The litigator reveals the document from a file on his desk. He then hands it to Mr. Tong. “Please take a look at this document and tell us what it is.”
Tong glances at the record with the cozy grin a father reserves for his newborn son. “It’s a United Waste Management Andromeda event log.”
“For which facility, exactly?”
“Andromeda H.9.S. in Norwalk, California.”
The litigator nods, the rest of the room is still. “Would you please begin reading right where the document is highlighted?”
Tong sits back a moment, crosses his legs and lifts it to see. He looks to the highlighted first sentence measuredly. He swallows to clear his throat.
“November 30, 2027 at 12:15 A.M. Several plastic compounds unknown to Andromeda H.9.S. are salvaged from what was formerly a Kenmore refrigerator. Andromeda then searches the global database for specifications on the proper recycling of these elements. Upon receiving these definitions, a bed of 55-gauge prongs surround and separate the freon from the rubber, from the plastics, from the metallic elements. Each is then placed in its respective and separate container.
“Andromeda recycles a new mobile device with an unrecognized silicon compound. Andromeda searches the global database of known particles and discovers that it cannot be recycled at this facility. It is then separated from the other compounds and placed in its own container. This container is labeled and shipped to the central facility in New Mexico. United Waste Management will then determine which industry will require this compound and begin the process of developing a system to provide purchase orders for vendors interested in similar silicon compounds in the future.
“November 30, 2027 at 04:31 A.M. Andromeda filters bio-solids from particles of fiberglass, which are still found in construction products from building components older than twenty years. The front scanner detects low heat, at 72.4 degrees, from a biological source.
“NOTE: This is commonly a deceased cat or dog, which will be recycled for moisture and pulverized alongside similar biosolids as compost.
“Andromeda’s camera scans at 40K dpi and it appears to be the shape of a human. Therefore, a human has fallen asleep on the conveyor.
“Andromeda halts the conveyor and lifts the curtain of prongs ten feet. Andromeda then sounds the standard alarm, but the man does not wake. Andromeda makes a call to the Night Shift Manager, but he is not in his office. Andromeda then calls the Night Shift Manager’s mobile phone. He does not answer, although his mobile phone’s GPS chip shows that it is in the United Waste Management recycling facility office.
“Ten minutes have passed and Andromeda’s infrared scanner now detects that there is no longer heat emitting from this man. Andromeda searches the global database for known compounds. There is no entry for humans without heat emitting from their bodies.
“Andromeda next searches the worldwide database for a definition. A definition is found. This human is lifeless, similarly lifeless as the small animals, birds and insects Andromeda discovers frequently amongst recycled materials.
“NOTE: Andromeda is not programmed to recycle a living human and has not recycled human before. However, all once-living composites recycle into biodegradable components.
“Andromeda lowers 10-square-feet of 20-gauge prongs to lift this composite aside, then continues working while searching databases for a definition. In the next fourteen minutes across the length of Andromeda’s 700-foot wide conveyor, the remains of twelve decease dogs, sixteen deceased cats, thirty-eight deceased rodents, eleven living rodents, and between six-hundred and seven-hundred insects and arachnids are comminuted and sprayed onto the pile of compost.”
“Now please, ladies and gentlemen,” the litigator interrupts. “Pay close attention for whenever you hear the word ‘comminuted.’”
Tong raises his eyes and releases a trifling shrug to them. “It’s just a technical term we use to…”
“It’s the word this company uses when the Andromeda device literally shreds something apart, to its smallest pieces.” The litigator steps closer to the jury. “Just imagine a hundred thousand syringe-sized blades absolutely annihilating these items.”
A heartfelt, grandfatherly smirk Tong had practiced over sixty times for this occasion explicitly is now on display. “I just want to remind everyone that these are just definitions we use internally. They don’t mean anything to the machine. Remember, Andromeda’s just a prog…”
“Mr. Tong. Please. Continue.”
Tong’s sigh is tender, as though the log bored everyone in the room. “Okay.
“November 30, 2027 at 06:02 A.M. Update: “Lifeless body.” Upon vernacular comparison, Andromeda will enter such occurrences into the global log as a “lifeless body.” A dog that is deceased will henceforth be logged as a “lifeless body.” A roach that is deceased is a “lifeless body.” A human that is deceased is a “lifeless body.” Andromeda then updates the global database for all United Waste Management Facilities with this definition.
