Authors: Jerry Hart
never actually seen it, though. It was six feet tall, its insides covered by
plastic so you could see into it; blue and green wires traversed its body.
gentlemen, I introduce … D-18,” Daniel said as he reached around to the back of
its head. He pushed a button and the robot immediately sprang to life. The
wires inside its body quickly lit up, its blue eyes becoming even bluer.
at each of them in turn, and then bowed its head. They each bowed back.
is that really what I think it is?” Owen asked. “Is that a robot?”
it’s a robot. The most
’ robot on Earth,”
Daniel said with a satisfied smile.
“How in the
hell did you build this?” Chris asked, standing up. The fish-monster was
practically forgotten by all.
magnificent mind. It’s not really hard once you familiarize yourself with
modern robotics and algorithms and stuff.”
noticed the smile on Daniel’s face growing larger. She didn’t get why he’d
waited so long to reveal this to the others. It was clearly the best day of his
life. She couldn’t help but smile too.
“Why is it
called D-18?” asked Chris.
Daniel, and eighteen was how old I was when I started working on him.”
Daniel said defensively, his smile fading. “I don’t like to think of D-18 as a
machine. I like to think of him as my baby.”
suppressed a laugh. “Well, show us what he can do.”
pleasure.” Daniel’s smile returned as he looked to D-18. “D, go and get me a
soda from the fridge.”
the robot left the room, heading toward the kitchen. It returned a moment later
with a diet soda can in its hand.
preferred a regular soda,” said Daniel to the others as he took the can from
D-18, “but you get the idea.”
talk?” asked Owen.
still working on that. I want to make him sound like a person and not a robot.”
matter?” asked Alyssa. She couldn’t understand Daniel’s goal of making this thing
humanlike. It was just a robot, after all. It should look like a robot.
want anything?” Daniel asked the others, changing the subject. “I want to test
his voice-command capabilities some more.”
raised her hand. “I want a sandwich. Can he make me one?”
smiled. “We shall see.” He looked to D-18. “D, make Alyssa a sandwich.”
the room. There were sounds of silverware jangling about (Owen shuddered
subconsciously), the refrigerator door opening, bread being dropped on the counter,
the front door being opened and closed—
that?” Owen asked.
went out into the living room. D-18 was nowhere to be found. Everyone looked to
the front door.
in the hall, Owen, Chris, Alyssa and Daniel looked in both directions.
back into the condo, grabbed a couple of walkie-talkies and handed them out.
“He can’t be too far,” he said. “You three start heading downstairs. I’ll
search this floor and the roof. If you find him, call me on the walkie-talkie.
I’ll do the same.”
quickly headed down the hall. Owen, Alyssa and Chris started down the stairs.
opened his door slowly. He was sure he’d heard
something just outside. He thought about grabbing his cane, but decided to just
stick his head out and take a look instead.
he said aloud. He was certain it was those hooligans who lived just down the
hall. They were always coming and going at all hours of the day. Three guys and
one girl sharing an apartment? Disgusting. Otis didn’t even want to think about
what went on in there. Such living arrangements never would have happened in
squinted down one end of the hall, and then the other. He was seventy-six years
old, and his vision was terrible, but he refused to wear his glasses. He should
have worn them now, though.
blurry was walking around at the end of the hall to his left.
sir, might I ask what you’re doing?” Otis asked the blurry image.
started walking toward him.
Otis thought. The blurry man’s walk reminded him of one
of those robots from those science-fiction movies he used to watch.
!” a voice called from the other end of the hall.
that?” Otis asked the other blurry image running toward him.
Hudson. I live—”
“I know you,
Mr. Hudson,” said Otis, looking back to the other end of the hall where the
robotic-looking man had been. “Is this man here with—”
man was gone. Otis looked around frantically. “Where did he go?”
who go?” Daniel asked.
The old man
looked back at Daniel, who in turn appeared to be looking behind the old man
and into his apartment. Otis started to turn around to see what had captured
the young man’s attention, but before he could, Daniel said, “So, what are your
plans for the holiday?”
holiday? It’s early October.”
whatever you do every year around this time. Don’t you go out of town around
in hell. His creation—his baby—was currently in the condo of old, bitter Mr.
, raiding the fridge. And now Daniel had to make
pointless conversation with the old resident while he came up with a way to get
D out of there without being seen.
