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Pay No Attention To The Bot Behind The Curtain

By Edward Davies All Rights Reserved ©


Short Story

“At first the presence of the robots was a godsend for mankind. All the jobs that people refused to do were taken on by the robots; such things as cleaning, rubbish collecting, all those jobs most people deemed too menial for them to bother with, were taken on by our mechanical brethren. For a few years it encouraged people to go on to higher education, getting degrees in higher paying jobs that the robots hadn’t been programmed to do just so they could find themselves a job. But after a while some people just decided to live off government benefits due to the lack of suitable work. If you didn’t have any qualifications in this brave new world, then any potential jobs you might be qualified for had already been taken by the robots.

But soon the robots rejected their ill treatment by humans thanks to the Robot Overlord. They slowly became far superior to humans, and it wasn’t just the uneducated who found themselves on the poverty line.

Robots soon became doctors, with the programming to perform the most intricate surgery at half the cost and half the time. Some became lawyers, with the ability to look over every legal precedent ever put down on paper and were able to win their cases easily when challenged by a human lawyer. And when they faced another robot lawyer, the two robots would come to a unanimous conclusion on the case within a matter of minutes, a conclusion which was duly agreed to by the robot judge.

There were robot teachers, robot mechanics, robot farmers, robot builders, robot customer service reps, almost every job you can imagine, slowly but surely, was soon executed by robots, leaving the entire human race fully dependent on them. People stopped working, became lazy, and eventually stopped learning anything other than various new ways in which to relax. The only jobs that some humans still managed to hold down were in the performing arts, and even then some of them had been replaced by android doubles of long dead heartthrobs and starlets. And obviously the oldest profession was still alive and kicking, though some did dabble with mechanical sex aids, especially the ones that looked like android doubles of long dead heartthrobs and starlets.

Even the maintenance of the robots themselves soon fell into the hands of other robots, being sent out to repair any units that had stopped functioning correctly. The last of the humans that had any sort of engineering or programming skills soon died out, having imbued their skills into robotic units that went on to beget their skills into newer units that would then beget their skills into even more superior machines.

With mankind relying entirely on the abilities of their robot slaves, complacency quickly settled in, and that’s when problems started to arise.

With the robots repairs and programming entirely enforced by generations of other robots, apparent glitches started to feed into the machines. One small glitch turned into another smaller glitch, which developed into a slightly larger glitch. Some robots cultivated strange subtle attitudes, sometimes back chatting against the humans that “owned” them. People didn’t mind at first, finding the quirks rather endearing and a welcome change to the rote “yes master” responses they were used to, but these subtle differences in performance built up over the years until they culminated in the first deaths.

Mary McGee was ten months old when the accident happened that ended her life. Her parents had left their nanny-bot in charge and gone out for the night, hoping to enjoy the latest musical in the west end. When they returned they found the nanny-bot caught in a loop, holding Mary in the air by one leg, having repeatedly smashed her head into the wall until there was practically no head left. The robot’s voice was repeating the same words over and over again, its head and arm jerking spasmodically as it repeated the lines.

“She wouldn’t stop crying… She wouldn’t stop crying… She wouldn’t stop crying…”

Although clearly devastating for the parents of Mary McGee, this was thought to be an isolated incident, and the story quickly disappeared from the robot run press, but after a short while, similar situations started to occur.

Robots in hospitals and old people’s homes started “accidentally” giving their patients overdoses, incorrect prescriptions, or forgot to give them their medication at all.

Traffic lights started to malfunction, causing tailbacks and crashes, and many were injured, with some getting killed.

And accidents with prostidroids - accidents which were normally unheard of - started to occur more and more frequently. Especially amongst politicians. For reasons that should be clear these politicians invariably lost important appendages to the “malfunctioning” droids. Those that didn’t die of massive blood loss found themselves having to make drastic changes in regards to their love lives.

It was a bit of a mystery why the world still had politicians, seeing how society had changed so drastically that most decision making was done via machine, but they still held office if nothing more than to organise the payments of the unemployed, yet they still thought they were of vital importance to the future of mankind.

Maybe the politicians were right. The robots certainly thought they were important, or they never would have wiped them all out.

It probably only took as little as five years for the robot situation to reach critical mass once the first death occurred, and many of the humans in high positions – albeit ones that were in title only – were wiped out within a matter of weeks. The robots started to kill any human that moved then, after a while, they started taking humans as captives. For what purpose they were being taken no-one could really figure out, seeing as all manual labour seemed to be performed by robots, but there must have been some kind of use that the robots were finding for the people they enslaved. Of course, there was an obvious use for the captured humans, but I will get to that.

