CIRCUIT

DEBUGGER

 by 

MATTHEW SENKOWSKI

Art by Elias Garza

We need some of our circuits debugged!

 

1

Many years after the automatic siege and destruction of Autopia, when the streets ran black with molten tar and red hot motor oil. There was a great undertaking to bury an arduous cartel of electronic merchants and criminals. Now only a single one of them still exists, and the man is not happy that his most recent batch of customers are currently wanted for kidnapping.

            Drex DeBerger was a hood rat from the Autopia Delta section of the old decaying metropolis. Always at the tail end of a crumbling expressway line. Resident owner of an untold amount of public transit fare and credit transfer technology. He was an entrepreneur of the rarest kind. An opportunist of government misfortune. An extorter of freedom, an agent of free association. His business: the reprogramming of human biological circuitry.

            A debugger, in this day and age, was nearly an impossibility. It was just too dangerous. A deprogrammer of other people's destinies. Far and enough away from the most legal of businesses. A bio-circuitry reprogramming charge, by legal process, could merit a 20 years to life sentence in a federal penitentiary.

            All of the former debuggers had either been caught, killed or escaped. The single operator, DeBerger remained as an only remnant of a dying art. A designer at the digital level of physical circuitry. A man with the charisma to blend away and vanish without a trace to anything, anywhere, and currently on a highway-tram to the charitable urban district of Pennyborough. A family residence for wealthy homeowners and happy UEB workers, an industrial circuit of digitally cognizant computer simulacra everywhere, an electronic regulation and maintenance of commerce and transportation. An item of the computer system, never too far away from every living being.

            He sat with a meagre expression across his vaguely unshaven face. Hair draping over his forehead, blonde and straggly, a rather thin and gaunt frame. Eyebrows and chin at a pointed protuberance. He was caught with a morose expression while examining a public transit window. A whole blur of forgotten imagery, a city squalor of foul and unrepentant contempt.

            The job: reprogram an identity for an old competitor, a former robotic identity designer and dealer who is reputedly in the process of a hostage negotiation presently. The hostage: Blitz, the former ex-girlfriend of DeBerger. Now, it was not too picky to consider the implications of a data transfer through an organic circuitry reprogramming within the left forearm of a known felon in a resident hideout, additionally an illegal robot manufacturing operation and dealership. A scumbag by any other name.

2

            “This ain’t worth it.” DeBerger whispered under his breath.

            The train car came to a halt. The automatic doors parted, DeBerger is scanned by a local public telephone booth, the device recognizes him as a married hospital janitor with no criminal record. DeBerger walks away down a cement staircase and out of range from the telephone booth. He came to the attention of a ticket agent automaton, a mechanical and complimentary machine, the robot could engage any citizen and organize a train fair instantly. Most of the time with never a word spoken aloud, and efficient as the day is long.

            A long grain grass courtyard was kept comfortably at arms reach. Most of the electronic equipment along this particular courtyard appears as a scheme of property maintenance where a single household resides upon a 12 square hectare valley. He stood at the edge of the property atop the former remnants of a dilapidated baseball diamond. DeBerger came to the attention of an automatic gas pump, housed within a garage full of motorcycles and automobiles.

            Drex imagined his ex-girlfriend, but not quite ex enough, so to speak. They had separated company months prior, but he knew she had found the allegiance of a problematic programmer, Pierre DuBuono, a dark level techno-person. A low level snitch and roll-over king, just about ready to reveal his allegiances elsewhere outside of Autopia.

            Perhaps, far enough away to incriminate himself to the local authorities, DeBerger knew enough to mistrust DuBuono, a liar and identity peddler for nearly far too long. The two of them knew enough to observe and track one another. With so much illegality on the line.

            For one reason or another, DuBuono asked for a custom identity transfer to his forearm Modular Circuitry Implant. An MCI reprogrammer by this day and age is a very illegal thing. Every person of Autopia, whether criminal or not, commits to an automatic Modular Circuitry Implant capable of transacting credit and service for only the will of a single Autopian citizen. A simple software apparatus embedded within the forearm of every infant, the means and security for an entire region. A tiny circuit to while away the hours.