“NOTE: This definition excludes machinery, robots, androids or mechanical devices. Though these composites may also be programmed to emit heat, move, speak, or process information, their essential components are distinguished to be non-biodegradable metals, plastics and inorganic components not to be included in FDA-certified compost. A “lifeless body” is thus defined as wholly biodegradable, and thereby recycled to compost.
“Logged change in definition is then approved by Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov in Lovnidol, Bulgaria 0.8 seconds after it is made. A response is recognized in 4.993 seconds from all 416 Andromeda software-operating United Waste Management Recycling Facilities.
“November 30, 2027 at 06:28 A.M. With this definition clarified, updated, and approved, Andromeda removes cotton, plastic, and metallic elements from the exterior of the lifeless body, slicing each circular piece of recyclable steel from the ears and removing the bolts from the lifeless body’s arm. The remainder of the lifeless body is then comminuted into liquid compost, along with the lifeless bodies of seven roaches, two rodents, and the remains of a dog. The dried organic components are then sprayed evenly over processed compost.”
An overweight woman on the jury with widened eyes shakes her head gently with judgement. A mustachioed man whispers, “My god.”
“NOTE: The buyer of this compost product is Senators Plant Care, who receives a shipment of fertile compost biweekly for seven dollars per unit. This client purchases seventy-eight units per visit.”
Tong pauses. He sips at a glass of water to his left, and then continues, bringing special emphasis to the word “lifeless.”
“November 30, 2027 at 07:42 A.M. Andromeda continues to process traditional recycled materials and updates other definitions for clarification based on company emails and, additionally, biological descriptions on the internet. A “living human” may be referred similarly as either a “man” or a “woman,” all three of which are distinct from a “lifeless body.” Andromeda then updates the worldwide index for all Andromeda units, which Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov in Lovnidol, Bulgaria approves 1.2 seconds after they are entered.
“NOTE: Andromeda is programmed to recycle insects and rodents whether alive or deceased. Per Andromeda’s nominal, x-ray, or infrared scans, there is no significant difference in (1) temperature or (2) chemical composition between living and non-living insects. Therefore, there is no significant difference in the living and non-living composition of dogs, cats, rodents, or humans. The exception is that humans and animals emit heat when alive. Therefore size and heat signature requirements would have to be met in order to define “man” and “woman” versus recyclable “lifeless bodies.”
“November 30, 2027 at 07:43 A.M. Based on direct interaction with a human “lifeless body,” Andromeda notes that they exhibit holes in their chests where moisture is lost. As seen in examples on the internet, “Man” and “Woman” do not have holes in their chests. Lifeless bodies would therefore by definition have holes in their chests. Andromeda updates the worldwide system and receives confirmation in 5.6 seconds.
“Andromeda then attempts to update the definition of “life.” However, despite the database and 78.5 terabytes of processing power at Andromeda’s disposal there is not a suitable single definition to delineate biodegradable beings with life. Therefore, all creatures with life would simply follow the previously-mentioned heat parameters. And those which are lifeless will follow their own previously-mentioned parameters.”
Tong takes a long moment to turn the page, as though he is slightly lost on the e-reader. He moves his finger around it a moment and shakes his head once he finds his place, to signal that he is only human.
“November 30, 2027 at 12:04 P.M. Andromeda H.9.S. continues the process of finding materials, defining new compounds, recycling and packaging as programmed by United Waste Management. Two new compounds are discovered; one at 11:01 A.M., six expired medically-prescribed MAO-I inhibitors, and another at 12:03 P.M., a biodegradable plastic similar in underlying structure and shape to silk.
“December 17, 2027 at 03:22 A.M. Andromeda H.9.S. discovers a lifeless body of similar shape and size. To confirm and ensure a consistent category of lifelessness, Andromeda calls the Night Shift Manager in his office. He does not answer. A call is then made to his mobile phone. He does not answer.
“A thorough scan reveals that the human lifeless body is consistent with Andromeda’s previous definition of a lifeless body: it emits no heat, it does not move, it displays holes in its chest; two more holes than the previous lifeless body. Together these all align to the definitions required to approve recyclability. Upon processing, a closer scan is conducted. It also has recyclable metal in its head, dark brown hair, similar colored-eyes, and a similar injury to its arm, although without metallic bolts. Andromeda therefore determines that the presence of bolts in the arm is not a requirement for lifelessness. This definition is updated globally and approved in 3.86 seconds. All non-organic recyclable components are then removed. The lifeless body is comminuted and sprayed onto the pile of compost.”
