The drone hovered silently above the deserted playground. Alert. Waiting. Watching.
Its handler, tucked deep inside a military bunker many miles away, panicked. Drone X3Z4S1 had gone rogue. Despite all the fail-safe procedures they had in place the thing was steadfastly refusing to respond. All they could do was monitor its progress on their screens and pray.
There was a movement from the far corner of the playground. Two young lovers, hand in hand, were strolling towards their favourite secluded park bench, unaware they were being watched.
The drone’s weapons system locked onto the target and then fired.
I simply reacted like any teenager. Scowled a lot. Said it was boring and I’d better things to do with my life.
I never mentioned Neil.
The ever-popular, charismatic Mr Neil Samuels. The charming ex-professional who used to keep me behind at the end of sessions for extra tuition. The same dependable man who made me promise not to tell anyone about our little secret.
They said I was good. Olympic standard at least.
Nowadays I can’t go near a swimming pool without being violently sick.
“Yes, boss. In a hole just to the right of those deserted buildings. He thought he was being buried alive, you should’ve heard him scream. We did as you said, boss, put him in a coffin and lowered it into a makeshift grave. We left holes in the lid to make sure he could breathe.”
“Excellent work, Jimmy. Is he being more talkative this morning?”
“Can’t shut him up, boss. He’s told us everything.”
“Good. Now put him back in the coffin and bury him again. Oh, this time Jimmy, cover up the holes.”
The empty tram trundled along the deserted tracks, sticking rigidly to an irrelevant timetable.
At each stop, a mechanical voice would tell you where you were and wish you a good day.
The doors opened for their mandatory fifty-seven seconds and then closed. The driver, an automated robot, needed no tea breaks, nor worked any shift pattern so could continue this journey, back and to, from one end of the promenade to the other, forever.
Had he been programmed to be more aware of his surroundings he may have noticed that the human race had long ceased to exist.
This was not the most salubrious establishment in town. The note on the window told you it’s owners were shadowy characters, not open to complaints. The two ceramic butterflies on the wall outside must have been someone’s futile attempt to make the place seem more homely. It hadn’t worked.
Every morning I ate the burnt breakfast, drank the foul coffee and spoke to nobody. This place and I were made for each other.
I would watch the house across the street.
Watch the bastard who’d married my wife and was playing ‘daddy’ to my son.
She remembered the beginning. He’d tried so hard to straighten her out, to drag her screaming from the abyss. That’s love for you. But it never lasts. Her demands for his constant attention had stretched his patience to breaking point. Last night he’d told her he was leaving.
She lay in bed watching the dark clouds roll across the sky, remembering their final hours together. She’d pleaded with him to stay, promised she’d change, all to no avail.
She looked down at his blood-soaked body.
Now that he was gone, what was there to keep her from following him?