2050 TAXI ROBO
Note: This story is a prequel to 2100 Feature Short Film.
Chapter 1: Who is Prof. Richard Wilson?
It was YEAR 2075.
Professor Richard Wilson was appointed as the CEO of Avocado Technologies. It was sensational news and at the same time controversial. Sensational, because he was a polymath, expert in the field of psychology, psychoanalysis and electronics. Controversial, because he had a striking resemblance to the infamous first ever H-Bot with Consciousness, Travis Bickle.
It was a new beginning for Avocado Technologies, the leaders of Healthcare and Homecare. They were already pioneers in advanced engineering and medical devices. And this new move was monumental for the whole of Humanity too. Prof. Richard Wilson had already been doing research on dream psychology and working on a device to interpret, decipher, and even live inside an individual’s dreams. Five years later, he would come up with the Elysian Device and take the world by storm. But in 2075, the controversial part of his appointment as CEO was burning as wildfire across the world.
Basically, there were conspiracy theories about his origins. And many of them involved him being the infamous Travis Bickle, the Taxi Robot, the first ever Consciousness gifted H-Bot to be let into the world of Human Civilization on it’s own.
25 YEARS EARLIER…
Chapter 2: Travis Bickle, The First Ever Taxi Robo
The 2040’s decade started witnessing the uprising of rudimentary H-Bots in manufacturing, sales, commerce, public services, etc. and various other industries. But these H-Bots were primitive and were only used to assist humans in their mundane jobs. Even then they were already engendering a huge load of job layoffs across the globe. The general population was growing unsettling hatred against H-Bots as the years passed. But the robotics corporations and the national governments placated the populace by saying that the H-Bots would never threaten humanity in any foreseeable way. In reality, these rudimentary H-Bots were only lacking one thing to become the nemesis of Humans and it was “The Consciousness”.
PROMETHEUS. It was the name of a celebrated robotics company who were the leader in the Humanoids, the H-Bots industry. They were the first one to develop a H-Bot with ‘Consciousness’. And the H-Bot’s name was “Travis Bickle”. To develop a friendly relationship between the H-Bots and the general public, Prometheus CEO Thomas Kennedy came up with a brilliant idea of tying up with the national governments and invented the ‘Taxi Robo’ Project.
Project Taxi Robo was a simple and clever initiative. Travis Bickle, basically a H-bot, who will be programmed with the single-most important objective of appeasing humans, would be appointed as a Taxi Driver in a metropolitan city and would be available for taxi ride services for the denizens. Through this way, Travis Bickle will get to interact with innumerable people and eventually develop a positive relation with the humans and favorable image for the H-Bots. And then Thomas Kennedy, using Prometheus, could manufacture countless more conscious H-Bots and sell them for various purposes. The national governments all over the world, backed up this highly beneficial and ambitious project. Prometheus tied up with the globally renowned taxi company Uber and promoted the glorious initiative in the most grandiloquent manner ever conceived by humanity.
When the corporate magnates and powerful government officials were grinning widely about this ingenious Taxi Robo Project, a social unrest was looming over Prometheus. Very few would have envisaged that this project would only further infuriate and enrage the public against H-Bots.
Chapter 3: Taxi Robo Makes First Contact
In the month of May, Year 2050, Travis Bickle, the first ever H-Bot with consciousness and advanced artificial intelligence was employed as a Taxi Robo in the then metropolitan and modern silicon valley, the city of Bangalore, India. And the Taxi Robo made first contact with humans. It was a historical moment.
Travis Bickle was built with stylish long hair and a shade of black for his skin color. He had a specific costume to be worn during Taxi Driver duty. A jet black pants, white shirt, red tie, a yellow blazer and a pilot hat. Travis Bickle looked dapper in the Taxi Robo costume. His promotional pictures and video clips became viral and instantly started trending. Travis Bickle was becoming a sensation even before he arrived. He was celebrated by some factions, despised by many, and soon controversies overflowed.
Despite the dissension, ‘Taxi Rider’ project was launched successfully by Prometheus along with the government and Travis Bickle was out on the streets, as Taxi Robo, available for taxi rides. Out of millions of humans, it was a woman named Stella who was lucky to get the first ever ride on the first ever Taxi driven by a Robot.
Chapter 4: The Rage of Humanity
Travis Bickle, the first ever conscious H-Bot was built and programmed with the single-most important objective - to be amicable, jovial, gregarious and get into the good books of Humanity. And so, Travis was cheerful, tolerant, and forbearing.
Due to his infamous popularity and the abysmal controversies surrounding him, Travis Bickle got a surfeit of booking for taxi rides all around the city. But none of the passengers, except Stella, were kind to him. He was constantly reprimanded, disdained, and denigrated unanimously by all. The denizens took out all their umbrage against the H-bots community on Travis Bickle. Within a week of his Taxi Robo undertaking, his ratings were extremely low and shocking.
What was considered a brilliant initiative and a masterstroke by the government and Prometheus company, proved to be fatally backfiring. They were already regretting the move based on the horrible reviews for Travis Bickle.
Chapter 5: Stella, A Rose Among Thorns
Stella was kind to Travis Bickle. She sympathized with his predicament. She was indeed a rose among thorns. When everyone else was unfairly disdaining him for being merely a H-Bot, Stella was offering a haven for the H-Bot’s wildlife in the world of humans. Travis started sharing his thoughts, sleep dreams, etc. everything to Stella. Travis didn’t know he had the capability of sleep dreaming. When Stella explained to him about sleep dreams he was simply fascinated by them. He felt he needed to explore more about the psychology of dreams, both the dreams of humans and his own.
