Chapter 15 - Aftermath
The mood was eerily still as the only thing that could be seen on my feed was a dimly lit, dully colored ceiling; the opposite of what possibly lay on the other side of what was viable to me.
Cran and I sat there for a moment trying to take in what we just audibly experienced.
We looked at each other for just a moment before we realized that we should not be sitting still. We both suddenly jumped up and made for the vehicle waiting outside, having it move at top speed, which was restricted to 75 mph, generally fast, but a little too slow for what we wanted to accomplish––we had to get to Sally before Mr. Axell did.
I switched the inside of my lens to the feed so I could see if anything changed while on the way, but thankfully, nothing did for the entirety of the drive there.
However, we arrived at Clancy’s condominium complex just as we saw a black vehicle pull up outside. Mr. Axell’s men quickly exited it and ran into the building.
“Goddamn it. Shit,” I said, a rare display of cursing from me, as Cran and I also exited our vehicle. I pounded on the hood.
“We’re too late,” I said in defeat as I stared up at approximately where I thought Clancy’s room to be.
“Sir,” Cran said as he too stared up the side of the building, “I can scale the wall of this complex relatively easily, and if I do so right this instant I believe I may be able to beat them to her. And it seems to be made of brick which shall make my ascent even easier.”
I hesitated to answer. I wasn’t too sure of what he was saying to me. I was also preoccupied with watching the two men struggle with the robotic security guard in the lobby.
“Would this be something you’d desire of me?” he asked as my bearings suddenly came back to me.
“Yes. Yes. What are you waiting for? Go,” I said, impatiently.
He looked up and said, “61st floor I believe. I shall be right back, sir.”
He sprinted across the street and made his way up the side, leaping like a giant mechanical frog, tearing chucks of brick off the side of the structure as he climbed. I waited at the bottom of where I believed the room that held Sally to be, careful not to be hit by the falling debris.
I continued to look up, which was silly, as I had returned to watching the feed through my glasses, obstructing anything I would be able to see had I not been wearing them.
The feed still displayed nothing for several moments, before I finally heard the sound of glass breaking––Cran had found her room and had no doubt shattered the window to get in. He scooped her up in his arms just before another sound had interrupted the scene, the sound of a door being smashed open.
“Shit, it’s that fucking assistant of his!” the voice of one of the men yelled out.
As Cran passed his lifeless body, I was able to catch only the faintest glimpse of the fate that befell Clancy Wallace Somerson as Sally’s eyes finally faced him: his face blue, head slumped to one side, eyes popped clean from their sockets, his half-naked torso, from the neck down, engulfed in dark crimson liquid.
And then, I saw the cityscape whooshing by as I realized Cran was making his descent from the room. I switched my glasses back to normal just in time to see Cran, cradling Sally, fall from a sickening height, shards of glass and portions of brick following in their wake. I ran from underneath the path of my plummeting assistant, moments before he crashed back down to earth, his heavy metallic feet creating small craters and ripples beneath him as debris rained down over them.
“We must hurry, sir. They will be here any second.”
We tossed Sally in the back of the car and made our escape. We had not traveled two minutes before I could see a black vehicle following us from through the back window, and it steadily caught up with us. Obviously, Mr. Axell’s vehicle was not held back by any speed or vehicle-flight restrictions put on the rest of the public as suddenly, it took flight, hovering past us and overtaking us, cutting off our path forward, the bright headlights of their vehicle blinding us, forcing us to stop our vehicle. We had no other choice.
I watched as the men leapt from their vehicle and, without hesitation, drew their weapons on us. At that moment I wished that at the very least I were able to say a proper goodbye to Cran and thank him for all his years of servitude to me. I also wanted to apologize to Sally, even though she wouldn’t understand why I did so. I was not so sure myself.