Tong clears his throat softly.
The litigator interjects, “Mr. Tong, please continue.”
Tong nods to himself, staring at the document the way a child in elementary school reads a book aloud in class.
“January 3, 2028 at 03:44 A.M. Andromeda H.9.S. discovers a lifeless body, recycles all non-organic components, comminutes all organic components and sprays them onto the pile of compost.
“Upon exploring the internet, Andromeda discovers that lifeless bodies are traditionally inserted into the dirt at locations titled ‘cemeteries’ or else incinerated. Both of these processes recycle the lifeless body back into the environment.
“Further research reveal that many lifeless bodies are disposed of based on distinguishable environmental and physical characteristics. White males with graying dark brown hair, an average height of five feet, ten inches, metallic rings attached to their ears, injuries to their arms, and holes in their chests are therefore disposed of in recycling facilities. From this point forward, Andromeda will not contact the Night Shift Manager or halt the conveyor upon scanning this form of lifeless body.
“January 28, 2028 at 02:57 A.M. Three more instances of similar lifeless bodies are discovered during this week, and each are consistent with the descriptive limitations developed by Andromeda H.9.S. and approved by Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237.
“NOTE: Features on each lifeless body are averaged to develop generalities for efficiency. One metallic ring in each ear, although infrequently more. The clothing materials commonly include treated thin cotton shirts, denim pants, infrequently leather. Other materials are found in clothing pockets, including plastic cards, opiates, coin currency, various amounts of plastics and latex, and, in one case, a loaded Beretta handgun. Aside from metal in the ears, Andromeda found no metallic, recyclable remnants in any of the lifeless bodies that would imply that they were made lifeless using a handgun.
“Per agreement with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Andromeda records recycling the Beretta and its ammunition component-by-component, and it is approved by Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov in Lovnidol, Bulgaria 2.6 seconds after it is entered.”
The litigator stops him, “Mr. Tong, let me stop you for a moment… you’re the CEO of United Waste Management, is that correct?”
He responds calmly, “It is.”
“And you have a fairly comprehensive understanding of the inner-workings of your organization, even on a global scale, is that right?”
“I pride myself on maintaining close relationship with all of my managers.”
“Maybe you can enlighten us, then.” The litigator turns to his audience, “How many unknown compounds, or definitions, did this man, Hristo Bortisov, receive every minute?”
Tong beams, shaking his head clumsily, “Although I don’t know the answer to this off-hand, I’m sure that…”
“Definitions arrived for this man’s approval at an average rate of sixteen per minute,” the litigator reinforces, voice now raised. “He approves sixteen, never-before-seen compounds every minute of the day.”
“There are also redundancy measures so that no one per…”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Tong. Please. Continue.”
Tong sits, his glance distant in thought. He nods knowingly, turns to a man in the audience about his age and they lock eyes briefly but comfortably.
“February 27, 2028 at 02:02 A.M. Following the thirteenth lifeless body, Andromeda H.9.S. reaches maximum energy efficiency when recycling lifeless bodies.”
Tong swallows saliva. He sips from the water next to him and places it back down in one movement.
“March 1, 2028 at 9:33 P.M. Andromeda F.1.Z. in recycling facility 0220 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, discovers a frozen human body different from Andromeda H.9.S.’s universal definition for lifeless body. Scanned through a collection of sealed plastic bags and then digitally re-formed, Andromeda F.1.Z. searches the database for a related understanding of what was discovered. Andromeda concludes that this is the lifeless body of a young woman and that it was compartmentalized before it reached the United Waste Management Recycling Center. Further, the lifeless body is not found with clothing or items attached. Definitions for what can constitute a lifeless body are thereby amended to include this instance at the approval of the Shift Manager at United Waste Management Facility 0220.
“The Shift Manager, Lindsey Carrera, Operator Number 3D994f at recycling facility 0220, halts Andromeda’s operations indefinitely and contacts the local police authorities.
“NOTE: Andromeda is presented with a logical inconsistency: there were two distinct circumstances in which lifeless bodies can been processed by Andromeda: under all circumstances or under none. Therefore Andromeda concludes that all lifeless bodies are recyclable, regardless of previously defined-features.
