I met the Auto King shortly after betraying the only friends I’d ever known. It was in an old warehouse the Auto King’s supporters had turned into a base. He was connected by a few pipes to a large hyperbaric chamber. I’m pretty sure they are designed so that you can get in them, especially since I used a portable hyperbaric chamber a few months ago, but I suppose the Auto King wouldn’t really fit inside.
“The deed is done then?” was the first thing he said to me, talking with his raspy voice.
I decided to bow, or at least do the best I could given my four cow legs. “It is, my lord. I don’t understand why I had to stab my best friend in the back, but I have done as you asked. Without hesitation or question.”
“Good,” he said. “Very good. You have shown your devotion to the cause. I know that I can trust you to do anything, and that makes you my most valuable servant.” The Auto King disconnected his cables and drove forward. “Walk with me, or float if you would prefer.”
I decided to walk, moving alongside the midnight black car.
“Do you know why I use hyperbaric therapy? Melbourne has plenty of other options, but this is the one I prefer.” The Auto King was silent for a moment, but I felt like he didn’t want me to respond. “I once had a life beyond politics and revolution. As far as I know, I was the first-ever sentient car. I knew that the world wouldn’t accept me, so I disguised myself as a human. I had a wife, children, my dream house, my dream job. Life was good.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“I told them the truth. I hoped that my courage would inspire them to accept my kind. Instead, I lost everything. The divorce was the worst part. My children want nothing to do with me. They see themselves as monsters and it’s all my fault. The stress of it all shook my health. I couldn’t sleep without hyperbaric therapy.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “That sounds terrible, Mr Auto King.”
“Oh please. Call me Samuel C.”