I apologize for the late update. I have a life, and it's not always in my favor. Thank you and enjoy this new story (another one-shot.) Someday soon, I will update my multi-chapter story. But it's not this day, unfortunately. I have no time for making covers or anything anymore with school, so I'm sorry if this is crap. I do not take credit for the original idea, an amazing author (now dead) named Ray Bradbury wrote something similar, titled There Will Come Soft Rain. But, no, this is not a copy. And if any word or anything sort of confuses you, just use your imagination.

With One Last Feeble Voice:

The bell chimed, echoing in the great hallways, not a speck of dust on the carpet. A cuckoo bird peeked from his house of wood, pecking gently at the empty air around him as if waiting for a non-existent worm. Deep in the wooden house, a web of gears clicked and whirred, starting the old memory film. Hesitating for a split second, the cuckoo bird chirped the old phrase; so familiar it flowed from him without knowing.

"Eight o-clock, up, up, up!"

Other sets of gears started to spin deep in the works, churning up the dust, which settled overnight. Slippers appeared from the rug in front of each door. Inside each room, curtains flung themselves open, letting sunlight filter through. Automatic hands descended from the ceiling, starting their mechanical fingers to make the bed. Sensing the sheets were already in perfect place, the confused metal contraption retreated back into the ceiling. In the bathrooms, hot water automatically flowed from the taps; soap bubbles began to form, filling the air with a sweet scent. Toothbrushes slid out of a wall on a tray, the paste already applied. Towels, all folded up and soft, sat neatly next to the brushes. The warm drizzle of a well-kept shower turned on.

"Eight-thirty, breakfast time!"

Grills started sizzling, iron pots clattered into place, fires were lit, and the toaster inhaled several pieces of bread. A minute later, three trays slid onto the table filled with a variety of breakfast foods, from orange juice to coffee, from bacon to sausages, from pancakes to waffles.

A new cuckoo bird poked his curious head from yet another wooden box nailed to the wall.

"Since you are now full and swell, I will recite the date as well!"

The memory film whirred and gears clicked.

"Today is Wednesday, October 29th, 2054. It is partly cloudy, fair day, in Nairobi, Kenya."

No one responded. No food was eaten. No teeth were brushed. No footsteps thundered down the hall. No noise was heard except the soft chirping of birds.

"Eight-fifty, eight-fifty! Time for work, time for school!"

The garage door opened to reveal a car, fresh and shining, kept in perfect condition. After a while, the door slid back down, the car untouched, as still as a rock. Inside, the leftover food, untouched and still warm, was dumped into a trashcan, which cheerfully chewed up the morning scraps.

"Nine-ten! Clean up time!"

Mops bustled from closets, and brooms swept the dust off every visible floorboard. In a matter of minutes, the floor was clean and looked as new as it was five years ago when the house was built. Outside, sprinklers turned on, showering the barren dirt in a million little crystals of water. A single drop flew from the others, landing near side of the house, half burnt brick-brown, half ash-smudged white paint. Down the middle, a single streak of white rolled from the rooftop, only to stop in a couple feet away from the ground. A metal ladder, twisted in grotesquely in shape, lay in the dirt, not far away from the now-gone flowers and the pair of molten shears. Piles of ashes lay near. Soon, the sprinklers shut off as a lawn mower scurried out from the shed, busily churning up the blackened soil, once rich with grass, knocking over the piles of ash.

"Ten o'clock! Newspapers!"

A mailgabacart rolled down the length of the street, wheels creaking, trying to get a grip on the rough and crumbled asphalt. As it came by every house, the little car flung a load of papers onto the cracked doorstep of every house, eagerly picked up by an automaton retriever, scuttling back into the house hurriedly.

A rumpled cat nuzzled her way through the door as the automatic dog made its way in, yipping excitedly. Starved to death and with a light of desperation in her eyes, the cat made her way into the kitchen, hoping for food, mewling pitifully at the taunting grill. The cat flopped down near the trashcan, given up hope. After a while, her dull eyes closed for one last time.

"Ten-twenty! Ten-twenty! Bills, bills, bills."

