The Pre-Trial

“I don’t need to take this crap from a robot in a horsehair wig.”

As opening gambits went, it wasn’t the best. She knew that. But Kate was at a bit of a loss when it came to these proceedings. It was a side effect of being born in 1982, and twenty two years later being in a courtroom in 2764.

It was like any courtroom she had seen on the telly. Except everyone was a robot.

And they were all wearing those stupid things on their heads.

She just about had a grasp on what was going on. Something called a pre-trial. The light she had seen was a time funnel, and she was pulled forward to here, from moments before they claimed she was about to commit a crime.

“And now you want me to defend myself against the charge?”

The robots beeped and whirred. They weren’t well manufactured. The Steno-Bot’s fingers kept falling off whenever it typed. Kate had never had cause to wonder how one might pick up one’s fingers when they were all on the floor, but with each new digital dismemberment, the prospect of an answer seemed likely.

“You are charged that on the 27th day of September, in the year of 2004 you will, with malice and forethought, burglarise the home of Mr Ted Wills.”

“Haven’t you got any murderers to catch before they do a murder?”

She was stalling.

Because they had a point.

She WAS just about to break into Ted’s house.

But it was all perfectly innocent.

She’d sent an email. It said something it shouldn’t have said. He hadn’t read it. She wanted to delete it before he could. There was never any thought in her mind that she’d nick something while she was there.

“Exhibit 1a.”

The Clerk-Bot’s chest flapped open and a little conveyor belt brought the exhibit forward.

“Do you deny those are your teeth marks?”

The Prosecutor-Bot pointed at the half-eaten sandwich in the evidence bag.

“I probably got hungry. I mean, I’m hungry now, and it’s later, about how long it would have been … my brain hurts.”

“So you admit you were going to be in Mr Wills’s house?”

“I was thinking about it,” she said by way of obfuscation. “But I’m also thinking about leaping over this stand and unplugging you all.”

That bright swirling light again.

She blinked.

“You are charged that on the 12th day of April, in the year of 2764, you will, with malice and forethought, cause reckless damage to the property of the Crown.”

“We could be here a while.”

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