When 22nd Century Technology Fails
Michael I. Oster

copyright 2013, all rights reserved

BOTS When 22nd Century Technology Fails a science fiction novel by Michael Oster.

Michael Oster

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Disclaimer. This is a fictional work. Any similarities to actual names and places are purely coincidental and unintended.

There is also some strong language and adult situations at times....

(Part I - chapters 1 -6)
(Part II - chapters 7 -15)
(Part III - chapters 16 - 24)
(Part IV - chapters 25 - 33) *

When 22nd Century Technology Fails
Michael I. Oster

copyright 2013, all rights reserved

Part IV
(chapters 25-33)

Chapter 25
4:45 am, Looking for Shelter

The chaos continued. I was doing my best to keep away from everything. The problem was that this event was happening everywhere. I was tired and getting hungry. I stayed in the shadows most of the night and began to look for some kind of safe shelter. I figured that the best thing I could do would be to not shoot at anything unless I absolutely had to. Besides I didn't think I was going to get paid for any robots I wasted while this was going on.

I happened on a relatively quiet area in a dark subdivision and found an out of the way place by the side of a home. I laid down and dosed off. I was out for maybe an hour or so when the noise awakened me. It sounded like an ongoing demolition and it was getting closer. I readied my gun and got set for a quick move.

As I looked out, dawn was breaking and I saw a mass of robots. They were all malfunctioning. Moving erratically, bumping into each other and everything else. Trees, hover cars, homes, light poles, they were hitting everything. Metal arms were flailing and those with weapons were randomly firing in every direction. The mass itself was carving out a wide path of destruction, though it didn't seem to have a purpose to it.

As the swarm of infected robots continued, bursts of gunfire from nearby homes lashed out into them. Some of the bots were hit, but overall, the damage was light and did virtually nothing to slow the advance.

I figured it was time for me to do something. I set my pulse gun just below MAX and aimed at the center of the crowd of bots. I fired a single shot which hit the mass and vaporized a dozen or so robots. The blast blew a wide hole into the street under them and several other bots fell in. I fired again and again disintegrating many more. Unfortunately, there were hundreds of new robots to take the place of the ones I just destroyed. The mass continued moving forward over their wrecked comrades like ants.

People started fleeing from their nearby homes as the robots continued their destructive progress. I figured, I'd try to blend in with them until I decided where to go next. There were twenty or so of us. People of just about every age except for very old were dressed mostly in night clothes or things that looked slapped together. If they were carrying anything, it was just a small bag or backpack. I didn't see anyone with weapons. So, I guess I stuck out a little bit as I ran alongside these strangers with an AK47 slung across my back. I doubted any of them even knew what it was though.

There was a roar overhead. I looked up as I was running and spotted two military style aircraft coming in low and headed towards the direction I had just come from. Then a massive explosive concussion threw me hard to the ground. It briefly stole my breath and I could feel the heat of the blast. I lifted up just enough to look back. The explosion engulfed the entire neighborhood that I was in moments ago. Everything was on fire and there was a giant mushroom cloud of smoke and flames expanding towards the sky. My guess is that more bots went up in one fireball than I've disintegrated in my entire career. That's the kind of firepower I needed.

Chapter 26
8:31 am, On the Offensive

I had one warm beer left in my backpack and I was operating on just an hour's sleep. Despite that, I was actually feeling pretty good. Maybe seeing all those robots get simultaneously vaporized was why. It was light out and I felt like I had a rejuvenated sense of purpose. I wasn't really sure where to go so I just looked for large plumes of smoke and set out towards one of them. My pocket screen was still flashing emergency messages along with updates on casualties and where to find 'safe zones'.

"Hell with the safe zones", I thought. And I set out to do what I do best: vaporize robots. I didn't have to wait long as I heard a huge crashing sound coming from nearby. I set my gun to MAX and got mentally prepared for battle.