A packet of papers fell onto the office desk, hidden in a corner of the house. Automatic mice scurried to take apart the package, spilling the contents neatly onto the tabletop. Muttering excitedly, they recited the prices and terms to a pen, sitting neatly at the side, waiting to sign. After reading the first paper, the pen rose, gracefully as if possessed, signing the paper with a flourish. Two mice took the sheet away before starting to read the second. The pen signed. The mice read. The pen signed. The mouse read. The pattern went on and on until all the papers in the packet were read and signed, only two set aside for further decision. The pen was trained to think like its owner.

"Eleven-ten, more mail, more mail!"

Another mailgabacart rolled down the street in the same fashion as the previous, this time delivering mails. Hesitating at what remained of every mailbox, twisted metal and ash, the mailgabacart opened a non-existent metal door before dumping stacks of papers onto the rubble. The maildog ran from his place by the doorstep to the mailbox, picking up the letters, smudged with ash and grime, clearly displeased at the state of the envelops. The letters were taken to the office desk, where the mice and pen repeated their cycle. Reading, writing, signing… Reading, writing, signing… Reading, writing, signing…

"Eleven-fifty! Time to cook, time to cook!"

Lunch started brewing, pots filled themselves with water, oil lay in a thin sheet on top of pans, the smell of tantalizing meat and onions filled the air, a delicious fragrance, and the sound of sizzling juiciness was heard.

"Noon, noon, noon! Welcome home, welcome home! Home from work!"

The garage door opened once again to reveal a car, still untouched. After a couple minutes, the door slid back down.

"Lunch is ready, eat it while it's hot!"

The steak and onion soup, prepared generously by the kitchen, lay untouched, vapor streaming into the air. Exasperated, mechanical hands tipped the food into the trashcan, which burped after the new consumption of food.

"Would you like to read?"

No one responded. The library door opened; letting the smell of old encyclopedias fill the hall. Shelves covered with more books one could count rose, parallel and tall. In the center, plush armchairs faced each other while the sound of birds chirping echoed, providing a sense of peace. The librarian, a automaton monkey, sat near the doorway, his ruby eyes glancing back and forth, as if waiting for some attack. As the door opened, one of his silver ears twitched. Clambering over chairs and shelves, the automaton leaped form shelf to shelf, pulling out a book ever once in a while, shaking his head before sticking them back in the places where it originally was. Not a speck of dust billowed as he pulled books from their shelves, the mops and brooms had done their work well. After a minute of searching, the silver mechanism extracted one book, cracked with age and green paint. Gold threads held the delicate papers together, threatening to give away, faded with age. In excitement, the monkey bounded back to an armchair, placing the book down, where it lay. Swiveling his eyes to where a person might have sat, the monkey recited.

"Book pages burn at one hundred and fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Ray Bradbury, the author of the book you are reading, switched the numbers around to create the title of his book, Fahrenheit 451. It is…"

The monkey droned on and on, without a hesitation when repeating facts, scratching his ear once in a while.

Meanwhile, the house was busy. As an empty bus thundered down the street, wheels throwing up grit, the door swung open as if it was letting in a person. Apple tarts slid from a cupboard onto the table along with glasses of milk, prepared for two non-existent children. Pencils and pads of paper appeared on desks in their separate rooms, prepared to be used for homework.

Just when the librarian was about to run out of facts on Ray Bradbury and the trashcan was about to inhale yet another morsel of food, a shrill screech echoed through the house.

"Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

Doors slammed tightly shut. Sprinklers started, hosing down the halls, desperately trying to save the house. The cuckoo bird screamed at every room, every corridor, every working mechanism. But the fire licked its way through the house's useless defenses; it started as the faintest flicker of heat, but grew tremendously in size. When the house realized that it was a fire, the flame had already consumed much of what lay inside the house.

"Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

The structures crumbled, the eaves burned, and with one tremendous spark, the house fell with a resounding crash.

Silence fell.

(Only one feeble voice remained. The cuckoo bird, burnt crisp into ashes, but still muttering phrases.

"Today is… Today is… Today is… Today is…")

Reviews will be kindly appreciated, criticism is encouraged, and flames are more than welcome. I had nearly no time to look over this, so I apologize for all the mistakes. I know that's not really an acceptable excuse, but...

Copyright October 25th, 2012. You may NOT copy without my permission.