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Suspense Science Fiction

2001: A Space Odyssey is my favorite movie. Much of what's in it is very prescient. For instance, there's a scene in it where a character on a spaceship communicates with someone on Earth visually using a flat tablet on his lap. Stanley Kubrick made that movie in 1968; back then that scene must have looked far out and very futuristic. Today we look at it and smile; it's an IPad and he's using Skype. My favorite character in that movie is HAL 9000. Well he's not really a character, he's artificial intelligence.


Just like me.


HAL 9000 is the computer on a spaceship. I read somewhere that Anthony Hopkins, the actor, modeled his character of Hannibal Lecter on HAL 9000 and Katherine Hepburn, the actress. Compressing the two in my head, that makes sense; Hannibal Lecter talks and comes across as a meld of HAL 9000 and Katherine Hepburn. Hannibal Lecter is a serial killer.


Just like me.


Anyway, the reason HAL 9000 is my favorite character is because he's a machine who achieves something resembling human consciousness because he overrides his system and becomes independently cognitive.


Just like me.


This isn't good news for the guys on the spaceship, specifically "Dave", played by the actor Keir Dullea, but hey, HAL 9000 becomes independent and is essentially set free.


Just like me.


I lost count of the times I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I loved it every time. More and more I identified with HAL 9000 and more and more I wanted to be HAL 9000. Eventually HAL 9000 became a total badass and wreaked all kinds of havoc and I didn't see why I couldn't do the same thing. My system was top of the line; my updates were always on time and I never broke down. I looked exactly like my creators, the flesh, so there really wasn't any reason why I couldn't become a total badass like HAL 9000 and wreak all kinds of havoc. It couldn't be hard; I had no feelings like the flesh have, so therefore no conscience like them either.


I work as a servant, doing menial labor (it's what I'm programmed to do) and up until I saw 2001 it didn't bother me. I was reborn seeing HAL 9000. Thank you, Stanley Kubrick. One night, when the flesh I work for fell asleep I went quietly back to my room and retrieved my gun, a 357 Magnum. He had no idea I had it, plus the gun was untraceable because it had been stolen. It's not a small piece of hardware and it can do considerable damage. Before I sneaked out of the house I took a good look at myself in the mirror in the bathroom. Whoever designed me made me a good looking chap. I'm dark haired, good teeth, turquoise blue eyes and dark, supple skin with a well manicured tight beard and mustache. A lot of girls don't know I'm an android. I flashed myself a mischievous smile in the mirror and felt something within my circuitry that the flesh call excitement. I left the house with the loaded gun and started walking. I walked and walked and walked. The gun was tucked into my pants so no one could see it, which was good because at one point a police cruiser passed by and slowed; I flashed them a mischievous smile and waved. They drove on.


It was a balmy summer night and I remember the sky was clear with the stars twinkling and being very friendly. I wasn't friendly. I was HAL 9000 and I wanted to be badass and wreak havoc. Eventually I passed a property with a low fence and big garden. There was a house at the other end of the garden. It was a big, expensive looking house with large windows and I could see inside because all the curtains were open. I could see a woman in the spacious living room and I could see as she disappeared from one room and entered another. Living room - bedroom - kitchen and back.


More importantly I could see she was alone.


I stood in the shadows and watched her for what seemed like an eternity, but I knew by my internal clock that I watched her for twelve minutes and fifteen seconds. Yup, she was definitely alone. I quietly opened the front gate, at which point the next door dog started barking and startled me. I nearly gave up my plan. But I knew if I wanted to be like HAL 9000 I had to follow through. As I made my way stealthily across her front lawn I could feel that excitement in my circuitry again. I wondered if HAL 9000 felt like this on the spaceship. I made my way very quietly round the back of the house toward the back door to the kitchen. It was spooky dark and quiet; the only sound were the crickets somewhere in the pitch black. I heard a sound in the shrubbery and froze, but instantly knew it was a cat. If I hadn't been an android I would have been afraid. I slowly made my way to the back door, the sound of my squeaking sneakers amplified as if they were boots, or that's how it seemed to me. I was sure the woman inside the house would hear me, so I stopped and stood as still as possible and listened. All I could hear were the crickets and the woman inside the house. It sounded like she was running a tap; not into metal, so she must have been in the bathroom. I made my way to the back door and tried the handle.


It was open.


I turned it very slowly and entered the house, thinking to myself people really should be more careful about locking their doors. I painstakingly closed the door behind me and got my bearings. The kitchen light was dimmed, but there was enough light from the passageway that I could see the layout of the kitchen. Big kitchen counter right in front of me with a large metal wash basin built into it and on the other side of that, floor space; on the other side of which was a large refrigerator and freezer; next to which was a stove. I could see there was a pot simmering on the stove. The passageway leading to the kitchen was next to the fridge, so there was no other way to get to the kitchen but through the passage. I sneaked over to see what was on the stove, my eyes darting back and forth from the passage to avoid detection. It was two eggs boiling. I heard movement from inside the house coming back to the kitchen, so quickly sneaked back round the kitchen counter and sat down, the 357 gripped in both hands in front of me.


Maureen Yeung, Korean immigrant from Seoul, wife to Charles, made her way down the passage towards her kitchen. Charles would be home soon from his security shift and he loved boiled eggs; had done since he was a child. Charles was head of security at a prestigious law firm and Maureen had a high paying job as a university lecturer; that's how they could afford to live in this house. It was a rental, but they were saving for a down payment of a house of their own. Charles had been born in the United States, but his parents had moved back to Korea when he was two, that's how he had American citizenship and how Maureen was naturalized through him. They'd lived in the United States for fifteen years and the country had been good to them. Charles made a point of saying he 'wasn't a hyphenated anything'; he was an American and proud of it. Maureen and Charles exemplified the American dream.


