Author: Randall Andrews

“Don, a year ago, you thought you were a robot. Literally. You’ve come a long way, but this is a big step. Are you sure you’re ready?”

“I’m sure, Doc,” Don said, hoping it was true.


Five hours later, Don was sitting in the passenger’s seat of his own car. His brother, Derrick, was at the wheel.

“Am I your chauffeur now?” Derrick grumbled.

“I haven’t driven in almost a year, and I’m not ready for the interstate. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting it. I know that now.”

“Now that you’re in touch with your feelings?” Derrick said, smiling through his words.

“Derrick, please don’t.”

“Oh, come on, Donny. You can’t expect me not to poke a little fun at my baby brother. The Terminator.”

“That’s not funny,” Don said. “I was in a bad place, but I’m better now. You should be happy for me.”

“I am. I really am. And I’m glad you’re back.” A moment later, in something like an Austrian accent, he whispered, “I’ll be back.”

“Come on, bro. No robot talk, okay?”

“Well, what do you want to talk about then? Hey, check out that electric Sportster. I love that body style, but not that blue. It’s weird.”

“Dang, that is a sweet car,” Don agreed. “It’s also green.”

“You’re crazy,” Derrick said, but then immediately backpedaled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean like ‘I’m a robot‘ crazy. But you must be color blind if you think that’s green. It’s definitely blue.”

“Derrick, I know the difference between—”

“Well, apparently you don’t. Look, I’m not the one who just got released from a mental hospital. You’re probably not changing my mind on anything today. Know what I mean?”

To that, Don had no reply, and the rest of the car ride passed in silence.


An hour later, Don was sitting at his computer, feeling both relieved and distressed. It was good to be home, but he didn’t feel half as confident as he’d led the doctor to believe.

“You’re fine. Just don’t think about rob—”

Shaking his head, he forced his attention back to the screen. His email account had been locked after months of non-use, and he was in the process of reactivating it. He froze when a new screen popped up.

Click allow to prove you’re not a robot.

In that split second, what was left of Don’s fragile confidence crumbled. He pushed his chair back and was about to bolt when the doctor’s voice echoed in his ears. Just breathe.

“You’re okay. It’s okay. It’s a coincidence. Coincidences happen all the time. In through the nose, out through the mouth.”

And just like that, he felt better again. The self-talk, the conscious breathing—they really worked.

He reached up quickly and clicked the box, anxious to be rid of the ominous message. Another new screen appeared, displaying a grid of nine squares, each containing a snapshot of a roadway.

Select all images with blue cars.

“Oh, no.”