“Fred”

My first 500-word robot-death story in a while—this one for Andrew Russo. It’s called “Fred.”


FRED

 

The last time I saw my robot, Fred, he was walking out of the house with a gun.

The safe it had been in was locked, and Fred didn’t have the combination—but that didn’t matter because he just busted open the safe.

I tried to call him back, but he was determined. He marched straight out the door, and didn’t look back.

It was only after turning on the news an hour later that I knew where he’d gone.

*

Based on the news reports I saw both on TV and online, Fred had walked into a nearby elementary school and opened fire. He shot and killed eleven children and four teachers.

When a robot goes haywire and decides to shoot up a school, you don’t hear about the wounded; there are only those who get killed and those who survive without a scratch.

A ten-year-old girl used her cell phone amidst the shooting to call 911. The police arrived very quickly, located Fred, and shot him twice in the head with special bullets made specifically to kill robots.

Once the smoke had cleared, and the dead catalogued, the police searched the robot for its identification number, which would link it back to me as it owner.

When they knocked on my door, I didn’t resist.

*

No details that came forward later helped explain why Fred did what he did. No system malfunctions were found when they gutted him, so I was subsequently found not guilty of all criminal responsibility.

When I was released, I went home and watched and read as much as I could online about the killings. One story that emerged, and was mentioned over and over again to the point of going viral, was about one of the teachers who died—a man named Andrew Russo. When Fred came into the classroom and started shooting, kids scattered everywhere. Most of them were mowed down, but one of them survived because Andrew dove on top of her—a little girl named Micaylah Spencer. Andrew took seven bullets to the back and neck for her. Fred hadn’t turned quickly enough to see that Andrew had dived on top of her, so she lived.

*

I lay awake most nights wondering if there was something I could have done, something I could have said to have stopped Fred from murdering those kids and teachers. I saw no warning signs, no mood changes in him, nothing. He just woke up that morning, and decided to ruin all those lives for no reason, no purpose that anyone could discern.

I have recurring nightmares that Andrew Russo is standing at the foot of my bed, bleeding, filled with holes. He stares at me, says things, mouth moving, but I hear nothing.

I stare back at him, my mouth moving, too, maybe apologizing, I don’t know.

But he cannot hear me, either.

 

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