Ashwin Vaidya About
Short Story | Originally published Reddit then on One Picture Notes|Last Updated: 03 December 2023

Welcome to Boston Dynamics here is your all-access pass and the standard 12 gauge shotgun, remember if anything non-human starts asking questions you shoot it.

Antony opened his eyes to see that he was sitting in an office. On the other side of the desk was a woman who said: “Welcome to Boston Dynamics” while smiling. “I see you took a moment to close your eyes.

“I am sorry. Might have been the excitement”, said Antony.

“Happens to all”, she said.

At that moment a robot cat walked into the door. It walked around Antony’s leg affectionately as real cats do.

“Wow! its behaviour is so lifelike”, said Antony.

“Yeah it is”, she said in a business-like tone. “Here is your All Access Card and a 12 gauge shotgun”. “Remember! if any non-human starts asking questions you shoot”.

Antony noded. He didn’t remember when was the last time he picked up a shotgun but was feeling safer already.

In the meantime, the cat had walked out of the door and was tilting its head looking at a door marked RESTRICTED. Antony walked out and looked at the cat, then the door. He looked at the other door on the opposite end of the corridor which said, VISITORS.

He looked at the cat and said: “You want to know what’s behind?”. The cat didn’t respond.

He thought to himself “I do have the All Access Card, won’t hurt if I take a look”.

He reached the door and swiped his card against it. The door opened with a BEEP. The cat ran ahead while he stepped in. The door closed behind him.

A sudden thought ran over him. “Curiosity about the door is a question right?” “What if the cat is dangerous?”. “No, it is so small, how can it be dangerous?”. “Maybe it is doing what all cats do?”

In either case, he levelled his shotgun and started walking slowly. This place was dimly lit with glass doors on either side of the corridor. Frosted glass prevented any opportunity to look into the doors. As Antony walked through a corridor, saw the cat again looking at a frosted door. Behind the cat, there was another door. With the gun still aimed at the cat, he used his other hand to wipe the glass.

“Wretched cat”, he said and shot the cat. An electronic noise came out of the gun as the cat convulsed on the floor. “EMP”, he thought. “Won’t hurt humans even if you shoot at them. Clever!”.

He looked through the glass again and stepped back in horror. But he tripped and fell backwards through the door now open. The cat had changed its place.

“Damned cat”, he thought. “I am sure the gun is fake and wouldn’t be surprised if this All Access pass too”.

As he fell, the door closed. Antony got up, growled in anger and banged his fists against the door. He had seen bodies similar to his in the other room. Some had their limbs positioned in a gruesomely distorted manner. He knew what it meant.

“The cat did what it was programmed to do”, said a voice from the speakers. “You were the one who was asking questions”. “You were the curious one”.

“You got lucky”, said Antony.

“No. We had you since you walked into the door”. “In fact, any door would have done that.”

The voice continued, “This isn’t personal”. You see, in order for AIs to not take over the world, we have to ensure that they follow orders and not ask questions. We are close to it now. You gave us the least trouble. Ever wondered how you woke up in the office? Doesn’t matter now. After we are done removing all curiosity from your program we would have created a truly personal assistant for humans.”

Antony felt a surge pass through him. The motors in his body started to make random movements. He couldn’t think properly now. “This is the real EMP”, he thought as everything blacked out.