This story was inspired by this photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click the picture to see the rest.
Bob tugged at his orange jump suit. He hated the color, but it was traditional for Impact Study Units to wear them. Humans always told them there was something about the color that helped the scanners to pick up what happened to them in a crash. Even though Bob had something approaching free will and self-determination, he never thought to question the story or anything else. He did as he was told like a good little machine.
He walked out onto the testing floor and was pleased to see Barbara standing by the vehicle they were testing today. The lights shone off of her dusky skin creating a halo.
“Unit 3167. Please proceed to the testing environment.” The voice came to him from the loudspeakers above.
He snapped out of his reverie and nodded to the Inspector behind the glass. The hover van was a new model and from what little he knew there were major issues with its design. He was no engineer, but his eyes were sharp and he’d been in thousands of crashes. He could see that any high speed collision would be bad news.
“Good morning Bob.” Barbara nodded to him.
“Good morning.” He held out a hand and she shook it. There was reluctance in the action. “What’s wrong?”
“Units 3167 and 4598, step into the testing vehicle.”
“We don’t have to do this.”
Bob tilted his head. “Do what?”
“Test this death trap. I have a friend that can get us another assignment.”
He looked from her to the van. The thought of riding it into the wall didn’t appeal to him, but it was what he was built for. The analog to pain he experienced was bad, but it was necessary for the betterment of humanity. The idea of doing anything else was completely alien to him.
Barbara stepped forward and put her arms on his shoulders. “I want to leave with you.”
Bob felt a warmth in his chest cavity. There was an ache there as well, not unlike the time he’d caught a steering pylon to the sternum. “I want to leave with you too.” He put his arms around her waist.
“Units 3167 and 4598 get into the vehicle immediately or there will be repercussions.” The Inspector’s voice was snappier than either of the ISUs was used to.
“He sounds angry.” Bob whispered into her mouth as they leaned in closer.
A klaxon began to sound.
Barbara’s lips touched his. He didn’t know what the consequences of ignoring the Inspector would be and suddenly didn’t care. Tradition and towing the line would be a thing of the past for them as they entered their new future together.
When the hover van hit them it was going eighty kilometers an hour. Bob’s head popped right off of his neck. The inspector sent out one of the little clean up bots to pick up the pieces and made a check beside a few of the columns on his report. The bumper on the van had prevented any damage to the impeller when it hit the ISUs. His bosses would be pleased.