ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

“Kennelmen,” the armed guard on my right said.

The jailer’s eyebrows raised an inch.

“You want us to stay with him?” the guard asked.

“No,” the jailer said. “Just wait until I get my Clancy hooked up to him. He won’t bother me then.”

I had heard about the Clancy used by WA police, though I had never had occasion to see one in use-let alone being attached to one. The Clancy is a robot, only as large as a beachball, spherical. Extending from apposite halves of its ball-shaped body are two strong, steel-nickle cable tentacles that terminate in handcuffs of a peculiar design. The cuffs are really heavier loops of the cable with a structured elasticity that allows them to conform to whatever wrist-size they are expected to encompass. Yet, the Clancy is more than a sophisticated set of cuffs. It floats before the prisoner on its anti-grav plate, directly out from his chest, three or four feet away (they had the same problem with anti-grav plates as they did with Kesey’s magnetic sleds: the plates can only be developed to a limited size, eighteen inches by eighteen inches. From then on, the field they generate is so erratic as to be totally unsafe. But the Clancy is the right size and can make good use of the anti-grav mechanisms). The cop can tell the Clancy where to take the prisoner, and the Clancy obeys, dragging its keep behind. If the prisoner gets unruly, the Clancy has a very efficient method of settling him down. The cuffs are contracted around the wrists, tighter and tighter, until the pain convinces the scoundrel that he really doesn’t mind being arrested. If that doesn’t work, the cables can transmit a stunning shock from the Clancy’s battery. In short, the Clancy is the policeman’s best friend.

Why a name like Clancy? Well, it was this Irish cop that originally came up with the idea of using the grav-plates for such a purpose, patented the idea, and named it after himself. Probably the only cop in the city’s history to immortalize himself.

The jailer worked over his switches and dials, then turned to the wall behind him. A moment later, a section of the wall slid up, the blue Clancy sphere floated out, its cable tentacles dangling to either side like thick lanks of greasy hair. The jailer directed it, then leaned back and watched as it set about doing its duty.

I tensed as the machine came toward me, moving silently, evenly, its single sight receptor nodule (set at the top and able to scan in all directions) shimmering a pretty green. The tentacles snaked out, the loop of cuffs opened at the end so that the cuff looked like two fingers or talons. The talons slipped around my right hand and tightened, even though I tried to pull away. I offered my left hand without battle. Still following the jailer’s instructions, the Clancy led me to the sliding door in the wall and opened it by emitting an audible beep. Beyond, the tunnel-like corridor continued. With the Clancy dragging me along, we went through the door into the WA prison. The door slid shut behind.

Once, I tried to work against the machine. I set my heels and refused to move. It tugged at me, harder and harder, then jerked so suddenly that I tipped forward, staggered, could not regain my balance, and went down on my shoulder on the hard floor. The Clancy floated above, tilted a bit so that its sight nodule could scan me. Its tentacles were stretched to the limit. It tried to pull me up, but could not manage the task. Then I felt the tightening of the cuffs. My hands began to grow numb and took on a bluish coloration. When it grew painful enough, I gave up this childishness and stood. I cooperated from then on.

It led me down the tunnel a good way, then through a second door; this, a dilating circle that cycled open at another electronic signal and admitted us to the chamber beyond. This was the prison proper, the area of the cells. Along each wall were dilating doors of heavy metal, each about twenty feet apart. The Clancy led me to the sixth door on the right, dilated it with another beep, and took me inside.

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