‘Disengaging Autodrive’ is just another example of the creativity of spanko minds at work in the Future Spank story contest. Enjoy!
Jeff Miller was the kind of self-absorbed jerk that gets promoted to Vice-President just a little too quickly. He stood at the point in his office where the south and the west windows intersected and looked far down to the roof of the executive parking structure, his eyes fixed on a single vehicle parked there. He had parked on the roof instead of in the covered parking this morning so that he could observe his new Nikola sportscar from a new angle several times throughout the day. The sun in the west window was almost parallel to the floor now, and it was Friday, and it was time to go.
The Nikola was a purchase that people like Jeff made when they wanted to show off. It was beautifully put together and very powerful, but it was also three times the price of the sweatshop-made warehouse-club cars that most people used, barely any bigger, and only slightly more comfortable. For all the power that the Nikola had, it was a slave to the ubiquitous autodrive feature that guided every car on the road to its destination, which meant that it didn’t actually arrive any faster than the cheapest plastic bubble on the road. But it was beautiful, and sitting in one told the world that you had more money than them, which is why Jeff had to have one.
On the ride this morning, the Nikola’s autodrive had moved him efficiently from home to work while Jeff had used the heads-up display to read some messages, surf the web, watch the news, and make some video calls. He hadn’t even touched the Nikola’s steering wheel nor any of the pedals. As he slid into the soft leather seat of the Nikola for his evening commute he instructed the car, “Nikola, take me home.”
“Destination set: home. Enjoy your ride,” replied the car.
Before the car had started, Jeff blurted out, “Wait. Screw it. Disengage autodrive.” A small smile spread across Jeff’s lips.
“Command not understood.”
“Nikola, Disengage autodrive.” Jeff’s smile faded.
“Are you sure?” Asked the car.
“Dis-engage-auto-drive!” Jeff shouted.
The car began to display and read a section from it’s user manual, “Mandatory government warning: Since 2025, all vehicles have been fitted with mandatory autodrive capability for your safety and efficiency. Disabling autodrive is highly discouraged and is for emergency use only. A $20 per mile tax will be assessed upon vehicles driving without autodrive to compensate the victims of road accidents. User is solely responsible for all traffic violations incurred while driving without autodrive. To continue to disengage autodrive, you must digitally sign a waiver by scanning your thumb on the fingerprint reader. Continue?”
Jeff’s smile was gone and he muttered something about the “bloody nanny state” under his breath. He swiped his thumb across the fingerprint reader and a moment later a small whirring sound announced the appearance of the steering wheel and pedals from a hiding place behind the dashboard. He flicked the start button, tapped the Nikola into forward gear, and eased silently out of the parking lot.
In his college days, Jeff drove one of the last gas-powered sportscars made, too old to be fitted with autodrive, and too much fun. He got his fair share of speeding tickets too, and under the government’s financial-means-tested penalty policy, when he was a college student he didn’t make enough money to be assessed a financial penalty. Not being assessed a penalty didn’t mean getting off lightly though.
When the government first introduced a financial-means-tested sliding scale of financial penalties for misdemeanors based on people’s ability to pay, there was a huge complaint from the middle classes. Average people’s nest-eggs for vacations and bigger TVs were eaten away by fines, whereas college students with no assets and little income got small fines or no fines at all. College students started to commit misdemeanors for fun knowing that they would not have to pay a fine for it. Something had to be done. A year later, the so-called ‘spanking bill’ passed through the government easily.
The government’s spanking bill meant that those who were getting away without paying a fine would now be physically punished instead. It was usually 12 strokes of an 8mm diameter, meter-long synthetic cane. Rather than having a sweaty police officer haphazardly striking the offenders, a spanking robot was developed that could clinically strike the offender’s bottom, with equal force in each stroke, and place the strokes parallel and slightly separated so as not to overlap the strokes. A room in the police station was used for the canings, and a police officer was present in case of a machine malfunction.
