Friday Night Story


Agriculture was one of the last industries to be fully automated, because it's one of the most unpredictable. That year the paranoia and doomsaying that warned how an economy without laborers would fail proved less hysterical than everybody thought. Trickle down economics was exposed as a farce as the wealthy continued to hoard their wealth, which is what had defined them as wealthy in the first place.

The robots came with multiple personalities, but to ease the transition for the human workers, the men who owned the land mostly chose the "rural" factory personality, without the frills. After most of the humans had been replaced by cheap bot labor, no one really thought to turn off their personality simulators. Rumor was you could find a bootleg Jim Crowe persona, complete with blackface hologram, and a primitive ebonics interface.

They're programmed to remember only living where they work, raising barns and tipping cows in their youth. They wear boots and have the broken gait of a man who spent more time on a horse than on his own two feet. They vent their exhaust through disposable filters during smoke breaks.

Low, quick whistles of a spiritual in binary enunciated in morse code weaved through the grain stalks. Even through cheap MIDI synth the notes bore a mournful dew as servos clacked through a rhythmic reply.

Hank blipped and whirred in a vague southern accent about his shoulder joint, and Roy spat some canola on the rotator cuff to stop it from grinding. Gene beeped a crack about the way he mothers Hank, something along the lines of closing off the valve of his metal teat. The others clicked their amusement, never slowing in their work, never resting. I imitated the sound with my dry throat, and tried to ignore the burning from my muscles.

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