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Don’t Even Think About It…

“traffic light turned into green near baywalk during daytime” by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash

Revenue-raisers. That’s what we called the old traffic cameras. Whether you did 33 in a 30 zone or nipped through an amber light, those wretched revenue-raisers snapped the evidence.

Over the years, they became more sophisticated: averaging your speed over a distance, monitoring every intersection.

Rumour has it the mayor built a fountain in the town hall garden solely on the proceeds. I don’t know if that’s true, but one things for sure, there was a hell of a lot of resentment about the damn cameras.

But back then, we had it easy. Yeah, we did, and we didn’t know it.

Gen 5 Traffic Cams made their debut this spring. Like others, I assumed the latest upgrade would involve fancier tech, more accuracy, more of the same. But these cameras were something altogether more impressive.

They were designed to read our thoughts and intents.

Well, I’m no science guy, so I thought they were having a laugh when I read that, but it’s true. Y’know how easy it is to get a speeding ticket for a concentration lapse? Or go through a red light because a great big wagon’s up your backside?

These new cams read the intent of the person driving. You’d get a lower penalty for a minor lapse. If you didn’t give a toss, they’d come down hard.

On the whole, the public was quite accepting, especially once lower fines were issued for people making genuine small mistakes.

Until it all went Pete Tong.

The cameras started to read all our thoughts.

A minor fraudster was thinking about the proceeds of his latest scam, and the cops picked him up a few hundred yards away on a tip off from the camera. Criminals pondering their past or future actions found themselves in jail quick smart.

Next, the cameras started to develop a sense of morality. With the ability to access the internet, they could text, phone, call the police, whatever was needed to ‘make things right’.

One bloke was thinking about his mistress, and his wife got a text from the traffic system advising her to call her husband next time he worked late.

It ain’t right, getting involved in a man’s private life like that.

It got to the point where you had to drive through the things with a completely blank mind — no easy feat.

What to do about it? The town council denied it was happening and said that their surveillance department had invested in ‘extra training’. Yeah, right.

But wouldn’t you know it, those cams had a weak spot.

My mate Gary was into all this modern tech, and recently, he’d invested in a couple of drones strong enough to carry a person.

I went round to help him test out his latest mods one evening up the park. The things could fly for miles and seemed remarkably strong.

Then something clicked. I knew what we could do.

It had to be done straightaway, otherwise those bloomin’ cameras would read our intent next time we drove past one. I ran round my place and grabbed a couple of fuel cans. (I had a petrol lawnmower.) Half an hour later, dressed in black, Gary and me flew over the silent housing estate heading for the main road.

The flaw in the cameras? They had a 360 view — but only up to the height of a double-decker bus. They couldn’t see a darn thing above their heads — and this would be their downfall.

We whirred overhead and hovered a few feet above the first camera. I lifted the fuel can and poured a gentle stream straight over and into it.

Gary lit a few matches and dropped them. A whuff of flame popped up, and the camera began to burn merrily.

We high-fived and moved on down the road. That night, eight more cameras met a fiery death. Jubilant and tired, we headed home.

It took a few nights of action before anyone twigged how we must be doing it, and by then the drones were hidden beneath tarps in Gary’s shed. As the weeks went by, we took action little and often, driving to deserted parts of town, avoiding all the traffic cams of course, before taking to the skies.

The media were calling us the Revenue-Razers. I felt like a superhero.

I struggled not to think about what I’d been doing as I drove around, but by then, the system was in uproar anyway. A third of the cities’ cameras dead, and an investigation being forced after the sensation hit the national news. A few months later and the system was officially killed.

I couldn’t believe it. The man had won. It just showed what you could do when you put your mind to it.

Not to mention, it had been damn hard not to think about that three million I siphoned out of the company account last year…


Enjoy this story? Check out Like Trains that Pass and Robot Nanny for more fun fiction reads.

My Young Adult Fantasy novel, Where Carpets Fly, is available on Amazon now!