            The chip itself, a minor blip on any digital radar, but enough to attract and activate the attention of authorities at all times. The police, or any other color of squad, however bright or dark, reliably capable to activate and deactivate a public nuisance or catastrophe, at any given time. Autopia, a haven for destitute dilettantes, and also the secret residence for the richest and most powerful people throughout a 30 square mile territory of wasteland and wilderness.

3

            On the premises of the DuBuono compound. While at this present time, there are no active surveillance robots. No automatic gardening systems, active phone lines, or any other forms of security systems. The house was on electric shutdown while an independent electrical security system regulated an independent form of energy. The entire compound on network lockdown, and host to a tier system of concrete pathways descending to a crystal clear pool.

            DeBerger stood at the peak of a shadowy brick precipice underneath the distant wing of an immense balcony level. His vision sank down to an extravagant image of Blitz. A beautiful brunette woman with a shaply figure, bound by a bikini, and formative of a softly sleek muscle tone.

            He stood and watched her. The sound of water at a careful rotation. Green grass sprawling away from the bleak grey balcony with its supporting pillars and natural scenery, a forest almost a bit too far away for DeBerger to consider running to or escaping through. A single if only public transit station, a mere hour’s walk away. The image of Blitz in her bikini, gently turning underneath a blanket of sunlight.

            A voice rang through the solid concrete plateau. It reached the ears of all who could hear, “Hello, Drex, it’s a pleasure to see you.” said DuBuono, amidst a stark shaking landscape and along an air tunnel funneling towards DeBerger.

            The man stood forward to see his ex-girlfriend turn and see him. Eyes shielded by a set of sunglasses, she looked up and over her left shoulder to see the former love of her life, and then to DuBuono wearing a dark nylon robe, hair thin with a subtle movement around his bright smiling mouth, “You’ll have to forgive me, we weren’t expecting you so soon.”

            “I hope I’ve caught you at a good time.” said DeBerger, Blitz turned forward to a lean and lowers her sunglasses, the sight of DeBerger at slightly a crooked angle. She stood from her pool lounger and set a chalk white high heel shoe to an overly subtle pace.

            “I hope you know how I feel about you.” she said, while wearing practically nothing, DeBerger could only surmise, “Quite a sight, and to be with him.” and gesturing towards a beamingly dark DuBuono, “This is all a misunderstanding.” while shaking with a smile of desperation. The three of them tremble along a cool and shaky spring breeze.

            “There’s a problem with our security.” said DuBuono with a nervous laugh.

4

            “You messaged me and informed me that Blitz was in danger and that you needed an identity fix. What’s the story, did you take her hostage, and have you done something against the law?” said DeBerger, DuBuono could barely hold back a response, “No, but I need a new identity for somebody else, a new file to reprogram and remodel.”     

            “You know that’s an illegal operation, and you still haven’t told me how Blitz is in danger?” said DeBerger, he looked over to see her beautiful form, “Is she in danger?” he asked.

            “I was ghosted and copied by a programmer who claimed to know you.”

            The two men both listen to her with awe, DuBuono with a subtle fascination and DeBerger with a great deal more paranoia. They were led into a work parlor at the behest of DuBuono who proceeded to inform them, “She came to me for assistance. She needed a place to hang out, and an alibi.” he said with a sincere truthfulness, “An insurance investigator informed me that a credit scanner identified my identity near a grey level safe house.”

            The grey level warehouses were supposedly front companies for a government wholesaler installation. Other rumors reported that the buildings were an exporter of illegal credit simulation, yet it was also reported that the facility housed a police stronghold of evidence. Whether or not these claims were true remained to be seen, but nevertheless, a system identified a shady character stealing and simulating the identity of Blitz while in the process of accessing the facility.

            “I was called by the insurance investigator this morning, but I was approached by the dark stranger almost two weeks ago, he claimed to know you.”

            This infuriated DeBerger, “What!?!” he screamed, “You met with some creep who claimed to know me two weeks ago, and you didn’t think to tell me about that.”

