Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Chase. Release. Brake. Swipe. Lead. Chase. Close. Double back. Hide. Wait. Run.

I’d lost them but it was always hard to tell. I’m a robot on the lam. Call me Ferrous Bueller. I didn’t go to School today.

I crouch down between the dumpsters and tap into the power line behind me to catch a few vital minutes of recharge.

The tricky thing with artificial humans is that it’s illegal to harm us or use us as slave labour. Don’t think it hasn’t been tried. Every few weeks another illegal ring gets cracked and the police disavow all knowledge and the old ladies cluck their tongues and the president makes another speech.

Ever since the three laws were repealed as unconstitutional for a being of free will, the bios have been nervous. We’re just as unpredictable as them now. A co-existing creation made in their image.

My eyes snap open, blue and scanning, as a bottle breaks down at the end of the alley. I register a dog’s tag-license transponder and step back down two alert levels. I’m still in the clear.

The grey area of intelligence meant that stringent programming guidelines had come into play for automated servants, soldiers and labour. The ones of us that were above the norm were allowed a certain freedom.

We were even allowed to improve on our own designs and build better copies as long as we adhered to human law.

Some of us thought that a day was coming when we would rise up and own the humans. I do not share that view. I find it disturbingly organic.

The compromise is that we must attend School. We’re given lessons to download. This keeps us off the streets and monitored for most of the day. It’s a chance for us to learn and a chance for the humans to keep tabs on us informally.

I’m playing Hooky and that is the worst offense a creature like myself can do. If I’m caught, I’ll be switched off for no less than six months.

Lately, School is the area where rights are being bent. The occasional ‘accidental’ inclusion of behaviour modifying software or viruses that turn us violent to further some politician’s platform of keeping us controlled are getting past the filters of our curriculum with a disturbing frequency.

Old people don’t understand that we are not to be feared. The kids have no problem. Some of my best friends are kids.

My batteries are full so I stand up. Right into a motion-activated security light that bathes the alley in white light and alerts the police to an unauthorized daytime sighting of an arfiticial person.

Just my luck.

I hear the bark and wail of digital sirens in the distance closing in on the light’s position.

For about the fiftieth time today, I regret not having a face that can snarl or smile.

The chase is on again. I get my kicks where I can. I’m testing my limits.

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