LATITUDE UNKNOWN by Gary Murphy 

The submarine HSS Latitude had begun its mission ten days before, embarking on its goal to seek intelligence regarding ships sailing the waters off the Russian coast. The Baltic Sea could be cruel to many a seafarer and the Latitude was no exception, but having spent so many years as a voyager as well as deep down below in foreign depths the vessel was able to cope with whatever extremes it encountered.

The submarine had a twenty-five strong crew and more than a few had served their apprenticeships together. Of course, in the year 2065, androids studied and attended universities all over the world alongside their human counterparts, yet Latitude was only one of a few occupied and operated by robots, with only a smattering of homo-sapiens on board.

In Sector Seven, four of Beta Force, all androids were separated from the rest of the vessel’s crew. These were Latitude’s highly-trained and engineered robotic underwater spies, who watched and noted everything and recorded data for those back in London and New York. However, it had come to the attention of three of the android crews in Sector Seven that something was not quite right with a human called Ross, who had been reported to Commander Beta One as behaving quite oddly lately.

Ross was a Domestic Worker, included in Latitude’s crew to dust and clean; as strange as it may have seemed, nobody wished to endure long journeys in dust and scum. He was glaring at the three androids, seemingly drooling at the mouth, sweaty, panting heavily, with bulging bloodshot eyes.

As androids, it was odd how they looked so human, male and female. Commander Beta One was a female, looked like one, spoke like one. Her facial expressions aped those of a human, just like every modern android. She was undoubtedly a twenty five-year old woman. Just as the two other two Beta Force Marines were twenty five-year old males. Ross, however, was fifty years old. Just then, though… he looked neither human nor android. If anything he appeared to have transformed into a psychopathic beast. He grinned, he drooled, he glared. With this man on board, the ship and its entire crew were in serious danger.

It was a desperate situation.

Buick, an android, made his move first and grabbed Ross by the throat. A scuffle ensued before Ross put his hands on either side of the robot’s synthetic skull and forcefully twisted it, turning its head on its neck. Then, with a certain amount of exertion, jerked it and to everybody’s horror, decapitated Buick, sending blue blood flying in wide projectile arcs across the room, spraying the walls and floor with the acidic gunk.

Only Frederick (a male android) and Commander Beta One were left to find a solution. 

Frederick ripped his uniform open at the chest to expose a small black switch. It was a mechanism to assist in a final delete operation as Frederick wasted no time when he silently exploited its sole purpose—and collapsed like the cowardly robot he was, after a tiny mechanical burring and whirring. He was dead.

Ross took a step closer to Commander Beta One in the tiny Operational Quarters. Her model number was 37, her name Capricorn (robot names were ridiculous but memorable).

Capricorn extended her right arm, halting Ross Peterson’s advancement toward her. Ross appeared puzzled. He tilted his head slightly to the left, and scrutinized the android commander of the vessel. He murmured, “I’m going to end this world. It is a cruel place. It has been cruel to me. My wife is a lying cheat, she took the kids, ran off with another man. I cannot live anymore in this unfair, heartless world. We must all die…EVERYONE!!!”

The android smiled, and said, “Do you remember the English summers and spring seasons as a child, Ross? When you and your friends ran through the tall grass amongst the daffodils and buttercups, amongst the scent of freshly cut grass, when the sun was warm and stifling? Do you remember your first love? Do you recall riding your bike on your paper-round, on the freezing winter mornings that you loved so dearly?” She added, “Those memories are so sweet and enduring. I implore you… do not let it end this way.”

“What does a robot know about childhood? You were created in a factory, assembled bit by bit on a production line, wire by wire, circuit after circuit, given a brain from a computer. You know nothing!”

“Do you remember Boris Johnson and Donald Trump? How old were you when the pandemic struck? You had to wear a mask at school. Surely you remember that? It was a time of community spirit and goodwill.”

Suddenly, Capricorn advanced, attempting to gouge at her human crew member’s eyes with her fingers. Ross sidestepped and brought his right arm around to strike her face. Her head came loose in an instant and clattered to the floor alongside her collapsed body.

Hisses and sparks emanated from the android.

It was time for Ross to fulfil his plan of destruction before the cabin flooded with other crew members. Weak though they were, they would still possess the ability to overcome him. Quickness and stealth were in order.

He knew exactly where to go and what to do. It was a mere three feet away from where he stood.

As his right hand hovered over the nuclear buttons, he wept. His weeping turned into crazed laughter and he groaned and stamped his fist onto the panel of red buttons in front of him. Lights flashed and alarms sounded as chaos ensued throughout the submarine—as it would soon occur around the world.

“Finally…” he said, slumping into the Commander’s chair, and adding, “The world gets what it deserves. There is no such thing as love, unless it arrives in a cardboard box and you buy it online!”

The line was preposterous but he found it amusing.

He laughed insanely as he reached into his trouser pocket to retrieve the tiny capsule containing the poison. He tossed the pill into his mouth and bit down on it. Death came shortly…
 


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