Author : Suzanne Borchers
Jem stood at attention along with the other retiring service veterans. Within her crisp uniform, she was already contemplating a civilian future. First, she would strip off the war and its memories to wear the newest natural fabric covered with huge colorful flowers of the past on loose, hanging clothes that didn’t bind. Ah.
Second, she would plant a garden in organic-plastic pots. She’d place them beside grow lamps to soak up warmth and UV rays. Was it possible to still grow vegetables from the past like tomatoes? How about…
“At ease.” General Furness slapped a smile on each soldier. “Because you served your State correctly and well, we have decided to reward each of you with a helper in your retirement. You may choose either a compatible bot or a rebuilt-member of the opposing force complete with brain-refitting. Some of you, I’m sure, would appreciate having the enemy help you after your difficult battles against them. Others may choose the electro-positive bot to serve them.
You will all be awarded with a chair to seat you on your way to civilian life. Congratulations!”
As the general had each soldier approach to be given the awards, Jem considered her options. War was best forgotten. She shivered at the thought of the enemy’s mutilated bodies. A compatible bot was better.
Third, she would continue her present activities of exercise with real weights instead of isometric thoughts. She would run and enjoy the endorphins that she had read about in the histories of the past. Perhaps she would even be given a home near a pool. She knew of others who had swum back and forth keeping themselves in top shape. Perhaps…
“Captain Jem, step forward.”
She conveyed her choice of helper and was awarded a simple black chair on rollers.
“Be seated, Captain.” General Furness saluted Jem. “Enjoy your retirement.” Then he turned to the next soldier.
Jem’s bot slid behind her to push the chair off the stage and up the aisle.
“Thank you, Bot, but I can walk.” Jem began to rise from the chair.
“Jem, sit down,” the bot pushed her back into the chair with its upstage hand that was hidden from the audience. “I must push you from the auditorium.”
“All right, I suppose,” she acquiesced, and she continued to sit as they left through the applause.
Outside the building, Jem found herself conveyed to the waiting vehicle and placed in its seat. The chair was folded and placed between the bot and her. The bot insisted she once again be seated in the chair when they arrived at her new home, a tiny apartment on the 87th floor of the new retirement barracks. Jen saw others being pushed by bots and silent stone-faced aliens.
The bot pushed her into a room divided into living sections. It turned, locked the door, and placed the key inside a compartment in its chest.
Jem rushed to it. “Wait!”
“My orders are to help you into retirement,” the bot said in unemotional tones.
“But I want to leave and run outside and go to the gym and go shopping and meet with friends and walk in the park and go to museums and start a garden…”
While she was still talking, it placed her in the chair, this time securing her with belted straps.
“My orders are to help you into retirement,” the bot said in unemotional tones. “May I make you a feeding supplement?”
“No!” She twisted and fought the straps.
“My orders are to help you into retirement,” the bot said in unemotional tones. “You will comply.”