Something slightly different this time. I had some contribution from a fan who wrote a short passage for this scene. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
I remember when I first saw her, sure. I was barely eleven, and I was on my own. The pretty kids were begging in the middle class areas, the fast ones stealing in the upper class neighbourhoods. I was slow and ugly, so I got stuck with scavenging duty.
I was looking through the alley’s bins when I noticed this blanket. It had holes and smelled like a few bodily fluids but it was real nice, you know ? All thick and big. Maybe one of the girls coulda patched it up, and we coulda slept in it, taken turns.
So I went to grab it, then the alarms started to roar. At first I thought it was for me, the cops had seen me eye the bins and decided that was enough. But then I saw the people running into their homes, and heard the announcements. SECURITY LOCKDOWN, go into your homes, all that. So I snatched the blanket and hid behind the bins, deeper into the alley, further in the darkness. I hoped no cops would find me there and take me into one of those state orphanages. Terrible places, those. Jimmy, he went to one of them and we saw him again with some creepy old guy, his eyes like two sad holes cut into his face. He looked right back at us and the holes stayed empty.
But where was I ? Yeah. Behind the bins, holding the blanket against my body. I heard gunshots in the distance, so I waited. Then explosions, so I held my breath. Finally, footsteps. Only big ones at first, slow and heavy, and the sound of mechanical joints. Then I noticed others, matching the pace of those.
“Come on, buddy. They’re not that far behind us.”
“COMMAND NOT RECOGNISED. DO YOU HAVE AUTHORISATION ?”
“I gave myself authorisation. Come on, we have to go.”
A woman’s voice, young but assertive. And a robotic voice, booming. I held the blanket closer.
“THIS UNIT IS A W01-F253 MODEL, AND IT IS NOT TO TRAVEL WITHOUT A MILITARY SUPERVISOR.”
The woman clicked her tongue. They were no longer walking and they’d stopped right in front of the alley. From the darkness I could see a large bot. Warbot, for sure. A hooded woman stood next to him. Already I knew, I asked myself ; is this her ?
“I changed your programming ten minutes ago. There’s nothing forcing you to resist”, I heard her say. She paused, and her tone got harsher. “You’re choosing to make this complicated, aren’t you ?”
Silence fell. I took a breath ; a tiny, quiet breath.
The warbot’s head creaked as it suddenly turned towards me, and the sound echoed in the empty street.
“UNREGISTERED HUMAN DETECTED”.
Footsteps towards me, god. I stared at that damn blanket I was going to die for, at its suspicious stains and its holes, and I had this image in my head of my blood on it and those holes in my own flesh.
“Hey, it’s just a kid. Come out. We won’t hurt you.”
The woman stood in front me, showing her open palms, raised up above the guns on her belt. I didn’t move, I couldn’t move, I just sat there with my heart beating up to my ears. I couldn’t see her eyes but she smiled at me like no adult ever had ; a real smile, the kind I see on the faces of families.
“Yeah. It’s all right.”
We walked into the street up to the bot, whose head was still turned towards me.
“It’s a kid, see ? A street kid, right ?”
I nodded. The light coming out of the bot’s face shone right into my eyes and I felt the back of them sting.
“A street kid, scavenging what he can from dirty bins. Those are the victims of your masters, W01-F.” Her voice wascold.
The warbot lowered his head, but that light, that one eye he had wouldn’t leave me.
“W-what are you doing with this bot ?”
She chuckled and took a credstick from her pocket, putting it in my hand. I get now that she was buying my silence, but at the time I felt warmth when her fingers touched mine.
“I can’t tell you the details, but Mr Wolf here is going to be a friend of ours from now on.”
She took his large hand in hers, and he didn’t budge.
“Tell your people, kid. The resistance is there for you all. I’m here.”
I think I was crying at this point, holding the credstick in my hand so hard my palm hurt. She was still smiling and I tried hard to memorise the way she did.
“Now come on, Mr Wolf. My friends are waiting, and there’s a lot to do.”
They began hurrying away and I stood there, watching them go. The warbot turned to look at me one last time.
“GOODBYE, STREET KID.”