Gradually, Stella and Travis formed a beautiful friendship. At the side of the H-Bot's end it was blossoming into a majestic love. Travis was starting to get besotted with Stella. He offered regular scheduled rides for Stella’s workplace and home. They spent more time together and had good times. They even danced together.
Little did Travis know that Stella was not a naive and benevolent soul as his artificial mind, gifted with a consciousness, had perceived. Stella was an avenger. His father had been working as a construction laborer and due to the growing prevalence of efficient H-Bots, her father lost his job. The layoff had affected her family financially and her father passed away due to a heart attack. She mourned first and then she was exasperated. She wanted to avenge her father’s death. Hitting back hard at Prometheus became her life goal and she was waiting for the right movement. When the announcement of the Taxi Rider Project was announced publicly by Prometheus, she laughed heartily, inside her cunning mind.
Chapter 6: A Woeful Friendship
Apart from Stella, Travis H-bot had another friend. His name was Andy-Free. Andy was his name but ‘Free’ was a suffix. That’s because he'll get anything for free if you’re a friend of his. Money, Drugs, Girls, etc. You name it and he’ll get you anything for free but only if you’re a friend of his. Andy-Free worked for the same sector of Uber group in Bangalore where Travis was assigned his new role of Taxi Robo. Travis was inquisitive about Andy but was also wary about making contact with him. He did not intend to forge a relationship with him.
One occasion, a couple of guys booked a ride and behaved inappropriately with Travis right from the beginning of the trip. When the destination arrived, they demanded Travis to get out of the driver seat and open the door for them. Travis obliged and when they got down, they punched him and knocked him down. Travis was hurt not physically but emotionally at that moment. Andy happened to be there nearby and came to Travis’ rescue. From then onwards, they interacted heartfully and Travis became a friend of Andy-Free.
One day, Andy brought something hidden in a box to Travis and he gave it as a gift to him. When Travis opened the box, he found a gun inside it. Realizing that it’s illegal to hold an unlicensed gun, especially him being a H-Bot, he returned it back immediately but Andy insisted him to keep it. He warned Travis that he will face more hostile situations with humans and he would need a gun at least for the sake of his self-defense. And so, Travis was compelled to possess an illegal gun.
Chapter 7: Who Are Your True Friends?
The unjust ostracism of Travis Bickle by the taxi passengers continued and it was upsetting him. He was, after all, a robot who was given consciousness. Humans were supposed to be his God, who created him, the H-bot, in the image of them. Every night, at his residence, he used to get the illegal gun out and think of shooting himself dead. But after thinking about Stella, his wavering artificial mind would come to a rest. In this guileful world of unfathomable humans, Stella and Andy seemed to be the anchors for him to stand steady.
One morning, as per his schedule Travis came to pick up the Taxi from the company sector hub. But then all of a sudden, his boss Stephen Bent alias Steve and Andy stopped him. Andy had ratted Travis out that he was possessing an illegal gun. When Steve inquired about the gun, Travis couldn’t deny it. Andy was smiling ruefully. Travis was crestfallen about Andy’s betrayal. Steve berated Traves for possessing an illegal gun, especially him being a H-Bot. He told Travis that he is fired and he is going to report it to Prometheus and the media immediately. Travis became furious. He snapped and struck both Steve and Andy hard. They fell down and started bleeding. Realizing what he had done, Travis was shocked and he got into the taxi and took off in a rush. He drove the taxi at high speed and went to meet Stella.
Destiny had it’s own plans for a H-Bot too. Stella was waiting for such a magnificent moment. Travis, the H-bot, in an emotionally unstable state, clouding his unassailable logical and impeccable artificial mind. When Travis arrived, she smiled kindly but two terrorizing thugs emerged from behind her. Before Travis could inquire anything, the thugs beat him brutally and knocked him down. Travis was lying on the ground injured fatally and bleeding artificial blood, blue in color. Stella slowly approached Travis, and narrated the story of her father in a frivolous manner. She then kicked Travis fiercely, spat at him and left him for worse, to suffer an excruciating loneliness and agonizing betrayal by humanity ever faced by a H-Bot!
Chapter 8: Shoot Them Down!
Travis Bickle eventually resuscitated and came back to his residence infuriated. He unrobed his Taxi Robo suit and threw it away. He picked up a full black three-piece suit from his wardrobe closet and wore it along with the same pilot hat. Then he retrieved the illegal gun and kept it inside his suit. He came out of his residence and drove away in the taxi.
First he reached the Uber Sector hub and pinned down Steve, his boss, and Andy. He shot them both dead instantly without any warning. Immediately, he got back in his car and went to find Stella. He found her on a corner of a residential street, walking back to her home. He raced the taxi and quickly brought the car to a halt in front of her. He got out of the car and stood in front of it. Stella was irked seeing Travis. Moments of pin drop silence prevailed. Only the distant croak sounds of raven was heard, auguring a baleful event.
Travis Bickle took his gun out and pointed at Stella. Stella was shocked. She started to think and then she started to manipulate the H-Bot. She said that he loved her truly and that he can’t kill her.
Travis Bickle pulled the trigger and shot Stella dead!
The gunfire sounds attracted folks nearby and Travis Bickle started shooting each and every one of them! He smiled and seemed to enjoy the killings!
He removed his pilot hat and threw it away. His appearance now, without the hat and in a black suit resembled more of Professor Richard Wilson.
Travis Bickle was smiling…
→ TO BE CONTINUED
*******END OF STORY******
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