The convoy of yellow DOT trucks pulled into the neighbor’s drive across the street. Mr. Burns had fought a long hard fight, but they, the government, had finally won. They, like vultures, were now circling to collect what little remained of the poor man’s belongings. He had never been much for this world. His meager existence was foretold by the home, which had the furnishing of bare necessity. His house had been one of welcome and comfort rather than one of putting on airs for the delight of fashion. In other words, Mr. Burns had little left to this world. He lived day-to-day but refused to give in to the demands of the State. He lived for God, not unto man.
So, after his passing, it was no surprise to see the Agency vehicles piling into the rough gravel drive. Their trucks were hybrid robotic machines. There wasn’t any human interaction, which made it seem all the more wrong. These mechanical beasts were there to process everything that belonged to the now deceased man, including his own being. There was no funeral allowed, for he had become an enemy of the State.
The trucks were box-like in construction, but each contained a massive, flat, stainless-steel metal plate built onto the bed. Beneath this daunting shining platform were a series of hoses, pipes, and storage containers. As they lined up, one by one on the deceased man’s property, an arm would reach from beneath each vehicle and grab items, placing them onto the mirror-like platform. There those real-life items, from chairs, desks to the deceased Mr. Burns, would lie for a moment. Then, suddenly, a surge of blue energy would dance around each item. The air crackled with electricity, and then with a flash, everything would vibrate with increased velocity until it seemed to shake out of existence.
Then, poof, the platform would be empty, and the arm would already be reaching for the next parcel of belongings to process.
Far, far away in another part of the country, deep within the bowels of the distant processing headquarters, the analysis of every stick of wood, every sheet of paper, and every fiber of DNA was recorded. The State’s claims against the deceased, old farmhand were crimes against the State – failing to comply with the Federal Mandates.
As I stood in my side yard watching the scene unfold, there was the feeling of another being. Feeling uncomfortable, I moved to the back of my house, where I found my back door standing open. Someone or something had indeed snuck around behind me without me knowing. Slowly and with great care, I eased onto the back steps and peered into the kitchen, which was just inside.
My eyes were still adjusting from the bright sunlight as I peered into the darkness. Thankfully, it was empty.
Without hesitation, I moved inside, listening ever more closely for returning footsteps. On my kitchen table, there was a weapon that looked like something from a Science Fiction movie. Curious, I picked it up and quickly found the ammunition release mechanism. Out into my hand popped a clip containing tiny metal vials that appeared to be bullets. They were shaped like bullets, but instead of gunpowder, their middle section contained fluid, which could be seen through the transparent material in which it was encased. One end of each cartridge had four tiny prongs. It was then I realized what this was – the force injection weapon of the State Medical Enforcement Squad.
Quickly, before the owner of the weapon returned, I angrily began smashing the needles back into themselves. Rage, upon rage, poured through my hands as each bullet was pounded into useless submission. “The next person that is shot by this weapon will at least have a chance of survival,” my thoughts rambled as the adrenaline rush caused my hands to begin shaking as I loaded the now harmless bullets back into the chamber. I had just clicked the clip back into place and laid the weapon back on the table when the sound of approaching footsteps pierced my heart. Before I could flee, the shadow of the agent darkened the backdoor of my house.
It was too late to flee.
The agent looked at me, then at the weapon. “You realize you could get into a lot of trouble if you make the wrong choice,” the thing said? Their speaking apparatus had not yet been perfected, for there was still a hint of mechanical hesitancy to the droid’s speech. They appeared fully human in form and movement, but we all knew their purpose.
“Yes, I know.” I moved my shaking hands behind my back because the adrenaline rush had returned. I fought the urge to make a run for it, but I knew without a doubt that if I was lucky enough to somehow outrun this robotic being, my farm would soon be surrounded by all manner of drones and other robotic police. Obvious resistance was indeed futile.
I smiled and obligingly, but slowly, picked up the agent’s weapon and handed it to it.
“You’ve made a wise choice,” it responded and quickly turned the weapon to point at me.
It was then I awoke.
It was Sunday morning, September 12, 2021.