How General Girling Lost His Head


One Robot's Short Story About Gardening

A William Gibson/Neuromancer inspired fanfiction

author/Electric Monk

A one inch resolution satellite view from space; people moving around the entrance to the Pentagon, weapons teams and security patrols on the roof and the grounds. Mapping the data flow around the Pentagon; sufficient analysis would have revealed a short unauthorized burst transmission. Analysis of the burst transmission after the fact would reveal certain artifacts that hinted towards a certain man. Nothing could ever be proved…

15:00:00 - Kick Off the Cleaning Shift

F1N00134 was puttering along, gobbling up the dirt and dust left behind from the military boots and shoes of the Pentagons staff. The robot was happy, as happy as it could be with no real intelligence. The robot grew happier reached new heights as data downloaded into its RAM. It changed course, moving slowly but surely - heading for a large office - using its internal floor map. No one noticed anything unusual, just another cleaning bot in the way. Someone kicked, accidentally or purposefully, made no difference to the bot, it righted itself and continued. Burbling happily to itself it entered an open door and crawled up the wall, settling itself on the ceiling. The Pentagon had bought the deluxe version, fully equipped to clean, wash, wax and garden. This time it had been ordered to garden, an oddly mobile and weirdly shaped plant. The plant had a bald crown, two branches and a partially split trunk. The robot, having little thought beyond its job didn't see the oddness of it, if it had it wouldn't have cared.

4:55:00 -

McCoy set up his deck and related equipment, connecting strings of fiberoptics in artful tangles. Once they had been thoroughly tangled into knots he connected the whole mess to the oddly expensive, considering that it was a very cheap apartment, outlet. A few Halloween decorations hung around, pathetic attempts at sprucing the place up. A decaying pumpkin cast shadows and spots of light from the guttering candle inside its hollowed out head. McCoy munched on a pumpkinseed, watching a string of cotton bob gently in the breeze from the cracked open window. He was quiet, listening to the beat of his heart, using it to set his timing.


The cleaning robot was watching the plants, using a black & white high-resolution digital video camera that served it for an eye. Another robot, F1N00104, wandered in. It paused, quivering as it communicated momentarily with F1N00134. F1N00104 was satisfied with the conversation and it turned around and headed out of the room.


McCoy finished setting up and sat down, a fairly comfortable chair molding itself to him. He took a look around the room; almost everything was covered with bugs and dirt. He picked up the set of trodes ling on the floor and carefully put them on, adjusting them. He sighed, hit the power stud on the deck and jacked in. He heard the beat of his artificial Russian heart, then a spinning gray disk and finally the matrix. A 3D chessboard expanding to infinity, geometric shapes dotting the landscape. He glanced around, corporate mainframes around him with the blank cubes of AI's and the spiral arms of military systems far above him. He rented 20 second of time on a private box, checking to make sure that he was invisible, he was. The Finn's advanced masking program seemed to be working. The power flickered, the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority falling down on the job for a minute, the deck's batteries compensating easily. He placed his position, next to the steeped scarlet pyramid of the Authority and the perfect green cubes of the Mitsubishi bank of America. He punched in his destination, keying in a complex string of numbers that represented a direct access number. The gray drab of the Pentagon's subsystems appeared around him. A quick fly of fingers and the program activated, he had gotten it off the Finn who had promised it would let him modify cleaning bots routes and orders.


The robot, if it had had more intelligence, would have been bored. It didn't, so it wasn't, instead it purred away, amusing itself with .0000001 increases in its efficiency of cleaning. Its eye, the video camera, let it scan each and every plant that passed through the door. Microns of precision let it discard plants that were wrong in shape, however slightly.


McCoy opened the door, not a real door of course but cyberspatial representations of this program's execute command, 1's and 0's moving at light speed to tell the robot to begin moving.


The robot tensed, the plant matched, the shears slid out slightly but the plant was not yet in the right position. It shifted across the ceiling, moving towards the plant, a better trimming position.


McCoy, tapping into the Pentagon's security cameras watched the robot carefully position itself above General's Girling head. He smiled, not thinly as usual but a wide, almost feral grin as he laughed, a strange sound.


The robot had decided the best way to trim the plant was to drop from the ceiling and slam shut/open it's shears at the right time. The robot shifted slightly then dropped, the robot was quite happy, only doing its job. The crown was cut off and it rolled onto the floor. The robot was torn to shreds by high-velocity flechettes, spreading circuitry all over the floor.


McCoy saved the video and erased the Pentagons surveillance log, one last bit of revenge against the people who had cost him his heart.


The security team rushed in, guns ready but they were too late. They slowed down and went back, calling a janitor. The last person who saw the remains of F1N00134 was an elderly janitor sweeping it up.