Playing Chicken

“Paper files?” Roz sat back in her chair, pulled out a half-smoked Camel cigarette and re-lit it. She took a long drag before blowing her exhalation in the general direction of robot X-23445. “So, you’ve finally reached the end of where robots can go, and you’ve decided you need humans again.” It was a cheap shot, but it felt good.

X-23445 simply floated there, silently.  

Roz should have died of lung cancer long ago, but the benefit of living on the Human Preserve was that you were…. well, you were preserved. It wasn’t a great life, but the robotics war only lasted twenty minutes and she didn’t have a lot of time to think through a plan.

 She’d gotten rich playing chicken with the competition, so she came up with a way to survive until she could figure out how to win. She ended up making a deal with a laptop; one of the stranger ideas she’d ever tossed around.  She looked back up at X-23445, still hovering, still waiting. It was hard to play chicken with a robot.

“What am I looking for?” She asked, picking up the first file and flipping it open.

“Nothing,” X-23445 said.


“Nothing,” the robot repeated.  “You bargained to live long enough to belong in a museum. That day as arrived, and you go on display in 4.68327 of your minutes. Please act naturally, the younger iteration has much to learn about humans. There are so few of you left.”