There are Bots outside.
The Man knows that the Bots are outside. The Bots are always outside. Searching. Waiting. They don't like the Man. They don't like his people, they don't like what he does. They don't know what he plans to do next, but they're sure they won't like it.
The Man doesn't like the Bots either, but he's found a way to get past them, and onto the future that he's trying to create for himself and others. You see, the Bots, they just want to protect themselves. They tell the people that they're protecting everyone. That they're protecting Art, and Law, and Society.
The Man doesn't agree, but the Bots are too powerful to take on inside the system. So he built his own system.
Joe - for that is the Man's name, no fancy alias, just a Regular Joe - readies himself for the daring running battle he is about to launch in order to get past the Bots. He runs his hands through his hair, straightens his spectacles, checks his shoelaces. Makes sure his camera is ready. Secures a small, round, red button to his blazer.
Tonight, he has planned a special event that will show the Bots a glimpse of the power in his alternative system. Nearly 2000 people, in a public display of solidarity in art. The Fall Formal.
There are Bots outside. Joe must get past them in one piece if he is to strike a real blow against them. He must get past them, and get to the venue. No doubt the Bots will have a few tricks up their articulated metal sleeves, but once he's amongst his people, they will be strong enough to do something extraordinary. No revolution is won by a single person.
On some unseen, unheard signal, Joe bursts through the door, and out into a side street. Out on the main street, Bots swarm. He dashes to and fro, timing his runs carefully to evade detection. One street over. Two. Joe is getting closer to the Fall Formal.
Down another side street. Across the main, and into a doorway. Wait for a patrol to pass. He checks his watch. There's less time than he would like. Taking a risk, he darts out of his hiding place, and down another street. Dead end. He turns to go back.
Bots block the exit.
They advance slowly. The plan is to make an example of the upstart. To hang the revolutionary high. Their intended target backs away.
Joe is so close. He can hear the excited chattering of the queue outside the venue. He knows that just out of sight are a thousand willing allies with the power to reveal the Bots as the tools of the outdated system that they are. He begins to smile.
Just as it seems like Joe can retreat no further, the man straightens his back and plants his feet wide apart. He throws his jacket open, revealing the bright red button.
The Bots do not yet understand what is going to happen. Joe can almost pity them. They are almost within touching distance, when he clears his throat and asks a simple question.
"Are we recording?"
In an instant, the sound of the chattering queue is silenced. The Bots are baffled. Joe gestures. A few Bots turn to look. They have not noticed; they have been surrounded. All around them are men and women of all ages. All bear cameras, pens, musical instruments. All have a small, round, red button pinned to their formal clothing. The Bot squad are outnumbered. The silent crowd raise their devices, prepared.
Joe delivers his imperative command.
Every recorder finds a red button to push. Some play. Some sing. Some dance, some write, some draw. The alleyway fills with the glow of red recording lights. A light reflected and redoubled by the red disc on Joe's chest, which seems to grow and pulsate with light.
Now the Bots panic. Understanding is beyond them. They are not programmed to cope with this. All they know is that their precious system is in danger. They are in danger.
Joe's button unleashes a bolt of light, blasting a path through the gang of Bots. He makes good his escape, past the dazed and damaged Bots. Along with the RECorders, he enters the Fall Formal safely. Even as the show begins, Joe is still on his guard.
There are Bots outside. They have been beaten for now, but their system has not survived this long to fall so easily now. They will have other plans. And the show goes on all night.