20% Error

By Robin Hillard

sfgenreThe hardest part of my sentence is leaving the kids. While I am being stripped and searched, they’re asking their father about my empty chair. When they are older will they doubt my guilt?

I had an alibi. I was at my neighbour’s house when the bank was robbed, but what was her word, against a printout of from the robocop, that identified my DNA?

“Computers don’t lie,” said the judge, when my lawyer tried to talk about past incidents of misplaced samples, keyboard mistakes and program bugs.

And I was in the system.

Some months before, when a driver left a service station without paying for fuel, a blob of mud on my licence plate changed the one to a seven and gave me the number of the guilty car.

“A simple mistake,” the officer said, after pulling me up, and watching me wipe off the mud, but he could not reprogram the scanner. So I had to go to court.

“People can always appeal,” the minister had said, when he ordered the police-car scanners and do-gooders complained of the number of false arrests.

Yes, I could appeal. But over the following weeks I took days off work, only to have, repeatedly, the case postponed.

“You could skip the hearing,” said a helpful clerk, “just enter a guilty plea. For a minor case like yours, a first offence, you’d get a small fine and a bond. That’s cheaper than paying a lawyer. The officer who made the arrest has left the force, so it’s your word against the scan.”

That made financial sense. I did the maths and paid a fine, equivalent to one week’s wage, and had a twelve-month good behaviour bond.

I’d done the wrong maths.

20% error. One false arrest in five. And I was in the system.

The robocops were cheaper than regular police so politicians extended their role to cover more serious crimes. Like robbery. All a human officer had to do was arrest the auto-identified.

One false arrest in five. And the odds were higher if the DNA, like mine, was already on file.

“Witnesses can lie,” said the judge after my neighbour testified. Obviously, with rising crime, she wanted to make an example of me.

So it is prison, while at home my children grow to adulthood. Will they believe their mother is a thief?

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About The Author

Robin Hillard

hillard mystery book 150Robin has taught in Australia, England and Canada and now lives in Toowoomba, also known as the ‘Garden City’ of Queensland, Australia. It is well served with antique shops and these provide the inspiration for the problems that bedevil the customers and staff of Archies Antiques, a series of short mysteries which originally appeared in the ezine Bonzer and were later collected into two ebooks by Cyberworld Publishing. Toowoomba also provided a setting for her cosy mystery novel Ridgeway Murder. Robin enjoys exploring alternative worlds, but sometimes gets so carried away with research she doesn’t get around to writing the story

Find out more at Robin's author page at Cyberworld: <http://www.cyberworldpublishing.com/Robin_Hillard_author.htm>


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A Last Supper
by Phillip Berrie

A Reluctant Zombie
by Natalie J.E. Potts

Pandora's Smile
by Joanna Galbraith

Retirement Is Not The Last Word
by Laurie Bell

Square Musing
by Soar

The Game Of Lifes
by George Nikolopoulos

To Serve The Master
by Zeb Carter

The Master
by Robert David

The Passengers
by Botond Teklesz

When I Was God
by Kevin J. Phyland

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Melbourne International Film Festival - SciFi Marathon & Retrospective
August 3 till 20 2017, various Melbourne venues. Massive Sci-Fi Retrospective featuring many of the genre’s most groundbreaking, influential and important films alongside some of its most inventive and entertaining.
Two major highlights of the program are the festival's first-ever all-night cult Sci-Fi Marathon at The Astor; and a special screening of René Laloux’s mesmerising ‘70s landmark Fantastic Planet, with an original score courtesy of Melbourne space rockers Krakatau under the aegis of the Hear My Eyes collective. More information at MIFF's SciFi Page. <http://miff.com.au/sci-fi-retrospective>.


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Conflux wants your stories of 4000 words or under, in any speculative fiction genre, on this year’s theme, which is, BLOOD, GOLD, LIES. More information here: <http://conflux.org.au/c11-competitions/>

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