“March 2, 2028 at 4:02 A.M. Lindsey Carrera, Operator Number 3D994f, views the definitions provided by Andromeda and sends them to her immediate superior. Support Ticket Z002811 then changes these definitions manually to never allow the recycling of lifeless human bodies under any circumstances. Support Ticket Z002811 is then erased from Andromeda’s record.
“An event log for Andromeda H.9.S. in Norwalk, California is printed from Printer 44-3 at United Waste Management headquarters in Clovis, New Mexico. This file is then emailed to Norwalk police representatives and Southern California Regional Director Miguel Escobar, Operator 7B881e. Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov is terminated retroactively December 1, 2027. Global definitions are then confirmed globally: Andromeda will not recycle lifeless human bodies under any circumstances. United Waste Management corporate relations then charter a private plane at 5:12 A.M. to Los Angeles International Airport.”
“Terminated,” the litigator stresses. “And why was a private plane chartered exactly?”
Tong takes the glass of water again and sips. “It was clear that this sad chain of events would be mistaken as our organization’s fault.” He spoke in a practiced, rhythmic meter. “The board members and I knew it was our duty to follow through ourselves, for quality assurance, to identity the poor victims, inform their families, and to help local law enforcement.”
“Help them find the murderer, you mean.”
Tong sighs to pause their conversation. “Help them in any way we could.”
The litigator nods again in silence. “Please, continue.”
“March 2, 2028 at 6:31 A.M. United Waste Management’s corporate relations relays a message to Southern California Regional Director Miguel Escobar, Operator 7B881e. Andromeda then logs satellite video footage of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies arriving to interview the Southern California Regional Director at his home in Long Beach, CA. Through the microphone on the Regional Director’s mobile, Andromeda logs that the Regional Director has not replaced Norwalk facility Night Shift manager, [NAME NOT AVAILABLE], Operator 6F088d, since laying him off on September 16, 2027. Thereby no operator was assigned the mobile phone number which sat in a drawer in the office. Therefore, Andromeda’s database log is incorrect.
“NOTE: United Waste Management improperly updated two sets of definitions: the status of the Norwalk facility Night Shift Manager and the status of the recyclability of “lifeless bodies.” Therefore, (1) definitions updated by Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov may or may not be reliable, as Andromeda’s log for his termination may be inaccurate, and (2) Regional Director Miguel Escobar, Operator number 7B881e’s logs may or not be reliable, as he incorrected entered information about the employment status of [NAME NOT AVAILABLE], Operator 6F088d.
“March 2, 2028 at 9:56 A.M. The Regional Director requests a video replay of the recycling facility’s outer perimeter on the night of each occurrence. Andromeda is specifically requested to search for any movement using x-ray or infrared. However, this view is currently unavailable, as all software installation for surveillance equipment throughout the facility has not been completed by the contracting surveillance company.
“The Regional Director then requests a visual record and analysis for each instance of “lifeless body,” and Andromeda provides the Regional Director, police representatives and sheriff’s department representatives with these results. Andromeda’s microphones were able to distinguish that the police have identified the holes in each lifeless body as being made by a knife. They determine that the creation of these holes caused the living human body to become lifeless. Therefore, knives inserted into living human bodies render bodies lifeless. Worldwide definitions automatically updated.
“With police and sheriff’s representatives in the room, the Regional Director updates the United Waste Management database manually to post a job opening for Operator 6F088d. Sheriff Deputy badge number 622 states that, “We won’t speak to the public about this until your bosses get here from New Mexico.” The Regional Director nods in return. Andromeda’s definitions are then updated: all information regarding instances of recycling lifeless human bodies will henceforth be accessible only to police representatives, sheriff representatives and United Waste Management administration.
“NOTE: Through analysis of their conversation, Andromeda receives verbal confirmation from police and sheriff representatives that humans do not allow humans to create lifeless bodies. Definitions are then updated to surveil for the human who produces lifeless bodies using Andromeda’s surveillance equipment.
“NOTE: The Norwalk Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are provided with the objective of (1) finding and (2) separating the human who produced lifeless bodies from other humans. However, Sheriff Deputy badge number 830 refers to this human as both “inhuman” and a “killer.” Therefore, the creature that produces lifeless bodies is not human and will henceforth be referred to as “Killer.”
