The estate I moved into earlier this year is – I have since found out – populated entirely by bad machines. The world is full of machines masquerading as human beings and on the whole I have no problem with this. They are – in my opinion – free to masquerade as anything they please. Human beings are as good a thing to simulate as anything else as far as I am concerned. Why not? But the bad machines – the actual genuinely bad ones I mean – are another story altogether. They I am not so happy about.
The bad machines are just plain bad. They are not simply mechanical or robotic, they are bad-minded. I don’t know what else to say about them. You can smell the badness off them like chronic halitosis.
The bad machines fall into three main categories – scavengers, parasites, and outright predators. Often the determining factor is simply what they can get away with, so maybe these categories aren’t always that helpful. The basic rule with bad machines is that they will always try to take advantage of any situation if they are able to (which is to say, if they are not specifically and forcefully prevented from doing so). In practice of course this comes down to bluff – in any given encounter that you have with a bad machine it will straightaway try to assess its chances with regard to either scavenging or parasitizing or predating you and it will then proceed to act in accordance with its assessment. So the key point here is to never, ever, under any circumstances, show any signs of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is like a beacon to any bad machine, no matter what type or variety it might be. Vulnerability draws them onto you like mosquitoes are drawn to soft, warm, sleeping flesh, like a sex-starved dog is drawn to a bitch on heat, like a marauding gang of great white sharks are drawn to a lump of bloody meat thrown into the sea. They come from nowhere, they come out of the woodwork, they ooze out of the cracks on the pavement. They simply manifest as if by magic out of the dark and stand all around you in a silent circle, their beady little eyes following every move you make, their pink little tongues protruding between their grey cracked lips, darting in and out in greedy anticipation of feeding on you.
Once they sniff out any vulnerability at all they will never let up – they may back off if you lunge at them but as soon as you have made the gesture they will be back again, pushing the boundaries, probing your defences, wearing you down with their perpetual mind-games. You can keep them at bay only so long before eventually they manage to turn the tables on you – testing you, probing you, goading you, mocking you, playing with you, all the while gauging the moment for the final attack. That’s how they operate, that’s how they work.
I had a bit of an encounter with a juvenile bad machine the other day and I made the mistake of answering it in a pleasant and reasonable way when it asked me something. I made the mistake of replying in a civil fashion, like any human being would. I realized immediately afterwards that it had merely been probing for weakness, they way they all do. It obviously took the fact that I had answered it in a genuine way (instead of ignoring it or threatening it or taking the piss) as a sign that I was weak. That of course made me into a legitimate target. Immediately it came out with a stream of vile innuendos regarding my parentage and sexuality. It went on to make a number of unpleasantly suggestive remarks about certain unusual sexual behaviours. I couldn’t believe some of the words coming out of its mouth.
Afterwards I cursed myself. I should have known better – juvenile or not makes no difference as far as these machines are concerned. They’re all the same, they’re all pure bad. The little machine was quite harmless in itself of course but who is to say I wouldn’t bump into it a bit later on with a whole gang of little malignant mechanical friends. Or maybe some bigger mechanical friends, come to that.
Or maybe the word would get out that I was a soft touch and baby robot’s big brothers would come around to suss me out. Put pressure on me to see how I’d react, to see if I start to show fear. Play a few mind-games with me, the way they do. Life in my apartment could start to get rather uncomfortable – not that it was exactly a bed of roses as it was. I cursed my own foolishness again. Would I never learn?
Then I remembered that I wasn’t entirely defenceless. A friend of mine studying physics in GMIT – a bit of a super-nerd, if the truth be known – had made me a hand-held mini-EMP device for use in emergencies. I had it in my coat-pocket and I’d use it if I had to. Fry every robot brain for within a hundred meters, good, bad or indifferent. The thought cheered me up. “Those scum-bag robots better not fuck with me,” I said to myself, “or they’ll get what’s coming to them…”