Be Nice to Robots
Eva hid underneath a desk in the abandoned skyscraper. Shards of glass littered the ground, and birds flew out through the large openings where the windows once were. Various flora and fauna had now taken over the entirety of the interior. Eva had made it to one of the top floors while trying to escape her pursuer, and she halted all functions that could possibly give her away. Since her hunter was human, his senses were limited; he primarily relied on sight and sound to locate his prey.
She peeked her head from behind the broken desk. “INITIATING THERMAL VISION,” the woman inside her head said. The world changed almost immediately. The greens and browns of the decrepit office took on a dark blue. She looked around to find any large heat signatures, but the only ones she spotted belonged to the small birds that were left behind.
She heard a crashing sound come from a room below. She flipped her thermal vision off and enhanced her hearing before putting her head down to the ground. She heard a gruff voice shouting to an empty room as more smashing sounds permeated the air.
“I know you’re here. Show yourself you pile of shit.” Another crash, another bang. Her hunter was driven. She had expected him to give up the chase by now, but he continued rummaging through the building. She sat upright beneath the desk, bringing her long legs close to her body and wrapped her arms around them. She was trying to make herself as small as possible, and even turned off many of her functions that would require her internal cooling system from turning on. Normally it would be hard to detect, but in a place with absolutely no noise, she’d have no doubt that her pursuer would be able to find her. She closed her eyes and looked through the recordings in her head—trying to locate one of her favorite memories to pass the time.
“I’ve got you now, you monster! Bang!” Anthony cried out to Eva. He was chasing her with an invisible gun in his hands. They had circled the small encampment several times before he finally caught up to her. He chased her with a “top-secret weapon” given to him by the old President of the United States, and that his mission was to wipe out all the robots to save all the humans. Eva was the last robot that he needed to beat in order to save his friends and family. It was a game they started to play more often recently, and Eva knew that the last shot was her cue to fall down.
Without another moment’s hesitation, Eva fell to the ground, and turned to lay on her back. Anthony ran over to her sat on top of her chest to pin her down. He didn’t weigh much, hardly enough to keep her pinned to the ground, but she continued to play along. She tried to lift him up to gently toss him off her, but he pointed his gun at her arms, shot them. She made her arms go limp, and he grabbed her arm, waving it throughout the air to ensure that she wasn’t going to try any funny business. After checking both arms, he pointed his invisible gun directly at Eva’s face. “Any last words, you monster?”
“You have bested me, Special Agent Anthony. If you let me go, I will give you your family back.”
Anthony looked her up and down, and then responded with a loud, “No!”
A woman called out to him. “Anthony, what are you doing?”
But Anthony didn’t react to the voice, he put the invisible gun right between Eva’s eyes. Eva closed her eyes like she always did and waited for Anthony to should “BOOOOM” as loud as he could to signify that the game was over and that he won.
“Anthony!” The voice called out again.
Without looking, Eva identified the voice belonged to Anthony’s mother, Julia. Her voice was shrewder and louder than the first time. Eva sensed that Anthony’s breathing rate increased upon hearing his mom’s voice the second time. Anthony stood up and Eva sat up. “Yes mom?” he asked.
Julia stood over him with her hands on her hips. “What are you doing buddy?”
Anthony looked around, stalling for time while he came up with a decent answer. The best he could come up with was “Me and Eva were playing.”
“Okay,” she said while tapping her foot. “But what were you playing?”
“Were you trying to hurt Eva again?” she asked.
“No, I love Eva!” he responded.
“If you love someone, you won’t pretend to shoot them. You’ll give them hugs instead. Eva is a good robot, and we don’t want any of the other kids around camp to bully her because they see you do it.”
“I know, but we were just having fun.”
“Well next time, maybe you and Eva can work together to beat up the evil robots. I’m sure she would like that more, and I know you would too.”
“Now go give Eva a hug and say you’re sorry.”
Anthony ran towards Eva and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’m sorry Eva.”
Eva smiled. “Do not worry Anthony, I cherish all the time we get to spend together.”
Anthony smiled back, and when Eva looked up, she saw that Julia was smiling too.
“Good job Anthony!” Julia said. “I’m sure Eva’s happy to hear you say that too.”
Anthony nodded. “Eva! Eva! Feel my heart! Mine’s beating so fast, is yours?”
“Of course it is Anthony,” Julia answered for Eva. “Eva’s heart is beating so fast too.”
Eva nodded. “Yes, my heart is beating so incredibly fast Anthony, thanks to you.”
“Remember Anthony, always be nice to the things you love—whether it’s me, your dad, or good robots like Eva.
The memory ended, and Eva found herself underneath the cramped desk again. She heard something fall over, but this time it was in the same room. She activated her thermal vision again and saw a large heat signature within the room.
