Category Archives: Short stories

ReConned

The parcel arrived early on a Sunday morning while they were having breakfast.

As soon as he could he took it down to his workshop.

An ex-military robot, reconditioned to monitor his family’s health for danger signs.

It was from a second-hand bidding site and the only difference from the more expensive ones, that he could see, was that it was from a private seller rather than an established shop. Why pay over the odds?

He unpacked it carefully.

The badly translated instructions were difficult to understand, but painstakingly he worked through each step. Hoping he was getting it right.

Enter this string of characters.

Enter this code.

Press this button.

Upload the family photos for recognition and recall.

The final piece of data it wanted was the factory code on the inside of the box so it could configure itself to the specifics he’d purchased – a preventative health-care system.

Preventative, that’s what made it worth the money.

He tapped in the factory code and took it outside.

It hovered for a while and then shot up high into the air. It was designed to roam freely, making its own decisions on where it should go and what it should do. Continue reading

Segmented

The posters make the same promises that led me here.

An evening of enlightenment!

A gateway to the future you deserve!

I’ve spent the last six months working on getting through that door. No wonder the anticipation in my stomach increases with every inch that the queue moves forward.

If I get in I’ll qualify for interviews with top paying companies that don’t advertise to my “type”.

For the whole of my life the marketeers have shoved me in a box, one of their segments, only letting me see what they think I want to see. They decide what I can and can’t buy. What I can and can’t be. How do they know who I am?

I’m sick of it.

It’s the self-fulfilling prophecy of modern marketing – market to those you believe are interested and the interest comes from those you market to.

Genius!

Will I get in? I hope so. Otherwise it’s a lifetime of one crap job after another.

I feel vulnerable, in stark contrast to the confidence that hangs over the queue like a protective umbrella. But, I’ve come this far and I’m going to see it through.

Continue reading

Anxiety Loop

Darya unwrapped the dream-enhancing skull cap that had been delivered that morning.

It was a prototype, significantly more powerful than anything she’d previously used and she was the first person in the world to try it. The privilege made her gloat, a little.

She pulled it on her head and plugged in Strażnik, her Artificially Intelligent assistant. At night he scoured the darkest corners of the virtual world for the weird and wonderful and then streamed them into her dreams.

During her dreams she was semi-aware, only half-dreaming, and would sift and knot together all the tiny nuggets of data and inspiration. In the morning she’d finesse them into a speculative news item that predicted a possible future.

At her most brilliant they revealed something truly revolutionary and at her most mundane they were a scary piece of entertainment.

She was good at what she did and a darling of society, often portrayed by the popular media as a visionary with a heart as big as her brain. They didn’t care that she was a recluse spending her life locked away in the virtual realm of the Artificially Intelligent. They just cared that she kept providing them with content.

It was a relationship that worked well for all parties, except maybe those whose deepest secrets became a thread in one of her speculations.

She flicked the switch, closed her eyes and drifted off… Continue reading