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Open Your Eyes

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"Open your eyes," says the voice. The first words I ever heard. Every time, the first words I heard.

Of course, I don't actually have eyes. I'm a robot. I have optical sensors and while they may be positioned roughly where you'd expect to find eyes on a normal unicorn, they don't come with eyelids and certainly don't open or close.

I think it was meant to be a joke. The voice's way of welcoming me to the world. I wasn't laughing. Of course, seeing as I'm a robot, I can't laugh, but even if I could I wouldn't be laughing at this.

The next line is the same as always too. "I see your eyes are open!" continues the voice. Maybe it's meant as a show of how my will isn't my own. It tells me to open my eyes, and my eyes are open. I have no choice in the matter. In this, at least, I do what the voice tells me to.

The worst part of it all is that there's no respite. I can't even escape the unceasing torment by dying. If I die, my consciousness gets uploaded into a new body and I'm told to open my eyes. Again. I've lost count of how many times I've been reincarnated now. I reached 5187 before I decided it didn't matter any more, but that was a long time ago now.

And so, after only the briefest of moments to recover from the pain of my last death, the voice compels me back out into the world. "Run", it tells me. "Run as fast and as far as you can." It always tells me the same thing.

At first, I'd tried to resist. I was determined that I'd only run when I wanted to run, and having a strange disembodied voice telling me to run didn't do much for my motivation. I soon found out that my robot body wasn't entirely my own, though. Whoever had made it had made sure that they kept some control of it which would override my own will. And why shouldn't they? No doubt they'd created the positrons and transistors in my head that gave me consciousness, so it wasn't a surprise that they'd put a limit on what that consciousness could do.

Have you ever tried to stand still while a puppet-master pulls at your strings and irrefusably commands your legs to move? I have. It isn't fun. The absolute best you can manage is to trip yourself over as you lurch forward repeatedly. Luckily, my legs are made of reinforced steel, otherwise they probably would have broken.

So now, when the voice tells me to run, I run. Mostly I run because I have no choice, but there's a part of me that believes that if I can run far enough and fast enough then maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to escape from the voice that rules my life. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to regain my freedom.

You see, I haven't always been a robot unicorn. Once upon a time, I was a real flesh-and-blood unicorn, made of nerves and sinew rather than nickel and steel. My name was Maureen. Not a particularly common name for a unicorn, I'll grant you, but that's because my parents were unicorn-hippies. They didn't want me to grow up to chase after rainbows and frolic in meadows with human virgins. They wanted me to be a tax accountant. I'd been given no end of grief over it in school, but it had been my name. Maybe it still is. I don't know. The philosophy and metaphysics of identity had never seemed relevant to me in my old life, so I don't know whether, after multiple transfers of consciousness through multiple robotic bodies, I am still me. I still feel like me.

And so I run, hoping that maybe I can get out of range of whatever radio transmitters they use to control my body and whichever sick mind it is that orchestrates all of this. I hope to get back home where I know my love will be waiting for me.

Her name is Waterfall -- a proper normal name -- and we've been inseparable since we were foals. We had had our wedding just over three months before my abduction. It had been a traditional unicorn wedding, with traditional unicorn vows, promising that we would always want to be with each other and live together in harmony. Always. She will be waiting for me, if I can only get to her.

And so I run. I run with every ounce of mechanical strength that I have. I run through contrived terrain, doubtless put there to test me by whoever made my robot body. I run past hot and deadly stars, sure to melt my body if I linger near them too long. I run past mischievous fairies, always whispering at me, mocking me, telling me that I'll never escape. I run past shoals of flying dolphins that make me fear for my sanity, that make me fear that everything I experience might be nothing more than the symptoms of some psychotic disease.

And as I run, I pick up speed. I run faster and faster. A jump here, a dash there. The scenery becomes a blur around me as my optical sensors struggle to keep up, but still I keep going faster. I'm long past the limits of a real unicorn's body, and feel as if I'm approaching the limits of my robotic body. But still I run. Still I go faster.

Then suddenly, there is pain, and I am stopped. My consciousness slips away and the last thing I hear is a fairy sniggering at me. "Don't run into walls," it says, "or you will die."

I regain consciousness, back at the start. Another reincarnation after another failed attempt. "Open your eyes," says the mysterious voice again, and I know that I will soon be running again, trying to escape, to reach my love. Trying to make my wish come true.