It seemed to
be a good idea asking Mr.
about his plans for
this month, because the man was going on and on about something. His old,
wrinkled face was bright and he had a huge smile on his face. He mentioned
something about visiting an old friend.
Daniel said to himself as he
was staring at him expectantly.
The old man
had stopped talking, and he was no longer smiling.
said, “you’re definitely going out of town?”
That much he
had heard. D was making a sandwich on Mr.
flatly, looking less excited now that he
knew Daniel hadn’t been paying any attention to him.
backed away a little, making sure the old man didn’t take his eyes off of him.
was old, sure, but he wasn’t stupid;
Daniel could tell he was getting suspicious of the conversation. Daniel started
jerking his head toward D, hoping he would notice and leave the old man’s
Daniel said, hoping to start a new conversation, “I broke my arm. Crazy, huh?”
The old man
gave Daniel’s cast a quick glance. “How did you manage that?”
“I fell out
of a tree.”
shook his head, clicking his tongue. “You young
people and your need to seek thrills.”
finished making the sandwich and was now making his way toward the front door.
Daniel hopped over to the left of Mr.
could sneak past the old man, out to the right, back to their condo.
sign my cast?” Daniel asked.
grinned at Daniel curiously. “Well, I suppose. I
don’t have a pen, though.”
Daniel produced a pen out of his pocket. Mr.
signed the cast as D walked past. Alyssa, Chris and Owen appeared at the end of
the hall and coaxed the robot to them.
elderly neighbor finished signing, Daniel thanked him and ran back to his
condo, leaving Mr.
to wonder where the ham
sandwich on his kitchen counter had come from.
back, safe at home, but Daniel was not happy; Alyssa could tell when he wasn’t
happy without him saying a word. He paced back and forth in front of his
creation. David’s party would do him some good.
know what’s wrong,” Daniel kept saying as he tinkered with the robot. Suddenly
its arm slashed out, nearly decapitating Alyssa. It slashed out again and just
missed slicing Daniel in half.
was close!” Daniel yelled excitedly as he yanked a wire out of the robot’s
head, causing it to stop flailing.
Chris, “until D is working, I’m not sure we should take him with us when we go
Daniel said. He reached for the remote, pointed it at the robot, and shut it
down. Its blue eyes went dark. “Until the time is right, my friend.”
would that time come? Daniel couldn’t answer, and didn’t know if he ever would.
infuriating when things didn’t work the way they were supposed to, but Daniel
couldn’t blame D. He could only blame himself. Maybe he just wasn’t smart
enough to tackle the problem. Maybe he just wasn’t creative enough to see past
the boundaries of advanced robotics.
shouldn’t have built the robot at all.
should just take D apart now and forget he’d ever existed in the first place.
He was already referring to D as a robot, a thing. Bad news.
stared at his creation, it slowly dawned on him, no, he couldn’t get rid of D.
He loved the robot like a brother (he definitely loved him more than he loved
his actual brother Doug), and could never bring himself to part with him. He
would eventually get D to work, one way or another, and everything would be all
could work well enough to help the Titans fight monsters remained to be seen.
The house was surrounded, and
Michael was scared. At fifteen, he shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But he was,
because there were people outside who wanted to hurt him and his brother.
Michael didn’t understand why, though. He knew the people were afraid of him,
but he never did anything to warrant that fear.
evil!” his foster dad screamed to the mob from the living-room window. “Leave
us alone! They’re not his sons!”
was sitting on the couch with his foster mom, Diane, dropped his jaw and looked
over to Jason, who was sitting on a recliner across from them. His expression
was strange—Michael couldn’t put words to it.
brother’s face was contorted, as if in pain, but Michael knew it was not pain.
It looked more like rage.
“I knew this
was going to happen,” Jason said so quietly only Michael heard.
Diane said to her husband, “what are we going to do?”
He spun away
from the window and looked at his wife with terrified eyes. “I don’t know. We
can’t stay here; not after what happened.”
at her foster sons with quick snaps of the neck. “They can’t possibly be his,
didn’t answer right away. He was too busy thinking of the possibilities;
Michael could see it in his eyes. He stepped away from the window for a moment
and Michael saw the enraged mob outside. Instead of pitchforks and torches,
they carried flashlights and guns. The sun was going down and the beams from
the flashlights were cutting wildly through the air.