            “It was all so quick, the stranger approached me on the street two weeks ago, it simulated your voice and said, ‘Listen to me, I’m in danger.’ it was so frightening, I wasn’t sure if it was really you because the thing had its face concealed by cloth. I walked away and it told me to, ‘Walk away and never come back.’”

            “Well, she told me about it,” said DuBuono, “and than I ran a scan on her, recorded the evidence of her previous two weeks and attempted an identity scan of the creature, or whatever it was.” and he activated a tele-visual view screen.

            “So, you still want an identity fix?” said DeBerger.    

            “Yeah, an original one.”

5

            “You realize; if you’re caught with this in public, I’ll be forced to answer for you.” cautioned DeBerger as he pulled out a leather wallet from his back pocket, “You see, I don’t just carry around any old run-of-the-mill toy.” he said as he pulled a thick animatronic identity card from his wallet. The shine of an ID forger carries throughout the MCI engineering studio.

            The slip of metal and plastic comes apart and breaks into a handful of tiny little connective pieces. A bright crystalline downloader port flashes a radiance of compatibility, a handheld MCI library and laboratory. A recorder and downloader as well as an importer and exporter of digital identities. The modular identity slip card shows a shiny glisten along its plastic and golden layers of circuitry.

            An identity forger badge was a rare thing in this day and age. It was only something a few people would ever carry around. An object of transcendent usefulness, yet an item of utterly explosive destruction. A tool on behalf of a confidence trickster or criminal. The product of an authoritative system to police and manage its people. Something to offer every citizen, whether corrupt or honest, for their own independent freedom.

            “What’s your angle DuBuono?” said DeBerger.

            “No angle, I just need a new identity to play with.”

            “And you expect me to hand it out, like lucky charms, to anyone for a quick sucker play, is that it?” said DeBerger and pocketed his identity slip, “You really don’t know what’s going on here, do you?”

            DuBuono could barely even say a word about this incrimination. Blitz could see the tension arriving in DeBerger’s favor. She looked between the two of them, DuBuono commented, “Someone is stalking Blitz.”

            “Yeah, but how do you know that?” said DeBerger and continued, “You’re up to something, and I think it’s safer if Blitz comes with me.”

            Her agile form crept between the two men, a white t-shirt in her hands, “But, it’s up to me where I go now.” she said and put the t-shirt on over her bathing suit, “I want to go with you, Drex. Take me to the APD police headquarters, downtown.”

            An important step to a more secure station and placement in their lives, the former couple seem to come together with a kinetic natural energy, and DuBuono is not happy with the sudden and unforeseen abandonment, “I was hoping that we could solve this problem together.”

6

            “You’re guilty of entrapment, stay out of my hair DuBuono.” said DeBerger.

            “That’s not how you pronounce my name.”

            The couple quickly and subtly walk away through the cement courtyard, they descend a staircase and attempt to retreat from DuBuono, “Your name isn’t my business. Just stay away from us until you clean up your basement.” said DeBerger with a subtle suggestion about an illegal sub-basement robot dungeon, “No, you know I’m clean, my family would never tolerate me doing that, not again.” said DuBuono.

            Amidst a hail of curses and foul language, the former couple arrive upon the plain of a grassland field next to a lengthy cement driveway. They turn to see DuBuono in his black nylon dressing gown, “And if you ever message me again, I’ll sell you a ghost identity badge.” said DeBerger and threatened to concede DuBuono into an entrapment of lawlessness.

            The man and woman stalk through the barren field, away from the DuBuono estate and further along a narrow wooden walkway. The long journey ahead of them where they knew that there would be a great deal to talk about and a large amount of time to discuss it in. From the very beginning, neither of them felt the need to apologize for anything, but it did worry DeBerger, specifically to walk into the APD headquarters building, necessarily, so Blitz could debrief an officer about her stolen identity.

            The idea frightened him, “You could just call a lawyer, he could enquire to the police on your behalf. They could search around for the whereabouts of that identity creature. Do you think it was some sort of robot, or maybe a cyborg?”

            “I don’t know, but the creature could have been human. From its shape, I could sense something different about it.”

