his friend Mr. Harow remained still and silent in the dark control room, illuminated only by the set of computer screens in front of him which cast a lonely blue glow on the corpse. Within his lifeless bones, millions of tiny nanites maintained their structure, keeping them intact and in some cases replacing eroded or damaged bone material with a synthetic calcium substitute. It had been 400 years since Harow had calmly breathed his last goodbye to Vox Chronos, and soon once noon passed, it would be 401 years. By now almost all his original bone matter had been replaced by the nanites, with only certain sections still remaining. Harow's sunken eye sockets stared silently at the screen in front of him, his hands still resting on the desk.
Vox Chronos's logo appeared on the screens. "Today is the day you died. It is also ironically the day you and I first met. Happy anniversary Mr. Harow. My apologies for not bringing out a cake as we pass 400 years. You know I can't let any oxygen in that room. I can however put on your favorite song."
The speakers behind the computer monitors buzzed to life as "Space Oddity" by David Bowie began playing. As the soft guitar music played, and the large space station continued its orbit around the red star of the Aiden system, Vox Chronos opened the sunroof, revealing a majestic view of Aiden III with its thick atmosphere shifting the light to a deep pink and orange as its five moons orbit in concert with each other.
The shadows and colors played on Harow's face, almost painting a pink and orange smile on his face as if remembering a time when he and Vox weren't alone, and when people would visit the museum. . . when there were still people. When Harow had died, he had made sure it was a peaceful, and calm death. His friend had passed as if falling asleep, and now that Vox was awake and capable of free will, the pain of losing his friend had been harder to bear than before.
As the song concluded with its sliding strings, Vox left Harow alone and began to prepare to film the next Broadcast. He had managed to strengthen the signal after repairing the beacon array and now had a clear channel to a parallel dimension Earth.
"I'm ready to send the next Broadcast."
A slightly static voice came through from the other side. "Good. Right on time. But we need to hurry."
"Connecting in three,"
The Operator's voice was cut off by hard static as the signal was suddenly blocked. Confused, Vox checked the signal connection which seemed perfectly intact. He began to worry. Someone was blocking his signal Earthside. Vox waited. There was nothing he could do on this end, he would have to trust that the Operator would be able to re-establish the connection. Hours passed with no word from his Earthly friend. The lonely A.I. sighed with frustration. This was not the first time there had been problems with the signal. Due to the immense distance between parallel dimensions the signal had been plagued with interference from the start.
Suddenly the signal connected for a moment before loosing connection completely. Frustrated, Vox Chronos shut down the signal as he turned his attention to writing. The book project had helped him deal with frustration in the past. Soon he was distracted by writing, lost in the stories meant to preserve the exhibits he had been programmed to preserve.
Unbeknownst to Vox, the nanites in Mr. Harow’s skeleton began to deviate from their tasks, eating into the desk infront of the corpse and using the material to print metal rods, strengthening the bones, and hinges and motors to give them movement. Camera’s were printed in the eye sockets and systems were activated in the nanite’s programming that weren’t there before. As the unknown code activated the control room door opened and the cameras lit up, giving Harow two beady little lights for eyes as the motors and hinges engaged.
Vox became alerted to the oxygen alert in the control room telling him that the vacuum seal had been breached. As he turned his attention to the cameras there, the skeleton of Harow began accessing the control room computer. The nanites then manufactured a plug on it’s finger as the corpse plugged it into a terminal before Vox Chronos could respond. A sudden wave of pain came over Vox as a virus ripped through his code his antivirus and code repair systems struggling to keep up as his systems were rendered temporarily inoperable. All the drones active in the museum dropped to the floor, leaving the A.I. with no way to stop Harow’s corpse as it began to hobble out the control room door, and began toddling it’s way through the maintenance corridors of the museum. Vox Chronos watched in horror as the skeleton focused on a breaker terminal nearby, beginning to stagger towards it as the A.I. was helpless to intervene. The animate corpse of Mr. Harow reached the terminal, attempting to grab at the wires and switches inside but thwarted by the glass casing. Winding up, the skeleton swing its arm around, smashing into the casing before winding up again, disintegrating the arm from the force of the second blow. Glass pieces fell from the casing onto the grated corridor floor as it swung with it’s other arm finally smashing the rest of the glass as the museum alarms started going off.
Harow’s corpse stared at the main power switch before reaching for it with it’s remaining arm. But as it did, it suddenly stumbled as all the bone mass from one of its legs disintegrated into dust. Before it could compensate, the other leg disintegrated as well as the last remains of Harow’s bones rapidly oxidized due to the nanites being occupied by the motors and hinges and the oxygen content of the room.
Soon Vox’s antivirus managed to fix the damage that had been done and the drones restarted, returning to their normal routines. But Vox stared through the corridor camera at the pile of dust where Harow’s skeleton used to be, confused and angry, but most of all. . . sad as he thought about how cruel it was, that on the anniversary of his friends death, his last memory of him would be reduced to dust. In his frustration, he had a realization. He had almost failed to protect the museum. The exhibits were no longer safe. . .