“Property?” I said.
“Bots.” Laura smiled innocently. ”He belongs to Humans First.”
“I knew the group. It was out to rid the world of robots in order to raise human wages. The end justifies all means, including a two-by-four.
“Care for another cup?” Laura said.
“No, thanks.” My hands were already shaking, and not just from the caffeine. Every Gen 2 bot kids herself that she can pass as human.
“On the next Friday, at the diner,” Andrea said, “Tim hooked his arm into mine as usual but walked in the direction away from Boudreaux’s. ”Where are we going?” I asked.
“We went to a rundown neighborhood of the Ninth Ward, on the Mississippi, to a blue-daubed shotgun house. Humans First, said the cardboard sign on the door. ‘Meeting in Progres. Disturb at your Peril.’
“This is who I am,” Tim said. “I want you to join us.”
“Inside,” Andrea said. The mold-stained bedroom walls had been knocked down to create a narrow lecture hall. We sat in the back. The tousled-haired speaker was blue-eyed and fidgety, polishing his cufflinks to avoid looking at his listeners. “We have a slave society, and more power to it,” he said. “Owning robots is supposed to be moral. Programming them to do hard labor will allegedly discipline the conscious ones. But actually a robot displaces us at the workplace and condemns us to poverty. They so imitate us that they pass as humans on minimum wage. It’s time to ring the fire bell!” Tim drank in this drivel with slack jaws and vitreous eyes.
“From the corner of my own eye,” Andrea said, “I saw Laura edging into the room, holding the hand of a meretricious tramp who looked familiar. The tramp’s rouge was three shades past purple, and she had the taste in couture of Attila the Hun, right down to the Army boots. Then I remembered – Emily Somebody. Later I heard that she had cut a deal with Laura in exchange for selling Electro-Fuller brushes to every member of Humans First.
Emily pointed indignantly at me. “There’s your sneaky robot!” she cried. Chairs and curses flew. ”You sawhorse!” Tim roared. He grabbed my neck. I hauled back and – well, I told you about my left hook. I stepped over Tim, kicked open the door, and ran for the hills.