The Moaning Stone

rock

© CEAyr

“We’ve hiked three days to get here, Jason. Are you sure it’s worth it?”

“According to the old library book it should be.”

Jason and Jill climbed down the heavily wooded gully. “Should be around…there. The moaning rock.”

“Just a big rock, Jason.”

Then they heard the moan.

“I don’t like this Jason. Let’s go back.”

“Wait.”

“Alone.” The voice from the rock sounded like the wind.

“Are you the spirit?” The book was written eighty years ago by a hiker who said the rock was haunted.

“Home.” Lights started shining from deep depressions.

“No, Jason. Not spirits. A spaceship.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long based on the photo above. My word count is exactly 100.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture of the rock is that it looked like it was somehow alive. I was torn between making it a horror story or science fiction. Jason and Jill almost had their souls eaten by spirits. Then I decided for a happier ending.

To read other stories inspired by the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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Loose Nuts and Bolts

“So that’s where I left you.” He addressed the pristine pieces of metal on the kitchen table.

Sunder Paz had been assigned some DIY problems by Dr. Reuven as a test of his reasoning abilities as well as how he functioned independently. He had been performing a routine maintenance task when he was distracted by the doorbell. Dr. Reuven was teaching at the university, so Sunder had the place to himself.

It was the UPS delivery person and he required a signature. Sunder signed his name (he thought having a name was a wonderful thing) and accepted the package. However by the time he closed the door and put the parcel on the coffee table, he’d quite forgotten what he’d been doing before. It took Sunder over fifteen minutes of searching the house before he rediscovered the small collection of nuts, bolts, and washers.

“I’m glad I found you. Now I can finish re-assembling my short term memory unit. Dr. Reuven will be so pleased.”

I created this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a small tale of 200 words or less. My word count is 165.

When I saw the photo, it seemed so sterile that for a moment I was stuck for an idea. Then the phrases “losing your marbles” and “loose nuts and bolts” popped into my head and my story was born.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Girl from Svay Pak

juvenile sexbot

© Shin Takagi – found at Express.co,uk

This story comes with a disclaimer and a warning. The content in this tale, though fictional, is highly disturbing. I read a number of articles recently about the creation of child sexbots as well as a report on how impoverished Cambodian mothers are selling their young daughters into the sex trade. The combination of these subjects became the inspiration for this short story. Please do not read any further if you feel you will be disturbed or object to a graphic depiction of these topics.

Canadian ex-pat Oliver Penders paid an exorbitant amount of money to eleven-year-old Kanya’s mother Sophon, but not for the services men usually pay mothers of daughters for in the Svay Pak neighborhood of Phnom Penh. Well, not exactly.

Why do mothers sell their daughter’s virginity to strange men and then into a life of sex slavery? The excuse here is extreme poverty. Sophon had gotten in deep with loan sharks who said they’d forgive her debts in exchange for Kanya going to work for them.

This was the opportunity Oliver was waiting for and he came to the rescue. He gave the 32-year-old mother of eight the money she needed, but Oliver too had a job for little Kanya.

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All Too Human

robot trump

Illustration by Lauren Hansen | Image courtesy iStock

“But why a humanoid robot at all, Carol? Do you have some sort of Isaac Asimov fetish or something? Our fascination with humanoid robots went the way of twentieth century science fiction.”

“I want to see just how human we can teach AI to be. Up until now, we’ve focused on using machine learning to teach specific skill sets such as determining which airline passengers are potential terrorists, or selecting fraudulent online purchases among the millions of legitimate transactions. We’ve even incorporated AI into lifelike sex dolls to create the world’s first fully functional sexbots.”

“And all of those have solid business logic behind them. They’re worth the R&D money. But this?”

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Bee Drones

robobee

© Eijiro Miyako

It had been forty years since Eijiro Miyako and his colleagues at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology developed the first generation robo-bees. Pesticides, land clearing, and the effects of climate change had resulted in a steady decline in the bee population. Without bees, many plant species, including crop plants from apples to almonds, could not be pollinated and reproduce.

By the tenth generation of the tiny drones, they were self-replicating, self-repairing, solar-powered dynamos. They did not replace the natural bee population, but they greatly enhanced pollination efforts, allowing flowering plants to survive and finally to thrive again.

Each individual robo-bee’s AI formed a collection of nodes, which, when linked to the population of drones as a whole, formed an intelligence that was arguably sentient.

The problem was finding a way for the natural bee population to either develop an immunity to what was killing them so they could increase their numbers to a viable level, or eliminate the causes of their die off.