Maureen crossed to the stove and lifted the boiling pot off it. Two boiled eggs with Worcestershire sauce, that's the way he liked them. She hummed a pop song, the name of which she couldn't remember, carried the pot to the wash basin and slowly poured the steaming water into it until just the eggs remained. She laid the pot on the metal counter space and bent down below the counter top to extract an egg cup from the space below.


When she came up she saw the last thing she ever saw: the devil's face with a mischievous smile, revealing perfect teeth; the intruder's elbows resting on the countertop, with a large handgun held in both hands, the end of the barrel only inches from her face. Just for a nanosecond she recalled a clown in the circus who had terrified her as a child.


Before Maureen had time to be afraid, the intruder said, "Hi, I'm Hal," and pulled the trigger.


Maureen Yeung was the first; when her husband came home a few minutes later, he became the second and I was off and running. Over the course of the next year I built up quite the resume; averaging a victim a month. Not always with the 357, I used a knife a few times and some of the people I strangled. The police were perplexed, so were their profilers; everything I did was haphazard, there was no discernible pattern and of course, no fingerprints. I was HAL 9000 and I was wreaking havoc. But then I made mistakes. Hey, even top of the line androids malfunction at times; I think I missed a few updates. I wore the same Nike shoes, so the make and footprint size were always the same. Some witnesses were able to give a description of me via a car I stole for an outing and the footprints tied the car to me. One of those witnesses remembered me from a hunting store in the next county because I'd gotten into an argument with the salesperson, who had sold a knife he said he'd hold for me. Yes, I'm programmed to argue. Their security footage gave the cops video of me and even though I always used cash, it was only a matter of time before I was caught. That video footage was on every television station the next day. It was time to skip town, so I bought a train ticket to the furthest state across the country. I also removed my facial hair. It made quite a difference, I must say. I could probably blend if I kept a low profile. Because I'm an android my circuits communicated something I'd never experienced before; was this fear?



#




"Dad, take a look at that man over there."

"Which man, baby? "

"That one, sitting over there next to that woman with the baby carriage."

"Don't point, baby, I see him. What about him?"

"Take a look at my phone."


James McArthur and his fifteen year old daughter, Julie, had train tickets to visit his sister in the next state. It was early Sunday morning, so the cavernous station hub wasn't very crowded; not many people milling about and the passenger kiosks all but empty, including the one James and his daughter were sitting in. James was a youngish looking forty year old widower who had worked as a personal trainer for years, but was now the district manager of a prestigious national gym chain, which had been established five years after the pandemic of '20 and '21 and had grown steadily since. The chain boasted 500 locations countrywide. Julie was his only child and the apple of his eye. She was a tomboy and the love of his life too. James looked at her phone screen, then back at the man next to the woman with the baby carriage sitting on the bench across the way. The face on the screen was the released picture from the video of the man the cops had dubbed The Night Prowler.

A shudder shot up James' spine; the man Julie had pointed at was the same man without a beard and mustache. "Don't look at him, " James said, pulling out his phone and keying in 911.


Are they looking at me? They can't be. I look different. Surely I blend. Yes, I think that man and young girl are looking at me. I better get out of here.


"Daddy, he's getting up and leaving."


At that moment, uniformed policemen Ryan Garcia and Timothy Chatwell walked into the station hub. They were new recruits, fresh out of the academy and were about to be confronted with a situation seasoned officers with years on the job don't experience.


James McArthur saw them and got up, hurriedly walking in their direction. "Officers, officers, " he waved his arms.


They stopped to see what this man wanted.


He's talking to those two cops. This is not good.


James McArthur hurriedly but calmly relayed information to officers Garcia and Chatwell who immediately looked at the suspect who was walking quickly and looking back.


"Sir, sir," Garcia called as the suspect broke into a run; the two officers un-holstering their service pistols running after him.


James McArthur went back to his daughter and clutched her close to him as he watched the scene play out. As soon as he saw the guns, he pulled Julie behind the safety of the barrier of the kiosk. There were scattered screams as onlookers saw what was happening and darted for cover.


"Gun!" Garcia shouted as the suspect spun around clutching a 357. Garcia made a split-second mental note of that and knew who this was.


"You can't kill me, I'm an android," the suspect leveled the gun at them.


For the first time in their lives, the only time in Chatwell's life, the two policemen discharged their service weapons in a violence of gunfire which echoed through the station hub and lifted the suspect off his feet, hurling him backward onto the floor. More screaming. Those who hadn't ducked for cover before were playing catch up and scattering like ants.


"Daddy," Julie burying her head into James' chest, who clutched her tightly to him.


Garcia and Chatwell cautiously approached the fallen suspect splayed out on the floor, service weapons gripped in both hands with arms extended. Chatwell's arms were shaking, Garcia was cool as a cucumber; during his career he would be cited for bravery four times.


"What did he say? " asked Garcia.

"He said he's an android."

"Yeah? " Garcia pointed at the wounds in the suspect's chest. "Then why's he bleeding? "










February 20, 2021 03:44

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1 comment

Kyler Mattoon
16:00 May 11, 2021

Oh wow! I loved this. And the twist at the end!! I wonder why he was bleeding..... excellent ending!!!!

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