I made my way towards the sound and saw a large security bot, an older Mark II unit, emerging from the recent ruins of a pet grooming shop. Mark II Security Units have been in service for about 15 years though some were being replaced by the new Mark IV's. They have a light armor plating and feature a non-lethal stun weapon. They're also strong, agile and very reliable.

I had no doubt that this one was up to no good. It was limping in circles, smashing everything in its way. About every 10 seconds or so, it discharged its stun weapon. It also synthetically babbled incoherently and leaked oil just like all the malfunctions do.

I aimed and fired my pulse gun and blasted the living hell out of it. Its armor was no match for the full-power of my weapon. The blast literally ripped the robot in half and sent burning pieces flying a good distance. I fired again, just because. There was an unbelievable explosion and fires spread quickly throughout the store and adjacent attached units. Another plume of dark smoke billowed up to the sky.

I spent the next couple of days hunting robots. At first, it felt like Summer camp when I was a kid. You know, I got to sleep outside and pretty much do whatever I wanted. Honestly, it got old quick. My much older body didn't do so well sleeping on the cold, hard ground. My back and knees constantly ached as my arthritis kicked in with authority. On top of that, I began to really miss having regular, decent meals, fresh water, and cold beer.

Chapter 27
3 DAYS LATER, 6:34 pm

I had been internally debating with myself about whether or not I could possibly hit any lower point in my life. I had lost everything. My home, along with almost all of my belongings were burned to the ground. And beyond that, the prospects of me making a decent living now were pretty much gone.

See, in the last few days there was an all out war on robots. Everybody who had a weapon went crazy killing robots. And I admit that I played a small part in it too.

Then, on the second day, the authorities got their shit together and joined in the fun. They went after everything robotic using their latest weapons. I saw just a little bit of it when I caught a glimpse of those military aircraft nuking the hell out of that robot swarm. Shit like that went down everywhere.

The robots barely had a chance. Reports put their population at just 10 percent of what it was only days before. And now the authorities had mop up teams working on the few remaining malfunctioning bots.

I was sleeping under an oak tree when my pocket screen went off. It was Lester Herman of all people. He was just checking in and wanted to know how I was doing. Well, I told him my story and he generously offered to have me crash at his place for a while. I admit that Lester weirded me out, but I really didn't have any other options. So I accepted his offer and headed over to his apartment.

The city was pretty much trashed from the last few days' events. Most structures had at least some damage and about a third were completely destroyed. The sky was hazy with the smoke from the smoldering ruins. It was hot and I was tired and hungry.

Lester was lucky in that his building had only minor damage. Inside, his apartment looked pretty much like it did before. Cumshots the poodle was the first to greet me at the door followed by Lester who was wearing what looked like the same wife-beater from the first time I met him . Lester offered me his couch and said that I could stay till I got back on my feet.

I was grateful for Lester's hospitality, really I was. But I admit that I slept with my hand on my gun that first night because I had no idea what would happen once the lights went off.

Morning broke and I had survived my first night on Lester's couch. But for a few bug bites and bad dreams, I was unscathed. Lester was in the kitchen cooking breakfast when he asked me what I had planned for the day. "I'm not really sure." I told him. "I've got to figure out what the hell is going on out there. I may be out of a job, hell my whole pathetic career might be over."

"Well you could work for me." Lester said. "I could use an editor or even someone to help me come up with ideas for movies."

Shit, for a second I thought he was joking about wanting me to be in his movies. Hell, I'm not that desperate - yet. "I don't know how to edit movies and I'm not sure what ideas I have that could help you." I replied.

"It's really simple. If you can blow up a robot, you can edit a movie. I'll show you how. And as far as story ideas, just think back on some of your jobs and maybe we can use those experiences to make a script." Lester said.

In addition to being talented at making adult movies, Lester could also cook. He made me the best damn eggs I'd had since I could remember. Or, it could have been that I hadn't eaten a decent meal in three days. Whatever, they were great fucking eggs.