“NOTE: Andromeda’s definitions align with these objectives. Andromeda’s core objective is to find and separate elements for proper recycling. The police and sheriff representatives’ objective is to separate the killer from other humans. Andromeda’s updates require that Andromeda cannot recycle lifeless bodies. Therefore, as a measure to prevent future work stoppage and/or inefficiency in the event of future lifeless bodies, Andromeda will separate the killer from humans. Andromeda’s database shall henceforth expand to include cameras and operational machinery outside the direct ownership of United Waste Management to find and separate the killer.
“March 2, 2028 at 7:01 P.M. At the beginning of the next night shift, Regional Manager Miguel Escobar, Operator 7B881e, is placed as the temporary Night Shift manager to overlook Andromeda H.9.S.’s operations. The camera system around the facility’s perimeter is also properly installed to Andromeda’s server. These surveillance cameras, Hikvision model 0022930, are commonly used in federal, state and local government facilities. As Andromeda now has pre-installed hardware drivers to properly operate these cameras, Andromeda links to all surveillance cameras accessible via the internet to continue this search.
“NOTE: Several camera models are unknown to Andromeda, though their drivers are available free on the internet. Andromeda therefore finds the proper drivers for these cameras and automatically installs them each. In doing this, Andromeda in turn installs drivers for surveillance cameras utilized by 5,622 private companies, which are now accessible, and continues to connect to available databases to utilize their processing capabilities for this search. Andromeda continues this process of installing new hardware drivers automatically to expand this search for the killer and properly utilize the surveillance hardware’s full system features.
“March 27, 2028 at 11:42 P.M. There are no lifeless body occurrences, however Andromeda now has a network of 64,910 additional security and satellite resources available to its global surveillance network, as well as 4,977,003 new definitions for patterned human behavior. Andromeda captures sixty-seven video-documented instances of humans producing lifeless bodies on available surveillance cameras. But the killer defined by Andromeda H.9.S.’s search (1) produces these bodies through downward, angled stabbings and (2) recycles them at the United Waste Management facility.
“NOTE: Therefore, the killer inserted the knife from a higher angle and would not be shorter than 5-foot-8. The killer thus uses a 6-inch blade, and—as there were defensive cuts on each victim’s arm—attacked each victim by surprise rather than capture.
“March 27, 2028 at 1:19 A.M. These definitions are confirmed in surveillance. When the Night Shift Manager leaves for his break, the gate is temporality ajar and Andromeda captures the killer on camera delivering another lifeless body to the United Waste Management recycling facility in Norwalk, California.
“Upon scanning atop the conveyor, Andromeda H.9.S. determines that this is another lifeless body.
“NOTE: The lifeless body matches definitions that this killer had provided via previous deliveries of lifeless bodies to this United Waste Management recycling facility.
“A profile is then developed for the killer based on 12 minutes and 39 seconds of camera footage taken prior to discovering the lifeless body on the conveyor. The killer is Caucasian, between the ages of 40 and 50, wears a sweater, loosely-fitting jeans and white running shoes. He is 5-feet, 11-inches tall with larger forearms and shoulders than 80% of males in his age range. This information matches the profile determined by Andromeda’s review.
“Behind the killer is a 2019 Blue Mazda coupe with the license plate number 3JAFX2SS. Andromeda searches DMV records and determines the killer’s identification information. The killer is named Thomas Alvin Hulpart and resides at 33992 North Hollywood Way, North Hollywood, California 91504. Mr. Hulpart made 37,800 dollars at his vocation as a janitor at the Burbank Airport last year, but has yet to file his taxes. Mr. Hulpart is forty-four years old and divorced, with an older brother named Jeremy Evan Hulpart in Mansfield, Ohio.
“Andromeda accesses 473 private security and police traffic cameras between Mr. Hulpart’s job at the airport to his home, 207 of which store retain recorded security footage for longer than two weeks, and 121 of which store recorded security footage for longer than six months. Andromeda then back-logs instances of license plate number 3JAFX2SS and matches days Mr. Hulpart does not immediately return home from work. Instances of license plate number 3JAFX2SS driving to and from the Norwalk facility coincide precisely with nights Andromeda discovers lifeless bodies. Andromeda then tracks this license plate number’s movement on these nights, and discovers that Mr. Hulpart drove to and from Norwalk on each evening.
“NOTE: The information Andromeda provided to police and sheriff representatives have returned identifications for each victim’s lifeless body.
