Carrot Wartooth is new in town, and that isn't her name. The skies are blue but Carrot's mukluk's leave deep footprints in the powdery snow—the frosty wind blows and her blazing orange hair whips behind her like her head is on fire.
The trail of her footprints leads to a small grocery store where she purchases a gallon of milk, a single box of cereal, and ten lottery tickets. The robot clerk is a stainless-steel, egg-shaped, hovering robot in a tiny green apron. In place of a heart, this greedy robot has a pair of slots for receiving dollars and quarters. Red laser eyes glint maliciously in Carrot's direction as he scans the barcodes with a glance.
Carrot feels out of place. This is all very new to her.
The tiny clerk speaks automated words. “Please deposit [twenty-four dollars...and five cents].” The girl takes out a coin purse, removes a large gold coin marked with the Communist hammer and sickle, and violates the robot by attempting to shove the too-large coin in its quarter receptacle. The robot beeps in frantic protest and flails his noodly arms, but it's too late. The coin is now stuck.
“Vhat're you beeping about?” The possible Communist narrows her hawkish eyes, and looks unbearably dumb. Carrot has lead a cloistered life locked away up in sunny Siberia. As a result she knows little about this foreign country she's escaped to—the land of Cambria, a place where they actually have snow and half the people are robots.
Cambria spans the entire North American continent including former Canada, America, and Mexico—it's also the lawfully wedded nemesis of Mother Russia. Right now the two nations are in the middle of the Second Cold War, and Carrot should know this, but she never paid much attention to her lessons. It's hard to think about politics and geography when all you've ever seen is the inside of various cold, sterile white rooms.
The robot beeps even more angrily, each beep growing longer and shriller until he's making a series of high-pitched siren wails.
“Are you bomb? Are you goingk explode?” Carrot sounds jaded and bored, but she is completely serious in thinking the frantic robot might be some newfangled type of bomb. And yet she just stands there, and frowns too deeply to be real. The robot's head starts to spin around 360° like he's possessed—a queer blue light flashes from one eye, and the other eye's red light glows even brighter. A second voice emits from his voicebox—this voice isn't automated, and Carrot is under the impression that it isn't his own.
“You are under arrest for the suspicion of Communist activity. The authorities are on their way. Remain where you are. If you attempt to flee, you will be shot-on-sight. Have a nice day!”
Carrot's stomach growls loudly and she doubles over—when she glances at the cereal, and her mouth waters. “Ay! I'm so hungry! Gimme my cereal!” The robot continues to imitate a police car, and does not respond—Carrot pouts at the cereal box and looks ready to faint.
Across the front of the box are the words LUCKY JACKS and inside there are promised to be a variety of tiny marshmallows shaped like various lucky charms and a lot of oatmeal Os that taste like stale cardboard. Eventually the temptation is too great and she just rips the box open, but inside she finds that the box is only half-full of cereal. Luckily enough, the other half of the box is filled with twenty-four prizes, including a variety of cheap plastic toys made in China and several tickets for shopping sprees and free boat rides.
Carrot eats the half of the box that is cereal, but for the most part she does not eat the prizes. As she munches fistfuls of dry cereal and swigs the gallon of milk the unusual tourist scratches her ten lottery tickets, all of which are winners for the maximum amount—$500.
Now satiated and with pockets full of prizes, the confused Ruski exits from the front of the store, where she is met with a barrage of bullets coming from a half-circle of police drones.
The scleras of her golden eyes flicker faintly iridescent, displaying a variety of hues. The black ink drops of her pupils shrink, and the sun shines brighter. All that can be heard is the rapid-fire tinging of metal-on-metal.
When time starts again Carrot is surrounded by one dozen supine, bullet-riddled robots. Each police drone is the victim of friendly fire—it just so happens that this model of robot was recalled yesterday for faulty targeting systems, but it seems the Police Captain didn't get the memo. Not a single one of the bullets even so much as grazed Carrot's freckly skin.
As she makes her way through the battlefield of fallen drones, Carrot is vaguely aware of the store exploding behind her. A feeling of heat blooms across her back but it's not hot enough to burn—junk and broken glass flies everywhere but not a single speck touches her.
Carrot knows, without ever having to really know, that this explosion just so happened to destroy every last shred of evidence—every surveillance tape, unprinted receipt and fingerprint—that could have linked her to the crime. She also knows, without really having to know, that the explosion itself is probably caused by an undetected gas leak mixed with faulty wiring—no one's fault really, because it never is.
It's just her luck.