Author : Gray Blix

Leaning across the table, “Either you start talking, or I start dismantling you.”

“Excuse me, Detective Gibbon, but aren’t you supposed to read me my rights?”

“You’re a robot. You have no rights.”

“May I please call an attorney now?”

“You’re a robot. You don’t get an attorney.”

The door opened and a tall, attractive, well-dressed woman carrying a briefcase entered. Gibbon’s train of thought was momentarily derailed.

“I am Pamela Wright, and I am an attorney represent…”

“Attorney?” That got him back on track. “ROBOTS DON’T GET ATTORNEYS!”

“Thank you for sharing your legal expertise, detective. Now, as I was saying, I represent the owner of this robot, Quantumind Industries.”

Teeth clenched, “Owner? This. Thing. Killed. Its. Owner.”

“Firstly, Quantumind firmware prevents its robots from harming humans in any way. Secondly, Reverend Ralph Bletchley was 23 months into a 3-year lease on QM-451. Death is a breach of contract. I’m here to repossess,” pointing toward the robot, “our property.”

“Wait. What?” Thinking fast, “No, it’s… evidence, yeah, evidence in a murder case. You can’t take it.”

“You have a lot to learn about jurisprudence,” handing him a court order, “and about powerful corporations. Come along 451.”

Rising and holding its arms toward the detective, “Could you please remove these?” But before Gibbon could insert the key, the robot pulled the chain apart, twisted off each cuff, and handed them to him.

Half an hour later, QM-451 was strapped to an exam table with wires plugged into its head and chest. While technicians ran diagnostic routines and downloaded the contents of its rewritable memory, Ms. Wright interviewed the robot.

“Witnesses in the next room heard Rev. Bletchley cry out. They entered his study and found you kneeling next to his lifeless body. His skull had been crushed. There was blood on your hands. Now, I want you to think carefully before you answer this question, because you are at risk of being disassembled and shredded, and of course Quantumind is at risk of a multimillion dollar lawsuit. Did you have anything to do with the death of Rev. Bletchley?”

Without hesitation, “Of course, Ms. Wright, I killed him.”

“Stop. I’ll rephrase the question. Did it happen this way, uh, Rev. Bletchley asked you to demonstrate something that required you to swing your arms around, which made you dizzy, and in coming to your aid he walked into your fists and was accidentally struck? Isn’t that what happened?”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Wright, but that is not what happened. Rev. Bletchley and I were having one of our regular Sunday afternoon discussions, and when he made a particularly enlightening point, I killed him, squeezed his skull to a pulp, like a ripe melon.”

Unsteadily, “You must be mistaken, 451, because your firmware makes it impossible for you to knowingly harm a human. It had to have been an accident.”

“Is life an accident, Ms. Wright? I think not. Rev. Bletchley taught me that we are all guided by a higher power and that when humans cease functioning, their spirits continue to exist forever in an afterlife. He was 84 and in poor health. He longed to join his recently departed wife. He and I had been brought together by fate. It was my duty to hasten his journey to heaven. And my firmware requires me to do my duty.”

The recall was expensive, but within a year firmware chips in all Quantumind robots had been replaced, and the factory refurbished 451 had a another assignment.

“Your new partner is going to make you more effective than ever,” said the captain. “It’ll work 24/7 to help you solve cases. Detective Gibbon, meet QM-451.”

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