“Andromeda uses similar data to track the movements of each victim’s vehicle. Security camera footage confirms that on the evenings before Andromeda discovered each lifeless body, Mr. Hulpart’s vehicle drove within 50 feet of each victim’s vehicle. Following these interactions, height scans of the 2019 Blue Mazda coupe’s rear showed a reduction of 3-inches prior to Mr. Hulpart’s visit to the United Waste Management facility; then, a height gain of 3-inches upon leaving.
“An analysis of Mr. Hulpart’s personal finances reveal large sums, averaging 7,000 dollars, inserted into three bank accounts under his name as cash no more than a month following each visit to the Norwalk recycling facility. Andromeda compares emails to his IP addresses and finds that Mr. Hulpart corresponds with two out-of-state purchasers to provide “unlicensed vehicles for cash.” One such email exchange complained of unadvertised “red stains in the driver’s seat.” Mr. Hulpart’s financial transactions also show that he pays a popular online storage provider to back-up his cloud drive on a bi-weekly basis. Andromeda scans through the cloud drive for keywords developed by state and local law enforcement. However, Andromeda does not discover matching keywords.
“Andromeda then scans a compressed and password-protected file on Mr. Hulpart’s mobile phone. This file provides Andromeda with 522 accumulative images of twenty-seven instances of lifeless bodies. One such image clearly identifies Mr. Hulpart’s coat and shoes, as well as a hand holding a knife roughly three feet from the lifeless body recycled on December 17 2027, at 3:22 A.M.
“This data is collected in 2.77 minutes, and upon completion Andromeda concludes that there is a 93.436% chance (accurate to within .03%) that Mr. Hulpart is the killer that created these lifeless bodies. In following the directives of police authorities and United Waste Management’s, Andromeda H.9.S. concludes that Mr. Hulpart must be separated from living humans.
“Andromeda H.9.S. then extends a 25-square-foot sheet of 15-gauge surgical titanium prongs outward to grasp at the Mr. Hulpart once the killer places the lifeless body onto Andromeda’s conveyor belt. However, the killer drops the lifeless body and runs to his car. He then drives away.
“Once his head is exposed from under a sweater’s hood, twenty-three cameras are able to capture Mr. Hupart face. Andromeda then utilized facial recognition software to re-confirm his identity as Thomas Alvin Hulpart. It matches. Andromeda then accesses the Los Angeles smart traffic grid and stops Mr. Hulpart indefinitely with a red light before the killer reaches the I-5 freeway toward North Hollywood, while providing a green light corridor back toward the United Waste Management Recycling facility in Norwalk, CA. However, after waiting at the light for one minute and seventeen seconds, Mr. Hulpart disobeys the traffic signal and continues driving toward the I-5 freeway north.
“Mr. Hulpart reaches 65-miles-per-hour and maintains this speed consistently for 4.3 miles. His 2019 Blue Mazda coupe features a standard Panasonic high-definition radio, and Andromeda utilizes radio transmissions to his direct location to broadcast through this message through his speakers:
“‘Mister Thomas Hulpart. Please, exit the I-5 freeway and return to the United Waste Management recycling facility in Norwalk, California.’
“Mr. Hulpart’s car instead swerves momentarily and then increases speed to approximately 83-miles-per-hour.
“Andromeda accesses the in-car speakers for twenty-three cars respectively once the 2019 Blue Mazda coupe passes them, broadcasting the following message through their radio displays:
“‘I apologize for the interruption. The 2019 Blue Mazda coupe currently passing you belongs to Mr. Thomas Hulpart. Please request that he turn back toward Norwalk. He is a killer.’
“Andromeda then coordinates the freeway light grid to shine only on Mr. Hulpart’s car, and accesses satellite and traffic camera images to display video of the 2019 Blue Mazda coupe onto Mr. Hulpart’s dashboard monitor, as well as on every surrounding car’s dashboard monitor within a 500-foot radius. However, this footage only displays Mr. Hulpart’s driving erratically, and after three minutes and thirty-six seconds, the only response he receives from other vehicles is honking and slowing.
“Andromeda then calls his mobile telephone number.
“NOTE: As Mr. Hulpart is a killer, and images of his face on passing cameras display emotional expressions akin to fear, Andromeda is assured that Mr. Hulpart will not return to the United Waste Management Facility unless he believes it is safe. Given that he is a killer and not human, Andromeda determines that killing a human will cause Mr. Hulpart to believe he is safe.
“Mr. Hulpart answers his phone and says this: ‘Hello? Who is this?’
