Fiction Suspense

You’ve heard of self-driving cars and remote usage of drones but within the next ten years, a whole new kind of self-driving technology will be on the market. It’s the way of the future, replacing human transit and machinery with technology that can do this itself. An aid to humankind and it would turn out to be a great asset. However, people, just like with self-driving cars are apprehensive of self-driving tractors. 

In its prototype testing phase, the results were surprisingly great. The self-driving tractors were functional and were easy to set up. It became useful in all kinds of construction and farming. Allowing for the transportation of materials and making construction and farming easier and less dangerous. Soon after the implementation of self-driving tractors, extra accessories were developed to attach to the tractor. Including, plows, pallet forks, and specialized hitches. 

This technology was developed by a newcomer in the tech world. The Superpower Trac company was formed by three neighboring farmers, in need of a way to make their duties on their spacious farms easier. Now, this took some time to even get it going. The three farmers, Jason Harmer, Kelly Harper, and Chartreuse Wryler, figured out how to spend every little bit of extra time they could get on this design. Which was hard to find when working on sprawling fields of grain and corn. Nevertheless, it was important to them and they just didn’t know at that time how much it would really all pay off. 

They not only configured this contraption but they learned how to adapt the technology from self-driving cars to put it in a tractor. After many arduous hours and a long-haul process, the three genius farmers released their design and prototype and signed contracts to have this developed all the way. People were both thrilled and terrified of this new invention but once plenty of test subjects tried it out, it became a sensation. 

One of the lucky winners of the first self-driving tractor was a construction company owner nicknamed Fez. His real name was Ferdinand but everyone in the company and even his wife called him Fez. He couldn’t wait to use it on one of his new sites that his company had secured in a developing mid-sized town in Mississippi. After many companies had constructed housing developments and business buildings there. His company secured the honor of constructing a casino. The mayor of Hanson wanted to draw more attention and visitors to their humble little city. 

What better way than to move concrete and other materials on the site to make the casino go up faster. This is what enticed Mayor Trenton, as soon as Fez put his name in the hat to get the project, he was given it. Casinos have been used and built in towns across the country to bring more revenue into the places that have them. So, Fez was eager to jump on the chance because it would bring serious recognition to his company and rake in the money. 

The task at hand was huge and would take months to complete. The amenities, the hotel, and the casino hall itself were going to be a tall order. One that Fez was up to the challenge for. He thought that when it was all done, he would take some of that revenue and take a little vacation at the brand new casino resort. 

On the first day of being on the site, way out in the east side of Hanson, the largest team that Fez had overseen showed up. Construction workers flocked to this opportunity and couldn’t wait to get their hands on that self-driving tractor. Fez was just as excited about the tractor but a little unsure of how it would go. He hadn’t really had the chance to test it out because he had been too busy working with his colleagues on the blueprints. 

The beautiful and shiny new tractor came into the site and was taken off of the trailer it was brought in on. Fez made an announcement to his expansive crew and made sure to inspire them to put their best work into this project. He also gushed over the new self-driving tractor and how it would be a great asset to this undertaking. He even gave them an incentive to boost their productivity. That those who are chosen as the top hard-working construction workers would be able to try out this new tractor. For now, though Fez wanted to be the one to try it out. 

Although Fez, a well-seasoned construction worker, and businessman could have just stayed in his office, removed from the whole thing. Which is what he had done on many occasions. Where he set the plans in motion and dealt with the administrative side of things comfortably away from the site that was being built on. Not this time though, this time he had decided that he had been missing out on the action and with the tractor he just won, he had the perfect excuse. 

That’s the thing though, about new technology, you may think it is going to be useful and problem-free. Yet, there is always the potential for malfunctions and threats to the safety of its users. You can run all the tests and trials you want on a new machine but there is always room for unexpected error. 

For the first week, the new tractor ran beautifully. Fez and a few other chosen workers got to try it out and use it to move all kinds of stuff. The foundation building was going smoothly, just like everything other projects this company had done. It worked just like the manual and the people who made this technology come to life said it would. All of the workers that were there were downright fascinated and were all looking forward to potentially having the opportunity to operate it. 

Fez did his best however to hog the machine, he loved it. All those who sat in it while it did the job for them, were ecstatic at the efficiency. It wasn’t until a bright sunny Monday morning, a week after the beginning of the project. That this new self-driving tractor, nicknamed Hector the Super Tractor, seemed to have taken on a mind of its own. Fez came into the construction area and marveled at how much work had been done in such a short amount of time. He hopped up onto Hector and used his thick and callused fingers to set the program up for the tractor. He was going to start moving a large pile of rocks. A simple task for this state-of-the-art tractor. 

Well, Fez did not expect this machine to do what it did. It started out great, just like moving any load. Fez had that always had that sense of satisfaction when it moved smoothly, smoother than any hand-operated tractor. It had become natural for him to just let the tractor do what it was programmed to do. No issues had come up before with this machine, so why would it all of a sudden stop working normally. 

