/’skAn/ : a loosely coiled length of yarn or thread wound on a reel

Self-Winding Samaritans

When the little toy robots started showing up, I thought they were just part of some urban art project. You know, like those LED signs flipping everyone off in Boston a few years ago? The bomb squad blew them up after they’d already been hanging around for two weeks, then made a show of hauling in the poor saps responsible.

So maybe it was because of how wrong the cops had been then that no one batted an eyelash at the little guys. They perched on garbage cans, street signs, door steps, and parked cars. After a week or so, I could spot at least one of them wherever I went.

Let me rephrase that: There was no place I could go where I wasn’t in sight of at least one of them.

When the first one of them talked to me, it felt like a locked door quietly clicking shut behind me. Actually, it was my apartment’s outside door, and I’d forgotten my keys when I went out for a smoke.

It rested on the steps to my building, eyes glowing amber. In sing-song tones, it said:

“Lock yourself out, friend? I’m here to help.”

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