One glimpse of her face.
One syllable from her lips.
The last stamp, issued in the 21st century, showed the face of a woman, half human, half biomechanical wunderkind.
To keep stamps interesting and attractive, the post office start issuing animated versions powered by the touch of a finger, the pressure of a finger converted to just enough electrical energy to play a few cycles of a GIF file.
He looked at her and listened.
Who was she?
She was somebody yet she was no one in particular.
She was everyone.
She represented a species in transition.
He thought she was a female form because of the socially-defined delicate feminine features and the sound of her voice.
But she could just as well have been a he as an it.
Early 21st century attempts to maintain the two gender format prevalent in the first couple million years of development of the species had slowly given way to separate subcultures, including one that preserved the two gender format and other subcultures that disregarded gender in any one solidified form.
He pressed on the stamp again and listened to her voice.
She spoke a two-syllable word.
She sang two three-syllable words.
Phonetically, the words were related to no language.
They were words or phrases indicated by pauses.
Sounds in a small range of human hearing, vibrations from a piezoelectric buzzer embedded in the stamp.
“Oh-AI,” she spoke and paused.
“Ah-EM-see,” she sang and closed her mouth.
She opened her mouth and sang, “Tchoh-kam-WEE.”
Despite the age of the stamp, the android’s face radiated beauty, her facial features glimmering and changing shape to reflect the idea of beauty across many subcultures of the 21st century.
The Last Stamp Collector smiled. He had traded the next ten marsyears of his energy credits for the stamp.
The stamp would buy him immortality because he knew a secret.
Hidden in the stamp was a code, a key, that unlocked a door countless people had died to open, revealing the formula for reversing the effects of time-related entropy.
Destroying the stamp to reveal the formula would also drastically change history, not necessarily for the betterment of the species.
Was his personal immortality worth the cost?