Emily has created a way to put crime in check.
March 7, 2023
The teen at the counter was busy with a customer. A mother and her two giggling girls perused the candy selection, one aisle over. Lewis pulled his handkerchief up and over his nose, hiding his mouth.
"Give me everything in that register!" Lewis shouted, popping out from the bread aisle. Candy-mom screamed at the gun that wavered in Lewis' hand.
"Dude, it's been a slow night," the cashier said. Lewis watched with squinted eyes as the teen rubbed a hand through his oily hair. "I got, like, less than a hundred bucks here, man. Is it really worth all this trouble?"
"Somethin's better than nothin'," Lewis snarled. He pointed the gun at the register, gesturing for the kid to open it.
"Excuse me, sir."
Lewis flinched at the sound of the slightly metallic sounding voice. He shifted the gun to the teen behind the counter and turned his head. A man stood a few feet away, arms at his side. A cowboy hat rested on his head, shielding his eyes.
"It is illegal to rob a convenience store, sir. It is also illegal to threaten your fellow human being with a weapon. I will have to take you to the police station now."
Lewis laughed at the halted speech. Swiveling on his feet, he aimed the gun at the wannabe hero's belt buckle.
"Stay back, cowboy." Lewis couldn't help but remember all the westerns he'd grown up watching. His mouth twisted into a smile. "You wouldn't want my trigger finger to get itchy now, would you?"
A whimper came from the candy area.
"You have been warned, sir," the cowboy said. The spurs on his boots jangled as he took a step forward.
"Stay back!" Lewis yelled. Sweat dripped down the side of his face but he fought the urge to wipe it away. His hands trembled under the weight of the gun.
"Do not make me use excessive force." The cowboy frowned and moved closer.
Lewis licked his lips. "I told you," Lewis said through gritted teeth, "to stay back!" His finger squeezed the trigger. The gun jerked slightly in his grasp as a bullet spewed forth, hitting the cowboy in the belly. Lewis turned his attention back to the cashier.
"Now, hand over the cash or—"
"Excuse me, sir."
Lewis gasped. The cowboy was standing at his side, strong as ever. Lewis's eyes flickered over the man's body. There wasn't a spot of blood on the guy. With one meaty hand, the hero grabbed the gun from Lewis's hand. With the other, he grasped Lewis's forearm. The cowboy's hold felt like iron.
"You are under arrest for attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon," the cowboy said. He tucked Lewis's gun into a holster at his side and pulled out a set of handcuffs.
June 13, 2023
"Aw, man!" Portia McAllister groaned when the blue and red lights flashed behind her. Spotting a place to pull over along the side of the road, she put on the brakes. She reached for the glove box to retrieve her license and registration with shaking hands. The last time she'd been pulled over, the cop had made up some trump charge about "vegetation" in her window. The officer claimed it was marijuana even though it was clearly a piece of foliage from a tree that had gotten wedged in the crack of the window. When Portia tried to argue that fact, the officer had gotten angry and forcefully removed her from her vehicle.*
"Good morning, ma'am. License and registration, please."
Portia handed over the paperwork, frowning at the big, white guy dressed in blue. She bit her lip but couldn't bite back her words.
"This is the second time this week that y'all have pulled me over, officer. I'm starting to think this town has a thing against black folks!"
The officer blinked slowly before handing the documents back. "I don't know what you're talking about, ma'am," the officer said, pulling out his pad of tickets. "I'm colorblind. What I do know is that you were speeding through this residential zone." He ripped off the ticket and held it out. Portia stared at the slip of paper. A gust of wind blew by and the ticket fluttered like a miniature flag.
"Oookay—" Portia tentatively reached out the window and pinched the ticket between her index finger and thumb.
"Have a good day, ma'am," the officer said with a nod. Portia's jaw dropped in disbelief as the cop walked back to his squad car and drove away. Shaking her head, Portia cranked the car. An incident with the police that didn't result in drama? An incident where she was treated with respect? Portia was flabbergasted.
July 4, 2023
Mandy Everett sat on the bank's hard floor with her arms wrapped around her knees. Her glasses were fogging up and her heart was pounding. Four others fidgeted next to her.
"Look," a man was yelling into a cell phone. "I want a clear path, you hear? All them pigs out there need to be out of my way in ten minutes or I'll start shootin' people in here, you savvy?"
Mandy shivered and hugged herself tighter, hoping that if she curled herself up in a small enough ball, she'd become invisible to the bank robber. She squealed as fingers wrapped around her wrist. Her captor jerked her to her feet and grinned, his teeth crooked and yellow in her face.
"C'mon, darlin'. You're my ticket to freedom!"
Mandy stumbled as the man shoved her through the front door and into the overly bright sunshine. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she realized that there wasn't a single police officer on the street. She swallowed back her fear.
"Looks like the fuzz listened, for once," the man hissed in her ear. "Looks like it's your lucky day!"
"Excuse me, sir!"
Mandy felt despair flood her soul. A woman, dressed in a superhero outfit, stood across the street. A red cape billowed out behind her. Mandy swallowed and shut her eyes. The wacko was going to get her killed.