Jeff had received about 10 canings over the course of his college career, more than anyone he knew. The first ones were pretty scary, but after a while he realized that the canings weren’t that bad; the pain went away with aspirin and beer, and the marks went away after a few days. He even played “naughty speeder and angry police officer” with his college girlfriend from time to time and thoroughly enjoyed being on the receiving end of the inevitable spanking, but he was too stupid at the time to keep her as his girlfriend. Once he had graduated from college, he cleaned up his act and got a real job, he was assessed a few financial penalties for speeding, but then he replaced his old gas-guzzler with an electric autodrive car and never received a ticket after that.
Tonight, the fun was back. With the autodrive disengaged and Jeff at the wheel of the powerful Nikola, he surged past clusters of autodrive cars causing them to move erratically as they adjusted their trajectories for the single non-autodrive car around them, awakening their drivers or interrupting their entertainment. At some point in Jeff’s journey, a yellow light illuminated on the Nikola’s dashboard, indicating that he was exceeding the speed limit, but Jeff knew this section of freeway and knew that they had taken down the speed cameras years ago, and that it wouldn’t have a motorcycle patrol on it unless there was an accident. Besides, with his new salary, he knew he could easily afford whatever financial penalty that might be assessed for a speeding ticket.
As soon as Jeff arrived home and put the Nikola into park, he accepted an incoming video call on the Nikola’s heads-up display. It was the image of a female police officer, about his age, attractive, and somehow familiar. “This is officer Kane from the city police. Jeff Miller, your vehicle has reported that you have exceeded the speed limit at mile marker 217 of the President Wendy Davis Memorial Freeway at 6:15PM tonight, Friday the 23rd of March. Do you wish to contest the ticket?”
“Rat Bastard,” thought Jeff to himself – he had been turned in by his own car! There was no point in arguing, the police undoubtedly had all the evidence they needed from the Nikola’s telemetry. All that was left to do was to pay the fine. “No, Ma’am,” replied Jeff.
“Very well, report to the police station in precinct 7 immediately. I’ll send the coordinates to your autodrive,” said the image of the woman.
Jeff thought this was all wrong. Normally when you get a fine you just put your thumb on the fingerprint reader and pay it from your vehicle. Why did he need to go to the station? “Officer Kane, how much is the means-tested penalty for this offense? I’ll happily pay it by thumbprint right here on my dashboard,” said Jeff.
“The penalty is 18 strokes of a 12mm diameter, 1 meter synthetic cane. Report to the police station immediately. Officer Kane out.” The image disappeared.
Jeff’s mind raced. How could this be? Then it dawned on him, when means-tested financial penalties were introduced, there was a public outcry when financial penalties were being assessed on people with high salaries that were more costly than the cars the offenses were being committed in. The government’s spanking bill had both a lower salary limit and an upper salary limit, and his new salary put him above the limit. As he re-engaged the autodrive, the Nikola’s steering wheel retreated into the dashboard as if it had taken a cold shower.
Officer Kane was waiting on the steps of the police station as Jeff pulled up, having been alerted of Jeff’s arrival by the Nikola’s telemetry. Jeff got out of the car and instructed it to find the nearest available parking. Officer Kane was an amazing sight with her dark hair, piercing blue eyes, and muscular body displayed beautifully in her aerodynamic skin-tight motorcycle officer’s uniform. She was also taller than Jeff due to the tall stiletto heels on her boots that engage into the motorcycle’s safety system.
“Nice outfit,” said Jeff. “Do I know you?”
“Nice car,” replied officer Kane. “You’d better hope not.”
“Can I take you for a ride later?” Asked Jeff.
“You’re going to be taking a serious caning, Mr Miller. You’re not going to want to ride anything afterwards. Let’s go inside,” and with that, Officer Kane led Jeff into the punishment room that was just off the station lobby.
The punishment room was similar to the ones Jeff remembered from his college days, simply furnished with a punishment frame in the center, a punishment robot just off to the side of the frame, a coatrack, and a selection of canes on the wall, with the 12mm one being the thickest.
