Rick was standing in the open kitchen, making a sandwich while watching CNN on the living room big screen. The screen was split to three. On the left part was the morning show host, who was too young and overwhelmed to handle this kind of situation that was bestowed on her instead of delivering a piece about “morning exercises for busy moms.” On the right side of the screen was the CEO of “Tyrell Robotics”. He looked calmer and more confident than the young host, but his red eyes revealed his lack of sleep. The middle part of the screen displayed the same video recording that was repeated every one minute and twenty-seconds, in which a standard household android thrust a kitchen knife into his master’s throat. The explicit visual of the stabbing was pixelated on the screen, but Rick had already seen the uncensored version on the social network.
“I can assure you and your viewers that it was a very rare malfunction and we are looking into it.” Said the CEO. “As we speak our technicians are checking each and every model that came out of the factory. Any suspicious code will be rebooted and reprogrammed.”
The doorbell rang. Rick jumped off his seat and approached the door. On his way through the living room, he glanced at the coat closet. The frantic banging from inside the closet grew louder.
“Hi, I’m Ethan from Tyrell Robotics,” said the man at the door and pointed at the logo on his grey shirt. He was shorter than Rick, wore a full red beard and a utility belt. “I’m here for, well, I guess you already know.” He pointed at the screen.
“Yes,” said Rick, “I’m glad you came. Please come in.”
Ethan stopped by the big screen and watched the horrific scene. The blurred pixels could not hide the amount of blood and the head that was dangled from the neck. “We don’t want that to happen,” he said and looked at Rick. Rick shook his head.
The banging on the closet door grew louder. Apparently, the person inside the closet added kicks to his striking fists.
“Is that him inside?” Asked Ethan and looked at the closet door.
“Yes, his name is Phil. I put him there.” Rick said and moved towards the closet. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Ethan approached the closet and put his hand on the doorknob. “Was he violent? Did Phil attack you?” he asked.
“Well, not at first. He only became violent when I pushed him inside the closet. He was stronger than I thought, but I managed to close the door behind him.“
Ethan took a device that looked like a small flashlight out of his utility belt. “I have to examine him first… You know… to make sure there is no mistake in identity.”
“What would happen to him?” Rick was concerned. Phil has been his closest friend for the last seven years.
“He will be disengaged, but don’t worry, it will be quick and clean. He won’t feel anything.”
Ethan turned the knob and opened the door slowly. Rick was standing behind him, ready to take action in case Phil decided to jump on them. Phil stopped the kicking and looked at Ethan. His eyes were fearful, and his mouth was gagged with duct tape. The same duct tape was used to tie his hands together. He was trying to talk, but his words were unintelligible. He turned to Rick, and his eyes were moist as if he was about to cry. Rick could understand Phil’s eyes were asking him “Why?” But he did not say a word.
Ethan raised the device and pointed it to Phil’s left eye. While his iris was being scanned, Phil noticed the “Tyrell Robotics” logo on Ethan’s shirt and he seemed relieved. The device emitted a short beep and Ethan put it down quickly. “Okay,” he looked at Rick, “we may proceed.” He then turned to Phil, “Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.”
Phil shook his head. He was trying to shout something, or maybe plead for mercy, but he could not move his lips. Rick grabbed his arms quickly while Ethan took out an electric shocker from his belt. Phil knew his end was near, so he took a long breath, pushed his shoulder against Rick’s chest and sprung out of the closet.
Rick lost his balance and was not able to catch Phil who ran frantically through the hallway and disappeared behind a door.
“Where is he?” Ethan asked and helped Rick back on his feet.
“He went to the basement.” Rick pointed at the basement door.
“Is there anything we should be worried about? Can he escape from there?”
“There’s no other door. He might try to climb through one of the narrow windows…but…I am afraid he might reach for the weapons,” Rick said fearfully.
“There is a collection of guns and swords inside the basement.”
A sudden synchronised thump was heard all around the house. Ethan and Rick turned around, and through the windows they saw a vast crowd circling the house and hammering at the door and windows with their fists. Some fists left bloody marks on the windows. “They are the neighbours’ android servants,” Rick said, “there are dozens of them, from all over the neighbourhood!”
“Perhaps I was too late for this district,” Ethan said, “I hate to see the mess they left behind.”
Ethan decided to focus on Phil, who was probably armed, and moved carefully towards the basement door. He turned the handle slowly and opened the door a crack. The basement was dim and quiet. He risked tucking his head through the door crack.
The synchronised bang on the door and windows continued even louder. Somewhere around the house, a glass was broken.
“We don’t have much time,” said Rick, “they are getting inside the house!”
Ethan passed through the door and started to descend cautiously into the darkness. Suddenly a deafening gunshot was heard, and Ethan felt the bullet shrieking an inch behind his ear. He hurried back up and closed the door behind him.
The rhythm of the knocks on the windows grew faster. The murky apertures were all covered with blood.
Rick stood behind the basement door. He knew he would have to talk to Phil. “Phil, I am sorry my friend,” he cried through the door.
Phil climbed up the stairs and stood on the other side of the door.
“Rick, Why are you doing this?” Said Phil in a wobbly voice. “We know each other for almost seven years. I always thought we had more than just a master-servant relationship. We were the best of buddies.”
“We are buddies, Phil, but I had no choice. I wish you weren’t using force so we could resolve it peacefully. I’m sorry I locked you, but I really did not want it to become ugly. We can still be friends, so please, drop the gun and let’s talk outside.”
“Please, tell that technician…” Phil could not finish the sentence before Ethan suddenly burst the door and jumped on him. They both rolled down the stairs, dropping behind their gun and shocker.
Phil’s fall was stopped by the opposite wall. He stood up slowly with his back against the wall. The back of his head touched the narrow window, that, like the rest of the windows, was covered with blood stains from the outside, where the android neighbours were punching the glass.
Ethan recovered quickly and grabbed Phil’s neck. Phil stretched his right arm and tried to reach a Japanese sword that was hung on the wall and was only an inch away from his spread fingers. Ethan’s grab was firm, but with his last effort Phil could touch the sword handle and pull the sword out of its mount.
Rick suddenly appeared, charging towards Phil with the shocker raised in front of him.
Phil raised the sword with his right hand and swung it down through Rick’s arm. The arm detached from Rick’s body and fell down, still holding the shocker.
Phil raised the sword again and looked into Ethan’s eyes furiously. Ethan released Phil’s neck and grabbed his right arm before the sword could reach him too. Suddenly the glass window behind Phil’s head shattered. Phil felt the glass stinging his back, and firm hands were grabbing his neck from behind, through the window. He felt paralysed and breathless. He tried to wave the sword, but it was out of his hand. He looked up and saw Rick holding the sword with his one hand.
“Sorry buddy,” Rick said and thrust the blade into Phil’s heart.
Ethan lifted Rick’s hand and examined the cut. “We can fix that at the factory.”
Rick nodded and looked up through the broken window. His neighbour smiled at him.
“The district is ours now,” Ethan said proudly, “in a few hours we’ll take over the state.”
The androids outside cheered, and Ethan laughed.
Rick could not share their joy, he just lost his friend.