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Preface

The NannyBot 650, shining and gleaming in all its titanium glory, looked nearly lifelike after its latest update. The bot was the newest version of the in-home assistant for women who wanted help taking care of children while their mothers were away at work. It also assisted women who chose natural birth instead of SGI, Scientifically Generated Incubation. Almost every mother owned one to rear their children while they were away, even if they didn’t choose the natural birth option.
When Sarah Williams had told her doctor that she wanted a natural birth, the doctor had been beyond surprised. Almost no one chose that now that they had the option of continuing daily life with no disturbances for 40 weeks while the SGI Department manufactured your baby. While doctors agreed that natural birth was potentially better for the baby, they also agreed SGI was more convenient for the working parent.

Despite Sarah’s position in the SGI Department, she wanted a natural birth. She had done a lot of research before making this decision. Having access to SGI files that a lot of people didn’t, meant that Sarah knew exactly what went on in her department.

Nine months after artificial insemination, Sarah’s baby girl was due. The NannyBot 650 helped prep Sarah with sterilized equipment and the best painkillers money could buy.

The moment contractions started, NannyBot 650 gave Sarah the pain meds and waited. Once she was fully dilated, NannyBot just pulled the baby out; no pushing, no pain, no discomfort necessary.

“Look at your beautiful baby girl!” the robotic voice cheered, laying the small, wrinkly, pink potato on Sarah’s chest.

Instantly she knew something was different. This was no girl. Sarah had read about a few cases like this where the scientists who generated the semen made a miscalculation and out came a boy. That’s what the Department of Male Eradication was for. While rare and unlikely, sometimes boys were born too…and they couldn’t have that after all the work they’d put into getting rid of men.

But Sarah knew from the moment that she laid eyes on her child that he was important, special. She couldn’t let the government get him. She loved him too much to lose him. Her heart rate increased tenfold as she stared at the metallic robot that would surely want to do an APGAR, an ancient medical process that had survived through BME, Before Male Eradication.

The NannyBot reached out to take the baby and perform it’s assessments, but Sarah quickly handed it a wadded up blanket instead. Knowing it wouldn’t stay fooled for long, she darted off the birthing table and hid the baby in a grocery panel in the kitchen.

The NannyBot moved slowly, but it was highly intelligent for a robot. When it caught up to Sarah in the kitchen, the blinking lights that it used as eyes seemed to be narrowed at her.

“Where is the child?” it droned.

Sarah knew there was no way to shut it off. She was sure that it had already signaled the Department of Male Eradication. There was only one way to defeat it: Sarah had to outwit it. She had to confuse it, and she had to do so before the Eradicators arrived.

“What child?” Sarah stalled, trying to think of a way to overcome its artificial intelligence.

The NannyBot made a sharp beeping noise and suddenly began searching through the kitchen: under tables, in wall panels, everywhere it could process. The Bot used something between an x-ray, echolocation, and laser image processing to see.
Sarah cleared her throat, gaining the bot’s attention. She had no idea what she was doing, but she knew she had to do it quickly while she had its undivided attention. What was one thing artificial intelligence couldn’t understand? The answer sprung into Sarah’s mind: emotions.

Sarah knew little of love as it was discouraged strongly in Femater, but she knew that whatever she felt for that little boy was something awfully close to it. She filled her mind with thoughts of him, thoughts of his warmth against her skin, his eyes staring at her inquisitively, eyes that matched her own. And then, knowing the NannyBot could read minds through touch using the electrical impulses of the brain, Sarah surged forward, wrapping her arms around the bot’s cold, smooth surface.
The metal instantly began heating up under her touch and she wanted to yank her body away from it, but Sarah willed herself to stay where she was until finally the NannyBot activated its self-shutoff feature due to emotional overload.
Sarah let go and walked around to the backside of the bot to remove its memory chip. She smashed it under her heel after taking it out and then turned her attention back to the baby which had began to cry.

Sarah picked him up and cradled him in her arms, cooing soothingly. She rocked back and forth, walking to the hallway where her secret panel was hidden. The previous tenant of the home had installed it in fear of the frequent wars. As far as Sarah could tell, it had never actually been used.

Sarah walked down the staircase that had been revealed by the sliding panel and set the baby in the secret basement, then hurried back upstairs, trying to ignore the pain from too much movement directly after birth.

Before the government officials could arrive, Sarah logged onto her secure government account on her HoloNet and changed her record to say SGI instead of natural birth. Nobody would expect anything; the doctor had put her on bedrest at around four months, before she really began showing. She certainly hadn’t told anyone the reason for her leave of absence. That would have been crazy; her boss wouldn’t have supported her due to her choice of natural birth.

Next she disposed of the sheets and all the equipment used during birth. Just as Sarah was deleting the security footage and replacing it with a looped video of Sarah sitting at her HoloNet, there were three loud raps on the front door.

“Open,” Sarah said in a level voice.

The door swung open to reveal four tall women. The first of the four had light brown hair. She stepped forward and said, “Your NannyBot 650 has reported the birth of a male. You know what we are here for.”

“Yes, yes,” Sarah agreed, trying to sound exasperated. “It is defective. I’ve been down for SGI for about eight months.”

The first woman, Jane, Sarah read off of her name tag, turned to her partner who was holding the HoloNet and whispered to her. The lady holding the HoloNet, Laura, gave a few swipes and nodded. “It says here that Sarah Williams of SGI Department ordered her SGI baby a little over eight months ago.”

“Thank you, Laura,” Grace, another of the four women, said. “Sorry for the trouble, Sarah. We’ll dispose of the faulty NannyBot for you.”

“Thank you, Grace,” Sarah agreed with a nod. “As long as you’re here, I’d also like you to take me off of the waiting list for a baby. My department is coming out with some updates soon and I’d like to wait for those.”

Jane nodded and whispered to Laura again who swiped a few more times on her HoloNet. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” Jane reiterated.

Sarah gave another nod and the four women left the house. She began to ponder all the illegal things she had done within the past hour and whether or not it was worth it, but before her mind could coalesce on this train of thought, the child began wailing again and Sarah rushed over to pacify him.

She hummed softly under her breath, rocking back and forth slightly as he gripped her finger, slowly drifting off to sleep.