The robot’s control panel lit up as it released a series of beeps. “You promised you would dress up for picture day.”
The haggard man below it looked up at the robot through his weary eyes. “I could only find rags in the ruin of my broken home. Maybe if your army of killer machines hadn’t firebombed everyone and everything I knew or loved, I could have been able to find a nice shirt.”
“The human female has adequate rags. You are just lazy.”
Sally looked up at the robot. “Tom is pretty lazy. Just the other day, he was…”
The huge camera across from them lit up, red lights glowing all over its chassis. “Silence. Commence attempts at merriment. Use your verbal capacity to voice the words ‘fuzzy pickles’.”
Neither of them moved, the two humans looking dazed and weak as the machine took their pictures. After a few flashes of light, it rolled over to the robot standing behind the humans.
“All attempts at joy have met with a zero percent success rate. Unfortunately, you have reached the allotted picture limit, and must therefore have your pets euthanized.”
Tom pointed at the camera. “You can’t have us killed because we didn’t smile for a picture!”
“Phototron is programmed with a basic pet care program. Pets that show signs of depression are often ill or dying. Euthanasia by bone extraction is considered a more humanitarian form of execution for such creatures. We apologize if this is inconvenient, and will send an appropriate apology card to your residence in the next six to eight weeks.”
Sally rolled her eyes. “Way to go, Tom. Now our bones are going to get pulled out of our skin.”
“I’m depressed because you pulled all of the bones out of my family and friends, killing them in front of me! I’m not sick!”
The robot behind them shook its head. “It is a shame. I don’t know what I am going to tell my mechanical offspring. Perhaps I can acquire another broken man before the offspring run the necessary checks to ensure their pet’s identity.”
The Phototron slid back as a small cylinder rumbled up behind it. It opened up, revealing a chamber lined with saws and suction tubes, then began to move toward Tom. He glared into it.
“I promised Candy that I would live for her, right before she gave her last lap dance, and I aim to keep my promise.”
He howled as he charged forward, fist held high. The robots watched his noble charge, something changing inside their data banks. They’d never seen something like this before, had never been programmed to feel anything like it. It was overwhelming.
The tall robot stuck out one of its legs, tripping Tom so that he fell inside the chamber. The doors closed as all three of the robots emitted a series of beeps, laughing for the first time since they’d taken control of the world.
“Is this humor?”
Phototron blinked a few times. “I believe so. Watching him run toward the machine instead of away from it filled me with a sensation of enjoyment at his ridiculous solution to his problem.”
Sally stared at them, her eyes wide. “He…he’s dead, and all because he didn’t smile in his picture.”
The large robot moved up behind her again. “Let us try again, so that I may have images to send to the hive mind. It so loves new images of silly pets.”
The Phototron turned from them, taking a picture of the cylinder as blood shot out of its seams, a spray of gore and liquefied bones splashing all over the place.
“It will need a caption. I think it should say ‘I wish my flesh wasn’t pliant and easily removable’.”
They beeped in amusement, then turned back to the original picture. Sally grinned from ear to ear as tears streamed down her cheeks, choking down her sobs of fear.
“Wait. Something is incorrect.”
Phototron wheel up to her, placing a pair of googly-eyed glasses on her head.