Michael caught each other’s eyes and came to the same understanding: They were
being punished for their father’s actions. His attempt at ruling the world had
failed and, somehow, everyone had found out his offspring were here.
didn’t know where his dad was now, but he desperately wished he was here to
he remembered telling his friend Christian all about how his father was
planning something special for the world. He had gloated to Christian at school
that his father was magic and could do anything he wanted. Of course, Christian
hadn’t believed him at the time, and Michael had forgotten he’d said anything
But then the
Event occurred. A short while ago, a giant monstrous man had wandered around,
destroying buildings and causing panic with hideous creatures following in his
wake. Michael had seen it on the news and had known from that very moment the
man was his father. It had to have been. Those orange eyes, the same as Dad’s…
had sold Michael and Jason out. There couldn’t be any other explanation. And
now there were people outside who wanted the boys dead.
monster-man had disappeared shortly after beginning his invasion, along with
his monstrous companions, so not much damage had been caused. But Christian was
smart enough to put two and two together. He must’ve told someone, and then
that person told someone else, and so on and so forth.
there was that other thing Michael had shown Christian. But that had been an
accident, and it had happened so quickly there was no way Christian could have
everyone was outside the house, waiting for the perfect time to strike. They
must have thought the young boys had magic powers, too. Michael and Jason had
done nothing to fuel this assumption, and Michael couldn’t help but be thankful
for it. It may be the only thing that saved them.
the window at which his foster dad had stood moments before shattered as a
large rock sailed into the living room. And then the screaming began.
started awake on
bed. Les, who was asleep on
the floor, was snoring noisily, but that wasn’t what had awoken him. Not by a
long shot. Nothing could compare to that horrible nightmare, that memory…
He heard a
tapping at the window. It was early and the sun was slowly starting to rise.
Michael saw the shadow of someone on the blinds; he already knew who it was.
blinds, he saw a blond man, with short-cropped hair, standing just outside, a
smile on his face. He was wearing a white polo shirt and tan khakis. Michael
opened the window.
beautiful,” said the blond man.
you’ve made a new friend,” said Jason, eyeing Les, who was still asleep on the
floor. Michael said nothing. “Did he give you the orb?”
wasn’t very nice of you, leaving the hotel like that. I was worried about you,
wanted to get out for a while.”
“Is that the
real reason? Or were you trying to get out of doing what needs to be done?”
Jason was no fool.
you’re scared,” Jason continued, “but everything will be all right once it’s
all over. I promise. Do what has to be done, no matter the cost.”
Dad used to say?”
smiled. “Exactly. You have a good memory; you were so young when he said it.”
He patted Michael’s cheek. “Just like Dad used to say.”
to some public places to see if I can sense the one we’re looking for,” said
was that?” Jason asked, looking impressed.
smart. I’m going to keep an eye on you guys, but you won’t be seeing much of me
until it’s time. Take the orb wherever you go. Can you handle that?”
nodded again, but he seemed upset about something.
wrong with you?” Jason asked.
know if I want to do this anymore. I don’t want to take over the world. It
doesn’t seem so bad the way it is.”
is a flawed and dangerous place. If you look around you, it doesn’t take long
to see it.”
still seemed hesitant. Jason sighed, and then cupped his little brother’s face
in his hands.
“You remember what those people did to our foster parents,
to the people who truly loved us?”
“Tell me what they did to them,” Jason said.
“They killed them.”
“And why did they kill them?”
“Because they don’t understand.”
“Exactly,” Jason said. “They killed our foster parents
because they didn’t understand. They thought you and I were monsters just
because our dad was a monster.”
Michael flinched at the accusation.
“I don’t mean to be cruel, brother, but our dad did some
monstrous things. But those … people showed us their true colors when they
turned on us. Did they give us a chance to show what we were really like? Were
they fair to us?”
Michael shook his head.
Jason took a breath and said, “What am I getting at, little
“These people can’t be allowed to think for themselves,”
said Michael. “They don’t deserve this world.”
“Exactly, little brother,” Jason said. “This orb is a gift,
and it would be a crime not to use it. All of this is happening for a reason.
