“Remote Control,” Interzone Issue 216 – May 2008

Short Story – excerpt

Artwork for Remote Control done by Chris Nurse showing a dead sheep near a gun turret
Artwork for Remote Control

It happened right in the middle of my shift. I’d been flipping, as usual, through the thirty-two thumbnails of empty, peaceful desert arrayed across the bottom of my wall screen. The map of my surveillance territory encompassed 1,000 Atco-Johnson Perimeter Stations that ruled 62 miles of Mexican border; one station every 100 meters. Thirty-two stations were awake; the rest were waiting for proximity sensors to give them something to do.

The border alarms down near the town of Las Cruce went off and two perimeter alarms turned red on my screen, the ones around them turned yellow. That made a three hundred meter ingress, so it was either a lot of runners, a few runners spread far apart, or a herd of something.  

So then the fun started. The big screen switched automatically to the closest Johnson, but I didn’t see anything out there. Amber light washed over me from the alert board over my head, but nobody’s asking questions yet.

     “Yo, Mac. What’s shaken over there?” my buddy, Dobson, said in the next workstation.

     “Lemmings looking for a cliff, Dobie,” I said. 

     “Coming my way?”

     “Nope. All mine.”

     “Lucky stiff. I got no action for days.”

“Here they come,” I said, and like that the Johnson queues stacked right up, with most of them in a perfect distribution around the closest turret bot. How the riders know this shit, I’ll never know. I couldn’t see a thing.

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