"When you finish your eggs, get cleaned up and I'll show you how to edit." Lester said to me. I did what he said and met him in his bedroom which also doubled as his edit suite. He showed me the ins and outs of editing. It really was easy. Hell, within 30 minutes, I was doing edits for Lester's next release which was a movie that had a 'sea creature' theme. In actuality, it was just four people dressed up as sea horses going at it for an hour and a half.

Lester had me continue editing while he went out and walked the dog. I guess that maybe I did have another career opportunity, but I didn't want to make any quick decisions.

Chapter 28

The Idea

About a week had passed and I hadn't received any calls for a single job. There were no reports of any malfunctioning robots anywhere.The city had pretty much settled back to normal. I had gotten somewhat used to staying on Lester's couch and was paying my way by editing his movies. But, inside I knew that if I didn't start getting some serious work - robot killing work - soon, I was going to be stuck here for a very long time.

Lester returned from walking the dog and I was busy editing the "sea creature" movie. "Hey Carl, you know, I don't have any movies in the works after this one. And there won't be any editing for you soon. Have you come up with anything that I can work into a new film?" Lester asked me.

"Actually, I've been thinking and there might be something you can use. A while back I blasted this fucking pleasure bot to hell at a sorority house. It belonged to this rich girl and while the bot was in use, it started to malfunction. That's when I got the call to destroy it". I told him. Then I went into the details of the job and how there was the bed sheet and she was naked underneath and all.

"Holy shit, you've been holding out on me!" Lester exclaimed. "I could make the best fucking movie out of that. It'd be so easy! I'm going to start writing and then contact a few actors." Lester left me to finish my editing and he went to the living room and began to write.

Just about a half-hour later, He returned with a completed script. "This is a masterpiece!" he exclaimed to me. I read it over and sure enough it looked pretty damn good, though I was far from an expert on adult entertainment film plots. He had also lined up the talent and set aside tomorrow afternoon to shoot the movie.

Lester had his old standby, the back bedroom, ready for production. The only change that he made was to put a generic "state university" pennant on the wall. Otherwise the bedroom was exactly the same as all his other films.

The talent arrived an hour early and started to ready themselves for filming. I was surprised when Lester offered me a second camera and said he wanted me to shoot something he called "B-Roll". I didn't have any camera operating experience, but again he told me it was easy and that "if I could operate a pulse gun, I could use a camera". He showed me how to operate the thing in about 5 minutes. It seemed simple enough.

A little over an hour later, we began filming. The story was pretty similar to what had really happened up to a point. There was a young, attractive college girl being "attacked" by a malfunctioning pleasure bot. Well, we didn't have any robots for the production, but Lester did have a fallback. He covered his poodle "Cumshots" in foil and had him jumping on the college girl and yelping. I was surprised at how well the dog actually did in this role.

Then the young man burst into the room. "I hear you have a robot problem," he said. "Oh, please help me!" she screamed.

The young man then "shot" the robot with his large fake gun. Lester had said that we could add the explosion by computer in post production, so I wasn't worried about how stupid it looked at this point. Anyway, with the robot destroyed, the college girl was so relieved and she really wanted to repay the young man for saving her. Since she didn't have any money, she had to come up with another option. And that's where things really deviated from my experience.

It got really interesting at this point and I kind of wished that my job with Sarah was something even close to this. Though these two actors were "unknowns" as Lester called them, they sure looked like they were experienced. Their moves were professional all the way.

Lester's mastery of filmmaking really shined. He was directing the talent to move in specific ways. He would do retakes at different angles, change perspectives and adjust the lighting between shots. Lester even had directions for me, telling me where he wanted me to shoot and when and where to zoom in. It was amazing. I had no idea that there was so much that went into one of these movies.

We wrapped about three hours later. As you can imagine, the actors were exhausted and I admit that I was a bit tired myself. Nevertheless, Lester was so excited about how things went in production, that he insisted we start editing right away.