And soon it will all be over.”
nearly noon when Les finally awoke, and Michael was anxious to start his search
for the one who could activate the orb.
at the mall. Michael carried the orb around in one of
backpacks. Les suggested they go to the food court and just let people pass
them by. Nothing special happened, but David and Curtis walked by, not noticing
them. Les heard them talking about a party they were having later that night—he
wasn’t too surprised he wasn’t invited. Not after what happened at the last
party he’d gone to. That damn racist joke…
Michael spent at least two hours there, but after striking out, they moved on
to a bowling alley. They even bowled a few games, but Michael did not sense
anything. (Les had made a joke about bowling with the orb, but Michael was not
went to a place that wasn’t helpful, but Les really wanted to go there anyway.
It was LAN Overboard, a small establishment he hadn’t visited in a while. The
small building was made up of around thirty computers, all connected to one
another. Les and Michael sat at two computers side-by-side and booted up a
World War II shooter everyone else was playing.
Since it was
so early in the day, there weren’t that many people to play against. The
proprietor was sitting at the front desk, reading a magazine; he’d already
taken everyone’s money to play on his computers for a few hours, so he didn’t
really care what they did.
were only four other guys there, they decided to play team
splitting up into two teams of three guys. A nerdy sixteen-year-old boy joined
Les and Michael. After thirty minutes, Michael had killed the other team ten
times over, single-handedly. No matter what strategies they tried, they always
got their butts handed to them.
while, the other guys got frustrated and convinced Michael and Les to play just
killed everyone within a matter of minutes. He was an ace at sniping, and he
even managed to sneak up on a few guys and slit their throats with a hunting
knife. The other players had had enough. They got up and left before their time
was up. The proprietor, a dirty-looking thirty-something guy, reminded them as
they exited they couldn’t get the balance back if they left early. They didn’t
getting their money’s worth, Les and Michael also left and headed to the
movies. They saw a horror film. The theater wasn’t particularly packed, so
Michael didn’t really have his work cut out for him when it came to sensing
movie, they headed back to
house. Despite the
fact Michael was a cold-blooded murderer, Les was actually having fun with him.
It was ten
after six in the evening and Michael and Les were playing a
board game on the floor.
Michael seemed a little frustrated with how the day had gone.
all the places you can think of?” he asked Les.
of David’s party, but decided not to mention it, so he nodded.
“I talked to
my brother this morning,” Michael said as he contemplated his next move in the
respond; he didn’t know what to say.
too happy about the fact I left him hanging, but he’s forgiven me.”
“Are you two
still planning to take over the world?” Les finally asked casually.
There was a
moment’s pause, then Michael said, “Yes.”
“But how? I
still don’t get how that thing even works.”
“But the guy
you’re looking for does?”
over this,” said Michael with a hint of frustration.
“I know. I
just don’t get it. If you get a hold of this guy, is he just supposed to tell
you? What if he doesn’t want you to know?”
working on a way to get the information I need.”
‘sensing’ thing? Like how you knew about Curtis and me?”
grinned and said, “Something like that.”
down at the board game and didn’t say another word.
happen between you and him anyway?” Michael asked.
“No. I can’t
Les sat for
a moment, thinking. “I went to one of his parties and I made this joke that, I
guess, could be perceived as racist, though I didn’t mean it that way.”
honest, I can’t remember.”
“Do you mind
if I ask you a question?” Les asked.
you? I mean, I don’t think you’re human.”
thought about it for a moment, never taking his eyes off
want to know?” he asked Les.
“I’m the son
of the devil.”
“No way. Are
nodded. Les was stunned. He remembered that comment he’d made to Michael about
his father being the devil, but he’d only been joking.
Les whined; he was frustrated. “What is your story?”
stared at Les, contemplating whether or not to tell him everything. “Well, I
guess it won’t hurt to tell you. It’s a sad story, though. I’ll start at the
point that drove my brother and me to this moment.”
crashed through the window and landed on the linoleum floor. Diane screamed as
she jumped to her feet, pulling Michael along with her. Jason stood up as well.
ushered his family through the kitchen to the back door. Surprisingly, there
was no one in the backyard. The family ran outside, onto the wet grass.
and hide in the woods,” Jonathan said to his wife.
you going to do?” she asked, gripping her foster kids’ hands tightly.
to get rid of the mob.” Michael could tell his foster dad didn’t sound
confident in his ability to do such a thing. Michael worried for him, wanted to
tell him to come with them, that the mob would kill him if he tried to speak to
them, but before the young man could say anything, Jonathan went back into the