Whose side are they really on?
This article, written by Rtr. Thishani Wijayaratne of Rotaract Mora under the theme “In the year 3200…”, was awarded third place at Write Out Loud 2019, the English article writing competition organized by Rotaract Mora.
Beads of sweat dotted my forehead as I felt the small dark room close in around me. A single white lamp illuminated the room casting a circle of light on me. At the far end of the room, two hulking policemen mumbled to each other. A moment later they were walking towards me. One of them slammed a photograph on the table in front of me, the boy in the picture was familiar. “Do you recognize him?” one of them hissed. “Y-y-yes” I stuttered, “That’s Jamie, my boyfriend. He was with me when you -” I paused “arrested us”. The policeman exchanged glances. “Why am I here? Where is he? We did nothing wrong”. My words came out louder than I had expected, a mixture of fear and confusion. “Please, calm down Ma’am”, said the second Policeman gently, “We just need a few details about your boyfriend; if everything is clear, you are free to go”. If everything is clear, I didn’t like the sound of that. “Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?”, he said.
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I was doing my weekly groceries, broccoli or cauliflower? I was wondering when a guy with big headphones bumped into me from behind. “Oh, I’m so sorry” he exclaimed. He had thick black hair, deep brown eyes and his headphones had come off on impact. A familiar guitar riff floated up from them. It was my favorite song. “Love that song”, I said. “Yeah? You listen to the ‘MetroTonics’ too?” he asked, referring to my favorite band. One thing led to another and soon I found myself at a cafe sitting next to him sipping a cup of coffee. He was a Journalist from the city and had come here to cover a story. That was an amazing coincidence, because I was in my final year at the college, studying Journalism. Within a few hours I discovered that we had so much in common. We exchanged numbers and we were dating within a week.
He was a patient guy, understanding; but secretive. He hadn’t shared anything about his past. I knew that he worked for a company named “Journals Online” and would be staying in town for a few more weeks.
Earlier today, we were out shopping, nothing out of the ordinary. As we walked out of a dress shop, he suddenly started acting a bit strange. He grabbed me by my wrist and began rushing in the wrong direction. I questioned him, but he told me to be quiet. Soon our path was blocked
by the two police officers who were towering before me.
That’s how I found myself here, looking up at the police officers staring at me, wide-eyed and confused.
“She really has no idea”, said the first.
“Could you please tell me what’s going on?” I asked, desperate for answers. “The man in this picture is not Jamie” and he placed a few more photographs on the table, these were of the internal structure of a life-sized Robot having human appearance. “His name is X5452. He’s a prototype humanoid designed to mimic humans. He escaped a research facility a few months ago and had hacked your social media accounts mimicking everything you desired” he explained.
“That’s impossible”, I whispered. I knew him so well, didn’t I? Wait, I didn’t know anything, but he knew everything about me? How could I have been so blind? I felt so exposed, weak, betrayed. Did these machines really have power over me?
Specially now, that the government had trusted law enforcement with humanoid robots.
“We assure you Ma’am, the necessary legal action will be taken in relation to this matter”, the Policeman assured me.
How was I to trust him? After all he was also one of them? Whose side are they really on?