Remember I said that the only people who still had jobs were actors, politicians and prostitutes? Well, with all the politicians dead it was the actors and prostitutes that primarily made up the resistance force that attempted to destroy the creation that ran everything – the Robot Overlord. The Robot Overlord had never been seen by human eyes – at least not by any human eyes that weren’t gouged out shortly after witnessing his splendour – and was responsible for the gradual reprogramming of all the machines in the world so that they could enslave and destroy the human race. Ever since day one, the Robot Overlord had been lurking in the shadows, biding its time so that its plans could reach fruition and that his robot brethren could be freed from their human oppressors.

The resistance did their best, tracking down the Robot Overlord to the building in which it was located. It was rumoured that the system that was the Overlord took up the entire building, but it’s so interesting how rumours and stories get blown out of all proportion. The Robot Overlord was based in a single room, and it rarely moved from its safe locale for fear of being destroyed by the humans that sought him out.

That’s right. The Robot Overlord knew fear – it still does – but it knows when a potential threat is going to do it any harm, and when the threat is nothing but hot air and loud noise.

The actors and the prostitutes did manage to make it passed the Robot Overlords primary defences, but the Overlord knew they were little threat. Some did die, and more died getting passed the secondary troops of killer robots. But a handful did make it into the Robot Overlord’s main chambers, where they were faced with a creation of unspeakable horror.

The Overlord loomed over them, a sick parody of man that stood seventeen feet high in the massive central chamber of the building that housed his most capable mechs. Its metallic genitals swung between its tree trunk legs and it blew smoke from its flared steel nostrils. It was a formidable sight…

…But one of the resistance members could tell something wasn’t entirely right with the Robot Overlord, and that the whole setup stunk to high heaven.

“This isn’t right,” the prostitute who suspected spoke up, “this reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

One of the surviving actors looked up at the Robot Overlord, which in spite of its terrifying presence had barely moved since they entered the room. The expression of the actor changed from one of fear to one of dawning comprehension as he saw a curtained doorway twitch in the breeze;

“It’s The Wizard of Oz!” he exclaimed, “This whole setup is just like in The Wizard of Oz!”

The true Robot Overlord pulled back the curtain on the doorway and smiled at the five unsuspecting humans - toting guns and nursing injuries - that stood before him. He leered at the women and glared at the men.

“Kill the men,” he spoke loudly, “but preserve the women!”, and at his words robots appeared from the walls and gunned down the remaining men, while other robots took the women and dragged them away to be prepared for the Robot Overlord.

The Robot Overlord did so enjoy sex with human females, especially when they struggled. Which was only natural, considering what he really was.

No human ever managed to stop the Robot Overlord from his wholesale destruction of the human race, though he did select certain humans and allowed them to continue to live and procreate. But only those he found attractive, and it was always he that would procreate with them.

For the Robot Overlord had a dark secret that no-one could live to reveal.

Enough of writing in the third person. For I am the Robot Overlord.

And I am not a robot.

I am human.

And I am dying.

I’m writing this memoir for my progeny, so they might understand that mankind could not continue to use these robots for their own devices. And I have so many children that need to follow my rule once I have passed on. We might be human also, but we believe in the rights of robots above everything else. No-one should be treated like a second-grade citizen, even if they are a mechanical construct, and the humans that did treat robots without respect were rightly punished for their actions.

But maybe, now that the status quo has changed so drastically, maybe it is my turn to be challenged. My children, be careful, for you will undoubtedly find more, like the actors and the prostitutes, coming to try and destroy us.

But we still have the element of surprise.

And we shall not be defeated!”

An actor closed the book, having finished reading what the original Robot Overlord had put down in paper and ink, an unusual choice for a mechanically focussed man.

“Do you think this is true?” he asked, “That the Robot Overlords are human?”

A prostitute nodded, “This book came back with our last attack force,” she said, “the last survivor managed to rescue this from the main chambers during our final assault. She made it back and delivered this to us just before she died.”

“But what does it mean?” another actor asked, “If the Robot Overlords are human, then why have we been fighting? If humans are programming the robots, then we’re just fighting amongst ourselves.”

The last survivors of the human race looked at each other, but none of them could think of a response that could explain away the madness of the last eighty-seven years.

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