Bots are in a house.
The houses are set up in rows, quite a human style block, not much different than your typical bohemian row housing, each one has multiple floors. They are not homogenous, each is a different size, different style. This is housing for young people like near a University, each group of roommates lives in one floor of each division, creating a tightly packed community. You could walk a couple doors down to your friends place, or the pad where the neighborhood girls lived, or where there was a party. The main difference was that outside, there didn’t appear to be any trees. Or sky?…
The bots are beautiful organic creations, so highly futuristic in their design and materials that they bear more of a resemblance to reptiles or mermaids than popular Japanese gundam. Bristling with sensors here, slick with carbon molded scales there. A sweeping dress where there should be legs. The erotic form of a bikini bottom where there should be hips. Faceless, seven feet tall, unseen. Monstrous gods among the little knowing world of humans.
They are staking out this apartment, the lights are off, they do not need them. The place is clean and empty. A bachelor style bohemian house, one room with a kitchen counter, hanging pots, and a couch. A screened back door exits onto the porch.
They are waiting…They have been targeted for destruction. One is watching out the back, one by the front door, the other is sitting on the counter in the kitchen.
It is dark, past midnight, but the outside illuminated by lamplight or an artificial moon shines through the cheap manufactured bamboo blinds. It paints zebra stripes of dull white across the lower half of the bot at the front door that undulates like a snake. It highlights a fine pixel pattern through the screen of the back door onto the visage of another, slowly and rhythmically massaging mandibles like a spider digesting a fly. All black, so many different shades of black, materials that absorb and transform the light. The one on the counter is entirely made of shadow but for two glowing red sensors set in it’s head like eyes.
Occasionally they move, the one at the back stalks across the room stepping over the couch in one fluid motion, contracting a billion nanofibre muscles to glide under the light fixture that hangs from the low ceiling. Stalks to a window, or stops in the middle of the room, bristles sensors or makes a light swishing sound as of an mechanical membrane sucking in gas. Then it returns to its post and there is no movement for an hour except the slow massage of its mandibles. At one point the bot on the counter dims its sensors, then pushes an eight fingered hand with black carbon scalpel fingers through the laminate counter top, through the actual atomic structure of the laminate, then withdraws it without leaving a mark. Then another hour of stillness. For whatever unknown alien reason, for whatever indeterminable biological function these actions serve. They do not eat. They do not sleep. Any behavior that resembles human or mammalian biomechanics is strictly mimicry or coincidence.
As advanced as they are they are totally unaware of the way their destruction is orchestrated. The night is still and the neighbourhood is quiet but faraway there drifts occasionally the faint sound of young people playing music and laughing. In the pindrop silence of the apartment the bots communicate, barely audible sub-tonal audio punctuating the quiet. It sounds like the hum of a blown out bass speaker, interrupted by muted crackles and clicks.
Then the one at the back door swells, it’s tissues inflating impossibly, and contracts from the light of the doorway with animal quickness.
It’s mandibles hiss like a hydraulic pump
They prepare for the assault.
In the middle of the room, now off the counter, the glowing eyes wink to black and the scalpel fingers flex. It’s head rotates on it’s shoulders slowly and smoothly a full 360 degrees, scanning. It’s face opens and heat sensing pits and pheromone pockets ripple, probing, sensing looking. All three burn with intensity of restrained energy, ready to move smoothly and calmly into action, ready to go to work, fulfill their design.
But there is no action.
Your girlfriend is calling from the other room. The bot at the front door cocks its head to listen.
“Honey, can you get me a glass of water?”
But there is no other room. These are human memories. The bot is already running a series of self-diagnostics. There is no girlfriend. There is no such thing as girlfriend.
Do they dream, if so are they presently in a dream? Who is the dreamer? Now they are under attack. But from where? How?
The bot in the center of the room is grizzled by electrical impulses shooting out from under the counter. Blue crackling energy spits and pulses in ribbons into its frame, frying, burning. It jerks in paralysis as it cooks, a smell like rubber burning. More yelling. Confusion. The source of the electrical impulses appears to be a cat which scrambles out from under the counter and runs off.
The one at the back is scorched by a laser. In the confusion it raises hooded eyes like a mantis. The first bot is training it’s gun on it. The non-existent girlfriend is screaming in terror. There is a microsecond of hesitation, trying to process, then it is inflating the molecular structure of it’s fingers towards the traitorous target like monofilament blades. Too late, it is blown backwards through the screen, it’s chest tessellating and shattering in triangle shards. As it hits the ground it tries to twist, but the bot by the front door is already there, pumping white laser into its head, pummeling, melting a hole through the dirt of the small backyard. It squeezes the laser until carbon has become molten ash, until its is out of juice, then collapses, spasming, writhing, tearing at it’s own face, tormented by something brutally attacking it which only it can see.
The last finally knows fear. Their programming is being attacked, there could or could not be a physical threat it is unimportant … Tormented by electrical blasts that are not even real.
It watches itself move, like a smoothly controlled marionette, to the now still and smouldering bot in the center of the room. It picks up the pistol laying nearby, places the barrel in it’s mouth. It straddles the luscious hips of the smoking carcass, grinding and riding until it pulls the trigger. A concussion like from a nail gun is the last thing it feels.