Previously on I. They. Evolve.
Thomas is an AI humanoid who works as an English butler for his wealthy scientist creators in Washington State. During the outbreak of a global virus which affected two-thirds of the human population and caused the Infected to savagely turn on the immune, Thomas was re-programmed as an assassin to enter the abandoned zones and destroy the Infected. Heavily-armed and impervious to attacks due to his synthetic human body plan and AI brain, Thomas and his kind became the low-cost solution to save humanity from extinction. Thomas has discovered a new wave of Infected who can attack and destroy the AI humanoids, and he must report back to his creators this grave news while at the same time come to terms with the knowledge he is now no safer than the humans he has been trying to protect.
Episode 2. Knock, knock…
It doesn’t take me long to exterminate the cluster of Infected – thanks in part to the dearly departed Mrs Wilson having already diminished their number before they turned their attention to me (RIP Mrs Wilson, I will forever fondly remember your homemade Scottish shortbread and knowledge of the works of Margaret Atwood), but, alas, my flamethrower cells are down to zero and I am forced to leave the stinking cluster in a pile of gory bodies where they fell (FWIW, we AI are equipped with flamethrowers to assist the ‘clean-up’ squads who follow behind us, as it is easier to ‘mop up’ bones and ashes than it is intestines, flesh and great runnels of blood; yet, I fear there will no longer be any clean-up squads to follow my progress, for I have seen not sight nor sound of them during these past three days in the abandoned zone).
I must report back to my household and creators – the scientists Dr Alan Armor and Dr Jane Geddon, that I – an invincible AI machine – have been attacked by the Infected; that Mrs Wilson has perished; that I need new flamethrower cells; that my skewer attachment is becoming blunt; that the clean-up squads have vanished; and that I haven’t a single notion why the Infected have suddenly gained intelligence to fight back.
I arrive at my household and am greeted by Dr Alan Armor, who to my horror is in an advanced state of infection in the kitchen, and whose only desire it now seems is to explore the possibility of tearing me limb from limb, for which I must skewer him in the brain for the sake of my survival (Goodness, Sir, I am most shocked to see that you have turned, and I am most dreadfully sorry to have to kill you, and may I add that it has been a pleasure working for you all these years).
My attention turns to Dr Jane Geddon, who has also turned, but by some twist of fortune is rendered immobile by a belt loop of her red 1980s throwback jumpsuit which has snagged itself on a cupboard door handle (FWIW only last week Dr Geddon came to me with the problem of the very same loop having torn loose, and she being a frugal type, despite her wealth, had not wished to throw out the jump suit but requested I repair the loop, and I, being programmed as an accomplished seamstress among my many butler talents, happily obliged, ensuring I made a strong double stitch of the errant loop for which I am now eternally grateful as it is the only thing separating me from the howling, hissing and gurgling Dr Geddon – quite a sensory overload I can tell you, yet I am programmed to be an oasis of calm in such situations, and as I determine that the snagged Dr Geddon is unable to harm me just yet, I have time to update my data banks with the latest world news via the kitchen interface).
I can barely believe the news flashing before me of the thousands of AI beings like myself and Mrs Wilson succumbing to deadly attacks by the Infected: North America, Germany, France, Great Britain, India, China, Australia… alas, my kind is no longer the hunter but the hunted!
I turn to Dr Geddon and skewer her in the brain (So sorry, Madam, nothing personal you understand, it’s just that you need to be killed and I’m having a particularly bad day), and as she dies I am email-pinged by Elodie, my dear pen pal from France; Elodie, a fellow AI in employ of the French military, and someone who I have had a crush on ever since the Brexit referendum, and whose email leaves my knees buckling and my backside searching for a chair in which to sit as I process her grave words which are telling me…
To be continued…
Editor’s note: I. They. Evolve. is a science-fiction / horror dystopia set in a future zombie holocaust. AI humanoids which once served as the workforce for wealthy humans have been re-programmed and equipped to go out into the world to destroy the Infected. The story concentrates on Thomas, an English butler in his original programming, who faced with unprecedented and deadly attacks from a new wave of the Infected, considers the path of not only his own evolution but that of the enemy he is programmed to kill.
… Who’s there?
… Your creators…
… Your creators who?
… Your creators who will now unbuild you.“
I. They. Evolve. Episode #2 written by Ford Waight, 18 August, 2021.
I. They. Evolve. artwork – Mount Coudon, Var, France photo, zombie figure drawings and digital render by Ford 11 Aug 2021.