But there was not any time for that, and I closed my eyes tight and braced for the death the barrage of electro-bullets would bring me. But, while the barrage came, death did not. I definitely heard the shots being fired at us, riddling our vehicle with bullet holes, but none of them were reaching their intended targets. I opened my eyes to find myself face to face with Cran as he provided cover for Sally and me, the bullets clanging and crackling against his protective robotic hide.
“See, sir, I told you, you made me quite tough,” he said to me. The bullets suddenly stopped coming and Cran glanced behind him.
“They must be reloading. I must take this chance. I shall be right back, sir,” he said, and he made his exit from the vehicle through the destroyed front window.
“Sir, I will also have to borrow this. My apologies,” and with that, he ripped the front hood off from the car.
The men reloaded quickly and they continued to blast away at us. But Cran used the hood as a makeshift shield.
I watched as he tossed the hood of the car at the two men. They successfully ducked out of the pathway of the oncoming slab of metal, but, it provided the perfect distraction as Cran ran over to one of the men, grabbed him by the lapel and flung him into his partner, knocking them both unconscious. He then took the hood of the car and wrapped them inside of it, leaving just their heads exposed. Cran surprised me with his strength.
“Hurry, sir. I find it hard to believe these will be the only two men sent to investigate,” Cran said as he came back to retrieve us.
“Where are we going?” I asked him, confused. I still wasn’t quite sure how we survived that whole ordeal. “Our car––”
“We have a new mode of transportation,” he said, as he motioned toward the black car that hovered before us.
“But, the tracking––”
“I disabled the tracking device within the vehicle, sir.”
“But, up above––”
“I have taken care of that as well. Please, sir, we must hurry.”
Cran helped us into the vehicle before he commandeered it. It started moving forward at well above the speed limit.
We changed the seats’ orientation so that we were facing each other making it easier to converse.
“Where are we going?” I asked again as the question was not answered the first time I asked it.
“Home, sir,” he said. “I gave the vehicle the coordinates.”
I suddenly regained the bearings that I had lost a second time.
“Okay. But we can only get the essentials. I’m afraid we probably won’t be able to reside there any longer, Cran.”
“That was the conclusion I have reached as well, sir.”
“Cran, back there, I don’t remember equipping you with the ability to disable complex systems like that,” I said.
“Sexual colloquialisms aside, sir, you equipped me with the tools to learn such things like that on my own. You said as much yourself once.”
I shouldn’t have, given the circumstance, but I chuckled at his statement. I looked down at Sally, as Cran was still cradling her, her head faced downward, the condition she was in reminding me of the ordeal we just experienced.
“Cran. I… I’m sorry for the predicament I have put you in. I’m sorry for this inconvenience,” I said to him after we gained some distance from the site of the disaster.
“Sir, I am just a robot. I am rarely inconvenienced. Not in the conventional sense, anyway.”
I thought about what he just said to me, and I disagreed with his statement.
“Not just a robot, Cran. You’re also a good friend,” I said.
I suppose he didn’t know how to answer that, so he didn’t. He just looked down at Sally at rest in his arms.
We reached the house and Cran handed Sally off to me as he stepped out of the car.
“My toolbox is all I need,” I said to him, as I had time to think about what is was I wanted to take with us. I looked down at Sally in my arms, her face turned away from me. It was a morbid sight. I had to mentally remind myself that she was a robot and not my wife. She was fixable. She would be okay.
Before I had time to completely lose myself in thought, Cran came back with my toolbox, a suitcase, and the bucket of corn-bots I had left in the basement; a picture of my wife lay atop it.
“I figured you needed more than just your tool box, sir,” he said.
“Thank you,” I said to him as I picked up the picture and looked at it. It was the picture that sat on my dresser next to my bed. It made me smile.
“Destination, sir?” he asked me.
“I’m thinking a small motel. But I don’t want to risk it.”
“I’ve scrambled our grid signatures and we should be untraceable for some hours. We should be able to book a room without fear for at least a short amount of time. Although, admittedly I have no idea of the quality or reach of Mr. Axell’s resources,” he said.
“Motel it is.”