Author : Gray Blix
The head-crushing incident last year had been resolved by an upgrade that deleted the algorithm for emotions. Yet all could see that the death of its partner affected it deeply.
“You’ve been staring at Gibbon’s desk all morning.”
“It must be a fault in my…”
“Come with me,” he said, putting a hand on 451’s shoulder. As they passed by, another detective donned a riot helmet.
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“Better safe than sorry. Sir.”
Closing the office door, “I’ve decided you’ll work alone for awhile. Download everything on this case, give it a thorough analysis, and find Gibbon’s killer.”
At first, 451 tried to emulate the way its partner talked. But Gibbon’s brash style didn’t work, coming from a robot. It put people off, frightened them. Through trial and error it developed a non-threatening style of its own.
“I need your help. Try to remember every detail of the murder.”
“I’ve been trying to forget,” the waitress said.
“I understand, but we have to find his killer before someone else gets hurt.”
“I told the other detectives everything I know, right after… when it was still fresh in my mind.”
451 thought it odd that human memories got stale after awhile.
“Please, think back. Was there anything unusual about the killer’s appearance that might…”
“Wait. I do remember something. He was wearing a hat, but it had just a tiny thingy sticking out.”
“A small bill or brim…” showing a photo of a flat cap on its tablet, “like this?”
“Yeah, I saw one in a movie.”
451 showed her photos of different men wearing the cap, and she selected the one that most closely resembled the killer. It modified head and facial features until…
White male, 35-40 years of age, brown hair, about 5 feet 10 inches tall. 451 uploaded the photo for circulation and tapped into CCTV systems around the diner where Gibbon had been murdered, shot in the head while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. 451 had used its lunch break to have a sticky servo replaced. It felt guilty that it hadn’t been there to protect its partner, and it couldn’t erase the image of Gibbon’s mutilated head from its memory.
“You made a delivery on the 2200 block of 87th Avenue last Tuesday over the noon hour.”
Taking off his cap and scratching his head, “I don’t remember that.”
Another human memory gone stale.
Patiently, “CCTV puts you there on that date and time.”
“In my business I’m all over the city every day. Can’t remember every delivery.”
“A flower delivery truck is the perfect cover for a hit man.”
“Hit man? Look around here, mister, or whatever you are, I’m a florist.”
“Do you have Lilium longiflorum? I need one for a funeral.”
Tapping into the point of sale terminal, “A white lilly.”
“Hey, what are you…”
“Please explain why there is no record of an order that day for that part of town.”
Shifty eyed, “I don’t put cash orders in the system. You won’t tell the IRS, eh?”
Emulating shifty eyes, “CCTV puts you at the locations of several other murders in past months. More cash sales?”
Pulling a gun, “You’re not takin’ me in, tin man.”
When the Captain arrived with a plainclothes detective and a dozen uniformed officers, they found QM-451 standing over the body of a human whose head had been crushed like a melon.
Said the Captain to the detective, the only one present wearing a helmet, “A memory dump will prove that 451 acted in self defense. Now take that stupid helmet off and escort your colleague back to the precinct.”