Tag Archives: destruction

Aggie and the Robot

Aggie walked to the brow of the hill that overlooked the city. Aggie had never been to the city, but she loved to watch the traffic bustle in and out. Airplanes circled overhead waiting their turn to land, the dull roar of their engines muffled almost to silence by the distance. One day she had watched so long that she had seen the lights come on one by one until it was lit up like a fairy kingdom.

Today she arrived at the hill to find an enormous metal man leaning against the edge of the cliff. He was watching the city.

“Excuse me,” she said politely, “you are blocking my view.”

With a great grinding and clanging noise the metal man turned to face her.

“Who are you?” he demanded in a voice that was so deep that Aggie could feel it in her teeth.

“I’m Aggie,” she said, “I live with my mom and dad over there.” She waved her arm vaguely over her shoulder.

“You should go home,” rumbled the iron man. “This is no place for little girls.”

“This is my place,” Aggie said, “And you are rude.”


“I told you my name. You are supposed to say ‘Pleased to meet you Aggie my name is…'” she paused, “What is your name?”

“Name?” said the metal man, “I have no name. I am a robot.”

“What is a robot?” asked Aggie.

“A robot is….” the metal giant paused. “I am a robot.”

“Where are you from?”

“From? I am from nowhere. I was built over there from metal and glass.” The giant man pointed into the mountains.


“Why?” rumbled the robot, “To destroy the city.”

“The city?” cried Aggie. “Why would you want to destroy the city? It’s wonderful.”

“My master hates the people in the city. He says they are evil and selfish.”

“But even if they are selfish, they don’t deserve to be destroyed.”

“My master wants them destroyed. So he built me to destroy them.”

“But you can’t destroy the city.”

“It is what I am made to do,” said the robot. “I must do what my master made me for.”

“But it’s wrong.”

“I don’t know wrong. I only know obedience.”

Aggie walked to the edge of the hill and looked out over the city. She felt tears forcing their way out of her eyes. The cars and planes blurred. She thought of all those buildings broken and burning; people hurt and crying.

“No!” she shouted at the robot. “You can’t do it. Your master is wrong.”

The robot bent down further with more clanking. She could smell oil and electricity.

“I am not built to know what is wrong. I am built to obey. I cannot disobey.”

“I disobey my dad sometimes.”

“Your dad didn’t build you well.”

“Dad didn’t build me,” laughed Aggie, “I was born.”

“What is born?”

“I’m not sure. I asked my dad once and he just turned red.”

The robot shook his head.

“Whether born or made, we must do as we are told.” He turned again to look across to the city. The sun glinted on windows and winked from airplanes. A breeze blew the faintest sounds of activity to the hill.

“We start out doing as we are told, because we don’t know anything,” Aggie stepped up to the edge of the cliff. “But the more we learn, the more we need to choose for ourselves.”

Aggie heard the metal grind as the robot nodded his head.

“Come with me,” he said and held out his hand. Fearfully, she stepped onto his hand. He curled his fingers to protect her. “We will go and learn.”

Aggie was sure that his footsteps shook the earth, but she couldn’t feel them away up in the air cradled in the metal fist of the robot.

“I am listening to them,” said the robot after a while. “They are laughing because some geese are crossing the highway and traffic is stopped.” He walked on.

“They have seen us,” he rumbled. “But they won’t attack because they see you. They won’t hurt a little girl even to save themselves.” They arrived at the edge of the city. Police cars and fire trucks were lined up across their path. Planes circled overhead.

“It is time,” the robot said, “I must obey.”

“But you can’t.”

“Then you must stop me.”

The whole city watched what happened next. How a little girl stood in front of the colossus with tear streaked face and pushed on the robot”s foot. Miraculously it tottered, then fell backward with a great crash and lay still.

“He could not choose to disobey,” Aggie told them, “but he could choose to fail.”

