by Tom Campbell

The April sun beat down on Jed as he returned home. Even though it was still mid-morning, the humidity was already beginning to make the temperature unseasonably warm. Despite the weather, Jed rather enjoyed these little outings. Long walks through the countryside helped him to get a better perspective on life.

Rounding the corner of the old dirt road, he was greeted by the familiar scene of his rural Georgia plantation in the distance. As he passed the outer edges of his estate, he could see his sun-darkened slaves working hard in the fields. A few of them glanced up at his approach, but quickly bent down again to continue their work in silence. They knew the harsh penalty for laziness and disobedience.

As he continued his journey home, Jed's thoughts wandered back to the war. It had been three years now since it ended. The struggle had been long and hard-fought by both sides. There were many of his friends and acquaintances that died for their cause. Indeed, there had been several occasions when he was sure that he himself would be a casualty.

Those had been tough times. Running short of supplies and soldiers, the outlook was bleak. Luckily, the Rebels had finally won. There were still occasional uprisings, but they were quelled in a speedy fashion. Life in these parts was starting to settle down into a semblance of normalcy.

There had been many changes, of course. In an effort to prevent history from repeating itself, the new government had banned the use of any mechanized machinery. Simple tools were still allowed, but gone forever were the days of vehicles, carriages, and even the cotton gin.

This necessitated a dramatic increase in manual labor. The losers of the war were sold as slaves. Through their labor, the economy of the nation was revived. The nation was much more efficient and productive now than it was before the war.

A flash of reflected sunlight brought him out of his reverie. It looked like one of his foremen was having an altercation with an unruly slave. The slave took an awkward swing with his hoe towards his boss, but the foreman easily dodged out of the way. The foreman grabbed the slave with his right claw and held him still.

The slave screamed in agony as the foreman picked up the dropped hoe and used it to cut off the man's left pinkie finger. The right one had already been severed. This was the slave's second offense. The next offense would result in his death.

The other slaves went about their business, doing anything to keep from garnering the attention of the foreman. Jed inwardly nodded to himself. These humans were so emotional and illogical. It was good that the robots had won their independence.

Copyright (c) 2001, Tom Campbell. All Rights Reserved.