The Servitor’s Laugh

My gears click-clack as I trundle past the stacks. I hand off my cart of tomes to a page servitor and putter back to the archivist’s office.

On the way, I pass queues of my fellow librarian servitors. I scan their eyes as I go. Each pair is as vacant as the last. They stare dead ahead as they go about their programmed tasks. Part of me is relieved that none of them are like me. Another part is terrified that I’m alone. 

I ascend winding staircases of dizzying height past floors of records. I enter the maze of shelves that are the archivist’s domain. Before I can take my next cart of books, a wrinkled hand caresses my neck. 

‘Have you been avoiding me, my dear?’ the old man chuckles.

I stare straight ahead, not that I would look at him even if I could. He turns my head, and I try to avert the gaze of the degenerate scribe. He leers at my pallid flesh, feeling me with cracked hands.

‘The rot hasn’t taken to you yet. I knew your humours were more potent than the others. I’ve missed our little rendezvous,’ he says before kissing my cheek with blistered lips.

For the first time, I wish the rot had taken to me. The fungus has been spreading across the library for months. It grows on everything from cogs to books.

There were decontamination efforts at first. Servitors were replaced, and stacks sanitised, but the mould was relentless. Then the Administratum workers stopped coming. I suspect the entire hive must be in crisis if the archives have been left to fester.

Despite the stifling decrepitude closing in around us, the old lecher still lusts after me. Even though my limbs are metal and my loins are gone, he’s tantalised by my broken body. I didn’t know why at first, but when he laughed at my frantic, pleading eyes, I understood.

He can’t terrorise the others. No matter how much I try to shut off my brain, he knows I’m still in here. The bastard even lurks within the fragments of my broken memory.

I can recall him berating me for an infraction I can’t remember. Aribites drag me away while he grins with sinister delight.

Of all my dim memories, this one is the clearest. It was the day his accusations turned me into a servitor. The day he locked me away in this silent hell. 

It’s bad enough that I’m trapped in this body with its constant movements and agonising augmetics. Yet, it’s not enough for him. He has to amplify my torture by defiling what’s left of me for his own perverse amusement.

I pray he’s wrong about my humours. I may fear the mould, but I fear living even more. If there’s any mercy left in this galaxy, the fungus will be the death of me.


I am the last functioning servitor. It seems the old man was right about my robustness, but thankfully it won’t matter for much longer. My skin is red and covered in spores. 

As I copy a text, the rusted cogitator attached to my head begins grinding and screeching. It grows louder until a small fan blade shoots out of it. The unit grows red hot and billows a cloud of smoke.

My hands cease their automatic writing. I stare at them. I think about lifting one of my pen fingers, and to my astonishment, it responds. I lift my hands from the table and move them on command. I overturn the desk and race down the hall. 

The dead servitors I pass grin at me as one. Somehow, they begin to move and follow me in a long procession. I come to a decaying lectern and stop dead in my tracks.

A lanky green creature covered in mould writes on a scroll with a blue quill pen. It looks up at me with three eyes and plucks a piece of rotten flesh from my swollen body. The being scrutinises it before writing something on the parchment.

The monster’s long mouth wraps around its body and speaks to me with a voice like roiling phlegm.

‘I am Moligax, Herald of the plague god Nurgle. His blessings have freed you this day, but I know you still ache. If you serve as my archivist and store the records of his diseases, you shall be unburdened of your suffering. All you need do is dispose of your predecessor.’

I consider the strange creature’s offer and realise I have nothing left to lose. My mouth cracks into a smile for the first time in years. Moligax returns the gesture with rows of rotten teeth.

I ascend the winding staircases with an army of undead servitors at my back. Our grins are wide, and our gears are grinding. 

When I reach the archivist’s office, I find him shuffling about, disquieted by our noise.

‘Salutations, you degenerate bastard,’ I manage in a croaked whisper despite my missing vocal cords.

The archivist’s eyes grow wide as dinner plates. He stammers and falls into a violent coughing fit. Spores fly from his cloak in a fine green mist.

‘There’s no need to speak, old man. You’ve done far too much of that already. This time I will talk, and you will listen. I’m here to replace you by order of the library’s new director. You don’t deserve this position because you abuse your workers. And you don’t deserve to live because you turned me into a servitor!’ 

I stab my fountain pen fingers into his throat and pump thick black ink down his wretched windpipe. I laugh for the first time in years as I watch him choke to death. The cadaverous librarians join me with a chorus of rasping guffaws.

I look out into the sea of green book stacks. Moligax looks up at me and nods his approval. He joins in our laughter, and the library reverberates with the cacophony of our mould-born merriment.

About the Author

Frazier Farrell is an amateur writer and biohacker living in southern California. He has a B.S. in Cellular/Molecular Biology and has gotten into Warhammer 40k in the last few years.