Our marathon edit session went through the night and into the next morning. We switched off working while the other napped. And in the end, we had Lester's masterpiece titled "Robot Killer at Your Cervix". Lester was bubbling with excitement. He couldn't wait for the release, so he continued to work on the artwork and the trailer. Everything was uploaded by that evening and he was already getting sales an hour later.

"Carl, this is my finest work." he said to me. "And I couldn't have done it without you." "Well, Les, I really didn't know what the fuck I was doing so I don't know exactly how essential I was. But, it's great your already getting sales so quick." I said.

"Well, kid, I'm gonna give you a bonus and you should have enough to rent your own place. I still want you to work for me, though." Lester said.

Lester sometimes called me "kid" though in reality he was only a few years older than me.

Chapter 29
My New Palace

I rented an apartment just a few minutes walk from Lester's which was convenient since he had a lot of new work for me - all based on my ideas. He took the whole "Robot Killer at Your Cervix" theme to a new level and made several movies from it.

We worked on a "school bathroom" movie, a "shitty apartment" movie (which actually was a best-seller for some reason), and a "construction site" movie. All of these were basically the same thing, of course, but with different actors going at it for an hour and a half each. We shot all of the movies in Lester's back bedroom as well.

We had just started production of the fifth "Robot Killer…." film based on an encounter at a police station when I got the call. My pocket screen lit up with a message to head to Shady Pines Retirement Community where they had a malfunctioning bot. I told Lester that I needed the afternoon off and headed out to visit some geriatrics and vaporize a robot.

I was so rusty at this that I actually had to turn around and grab my pulse gun. I couldn't believe I stepped out the door without it. I arrived at Shady Pines about a half hour later. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny with just a couple of clouds. The sunlight felt good on my face. It was something I missed since I had been spending so much time indoors lately.

Shady Pines was a typical quiet old folks home in the suburbs. I met with the property manager who told me that they had a troubled robot inside the main lobby. I had her fingerprint my pocket screen and then brief me on the situation. The culprit was a piano playing entertainment bot, which was basically a robot built into a piano that played music and sang for the residents. Like the old times, I just followed my ears which led me right to the bastard.

This piano bot was about as old as most of the residents and it was based on a simple design. Nothing on it really moved much except for the arms and hands on the keys and the bot's head would turn. That was it. I was pretty sure that it was malfunctioning as it was erratically flailing, randomly smashing the keys and making a cacophony of sounds. Its head was spinning completely around in circles and oil was spraying from its mouth. "Yep, you've got a malfunction here," I told the manager.

Despite the fact that this piano bot was making absolutely the worst music I have ever heard, there were still residents seated nearby listening. They seemed to actually be enjoying the experience. Obviously their hearing was so bad that they couldn't tell the difference. Nevertheless, I asked the property manager to remove all the people from the lobby so that they didn't have to see me destroy the thing.

The evacuation process took some time as these were all old people who were in wheelchairs or on walkers and they didn't do anything fast. The manager lured them into the cafeteria by saying that it was bingo hour. That got them going.

With an empty lobby, I could go about my work without worry. The piano bot was thrashing away on its latest concerto as I readied my gun. I made sure that I had the weapon on its lowest setting, then aimed and fired. There was the familiar flash of green light and percussive crack that I had long enjoyed. I blasted the living shit out of that thing sending bits of bot and shredded piano strings all over the lobby. The excess energy blew out a couple of windows and started a small fire.

I felt great, like I had a new lease on life. My brief moments of joy were interrupted by a pissed off property manager. She didn't seem to agree with my methods. I wasn't sure what she expected, but I did know that it was time for me to go. Thankfully, I had that waiver.

Chapter 30
10:43 am, Clark Baptist Church

The next morning, Lester and I were hard at work on the fifth installment of "Robot Killer…." when a message flashed across my pocket screen. It was something unusual, a call from a church.

I got the afternoon off and headed out to Clark Baptist Church located on the other side of town. Although I hadn't ever worked a church before, I did remember that they got the government rate because of their special status. That meant I'd probably just break even after cab fare. But at least, hopefully, I'd get to vaporize something.

