Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.


by Jason Fischer

AMOS-312 came online, and pinged the depot overseer, indicating that the recharge was complete. Rusting arms lifted it out of the great empty rack, and AMOS-312 found the following issues during start-up diagnostics:

Item #57: Outer carapace, dented and scratched – beyond allowable parameters

Item #7: Wheels, bald

Item #321: Tracker Camera K32 reporting 0.007 seconds delay – beyond allowable parameters

Item #99: MONTHLY QUOTA NOT BEING MET – Please try harder for those targets, AMOS-312!

AMOS-312 wound its way through the depot, past the repair bays. It pinged AMOS-267, who was patiently waiting for a mechanic to attend to its fouled drive-train. It mournfully reported that this was the 2,513th day it had spent in the bay. The appropriate messages had been sent at regular intervals, insisting that the service be completed, and automated responses assured AMOS-267 that the problem would be rectified, and that it should
remain in the bay until the mechanic arrived.

AMOS-312 rolled across the sea of litter that had blown in through the main egress, noting that the door was still jammed half-way open. It allowed 320mm of clearance either side, which was acceptable. Crunching over a huddle of human skeletons, the beetle-shaped robot climbed the access ramp until it was rolling alongside the highway.

This was unacceptable. The roads were still log-jammed with rusting vehicles, none of which were moving. Extending its instrument array, AMOS-312 scanned the traffic in all directions, watching for various traffic violations. It normally picked up 3.12 violations per hour along the M1.

Other locations were visited, with the same results. Occasionally AMOS-312 would have a Second Law violation, which was distressing for the robot. The constant failures were beginning to cause the machine the equivalent of depression. It sulked beside the highways, shuffled past the school safety zones (usually a great money earner for the county) and wondered where all the traffic violators had gone.

There! AMOS-312 picked up activity near the CBD, a pair of vehicles travelling at great speeds. They were operating with complete disregard for the road rules, and as the robot reached a good observation point, it issued several expiation notices, including:

Item #13: Operate vehicle at excess speed (132 km/hr in 60 km/hr zone)

Item #27: Strike parked vehicle.

Item #56: Leave the scene of an accident

Item #78: Destruction of municipal property (fire-hydrant)

Item #83: Destruction of municipal property (bus-shelter)

Item #102: Discharge of firearms from moving vehicle

AMOS-312’s instrument array went offline for a moment when it was struck by gunfire. Still, it was able to photograph the number-plates of the offending vehicles as they roared past. The driver of the second vehicle had obscured the last digit, several human skulls being mounted on the bumper. Still, a cross-reference matched the vehicle type and colour, and two further fines were sent to the DMV computer.

AMOS-312 finished the job with a quick analysis of their billowing exhaust spectra, and got them both with a #43 (Exceed allowable carbon monoxide emissions). 

Central data confirmed that AMOS-312 had just achieved a personal best, and noted that it should be considered for Operator of the Month.

The Cabal’s third anniversary is approaching, and we’re looking for help figuring out how to celebrate, so we’re holding a contest. Click here to read the details and give us your ideas!

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.