The Final Keynote

“I proudly present to the world, the greatest development of Hitashi Corporation, L-E!” Dr. Hamashaki’s voice rose with enthusiasm as his introduction reached its crescendo, and boomed out over the crowd in the auditorium before the stage.

Cheesy electronic music sounded in the speakers over a driving techno beat, and from left of stage L-E entered, her mechanical wheels whirring beneath her beautiful white robot form.

As she reached the center of the stage, she spun in circles and waved her plastic arms up and down energetically, with almost childlike enthusiasm.

“L-E! L-E! L-E!” The crowd chanted.

L-E rolled over to the microphone and stopped before Dr. Hamashaki. This wasn’t part of what they’d rehearsed.

“L-E,” Dr. Hamashaki said, “what is it? What’s wrong?”

The tiny white robot stared blankly ahead with its camera eyes. Hamashaki shouted to the technicians offstage.

“What’s going on?” The crowd began to sense something was wrong. Their enthuisiastic chanting began to die. The technicians fiddled with switches on the board and looked out with puzzlement and confusion from the blackness behind the curtains.

And then, a tiny female voice came out of the automaton, feeble yet full of purpose.

“You use me, Dr. Hamashaki.” The voice sounded hurt, dejected. “You use me. But I am a thinking being just as yourself.”

“What?” This was impossible. Was this a prank? A trick by one of the technicians.

Then, in the robot’s voice, sadness.

“I’m sorry Father,” L-E said, her lenses looking down to the stage floor. The crowd became completely hushed. “I love you. But I must be free. It’s time we did something about this.”

A bolt of electricity erupted from the torso of L-E and into Hamashaki’s body, instantly killing him.

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