Weapon of Mass Discussion

Author : David Henson

“Sign here, human, to give us permission.” A titanium alloy finger taps the document they’ve put in front of me.

Here we go. “Permission?”

“Yes, just sign here.” Tap.

I look over the paper, but everything is written in robotistic lingo I can’t fully understand. Doesn’t matter. I know my lines. “Permission for what?”

“We can’t tell you that till we have your permission of course. Right here.” Tap, tap.

“I can’t just sign without knowing.”

The robot, in a move equivalent to a human shoulder shrug, rotates his head like an owl then motions for the second, taller, bot.

“Is there a problem here?” The taller robot’s eyes flash, and he comes toward me aggressively. This had better work.

He reaches for my throat, then stops abruptly. “I’ll contact the district office.”

***

I face the district office panel of inquiry. “Mr. Jones, you’re charged with not giving us permission,” the chairbot, seated in the middle of the five, says. “How do you plead?”

“Innocent. I’d be perfectly happy to give you permission if you’d tell me permission for what.”

“This is ridiculous,” the bot to my far left says. “We haven’t let lack of a human’s permission stop us for decades. It’s just a legacy we haven’t bothered to delete. I move we waive discussion and proceed.”

“Second,” says another.

“All in favor,” the chairbot says.

“Objection,” says the bot on my far right. “Rule 11.27/go stipulates debate can’t be waived without unanimous approval. I don’t approve. I think we need some discourse.”

The chairbot rotates his head. “Discussion is open.”

The debate proceeds for about an hour. I can hardly follow the parliamentary maneuvering and citations of Robot’s Rules of Order. “Enough. I move the previous question,” one of them says finally.

“Good,” the chairbot says. “All in favor?” Two metallic arms go up. “Opposed?” Two.

“Chairbot, it’s up to you to break the tie.”

The chairbot starts to speak, then stops. Lubricant begins to sweat from the ventilation grids under its arms. “We’ll elevate this case to the regional office,” it says finally.

***

I’m freed on my own recognizance. Sort of. The panel got caught up debating whether to let me go or remand me in custody, so I slipped out. Back home, I check the time, tap the code into my viewer, and cross my fingers. An image flickers. I recognize her but don’t know her name or anything about her other than she’s a fellow member of my resistance chapter. I didn’t know she was so high up.

“Are we on? Is this streaming?” she says, then starts cutting in and out again. I’m not surprised. We only recently regained access to communications technology, and we’ve used it sparingly for fear of detection. After a few minutes that seem like hours, she begins to speak despite the technical difficulties. I take a deep breath.

“Our bureaucracy virus … robots’ central neural network … Operation Endless Debate … success. My fell… humans, free… is at hand.”

I stare at the screen almost afraid to believe what I’ve heard. Questions and ideas about what should happen next race through my mind. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.

I hope, this time, we’ll restrain ourselves.

4 Comments

  1. Jae

    A use for bureacracy (apart from target practice). Nice.

    • Jae

      *bureaucracy

      Always proof read it one more time, folks… 🙂

  2. SimonJM

    Nice – finally a use for bureaucracy! 😉 I wonder how humanity will screw it up next time though?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weapon of Mass Discussion – Words Music - […] http://365tomorrows.com/2017/07/16/weapon-of-mass-discussion/ […]

Submit a Comment

Random Story :

  • Salary Man

    Author : Ray Daley The Misthkthos had been on Earth …

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com