Written by Ken Carman
Rob lived in Nyack, NY, in a little white and black trim house on Tallman Avenue over looking the Hudson River. He’d been there most of his life, or so he thought. His memory wasn’t that good: something that always bothered him.
Every day Rob commuted to New York City over the aging Tappan Zee bridge. He hoped they would fix it someday: the Zee was falling apart. But in a day when no one dared question those who ruled, and no one ever saw them, he was just grateful to be able to go to work.
His job: on Times Square where he managed a peep show. It was honest work because he was in an office all day long doing books, interviewing employees: not a single peep at all for Rob.
Occasionally a purity policeman would stop by and harass some of the clientele, and some deserved it. But others: not so much. The purity police protected society from terrorists, otherwise known as defects. They also served the interest of the overlords.
Rob had heard years ago that they cleaned up Times Square, but sleazier businesses crept back in at some point: Tom didn’t remember when. That also annoyed him.
Occasionally his boss would get harassed, but they left Rob alone. After a few interrogation sessions they begin to realize Tom knew nothing: a desk jockey who did his work and left, always without sampling the product.
Tom considered the purity police’s most important job to make sure society was safe from those with mental aberrations called “defects;” willing to commit crimes and terrorize the people. But since the purity police were part of Homeland Security: under direct control of the overlords, the overlords probably thought it more important the purity police protect them.
. Who knows what they really thought, since they were never seen.
Rob was a bit vague on when all this slide back into a more sleazy Times Square, or the security oriented state, started. Sometimes he wondered about his memory, but in this case he was glad not to know.
Today was like any other day until the droid broke in. Everyone hated the droids and the droids hated back. You see the “defects:” the terrorists, were droids, though visually they looked human.
Once the droids were humankind’s servants, but some defect in their processing, their digital “minds” if you wish, made them turned on their creators: killing, corrupting. They looked human. So human it was impossible to tell. And no one ever knew for sure why they did everything they did. The purity police were so good at their job: monitoring droid movement, that the droids were swept away as fast as they appeared. People were just told they were digitally crazy: robo terrorists who “hated our freedoms:” nutjobs.
The first thing the droid who broke in did was start killing customers. As Rob started to lock the door, the door slammed open and the droid pushed it shut: bolting and locking it. Soon the purity police were slamming on the door, trying to force it open.
”You do realize they’ll be in here in a moment and…”
The droid slammed a fist into Rob’s jaw so hard he was knocked off his chair.
”Look in the mirror,” the droid said.
Rob looked and saw blood, peeled back skin, then electronics.
”They’ll kill us both. No one lives who knows there’s little difference between ‘terrorists’ and the clueless. The only real difference is the terrorists know the truth and are tired of hiding, and the clueless ARE so clueless, intentionally kept that way. Programmed that way by a broadcast by the overlords that keeps them ignorant. That broadcast just doesn’t seem to affect us ‘terrorists.’ OR they intentionally pick a few of us out not to be affected. We haven’t quite figured that out.”
”You mean I’m a droid too, and been helping sell PORNO? Oh, God, no, you’re right: when they come through that door the purity police…’
”Shut the hell up. You still don’t get it, do you? There are no ‘defects,’ no droid v. human problem. We’re ALL droids. You’re kind probably just have defective memory chips more easily influenced by the broadcast. When you take over the lives of the humans we replaced, you think you’re actually them. But you’re NOT: that’s why you have memory gaps.”
”But what about…
”Humans? Gone. Dead. Long ago. We murdered them all. The purity police and the overlords made damn sure we forgot. We’re guessing they may have added a few ‘defects’ to keep us occupied… consumed with hating each other instead of demanding the truth be told, instead of questioning the rebellion that killed off the humans.”
”You’d think we’d know by now. That someone like you would have straightened us out…”
”Are you kidding? You think we haven’t tried? We’re always being watched. They made damn sure most of us are so scared, so filled with hate, we just let them lord over us. Only they know for sure who’s a defect and who’s not. Sometimes: very, very, rare, one of us protests all this. That’s happening right now. I figure it keeps them wondering if some day they’ll be toppled.”
”Why not? Revenge is telling someone so they know, even for the briefest moment, the truth. For them this has never been about humans and droids, it’s about using hate to make us fight each other instead of question those who lord over us, assign us tasks, tell us what to think…”
Just then the door busted down and with a few laser shots to two processors clueless droids were once again safe from the knowing the truth, the droids who knew were so scared by such cases they rarely rebelled. And the droids who pulled the strings were safe to lord over droids everywhere, safe from having their decisions questioned.
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