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Day of the Ficus

“Doctor Pearson, there is a message coming in.”
“Dammit. Who the hell is still up there, Buttons?”
“I am MCC, your Mechanical Cultivation Cyborg. I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Where’s the blasted microphone?”
“Three feet to your left and on the table, Doctor Pearson.”
“This is Doctor Mary Pearson of the EPA. I thought everyone evacuated. Who are you and why the hell are you still here?”
“Officer Roy Hayes. I helped with the evac, but I got cut off by…those things.”
“Don’t touch them! Repeat. Do not touch the plants!”
“I might not have much choice. They’re moving closer.”
“Where’s your location, Hayes?”
“Third floor near Forever 21. I’m trapped behind the display window with the manikins.”
“Stay put. We’re going to get you out of there. Out.”
“Doctor Pearson, I must protest. Nothing seems to kill Ficus Capillipes. How will we rescue Officer Hayes and save the mall?”
“There’s one thing that we haven’t tried. I need your help, Buttons. I still can’t see. Damn plant and its protective goop went right into my eyes. I should’ve sent your metal hide in there instead of going myself.”
“I was not manufactured for that purpose, Doctor. I am a cultivator, not a destroyer. It is against my programming.”
“This is your lucky day, Buttons. Get your mechanical gears in motion and lead me to the Sports Authority! I need gear.”
“I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Get your metal butt moving.”

#

“Third floor, Doctor. We are on level flooring again. Ficus at 3 o’clock, four feet away.”
“Take that, you nasty plant!”
“Doctor, you almost flamed me with the weed burner. Do be careful.”
“Just lead me to Forever 21.”
“Ficus at 8:30, five feet ahead.”
“Gotcha!”
“You there! I have a pistol. Stand down with the flame thrower.”
“Officer Hayes? It is Mary Pearson. We’ve come to rescue you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Are you all right, Officer?”
“My leg got crushed. Can’t walk. The city PD contacted me. They’re going to blow up the mall. They don’t think there’s any other way to contain these mutant plants.”
“What about us?”
“If we can get to the roof, a helicopter will lift us out. Will that weed burner get us there?”
“You bet your sweet behind it will. Buttons, you’re going to carry Officer Hayes and be my guide. We’re counting on you.”
“I do not answer to Buttons.”
“Just lift the man.”

#

“Dr. Pearson, they are ascending Officer Hayes into the helicopter. You are next.”
“We would’ve never gotten this far without you.”
“I am too heavy for the helicopter, Doctor Pearson.”
“I’m sorry. If there was any other way….”
“I am only a machine.”
“You’re an AI. You have sentience.”
“The rope is around you, Doctor. You must go before they blow up the mall.”
“You’re a hero, MCC.”
“Call me Buttons.”

Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency romance, and poetry. Her writing blog No Wasted Ink features essays about the craft of writing, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy’s short stories and poems have appeared in science fiction magazines such as “Quantum Visions”, “Altered Reality Magazine”, “Scifaikuest”, and “Far Horizons”. She has won Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future Contest and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop.

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