Showing Feelings (Flash Fiction)

The unmanned tank stalked through the ruined streets. Its shape was sleek and narrow, as it was not designed to combat large vehicles. Rather, it was designed to rip apart human flesh with increasing accuracy. Satellites relayed detailed images from overhead, and the small pack of vehicles proceeded into the rioting city. Rockets were fired from skyscraper windows, but they were destroyed well before impact. The small vehicles were armed with a missile defense system that neatly spat bullets at oncoming threats until they were no more. Heat sensors searched for signatures while light scanners of varying wave length sought out movement. Quick bursts of gunfire seemed to instantly come to life and simultaneously cease.

The metal pack moved inward.

Bob and Susanne were hunkered down around a distant street corner. Other rebels were scattered around them. They clung to their crude weapons and tried to suppress their rising fear. The violent bursts of gunfire crept closer. Bob looked back at Susanne, who nodded. He sprung out quickly and stayed low and out of sight. Concrete street dividers had been redirected to form makeshift trenches. He could feel the digital eyes of the satellites watching him.

The robotic hunter caught multiple glimpses of his movement, enough to establish a tracking pattern. An entry and exit point were created via algorithm and the possible strategies determined. The information was transmitted to the rest of the group. The machines automatically altered their movement in preparation for the most probable fire fight.

Bob waved for Susanne to run over and she only shook her head. “Come on!” he shouted. “These things don’t fuck around. Their A.I is constantly learning, improving. The longer you wait, the lower your chances.” Susanne moved, then hesitated. She took a deep breath and darted out.

Two quick bursts shot out. The calculated hit chance was 21%, high enough to exceed the minimum value for direct engagement. The rounds spattered against the barriers and sent exploding bits of dirt and concrete into the air. Susanne, unhit, tripped and fell to the ground.

“No!” Bob yelled. He reached a hand out instinctively and more shooting filled the air. A well placed round clipped the end of his index finger and took off the nail. He looked to Susanne and saw the fear in her eyes. Fuck it, he thought. We don’t stand a chance anyway. He stripped himself of his weapons and ran to Susanne. She screamed for him to go back, but he never heard her. Gunfire stormed the air like hail.

The machines crept in around them, quickly flanking and surrounding. The rebels were scanned, analyzed, and calculated for threat. None was established. The small tank stopped and looked at the two humans embracing each other, scanning, analyzing, and recalculating. More shots were fired as armed rebels were torn apart. The other machines moved further inward in pursuit while the nearest one to Susanne and Bob only watched, scanning, analyzing and recalculating for threat. None was found, and the machine never fired. It scanned, analyzed and recalculated and recalculated for threat, uploading the results to the rest of the group.

And never fired.

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