What an asinine, useless phrase. That’s what I always thought. Wait it out. Hope for rescue. Hope that you won’t wake up tomorrow to the sounds of gears creaking a hydraulic pumps whining. No yellow focused-beam density sweeps shining through the windows catching every mote of dust on their earthly descent. Food in your stomach and a pillow under you head. Just sit tight and wait for it all to blow over.
Or get proactive and end up like me.
It might have been a week or a hundred years ago that Gunder called me from Stockholm. I hadn’t heard from him in years, but he had won a couple of prime seats for Van Halen from the local radio station. They had just finished up their North American tour and I had been too wrapped up in the company’s impending merger to go. So what the hell, thought I. Take a week off, go see Gunder and the Swedish countryside, and spend the next month or so battling the concert-induced tinnitus.
The first night couldn’t have gone better. We drank and smoked, chased skirts and didn’t even ask for numbers. I think we talked about work, but who the hell remembers. I know I don’t, and Gunder doesn’t remember anything anymore. Getting a log rammed through your windshield and ending up in your chest will do that.
I don’t even know why I’m writing this. If you’re reading this, you probably can’t even read English. Maybe it’s for my own peace of mind, you know? A way to make peace with things. Certainly not to make sense out of things, because I think sense left the minute those damn things crawled out of whatever mechanical womb spat them out. Maybe we made them all. Maybe we made one, and that one made more.
I don’t know a damn thing about A.I. Or robots. I deal with merger acquisition and liquidation. I buy the things people make and sell it to someone else and take my middleman’s cut. I like cocaine and making deals in that order. I know people are talking about computers getting smaller; ACII and Macintosh want computers in people’s homes. Personal computers that the average slob can afford? Get real, won’t ever happen. And if you can understand any of this, you can mark my words on that.
So where these things came from, I don’t know. I know that as I ran from the car wreck I saw them dragging people out of their homes. Shot some if they fought. Some were just too scared. Just curled up in a ball and covered their faces. The kids never fought back. They cried, they screamed for their mothers. But the big ones with the turkey heads didn’t let them go.
Don’t know where they take them. Just out into the woods, they disappear into the trees and fog. Then the screaming stops. You never hear a gunshot. But sometimes I think I hear big, heavy footfalls and some hellish whirring, mechanical sound. I don’t even want to imagine what they’re doing to those people. God I hope they’re keeping them alive. Or maybe it would be better if they were dead, because I can’t figure that what a machine would keep a person alive for would be anything worth staying alive for.
I ran for two days. The mainland couldn’t have been this bad. Thought I could find a car, but every last one of them had been siphoned off. No gasoline anywhere. Never found any tire tracks or anything like that, no unused tanks next to the cars. Jesus, the gas tanks weren’t even open. Strange thing was, wherever there were cars, the dogs weren’t too far away. Looked like mechanical mastiffs with one big red eye and guns mounted on the shoulder. They wandered in and out of the pileups, looking for whatever mechanical mastiffs look for. I learned pretty quick to avoid the roads.
Two days of getting proactive, and here I am. I don’t know how they found me. I was so careful sneaking into this barn. But I hadn’t made it two steps in and I heard it. The whirring of a fan, the white-hot sound of a jet thruster firing, and the unmistakable ping of telemetry radar. Then there were more sounds. Mechanical, grinding, screeching sounds. Weapons priming, bullets being chambered, heavy mechanical footsteps pacing in a perimeter around this place.
They’re looking for a way in. A full day, and they’re still looking. Bright yellow beams scan the structure. This place is wood and concrete; why don’t they just break down the door? Why are all of the structures still intact? Do they need the buildings intact for something else? I don’t know. I don’t care. I have no food, no water, no weapons. No hope. I can’t sleep. I smell oil and hot metal every waking moment. And now there’s something else. Something getting close. Heavy footfalls, the kind that make your guts wiggle in fear and send that danger signal surging up your spine.
It’s been approaching for a half hour now. Every few minutes that ping of the radar lets them know I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere, and neither are they. And I’ve got the feeling that whatever that big noise is that’s headed this way isn’t going to wait around for the little ones to find a way in here. I hope they keep me alive. I’m not ready yet. Not yet.
If you’re reading this, you made the wrong move. You didn’t ride it out. You didn’t let it blow over. You went out, you got proactive, you exposed yourself. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.
They know you’re here.
They don’t leave.