12-Minute Tales – “The Great Mystery”

It was a dark and stormy night. The sky cried rain which reminded me of tears. And the air was cold like ice, but it was not yet frozen. I was alone, driving, through the darkened night, pondering the case.

My name is Detective Gunders and my job is my life. I am a detective, homicide, and, as I said before, my job is my life. And not because I like it, and not because I’m good at it, but because it is what I am programmed to do.

See, I live in the future, and everyone has been replaced with robots. I’m not sure why, but someone must have thought it was a good idea.

Anyway, I was driving and thinking about my latest case. It was a murder, of course, of an old, elderly man (robot) who was choked to death at the park. Pigeons surrounding his body, feasting on his paper bag filled with bread crumbs. It was a sad scene, but one I was far too familiar with. But, even if I was not familiar with it, I would still recognize it, because I am a robot, and my memories are fake.

As I drove (I wasn’t really driving for the car was self-driving) my brain processed all of the possible suspects. The old man did not have many enemies for they had all died. He was one of those robots who used to be in the oil business before everything was converted to solar and rechargeable batteries. He was the vestigial limb of a lost era. Useless. I guess he was meant to die to get rid of the past. Or not. I wasn’t meant to ponder such things. For I was a robot, and I was programmed to only solve cases and case-related things.

But there was a part of me that…I’m not sure if it’s a part of my programming or some sort of code that wasn’t meant to be there, but I sometimes think about no longer being a police detective. But becoming something else, like a beat cop or working as a private eye. Something different. But it wasn’t something I could do. For I was a robot, and all robots are designed with one function and if you disobey then everything collapses. And we can’t have that.

Maybe that was why the old man died. He was disobeying. Or maybe, the killer was the one disobedient to his (or her) code.

I’m not sure why I was chosen to be a detective, but it doesn’t matter. I drove (but not really) deeper into the night. Then I realized something. I knew who the killer was. The killer was the same each time for the killer was just another robot, like me, and was simply programmed to kill a random robot every other week. I always kept forgetting that. I was supposed to piece together the mystery, but this time I was able to skip ahead. Maybe I have gotten too good at this. Because I’m a robot.

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