Author: David Updike

A shadow slid along the crowded sidewalk, and we instinctively stepped aside and opened a path for it to pass. Looking up, we saw that it was a Mini, the kind they dispatched for someone who wasn’t going to mount much of a fight. A sleek, white wafer the size and shape of a manta ray, it cut its way through the rush-hour crush of bodies until there was just one man standing alone, back pressed against the side of a building, clutching a black briefcase to his chest. The drone zoomed in and hovered above his head. The man opened his mouth as if to say something, but then the beam hit him squarely between the eyes and he fell face down on the pavement. The drone lingered, monitoring his vitals to make sure its task was complete. Satisfied, it swooped down, extended a slim metal arm, and picked up the briefcase in its pincers, then rose straight into the sky and was gone. Scavenger bots would be along soon enough to pick the body clean of organs, prosthetics, and other recyclables. No need to multiply the tragedy through senseless waste. And was it a tragedy, really? Who knew what that guy was up to? Maybe he had a bomb in the briefcase. Perhaps the Laserdrone had just saved all our lives. Though if he’d had a bomb, wouldn’t he have. . . . Ah well, no sense in speculating. Whatever the situation, it was resolved. Scattered applause broke out among the bystanders, and then we all resumed our different trajectories, feeling a new sense of urgency about getting where we were going.