The Mechanical Magistrate

Imagine that you, Phillip Rolfe, have been sentenced to death for killing your wife, a crime you claim you did not commit. You profess your innocence up until the moment the needle enters your arm and the world turns black. What seems like no more than a second later, the lights are back on.

It was not a second, though. It was forty years into the future. Because the death penalty was put on hold, you have been cryogenically frozen over those forty years. You’re told to sit in a chair and go through your story once more. When you do, you are pronounced innocent. The Mechanical Magistrate, an infallible robotic judge, states that you are telling the truth.

You’re free. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that a bio-attack carried out by the United States has killed off ninety percent of the world. Only the very healthy and those who have gone underground have survived. One of those is a megalomaniac named Walker, the creator of the Mechanical Magistrate and the absolute ruler of most of what was once the United States.

Walker uses the Innocence Machine to rid the world of criminals and those that defy him. He even has his own harem, one benefit of being able to play God. Because you are an educated man and can be of use to him, he gives you permission to try to find the only one of your two sons that might have survived the apocalypse. Of course, he expects you to return.

Your travels take you through a landscape that is in total ruin, filled with people who are either half insane or moving from place to place to find whatever food they can. When your son is located, your reunion is not quite you hoped it would be.

You have grown tired of Walker and make a decision to use the Mechanical Magistrate against him. You see, you know something he does not – the Mechanical Magistrate is not, in fact, infallible.  

The time for you to play God has arrived.

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