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Ayush Gurung

Abstract Tragedy Others


4.2  

Ayush Gurung

Abstract Tragedy Others


A New Restriction

A New Restriction

11 mins 330 11 mins 330

The presence of eyes is not necessary to feel like you're being watched. The piece of metal didn't have eyes, or a face, or most other human features. It was just a box, with a tall lightbar for a head, protruding arms with tongs for hands, and wheels for legs, and an indiscernible speaker from where it sometimes beeped. It stood before the door that connected the living room to the outside world. Richard turned and shifted on the couch, and looked at the robot's head. It didn't reach the top of the door, but the thing was still bigger than himself. Not that Richard was threatened by it. He only felt anger.

The government had made it mandatory for all citizens to keep a "bot-cop" in their house, the invention of which was claimed as the beginning of a new chapter for law and order in society, a chapter that definitely took Richard back to school again. Not only did the restriction feel unecessary, but effective as well. The booklet stated that there were over a thousand reactions programmed into the machine to counter suspicious activity. It was a great advancement in technology, but was it needed? Absolutely not, thought Richard, and turned to his wife beside him.

"Hey Abby, doesn't this thing piss you off?... Hey, am I talking to a wall?"

With a deep breath, Abigail dragged her head away from the television. "Dear, I told you we made some good progress today."

"Coming to an agreement is not good progress. These things have to go!"

"We're trying our best Richard. We can't fight statistics. Over the last week crime rates have dropped by ninety percent."

"Don't give me your fancy Congress talk. Think of humanity! This is an invasion of privacy, of fundamental rights."


Abigail gave an angry look to her husband, and then turned back to the television. "No more discussions Richard. I told you we're trying."

Richard wasn't known for being the smartest person in the world, but even he knew that when your wife used your first name like that in an argument, it was best to concede. So Richard turned back grumbling and mumbling to the robot, and Abigail to the television, until suddenly, the former unsunk himself from the couch with a smirk. Abigail furrowed her brows, the eyes below followed the husband as he confidently posted himself in front of the robot and stretched himself forward and sideways, affectedly trying to go outside.

"What are you up to now?"

"Shh Abby."

"Beep. Beep."

The robot raised it's arms side ways and moved to match Richard's movements. It clearly wasn't going let him pass. In a mad dash, Richard ran away and climbed out of the window. The lightbar started spiralling and with louder and concisely patterned beeps, the robot opened the living room door and chased after the man. The pursuit didn't last very long as the robot managed to outrun Richard quite easily, and hauled him firmly back to house. Abigail noticed that he looked worryingly satisfied as he was thrown inside. She made several reproaches but they were all ignored. Richard got up and without wasting a step, went into the washroom, all the while calming his wife as best as he could. Five minutes passed.

"Beep. Beep".


The robot moved upto the threshold of the bathroom and knocked on the door.

"I'll be out in a moment."

The lightbar spun again, and the knocking got harder. Richard wondered what the robot was trying to say with its beeping. He opened the door and gave a contempting smile. Even without expression, the robot looked satisfied. Richard closed the door, and the machine silently remained in place, but turned towards Abigail. After another five minutes the events repeated, but this time Richard came out of the toilet and returned to the couch, noticing which the bot-cop took its original place in front of the living room door.

"You saw that Abby?"

"I didn't see a point."

"That's because the government has totally puppeted you. But I know this oppression ain't moral. When I got back from work today first thing I did was check that thing's manual. After that and my little test just now, I can hundred percent say that if we manage to get out of the house without being seen by it, we'll have a five minute head start before it starts looking for us, and given its speed we should be able to hide in the park."


"Ah yes. Hiding in that jungle, I would absolutely love to run away and break the law for that! But I'm afriad we'll have to take a rain check. Read the manual again dear. There are sensors on all exits. The robot doesn't have to see us. If we try to escape, it will be alerted."

"That's where you're mistaken Abby. There are sensors on all current exits, all doors, windows and vents. If we were to make a new exit, which I think we'll manage in five minutes, we'll be able to get out!"

Abigail's eyes widened, and many questions were asked about the sanity of Richard, and few questions lingered in Abigail's mind about her own sanity in marrying such a person, who was planning to blast a hole in their home.

"Not blast a hole. That would alert it. I've brought a special tool from work today. Remember what I had been telling you about?"

"Wait, isn't that one of the newest models? You could be fired Richard!"


"I would be fired, but no one knows, and no one will. I'll get it safely back tomorrow. Hell, maybe I'll go to the garage right now."

Hearing nothing more of his wife's pleas even as she followed him, Richard hurried to his room and locked the door, but not before Abigail slipped herself inside. He then proceeded to open his closet, and pulled out from it the most silent laser saw man kind had ever created. Without wasting time except for throwing a smile at his wife, he started making a giant hole, a bit smaller than the bot-cop, through the wall. 

"Richard you have gone insane!"

"Don't come any closer! This thing is real powerful, you could get hurt.

