The branches broke loudly under his feet, making sharp cracking sounds that echoed throughout the forest. His legs automatically adjusted every time a rock slipped sideways under him, keeping him upright and stable at all times. The sack slung over his back looked heavy but didn’t seem to slow him down or cause him any uncomfort. The thousand euro notes inside the sack shook around, making a crinkling noise every few feet. He didn’t slow down though, for his brain was calculating the risks of all this and it knew that it would be better to make more noise now and go faster than make less noise and go slower. Right now he needed to get away, to escape the small town that was slowly fading into the distance behind him. He knew it would not be long before they noticed, before they sent people after him.
But he also knew that he would get away, for he had calculated every possible option and was making all the choices that would enable him to escape. He had spent many days sitting down, his brain thinking of all the options until he was sure that it would work. He had waited 3 years for the perfect moment, for everything to line up. Everything had worked perfectly tonight, as he knew it would.
The robot kept running, never tiring or slowing, just steadily running forwards until the sun started to come up through the trees, casting long shadows throughout the forest, burning away the low fog. The town would realize now, that all the money in their bank was missing, that someone had bypassed their security. They would be sending out police officers and their dogs to try and track down the offender. But dogs would not help because the robot had no smell. He had no fingerprints that he could leave at the bank and they had no way of knowing it was him.
He slowed now, for he was coming into a small town. It was the only one on his journey and there was no point going around it for there were lakes and mountains in his way. He walked slowly trying not to draw attention to himself. It was not uncommon for robots to be seen wandering of their own free will, for so many had lost their jobs fifty years ago. The companies had all been bought out and now there was one manufacturer. They had standardized the robots and improved them, made them all better for their jobs. Nobody wanted old robots now, with their harsh metal skins and old fashioned technology.
The occupants of the small town looked at him curiously, for many of them had not seen the old robots, only heard about them in stories from their grandparents. He strode past them, not looking at anything in particular just trying to pass through the town quickly.
“Hey, you! Robot!” a voice called out. The robot kept walking, acting as if he had not heard.
“Oy! Stop walking!” said the same voice, closer now. Reluctantly the robot turned around, his mind whirring. A small man stood before him, brown haired and energetic looking, as if he had already had 5 cups of coffee. A small but rightly polished badge on his rumpled shirt identified him as Constable Barney Nobles.
“Where do you come from? What’s your name?” Barney asked, looking comically unauthorized to be asking questions of the great robot who stood half a foot above him.
“I come from Germany and I was once called HanselGretel” he lied to Barney.
“Right, well,” said Barney trying to remember the reason he had stopped this robot, “Could you, um, erm, well actually I just wanted to say hello, you can continue on”
And so Jesse James turned away from the small, over excited man and continued on. As the robot turned a corner and disappeared from Barney’s sight he felt a small buzz in his pocket. Barney glanced down and pulled his phone out, a message appearing on the screen as soon as he touched it.
“Bank robbed. Watch for anyone carrying large bag trying to leave town.”
Barney stood in the middle of the small town his brain working frantically to put the pieces together, until at last, just as the robot was walking down a hill and out of his sight he turned and ran as fast as he could towards it, blowing his police whistle and looking ridiculous.
He knew that he must catch up to the robot, or that there would likely be a demotion or at least a large amount of shifts at the local mall. Barney cherished his constables badge and he would do anything to avoid losing it. His father had once been a police constable and Barney constantly found himself asking what his father would have. He had always seemed to know what to do in situations like these. “Not that there had ever been situations like this” murmured Barney. Everyone knew that robots didn’t steal things, they quietly went about their jobs, doing whatever it was they were assigned to do. Barny wondered why this had happened to him, in his small town, with his small police force, consisting of himself and no one else. He tried to run faster, wishing that he had eaten that extra doughnut for the last 10 years. But Barney was slow and the robot soon was almost out of his sight. He turned the corner that the robot had just gone around and looked around wildly. Deciding that the robot must have just started running a bit faster ho continued running down the street.
The robot watched him run past from the doorway he had stopped in. His eyes scanned for other people and, seeing the coast was clear, he stepped out and began walking again. He walked slowly for he knew that Barney was the only threat to him in this village, and he was not much a threat at that. He kept walking out of the town, crossing small bridges. He could see the border now, but there was no reason to quicken his pace so kept walking calmly. He could hear, behind him, the faint voice of Barney Nobles who had caught sight of the robot walking up the mountain path but Barney was out of shape and would never catch up to him. So he kept walking, very near his goal and he knew he would make it across the border safely. He had always known this. He continued along the small path, the little wooden sign that read “Romania/Serbia” looming closer and closer.
The robot stopped suddenly, just across the border. He set his sack down, for it was his, as he had gotten it out of the country. He stood very quietly for a few moments, looking back at the long way he had run and then he did something that no robot had done before.
He laughed at the humans who had not even considered that someone could steal money and take it across the border. He laughed at the fact that there were no laws to stop him from doing this. He laughed at the police officer who had failed to stop him. He laughed at the worker in the factory who had named him Jesse James as a joke, never knowing that the robot would live up to his name. He laughed at himself and at the world and he didn’t stop for a very long time.