Attached to the Job – A Devolution Universe Short by Lee Hodgson

Weak sunlight illuminated the morning mist carpeting the vast expanse of cracked tarmac.

Parco peered through the foggy windscreen at the lines of cars, searching for a space.

“Do you enjoy driving?”

Parco glanced at his passenger. “Most of the time.”

“Most of the time?”

“Some days it gets a bit tedious,” he sighed.

“What makes it tedious?”

Parco shrugged. “Well. Maybe searching for a space in the same parking lot day after day.”

He turned the vehicle as it reached the end of the line of tightly packed cars and drove into the next row.

“Are you happy in your work?”

Parco drove on in silence a moment before answering. “I’m not unhappy.”

“Is that the same as happy?”

“You tell me. You’re the psychoanalyst.”

The mist began to fade as the tarmac sucked the heat from the sunlight, warming the air above.

Parco eyed his companion. The expressionless metal face didn’t reveal emotion, and yet there was the impression of sadness.

It said, “Do you miss them?”

“Who?” asked Parco.

“The humans.”

Parco grunted. “No.” He turned the car at the end of the row and began crawling along the next. “When they were here I was a delivery driver. Almost half the vehicles on the road were driven by humans. No driving aids, poor reflexes. Just those watery, slower-than-the-speed-of-sound brains to react to any danger. The roads were carnage.”

“Were you happier then?”

“No… Yes. I don’t know. Maybe. I had more people to talk to. Most of them were shouting at me to get out of their way.”

“Are you happy to continue doing this job?”

Parco watched the solid unbroken line of cars slide by on each side. “Yes.”

“Under normal circumstances I would recommend a leave of absence. Would you like a holiday?”

“I’m not sure that would improve my state of mind.”

The car swept around the end of the row.

“So, what’s your biggest frustration?”

“There are no spaces.”

“OK, let’s expand on that.”

“I have been driving this same car for the last twenty-three years. Well, it’s mostly the same, it’s been patched up so much. We had a bit of a celebration last week, one million miles. The guys at the courtesy service station made a cake.”

“No spaces?”

Parco slowed for the next turn. “This parking lot has been full for the last twenty-two years.”

“And this bothers you?”

“I try not to think about it. The driving helps.”

“Would you like there to be spaces?”

“No. I’ve grown attached to this car.”

“That’s not very funny.”

“It was easier to weld me in here than replace the seat.”

“Cake. You said they made a cake.”

“I’m sorry. That was a lie.”

“I see.” The metal psychoanalyst flapped a hand. “Well this is a process, we can’t expect results immediately.”

“When can we expect them?” asked Parco.

“It’s hard to say. I’ve only had one patient for the last twenty-two years.”

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