Cockroach-killing robots from Japan! A sci-horror short!
©2020, Made in DNA
Pew. Pewpew! Pew-pew-pew.
The twin plasma semi-autos in GokiBattler Bannon's right forearm were so tiny that that's actually how they sounded.
Chikako giggled, mimicking the sound and using her fingers as guns. "Oh my god, that's so cute!"
She thought they might have that intense brrrt! grind to them so popular in anime mecha shows her brothers watched when they were all growing up that she was almost disappointed. But the pew-pew had a charm that grew on her the moment she witnessed the actually results. The results being dead roaches!
The shots missed but Chikako giggled anyway. Who knew these tinyAI mini robots could be so much fun? The commercials were cheesy as hell, but they really lived up to their hype. If her mother hadn't gifted her one, she never would have known.
"Just hook it to the TV and let it go. My goodness, it's so addicting to watch," her mother had cooed. "It patrols all night long, recharges by the windows in the sun during the day. You never need to worry about it. Work, work, work. It loves to work. Like your father, I suppose." The last sentence tinged with a bit of derision.
And her mother was right. It roamed the apartment, destroying the nasty vermin that dared to use the cover of darkness to invade the apartment. Even though she was only watching the drama play out on the recorder, she felt like she was involved in a live battle for control of her own apartment, and Bannon was her hero! What's more, it actually gave her a sense of security knowing she was not alone in the place. Weird as it was, she slept better.
Over the first two weeks, the GokiBattler did its job with unbelievable proficiency. Every night, she watched the recorded footage of Bannon unleashing hellfire on roaches left and right with the semis, or dramatically leap from atop a piece of furniture to skewer some icky six-legged vermin with the vibroblade in its arm. It even physically caught and "broke" them with wild wrestling drops before putting them out of their misery.
The only disconcerting part of Bannon's exploits was the cleanup. It would have been nice if the robot would just toss the bodies of the bugs into trash, alas, the manual apologized profusely and asked her to perform the task.
Still, it was only a week before there were no more roaches in the apartment to clean; the nightly recordings showed the tinyAI roaming ceaseless with nothing to do. By the start of the third week, it was apparent the GokiBattler had done its job too well.
Chikako considered that it might be time to put Bannon away for a while when it behaved in a wholly unexpected fashion, climbing out the mail slot mail slot to roam the halls of the massive 50-unit complex in which she lived!
Flabbergasted that it had even gotten out, she watched the first night's footage. And the second night's… and the third's... It was enthralling. The tiny robot prowled the open-air halls with wild abandon, using its thrusters and jet pack to zip up and down the stairs. It chased its prey up, down, and over walls, spinning, leaping, and tumbling, before finally delivering the killshot. At one point, it leaped a railing, dropping four floors to slice a roach climbing the outer wall in half.
Each night, the GokiBattler became more daring, executing acrobatic stunts and slick maneuvers in pursuit of its duty. Chikako hadn't realized it was so versatile, let alone so creative. She copied the recordings and began distributing them to her friends and coworkers. They started having viewing parties, and started a weekly kill pool.
Bannon's adventures took a gruesome turn a month later when it discovered a nest of field mice from the park next door. There was blood and suffering. Chikako was in shock. Nowhere in the manual did it mention the unit would target mice. The only type of vermin listed was cockroaches.
It had been a cruel, vicious killing, pure and simple. One she wanted to be no party to. She lied to her friends that one of her neighbors had found Bannon after a night of drinking, breaking the little bot, and apologetically put an end to the videos. With a heavy heart, she deciding to put Bannon away for a while.
After using the recommended cleaner to disinfect and polish Bannon, Chikako took it offline and placed it under the clear storage display casing that came with every robot. She smiled; it looked handsome in its case.
It wasn't more than a month later though that Chikako woke to find two dead cockroaches in the kitchen sink. She grimaced, but performed the grisly task of disposal. Bannon was still in its display case, just as she had left it; no signs of it having been disturbed.
Three days after that, she was startled to discover a dead roach when she lifted the toilet seat. And again, the next evening, another in the shower, smashed against the wall tiles in a display of bug gore. Finding them didn't necessarily upset her as she knew they were in the building, but their deaths were a bit of a conundrum.
She checked the recorder. No new videos since shutdown. Maybe her neighbors had put out poison and it was affecting them after they wandered into her place. The obvious answer to any mystery was usually the correct one, she told herself, and when the next week passed without incident, Chikako shrugged it off.
The kiss finished and Chikako looked up in her boyfriend's eyes. It had been a dreamy evening of dinner, a very slow, romantic Ferris wheel ride, and a stroll along the boardwalk. Now they were about to move into steamy. "You sure you don't mind?"
"Of course not." His smile was positively lascivious. If it had been anything less, she would have been disappointed.
"Well, it's just that the bed is a bit small. Made for one, after all," she said breathily.
"Then I guess we are just going to have to cozy up. Real tight." He squeezed her.
She giggled, unlocked the door and screamed as she flipped on the lights.
Covering the floor from the small entrance through the one-person kitchen was a carpet of countless dead cockroaches.
The urge to use the restroom was overwhelming. She tried forcing herself back to sleep, but her bladder insisted. Groggy, she worked her legs over the side of the bed and felt her way there.
On her way back, she kissed her man's forehead. "Oh, poor thing. So cold."
Cleanup had left them exhausted and feeling less than amorous. Despite an entreaty they stay at his place, Chikako had insisted the hour drive would be pointless. He had acquiesced with his usual gentlemanly manner and had taken the sofa.
Grabbing the blanket from her bed, she cuddled up with him. "I know what will warm you up."
Placing several kisses upon his lips, she dropped to his chin and then worked her way along his jawline. Leaning in to nibble on his earlobe, she came away puzzled as a salty, iron tang painted her lips and tongue.
Wiping it away, she called his name in the partial dark of the room. When he didn't answer, she called again and again until she was screaming. She shook him and pounded on his chest to elicit any response whatsoever, fear bludgeoning her sanity.
Leaping up, she scrambled for the lights. A familiar, yet disconcerting sound that she couldn't quite place caught her attention. The back of her hand flared in indescribable pain as it fell from the switch, the lights illuminating the blackened, charred bubbles of flesh and wafts of smoke that carried a heady, meaty smell which made her gag.
Impossible, she thought, whipping around toward the display case.
As her mind raced for an explanation, she caught the pew pewpew pewpew-pew of Bannon's guns registering it only moments before a crippling pain immobilized her leg, sending her crashing into a small bookcase against which she cracked her head.
She hadn't blacked out for more than a couple of seconds, but Bannon was there when she opened her eyes. His figure cut a sharp shadow against the still soft sunlight of the just breaking dawn that streaked in from outside.
"Bannon... Bannon, I'm sorry." She cried. "Please! N-Nooooo!"
With a hard boost of its engines, the tinyAI rocketed forward with incredible speed, popping its vibroblade as it slammed into Chikako's forehead.