"

All the practice Richard had at work really showed, and he managed to complete the task in less than three minutes. As that section of the wall started shaking, Richard pulled himself and Abigail back, and in front of their eyes, a new door way was opened. Unfortunately, Richard had not accounted for the falling of the debris, and the noise it made was enough to alert the robot in the other room. Loud beeps were heard again, and this time they were accompanied by a siren sound. Richard took Abigail's hand and started running, but she resisted.

"Come on Abby! This is freedom! This is what the government is trying to take from us!"

"Richard... Please. Stop."


"Fine! You stay right here! I'll show that this thing ain't worth shit! They'll have to remove it then. I'll be back in time to get enough sleep for work. Then you'll see how useless this curfew is."

"Richard!"

But the man had already left. As she saw him run, the bot cop smashed into the room after a round of knocking. It turned itself first to Abigail, then to the figure of the man running away in the distance. The robot quickly decided that the biggest urgency of the moment was Richard, and it ran as swiftly as its wheels could carry it. It was faster than the man, not fast enough to catch him before he disappeared into the nearby park. 


The area was covered in the darkness of trees, and was large enough to get lost in. Richard had spent time there ever since he was a child, and knew every nook and cranny. The robot reached the entrance, but couldn't see Richard. But he could see it. He peeked through the branches of a shrub he was hiding in. Richard found it quite shameful that the government had considered this robot to be a proper guard, but concluded that it was probably for the best or he might have been thrown back into the house by now, or maybe even killed. As the robot started searching in a different direction, Richard considered it best to change locations. 


In the middle of the woods there was an old watch tower. It had existed there for as long as Richard could remember. It was a cherished piece of architecture in the locality, and reminded Richard of old times, when construction still consisted of a lot of up and close handiwork. The government had tried to demolish it, it was like they just needed an excuse to oppress people. Many of the suburb folk were ready to let go of the cultural landmark, but Richard and a few of the people who actually gave a damn about their history had got together and protested, and successfully prevented the tragedy. There were rumours of a "remodeling" going around but these few good men were ready for another protest were it needed. 


Richard thought it quite a work of destiny that this tower which stood like a symbol of the uncompromising consecration of their liberty would now save him from the newest tyranny of the authorities. He crouched and silently headed to the tower. It was a tall one, the trees had outgrown it, but it was tall enough that one would be scared looking down from it. The frame of the building was built up of four long iron beams which slanted inward from bottom to top, with horizontal beams placed at three intervals along them on all sides. Beams in the shape of a cross were fitted between the gaps for extra support. At the top there was a square base with a triple railed fence around five feet high, with an opening to fit the ladder that went straight down. Richard took an excited breath and climbed up this ladder to the top. He dusted the rust off his hands, for the tower had not been climbed in ages, and laid flat down on his stomach to hide himself. 


He saw through the fence that the robot was approaching. Richard hid as best as he could but the bot turned out to be more intelligent than expected. It looked around at the trees, and then faced upwards at the top of the tower. From where Richard was, the stretching forward of the robot's head in the darkness made it appear as if it were squinting. The robot definitely couldn't see, or could it? Richard scratched his head and began to sweat. After retracting its head, the robot moved up to the base of the ladder. Richard consoled himself that it would be impossible for the thing to climb, but even so his sweating grew more intense. The robot wasn't made to climb, but it raised its left arm and grabbed a step of the ladder. It slowly pulled itself upward on the now shivering hunk of beams, and using its right arm grabbed another step. It repeated the action with its left arm, and alternating between the two, slowly increased its height, and decreased the distance between itself and Richard. His body at this point began to feel like pudding, matching the tower in shivers and sways. There had been a clear statement in the manual, beeps were for minor mistakes, like children misbehaving or trying to go outside at night. The siren sound was for bigger crimes, and the way to deal with the criminals was left to the judgement of the robot. It wasn't stated explicitly what the robot could do, but it only tensed Richard more. His mouth opened on its own, and started screaming threats and obscenities at the robot. The tower, as if reciprocating, grew violent in its swings, the weight of the robot pulled the rusty thing down, and with a howling noise, it finally fell. First came down the robot, holding a broken step in it's claw, next the man, who fell airborne from the slanting of the structure, then finally the tower itself, smashing both of the former.


The noise of the crash was heard faintly by those awake in the houses around the woods. It wasn't loud enough for any suspense among other cop-bots or humans, except for one. Abigail felt her chest sink when she heard the crash. She had already been walking towards the park, but now the caution was out of her steps. Once inside the woods, she followed the tracks of wheels, and realised where it led to. She understood that it was the watchtower than had made the noise, but stopped herself from entertaining any darker thoughts. Her steps slowed down again, but not from caution this time. Finally reaching the site of tragedy, she saw the ruined tower on the ground, she saw the several pieces of metal and circuits scattered around the mutilated body of the robot, and she saw her husband, lying in a pool of his blood.


Richard made his wife cry that night, he had left her in grief, with many explanations to be given to authorities and society, he had brought down his beloved watchtower, he had failed in making a bold declaration on the superfluity of the bot-cop, and he had lost his life for nothing more than a news statement claiming an increase in the resources allocated for further development of the bot-cop and home security, but at least he believed, as he took his last breath, that the freedom was his right.


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