            They remain quiet for a time and wander along the property. They exit the DuBuono estate and observe the decaying baseball diamond, “This is a really unsafe and strange place.” said DeBerger, “Drex,” she said as he paid attention, “would you ever consider writing a wife program for me?” and the two of them remain silent for another series of heartbeats.

            He knew what she meant by it, and he had wondered about her, for almost too many years. Whether or not she would truly accept a marriage identity. Or just toy with him until there would be no other option but to succumb to the APD and plead guilty to a life sentence. But the madder and deeper they play this game with each other, the more likely they are to reveal their secrets.

7

            While in transit, the two begin to think about just how they should approach the APD headquarters. DeBerger knew that the sensors around that place would zero in on him immediately, but secretly, his greater concern is the foreknowledge of Blitz accompanying him, and how far she would be willing to venture in within the police complex.

            He pulled out his forger badge and began to search through his library, “Do you have any new identities we could play around with?”  Blitz enquired.

            “Yeah, a pyrotechnician and circus performer.”

            “Hmmm, we could have a little fireworks party.”

            “Exactly.”

            He searched through his library and selected a secure identity, an UEB demoralizer placement, a common job for an out of work juvenile delinquent. He brought the crystalline downloader to his forearm, “There, easy as pie.” DeBerger said as he pushed the activation switch.

            The identity badge deactivated his former hospital janitor identity. The new substitution set in nicely. They breathed a little easier. The auto-tram sped around a speedy section of conduit, it descended downwards and further underground for a time, emergent upon a main level city street. A half dozen stops later. They exit through a major metropolitan intersection and detect the faint smell of carbon monoxide. A haze of brownness lingers in the air.

            “You know, this really is dangerous for me.” he said, she sensed him as unsure, “You’ll be fine, you don’t have a criminal record, or anything else to worry about.”

            “Yeah, but I just don’t like marching into the lion’s den.”

            The main roadway buzzes with a mishmash of petroleum and hydrogen powered automobiles. A large grey building stands at a central junction point nearby a hospital and bank. Just over a flight of steps. APD headquarters flows with an active rotator doorway escorting various citizens to and from their daily work.

            DeBerger could not believe it. Blitz had taken him this far. If he went inside and got recognized, everything could go wrong. Before he could voice an air of caution, she took hold of his hand and they ascend the steps together.

            They pass through the active rotator doorway, an enormous tube with a three prong revolver fan of transparent walling. People walk gently through the revolving doorway system while entering the compound. A means to regulate the citizens of Autopia.

8

            An enormous foyer extends ahead of them where they can see a large amount of people walking around a collection of art work. The couple seem a bit out of place. Their clothes a bit worse for wear. The two with the feature of a lost and hidden lifestyle. DeBerger began to engage a cautious eye around the establishment, fearful of anyone whom might recognize him. Blitz could see a desk clerk not too far away. “Hi,” said Blitz, “I need to speak with an officer in charge of identity theft.”

            The desk clerk gave a discerning eye to the two. Sceptical that both Blitz and DeBerger could be mistaken about their current situation, “Would you please wait here, I’ll send for an officer from our identity department.”

            The two young people could barely remain together when a hand pulls DeBerger away as a voice of caution and discretion enquires, “What are you doing here DeBerger?”

            A plain clothes officer pulls the couple apart. DeBerger felt less than welcome to respond, “Hey man, I’m just helping a friend.” he said shakily, the officer responded, “Yeah sure, explain that to our department chief.” said the officer as they walk away, Blitz is left behind with a worried look on her face.

            The plain clothes officer held DeBerger by his shoulder and threw him into a custodial closet, “So what’s the story man?” said the officer, DeBerger quick to reply, “I brought the girl in for a census scan of her identity, she doesn’t know I work here.”

            “Really!?!”

            “Yeah, just keep it on the down low. I don’t want her to know about my cover. Just play with it. I’m sure you can handle that.”

            The two of them shuffle around the custodial closet and brush up against a collection of mops and cleaning agents. The plain clothes officer nudges towards the door. He gave the door handle a gentle twist, “Sounds cool.”

