Like a cat; it was all hunter, no mercy.
Yet, a weather-beaten traffic camera, on probably the most boring road in town, was its favorite place to watch from. The folks downtown who maintained all of the incoming video feeds noticed that, more often then not, the road computer seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time just looking around the quiet, little road that was home to a ditch full of plants, some insects and animals, and very little else.
Granted, it was created to watch a few hundred other roads as well, but for some reason the lack of movement in the photos received, the void of mechanical noise that had been recorded, is what seemed to draw its attention to this spot in town, more so then anywhere else. Whatever was in those images being received, the road computer seemed fixated on it, and since it did its chores in a millisecond, it had a lot of time to kill before the next group of photos came in, from the many eyes and ears along the town’s roads.
John was stinking drunk since last night. He was the kind of drinker that could pour a bottle of ‘Jack’ straight back, vomit it up hours later, and be right back on the prowl for more. He’d only stop when his body gave up on him; it was amazing he was still alive. Too drunk to walk, he decided he’d have better luck driving if he could crawl long enough to get to his car. It had been another long, drawn out night of partying with The Boys that ran well into the morning. It was time to get home, make some breakfast, then get some more ‘Jack.’
He tore down the road as a drunkard does; weaving to and fro, trying too hard to keep it straight and overcompensating with every turn of the wheel, not caring about the stop signs, or the blind corners, or the traffic camera he had just been caught sight on.
It had already been aware of him coming down the road before the car crested the closest hill, the glare of his headlights giving away his approach. The sounds coming along with the road’s photo feed is what first peaked its curiosity, though. An engine, running fast and hard had alerted it that something was amiss, here. As it prepared to make some calculations of the approaching object’s speed, it kept busy working, watching the other city roads, looking for problems, spotting any speeders, red light runners, fender benders, things like that, to alert the emergency services as needed.
John was drifting towards the middle of the road when he started down the slight decline after the hill. As his license plate came into view it realized that the vehicle belonged to a man who already had a ticket for drinking and driving.
It soon realized a school crosswalk was between this vehicle and the owner’s residence. Three, actually, and they were in use at the moment, school was about to begin on that bright, spring day. The severity of the situation did not escape it, this object must be stopped, and stopped now.
Like a lion on the hunt, instinct took over; it began to stalk its prey, first assuming control over the vast network of intelligence it had in its grasp. As it identified the other cameras it would use to watch his progress, it called to arms the all the systems of the town, in an effort to put a stop to the pending tragedy before it could occur.
The area’s traffic lights begin to slam on red in all directions, to prevent anymore from coming into the path of this dangerous situation. By the time John’s car had left the sight of the first traffic camera, the crosswalk guards, whose kids were going to be in jeopardy from the incoming danger, received loud alarms on their cell phone. The volunteers knew right away it was a call for a traffic emergency in the area. All three tore into action, getting the children on both sides to stop dead in their tracks, to be on the lookout for oncoming danger.
John didn’t stand a chance; as his car blasted past the camera, every constable in the city knew exactly who he was, where he was likely heading, and how long he would be driving to get there. It followed him relentlessly, informing the squad cars of every move he made, every turn he took, and where the danger points were. In no time, John’s car came to a screeching halt, having to choose between hammering on his breaks, or plowing into a two-car cop barricade.
It reset the traffic lights to normal, gave the crosswalk guards the green light to continue, and watched as the kids made it to school, just a few moments later then usual.
After it checked the rest of the town again, it went back to it’s sightseeing, watching another new butterfly appear in its favorite spot, the quiet little road.