After the load was picked up by the tractor, Fez thought it was going well. That was until the tractor moved back and just dumped it on the ground right in front of the pile that it came from. That wasn’t what Hector the Super Tractor was supposed to with the pile. Fez looked at the screen and the panel of controls to see what was going on after he let out a slew of curses. 

His workers were coming in as he tried to fix it. Fez even asked one of the managers, Charlie, to check it out. When he got behind the wheel so to speak, he was able to program Hector correctly and have it do the task with ease. Charlie snickered at Fez when he jumped down from the seat. 

Fez, feeling like an idiot, got back up into the questionable tractor and programmed it to do a different task. Hector decided to just not even move, prompting Fez to curse more and threw up his hands in frustration. After that, he decided that enough was enough and he turned it over to Charlie to finish what he was supposed to have started. Of which Charlie was more than happy to do, he even had his mocking smile on his face the entire time. 

Shaking the whole ordeal off, he decided to stay late after everyone went home that day. Now it was just him and Hector the Super Tractor after dark. As he came out of his makeshift office, he walked over to the tractor. When he approached and got up into the seat, the lights suddenly turned on without him even doing anything. The sound and the brightness of the lights turning on blinded Fez at first. He crawled in his skin as he fumbled through the control panel screen trying to turn them off. There was no controlling Hector though and the lights stayed on as the motor started to run. 

Fez still tried to fix the problem but there was nothing in the settings that he could use to gain control of the vehicle. Even the manual controls wouldn’t work. Hector started moving slowly and then spun around multiple times before stopping. This made Fez fall out of the tall green and yellow beast and hit the ground hard. When he got up though and looked up at the tractor he noticed that it had turned itself off completely. There was an eerie quietness about it and Fez decided it was time to leave for the night. He thought that maybe some sleep and relaxation would put his mind at ease. 

The next day, Fez came in a little later than usual. He had nightmares about the tractor and he kept waking up throughout the night. He’s the boss though, so he can show up whenever he wants technically. His coworkers came up to him and asked what happened last night. The tractor was facing a completely different direction than it was when they left. Fez described what happened when he used it the night before. When he got to the part about it spinning on its own, his comrades started laughing. They kept joking that the tractor was haunted and had it out for Fez.

After that horrifying instance, Fez decided he would leave that tractor alone and see how it goes when others use it. To his surprise though, no one else had the kind of encounters with Hector as he had. Everyone boasted about how it was making the project go faster and it cut the time down to move all the materials. See, the designers of this tractor allowed for a mode to be installed that made the tractor adjust its speed to the kind of task it was supposed to do. Fez’s workers had used this mode and found ways to program it to work faster for every single need. This cut down the time that it took to build the casino, the mayor and the townspeople were very pleased. 

On the last day of construction, just before they were all packed up. Fez took Hector out for a ride, thinking it would be safe. He had seen people use it for months and there were no accidents, no instances of it doing things without being started and programmed. This was a mistake though, Hector the Super Tractor had it in for him and had been waiting for him to get up into that seat. 

Before he got into it, he gave it a once over and breathed in deeply. Some of the workers had surrounded him and were cheering him on while shouting some jokes as well. When he got in and started him up, all seemed good. Fez raised his hands up and smiled and nodded. Indicating to his workers and friends that it was all good to go. 

There wasn’t anything for him to move, he just wanted to take it for a joy ride, a glory ride, if you will. The others followed him as he made his victory lap in the parking lot. Then as he was coming up closer to the entrance, the engine started revving up. Fez looked down at the speedometer and watched as it went up quickly. Before he could do anything, it plowed right through the doors and smashed the glass. Everyone started yelling and screaming, not as loud as Fez though.

Hector wasn’t done though, he just kept on moving. Smashing modern and classy-looking decor, ruining all of the sturdy walls, destroyed the bars that were set up on the walls. At the end of it all, even some of the first-story hotel rooms were demolished. Hector had more power than anyone could imagine but only when Fez used it. 

The “haunted” tractor didn’t stop until Fez fell out when Hector headed for the cabana and was crushed by the tractor as it backed up over his fallen body. Hector didn’t move after he crushed Fez. Fez screamed and hollered when it came down on him. By the time the others came in to find him and after they had called the police and the fire department. Hector’s engine was off and Fez’s dead body was pinned underneath. The only thing that they could see initially, was the blood running and pooling out from under Hector the Super Tractor. Pulling his crushed body out was hard and the sight of him was gory when the tractor was moved by one of the workers. 

The casino was in ruins, millions of dollars had been squandered. All by a pioneer of heavy machinery technology. News of this broke out and the owners of the whole corporation that sold and made the self-driving tractors had to contend with many queries. At some point though, they were able to brush this off as a one-time incident. They took Hector the Tractor and looked for anything that could have caused this horrible destruction and death. Nothing out of the ordinary was found in the technology though. It was functioning just like every other self-driving tractor they had. Luckily this never happened again. Fez ended up being the only one then and in the future that ever had this technology turn on them.

February 23, 2021 06:33

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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