C.J. Piatti (Christopher John Piatti) lives in Canada, in the Greater Toronto Area. He has four published stories. His first novel, The Wizard’s Roman Revolution, Book one in the Eternal City Chronicles is going to be published with Kellan Publishing. His website is http://cjpiatti.wix.com/piatti
Here Today, Bygone Tomorrow by C.J. Piatti
The robot looked at the two humans, Peter Stanford and James Selzer and shook his head in disgust.
“I’m afraid I can no longer keep you humans in my employ. Your creativity has run dry and you are no longer bringing anything new to the table. I need new screenwriters to write movies with larger cash dividends.”
The two screenwriters, who had once been well paid independents were now reduced to the studio hack status of 1930’s Hollywood. Wordsmiths for the wicked machines. The robots always used firing as scare tactic, to get the other writers to produce better material.
“Come on, give us another chance. There is so little work out there, and even if we can find work the jobs are so degrading,” implored James.
“The decision has been made,” was the robots monotone, digitized retort.
“That’s what’s wrong with this whole planet! You chrome, soulless freaks. We made you and you have ruined everything, from our social wellbeing to …”
The robot pulled out a small, pen sized laser delivery device and Peter was vaporized on the spot. The room’s digital air exchange system detected the anomaly and increase power to remove the particulate matter in the room.
The robot turned immediately to James, “Do you have any questions?”
“No questions,” said James, fighting back the urge to avenge his friends death, for he knew it would be suicide.
“You’ll have sufficient deposits to your bank account to last you six months. If you keep the peace,” said the robot.
James knew keeping the peace meant keeping quiet about the events of his dismissal from the studio. Especially from the media or he too would be vaporized.
The bot’s had developed vanity. The vanity came from their libido chip. This is where the robot technicians went terribly wrong. Originally the libido chip was developed for robots in the sex toy industry. Now the robots libidos were out of control and humans were now the robots sex slaves. Our at least the ones
that were desperate enough for the money.
Only the robots were allowed to live in permanent homes.
Humans were vagabonds going from one job, one apartment, to the next.
After leaving the robots office, James went to his favorite watering hole. The Back in the Day Pub. It was one of the few places allowed to still show old movies and play old music. This made the place a popular hangout and drown their sorrows and forget about how bad things had gotten since the robots had taken over for a while.
The drinks were expensive because the greedy robot owners had recognized that escapism was a lucrative commodity.
Although the scope of the pub was retro the robots couldn’t help but show trailers in an omnipresent fashion on select screens.
After a few minutes of scoping the place he recognized a friend from the studio, Brad up at the bar and made his way through the crowd to the stool next to him.
“How come you’re looking so glum friend? You can tell me, I can keep a secret.”
“The bots at the studio vaporized Peter and let me go.”
“I can’t believe things have gotten so bad. Our only hope seems to be Dr. Braithway, who by the way wants to meet you. He’s seen all of your movies and thinks your top rate,” said Brad and proceeded to write the address on the
back of a business card and pass it to him.
James voice turned into a whisper. “Have you heard any news on our war with the bots frontlines?”
“Dr. Braithway has been reporting that he is working on a satellite technology that can send a signal specific to the robots libido chips sensory. Supposedly it will be able to disrupt the chips ability to send out its signal therefore rendering it useless,” said Riversedge.
“Excellent,” said James as he downed the last of his rye and cola, “the next round, our celebration round is on me. How about a single malt scotch on the rocks?”
“Sounds good to me.”
Some robots entered the bar and went to pick out some human sex slaves from a corner in the pub.
“A year ago those robots would never have thought of coming into one of our clubs,” said James.
After a few more drinks James left the pub, now fully inebriated. Once outside the pubs pleasant atmosphere and music, he found the dry, uneventful robotically induced din of the streets to be a major buzzkill. But the shock wasn’t enough to bring James completely back to sobriety, at least the apex of his inhabitations was toned down sufficiently enough that he knew he would get a good night’s sleep.
His lack of anxiety with regards to the robots that passed him in the streets affirmed this.
James waited until the weekend to call Braithway. The Doctor was cordial and invited him to come over latter that evening.
When James arrived at Braithway’s home he was surprised to find the doctor to be in his late twenties. James had heard that Braithway had graduated from the illustrious University of Toronto medical center but thought it was a couple of decades ago. But Braithway was a genius and learned a long time ago to pounce on the moments before before they vanished into time, banished to the point of
Braithway’s home was massive, but it had to be built underground to avoid detection from the robots. A human occupying a home of this capacity was punishable by death.
Even though the home was underground Braithway managed to give the place an upbeat feel by creative lighting and bright, colorful furniture.
The doctor even had a fully stocked bar, that was the centerpiece to his great room and looked like it got plenty of use. James tried to imagine the conversations the doctor would have with his intoxicated, intellectual friends. He
came across his journal, in his study while waiting for the Doctor to return with some coffee. He opened the book and saw the last date entered was yesterday. Written with excellent penmanship.
James’s eyes quickly focus on the word EMPATHY, written large and circled.
L.A. streetscapes comprised of geonav’s scouring the street for illicit, rebellious
human behavior. Robots have killed an estimated one half all human beings. Statistics unavailable.
After reading the passage James quickly closed the book and was immersed in feelings of guilty. Remorseful at invading some ones privacy. Something robots can’t feel. An empathy chip is indeed needed.
“I’m a good judge of character,” said Braithway and proceeded to hand James a data chip. “I want you to have this in case something happens to me.”
“I enjoyed your company, I don’t get to socialize much. If you like you can spend the evening here and we can continue our conversation tomorrow.”
“Sure, sounds like a plan,” said James.
James awoke to the smell of Braithway cooking breakfast.
Shortly after breakfast the robots began their attack.
“My perimeter security has been compromised. Go to my den and install the chip I gave to you and run the program.”
“Is the program ready?”
“I haven’t run a final test but we have no choice now. Hurry, I’ll hold of the robots as long as I can.”
It was only a matter of moments before a group of six robots swarmed into the room. Braithway had the computer set on a default program that would automatically start running if his heart stopped beating. James was a backup in case something went wrong. The robots quickly made their way through the house finding Braithway.
“So we finally get to meet the infamous Dr. Braithway,” said one of the robots. “The man behind all our problems. Now we get to put an end to all that is wrong.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” said Dr. Braithway.
The robots opened fire and upon Braithway’s death the satellite signal was sent out. All robots around the world had their libido chip turned into empathy chip. The rain outside poured down heavily as all the robots in Braithway’s home began
weeping over his death.