"Release that woman and give yourself up!" SuperMiss shouted. Mandy moaned as the thief-turned-kidnapper pressed his gun against her temple. He pulled her tightly to his chest, using her as a human shield.
"I'm leaving with this fine lady and my newly acquired cash!" he shouted back. "Unless you want a dead body on your hands, I suggest you back off. Now!"
SuperMiss cocked her head and frowned. "You are in non-compliance. You are a hazard to your fellow human. I will have to use excessive force." In a split-second the Super raised her left arm and pointed a finger at the kidnapper. Mandy screamed as a shot rang out, expecting a bullet to rip through her skull. Instead, her captor grunted. The gun fell from his grasp and he fell to his knees. Mandy glanced down, watching the life blood drain away from the villain. Adrenaline made her shake and she tripped back a step, away from the empty eyes of the dead man.
SuperMiss's hand on Mandy's shoulder was gentle.
"Are you going to kill me, too?" Mandy whispered.
"Of course not," SuperMiss shook her head. Her short, blonde hair slapped against her cheeks. "I'm the hero. You're the victim, and he," she nodded at the corpse on the road, "was the bad guy."
As a flood of police officers rushed down the road, SuperMiss winked at Mandy, lifted her arms to the sky, and flew away.
September 28, 2023
Emily Harris clicked off the television and the image of SuperMiss disappeared. The lights in the Oval Office turned on and Emily turned to give her presentation.
"As you can see from these recorded incidents, Madam President, my Peacekeepers are trained to access and take care of any criminal circumstance they come across. From basic traffic violations, to hostage situations. They're programmed to use minimal force unless necessary."
"Amazing," President Cooper whispered. Emily had to lean close to hear the President speak, as the woman always kept her voice low and soft. "But don't you think they talk too much? I mean, in that first clip at the store the criminal could have shot the cashier or the mother and her girls before the," she paused and checked the purple booklet in front of her, "Peacekeeper? Yes, before the Peacekeeper acted. What's to say next time the gunman doesn't shoot an innocent bystander?"
Emily nodded in agreement. "If you'll turn to page 149, Madam President, you'll see that we addressed that issue. We've tweaked the way the Peacekeeper's handle these sorts of incidents since our March test. As to their speech, that's a good suggestion, ma'am. I can fix that, no problem."
Emily held her breath as the President tapped a long, manicured finger against the booklet. The woman's lips puckered and her brow furrowed.
"What made you decide to make these Peacekeepers look like," she laughed, "a cowboy and superhero?"
"Don't forget the police officer." Emily grinned. "In some situations, we're looking for the element of surprise. In others, my SuperMiss and Cowboy can get closer to a potential suspect than a police officer. Ultimately, their looks were pure whim, on my part. I enjoyed making a diverse group of androids."
"And they're all...colorblind? What does that mean, exactly?"
Emily flicked past a few pages in her own booklet and held it up so the President and her advisers could see the sketches of the inner workings of the Peacekeepers.
"I've created each Peacekeeper so they can't acknowledge race or gender. All they see—all they know—is whether someone is committing a crime. They can't be bribed, they can't be killed, and they're programmed to only use excessive force if necessary."
"Madam President." Donavan McMellon, head of the DOD, adjusted his glasses and pointed his nose at Emily. "If we added these robots to our army, navy, and air force our nation would be a force to be reckoned with!"
"We could add several of them to our schools!" Charlotte Adams, head of the Department of Education gushed. "Can you imagine? No more school shootings!"
"They can be used for all that and more," Emily assured them.
"I don't know—" the President murmured. She pressed a finger against her lips and shook her head. "I don't think the public is ready for robots to walk amongst them. Besides that, they're tech. All it takes is one good hacker and then these things could be used as a weapon against us. No, I'm going to have to deny your funding for this project, Ms. Harris."
Emily sighed as the department heads began stacking up the purple booklets.
"I'm sorry, Madam President, but I'm afraid I can't take no for an answer." Emily's smile was sad. The President's bodyguards jerked to attention like puppets on a string. The office door opened and a cowboy, a police officer, and a superhero marched in.
"Excuse me, ma'am," the cowboy said, pressing his hand against a gun strapped at his hip. He nodded at the President. "It 'pears you're aidin' an' abettin' the continuation of crime in this here country."
"You'll have to come with us, ma'am." The police officer pulled out a pair of handcuffs.
"Don't make us use excessive force," SuperMiss grunted, pointing her index finger at the bodyguards.
Emily smiled and pulled out a yellow booklet. She opened it and smoothed out the first page.
"McMellon? Adams? You can stay. Now, let's see what's first on the agenda."
"Y—yes, ma'am," Adams stuttered. SuperMiss took a protective stance next to Emily and smiled, her teeth white and perfect, as Emily lowered herself into the swivel chair behind the Resolute Desk.
The ex-President's normally quiet voice rose to an undignified shriek as she, her bodyguards, and the remaining presidential cabinet were led away by the cowboy and police officer.
Emily winked at Adams and McMellon. "Call me Queen Emily."
Peaceful Notes ▼