Written by Colum Paget
Read by Stefanie Gallacher
They come at night, of course. Infra-red vision gives them yet another advantage in the chaotic dark, and perhaps they believe they cannot similarly be seen under night’s black blanket. They hit the shanty-town with three auto-striders left over from Stupid War II. Behind these are the troops with their night goggles, keeping their distance not because they fear the townsfolk, but because the striders have been set to fire at movement.
The robot gun platforms pick their way into the town with exaggerated, nimble, three-legged care. They follow pre-programmed patrol patterns that will keep them at a safe distance from each other. They are mechanized-ankle deep in the litter and rubble before it happens. Maybe it’s a dog. Maybe it’s a plastic bag shifting in the faint breeze. Whatever it is, the mini-guns on a strider churn into life, and that chattering bark wakes the town. Scant moments later the darkness is alight. ‘Houses’ made of tin and canvas are swept away by streams of thrown metal. The people break cover screaming, and pour out into the passageways like ants from a disturbed nest. Caught in the gorgon gaze of the auto-striders a person, a man, a woman, a child, decomposes like one of those fast-forward-films of a carcass being stripped by bugs. They stumble over each other and over the piles of steaming meat that were once their families, and cram into the narrow streets, forming tidy rivers of scrambling people that the auto-striders hose with hot metal.
The troops watch through their night vision, laughing and whooping, and making bets on how far this or that person will run. These are the same boys and girls who grin in dress-uniform from photo-frames on parental and grand-parental fireplaces.
Theme music Balrog Boogie by Diablo Swing Orchestra (http://jamendo.com/)
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Ident: Bob Souer with The Lords of War from StudioMig (Podsafe Music Network)