Mad Granny

This is one of those stories which start from a phrase. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I enjoy writing stories in which things spin completely out of control and this is one. I really did build a fence, and goons did kick in lattice work sections. The rest is completely fictional.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I had put up a new fence around my property. It was straight and true – a thing of beauty. Even my neighbours liked it. The fellow on one side was no longer offended by my untrimmed bushes. (He cut his hedge with a level and kitchen shears.) The guys on my other side liked it because it gave them more privacy for their partying and kept their guests hemmed in.

The old woman across the road didn’t say anything, but she sniffed significantly less often while walking past ignoring me. Even my dogs liked it. It meant they could run free in the back yard, and I had put in a panel of lattice work so they could watch people going by.

That lattice work started the whole thing. The neighbourhood thugs thought it was amusing to kick it in on the way home from whatever they were doing at two in the morning. I got tired of replacing it and bought one of those wireless spy-cameras and hid it on my garage where I would get a good shot of the perpetrators. A couple of minutes later it was recording video of my lattice on a 160 gig drive. Enough for an entire night’s surveillance.

The next morning my lattice was still intact so I didn’t check the file. The computer would just keep overwriting the old file until I told it to stop.

It was a week later I caught my daughter and her friends watching a video on their computer. They were hysterical with laughter. It lasted about five minutes. Some boys were walking under a street-lamp. They stopped in front of a house and started making rude gestures. After a minute an old woman in a bathrobe came running out with a broom and screaming at them. The punks ran away laughing and she went back inside. It was completely disrespectful, but I was laughing too hard to give the girls a lecture.

It was titled “Mad Granny of Dublin”. They showed me others, all similar except for the weapon; sometimes it was a broom, sometimes a mop, once it was a toilet plunger. Then I noticed something in the earliest video. The angle was slightly different, and it showed my lattice. I sat down and tried to figure out how many laws I was breaking, and who had shifted the focus of the camera.

I decided to just remove the camera and not say anything, but I couldn’t find it. I decided to leave well enough alone.

Then the long weekend arrived and the boys next door threw the inevitable party. They were loud, boisterous, and rude, but they left a six pack of my favourite beer on my porch as half apology, half bribe. I had learned to drink the beer and ignore them.

The woman across the road who I continued to think of as the Mad Granny, would walk up and down the street and sniff at them. I don’t know if she was trying to scare them or flirt with them. She wore a black sports bra and a pink mini-skirt. When she dropped her cigarette she would flash her Depends.

My other ultimately fussy neighbour just climbed into his black Mercedes and zoomed off.  It was a typical party weekend.

At two o’clock the party was still going strong and the punks came by for their amusement. Only this time they had a live audience.

“It’s the Mad Granny,” cried an inebriated voice, “I’m going to get in the video.” From my place on the porch I was too far away to suggest that it was a bad idea, even if he would have listened to me. The next thing I knew two of the guys have climbed into a gargantuan red pick up truck and driven it up into the Granny’s drive. They put on the high beams and waited.

They didn’t have long to wait, she came out with her robe flapping wide open, a bottle in one hand and a shotgun in the other. She threw the bottle which smashed on the windshield. I heard gears clashing as they tried to get the truck into reverse. They managed just as she shot out one headlight then the other, all the time cursing a blue streak.

The truck backed straight across the street and through my fence, yard and fence on the other side. It crashed into the backyard pool which promptly collapse sending thousands of gallons through my yard washing my gazebo and lawn furniture into the street.

The neighbour in the black Mercedes chose that moment to roar up the street. He swerved to avoid the furniture and skidded across the flooded street to slam into the light post. The cement post fell across another section of fence and crashed through the roof of my garage. Water poured into the hollow post and with a bang shorted out all the lights on the block.

The only thing left standing was that section of lattice.

The old woman looked at the devastation and yelled one last imprecation.

“That’ll teach you to mess with the Mad Granny.” She flipped a rude gesture at me and went back into her house.