She stands at the top of the hill. Below her there are bulldozers digging the foundation for a new holiday inn. The same lot used to house a roller rink; the kind of charming 90’s attraction that was a perfect place for birthday parties, where charming 90’s children wearing floral leggings with stretched out baggy knees, raced around in circles, staring at the flapping stretched out sleeves of the of the 90’s boys who always remained the same distance ahead.
There were girls who realized that they could turn around, catch their targets by skating in the opposite direction. Those girls were the first to be kissed... suddenly, like crashing, as the boys came around the turn.
They Circled around the skinny little girls with the muscular arms and legs, the ones who were flat chested even at fourteen. They wore tight clothes and were probably figure skaters, here to show off their spins and arabesques, protected from the others by orange traffic cones. They should have looked clumsy in their chunky roller blades but instead they looked balanced out, their strong arms matched their heavy feet.
There was a concession stand and a dark arcade. There were signs that recommended that you take off your skates before entering the arcade and if a staff member cought you skating on the rug you’d have to sit down where you were, take off your skates, and walk around in your white socks which glowed like your teeth in the black light.
She remembers how the wheels of her skates felt different against the bottoms of her feet when she skated on the carpet. Like walking on the grass feels different after jumping on a trampoline for hours.
She liked to imagine that the arcade had a wood floor and the rink had a rug, or, better yet: there should be many different rinks all with different textured floors. And the skaters would be blindfolded and have to guess what they were skating over.
She watches the construction and decides that she blames video games. Video games are why everyone stopped going to the roller rink, that’s why it was closed and abandoned.
There was a sign on the fence that marked it as a condemned building. There was a hole in the fence that was easy to climb through and a broken window leading into an office where the door was off its hinges and then you were inside. Inside a huge black space, empty except for the disconnected black wires poking out of the floor and walls where all the machines had been removed, and once you’d gone there were beer bottles, broken glass and graffiti.
The bulldozer down below pauses, mid way through lifting its loud of dusty dirt. The machines head, on its long jointed neck, looks up at the girl.
This is the moment, she realizes, when it has developed artificial intelligence. Inside its brain of pure logic and reason, it now knows that, for the safety of the planet, all humans must be eliminated.
The girl does not have time to escape. Behind the eyes of the dragon-like killing machine, a computer screen that sees everything in a scale of dark reds and light reds, zooms in, onto the image of the girl. Little numbers and arrows appear all around her, indicating her heart rate, temperature, eye movement, turning her to a diagram.
The girl begins to run. She’s not in very good shape and right away she knows she wont get far.
The machine untangles itself, calmly, all joints, all elbows and shoulders. It bounds forward towards the bottom of the hill, weaving between the piles of dirt that turned to hills when grass sprouted all over them, when construction was halted last summer.
The machine weaves or rolls around, towards the girl, up the hill. Machines never hurry. They calculate how fast they have to go to gain on you and they maintain that speed until they catch you.
And maybe this is the way its supposed to be, she thinks, as her sandels, not at all made for running, slap against the sidewalk and then slap against her heels, maybe we're supposed to be caught.