art by ShotHot Design
They Do It with Robots
by Eric James Stone
"Ladies and gentlemen, although all of the participants are consenting adults, the final act of the evening is illegal under United States law," said the announcer. "Fortunately, our ship has passed the twelve-mile limit, so we are in international waters."
Guillermo turned his attention from his frozen strawberry margarita to the stage as the ceremonial drums ushered in the feather-clad dancers. At the center of their multicolored whirling, the black-masked priest stood behind the altar. The drums grew louder, slower, and the dancers parted to allow a young man to walk step by step to the altar. Face painted crimson, he was stripped to the waist. Sweat glittered on his chest.
Focusing on the young man's face, Guillermo tried to imagine what he looked like without the makeup.
Could it be Ogden? It could.
Was it Ogden? Hard to tell at this distance. Guillermo didn't have enhanced senses.
The young man lay down on the altar. The drums accelerated, then stopped at the moment the priest plunged the knife into the young man's chest.
At the table next to Guillermo, a woman gasped.
After several cuts with surgical precision, the priest reached into the chest cavity and pulled out the heart, quivering.
"That's sick," the woman said. "I can't believe you made me watch this."
"It's not real," the man next to her said. "They do it with robots or something."
Guillermo stared at the lifeless body on the altar. Blood oozed from the gaping wound. As part of the League of Heroes, he'd seen dead people before--and dead robots. If that was a robot, it was the most lifelike dead robot he had ever seen.