Author : Eric L. Sofer

Gwen and Naomi came in from the vegetable field and sat down with two large cold iced teas in Naomi’s parlor. “Naomi, I’m so glad to see you and your neighbors doing so well after the Great War! When our supplies ran out in the Survival Vault and we had to leave, we thought we’d find the country devastated… but we came home here to find you and Franklin thriving!”

Naomi sighed and answered, “We were just lucky that our part of the state made it through untouched, and that we have so many farms that are so productive.”

“And you didn’t have any problems?”

“Well… I didn’t say that,” the older woman sighed. “Near the end, the government was insistent that we all use their products and procedures, and about six months before the bombs dropped, they switched over to using robots as county agents.

“They wouldn’t take no for an answer, demanding we use their wheat seeds, their food supplements, their growing methods. And after the war, the robots kept coming and coming. Nobody switched off the robots, so they started destroying things if they weren’t paid.”

Gwen gasped. “Is that why Scotty only has one-“

“YES!” Naomi answered sharply. “Yes, they attacked our crops, our houses, even us, unless we cooperated. The robots would only move on if they were told someone else needed them more… which a few of our neighbors did to us…

“Made of all that metal we so desperately needed… but coming to attack us weekly… it was terrible, Gwen.”

“What did you do?”

Naomi smiled wryly. “My boy Kenny gave me the idea. Franklin was out in the wheat fields, and Kenny smarted off to me. After I spanked him, I forgot about it. Until the day the Master Agent came. Eight feet tall, big as a tank.

“It would have destroyed our house… and as I stood at the front door as it bristled at me, I suddenly remembered what Kenny said. I told it that it had to go to the McCormick home, next door, and that I’d meet it in the back corner of their granary storage building.”

Naomi stood up. “In fact, let’s go check on it. I just sent another of those agent robots over to McCormick’s yesterday, just before you arrived. Here, take one of these burlap sacks,” as she handed Gwen a large bag, and they headed out the front door.

They go to the neighbor’s farm, and approached the grain storage building. As they got close, they saw machinery parts littering the way. Naomi said, “Take those pieces, Gwen… those power supplies will be useful… oh, and don’t miss the mechanical arms.”

“They look like they’ve been torn apart, Naomi.”

“They have- ah, here.” The two women saw the gigantic Master Agent as it finished ripping apart the other robot that had come to Naomi’s door earlier.

Throwing down the pieces of the destroyed agent robot, the Master Agent bellowed robotically, “You have not met me yet!”

Naomi calmly answered, “When you get to the back corner, I will meet you.”

“Very well!” the giant robot replied, and it stomped back into the granary.

The older woman picked up useful remnants of the newly destroyed robot as Gwen said, “But how did you convince him not to come back?”

“It’s what little Kenny said. He told me to go stand in a corner… and that’s what I told the Master Agent,” she said, smiling and patting the side of McCormick’s big, red, round grain silo.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows