Lucille knew that to get away, all she had to do was close her eyes.
No matter how she felt, no matter what chaos was going on around her, all she had to do was close her eyes and she would be a million miles away and happy. Usually she liked lying in bathroom, with the cold from the tiles radiating across her back like a cool spring breeze, but today young Lucille lay in her bed, pressed snug across her shoulders by neat, starchy sheets. So she shut her eyes and let her body sink and relax until she entered the one place only she could go . . .
She felt the air flow around her and the ground under her feet became soft and yielding. Today she found herself in a wide, open field, the mossy grass stretching as far as she could see: in the distance the city became nothing more than a mound of grey buildings and Lucille was glad to be free of its concrete constraints.
Giggling, she ran across the spongy earth, relishing the feeling of her arms waving akimbo in the fresh air. She pelted down a slight incline, letting herself wildly gain speed when an ear-splitting grinding boomed across the landscape and the ground shook beneath her feet. Something large was moving just ahead and Lucille dug her heels into the soil as she tried to slow down.
Another hill was rising up from the gentle folds, a hill made of metal. It scraped and squealed until one arm, then another sprouted stiffly at either side with giant, metallic hands resting on the hillside. Pushing off the ground, the steel mound lifted itself up to show a huge dome-shaped head. Lucille gasped with amazement. A robot! She didn’t expect to see a robot here.
She ran forward as the robot twisted its head from side to side with the groan of joints long in disuse. “Hello!” she cried, unafraid of the hulking metal behemoth in front of her: this was a place free from pain or fear and nothing could hurt her here.
But the robot said nothing. It twisted its head forward and stared at her with its dark, glassy lenses. “Guess you can’t talk ‘cause you’ve got no mouth,” Lucille remarked and the robot stiffly nodded with a crunching scrape. “Oh, you can understand me!” she cried, “I’m Lucille. I’ve never met a real robot before. You’re the first!” The robot bent forward and looked at her again, offering his hand out to her. “Do you want me to climb up?” she asked and the robot nodded.
Once she was standing safely in its palm, the robot lifted Lucille up. Lucille had never seen so much open space and she felt her breath catch in her throat. The city looked so insignificant from up so high, a tiny collection of boxes huddled in an endless sea of rolling hills. In the distance mountains rose up to meet the clear crystal sky, all jagged and topped with ice.
But before she could react the robot lurched awkwardly to its feet and Lucille clung to its thumb to keep from toppling off. With creaking, hydraulic steps and a loping gait, the robot ran across the countryside, each step further than Lucille could hope to run. “Where are we going?” Lucille shouted through the noise, but the robot didn’t respond; confident that the gentle metal giant would do her no harm she enjoyed the ride, watching the world pass beneath her with quiet exhilaration. Her skirt and her pigtails fluttered in the wind and as the robot ran past the city plumes of smog caught in her eyes and made her cough. Soon they reached the mountains, and with slow, jerking movements the robot found its footing as it climbed the rocky, snow-covered slopes until it reached the highest peak. Gently putting Lucille down, she shivered as she surveyed the world from her new view. Ahead lay the gentle rolling hills but behind her the mountain range stretched on to the horizon like an angry sea. “Robot, I don’t like it here. It’s too cold and I don’t feel right . . .” To Lucille’s surprise, the robot started beeping in reply. The pain of cold fluid rushed up the inside of her arm and Lucille fought as hard as she could as the world started to fade. White clouds filled her vision until all she could see was the rhythmic beat of the robot’s eyes flashing in time to the steady pulsing blips.
Slowly, Lucille opened her eyes. Pain returned to her legs as a nurse busied herself with the clipboard at the end of her bed. “I’ve just changed your drip, Lucille. It’s time for your next physio session shortly. We’ll get you walking soon . . .”