Yellow Brick Road

By Hedge Labyrinth

A series of drabbles as Elizabeth Shaw and David head to find the Engineer's world. Maybe some romance down the line.

"I could read to you."

Elizabeth didn't think she heard him right the first time. She turned to look at David.

"Excuse me?"

"You said you were bored. I could read to you."

She had said it. Not to him, really. She'd just said out loud, to the ship. As the weeks passed she was getting more and more accustomed to talking to herself in the loneliness of the cavernous vessel. She supposed hermits did the same. Not that she was completely alone: there was David. Though now that he was fully repaired — he had explained that unlike previous models, he was able to conduct all of his own maintenance procedures — she wished she was alone.

She didn't really trust him. Not completely. She'd taken to evading him. It was childish, of course, because they had to meet at some point, but she did it anyway.

"There are no books. Unless the Engineers packed a few."

"Earth books," David said, sliding down onto a large chair. "I have read plenty of them."

"And you remember them all?"

"Miss Shaw, I have a fluid intelligence equivalent to 200 petaflops. My memory is flawless."


"You don't believe me?"

Now that he was repaired he looked pretty close to human. Especially when his micro-articulating facial muscles formed into a smile like that. You could peg it for a real smile. You could peg it for real mirth. Camaraderie, even.

But it wasn't real. He wasn't real.

"No, I do…I just…I haven't had anyone read to me since I was a child. I don't—"

"One of the big trees had been partly chopped through, and standing beside it, with an uplifted axe in his hands, was a man made entirely of tin. His head and arms and legs were jointed upon his body, but he stood perfectly motionless, as if he could not stir at all. Dorothy looked at him in amazement, and so did the Scarecrow, while Toto—"

"Oh, God, please stop," she said jumping out of her seat.

He tilted his head and stared at her. His expression was blank.

"I thought you would like that. You heard it often as a child."

Yes, she did. Her father used to read it to her. Father was dead, just like mother, just like Charlie, just like everyone else. Everything Elizabeth loved died.

"You shouldn't have looked at my dreams," she spat out, furious.

He knew everything about her. Everything. She wished she could cut his head off again. She ought to have left his body on the surface.

David looked serenely at her and shrugged.

"It was my job to monitor all crew members."

Of course. He'd been programmed. He wasn't really guilty of anything. You can't blame a toaster for toasting bread any more than you could blame David for obeying orders.

But she was still angry.

"Did I offend you? It wasn't my goal to cause you any distress."

"No, it's fine," Elizabeth muttered. "Just…could you leave me alone for now?"

"Of course, Miss Shaw."

So courteous. If he'd been rude it would be easier. But he was ever the polite creation. Miss Shaw this, Miss that. And helpful, too. Concerned with her dietary needs, the temperature in her quarters, her damn boredom…this too must be programmed. He was made to serve.

He headed towards the door while she stared at her hands.

"Why did you take my cross?" she asked. "It was not contaminated."

He stopped and turned towards her, still serene and elegant.

"I do not know," he said.

She thought he was lying but she was not prepared to ask any more questions. Elizabeth leaned back and stared at the stars.