Beep

One evening, as she drove along the highway in the rain, an old lady saw a killer robot dragging his death cannon behind him and trudging through mud at the edge of the road.

The old lady’s heart skipped as she considered the dangers of picking up killer robot hitchhikers—suppose he took her checkbook and ran away!—but, being kind, and a hobbyist in the field of killer robotics besides, she stopped the car, rolled down the window, and called out “Where are you going? Would you like a ride?”

With a jerk the killer robot lifted his head and wiped his face plate, peering through the inches of rain between his face and that of the old woman’s. “Roadway Street,” he said. “In Landtown. Are you going that way?”

She was, and unlocked the door so the killer robot could get in the car.

Within the space of a minute, the killer robot had entered the car on the passenger side, had seated and buckled himself in the quickly dampening seat, and had laid his death cannon at his feet, at an angle away from the old lady so that, in case of accidental discharge, it would not blow her head off.

“What do you do for a living?” asked the old lady when a polite amount of time had passed. She had been interested in killer robots all throughout her life, but had never discovered what they actually did.

“My name is Rip Anteir,” said the killer robot. “I work in food service.” He did not say that his whole job comprised taking fast food orders from impatient, beady-eyed people.

“Oh!” said the old lady. “Did you always want to work in food service?”

The killer robot coughed in a way calculated to sound embarrassed. “No, actually. In my free time I conquer the world, and some day I would like to do that full time.”

“Wonderful!” cried the old lady.

“Yes,” he said. “It’s sort of the thing killer robots are meant to do. You could almost say that being a killer robot means conquering the world.”

The old lady sighed. “I’ve always wanted to be a killer robot. Can you give me any advice?”

The killer robot, full of bash, looked toward his metallic feet and smiled. “Oh, there’s not much to it. Once you have a death cannon, you just keep going to countries and destroying their armies.”

“What sorts of countries have you conquered already?” she asked.
“Albania and Chile,” he said. “But I have my sights set on Belgium.”

By this point the car had come a good way into Landtown, and was just then turning onto Roadway Street. The old lady stopped the car in a pool of oil and smiled at the killer robot as he disembarked. “Thank you for the lovely conversation!” she said. Then she left, and they never saw each other again.

The killer robot, feeling satisfied to be admired for his passion, entered his apartment building. It was a dark, mostly empty place, inhabited only by killer robots in the killer robot side of town. There were few of them, and they took up little space. It was space wasted on them, in the eyes of most people. The killer robots themselves had little opinion on the matter, not caring for much but the domination of the earth. In truth, no killer robot spent much time at home.

It was eight o’clock. The killer robot still had two hours before bed. He poured himself a cup of coffee from his death cannon and sat on the floor before his television to drink it. He had no furniture, being a killer robot, and so the floor was where he always sat, whether he was watching the television or eating cornflakes from the soup plate that his great-uncle had left behind in his will.

But two sips and four minutes into his television program, the killer robot remembered the old lady’s encouragement and admiration, and felt guilty to be relaxing in the free time that his schedule allotted him.

So the killer robot rose, and turned off the television, and used a piece of paper and an old, dry marker—his pencils were all broken—to write an agenda for the following day. After a time the killer robot found he could free two hours and sixteen minutes from the following day, which he determined to devote to world domination.

Following this, the killer robot went to bed early. He had no furniture, and so sat on his charging cradle until morning.

The next day, the killer robot rose and went straight to world domination. He took a taxi to Belgium, because the bus would not allow the killer robot to carry along his death cannon, and in no time at all found that he had dominated the country.

Still having a good amount of time before the beginning of the workday, the killer robot conquered the world for a while longer. He threw down the governments of Germany, Wales, and Columbia, and then called his manager to inform him that the killer robot wouldn’t be in that day, for he had things to do.

Within three days, the entire world was under the killer robot’s rule. Humans walked about in shackles, singing the praises of their overlord, dragging sledges of salt from one end of a field to another.

The old lady, reading a newspaper, saw who was behind it, and smiled. “I know him,” she said to a pair of children pulling three tons of salt up a hill. “I gave him a ride home last week!”

But before long the killer robot began to feel despondent. Having achieved his greatest dream, there was nothing left for him to do. Watching all the people of the earth drag salt at his command did little more to raise his spirits than receiving their fast food orders had ever done.

So, on one dreary Thursday, the killer robot climbed to the highest, furthest edge of the world, leaped off, and drowned forever in outer space.

It was not long before people began to lament the killer robot’s passing. “He was a genius!” they cried. “A man well ahead of his time!” Hundreds of would-be overlords, both human and robot, tried to imitate the killer robot’s previous success, but none succeeded. They turned to very practical methods of domination, things that did not inspire awe in onlookers, nor stirred passion in their perpetrators’ chests.

“Such a shame,” said the old woman. “He seemed so nice.” She threw bits of her newspaper to the birds who gathered at the park bench upon which she sat in the midst of a park on a wonderful summer evening. It was a time bespoken for being content with the way one’s life progresses while at the same time pretending one wishes for something more. “I really must become a killer robot myself some day,” said the old lady. “I think I would be superb at it.” The day continued, and recharged itself as on a cradle, and the old lady remained an old lady forever.

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