Thursday, January 28, 2010


A response to Heather Hansen's "Tell the Story" in Flashy Fiction.

The wails from Kathy's car vibrated through Mike and Kathy's office and interrupted Mike's morning news fix. Mike wedged the palm of his hands over his ears to silence the engine's screams. Mike couldn't imagine how Kathy could stand that car. The painful pin-on-needles screech ended as Kathy got further away. Mike stretched to reach the back of his head and release the net implant. The implant cable with its segmented magnesium-ion shielding retracted into the wall.

In the bedroom, laundry overflowed from Mike's closet and the anti-gravity bed, another one of Kathy's finds, was unkempt with the comforter floating in a tangled mass. Mike pulled open the dresser drawer, but it was empty. He sighed and looked wistfully at the pile of laundry. The wrinkled clothes had almost visible fumes that rose off of the piles of shirts, mismatched socks, and boxers. Mike could put it off no longer, he would have to confront Kathy's new washer. He grabbed an armload of clothes and walked into the washroom.

A boxy robot with two legs, no neck, and a thick plate glass window over his stomach lit up when Mike entered the room. "Good morning Mr. Robson. Oh boy, oh boy, do you have a job for me?"

"Yes," said Mike and he continued under his breath, "Whoever thought washers needed a personality should be shot."

"Whoa... no one messes with my daddy," said the washer. The robot's LED eyes flickered phosphorescent greens and yellows. "Restraining order #537221a has been granted. You are not allowed on the grounds of Dr. Lui Wong or in any building owned by Wong Industries."

Mike rolled his eyes. When would someone invent a robot that understood sarcasm? "So how do I operate you?"

"Just stuff your clothes in the washing receptacle and I'll take care of the rest."

"I need them done in fifteen minutes so I can leave for work."

"Not a problem."

Mike grabbed a bowl of yogurt from the refrigerator and called up his schedule and todos on his tablet. The proposal for Blanding Industries was due today and Mike grimaced. It would be a long day.

Mike walked back into the laundry room and found bits of cloth flying through the air. A pair of jeans, one leg bit off at the knees, draped down the front of the washer. "What's going on here, you're supposed to wash my clothes not eat them."

"Um... sorry?" said the robot. "I must have gotten distracted when I googled pineapple juice to find the best way to remove the pineapple stain on your boxers." The robot squeaked. "There's a lot of good cooking sites out there on the net."

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