            DeBerger brushed past him and the two men walk towards the MCI department, presumably where Blitz is looking up the current state of her stolen identity. The officer enquired briefly about the identity creature manifesting around the safe house, “There’s someone out there using her identity to attract our attention.” DeBerger could barely clarify before the two men pass through the vague glass doorway leading into the MCI department.

9

            They both catch a glance of an ajar door from a distant office where a single stream of light carries through the dark shadowy department. They could hear a conversation between Blitz and another woman.

            The plain clothes officer pushed through the door and walked into the office. DeBerger could sense a subtle paranoia. He felt unsure that someone might recognize him and give away his cover, but the other female officer appears completely unknown to him.

            “Any progress on the identity scam?” said the plain clothes officer.

            “So this is the boyfriend?” said the female officer, and continued, “Looks like he could use a shower, we just ran a scan of the entire network, and I think we’ve found something.”

            Blitz sat with a serious expression on her face and turned to see DeBerger. The two confide with a single look as the officers continue to discuss, “There was a second sighting of her identity, about two hours ago, near the Lake Autopia warehouses.”

            A resolve came to the attention of DeBerger. He knew the inner politics of this department well enough. A short notice warrant or criminal investigation would require at least one day for approval. An unacceptable amount of time to wait, especially if Blitz is the target of some diabolical plot to expose an illegal organization, “We should go.” said DeBerger.

            “What?” said the plain clothes officer, Blitz could only stare at him, “We’re going. That’s all there is to it.” said DeBerger and reached his hand to grasp Blitz and pulled her out of the chair. The two walk out of the office, “Listen DeBerger, if you wait here with us, then we can solve this case safely together.” said the plain clothes officer.

            “Then arrest us.” said DeBerger and recklessly abandoned the department, the door shut behind them as they left the officers far enough away from a hindrance of suspicion and bureaucracy. The couple quickly pass through the foyer and automatic doorway revolver to the department stairway leading to the bustle of people and automobiles.

            “So, what do you think we should do?” said Blitz.

            “I think we should make our way to the Lake Autopia warehouses, as soon as possible and try to find some explaination for the manifestation of our identities.”

            “I know.” she said through the maelstrom of street life.

10

            Blitz looked at him for a moment with the noise and pollution everywhere around and she wondered about just how much he truly loved her. She wanted to know his true identity, beyond all of their lies and deception. If maybe he could take her away from this city and end their lawless attitudes, once and for all.

            They confer for a few moments and discuss how to mobilize towards their destination. Blitz decided to lead DeBerger to her apartment. They arrive with haste and descend to an underground parking lot. There, the two come upon an old petroleum vehicle from many long decades prior.

            A smile and laugh from the shoddy state, “That has to be the dirtiest car I’ve ever seen.” said DeBerger, and Blitz replies, “Just the way I like it.” The engine started without a hitch and they ascend a diagonal laneway, emergent upon the street level, they pile into a group of commuters and aim for the Lake Autopia district.

            The sun began to set. Most of the UEB placements were heading home by now. The automatic servants set out to patrol the waste strewn neighborhoods and straggly burrows of the Delta section. The noise around Autopia at night could only fill a citizen with an unfulfilled unhappiness. The morose sound of garbage blowing in the wind and an occasional automatic wheeze, an unkempt and unwelcoming image everywhere.

            They came to an enclosure port, the former remnants of a dock and fishing harbor, long out of work and broken down. Unwilling to stop and a bit too driven to look back, the two can see the grey level warehouses from beyond a long and strenuous driveway.

            The car came to a halt near an old abandoned security checkpoint. A rusty steel fence aligning in either direction, “We should probably approach on foot.” said DeBerger, Blitz nodded and turned off the engine with a slight mechanical groan.

            “Wait a second.” said DeBerger, and he pulled his wallet out, “I’ll give you a ghost identity.” he said and activated the identity forger, “Scanners won’t be able to track us, just in case we come under surveillance in there.” said DeBerger, he chose an MCI ghost identity and scanned both of their forearms, “There, now we’re ready.”

            The two pop forth from their respective seats and stand to see the monument of an old broken down water fountain on the gloomy windswept property. Grass and land at an unbelievable state of disrepair. The moisture in the air mixing with the pools of mud and filth underfoot.

