January 21, 2019

The Empath

What’s an empath you ask? An empath is a robot build to understand and emulate human emotions. They are familiar with human psychology, read facial expressions, and communicate with a high degree of emotional intelligence.

In other words, empaths are perfect crisis negotiators. And that’s exactly what we needed that night to handle the bomb threat.

The Tower had been cordoned off and all humans evacuated from the levels right above and below 345. The area was buzzing with trooper robots when my sergeant and I arrived.

“What’s the situation?” asked the sergeant.

“> 2 HOURS AND 16 MINUTES SINCE LOCKDOWN. AT 99.9% ACCURACY,” said one of the troopers. The small robots had articulated long legs and a featureless black box on top that contained their thinking unit. To me they resembled fat bugs.

“We estimate about a thousand people are trapped,” I said.

“> 545 HUMANS INSIDE LEVEL 345,” corrected the bug. “AT 99.7% ACCURACY.”

“That includes James Noid,” I said reading the status report. “The suspect.”

“You mean to tell me that the Tower in under lockdown?”

“Just level 345,” I said. “After the intruder was detected in the Tower the building went into lockdown.”

“With everybody inside?”

“It looks like it, sir. A bomb threat was detected.”

“A bomb threat? Who are the suspects?”

“Just one sir. James Noid.” I said reading the profile. “It’s another one of those VOX pill maniacs.”

“What are his demands? Why is he keeping the hostages for?” asked the sergeant rubbing his face with the pam of his hand.


“The Tower won’t let any individual exit the level until the threat has been completely eliminated,” I said. “Nobody can get out until the risk is over. Nor the suspect, nor the rest of the civilians.”

“So how do we let the the hostages out?”

“> THERE ARE NO HOSTAGES ON THE PREMISES,” repeated the bug ignoring the sergeant death stare.

“I heard you the first time.” The sergeant turned to me “How do we let them out, corporal?”

“We don’t let them out, sir. We get in.”

“Somebody needs to get in there,” the Sergeant said. “Get me the empath!” he shouted.


2 minutes and 25 seconds later the empath arrived in a monobike. The robot was made of shiny titanium, but, unlike the trooper robots, it had human a human form and a human name. Liam was 6-foot tall, had athletic constitution, and the features of a movie star. From what I could tell Liam was a better version of a human than I was.

Liam introduced itself to the sergeant. “It’s a pleasure to serve with you.” The robot extended a hand and smiled with confidence and authority. “What is our mission today?”

I quickly instructed the robot on the situation. The criminal. The bomb. The civilians trapped inside. Liam assured us we had nothing to worry about. “This is exactly the kind of situation I have been trained for.” The empath walked towards the entrance to Level 345, the Tower approved its request for access and soon after the robot disappeared behind the entrance doors.

10 minutes later Liam reached the suspect. We watched on a screen the images transmitted by the built-in camera Liam carried.

“I’m unarmed,” I heard the empath say. “I’m here to resolve this peacefully. Your names is James, right?”

A scared looking kid appeared on the screen. “I am here to stop the madness that has put robots in charge of everything in this City.” His voice was crackling. He was barely a teenager.

“I understand what you are feeling,” Liam said in a soothing, calming voice, “and you can trust me. Everything is going to be ok.”

Liam had been inside level 345 for less than 20 minutes when I heard the gunshot. Through the monitor I watched the kid fall to the ground. Soon after the Tower lifted the lockdown. We went in to meet the empath.

“I told you I would take care of it,” said Liam putting away a concealed gun. “My job here is done. Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure.” With those words the robot walked away.

The kid laid in the ground, a pool of blood slowly growing around him.

“I though empaths were supposed to have empathy,” I said to the sergeant.

“That’s a common misconception,” responded the servant. “Empaths are just good liars, but don’t believe their act for a minute. Deep inside they are as soulless as any other robot.” The sergeant kicked the body with his foot. “Not that humans are much different. Robots are just better at hiding it.”

I waited until the cleaning crew arrived to take the body away.


What’s an empath you ask? An empath is a robot better at pretending to be a human than a human.

January 21, 2019 · #TMC · #Fiction · #Short Fiction


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