The Seventh Robot of Christmas was written by Dan JonesFind out more at danjonesbooks
My family has owned me for the best part of a year. I’m powered by light, so Christmas is a rather pleasurable time for me, with nourishing light cascading from every household, especially at evening time. Our family follows suit; through the wind and slush I’m carrying a box of electric light decorations for our own home. Mom and Harriet walk a few steps ahead of me, chatting, and laughing.
We pass the shadowy doorway of a church, and I notice a pile of crumpled rags shift. I stop, assessing the movement for threats, but the dark and dirty face that emerges from the darkness, its eyes half-closed with fatigue and cheeks sunken from malnutrition, bears neither the will nor the capacity for ill-intent.
My calculations are quick. My current payload meets our household’s seasonal photic requirements several times over, so I retrieve a small cylindrical decoration from my bag, and switch it on. The sleeve surrounding the cylinder moves, displaying a silhouetted scene of shepherds following a star. I offer the trinket to the dirty face, whose hands creep from the blankets in apprehensive receipt. As he takes the light I see it reflected in his eyes, and his lips turn up into a smile.
Mom turns around and sees us. I predict she’ll scold me for giving one of our possessions away, but as she approaches she looks at the man, and I see the light reflect in her face, too.
It’s after she has bought the man a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, and has spent some time talking with him, that we walk away. Harriet praises me for what I did. When I look back I see that every aspect of the Church is uplit, making it look as though it is draped with curtains. And at its foot is the tiny figure lit by a lone flicker. It’s this that makes me realise that humans and I share something; for they are also powered by the light.