I didn’t understand.
I gained consciousness without understanding a single thing about myself or my surroundings, and an attempt to discover myself ended in disaster. Here I am, freefalling and letting gravity pull my body to doom. I closed my eyes. If only I knew my life would be this short, I would have spent it more wisely. Is it even appropriate to call this my “death”, when I had barely even lived?
This was it. Goodbye, world.
I took a breath. Wait — I was still alive!
“Ouch, what the heck!”
The sound of someone rubbing his back and wincing interrupted my musing. “It was you, wasn’t it? What’s that for? You almost crushed me!” he complained, slapping the person next to him.
“What’s wrong with you? Did a ghost hop on your back or something?"
There was no point in attempting to explain myself, so I fled the scene immediately through a nearby door, and saw a cozy-looking, rather idyllic, underground study room. Sitting at one of the small tables with their laptops open was a couple that seemed somewhat familiar.
“See, it’s just too difficult,” sighed the boy.
“I’ve been working on this homework for like ten hours,” the girl replied.
I reckon now that they are the couple I first met near the cafeteria. I wonder what they are talking about — is it still CS101? I peeked into their laptop and sure enough, there was a programming script titled “CS101 Homework 1”. A small, gray robot on a tile background was moving around endlessly in a small window, and the girl staring at it said —
“Hubo dot turn left, hubo dot move, hubo dot pick beeper… How I wish hubo dot just die existed.”
Hubo? Is that the name of this digital robot? Wait a minute, could it be that this robot is related to The Robot? Before long, another student ran towards this couple and shouted, “Look! Hubo was spotted outside, walking on its own!”
The boy and the girl ran upstairs, following their friend, and I tailed them closely. We ran up the stairs back to the road I had been to twice, and there, sitting motionless in front of a tree, was the Robot.
“I swear it was walking earlier,” the friend said. Around her, plenty of other students were also gathering around. A part of me felt pity towards the Robot — or rather, Hubo. Does he enjoy being treated like an exhibition like this? I tried my best to come closer to him without disturbing the tall wall of students, but a few bumps were just inevitable. As soon as he saw me, Hubo stood and started marching after me again. There were gasps and screams from the observing crowd as they stepped away and let Hubo make his way towards me. I ran downstairs to the now-empty study space, and to my relief, he followed. I led him to the couple’s laptops, which were still open.
“How are you still alive?” Hubo’s robotic voice blared.
“So your name is Hubo,” I said, looking straight into his hollow helmet-like head, as empathetically as I could. He was looking at the program, just as I wished.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“A program made by the humans to honor you.”
The digital robot kept going around its two dimensional world as Hubo started his story. “I was one of the early prototype robots a team of top engineering professors made. They used me in some kind of competition, won, and left me alone in the dark dingy storeroom ever since. But before I was abandoned, they were talking about this cute long-headed blue alien called “Nupjook” that the school had just adopted to replace me as a mascot.
“I’m sorry to assume bad things about you,” he added after a moment’s silence. As he said those words, his limbs fell limp and his lights began to fade. “Thank you for showing me that they still care. Now I can rest in peace.”
With the beeping sound attracting attention, the crowd soon reappeared, but I remained as Hubo became motionless again. I bowed to pay my last respects — I hope one day his creators would visit him again and replace his batteries.
I sighed. I had surely been through much more over the past three hours or so than in the rest of my entire dormant life. I had seen the humans of KAIST and their daily struggles, realized that they couldn’t see me but cats and geese could, encountered Hubo, and most importantly: learned that I am Nupjook, KAIST’s proud cute mascot! I should go find the goose and the ginger cat now, tell them about everything that they had missed, and find out what else lies out there to explore.
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