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Silence Like Diamonds – Episode 9: Hacking an Escape

John Barnes
Faster-Than-Light Reading
John Barnes, Author
8/21/2015

This is Episode 9 of a Light Reading original science fiction story. Need to catch up? Start here:

Silence Like Diamonds – Episode 1: Family Business

Or find all of the episodes here:

Faster-Than-Light Reading


The robot, like a mutilated daddy long legs with a buzzsaw and a claw, advanced at a slow, comfortable amble, lifting its back leg, swinging it around front and repeating the process, its metal feet click-ticking across the floor. Behind me Markus grunted in pain, trying to force off the tightening smart bonds.

The robot loomed above me. A screen on its spherical body became blue, then white, then displayed:

Hold still.

The claw gripped the strap holding my calves to the cot and lifted it. The whirling blade parted it.

Stay still. say nothing.

The robot cut the other straps holding me.

roll on your stomach. lie flat on your face.

Gently but efficiently, the robot cut me free.

stretch quietly. You will need to move soon.

I stretched; everything felt wrong and painful.

By the time the robot had cut Markus free, I was sitting up. Markus rolled onto all fours on his cot and began stretching arms, legs and spine, like a cat doing speed-yoga.

The robot stepped to the one door, which had no visible handle or button, and turned to show us its screen.

nod to acknowledge. do not speak.

It waited. I realized, and nodded; Markus did too.

This unit will self-destruct to open this door. It waited till we nodded.

Run through the opening and down the corridor. Nod.

the fourth door on your right will open. Nod.

Run through that door and up the stopped escalator in front of you. you will find you are in a closed metro station. Jump the barriers and run to street level.

Take this device — a piece of black plastic the size and shape of a credit card dropped from it. insert it in the nearest ATM.

Markus bent to pick it up, nodding emphatically.

Atm will eject it. Find another ATM. Repeat until one of them keeps the card. After that you are on your own. Remember the blue cross. Good luck, You Illiterate Peasant.

My breath caught; that was Yazzy's childhood big-sister nickname for me, the one that had always triggered a fight, sentencing to our separate rooms and sneaking over to see each other.

Stand back. Cover your face and eyes. Be ready.


Find out more about the New IP on Light Reading's The New IP Channel.


I backed against the wall. The circular saw slashed the door from floor to lintel, then across about a meter up. The robot backed its sphere-body against the intersection of slashes. I tucked my face into my folded arms.

The robot exploded. Loose junk, some burning, sprayed over Markus and me and spattered nastily against the wall. When I looked up, the door lay in pieces down the corridor.

Jumping the broken pieces of door, we ran down the hall. At that fourth door on the right, as we turned, other doors behind us opened, slammed closed, opened again. Something was fighting for control of internal systems.

Next Page: On the Run

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