Bewildering Stories

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Turning the Tables, Like, Aesop's Fables

John Thiel

2050 AD; not a long trip into the future. But the dictatorial urge had rearisen among mankind to its fullest and was applied to a society that had to comply with exact social standards. They got things done fast; they had been frightened by populations explosions. The new order of society required total birth control so that the population would not increase by so much as 1% in the next 50 years. The earth was actually shaking on its axis from the amount of people on it, and they were wanting death to take its toll and restore order; meanwhile they were keeping the advancement of life at a standstill.

We take you now to a Cyborg factory.

"Look, they don't want humans, they don't want cyborgs. They take up as much space."

"We don't make all that many of them. We've been making cyborgs for fun. It isn't going to pass the 1% standard."

"How many we rolling off this year?"

"Two hundred, no one will notice."

They had reason for confidence. The government wasn't going to stop cyber production. These mechanical people behaved just the way they wanted people to act. They were even talking in secret about replacing people with bots. "They don't reproduce, is one, and two is, they don't act up, and you don't have to produce more than you want, and they last as long as you want them to."

So the bots continued advancing as humanity came to a standstill, and were in full production as the human race began to diminish .

There was only one problem from the government's point of view. The bots were starting to act like the humans they were replacing. If this continued, it would solve no problems.

"Is some genius programming them more like people?"

An investigation determined that the manufacturers had no intention of doing anything like that. No one was humanizing the androids."

So one night a couple of CIA people were spying at a production line. The night was deathly quiet. The bots weren't activated and were inert. Yet under the heavy silence there seemed to be sounds, sourceless ones. The agents began exploring the factory but could not determine the source of the sounds.

They were about to give up the effort and use detection bots when they heard a conversation coming from somewhere.

"This looks like a good enough one, Isaac," a voice was saying.

"I'm sure it is, Arthur. A good enough one for you."

"Your own choice would use a cane to walk. You'd demand it. How about you, J.C.? Your bot suit you pretty well?"

"Well enough for a second coming, it's just as fit as a fiddle."

The CIA had learned the facts. They would have to report that reincarnated ghosts were inhabiting the bots. The people just weren't able to adapt to the freeze on the human race.

First published online at the Analog Forum, 2002.

Copyright 2002 by John Thiel.