Slammy Patterson rode the tram to get away from his troubles. A shit job with a dick boss, a fat wife with a bad attitude, and a lazy kid with greasy hair. Fuck, Slammy hated his life. That’s why he rode the tram. No one gave a shit about Slammy in real life and no one gave a shit about him on the tram either. The main difference was that people let him be on the tram. He would just sit by the window and stare out at the city. Slammy would spend hours on end riding the tram from one end to the other. He loved that tram.
One afternoon Slammy Patterson was riding north-to-south on the downtown line. It had been another typically shitty week. He was pretty sure his wife was having an affair with the upstairs neighbour, Gregor, a man Slammy thought of as an Austrian slimeball. By no means did Slammy hold prejudice against Austrians – Gregor just rubbed him the wrong way. And, in the end, Slammy was right. Gregor committed insurance fraud for a living and was, in fact, slamming it to Mrs. Slammy. In addition to several other married women in the neighbourhood to boot.
Earlier in the week, Slammy’s boss had also humiliated Slammy in front of the rest of the office. Slammy had spilt coffee onto his white shirt and blue tie. It wasn’t his fault – the handle of his mug had broken off and a downpour of hot joe was immediately unleashed onto Slammy’s chest and legs. He didn’t feel too much pain, since he was too embarrassed at the time. While Slammy was wiping up the kitchenette, his boss stormed in and demanded to see him in the conference room at once. Slammy tried to explain his predicament, but his boss would have none of it and grabbed Slammy’s arm, pulling him into the impromptu meeting.
As he was in such a rush, his boss had not noticed Slammy’s coffee stained attire until they stood at the head of the table. “What in the fuck happened to you, Patterson?! You shit on your chest and piss your pants or something? Everyone – look at Patterson! – what a joke! Patterson, get the fuck out of here and clean yourself up you pathetic sod!” The rest of the room joined in the rip-show that was Slammy’s current position in space and time. He turned a dark shade of red before dashing out of the room and into the bathroom. The rest of the week his colleagues walked by his office calling him piss pants and leaving packages of adult diapers on his desk.
Slammy’s wife had a son, Tyler, from a previous marriage. Slammy thought the boy to be worthless and was probably right. Tyler spent his mornings failing his senior year for a third time, his afternoons cutting class to get stoned in the back of his van, and his evenings in front of his Xbox.
Tyler hated Slammy and thought him to be a total pushover. He wasn’t far off. If Slammy made dinner for his family, Tyler would vulgarly insult his cooking and spit food all over the table while doing so. His mother – Slammy’s wife – didn’t care, and even at Slammy’s request would do nothing to discipline her son. Secretly, she enjoyed it when her son exerted dominance over her pathetic husband.
That afternoon Slammy had gone home early to make his famous tuna casserole for the family. As he stepped in the front door he swore he heard a commotion on the second floor but thought nothing of it. He went to the kitchen and began unpacking his grocery bags. Outside the kitchen window, and out of Slammy’s sight, Gregor snuck pantsless across the fire escape and climbed up two floors into his own kitchen window.
An hour later Slammy called his family down to dinner. His wife was shifty and wouldn’t make eye contact, while his son was unresponsive and aloof. He took a few bites of Slammy’s tuna casserole and told Slammy it tasted like cat shit – though he secretly enjoyed when his stepfather prepared this dish. After a meal’s worth of abuse, Slammy cleared the table, washed up, and walked outside to the tram stop.
Slammy’s faithful number nine stopped to pick him up. He gave the slightest nod to the driver and took a seat beside the window. For the next hour, he would be caught mesmerized in the changing scenes of the city streets outside of the tram’s window at dusk.
Forty-five minutes into his journey – when the tram was halfway through it’s route – a women with a small child sat three seats in front of Slammy. The child, who was no more than three years old, had been waiting patiently with his mother but his patience completely crumbled as they boarded the vehicle. Before the child had even sat down he began screaming with a violent terror. The howls of impatience tore through the bones of every other man, woman, and child on the tram and made the driver’s skin crawl.
This ear-piercing terror continued as the tram began moving. Slammy, who was usually adept at understanding children, recognized that he would not be able to tolerate the child’s screams for much longer. He wrung his hands while his teeth began to twist and grind frantically. He prayed for an end to the squealing sound but there was none in sight. This was supposed to be his sanctuary and now it was being disturbed with such ruthless clamor.
Slammy tried to hold on to his sanity, but it was beginning to slip away from his control. By now he had dug his fingernails into his arm to try and gain some control over himself, but the pain did nothing to quell his discomfort. Increasingly anxious, with blood appearing on his forearms, Slammy began clawing at the windows of the tram and mumbling incoherently. So disturbed were the rest of the passengers by the ongoing screams of the child that they did not notice Slammy’s attempted escape, nor hear his own cries of terror.
Slammy’s head began to shake violently and his neck contorted into angle’s not possible to endure. This course continued to gain momentum as the child screamed. Without warning, and unnoticed to the rest of the tram, Slammy’s head exploded outwards and covered the surrounding passengers with what appeared to be skull fragments and shards of metal debris.
The child stopped screaming and the cabin fell silent. A cloud of smoke that had engulfed where Slammy sat began to dissipate. The child started to howl once more as two men stood up to investigate what had happened. Slammy’s torso sat perfectly still in it’s seat, it’s arms folded across it’s lap like a well-postured Ichabod Crane. Neither man had seen anything like it before.
Instead of what one would expect to find from a beheaded male of Slammy’s form, they saw what looked like a poorly soldered circuit board with grey smoke emerging from two large holes in his chest.
“What the hell…” they murmured in near unison. A crowd began to form around the body – no one noticed the child anymore.
And this was the first day that the human race discovered the fundamental flaw with the androids it had developed. Contained in their makeup was an overlooked defect, an unknown self-destruct mechanism of sorts. When exposed to the shrill and high-pitched screams of an infant child for an extended period of time, they will lose control over their own capacities, become overheated, and detonate. This information, which was completely unknown to scientists before Slammy’s accident, would later be used to save millions of lives. Slammy lived his life as a schmuck. And even though he would never find out, he went out a hero.