The Robot Who Scanned Too Much (short fiction)

The Automatic Detective

“You killed your wife, Mr. Garrison,” I said. “Then you scrapped your butler auto as a precaution. I assume because it had recorded the crime, and you didn’t want to take a chance.”

Garrison balked. The guy was really good at balking. Like he practiced it in the mirror. Practice or not, it didn’t register as sincere. It didn’t mean he was lying. He might have been an insincere person. Expressions were tricky. It was why I was glad I didn’t have a face. Most people didn’t know what the hell I was thinking unless I told them.

But this guy’s face, it said a lot of things. Either he’d killed his wife and was feigning shock or he hadn’t killed her but he wasn’t greatly bothered by it. I computed the odds at the first possibility.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “The lady was old. All you had to do was wait her out if you wanted her money. But I guess that’s the difference between biologicals and bots. We bots have a patience you organic beings don’t often possess.”

Garrison’s face went blank. No point in trying to bluff a bot.

“You can’t talk to me like this. You’re just a goddamn robot.”

“Robots can be a real inconvenience,” I said, “but you didn’t have to scrap the auto. Legally, his memory couldn’t be used against you. But then again, I suppose you couldn’t take that chance, could you? Even if the files couldn’t be used legally, they might show the cops a mistake you made. And if you still got away with it, everyone would know. Word gets around. Enough money can get you out of a jam in this town, but those rich folks you want to be a part of so much, they’d probably look down on having a member who killed one of their own.”

It was those rich folk’s turn to balk. A whole room full of Empire City’s upper crust balking was something to record. I could’ve had this conversation with Garrison an hour earlier without any witnesses. But I wanted them to see. I wanted tongues to wag.

“I can’t prove this yet, Garrison. But I will. You know us robots. Once we set a directive, we don’t stop. You’re a biological. You make mistakes. And I’ll find it. I just wanted to tell you that.”

Garrison poked me in the chest with his finger. “I said get the hell—”

I picked him up and tossed him into his swan ice sculpture. The crowd gasped.

“Self-defense.” I tipped my hat to the crowd. “Have a nice night, folks.”

Garrison moaned in a heap on the floor. Not one of his biological guests moved to help him, but a waiter auto moved to his aid.

“My patience index is about as high as they come, Garrison. I’ll be seeing you around.”

He didn’t say a word, but he had an indestructible robot nipping at his heels. There wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it but wait for the day I caught up with him.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    The Automatic Detective was the first of your books I ever read, and I love seeing more of it. A surprisingly aggressive move out of Mack. wow.

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