No matter what he did in life, no matter where he went, every day started with going to the bathroom. His progression through life could be remembered by the bathroom he had to use.
His parents had two bathrooms. One for mum and dad, and one for him, his brother. His parents had an ensuite behind a sliding door in the wardrobe. The bathroom for the boys—and every guest who passed through the house—was at the end of the corridor. It had a separate toilet in a very small room and a plastic seat.
Then there was the perpetually broken ones at junior school. A cold seat with a busted hinge and a door that didn’t want to lock. He always sat leaning forward, one hand out ready to push it closed if intruders tried to enter.
The camp toilets were plastic sheets atop a deep tub of shit and piss that baked in the sun everyday. It stank and everyone was having trouble with their bowels. Shitting was more like turning on a fire hose and holding yourself down to keep your bum aimed at the hole.
Jack’s bathroom had a water heater that made alarming pops, as if it had just punctured and boiling water was about to spray out. It never happened but once every few days he would freeze at the sound of that metal pop.
Jack’s towels were still on the rack, fraying and stringy on the sides. They were thinned and scratchy and looked permanently stained.
I’d like new towels. I’ve never had new towels.
Canada beginS Project ‘Antibody’
Following a six month freeze on personal drone and robot registration, the Canadian Special Police today revealed the second part of their strategy to eliminate the Killbot infestation.
Live press conference
A woman stands at a podium. Hair in a tight bun, a neat navy blue uniform with bands of merit bars stood before a line of red and white quadrupedal robots waiting for the room to settle. Below her on the screen read: Commissioner Dana Sturges.
‘Today we begin fighting fire with fire. In coordination with the national guard we are announcing the commencement of Project Antibody which begins with the ignition of this squad of 2000 anti lethal automated weapon hunters.
The commissioner turned to the bots behind her. They had a flattened torso of white, with four jointed legs. On each torso of the bots was a glass bubble with spinning 3D cameras.
‘Activate Project Antibody.’
The robots began moving, sounding like a herd of metal ladders had been startled.
A message popped out from the side of his screen, from his brother, Patrick.
Are you awake?
Tom hesitated. He didn’t normally answer when in the bathroom.
In the bathroom?
On the toilet?
It’s the most comfortable seat. What’s happening?
Nothing much. Just mega storms in Greece and Turkey.
Refresh and you’ll get my links.
Patrick sent him a bunch of click-tos. One by one, each chiming pim pim pim.
Windows opened on videos showing different views of three massive cyclones smashing up the Aegean coastline and tearing across farmland.
As yet none of the cyclones had reached a town or city so there had only been a few casualties. But they were immense. They darkened all that was beneath them and carved up the land as if a churlish god was dragging its invisible fingers through the earth.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
Not near you?
Miles away. Other end of the continent.
I was just checking, you might have been on holiday or something.
When the storms stretch from Greece to Belgium, I’ll head underground.
Tom didn’t have more to say. He didn’t feel like live communications right now.
I should go.
You should come here when you can.
I’m thinking about it. It would be nice to see you. And finally meet Zizi.
Then come. Never a better time than now. While it’s safe.
I should go. The gigs will ramp up soon. I need to catch a few to save up for that transfer.
I can pay for you.
It’s okay. Talk soon.
Tom flicked back to the browser window and clicked through more of the storm pictures. The live feed said the intensity was abating but there had already been billions of euros in damage. Power grids were out and roads and train lines were cut in many places.
No longer feeling like reading he washed his hands and dressed. Tom stood on the little balcony and looked out at the stars – the few he could see through the glow. The outside air was cool and thick, a dead acacia rattled in the breeze. He was so tired. His eyes could barely recognise the difference between ground and sky, and even that distinction faded as quick clouds pushed over and it began to rain. Thick heavy drops slapped his cheek, rung off the metal railing and patterned the concrete two storeys below.
Nigerian cyber defence army reaches Abuja city limits
One storey below was a suffering hedge, branches shivering.
Is that bush moving?
Three killed in Louisiana Killbot attack
Jove popped his head up. ‘There is a communication request from Rachel. Do you want to accept the call?’
! I’d almost forgotten about the cadets.
‘Of course, Jove. Put her on.’
Commune Unveils Response Units
In coordination with Canandian Special Police, the California AI Council, Commune, shared plans for what it calls an ‘annihilator unit’. Quick-learning machines that can self-program attack strategies for new strains of killbots that appear.
To avoid breaching the newly minted ban on autonomous weaponry, the Mach 1 Annihilator uses existing infantry exo units that carry a human operator who retains target and firing control. Once targets are acquired, the pilot approves for the machine to fire at its strategic discretion until the target is eliminated. The Mach 1 can fire up to 10,000 laser shots per minute of 959 watts – enough to damage or destroy sensitive navigation and targeting equipment. Commune officials claim a single shot will disable 99 percent of known killbot varieties. For demonstration footage, follow this link>>.
AUs will begin appearing in the United States, Britain, Australia, China and the European Union by the end of the week.
In other countries, including India, Japan and Korea, authorities are using enhanced surveillance and police-operated drones to find and remove threats. The United Russian territories continue their policy of severe retribution for all creators of autonomous weaponry – barring state sanctioned weapons.
Meanwhile Cyberpol and Chinese-operated Red Fist continue to pursue software based solutions.
Rachel appeared on screen, curly hair and face overjoyed.
‘Are you watching?’
‘Watching what?’ he asked.
‘The war. It’s over!’
‘Over? How can it be over?’
‘I don’t care, it just is.’ She sent him a link.
Cyber War 1 Officially Over
In what has been dubbed the first Cyber War (CWI), the war on Lethal Automated Weapons is officially over, with infection reduced below 0.5 percent.
‘I can’t believe you’re not here. Look at everyone.’
She panned the camera around to show the camp, blazing with lights and blaring with music, soldiers and cybers dancing and toasting, drinking and singing.
‘Me either. I miss you!’
‘I miss you too, Tommy. As soon as they let me out, I’ll be down to see you.’
She kissed the camera and clicked off. He stared at a dull screen.