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When Robot Mermaids Attack

Oliver Buckram, Ph.D., lives in the Boston area where, under an assumed name, he teaches social science to undergraduates. While he has many publications in academic journals, his unambiguously fictional work has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interzone, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), among other places. He is proud to report that his debut fiction publication appeared in Daily Science Fiction (A Slice of 3.141592653589793238462643 on April 13, 2012). He urges you to keep watching the skies. Find out more at oliverbuckram.com

When robot mermaids attack, you should flee. Go inland.
When robot mermaids attack, don't pause to wonder why they're attacking. Don't stand on the beach gawking, orange Popsicle melting in your hand, as the ocean roils with metal fins. Don't ask who made the robot mermaids and why do they have stainless steel fangs and why are they decapitating that lifeguard? Just run.
When robot mermaids attack, don't call the police. Don't alert the Coast Guard. Don't send in the Navy. Robot mermaids cannot be defeated with conventional weapons.
When robot mermaids attack, don't ponder the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which in 2012 stated that "no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found." If you ask an official NOAA spokesman for a retraction, he'll probably reply, "Help! I'm being attacked by robot mermaids!"
When robot mermaids attack, keep away from all bodies of water. Avoid rivers, lakes, and canals. Detour around aqueducts, reservoirs, and wetlands. Don't even think about peninsulas, isthmuses, or estuaries.
When robot mermaids attack, go to Death Valley, California. It's the only place that the robot mermaids can't reach. It's just too dry. There, in a secret government base, you will find Dr. Olga Ljungquist, the world's last surviving marine robotocist.
When robot mermaids attack, you should assist Dr. Ljungquist as she labors to construct an army of cybersharks capable of defeating the robot mermaids. You should work night and day because the cybershark program is the last, best hope for all humanity.
When robot mermaids attack, listen to Dr. Ljungquist sob incoherently on cold desert nights when she gets drunk on the dwindling supplies of vodka. Carefully learn all she knows about cybernetic aquatic weapons. Mourn her when she dies peacefully in her bunk at age seventy-two, her cybershark program only half complete.
When robot mermaids attack, spend years completing Dr. Ljungquist's work and construct an invincible array of cybersharks with radar-absorbent skin, depleted uranium munitions, and laser-targeting software.
When robot mermaids attack, counterattack with your legions of cybersharks. Rejoice as your cybersharks use their titanium teeth to eviscerate the robot mermaids. Applaud when your cybersharks suddenly sprout mechanical legs and run ashore, then jump back into the water and attack the surprised robot mermaids.
When robot mermaids are defeated, fall on your knees weeping in happiness. Then watch uneasily as your cybersharks turn their black black eyes towards the beach where you are standing. Stare in disbelief as the nearest cybershark engages its targeting system and a small red pinpoint of light appears on your chest.
When cybersharks attack, it's all over.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Author Comments

At first, all I had was the title. "When Robot Mermaids Attack" seemed like the title of a trashy TV special, a guilty pleasure. After all, we typically think of robots and mermaids as being opposite (robots: dry/logical, mermaids: wet/emotional). Once I had the title, I had to figure out the content. It seemed to me that the title was a sentence fragment, and I needed to finish the sentence. So the second person imperative came naturally. The resulting story's very short (I put it at 434 words) but still longer than my first DSF story which ran only 314 words.

- Oliver Buckram
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