11

            They walk along the cement driveway and look carefully around for any form of electricity or movement. Just over a blockade of overgrown shrubs and bushes they can see three enormous warehouses with an adjoining tunnel and walkway between them. A faint image of an electrical light beaming in the dark shadowy night.

            The warehouses were a rusty beige color. Not the safest place in the world to search around or enquire about, but the two attempt to find some form of entrance in the cement courtyard. They wonder just how safe the premises truly is, their curiosity at a state of desperation, “Do you know what these things were? What their business was?” said Blitz.

            “Well, I remember that a concrete factory was knocked down around here, about eight years ago, these might have been the storage warehouses for raw aqueducts.”

            She hushed him immediately and turned his attention to the sound of a gentle squeal. They walk together towards the wheezy sound, silent to remain unknown, and unsure whether they might be under surveillance or not, “There it is, look.” said DeBerger.

            He pointed at a rusty screen door hanging from a broken hinge. The door shimmers along on a gentle breeze and the two walk closer to the pitch black doorway. DeBerger produced a miniature flashlight from his back pocket and shined it through the adjoining hallway between the two enormous warehouses.

            The light sent a tremor of shadows away from them, peels of broken steel revolve in the twilight. They decide to search through the central warehouse first and begin to step over a hazard of broken down furniture. Layers of dust and mildew all conform around them as they carefully step towards the brown steel doorway at the end of a shadowy corridor.

            “Wait a second.” said DeBerger.

            “What?”

            “Did you feel that?”

            “What?”

            “It felt like; electro-magnetic radiation. Just keep quiet. We might have been scanned.”

            A light alit from around the frame of the brown steel doorway. The two remain silent and still. A breath to relieve their tension. A heartbeat of repetitive rhythm. They see the door slowly peel apart from the frame as a beam of electric light alights through the darkness and they see a man shrouded in dark clothing. They recognize the man as none other than Pierre DuBuono.

12

            “Don’t run, there’s no way to escape.”

            The couple stagger away from him and gradually turn to see the far end of the opposite corridor. There, through a mishmash of broken furniture and wiring, the far door broke apart to reveal an automaton. Face the feature of a shattered television screen, body the shape of a simian human being, and enshrouded by a dark hooded cloth.

            DeBerger stood still and held Blitz firmly by the hand. The two realize that escape is impossible. The robot is too close to the doorway. They can see DuBuono approaching them more clearly while wearing a fine black shirt and a tight fit of black trousers, “If you run, then Bug 637 over there will be forced to hurt you.” he said while gesturing to the robot, “Come with me.”

            The group walk together through the alit doorway and enter the central warehouse. An enormous collection of sealed wooden boxes all around. The ceiling alit by a spread of radiant light bulbs. The group walk through a wooden passage where they notice an open space before them where awaits an electrical laboratory, a conveyor belt, and medical gurney.

            “This is my home away from home.” said DuBuono, “A fully automated library of identities and personalities from every person in this city and beyond.”

            A computer resided next to the library, it looked similar to a vault; huge and weighty, almost the size of a Sherman tank, “You two knew I was a forger of robotic identities, now, I’ve created something completely different.” he said and stood next to the shrouded monster, “I’ve created a sentry, a robot sampler of identities who can assimilate and catalogue every MCI it comes into contact with.” said DuBuono and patted the creature on its shoulders.

            “This is insane,” said Blitz, “and illegal.”

            “You should know all about that, shouldn’t you. Especially you, Drex.”

            A subtle focus of identity, “You were my greatest challenge to assimilate. I sent my sentry to track you. It waited around your apartment for months, waiting until you’d manifest with your own true identity, and when you did, I could sample it, and do you know what I found when I did?”

            Both Blitz and DuBuono show a curious wonder of DeBerger, “I found out your true identity, that you work for the APD, undercover, isn’t that right?”

            Blitz could barely believe it, her mouth fell at a slight droop. Their eyes with a burning curiosity, “You’ve been targeting illegal identity traders, undercover. Dealing with them, entrapping them, and providing the APD with evidence for their arrest, haven’t you?”

13

            “DuBuono, you’re crazy, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            “I told you before,” said DuBuono as he struck the back of Bug 637, a repellent chord shot from its wrist and took a hold of DeBerger, “That’s not how you pronounce my name.”

            Blitz screamed and the robot pulled DeBerger to the floor and dragged him to the laboratory, “You see, I have a little secret too.” said DuBuono, the robot took a solid grasp of DeBerger by his wrist and ankle, he hit the medical gurney, “I work for the APD too.”

            DeBerger could barely believe his eyes, his jaw and forehead bound firmly by the robot, “And when I realized that you and I weren’t only competing for the illegal deals. Not only were we competing for the undercover work. We were also competing for the trust and respect of that beautiful little lady over there.” said DuBuono, with a quick glance over to Blitz.

            “But, you see, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure if she knew you were undercover too, and I didn’t know, if maybe, she was working with you, or maybe against you, so I sampled her identity two weeks ago to test it, and believe it or not, I still don’t know.”

            “Let him go.” screamed Blitz.

            DeBerger wrestled under the grasp of Bug 637, teeth at a grimace and mouth with a disgruntled growl. A freehand from a broken grasp, he took a quick clamp around the robot fingers of his restrainer, slamming it in the face and sliding off the medical gurney, “Run, hide.” he screamed and Blitz could only flee.

            A freedom to act, DeBerger stood and trembled. His hair sways in front of a violent vision as a punch knocks DuBuono off balance. The two lunge at each other and encircle around a medical table. With a white hot temper, DeBerger knocks the table away, with a crash of metal tools across the floor. He leapt at DuBuono, collided, and wrestled across the floor.

            There was no better time than now. He brought a heavy strike down, DuBuono deflected from the floor, a second, and third time. DuBuono laid unconscious. The robot Bug 637 erupted from a dormant position. DeBerger could see the thing at full function and compatibility. He ran from the creature and called out, “Blitz, where are you?” he screamed, a reply from behind a distantly wooden crate, “Over here.”

            He slid to a stop and knelt next to her with a few scratches around his forehead. He sat and began to peel through his wallet, “We don’t have much time.” he said and pulled his identity forger from his wallet. The robot could be heard tearing through a wooden crate.

14

            “What are you doing?” she said.

            “I’m reprogramming a new identity for the robot. Something to keep DuBuono out of our hair permanently.”

            A quick push and dial of the identity forger. It clicked with a harmony of sound, the final touch, almost complete. The tele-visual robot face appeared broken and placid, DeBerger turned to see it with an immediate shock. It grasped hold of him by the shirt collar and lifted him from the floor. Blitz watched the two wrestle and flail about. A kick to its midsection and arm, DeBerger swung violently, he tapped a button on the forger badge and brought the crystalline downloader port ahead, another tap. DeBerger fell to the floor, he scrambled back to the waiting arms of Blitz.

            The two watch as Bug 637 became passive and dormant. It turned away from them and walked towards the laboratory, “It’s time to get out of here now.” said DeBerger and propped her to a standing position, “What did you do?”

            “I’ll tell you later, let’s get out of here.”

            They could hear the robot take a violent hold of DuBuono. His screams became too far away for them to recognize, “Come on, tell me, what did you do?”

            Another quick crash from the background, the two walk from the dark corridor and enter the concrete courtyard, “I programmed a new identity for the robot. I programmed it to inscribe a message into the forehead of its master controller.”

            “So that’s what it’s doing back there. What did you order it to inscribe.”

            “The word; NARC, in capital letters across his forehead.”

            A scream is heard from the warehouse and it carries beyond the metal walls and insulation. The painful screams usher the two away down the laneway and back towards the vehicle. They realize their identities are a bit more out in the open now, “Blitz, I need to know, do you really work for the department?”

            She stood by the driver’s side door and looked into his eyes, “Do you still have that wife identity for download?” and she looked at him with a subtle curl around her lips. She sat in the car and he joined her, with a quiet understanding. They drive away from the warehouse, and further on through the desolate city. They decide to leave their old lives behind, and search out a new kind of life ahead, with each other. The couple leave Autopia behind permanently, to find a new place to live, and new people to be.

 

 

 

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