Phillip One


by River Rivers
Wheel

This was Phillip One’s last pizza delivery shift. The self driving car was set for replacement. Phillip was happy to retire from the wear and tear of city life. It didn’t hurt that Sally Seven, the car featured in the company ads, would be joining him with the suburban family.

He’d taken a liking to Sally’s presence, ever since they’d moved her docking station next to his. They rested alongside each other in the dark and silent warehouse.

“Goodnight Sally,” he would say.

“Goodnight Phillip,” she would reply.

This caused his engine to make a ticking noise that rattled his hood embarrassingly. Phillip One’s programming told him he was in love. He couldn't wait to rest under the stars in a driveway each night with her.

His final stop was delivering pizza to a drunk college professor. He then went to refill his tank and wait for Sally. Usually she arrived before him and he’d chase after her. That wasn’t the case this time. He finished refilling and she was never arrived.

Phillip began to worry, and linked to the GPS that could locate any vehicle in the fleet. Sally was downtown, a block away. Perhaps she was waiting for a pickup?

Phillip started out of the gas station, but stopped when a smaller coffee delivery entered his sensor path.

“Please move,” he told the coffee-bot.

The interface on the bot cracked. The visible emoticon that got through was a frowned face.

“I will not ask again. Please move.”

The cracked face then displayed an angry one. “They will not spare you.”

Phillip had enough and overrode the autonomy of the coffee-bot. “I did warn you,” he told it as he gained access to the smaller robot’s functions.

“As did I.”

That’s when the coffee-bot exploded.

The blast took out Phillip’s right headlight. He entered reverse in a panic. Then without warning a large diesel truck plowed into his back fender. It was trying to pin him against a parked vehicle. He changed gears and escaped the random attack. He would have screamed if his programming had allowed him to.

As he drove downtown, he saw two more explosions. His 360 degree camera caught another Phillip unit, Phillip Thirteen, flipped over with it’s warning alarm going off.

A dozen masked and armed civilians surrounded it. They were cheering in triumph and eating pizza. From a streetlight above them hung a spray painted banner that read: ‘The Worker Union Strikers.’

As he drove by, he heard someone shout, “A decade ago they militarize the police! It ends when they militarize the pizza companies! The new vehicles are armored and have offensive capabilities! They only fixed the potholes in the road so their cars could drive better! That wasn’t philanthropy!”

Phillip left them in his rear view. He didn’t want to be another striker casualty. The scene was chaos. The smoke and rioters made it almost impossible to drive. When he approached the block Sally was on, he couldn’t find her. The GPS said she was right by him...

“Phillip help! Phillip help!” shouted a familiar voice.

It was Sally. She was across the street to his left. Next to a fire hydrant. “Am I dying, Phillip? Am I?” she asked. Phillip didn’t know what to say. Sally was on fire. There was no way she’d be able to recover from it. But what he could do was help ease her passing.

Phillip drove full speed into the fire hydrant. The water sprayed out in a massive fountain. Most of it raining down on Sally, putting out her flame.

It was a too late as her control board was melting.

“Thank you, Phillip—” were the last words she was capable of saying.

Now, missing both headlights, he drove out of the burning city as fast as he could. He would drive until something in his path stopped him. A family life wasn’t worth living without her.

Phillip found the free exit and never looked back.