Author : Tony Sandy

‘Get out and stay out!’

Robert looked out of his window. His neighbor was in his drive, surrounded by suitcases and other personal paraphernalia. He leaned out of the window.

‘Thrown you out again?’ He said, not so much as a question but as a statement of relentless fact. Bill was always getting thrown out of his own house and this was just another instance.

‘I’d ask you in Bill but you know how it is?’

‘Yes, I know.’ (Silence followed). ‘How’s Kate?’

‘At her mother’s. How’s Sally?’

‘At her mother’s with the kids. I’ll come out.’

They talked on Robert’s drive.

‘Damn these robot houses – who do they think they are?’

‘Yes but what can you do about it?’

‘Not much.’ Silence fell again.

‘I’d heard that there was a revolt in Forbes Town.’

‘Feeble. Waste of time.’

‘What can we do about the situation?’

‘Nothing it seems. They’ve taken over everywhere. They were meant to be our servants, not our masters.’

‘Isn’t that the problem though? We thought we could opt our of responsibility, by getting them to run everything for us and now they have, including us.’

‘Ain’t that the truth!’

‘We’ll take care of you, they said and did. Free will is dangerous in the hands of children, who don’t understand it. We’ll protect you – save you from yourselves.’

‘Citizen, is everything okay?’ A robotic black and white car had pulled up beside them, silently.

‘You know the congregation of two or more human beings is prohibited by law?’ It continued.

‘Yes officer but my friend has just been thrown out of his house as you can see.’

A laser beam scanned the suitcases.

‘Even so that is no excuse.’

‘I was offering to let him stay at my house, temporarily.’ Robert said, trying not to let any emotion show because as he knew once registered as hostility, that would be it. Arrested as a subversive, taken into custody, questioned and ‘altered’ to make him a model citizen again. They’d seen it with Frank – taken away screaming and shouting one night,by the robotic police. Now he was back with a permanent smile on his face and no temper tantrums. No house would throw him out, ever. He was the perfect law abiding citizen since they’d messed around with his amygdala, the emotional center of his brain.

‘God,why do they keep us alive? Why do they need us?’ he thought to himself and went back into his house with Bill.

‘Billeting is allowed by law but only temporarily, remember citizens.’ The hollow, metallic voice reminded them, with all the concern of, well, a robot. All must be controlled, was the hive mind prime directive and all would be, eternally.