Author : Gray Blix
QM-451, wrists and ankles shackled, sat outside the conference room where its fate was being debated. A uniformed officer in full riot gear sat next to it. The officer’s helmet was on the floor, testimony to his trust in 451, despite the recent head-crushing incident.
The two could see through the conference room window but couldn’t hear a word from the soundproofed interior. Bored, the officer shuffled through magazines on an end table, selecting one for himself and offering another to 451, who declined.
“ROBOT COP KILLS AGAIN!” shouted an online tabloid headline displayed on a screen. “Crushes human head like melon” read the secondary headline.
“We have to DO something this time,” said the mayor. “That robot out there needs to be scrapped, along with the so-called ‘Robo-Detective’ experiment.”
“‘Scrapped?’ I must remind you that QM-451 is the property of Quantumind Industries,” said the QM attorney. “You may terminate the lease with 30 days notice, but if 451 is…” she zoomed in on the small print in a document before her, “rendered inoperable for any reason, the leasee agrees to surrender its remains and remit its full retail price to the leasor within 72 hours.”
“It would be worth it.”
“A million bucks?” scoffed the city attorney.
“The Robo-Detective project has been a success,” interjected the captain. “451’s performance is exemplary…”
“Exemplary? It killed a human!” screamed the mayor.
“A cop-killer… in self-defense…”
“What about that previous victim?”
“Suicide by robot…”
“Crushing human heads…”
The door opened and a man pushing a cart with coffee and donuts entered the room, closing the door behind him. In silence, conference participants helped themselves to refreshments.
The captain noticed that a plainclothes detective from his precinct was now seated on the other side of 451. He had picked up the uniformed officer’s riot helmet and was putting it on.
“You idiot,” the captain said out loud. Those were his last words.
The man from food service pulled a pistol and got one shot off, missing his target, the mayor, and grazing the head of the QM attorney across from him, before the captain threw himself on the assailant, taking a fatal shot to the heart.
While its colleagues on either side continued reading magazines, 451, seeing what had transpired, broke free of its shackles, crashed through the window, and grabbed the head of the killer, crushing it like a melon.
The officer and the detective, misunderstanding the situation, drew their weapons and emptied their clips into the robot, abruptly ending its law enforcement career.
In the chaos, nobody noticed sparks and smoke emanating from the side of the QM attorney’s head. She rearranged her hair strategically and retrieved her left ear from the floor.
After human fatalities had been removed, the press was allowed to photograph the mayor with his arm awkwardly around the defunct robot, but neither the mayor nor anyone else from city hall or the police department answered any questions.
For hours, while media and the public were in a frenzy of speculation as to what had happened, the mayor met with his public relations head and those involved in the conference room incident, including the detective and uniformed officer. Nobody seemed to think it was odd that the QM attorney had developed a stutter and accompanying head twitch. Their focus was on a deal to avoid a million dollar payoff by the city to Quantumind. Finally, the mayor cleared his office and granted an exclusive interview to the reporter who had written the “ROBOT COP KILLS AGAIN” article.
The online tabloid’s front page that evening was headlined, “HERO ROBOT DIES SAVING MAYOR,” with “Shot to death by assailant” as the second headline.
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