Flash.Fiction: Scruples

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

It’s that time again. The Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction challenge stirred something in me, made me want to address it. I grew up on a farm, way back before…

Anyway, the prompt is:

I called him Sigfried. He just flew down and landed on that fence post one day when I was plowing. He came every day after that. He just sat there and watched me. When I left, he left.

One day, I decided to go over and see how close I could get before he flew away. But he didn’t fly away.

I walked right up and touched him. That’s when I realized he wasn’t a real bird, but a very realistic robot. I could see the cameras for eyes; hear the tiny servos whirring as he twitched and moved. They had found me. After all this time they had found me again.

And this is my response to the prompt:

I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide forever, not after what I’d done.

You see, I used to work for CA, Corporate America, managed one of those industrial farms, produced of all kinds of unhealthy, profit heavy crops and livestock. You know the ones. Or maybe you don’t. We had a way of hiding the problems with our merchandise.

I did so well they promoted me to the research division, corporate nirvana for my line of work, where I got to “contribute” instead of just pushing product. What I didn’t know was that contributing meant leaving my scruples at the door, well, what little scruples I had left after working on a CA farm.

Sigfried was my idea. I envisioned a robot owl used to keep birds away from precious crops like cherries. The hawk design worked better, more streamlined. No, I wasn’t being altruistic or a “green” bean. CA’s about the bottom line. I knew we could make a mint, could destroy the competition just by using the Sigfried model to drive birds to non-CA farms.

What I didn’t envision was how Sigfried would be used like a drone to drop hazardous chemicals into the water supply of competing farms, not just hurting their business, but putting them out of commission completely. Salting the earth, no less.

I ran with what little scruples I still had intact. But not before I leaked damaging information to the press. Then I hid, in plain sight. On a farm.

Until today.

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