A Robot at Wimbledon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
One robot's misguided attempt to take over planet Earth by winning at Wimbledon.

Submitted: August 11, 2012

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Submitted: August 11, 2012

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A Robot at Wimbledon

Only old and distorted T.V. and radio signals found their way to Magnus-Theta. On top of that, the beings there did not have a very good grasp of the English language; therefore, they sent a ship to Earth based on two major pieces of misinformation. The first was that England had the biggest Empire on the planet, and the second was that the ruler of England was decided in a competition called Wimbledon.

The robot that the Magnus-Thetans deployed to earth was about seven feet tall with two arms, two legs and a head. It was made completely out of metal. The robot’s torso was a fat rectangle with flashing lights on the front of it, and a squat square head poking out of the top of it, with two eyes, a ‘mouth’ and two antennae. To try and make it fit in with the other tennis players, the owners of the robot had dressed it in a pair of white shorts, which very tightly hugged the corners of the lower part of its torso, and a white vest that was stretched almost to breaking point. It also wore a white bandana tied around its head, but that was of its own choosing.

The robot entered the competition as an un-seeded ‘wild-card’; however, its debut was against a relatively unknown player from somewhere in the south of Spain. The robot served to open the match and it managed to bury the ball about a foot into the soil at the other end of the court. A transmission blasted into its brain through the antennae on the top of its head, it would not make that mistake again.

For some reason, the majority of the broadcasts that had reached Magnus-Theta had been of tennis matches. As a result of this, the robot knew all the rules of the game – even if it did need some time to adjust to the new planet’s gravity. It won the first match with ease, beating its opponent 6-0, 6-0, 6-0, in less than one hour. The robot continued to win matches in this way for the whole of the first week of the competition.

It was now the second week of the competition. The robot’s first opponent was Andy Murray, a match the Magnus-Thetans were very excited about as Murray – as they understood it – was the People’s Champion. They therefore sent instructions to earth for the robot to flip the switch from ‘Win mode’, to ‘Destroy Mode’. The match was held in centre court and Murray was the first to serve. He threw the ball into the air, jumped, and then smashed the ball over the net – the machine that measures the speed read 129mph, a personal best – however, the robot returned the ball with ease, and ran to net. Seeing an opportunity, Murray attempted to lob his mechanical opponent by hitting it high over its head, but the robot simply leapt up into the air and smashed the ball back at him. The shot hit Murray’s knee with such force that the leg bent in the opposite direction that it was designed to. Murray was unable to stand, and had to forfeit the match.

The robot’s next opponent was Andy Roddick. They played on a very hot and sunny day on Court One, and Roddick was serving to open the game. He took his first serve at the precise moment that an urgent transmission was being sent to the robot. As a result, Roddick was able to score an ace against his opponent and a loud applause broke out from the audience in reaction. The message that the robot had just received was a warning: a solar flare was due to hit the Earth’s atmosphere in less than six minutes, which would greatly hinder the robot’s performance capabilities – so it had better end the match quickly. The robot wasted no time, as when Roddick took his next serve, it returned the ball with a huge amount of force directly at the man’s chest, knocking out his heart and replacing it with the tennis ball.

Two days later, and the robot was back on court. Its opponent this time was Roger Federer. After only two games of play, sweat poured out of Federer, he was red in the face and struggling to breathe. It was raining on this day, and the two of them were playing on Centre Court with the roof closed, which amplified the groans of the audience. The robot was in no hurry to finish offits opponent as he was secretly its favourite. It took no notice of the instructions being beamed directly into its brain from high above; it had made up its mind that it would beat Federer, but it would not kill him. Half-way through the second set, though, an exhausted Federer retired the game. The robot was through to the final.

