The Automannequin


© priorhouse

Max Hawkins staggered into the lobby of the building before dawn, and he couldn’t remember where he’d been all night.

“Anybody here?”

He was alone. The wreath near the window reminded him of Christmas. He poured himself a cup from the carafe, remembering he took coffee black.

“We’re glad your back, Max.”

He jumped, spilling his drink.

“Sorry. I called out.”

“That’s quite alright,” said the older man. “You ran off, but I knew you’d come home.”

“Home? This is Automannequins.”

“Yes. You malfunctioned and forgot you were a sexbot. We have to get you packaged for delivery this morning.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I’m still sleepy this morning and coffee is very much on my mind. For some reason, looking at the photo, I got the image of one of those old Twilight Zone episodes where the main character can’t remember who he is and how he got into a given situation, with a surprise reveal at the end. That’s tough to pull off in a hundred words. My character is an automated AI “sex worker” who on some level decided he didn’t want the role. Oh well.

By the way, there are automated sex worker brothels now, including one opening up in Houston, according to this news story.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit

50 thoughts on “The Automannequin

  1. Dear James,

    I used to love to watch the Twilight Zone, particularly those about robots and mannequins. The one with Ann Southern stands out where she forgets she’s a department store mannequin and then there’s my all time favorite, The Electric Grandmother adapted from Bradbury’s “I Sing the Body Electric.”




  2. Well, finally we’re back to the PBR blog’s title theme!. Though I suppose technically this is more fantasy than science fiction, since no consideration is given to the “mechanics” of the matter. That gives me pause to wonder, then, whether it is actually possible to fit the requirements of actual science into a 100-word-limited format.


    • We already have, Linda. I periodically read stories about men and their “relationship” with their sex dolls, which companies are making with more advanced AI so they “react” in a more realistic fashion, but it’s not just men. At the leftist feminist blog Jezebel, there’s a story about a French woman named Lilly who identifies as “Robosexual” and who wants to marry the robot she’s built. Most news outlets tend to make fun of her, but it seems the folks at Jezebel actually think Lilly’s cool. I will say that for both the men and women involved with these amplified erotic toys, that they probably feel safer in a relationship with a thing than a person.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As someone pointed out in another comment Björn, 100 words isn’t a lot to develop a story with. It would really depend on how intelligent and self-aware the AI was. At the point where AI can make independent decisions about their own functions, then I think it’s called slavery. Star Trek: The Next Generation even had a 1989 episode that touched on this related to Data called The Measure of a Man.


  3. You made me chuckle with that story, James. I really hadn’t twigged that Max was an AI until the reveal, so that brought the first laugh. Then I re-read with that knowledge, and the thought of a sexbot ‘forgetting’ its role and going out on a bender is just too hilarious for words! Some poor customer is going to receive a sexbot with the father and mother of all hangovers!


  4. I really loved watching the Twilight Zone. My husband and I recently watched the one where the man just wants to read his books and in the end loses his glasses as he discovers the world has been annihilated. Have to say, mannequins sort of creep me out though. A very creative take on the prompt, nicely done! =)


  5. Well Elon Musk has called AI more dangerous than nuclear warheads and said there needs to be a regulatory body overseeing the development of super intelligence. In this case it would be exploitation if the bot became self aware and did not like the task it was assigned to do.


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