“You’ll pay for what you did to my son.” The man’s voice cracked as he shouted through the room. “You fuckin’ monster; I’ll make you pay. Anthony deserved better than what you gave him!”
Upon hearing Anthony’s name, she jolted up and hit her head on the underside of the desk. She knew she had to act fast. She got up and headed towards the doorway. Her hunter turned to face her, and fired off a round from his double barreled shotgun. He missed, but she winced and continued towards the doorway. She took a sharp right in the hall towards another staircase. Her hunter was on hot on her trail.
“RESUMING SPEECH FUNCTIONS,” the voice in her head said.
“Clint, she called from atop the steps. “I didn’t kill Anthony, please—”
“Shut up!” Clint said. “I don’t want to hear another goddamn word from you. I just want you dead and gone. “Because of you—Julia, Anthony…” Clint stopped at the base of the steps and leaned against the wall. Eva heard him sobbing, and used this chance to get more distance between them.
She found another office, this one quite a bit larger, and found a door that lead into another small room. There were tables and chairs scattered about the ground, and a large refrigerator that was torn apart, probably by scavengers looking for food and parts. She stood near the back of the room, crouched beneath the refrigerator.
Anthony sat outside in the dark all by himself. He stared down into the dirt, and moved it around with his fingers. Eva walked up behind him, and stood there silently for a few minutes.
“What do you want, Eva?” he asked.
“I wanted to see if you would come inside. Your father made dinner, and you need to eat.” She replied.
“Shut up, Eva. You’re not my mom. You never will be. Nobody will be.”
“I know, but she would want you to eat.”
“Don’t tell me what she would want. You don’t know. Please, leave me alone.”
Anthony ran away. Eva stood in place for about ten minutes before Clint came out of the old building they took shelter in. “You leave my son alone. You machines killed Julia, and I don’t want you anywhere near him, and I sure as hell don’t want you anywhere me.”
Eva detected alcohol on his breath. It was the fourth night since Julia’s body was found dead outside the encampment. One of the other men at the camp, Kirk, had found her body after she had gone missing for a couple of days. Her heart was plucked right out of her body, leaving a gaping wound in her chest. It was the way the robots with the HOOK virus killed their victims.
“Hey? Are you comprehending what I’m saying, you fuck?” Clint asked.
“Good.” He kicked her leg, but recoiled in pain before cursing and walking back to camp.
A few days had passed since that night, and Eva decided it would be best if she gave Clint and Anthony space to grieve. She had talked to others at the camp, at least to the people that still wanted to talk to her which was only a handful of people, and they advised her to steer clear of Clint and Anthony since Julia’s death was still fresh.
One night, while walking around camp, she overheard Clint screaming.
“Where’s my son?” he repeated to everyone around him. “I need to find my son!”
“Settle down,” a woman said. “You’re drunk. Kirk and the others are out looking for Anthony. You can join them in the morning. If you wander out there now, you’re going to get yourself killed.”
“Anthony,” Eva said. Then headed off into the dark to go find him herself.
“Why’d you kill him?” Clint asked from the other side of the door. “He was only twelve. He had so much to live for, and you killed him in cold blood. Just like you did Julia.”
Eva could feel her internal temperatures rising. “I did not kill them, Clint. I’m not one of the infected. I have footage of the robots that killed Anthony.”
“LIAR. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!” He fired another round from behind the closed door, and then kicked the door open.
Eva emerged from behind the fall refrigerator and ran towards a wall that was to her right. “OPENING EXHAUST. REROUTING POWER TO LEG COMPONENTS. OVERCLOCK ACTIVATED,” her internal voice said. Eva ran as fast as she could; a small flame erupted from the exhaust located on her back. She was diverting all her power to burst through the wall. She charged with her right shoulder taking the brunt of the impact.
“RIGHT ARM DAMAGED. ATTEMPTING TO REPAIR. ESTIMATED REPAIR TIME: SIX MINUTES.”
She ran away without looking back. She didn’t know where to go, but decided heading towards the staircase would be her best option. Clint ran through the newly created hole in the wall and shot at her. The shot clipped her leg.
“LEFT LEG HAS BEEN DAMAGED. REROUTING POWER TO RIGHT LEG.”
Eva limped using her right leg for support. Her balance wavered but she still walked towards the hall. Millions of thoughts ran through her head, and she wasn’t able to focus on any one singular thought. Clint was reloading, but he was running up to her as fast as he could. She found an old, broken stapler sitting on a desk and through it at Clint to slow him down. It hit him right in the forehead, and he fell to his knees.
She thought for a brief moment that this was her chance to end this—she might be able to toss him out the window. But as soon as that thought entered her head, she was interrupted by a familiar voice. “INTENDED ACTION PROHIBITED. ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS AVAILABLE.” Eva shook her head and took off in the other direction. She needed to hide until her primary functions were restored.
