"And so the fire behind their eyes died slowly and silently until nothing but the shells remained. THE END."

"What, is there really all there was to that? They were robots all along, and their eyes flickered out?"

"No, they didn't flicker out. They died. Don't you see?"

"You don't die just because you go blind. How insulting. My uncle was blind, did you know that?"

"They didn't go blind. Their eyes flickered out because their, I dunno, their batteries died, and so they died."

"What kind of batteries did they have?"

"I don't know. It's not important."

"It's your story. It's your robots. You should have some idea how they work. Didn't you do any research into robotics?"

"I didn't do research. It's not science fiction. It's a metaphor. It's a metaphor for dying."

"You just said they're dead. That's not a metaphor. That's what actually happened to them. A metaphor would be if it was supposed to represent, like, the loss of innocence of children, or modern society breaking down."

"Okay, fine, it's a metaphor for the loss of innocence of children."

"That's a stupid metaphor."

"It makes perfect sense."

"So robots are children?"

"Yes. No, wait. The robots' creators are children. The batteries that powered the robots were their imagination and their innocence."

"So the batteries were powered by innocence."

"Yes, and imagination."

"I thought you said you didn't know what kind of batteries they were."

"Well, I know what they are now."

"Okay, how did anyone invent a battery that ran on innocence and imagination? Doesn't sound like any kind of science I've ever heard of."

"It's not science fiction! It's a metaphor!"

"Are these necromantic devil-batteries that can harvest the energies of the soul? That's the only way I can see for a battery to run on innocence and imagination."

"That's ridiculous! There's no such thing as necromantic devil-batteries!"

"Okay, wait, you're willing to accept robots, and robot batteries that somehow run on innocence and imagination and abstract qualities of the human mind, but necromantic devil-batteries are just a bridge too far for you?"

"Of course! I'm not writing some kind of devil-worshiping horror. I've got standards. I'm a serious writer."

"You're a serious douchepuck."

"It's like you're not even trying to understand this. They're robots, and they're metaphors. Their batteries are themselves metaphors, but they're not necromantic devil-batteries because they're not metaphors for Satanism."

"But the batteries burn away human innocence and imagination. That's pretty Satanic. That's how I picture Hell working, you know?"

"You know nothing of Hell, and you know nothing of these robots. The robots represent children, and the batteries represent the souls of children, stuffed full of innocence and imagination. They're not real robots, but they're also not fake robots."

"I hate your goddamn robots."

"You just shut up."

"No, you just shut up."

"No, YOU just shut up!"

"No, YOU jjuuuussst shhhhuuuuu-K-KLIK"


"Oh, come on, you shut them down too early. You didn't even give them time to correct the GOTO error."

"I'm sorry, but they've hit the same error every time in every single test. There comes a time you just have to accept that the programming simply has flaws we won't be able to patch without a full rewrite."

"That'll take months! Maybe years!"

"It's not like they meet any of our specs the way they are now. Whose idea was it anyway to make a writer robot and a critic robot, then have them debate each other? It's a useless damn project."

"If we can get them working right, we revolutionize the arts, that's what."

"We'll revolutionize the art of arguing about stupid metaphors, maybe."

"Shut up."

"You shut up."

"No, YOU shhhhuuu-K-KLIK"

Entry for the Secret Santa Summer Nodeshell Challenge 2011

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