It was the day of the final. The robot re-engaged the ‘Destroy Mode’ switch which it had temporarily disabled just before the match with Federer. The robot entered the court for the final time to a great deal of booing from the audience along with a hail of small coins and other improvised missiles – all of which it paid no attention to. Its final opponent would be Rafael Nadal: Earth’s last hope for salvation. The robot served first this time and, as was expected, it dominated the game, moving with lightning fast speed and hitting the balls with such power that they were virtually un-returnable. A little over an hour into the game and Nadal was down two sets and losing the third, five games to none. It was during his brief rest between games (the robot did not need to rest and simply switched ends as required) that Nadal stood up and announced “I have had enough of this”. The audience started to groan as they all thought that Nadal was going to retire the match, just as Federer had, but they were wrong.

Nadal jogged back out to the base line, this time though he was holding his racket in his right hand instead of his left. Seeing this, Nadal’s coach stood up in the box and shouted “No Rafa, you can’t”, to which Nadal simply replied “I must”. Nadal threw the ball up and served it, the air shook and a loud crack echoed around the court. Everyone fell silent, no one knew whether or not the ball – which was now on fire in the corner of the court – had landed in or not. Hawk-eye could shed no light on the matter, and the little box that tells you the speed of the last serve had instantly broken. The Umpire got down from his chair and inspected the grass at the robot’s end of the court: yes, there was a small scorch mark just inside the left tramline, the serve had been in, and it was 15 – love. Nadal’s next serve similarly released a loud crack of thunder into the air as it broke the sound barrier: 30 – love. Two more thunderous services and Nadal had won the game. The umpire called “New balls please”.

It was now the robot’s turn to serve. Its alien masters were too dumbfounded to relay any instructions to it, so it was on its own. It launched the ball high into the air and served downward with its full power, “Fault,” called the linesman. “Second service,” said the Umpire. The robot served again, this time with less force, and the ball landed inside the lines. Nadal returned the serve with a powerful fore-hand, the ball bounced once on the other side of the court before hitting the robot square in the torso, denting the metal and causing one of the blinking lights situated there to go out. The robot froze: it did not know what to do, its programming had not prepared it for something like this, the only course of action it could see was to try and kill Nadal as quickly as possible.

The robot calculated the precise trajectory that would put its next service on a collision course with its opponent’s head. It took its serve with lightning speed and the ball was headed straight for Nadal, but he calmly stepped to one side and returned the ball, sending it once again ricocheting against the robot’s torso. How had he moved so fast, thought the robot, I hit that last ball faster than the eye can see; he should not have been able to return it. The score was love – 30, and the robot served once more, and, once more, Nadal sent the ball flying into the metal body of the robot. The game continued in this way for the next six games, and Nadal had won the set. By this time the robot’s torso was extremely dented, and more round than square. But, it had started to receive orders from the orbiting space-ship, they did not know how to win the game, they did have a drastic solution to the problem however.

The beginning of the fourth set, Nadal jogs back out to the baseline at the opposite end of the court to the robot. It is the robot’s turn to serve, but it only stands there, not moving at all. Suddenly, its head springs open down the middle, revealing an electronic display screen that reads 0100. At first, nothing happens and no one makes a sound, but then the display changes, the numbers begin to count down: 0099, 0098, 0097. The members of the audience start to panic and to flee for the exits – the beings in the spaceship high above laugh amongst themselves as they know that there is nowhere on Earth anyone could flee to and escape the force of their bomb. Nadal does not run away, he calmly jogs over to the place where the ball boys had once stood and collects the dropped balls. He fires them one by one with his racket at the robot, aiming for its head each time and hitting the head each time. With every direct-hit the head becomes more and more dented, until it is about the same size as a tennis ball – only one number can now be read on the display screen as it continues to count down: 9, 8, 7. Nadal hits one last ball at the robot, knocking its head clean off. He then races forward and collects the head, he looks up, shielding his eyes from the sun with his arm as he looks for his target. Once he has found what he is looking for, he throws the head into the air and hits it with his tennis racket and the force of a hundred atomic bombs. The head flies directly up at a thousand miles a minute – through the clouds it flies, trough the Earth’s atmosphere and past the Moon before making contact with the very ship that had deployed the bomb. The ship explodes and momentarily shines a thousand times more brightly than the sun, before fading away into nothing. The earth is safe once more.


© Copyright 2017 Mike J Owen. All rights reserved.

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