Drone Wars

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Another goddamn alarm clock!

No, it’s a whistle. What the hell is this place? This looks like some sort of concrete shelter.  Six, seven beds lined up like summer camp?

I’m thinking that I’m underground. Way underground. I can tell because of the map on my wall showing emergency exit routes from the “you are here” star. I don’t know where, because no one is allowed to say the name. There’s a bold sign on my wall:

DO NOT SAY THE NAME OR LOCATION OF THIS FACILITY OUT LOUD AT ANY TIME

Ears can be anywhere. Another paranoid scenario. I never imagined mental illness could be this trippy.

I appear to be a specialist of some sort on a specific schedule. “My” PC is conveniently open on my calendar and I’m to report for duty at oh seven hundred. Once I find my way there I’m able to proceed with my job only because of the intense video game experience I gained as my son was growing up.

Two hours later Drone SMG530809 armed with a laser and a microwave beam emitter destroys a victim’s boat and hunts survivors. I am the pilot.

There’s a war going on.

I’m in a large operations center reminiscent of NASA during a mission. Dozens of us are sitting at pilot stations directing killer drones. I’m working the Indian Ocean hunting specific ships.

The woman beside me is piloting a drone through the streets of London. She’s hunting someone specific but everyone on her monitor looks like they’re afraid of the approaching drone.

On my other side is a fellow plowing missiles into the French Quarter in New Orleans. Similar attacks are taking place in Saudi Arabia, Tehran, Green Bay, Santiago, Moscow, Hunan and Kansas City.

“Trouble concentrating, pilot?” asks the supervisor.

“Not feeling well at all,” I fake, feigning dizziness. “Not sure I can handle this right now.”

“We’re shorthanded as it is,” the supervisor “reminds” me. “We lost a lot of operators last night. Do your duty unless you’re absolutely certain you can’t handle it. Our lives are at stake.”

Okay. I get back to it. Lives are at stake. And I’m taking lives. But why? Who is fighting who? I have no ideological smorgasbord upon which to stamp my morality. What cause am I supporting? Killing without knowing why is very hard to do. But I go ahead willingly and do it. I do it all day long.

What does it matter, I’m reasoning; it’s all in my head is it not? Did I not decide that regardless of the realistic appearance of events these are hallucinations based on illusions? In essence, I’m psychotic.

Still, these people are so terrified at the end…

Hey, it’s just like life, isn’t it? I’m born into this war. It was going when I got here and will be going when I’m gone. My choices here are limited. Expectations are high. Duty equals privilege. Survival is on the line.

So I get into it and kill with glee, even teasing some of the rougher looking victims a bit before finishing them off. In the 8th hour of the double shift my drone is taken out. It is replaced quickly.

I’ve always hated hurting people and I’ve never liked generating fear. I’m disappointed that I don’t get to quit early.

When I finally get off duty I flop in my quarters and try to find out what I can in my PC’s library. How did this all-kill-all fuck-fest get started? A little history provides a quick catch-up…

The earliest drones were used by powerful governments to assassinate foreign leaders. Drones were first introduced to this world commercially as photographic aids. But they became affordable, ubiquitous, and started to endanger commercial flights and rescue operations.

As with all things popular, governments tried to regulate drones. They tried to get drone owners to register their drones and even tried to charge a fee just for owning one. Politicians claimed it was for public safety never dreaming that they hardly went far enough.

In the beginning these remote controlled minions were only being misused by peeping toms, but within a year someone figured out how to fly a loaded pistol and fire it. It was another short step to grenade-dropping drones. Miniature drones could plant spy devices without being detected. Camouflaged drones could park in trees and bushes for weeks, collecting information. Suicide drones could be loaded with nitro then kamikaze-nosedived into targets. Laser-armed drones and microwave drones were tested by cooking parts of fleeing animals.

The violence started with petty squabbles between neighbors. Then big city gangs started using drones for hits. Poolside and park robberies were being conducted by drones snatching jewelry, electronics and purses. Revenge was sought for drones shot down by rivals. Whole fleets of drones became drone gangs, terrorizing crowds of shoppers and commuters. Air wars spontaneously broke out with drones shooting drones out of the sky raining debris on bystanders.

Privacy became impossible after microdroning spread. Insect-sized drones are deployed with impudence to every location, exposing everyone to the prying eyes and ears of stalkers. Gases are released by these drones that knock out and kill people. Poison stings are easily delivered.

Once the greatest threats to personal security came from criminals and foreign dictators. Now the greatest threat is your hostile neighbor with a drone. There’s an ad on the library site for drone protection:

DRONEGUARD

security drones

No drone gets by us!

Suddenly a general alarm goes off. I have no clue what it means but it sounds bad. Just as I’m deciding what to do about it, I see the walls begin to waver.

Something is moving on the walls. No… through the walls. They’re thousands, maybe millions of tiny bugs? Or – God no, mini drones? They found us!

Whoever…they are?

This is what I get for all that killing, all the suffering and fear I generated. I get eaten alive by tiny robots.

Oh my God this is gonna hurt…

But only for a second. Then I die.

Death doesn’t hurt. Death is amazing. Death is skydiving into the stars with nowhere to fall…

It makes me wonder how wonderful it might become if only I didn’t have to come back.

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