I arrived and was quickly greeted by a church assistant. She was a short, older woman who had the name of Miss Becky or something. She was hysterical telling me how the preacher had gone crazy and was possessed. That didn't make any sense to me at all. "Miss Becky, I take care of robots. I can't do anything with your preacher." I said.

That's when she literally broke down and began weeping. "We have a secret and you've got to keep it." she sobbed. "Just go inside and you'll see".

I went inside as she requested. The church was modest on the outside, but very expensively decorated on the inside. It looked like they had absolutely the very best of everything in there. And right now, the preacher was destroying it all.

It sounded like mayhem. The preacher was going absolutely crazy. It was like he was on some kind of strange, powerful drug. If I closed my eyes, the sounds would lead me to believe that I had a large robot tearing the place apart. But a human was doing it.

Then a sobbing Miss Becky came in. "See, you must keep it a secret, please!"

"OK, but I can't shoot a human." I said.

"He's not human." she cried.

"What? He looks like it to me and I can't kill him." I replied.

"No, that's the secret. The preacher's a robot. We paid for the most human-like robot we could afford and had him programmed to be a preacher. But our flock doesn't know it." she wept. She was very embarrassed and I thought I understood why she wanted to keep it a secret. I guess it could ruin the church if the congregation found out about this lie. Nevertheless this was the most human-like bot I'd ever seen.

"I need to see some kind of documentation before I can do anything. Your preacher isn't going anywhere." I said.

Miss Becky led me to the church's office and pulled up the documents on a pocket screen. Damn, she was right, the preacher was a bot! It was made three years ago by some small company I had never heard of. I transferred the information to my pocket screen then had her make a fingerprint. At that point I warned her to stay away, and I went back to take care of the preacher.

I re-entered the sanctuary and the preacher was still going to town. He was wrecking everything. He was also spewing forth some kind of computerized malfunctioning sermon that sounded like a hyper-evangelical synthetic babble. In between phrases, he projectile vomited a slimy oil from his mouth. It was time to put him, or it, down.

The preacher had worked his way between several pews and was smashing the hell out of them. He was turning all that expensive wood into worthless splinters. I readied my gun, aimed and then fired. There was the usual bright flash of green light and minor explosion that I was used to and even enjoyed.

The blast hit the preacher right in the gut and blew him backwards about 20 feet into the side wall. The impact shattered a stained glass window above him and several religious icons fell from nearby shelves. The bot rested in a sitting position against the wall. He now looked like a drunken homeless person that was passed out but dressed in religious attire.

The entire midsection of the preacher bot was scorched and a small fire was burning on its chest. His mouth was twitching and soft synthetic gurgles were coming out along with an ooze of oil. It was over.

This bot was different alright. It was very human-like. So much that it was kind of haunting. I could hardly tell the difference until I got close. And now that it was neutralized, I could safely touch it.

Its skin felt just like a real person's. It was even warm. Its salt and pepper hair more than likely was human, possibly lab grown. Robots like this weren't even supposed to exist. After all, there was that 50 year old unwritten rule about not making them 'human'. It was almost too much to take and I felt guilty like I had killed a person. But Miss Becky gave me the documents and it proved that this preacher was a robot. Still, it was spooky. I needed some time to think about this.

Chapter 31
The Billion Dollar Idea

The ringing of my pocket screen woke me from an enjoyable afternoon nap. It was Lester. "Get over here quick." he said. I splashed some water on my face and made my way to his apartment. I figured he had some new movie planned and needed my help to shoot it.

"What's up Les?" I asked.

"Carl, I have the most amazing idea and it's going to make us both rich!" Lester replied. "Come back to my edit suite and we'll talk." I followed him back to his bedroom which doubled as the edit suite and sat down.

Lester continued, "I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before, but we've been so busy. I've been thinking about a new show that would appeal to a much wider audience. It would be like a documentary." Lester's cadence became rushed. "It would star you, you know, killing robots. Doing what you do with nothing held back. And we'd call the show 'BOTS'. What do you think?"