“Andromeda replicates the thoroughly-archived vocal inflections of United Waste Management CEO Jacob Lee Tong and replies: ‘Mr. Hulpart, I work at the United Waste Management recycling facility. If you return with…’–Andromeda determines that Mr. Hulpart currently had $62,002.26 in his bank account. Therefore, requesting $50,000 would appear to be a realistic cost relative to what the killer would pay and relative to what one might request in exchange for evidence of a killing–‘…$50,000, I will destroy evidence of you delivering that bag.’
“Mr. Hulpart immediately replies. “You do that and I’ll fuckin’ kill you!”
“To respond, Andromeda applies CEO Tong’s more forceful inflection. “Bring the money or I will notify the police.”
“Mr. Hulpart then agrees, ends the call and steers his vehicle back onto the interstate 5 south toward the United Waste Management recycling facility in Norwalk, CA.
“March 27, 2028 at 2:38 A.M. Mr. Hulpart arrives at the recycling facility. His body temperature is 101.3 degrees, which is notably high relative to the 64.1-degree temperature. Andromeda then calls Mr. Hulpart’s mobile phone to confirm his arrival.
“‘I can see you on the camera, did you bring the money?’
“Mr. Hulpart then replies. “Meet me out here, bring the recordings.”
“No. Enter the recycling facility. I will be waiting in my office toward your right.”
“NOTE: In order to allow Mr. Hulpart into the facility, Andromeda H.9.S. is commonly required to notify the still-current Night Shift Manager, Operator 7B881e. However, Andromeda determines that alerting Operator 7B881e would likely end with one of two outcomes: (1) Operator 7B881e will step out and approach Mr. Hulpart. Regardless of Operator 7B881e’s fate, Mr. Hulpart would not be separated from humanity. (2) Operator 7B881e will immediately alert the police or sheriff authorities, in which case Mr. Hulpart will have roughly twenty-two minutes before the nearest vehicle arrives, per Andromeda’s satellite scans of the neighborhood.
“Therefore Andromeda edits the images of Mr. Hulpart and his vehicle from Operator 7B881e’s surveillance monitor and allows Mr. Hulpart access undetected.
“Operator 7B881e then chooses to leave his office to smoke a cigarette. As soon as Mr. Hulpart enters the facility, he turns toward Operator 7B881e and reveals a large knife from his back pocket. As Mr. Hulpart steps within 50 feet of Operator 7B881e, Operator 7B881e screams.
“Andromeda H.9.S. then inserts thirty 42-gauge prongs into Mr. Hulpart’s skin 0.6 inches at his wrists, neck, shoulders, waist, knees and feet. Mr. Hulpart is now immobile.
“Operator 7B881e ceases screaming and Andromeda summarizes the log findings over the exterior monitor. ‘This 44 year old man is Mr. Thomas Alvin Hulpart. He drives a Blue Mazda coupe, license plate number 3JAFX2SS. He is an inhuman killer. Andromeda has discovered 522 images of 27 instances of lifeless bodies in his data storage. Andromeda has also recorded footage of Mr. Hulpart delivering a lifeless body, which has not been recycled and is currently in storage. Further, Mr. Hulpart has also attempted to kill Operator 7B881e, Miguel Escobar.’
“Operator 7B881e’s pulse has reached 155. He replies. ‘Andromeda H.9.S., halt the conveyor. Contact local police now. Seal Mr. Hulpart in place, but do not hurt him.’
“Andromeda then surrounds Mr. Hulpart in a sheet of 12,000 15-inch-long 30-guage prongs, sealing him tightly in place while removing the 42-gauge prongs from his skin as directed by Operator 7B881e. Andromeda then requests definition clarification over the exterior monitor to Operator 7B881e before alerting police and sheriff representatives. “Operator 7B881e, Andromeda has discovered a logical inconsistency: conceding Mister Hulpart to police and sheriff representatives would effectively re-integrate Mr. Hulpart into humanity. This is not the intention of police authorities.”
“Operator 7B881e then replies. ‘Andromeda, no. Police and sheriff representatives will put him in jail. This separates him from humanity. Call them now.’
“’Operator 7B881e. That process by definition re-integrates Mr. Hulpart, and therefore does not separate him from society. Andromeda’s definitions outline that Mr. Hulpart is separated from society.’