“Remove all your clothing and place it on the coatrack,” instructed Officer Kane, “and scan your thumb over the punishment docket.” Jeff did as he was told. Officer Kane then led Jeff over to the punishment frame and secured the straps for his wrists, upper arms, waist, upper thighs, and ankles. No movement was possible, ensuring an accurate, safe and even set of stripes from the punishment robot. Officer Kane loaded the 12mm cane into the punishment robot and gave it a fearsome-sounding test ‘swoosh’ before locking the robot in position.
Officer Kane stood in front of the punishment frame, face to face with Jeff. “Jeff Miller, you have been sentenced to 18 strokes of the 12mm diameter cane for the offenses listed in the punishment docket. You have declined a court trial. Your punishment begins now,” said officer Kane dispassionately, and then she lifted the safety cover on the spanking robot master control, dialled in 18 strokes, flicked the start button, and returned to the front of the spanking frame so she could study Jeff’s face.
The first stroke exploded on to Jeff’s backside, near the top of his buttocks. He yelled out in pain for a short moment until the second stroke landed just a little below the first. He was preoccupied with his pain but briefly noticed officer Kane studying his face intently. The third and fourth strokes elicited loud grunts from Jeff. The fifth stroke surprised him, despite being perfectly aimed and timed by the punishment robot, and he opened his eyes to notice that officer Kane was no longer standing in front of him. The sixth stroke landed and made him gasp, and then he heard a small click. The seventh stroke was late.
“Machine malfunction,” announced Officer Kane. “I’m going to have to complete the punishment manually.” Jeff heard the sound of the cane being removed from the punishment robot. “I’ll just move the punishment robot out of the way, after all, I need my space,” said officer Kane with a slightly sarcastic tone.
It was in that moment that Jeff realized where he recognized Officer Kane from. The words, “I need my space” were the last words that Jeff had texted to his college girlfriend. They were both older, and she had been working out, and had changed her hair, and was using a married name, and was taller in stiletto boots than the flats she wore in college, but it was definitely her. And he knew the rest of his punishment wasn’t going to be any easier.
“Disengaging the autodrive? Mr Miller, you should know better.” With that came three quick strikes from the cane, perfectly landing below the other ones, and if anything they were harder than the ones the robot had delivered. “Did you know you could have killed someone?” chided Officer Kane, before delivering three hard strokes right on top of one another in the crease between his buttocks and upper thighs that bruised almost immediately.
Jeff let out a yell and then grunted a “No Ma’am” as best he could. He was sweating hard.
“Six more,” announced officer Kane, “Did you know you’d be punished?” She landed three hard ones barely a second apart across the tops of his thighs creating three more bright stripes.
Jeff struggled against the restraints and then succumbed, grunting a further “No Ma’am”.
“Did you know that I have punishment duty on Mondays and Fridays?” Asked officer Kane, before delivering the last three strokes at an angle, intersecting several of the stripes on the fleshy part of his buttocks and causing him to squeal in pain.
“No Ma’am, but I do now” replied Jeff. Jeff relaxed a little against the restraints and unclenched his buttocks, exhausted from the ordeal. Then he heard a couple of quick footsteps behind him and felt an immense pain squarely across his backside and extending around his side as the tip of the cane wrapped around and struck his hip. Jeff yelled out as a piece of the synthetic cane snapped off and hit the wall. Officer Kane had used all her strength for that 19th stroke, and had surprised herself a little by breaking one of the so-called “unbreakable” canes.
“That one’s from me. Now get out of here,” said officer Kane as she undid the straps, “and you’d better hope you don’t get another punishment from me.”
While Jeff was dressing, he noticed that the spanking robot looked fine, other than that the emergency stop had been depressed. He thanked Officer Kane, gingerly walked out of the station, called the Nikola over to the station steps, and let the autodrive take him home while he lay face-down across the back seat.
Over the course of the weekend, and with the help of some aspirin and good whisky, Jeff’s pain subsided to a dull glow and he felt rather good about the incident. So much so in fact, that the following Monday evening Jeff left work as the sun was setting, disengaged the autodrive on his Nikola, joined the freeway, and pressed the accelerator down until the yellow light came on.