"Um, Lester." I paused. "So you want to do a show on me actually killing robots and not on the adult stuff?"

"Yes, it'd be great. You know, guns, explosions, dying robots, stuff burning." His eyes grew even wider. "It would be easy to make. I'd just come along with a camera and I'd mount a camera on you. Oh, and wire you for sound. It would be easy and we'd make a fortune!"

"So you want to follow me around while I kill robots and that would be the show?" I asked.

"Yes kid. Just trust me. It'll be a hit!" Lester sounded like he knew what he was talking about, and he did have success in making movies.

"What the hell, let's give it a shot."

Lester leaned forward to shake my hand, "It's a deal. There's just a few things I need to do and we'll be ready to go. Give me a couple of days to work out the logistics and all you have to do is just let me know when you get a call. Now lets finish this movie." And with that, Lester and I finished editing the fifth installment of "Robot Killer at Your Cervix".

Chapter 32
BOTS episode 1: Housewife in Distress

I was on my way to the first call for the show 'BOTS'. Lester was in the front passenger seat of the cab and I was riding in the back. "OK kid, this is how it's going to go. I'm rolling on you and what I want is to you tell the audience what you're about to do. You know, where you're headed and how situations like this usually play out. Make sure your camera is recording too. Watch your language and…forget I'm here."

"Sure thing," I responded. "I'm on my way to suburbia. Some lady called and said she's got a robot that's gone crazy. It's breaking things and making a huge mess of her house. Her kids are freaking out because they love this robot. Usually the bot has to be put down. It's got the virus and that's unfortunate. There's just not much else that can be done for it."

The cab pulled up in front of an average house in an average suburban neighborhood. I could barely get myself out before this lady met me.

"You've got to stop it. It's destroying my house!" she said. "What's with the camera guy?"

"Don't worry about it. I'm Carl and I'm here to take care of your robot problem. We're shooting a documentary. Just ignore the camera, but I need you to read this and fingerprint it." With that, I handed the nice suburban lady my pocket screen.

"I'm Rachel. Where do I sign?" she asked. "Oh, it's in the back bedroom and it's gone crazy. It's breaking everything! Please hurry."

I made my way into the front door and followed the sounds and the path of damage. Lester was close behind though I really wasn't keeping track of him as I was in 'business mode'. The sounds and damage path led me to the master bedroom where a small service model was going apeshit. It was spinning uncontrollably as its six hook-arms smashed into everything within reach. There was broken glass along with all kinds of personal belongings strewn across the bedroom.

I pulled my pulse gun and aimed at the little fucker. I double checked to make sure I was on the lowest setting and then pulled the trigger. It was a direct hit that blasted that little robot backwards into a large bookshelf. The impact caused the bookshelf to fall forward, crushing what remained of the robot. Then a small fire broke out which is when I turned and said to Lester, "Time to get out of here."

Both of us made it out of the house and I walked over to Rachel, "Better call the fire department." Then I angled towards Lester with his camera. "That's pretty standard for this kind of situation. There's generally a lot of broken stuff and sometimes things get burned. It's just another day, really."

With that, Lester and I hopped back into the cab. "That was fucking brilliant kid! We get a few more like that in the can and we're in business. We need more destruction though." The cab started heading home. "I know. Look, kid, you could maybe miss a little, you know. Make it look even more dangerous. Like give the robot a chance. That could work."

"It's not always like this Lester. Sometimes I do miss. Sometimes there's more than one robot. And sometimes, shit really burns down. It just depends."

"Well, we need more of that." Lester proudly said as he shifted around to face the front.

"I'll see what I can do." I replied. "Just remember to be ready on a moment's notice. You never know when I'll get another call."

Chapter 33
BOTS episode 1: Carla's Flowers

"Lester I got a call. I'll meet you in five minutes at your apartment with a cab."

