Journal from the Tote Litarian Jail, who-knows-what month, who-knows-what day, 2045
How I Ended Up Here
The new police force was beautiful and efficient. We were told it’d be virtually unnoticeable – but, when noticed, just a bit annoying. The Flying Force buzzed in and out of public and sometimes private places with perfect 360-degree vision. They made the best police. At first, we didn’t really mind the idea that they would invade our privacy. After all, we were told that they were only robots, not cameras.
After the ferocious attempt to unravel the brain’s mysteries in the early 21st century, researchers yearning to win the $5 billion reward started their experiments. Those who were already researching brain neurons stomped down on the gas pedal, and those who weren’t changed their field. The common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, was generally accepted as the ideal model organism for brain research. Neurobiology labs around the world were soon infested – and once the fruit fly’s brain had been completely mapped out, robotics engineers got in on the action, too.
And just like that, we had robot flies buzzing around the world.
Most had gone along with the whole robot fly idea when it was first proposed, while a few others either wholeheartedly supported or dismissed it. Many thought that the flies would get rid of the problem of time delay for police arrival to crime scenes. The government assured us that the flies would not record videos unless they detected a crime, and when they did, we’d be able to tell; their eyes would turn red. Since a 66.7 percent majority supported the idea, the robot flies were soon released in black metallic hordes in a small ceremony attended solely by the president and the scientists directly involved in creating them.
But I soon regretted voting for the release of the flies. They quickly became annoying, with their constant buzzing and the twin white lights of their eyes. They were everywhere, from the park to the grocery store, the bathroom to the bedroom. Whenever people did anything, they couldn’t help thinking they were being watched, and whenever they did anything embarrassing, they whispered to themselves, “They don’t know what I did. They don’t understand,” and watched warily to check if the flies’ eyes had turned red and recorded them.
As time wore on, the flies’ eyes seemed to flash red more often, even when I was simply taking my migraine medication. The newspapers reported that the government was starting to program the flies to be more sensitive to suspicious activity, to improve crime detection. But as the frequency of red fly eyes increased, I was starting to see red too.
One day, I was at a friend’s birthday party. The leftover cake was sitting on the dining room table. I was preparing to cut myself a slice when I heard the all-too-familiar buzzing. I looked up and came fly-to-eye with a red-eyed robot pest.
“Go away,” I said. “I’m just cutting a slice of cake.”
The robot fly scooted back a bit, but its eyes were still red. Just then, the host of the party walked by the snack table.
“When you’re done with it, could you please bring the knife into the kitchen?” she hollered over the din of the guests and music.
“Sure,” I replied. I grabbed the handle and took a step toward the kitchen, only to find the red-eyed fly hovering in my face again.
“Are you taking a mugshot of me for carrying a knife into the kitchen?” I muttered. “Go away.”
The fly didn’t move. I took another step toward the kitchen, and the fly rammed its metal body against my forehead and gave me a zap.
“For heaven’s sake,” I exclaimed. “I’m just returning a knife to the kitchen!” I swatted at the fly.
The fly stung my hand, then started vibrating rapidly. I was so scared, I slowly reached out and placed the knife back on the cake platter. But the fly kept vibrating. I carefully walked away, only to find it following me. I felt cornered by that fly, smaller than my iris, hovering around my head. And so, in my fear, I laid my hands on the closest newspaper I could find.
The fly seemed to understand what I was doing, and started spiraling above my head in an irregular pattern to avoid my blows. My arm swung up, down, right, left, diagonal curve up, figure-eight, but never did I get close to swatting it. The damn thing was just as deft at escape as a common housefly.
Soon I tired and sat on the floor, leaning against the wall, but the fly continued to buzz around my head. Suddenly, the lights in the room went off. Alarmed, I looked up at the ceiling to find a tightly packed army of rippling red dots. Wide-eyed with fear, I watched them loom closer and closer. I felt them sticking their legs in my hair, and I flinched. Immediately, thousands of blue-white light rays shot at my chest, and then everything went black.
Screw robots. And screw flies.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the May 2015 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.