Shaylee cut through the overgrown grass, thick blades smacking against her pant legs as she sprinted toward the blocked off road. The newest electronic toy wrapped on her wrist gleamed its sleek silver finish. The watch-like device talked to Shaylee in a smooth female voice. It unclicked from its watch band base. A small ball with tiny propellers circled Shaylee’s head. The analysis progress started.
“Hello, Shaylee. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Phoeclex. All updates are finished. The forecast for today is cloudy. Forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty percent chance of rain at noon. Given your body temperature and the current season, I’m indicating a sixty-four percent probability of you catching a cold. Please wear a heavier jacket with mittens and a scarf.”
“Yeah, thanks, Mom. How about don’t tell me what to do, got it?” Shaylee spat.
“It is my job to care for your wellbeing. I’ve taken the liberty of syncing all your phone contacts to my memory card in case of an emergency.” The silver device hovered over Shaylee’s shoulder. The buzzing from the tiny propellers created an urge to swat at it.
Shaylee rushed to the edge of the half crumbled road. The wide river below had swallowed most of it. From this height the road appeared as a cliff, one with a gorgeous view. The gray clouds above added to that beauty.
Phoeclex caught up. “Shaylee. I can only fly forty-three miles per hour. Please—"
“Phoeclex I want you to tell me what happened to this road.”
A short silence lasted for only seconds. “The road deteriorated eight weeks ago at two in the morning, killing a young man named Roger in his black Sedan.”
“Ok. Kind of impressive I guess. Was Roger married?”
Another short pause hung between them as it searched the online data. “No. He left behind a five-year-old boy. Now lives—”
“Ok. Got it.” She shrugged. “Thanks...I think.” She folded her arms, then walked closer to the edge. “Your search speed is impressive. You may be of use.”
The tiny robot flashed red. “The road is extremely unstable. Please don’t stand near the edge.”
Shaylee shoved a finger at the egg-sized device. “I told you don’t tell me what to—”
A piece of the ground collapsed under her foot. She slipped back. Her hands immediately thrust out to cling on to the edge. The weight of dangling legs strained her grip. Rough edges of the asphalt road stabbed under her arms and palms. Pain screamed from her upper body.
Phoeclex buzzed by Shaylee’s head flashing red and green lights. “You are in terrible danger.”
“No kidding! Help me already!”
The nanobot stilled. “Dialing 911...”
Her arms strained. She kicked into the dirt to try to dig small footings to climb up but it collapsed under her sneakers. Big splashes sounded below, reminding her how cold the water must be.
“Police are on the way. Hang on.”
“I’m slipping,” she cried, “go find help! Go!”
The robot buzzed away. Besides her own heavy breathing the silence of being alone hammered her heart. It hit her then that Phoeclex could only fly forty-three miles per hour. She was going to die. Probably die of hypothermia if her head didn’t first slam into debris.
The strain in her arms grew. No one would come in time. She had to pull herself up before her grip lost strength. Shaylee kicked her feet into the wall of dirt once more. The weak soil slid down. The sound of failure shot her pulse into overdrive.
“Help! Someone help me!” The fear in her tone created another wave of panic.
Pieces of the edge collapsed under her left arm. She screamed, hanging on with one hand she knew would only last seconds more. “Nooo!”
“Hold on! a thick voice yelled.
“Help me!” she screamed her throat dry.
A skinny man with a long white beard poked his head over the edge. He grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him.
“I gotcha.” His words were the most comforting she had ever heard.
With her knees on a flat surface she leaned into him to wrap her arms around the gentleman. “Thank you so much.” The quiver in her body remained.
He pulled away to eye her. “Thank your...silver friend here. She flew into my pickup as I’s driving by. Hand dandy little thing, eh.” He stood up and stretched a hand to help her up. “Name’s Zane. Best get away from here before we all sink.”
His smile warmed her. Phoeclex flew around them in circles, analyzing no doubt.
Away from the road Shaylee’s adrenaline calmed. Her dads truck rumbled to a stop in front of them. Then two police cars pulled in, followed by her aunt and uncle, and her best friend’s parents. Shortly after her boyfriend parked his car.
Shaylee grabbed Phoeclex. “Are you kidding me. Who didn’t you call?”
“They were the closest. The probability of them reaching you in time was higher.”
Shaylee gripped her hair as her dad ran toward her, ready to scoop her in his arms. Then he would without a doubt ground her for months. Today was a school day after all.
Shaylee squeezed the little robot. “There is no way you’re coming home with me.”
“Too much pressure on my hardware. Please release your grip.”
Written by Victoria Perez, 2014. Story rights belong solely to the author. This story is the author's original wording and has not been altered in any way.