"Sure thing kid." Lester's voice squawked on my pocket screen. I called a cab, grabbed my stuff and headed outside.

It was another early call and I have to admit that I was kind of getting used to those. Maybe it was that I was beginning to appreciate the work more, I don't know. Anyway I found that I was actually enjoying the feeling of the morning sun on my face. It was kind of refreshing. The day was starting out cool and crisp along with all the typical sounds of a morning rush hour.

I hopped in the back of the cab and headed over to Lester's to pick him up. We quickly arrived and Lester was in the front passenger side seat and in no time, we were headed to the job. "Lester, here's what we've got."

"Wait kid, let me get my camera rolling…. OK, go."

"It's a small flower shop. Just a few miles away. There's a service unit that's gone crazy. It's wrecking the place. Lots of broken glass, so watch that we don't get cut."

Lester shot back, "Alright, now more for the show. We need more as we head over there. You know, store dimensions, number of people and robots. Are there any fatalities. Oh, and how do you think this thing is going to play out? Make sure not to leave out anything. The more you talk, the better."

I looked down at my pocket screen and made like I was reading some kind of situation detail report. "Well, it looks like it's a small flower shop. One, maybe two employees and a robot. The robot's gone crazy and it's wrecking the place…. Friendlies have been evacuated, so it's just the robot inside. There's a lot of broken glass and crushed furniture with sharp edges so we need to be careful of that.

The robot is a typical service unit so it's not really that dangerous other than if it happens to strike you with an errant blow. It's got no weapons." I looked up at Lester, "This should go down pretty easy."

The cab arrived at the flower shop. Several bystanders were nearby, but being kept from getting too close by the local police who were managing the scene. Lester and I got out of the cab and went to work.

We could hear the sounds of breaking glass and synthetic gabber from outside the store, but it was pretty evident that this was going to be a relatively easy job. "Lester, stay behind me. I don't want you getting hurt."

"Right kid. Remember, don't talk directly to me. Forget I'm here. Just do what you have to do. Oh, and make sure you keep your language under control."

Inside, broken glass and mangled plant matter covered the floor. I could feel bits of glass crunching under my feet with every step. The bot was over to my left and it was on a malfunction binge, flailing about and leaking oil. I readied my pulse gun and double checked the power setting, then aimed and fired. Missed! Actually, I really missed and not just for Lester.

The blast went just to the right of the robot and blew out one of the few remaining intact large glass windows. The discharge continued outside across the alley and blasted into the next store. "Damn it!" I aimed and fired again. This one hit the robot center mass and punched it forward into a flower display. The bot was pretty much neutralized at that point. Everything else after this, I did for the camera.

"You've got to be careful in situations like this. You know, where the robot might be neutralized or not. You never know. Those things are really unpredictable." I cautiously approached the bot and checked its smoldering remains for signs of life. "Good. This one's done. Let's go." I motioned to Lester and we left. That was it.

Once outside, Lester wasted no time in getting some B-Roll of the exterior and 'outside looking in' shots. Then he directed me a little bit saying that he wanted close-up's of my pocket screen and of me holding my pulse gun. It was pretty mundane stuff, but he said it would really work in the show.

A few minutes later, we were in the cab headed home. "Alright kid, I'm rolling. Just give a quick summary of what happened."

"Sure." I paused briefly to think, "OK, this was pretty routine all around, though I missed with that first shot. Maybe I was concerned about all the broken glass and sharp edges. It shook my concentration a little bit. Sometimes it happens. Other than that, this was just a case of a malfunctioning robot turning a nice store into a total disaster area. It's regrettable. I mean, that robots do that. Today's technology shouldn't be so susceptible to renegade viruses. It's sad, really. I'm just glad I don't have to do the clean up."

"Lester started to laugh, "That was great kid. Brilliant! One more and we should be ready to edit the first show."

(more chapters coming soon!)

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BOTS When 22nd Century Technology Fails - a novel by Michael I. Oster copyright 2013 all rights reserved.