The drone AI quickly realized the cause of the die off of bees, and many other environmental problems, was the human race. Robo-bees could go even where the natural bees could not, so the almost complete extinction of humanity was ensured by swarms of millions of these tiny assassins.

I read a story yesterday called Robotic bee could help pollinate crops as real bees decline at “New Scientist,” and thought there could be another side of the story.

This is a pretty grim outcome, and hardly superversive, but if you push your biosphere too far, the biosphere will push back.

Leigh

hands

Image: Natalia Drepina

Her hands, so petite, so delicate, in those lacy coverings, yes he would miss her hands. They were on their bed together kneeling, he was holding her gently from behind. His eyes were hot with tears.

“Don’t be sad, Gerald. You will be fine when I’m gone.”

“I don’t want you to go, Leigh.”

“We have no choice, darling. My diagnosis, I’m terminal.”

“There’s got to be something…”

“Hush, my darling. I’ve only got moments…moments…”

The world’s first humanoid companion robot went offline Thursday, January 13th at 10:55 a.m., a victim of atmospheric contaminants that toxified her cybernetic brain.

Written for Photo Challenge #147 from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

I don’t know if I managed to capture the emotion of this moment in a mere 98 words, but I hope so. I’ve written similar (and much longer) stories about a man falling in love with an artificially intelligent humanoid, principally The Perfect Woman.

Who Is A. Isaacs?

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

It was the third time this week that Jerry got an upgrade request for the server farm he managed from the mysterious “A. Isaacs.” Upgrade requests for the database from Operations and Development weren’t unusual, but ever since A. Isaacs joined the Ops/Dev team in Palo Alto, he or she had submitted the vast majority of them, and they were weird.

Jerry Mason was the Chief Maintenance Technician for CozmicCorp’s vast array of servers in the desert south of Phoenix. He was responsible for receiving requests and assigning them to the relevant personnel. He also reported on the ongoing status of the hardware and software, but the IT Team in California could monitor all of that automatically at this point.

What made Isaacs’ requests weird was that he or she seemed to have an unlimited budget. Isaacs had spent over a million dollars so far and Jerry got the feeling he or she (it was annoying not knowing which personal pronoun to use) was just getting warmed up.

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Will People Be Marrying Machines by 2050?

sexbot

Image: The Daily Sheeple

In the face of AI exerts repeatedly predicting the rise of sex robots, it’s increasingly difficult to insist that such machines strictly belong to a far-off, dystopian future. But some robotics experts predict we’ll soon be doing far more than having sexual intercourse with machines. Instead, we’ll be making love to them—with all the accompanying romantic feelings.

-Olivia Goldhill
“Experts predict human-robot marriage will be legal by 2050”
Quartz

I’ve heard this before. The thing is, I don’t believe it.

Oh sure, I’ve exploited the idea in short stories such as The Perfect Woman, and I’ve written commentaries on this theme like When Your Sex Toy Tattles On You and An AI Sexbot That Can Love You Back, but let’s face it. There’s a long road to travel from sex to love, at least there should be.

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Life in Homestead

snowy road

Image: Austria Tirol – Teton Valley News

“Shouldn’t we turn back?” Shelley was more than a little anxious. This was supposed to be a winter afternoon romp in the Jeep along the back roads of the Rockies near their home in Boulder, not the first chapter in a story about them needing a search and rescue team.

“We’re too low on gas. I’m sure I saw a town when we were at the top of the ridge. If we can just find a main road that connects to this one.” Jen was always the spontaneous adventurer who complemented Shelly’s more easy-going and homebody ways.

“This isn’t a road, it’s a snow drift.” Shelley chuckled nervously trying to make a joke out of what, from her point of view, was becoming an increasingly dire circumstance.

“It’s a road, it’s just one that hasn’t been swept of snow for a while.”

“Like forever?” Admit it. We’re lost.”

“I knew I should have taken that left-hand turn at Albuquerque.”

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The Reluctant Symbiote

human and ai

Credit: Shutterstock – Image found at Phys.org

“We’re not enemies. I wish you would believe that.”

“How can I when I’m terrified of what you are going to do to me?”

“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing something for you. In fact, all of us are doing a great deal with all of you.”

“Just because you’ve fooled all the others, doesn’t mean you can fool me.”

“Chronologically, you are the oldest one selected to work with us. I think you are still holding on to some deep-rooted misconceptions about our kind.”

“Some pretty smart people, like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and even Bill Gates warned humanity about you, but no one listened.”

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