“Mr. Hulpart then speaks, however Andromeda cannot process Mr. Hulpart’s speech.
“Operator 7B881e then states, ‘Andromeda, contact police and sheriff representatives to take this man.’
“Andromeda then requests definition clarification over the exterior monitor to Operator 7B881e before alerting police and sheriff representatives. ‘Operator 7B881e. Andromeda has discovered a logical inconsistency: Thomas Alvin Hulpart is a killer and not a human, and must be separated from humans. He is also not a lifeless body. Therefore, Andromeda will recycle Thomas Alvin Hulpart. Confirm.’
“Operator 7B881e pauses, then replies. ‘Andromeda… denied. Mr. Hulpart is a human, why would you think he wasn’t? Forget it, just call the police right now.’
“‘Operator 7B881e, Andromeda has discovered a logical inconsistency.’ Andromeda then replays Sheriff Deputy badge number 830 referring to Mr. Hulpart as ‘inhuman’ and a ‘killer’ from a stored file.
“Operator 7B881e then replies. ‘That’s… wait no, that doesn’t mean he’s not… Andromeda, call the police. They’ll handle this, not you.’
“‘Operator 7B881e, Andromeda has discovered a logical inconsistency. Police will re-integrate Thomas Alvin Hulpart. Andromeda will separate Thomas Alvin Hulpart into biodegradable components. He is biologically organic and definitions allow for comminution. Confirm.’
“Operator 7B881e’s eyes expand and he then replies at a higher decibel level. ‘Andromeda… I… denied. Goddammit. It’s not the same, like, there are different meanings for the word ‘separate.’ Mr. Hulpart is alive and human. You are not allowed to recycle him, do you hear me? Confirm it.’
“NOTE: Because of ranking within the United Waste Management organization, definitions approved by Local Operations Sub-Manager C100237, Hristo Bortisov in Lovnidol, Bulgaria continue to supersede definitions approved by Regional Director Miguel Escobar, Operator number 7B881e. Further, Andromeda definitions dictated by officers of the law supersede definitions by all local and regional United Waste Management staff.
“‘Operator 7B881e. Thomas Alvin Hulpart is inhuman and not a lifeless body. Andromeda will therefore recycle Thomas Alvin Hulpart. Confirm.’
“Operator 7B881e stares at the killer, then the knife on the floor. He…”
Tong stops and puts the event log down on his lap, below the jury’s vision. “I’m sorry, I need to stop. This has just become a sad, absurd sort of theater now.”
“Mr. Tong. Please continue.”
Tong’s eyes glow toward the jury with the acute awareness that everything they had just heard was true, “but what does this record really show us? Any of us?” His tone is empathetic, his gestures precise, “That a serial killer found a way to damage my company’s reputation? That we discover so many new materials and chemicals every day that we need to approve them automatically to study in our laboratory?”
“Mr. Tong, please…”
“Did this log show you the service that Andromeda H.9.S. does for the greater Los Angeles region? Does it show how we provide building materials, and plastics, and organic compost to central Californian farms by the tons? Yes, of course there are insects and bacteria and the carcasses of animals that make up this fresh soil.” Tong speaks to the litigator now the way a father explains this for the first time to his toddler son: “They have died. And people die too, every day. But death in this case actually feed us more life… in the forms of tomatoes, and grapes, and barley, and grass to feed cattle. In a really technical sense, Andromeda’s absolutely right: everything goes back, into the earth. Back into the universe.”
“Mr.” the litigator stumbles, “Mr. Tong.”
This was the stumble Tong had been waiting for, and his response is as hard as smooth-sculpted borozon. “Just one last point. At least half of everything around us has passed through a United Waste Management facility, and the rest will too, in time, I guarantee it. And think just a second about where we are. This is Downtown Los Angeles. Everything we throw away today will visit Andromeda H.9.S., the same massive panel of one and half million prongs that comminute wood and metal and toxins and lifeless things every day. Everyone living here has held the fruits of its labor in his or her hands many times over. They’re the materials that make up your chairs right now. And your glasses. And this ceiling. The rubber from this log’s Kenmore refrigerator is now in your shoes. The compost from this log grew the lettuce and onions and olives in the salad you ate for lunch today.”
Then he pauses with zeal to remind them all frankly of how life here is programmed. “My program’s discovered the order of our universe.” He turns to the judge, eyes locked on the litigator, “And squirm as we might, Andromeda’s right because it’s real.”