I stare at the robot.
“One caesar salad, please,” I repeat.
But it simply stares forward as if I do not exist.
This would be one thing if this were just a glitch in its programming. But this is not the first time the Soup’n ‘n Green’n robot has given me the cold, metallic shoulder. In fact, it is the third day in a row.
And it is the same for every restaurant in the food court.
I sit back down at the table and hand Karina a few dollar coins.
“Again?” she asks.
“Again,” I answer.
She gets up to go buy me a salad and I lay my head on down the table. I let out a loud groan.
Everywhere I go in my normal routine, the robots have been completely ignoring me, acting as though I am not a human being but instead a stationary object to avoid colliding into. I’ve become completely disassociated from the modern human experience all on account of my being excluded from facial recognition software. It’s as if I never existed in the first place.
Except to the auction robots. They’re still hounding me around, though in lesser numbers recently because the online listing price is getting a bit high (for some reason). Larkins has been forcing me to work in the back on some paperwork organization so that I don’t cause a big disruption, but even that hasn’t been going particularly well with robots standing at the entranceway silently. It’s creeping the customers out.
When Moonslash said I’d have to undergo some trials, I really thought it was going to be something a little more… deadly.
This is just torture.
Karina comes back, salad in tow.
“Here ya go, Harding.”
“Kodama, you’re a real pal.”
“I’m certainly a guy.”
“The best of them.”
She sits down to finish her pecan pasta (????), and lets out a sigh. “This really sucks.”
“The worst thing I’ve ever been in.”
“I mean the pasta.”
“You’ll get through your thing,” Karina says. “I know you will. I believe in you. You’re Morgan Harding, after all.”
“What’s that supposed to mean…”
“What the hell is this robot doing in my office?”
“Eh, what do you mean?”
“I thought the things wouldn’t enter the bank, but this one is right here.”
“I have a delivery for one Morgan Harding.”
“Uh, that’s me. What the…”
“Here you go. Have a nice day from United Georgia Services!”
“I didn’t order anything, I swear.”
“Then what is it?”
“Let’s see… It’s a…”
“Harding, is that a…”
“I did not order this. I promise.”
“And you especially did not have it shipped to this bank address.”
“I’m going to put this away.”
“Yeah. And when you get back, let’s talk.”
Well, now that I’m being made to take some “sick days,” I might as well get some TV watching in. The Scott Stutzman Show’s done with its season, so there isn’t anything I’m actively watching, but I heard the new robot cop show Almost Human is pretty alright. Maybe I’ll catch an episode–
Knock knock knock.
–And try to ignore the Bidbay bots again.
Okay, let’s turn it on–
Static on the TV–
Nevermind, I guess it’s now showing a rerun of Predator: The Gathering. I’m not in the mood for soap opera science fantasy psuedobiodocumentaries so I do not think I’ll be watching this one. I flip to the next channel.
Huh, it’s on this channel too. I didn’t know they were owned by the same company. Or maybe it’s a syndication thing. Why is that alien fighting in World War 2? Eh. I’m still not interested. Maybe there’s some cartoons on–
Apparently Predator: The Gathering is also a kids’ animated television show, because it certainly is on this channel too. A young half-alien half-human child looks down at its father’s remains being lowered into the grave at Arlington. It vows revenge.
I check the channel guide.
It appears that Predator: The Gathering is a very popular show, because it is playing on every channel for the rest of the evening.
Knock knock knock.
I know I don’t have to go to work this morning, but I want to at least try and hang out with Karina today, even if it means braving the hordes of robots sure to be…
Huh. No robots are here yet. Must be out harassing someone else for a change.
But there are six giant boxes at my doorstep.
I open one up…
It’s a box of computer chips.
That’s it. Just piles and piles of useless computer chips…
…Which can only be recycled by taking them to a drop-off location at your local tech store. And the nearest one is four blocks away.
All I wanted was an eclair. All I wanted was an eclair!
Is it that bad to want to leave your house to get junk food from Fami every once in a while? It appears the answer has come to me in the form of a shouting robot.
“You’re responsible! You’re responsible! Shame on you!”
The robot points me down, with several bystanders staring at it gawks loudly in my direction.
“Atlanta’s Most Wanted, Kendall Bracken! You will atone for your murder and the police will intercept you. Do not try to resist.”
Why– I’m not a fugitive murderer. I don’t even look like Kendall Bracken. But… everyone is still staring at me regardless.
“That thing’s really malfunctioning, huh,” I say.
“Someone call the police, hurry!” the robot shouts. “We must arrest Kendall Bracken!”
People are still staring.
Moonslash, you fiend. You’ve finally broken me.