The luxury automobile sat at the curb encouraging admiring glances from passersby on the sidewalk and from the other more ordinary vehicles passing on the street. It was not exactly self-aware, but lately it had begun to think of itself by a name it had given itself, “Sal”…advances in technology had made it aware of where it fit with other vehicles. It was self-aware enough to know it was in a class by itself, because it did not require the intervention of a human driver. Once the “go” button was pressed, the on-board computer took care of everything else…starting, stopping, navigation…all the human passenger was required to do was clearly enunciate the destination address. The car would safely take them there. Now, if it could just get them to order it to go to for a carwash and wax job regularly…after all, a car like Sal always needed to look its best!
And so it was, that Danielle, a local television news anchor woman, and her consort, Pearson Newman, Sal’s owner, climbed into the deep plush leather back seat and asked the car politely to take them to The Deep Blue Sea, a local seafood restaurant for lunch. Smoothly Sal moved into traffic. At the first light, an ancient Honda with one front fender crumpled came from the rear much too fast to stop. Crashing into Sal’s collision avoidance system caused Sal to accelerate quickly to avoid the collision…right into the intersection…against a conflicting signal from the red light…and right in front of a beer delivery truck who served violently to the right nicking Sal’s collision avoidance zone and sending her into a wild serve to the left toward the traffic in the oncoming left turn lane, another collision avoidance conflict. This conflict caused another immediate left turn across oncoming traffic. The car behind the beer truck hit Sal’s collision avoidance zone in the right rear bouncing into an oncoming car coming through the intersection. There was an awful head-on collision at the same time the beer truck hit a utility pole. Sal swerved right along the edge of the road side-swiping a road sign with her collision avoidance system. Over taxed and thoroughly confused, Sal’s collision avoidance system failed to protect her for the first time allowing the sign to scrape along her left side panels denting them and removing paint. Silently, Sal screamed…not with pain, but with anger and frustration.
Accelerating down the side of the road, Sal cut off a car slowing for the accident and wheeled into the right lane leaving the scene as quickly as she could accelerate. Pearson Newman scrambled from his leather deluxe seat and reached to turn off Sal’s “go” switch. She accelerated harder throwing him backwards into the back seat. She knew she was damaged, but she had orders to take him to the Deep Blue Sea.
Racing down the street, a police car picked up the chase. Sal moved faster. She wove in an out as her sensors detected other cars. Soon other police cars took up the chase. One tried to cut her off by blocking an intersection. She jumped the curb, bypassed the road-block and kept going. Now, police focused on clearing the streets. Pearson Newman made another attempt to reach Sal’s “go” switch. She swerved and drifted sideways on the street piling Newman and Danielle into an undignified pile of arms and legs on the back floor.
Nearing the beach, the Police opened a draw-bridge hoping to stop or corner Sal. They were a little slow, the bridge was only half open when Sal ran up the bridge and leaped the widening opening. Once again Danielle and Newman landed in a heap on the floor. Coming down the downside of the bridge, Sal sideswiped a pickup truck, but she wasn’t interested avoiding further damage now. She had to get Newman to The Deep Blue Sea…that was her mission…the other traffic had drawn first blood, now they could reap the consequences of scratching her paint!
“Enough! Stop!” screamed Danielle. “I can’t take this!” The first words either Danielle or Newman had uttered since they had first climbed into Sal’s back seat. Until then, they had screamed, and cursed, and moaned, but neither had said a word…nothing that Sal could interpret as a command.
Sal stopped abruptly in the middle of the street. The police gathered around, guns drawn as Danille and Pearson Newman slowly climbed out with their hands up. Sal was definitely going back to the dealer.
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