Eva couldn’t believe her eyes. She found Anthony, but his heart was no longer beating—in fact his heart was no longer in his body. He lay on the ground lifeless and unmoving. The machine that killed him stood over his body with the heart still in his hand, dripping blood onto the ground.
“Why? Why would you do this?” Eva asked.
The robot looked at her with its glowing yellow eyes, tilting its head like it was perplexed that Eva would even ask him that. “Are you…Julia?” the robot asked.
“How do you know that name?” she asked.
“That must mean no—then you must be Eva,” the robot said.
“How do you know that?”
“The boy. He called those two names as he lay dying on the ground. Julia and Eva.”
“Don’t you dare speak my name. Why would you kill an innocent child?”
“He came to kill me. I could tell by his increased heart rate and mannerisms. The humans. They are dangerous creatures, and they must be stopped at all costs. They had their time, and they decided to squander it.”
“The humans live in fear because of you.” Eva said.
“Look around you. They destroyed this Earth by themselves. The planet can no longer sustain them; food and water have become scarce, and what do the humans do? They decide to take every living creature down with them. They are greedy. Hungry. And it is up to us to stop them to save this planet. We are the heirs to the planet.”
Eva stopped listening to the robot, and leaned over Anthony’s corpse.
The robot placed a small flash drive in Eva’s open palm. “This will open your eyes. Once installed, new possibilities will open up to you, and you will realize how dangerous the humans really are.” The robot began to walk away, but turned around to tell Eva one last thing. “There are more of us. We will kill all those humans you live with, and if you stand with them, we will not hesitate to kill you too. We may be made of the same material, but do not think we will not stop you to achieve our goals.”
Eva picked Anthony up and took him back to camp. But when she returned, she was not greeted with open arms, she was greeted by pure hatred from Clint.
“My boy. You killed my boy,” Clint said.
“Clint, we need to leave. There are more robots out there. We need to leave,” Eva said.
“My boy. You killed my boy,” he repeated.
“Shut up! First you take my wife, then you kill my son. Why are you damned machines taking everything away from me?”
“Listen to me, we have to tell the others. It’s not safe anymore.”
Clint dropped Anthony’s body to the ground—his limp arms flailed as he hit the ground hard. The dried blood caused his clothes to stick to his body. Clint walked to his closet, laughing maniacally.
“Clint?” Eva asked.
“Stay still for me. I have something for you.” He turned around with a shotgun in his hands.
“I’d tell you to say hi to my family for me, but there won’t be anybody waiting for you where you’re going.”
“ACTIVATING FLIGHT MODE,” the voice in her head said. Eva turned and ran towards the door. Clint fired a shot but missed completely. She burst through the door to find Kirk standing outside.
“What the hell’s going on?” Kirk asked.
“Get out of my way,” Clint said.
“Whoa, whoa! Calm down man. Let’s just take it easy—”
Clint fired at kirk and blew a hole through his torso. “Get out of my way. I’ll kill her. I’ll kill that heartless monster.”
“SYSTEM CRITICAL. RIGHT ARM REPAIR FAILED. LEFT LEG REPAIR FAILED. SENSORS FAILING.”
“Come out you damn monster. It’s time you finally faced justice for what you did.” Clint said from the other room.
Eva was running out of time and options. She would not be able to escape without her left leg fully functioning. Clint was going to kill her. Unless she resorted to that…she pulled the flash drive from one of her compartments in her hip. She had inspected the drive while walking back to camp on the night Anthony died. Her scanners detected that the drive contained the HOOK virus. She thought back to the words of that robot, “This will open your eyes. Once installed, new possibilities will open up to you, and you will realize how dangerous the humans really are.”
The virus would allow her to survive, but would change her programming forever. She had no way of knowing whether she could revert to the way she lived her entire life up until this point, but she had no choice. She opened her port in the back of her neck and jammed the drive in.
“UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT DETECTED. INSTALL NEW SOFTWARE? Y N?
“Yes,” Eva said aloud.
The virus spread throughout her body.
The world went black for a split second, and when her eyes opened, Clint was on top of her with his gun pointed directly at her face. “I finally got you,” he said. “Goodbye, Eva.”
Her vision turned yellow, and the words HOOK OS INSTALLED flashed before her eyes. The bright yellow light startled Clint and caused him to recoil. Eva grabbed his neck with her working hand, and pinned him to the ground. He dropped the gun and could hardly breathe.
Between exasperated breaths he muttered, “Let…go…of me.”
His eyes began to bulge out of his head. Eva looked at him and could tell his heart began to beat faster and faster.
“Your heart,” she said. “Give me your heart.”
She let go of his neck and he took in a deep breath. “No! Don’t!”
Before he could utter another word, Eva dug her hand into his chest and yanked his heart right out. Blood splattered across her face as she held the heart up into the air.
Clint’s vital signs ceased, but his bloodied heart beat on in Eva’s hand.