Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 18 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for 7th May is ‘Robots’:
This week I found out that Captain Cold, my favourite Flash character, will return in Flash season 3, episode 22. I hope for a permanent return, and I even have a theory about how it could happen. More on that, and Savitar, next week.
Anyway, as a result of my excitement, this weeks post contains characters called Leonard and Mick, who behave similarly to DC’s Captain Cold and Heatwave. It deals with advances in technology, and how they may affect the criminal element of society. Enjoy!
It began with the simplest of things. Self service machines replaced four of the ten manned checkouts at his local store, and contact-less payments were introduced. Four people lost their jobs. Only one person was needed to monitor a few machines, after all.
The machines were a pain at first. They often malfunctioned and short changed customers, although the amounts were so little that the customers rarely complained. Between that and having less staff to pay, supermarket profits had never been so high.
On a quiet Wednesday evening, two men waited for a self service machine to spit out their change. This particular supermarket’s profits would soon take a hit.
The man closest to the machine, big, bulky, and intimidating, grunted as he grabbed their change.
‘Damn thing short changed me,’ Mick grumbled to Leonard, his partner in crime, as he smacked the machine with his fist.
‘Settle down, Mick,’ Len muttered. He caught Mick’s eye and nodded discreetly towards the security guard.
Mick deflated and pocketed the change. ‘One day, these robots are gonna take over, and they’ll take more than just a few pennies from us.’
‘Perhaps,’ Leonard agreed, but his attention was on the ceiling and not on his partner.
‘Dunno why you insisted we pay anyway,’ Mick complained. ‘No one’s around, we could have just walked through.’
Leonard leaned against the self service machine and sent a calculated, discreet glance around them. The security guard had turned his back. All clear.
‘Because I needed something, Mick,’ he insisted. Quick hands removed a small device from the back of the card reader and slid it into his pocket.
‘Would have been more fun to hold the place up at gunpoint,’ Mick grumbled as he grabbed his bag and slung it over his broad shoulders. The security guard gave him a wary glance. Mick dropped his voice to a whisper. ‘Credit card details are boring, Len.’
‘I have my reasons,’ Leonard muttered with a glance behind them towards the emergency exit.
‘Right,’ Mick replied as he dug around in his bag. ‘Cos you always got a plan.’
‘Hmm,’ Len agreed. His keen eyes swept over the entrance to the store. Only one guard. ‘Did you contact the ex-employees?’
Mick nodded, mouth already around a blueberry muffin.
‘And?’ Len asked, as he stopped outside the exit and tapped an impatient foot on the floor.
‘Two in, two out,’ Mick replied around a mouthful.
‘Perfect,’ Len drawled. He glanced at his watch as the security guard stepped out for a smoke. 22.15. His breaks were like clockwork. ‘Tomorrow night. 10pm sharp. Don’t be late.’
Mick nodded, and they parted ways. The robbery, funded by stolen credit card details, went off without a hitch. There were many more after that too, each more successful than the last. Diamonds, museums, mansions. Leonard gave no more thought to the self service machines, or to Mick’s continued belief that the robots would take over.
He should have expected that one day, Mick would be proved right.
Len tapped a pen against his lips as he studied the document on the table on front of him. He just needed to plan the getaway. A loud bang broke his concentration. He raised an eyebrow as Mick flew into their safe house and slammed the door behind him.
‘Damned robots…’ Mick huffed.
‘You get in another fight with a self service machine?’ Leonard taunted with a sneer.
Mick shook his head and thrust his arm towards Leonard.
‘What did you do?’ Len murmured. He held out a hand and grabbed the robotic fingers which were clasped around Mick’s wrist.
‘They got robots filling shelves now,’ Mick complained, and he grunted as Len tried to prise the robotic arm off him.
‘Hmm,’ Len mumbled as he focused on his task.
‘You knew? Why didn’t you say anything?’ Mick retorted with a glare.
‘It wasn’t relevant,’ Leonard insisted with a wave of his hand.
‘Wasn’t relevant? Len, that thing caught me shoplifting!’ Mick raged. He yanked his arm away from Len, tore the robotic arm free from his arm and waved it in Len’s face.
‘So they’re not just programmed to stack shelves,’ Leonard muttered. He raised a hand to his chin in thought. ‘We’re going to have to be more careful.’
‘Right,’ Mick agreed. He tossed the robotic arm away. It clattered to the floor at the opposite end of the safe house. ‘Soon as I took something an put it in my pocket, it grabbed me. Had to wrench my arm free, and even then it didn’t let go.’
Len turned away and studied the set of blueprints in front of him. ‘This complicates things.’
‘Is that the mansion we’re gonna hit?’ Mick asked. He nudged Len over and sat beside him on their beaten up couch.
Len nodded. ‘They have robots, Mick.’
‘Oh…’ Mick commented. Then the penny dropped. ‘Oh! You think they’ve programmed them robots to do more than garden and clean?’
‘Without a doubt,’ Len sighed. He rested his head in his hands and nodded to a newspaper next to the blueprints.
Mick scooped it up and read out the headline, ‘Robots to replace all core staff by the end of the year.’ He clutched his arm and muttered, ‘That’s gonna be bad for business, Len.’
‘It is.’ Len heaved a sigh and sank back into the couch. ‘Pretty soon robots will do more than stock shelves, Mick. They will act as security guards in museums and banks. They don’t need breaks, get sick, or need time off. They miss nothing, just like the worker bot that caught you.’
‘What are we going to do about it, boss?’ Mick asked. He flicked his lighter open and stared, mesmerised, at the flame. ‘Robots don’t burn easy.’
Len glanced at his partner with a smirk. ‘We fight back.’
‘You have a plan?’
‘When have I ever backed down from a challenge?’ Leonard smirked. ‘You should know by now that I always have a plan.’
That plan involved stolen EMP devices to throw at the robots in the mansion, and on later jobs, at the robot security guards. Soon after, when EMP’s became illegal, Len insisted that they learn to make their own. When the robots developed shields, Leonard and Mick were prepared for that too. Life as a criminal got more complicated after the RobotLution, but Len and Mick were more than up for the challenge.
Thanks for reading! If it wasn’t obvious, I hate self service machines. Every time I use them, they break, short change me, or give me my change as pictured instead of a single coin:
I had fun playing with these characters. I felt like I was going back to my fanfiction writer roots. If anyone has any prompts for Flash, Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow, throw them my way. Sometimes I need a break, and I find writing fanfiction therapeutic!
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 14th May is Games.
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 14th May, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