Sir Roderick lost his left hand in the fight with the mouse, and it took him most of the next week to find a replacement. It hurt like the dickens the whole time, because he could feel his old hand seeping in the rodent’s stomach acid.
His old haunts were getting low on body part these last few years, and what parts there were had become increasingly hard to find. The houses were all starting to fall in on themselves, and the wind-blown sand and dust grew deeper and deeper with time, burying the pieces he needed to replace himself, along with the rest of what remained of human civilization.
Roderick carefully dug through the piles of LEGO pieces until he found a suitable hand to replace his own. He pulled it off of an alien figure that stared back at him with empty circles. The old one had been yellow, but this one was black; it matched the black of his left arm.
Plastic was forever.
Sir Roderick was forever.
He wouldn’t rot. He wouldn’t fade away. He wouldn’t die. The people who made him had been too careful for that.
But he could change.
As he snapped the piece into his arm the phantom pain faded away.
He never slept, but he could not see in the dark, and there were things far worse than the mouse in the night, so he lay still among the scattered pieces until the sun came up again. He could hear the noises of things moving in the night, skulking things, slumping things, things that could not bear the sunlight.
And while the dark went on and on, Sir Roderick remembered. He remembered Sara’s face. He remembered her with black hair and brown eyes. He remembered freckles on her face. He remembered crooked teeth. He remembered how much he had loved her.
Had she known this was where he would end? Crawling through the left-over rubble of the world?
She was the reason he was alive, though he didn’t know how or why. He remembered her trying to bring the other toys to life, becoming more and more frustrated when they remained stubbornly inanimate. He remembered her sad and lonely and angry.
He remembered her with blonde hair that hung down to her waist, and eyes blue like the sky. He remembered her laughing and running in the bright sunlight.
He kept remembering things, kept replacing them with pieces from other places.
He remembered sitting in Sara’s room surrounded by the husks of her toys, standing under the curved shelter of her ribcage with the rotten flags of her clothes fluttering in the yellow wind.
The sun came up and still he sat there, remembering.
He has been alone for so long. Centuries gone, perhaps millenia; he stopped counting the days long ago.
But was he alone for all that time? Alone and undying in a graveyard world? He remembered harder. He remembered a mouse, with its curious twitching noise. He remembered the day it came up to him, and spoke. He hadn’t heard a voice in so long it scared the plastic pants off of him. He remembered it saying, “Hello. What kind of thing are you?”
And Sir Roderick told the mouse that he was a toy.
“What is a toy?”
And Sir Roderick told the mouse about people, and children, and playing.
“Is playing like hunting?” asked the mouse.
And Sir Roderick said, yes, a little, only usually with less killing and eating.
Then he had shown the mouse how to play, and the mouse had been his friend, and let him ride on his back. And when the cold winds of winter came the mouse slept curled up with Sir Roderick in the mouse’s nest, and Sir Roderick watched over the mouse, and helped him to get away from the skinny tom cat who poked his paw into the mouse’s hole and tried to eat the mouse.
They became the fastest of friends and had great adventures together.
Sir Roderick hadn’t remembered them all yet, but he would.
He would remember it all.
Over and over.
Until it was the truth.
Albert Berg: Albert was born in the swamps of Florida and quickly developed a gripping writing style by wrestling with crocodiles. It is said that he hypnotized five gators in a row by the age of nine with his melodic prose and infinite imagination. Albert is a true menace in the arena because of a steadfast ability to remain true to his roots of thoughtful contemplation despite the hurricanes that pass all through his state. You never know what you will get from Albert, be it sentient paper products or religious squirrels, but you do know that behind the flash there will be a well thought out story that will make you reflect on your own life. Albert is the author of The Mulch Pile and A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw.