An ancient statue gazes from the edge of a large patio, out into the estate. Tall sycamores here and there increase in frequency until the grass gives way to a small forest. A path winds its way around the grass and along a rill to a small Japanese bridge that arcs majestically over the stream.
Lord Macintosh sits in a comfortable chair, and lights up a large cigar, puffing away at it. Only the Lords can partake of the quaint old customs. Only the Lords can afford to. He taps a code into a pad on his wrist, and his pupils dilate as neural impulses in his mind are rerouted around by the mind tap. Suddenly his mind is launched into a higher plane of consciousness. The world fades away. He experiences emotions he has never felt before, new and unique, crafted from the fractal patterns in the mind tap. He gasps. Only the rich can afford such new pleasures.
Thoughts resolve themselves into new structures. He sees the winding path and the forest in a new light as his minds eye leaps upwards and all the world falls away so that suddenly the vast infinity of the universe is within his grasp. Suddenly his mind can encompass such scales as would have terrified him before.
Then the world spins, as that paradigm is gone, and the mind tap launches him into a kaleidoscopic tumbling existence. The trees dance in spirals.
He sees it coming for him, a large robot, bounding like a gorilla through the woods towards him. The glint of metal makes it stand out against the natural scene it cuts its way through.
Macintosh shudders. Ice fills his heart and slips through his veins to slip through his body, as terror takes over, but the drugs have him, there is nothing he can do to move.
That was their intention, hit when they know I would be helpless. The thoughts are so crystal clear in his mind that they surprise him. But he is helpless.
Time becomes something else, an elastic membrane that stretches as the robot approaches. It has an angular face, shaped into the visage of something ape-like. Its metallic body is bulky, great forearms, knuckles upon the ground. It reaches the end of the garden and stands poised. Ready to leap upon him. Its robotic limbs coiled, tense, ready to send it effortlessly into that final moment.
Suddenly the statue that had so solemnly gazed out across the garden, watching through dead carved eyes, throws itself into the path of the oncoming beast, altering its course just enough.
Both smash through into the house, through solid stone walls, with an almighty grinding racket.
Macintosh sits, and looks out over the garden, then laughs at himself for forgetting about the security robot at the edge of the patio – disguised as it was as a statue. Suddenly he is surrounded by security robots and bundled through the house and down into the basement.
The mind tap wears off, and the world fades back – back this time to a world of metal walls and numerous displays showing him the extent of his domain while drones zip about protecting it for him.
He finds himself shaking.
He hammers upon the smooth metal of a console, bashing at it until his fists turn bloody. Then he spots something up on the monitor. A drone watching a girl in the woods. A trespasser. Drones decimate trespassers, killing every tenth. This drone has killed recently, will capture six times more. It’s poised ready to stun her with a beam. All set to grab her and carry her away after that.
Macintosh places his hands upon the console and moves the slider from automatic. Lights trail in the wake of his fingers as the panel reconfigures it for manual control. A cruel smile settles upon his mouth.
He wants to destroy.
He needs to kill. To destroy. Just as he was almost destroyed. He wants to tear someone apart in the same way as he was almost torn apart. He presses a button as the girl turns and looks round, terror in her eyes. He taps the console with a grim finality as gunfire erupts from the drone’s pale undercarriage. Rounds tear into the girl and she falls.
Macintosh breaths a sigh of pleasure, all the tension released from his system so that he finds himself falling limp and slumping down, mirroring the girl as her body goes limp. She falls. White clothes all bloody. The blood tints the brown soil red.
He turns back to see a red wine has been left for him by those ever thoughtful robotic servants.
By Gregory Alter