Recycling Unit

By Shane Griffin

sfgenreThe recycling unit came out of the alley and rolled into the busy street. It was 7:42 am. Abundant humans scuttled along the street in their variable ways. Seconds later, the nearest humans noticed the unit. They responded with a typical fear response that spread and multiplied to become a crowd in panic.

The rate of progress of the spreading panic was predictable and could reduce the probability of the recycler catching its target.

However, based on all of the pre-transmitted mission data, pattern analysis of its target's behaviour revealed that this day and time had the lowest probability of deviation from routine.

The recycling unit stopped briefly to engage all sensors and devote its computing power to analyse incoming data. Even with its quantum-computing circuitry the data soon overloaded its processing speed, and information began to buffer. It if had been more than an inanimate machine, it might have been annoyed by this. It wasn’t. The recycler chugged on for several agonising milliseconds before locating its target — a briefcase-carrying male of mixed ethnicity dressed in a business suit. The recycling unit analysed the probability that the target had a concealed weapon inside the case, but the result came back negligible. It accelerated relentlessly towards him.

The other humans were not yet aware which of them was the recycling unit's target, so they scattered. The man ran along the street towards a bus stop where a bus had just pulled up.

The recycling unit assessed that the target may be attempting to escape via the bus. It initiated a security override on the vehicle, rendering it temporarily immobile. Based on the rate of gain on the target, the recycling unit predicted it could intercept the human before it reached the bus, but its internal programming protocols dictated it disable any possible escape routes as a precaution.

As calculated, the recycler caught and restrained its target well before the bus-terminal. The captured man struggled and screamed as the machine took a DNA sample to validate his identity.

The recycling unit was programmed to ignore all human responses until the DNA analysis finished. It soon had the target’s identity — confirmed.

“Citizen Daniel Perera, you have been selected for recycling in accordance with the Population Cull and Control Act 2046. If you believe you have been incorrectly identified please provide evidence now.”

“Please...I have a son!” pleaded Daniel.

The recycling unit recorded the target’s response, including the desperation in Daniel’s voice, but it did not fit any of the predefined criteria for further investigation. The unit pithed the human through the base of its skull and into its brain for an instant kill.

With the target neutralised, the recycling unit stowed the corpse in the cold storage module on its back and calculated the most efficient route to the nearest recycling plant.

As the recycler began to leave the now empty street, a projectile impacted its left side. The recycling unit stopped. It assessed all systems for damage and moved into defensive mode.

The projectile was a baseball. Trajectory analysis tracked its launch to a young human male standing behind the immobilised bus. The recycling unit assessed the young male. It wore a baseball uniform and carried a baseball bat.

The bat was a potential weapon, but the recycling unit calculated a low threat rating for the boy, so it began moving away again.

The recycler took another hit in the side. It spun towards its attacker. The boy gave the bat numerous wild swings.

The unit restrained the young male with non-lethal force. It applied a non-lethal electrocution to the young male’s right arm until released the baseball bat.

The young male exhibited the expected pain responses. The recycling unit waited for him to stop screaming before communicating.

“You are charged with obstruction of a recycling unit in the execution of the Population Cull and Control Act 2046. If you believe you have been incorrectly charged, provide evidence now.”

“I hate you! You killed my dad!” The young human gave a hysterical scream as tears streamed down his cheeks.

The recycling unit scanned its protocols. Irrational grievance from a family member was allowable. It took a DNA sample. Positive match. Identified.

The unit sedated the young human, placed him safely on the bench seat at the bus stop, and trundled away to the recycling plant.

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About The Author

Shane Griffin

Shane Griffin lives in Australia near the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. He is a part time author and full time scientist. He has been writing science fiction and fantasy since age 19. He has published over 20 short stories in magazines and ezines such as Potato Monkey, Antipodean Science Fiction, Ripples, Eclecticism and Masque Noir.

With stories like Accident Man, Border Patrol and the Duel proving popular with readers Shane is now focusing on e-publishing under his own label - Poupichou Press.

Shane's first full length novel "Apocalyptica - Rogue Memories" is out now!!!!!

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