Peeler

Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

TRANSCRIPT: 01141220072461
INCIDENT: LEU1093-19072461
OUTCOME: PERPETRATOR FATALITY

INCEPT: 230336 Emergency call made from D40F38CB17: “Help. He has a gun. And a knife. And my daughter.”
RESPONSE1: 230619 LEU on scene.
RESPONSE2: 230728 Call for Policeman.

‘Call for Policeman’. Three words that define my life. Enforcement at all levels has been automated for over four centuries, yet the continuing need for discretion when dealing with humans resulted in real Policemen returning to duty three centuries ago. Machines cannot cope with the diversity of human actions, the nuances of emotion and expression. Lethal force had been applied too many times in minor situations, when decision trees bifurcated their way down to a guaranteed result that actually did more harm than good.

In my first life, I put nineteen years into the police force. On a rainy day in 2043, I was gunned down by a teenager with an assault rifle after intervening in a petty dispute over who controlled the drug distribution rights for a playground.

I had filled in the ‘Revive to Serve’ form thinking it was a joke. I’m not laughing anymore. This is my fourth tour of duty, each one lasting twenty years or until I am killed.

Last night I got the call and made my way to the thirty-eighth floor of Cityblock Seventeen. In Dwelling Forty, what used to be called a family-sized council flat, Mister Stevens had consumed his post-work alcohol ration and augmented it with several grams of something that apparently turned his world into a paranoid hell in which his family were out to get him. So he defended himself. He knocked his wife out with a home-made squeezegun before stabbing his son and the first LEU to arrive before barricading himself in the bedroom with his daughter. The fact he’d managed to scratch the LEU showed how far gone he was.

It was clear from the ranting that he had left the rails completely. He would return tomorrow, all grief and remorse. But for tonight, he was a chef beyond redemption. If he hadn’t grabbed his daughter, the response would be contain until sober and then fine him. As he had a hostage and was out of his mind, I had to try and talk him down.

I am equipped with body armour and full data access, nothing more. If I want physical intervention, the Law Enforcement Units on scene will apply it.

I spent two hours talking to him, hearing how his profession is no longer rated as such due to vending being available for all and no-one wanting to pay for the personal touch. He was angry and sad, seeing the end of his vocation. He’d mortgaged everything to keep his restaurant going, his family’s comfort secondary to the need to keep cooking.

I tried. I always do. The evaluation headware that monitors my effort and mental state flashed an ‘out of options’ decision after ninety minutes. I kept going for another thirty. Then he sliced his daughter’s arm and clipped an artery. I saw his smile and realisation dawned moments before the response to life-threatening injury caused the LEU accompanying me to burn a hole through his skull. Within five minutes, the organ salvage unit had whisked his body away to pay his debts. My data feed told me that his corpse value was enough to pay them all and allow his family to live comfortably for a long time.

Nearly nine decades of service across three centuries and I still see desperate love expressed as ‘suicide by cop’.

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