Friday, May 18, 2012

Garden Secretary for Chicago's 732nd District

Outside, snowdust swirls. Gramps says it's nothing like the real thing. I wouldn't know and it's hard to think Gramps had it worse than me. I seen the old flatties with their bumper crop of kids throwing snowballs and making snowmen. Can't do any of that fun stuff with the snowdust. But, the snowdust, or sulfate aerosol as the whitecoats like to call it, still keeps things from growing out there.

Growings what I've got to do. Been doing for too many hours. I shake my fingers waiting for McMahon's Blister and Callus Dissolver to work its magic. Waving my hands, I get the stink in my nose, almost as bad as the snowdust plains. Finally, I can get back to work.

Auggies flicker. I've got the overlays set to old-style green phosphor LEDs over an opaque background and S10's avatar appears with the words to the left announcing his return, swiveling his bucket-shaped head and old-time antenna. Figures S10 wouldn't return until my three-hour shift was nearly over.

S10's recharging bay is across the street in the bottom of a skyscraper. On my way, I detour past the Amazon pneumatic tube, selecting one of S10's favorite designer oils on my auggies. The can, still warm from the printers, rattles as the tube discharges my purchase.

"About time you returned." I drop S10's oil on his shelf.

One of those fake yellow smileys glows on S10's stomach display. "You missed me."

I roll my eyes. Of course, I miss him. "Lot's for you to do." I wave my hands at the skyscraper gardens growing on the sides of the buildings surrounding us. Even from this vantage point, it's obvious the leaves droop. Even with all the overtime I've been putting in, I haven't managed to maintain what S10 can achieve.

"Of course, of course."

"Your substitute AI was worthless." They always are.

"You don't begrudge me my vacation." S10 draws two pouting eyebrows over the eyes and lets the smile fade. "Contract says --"

I never could express my feelings. The robot won't be the first one to notice. I glance over my shoulders just to make sure no one is watching me. And lean over and kiss S10's helmet. "I know what the contract says. Time to get to work."

15 comments:

  1. I was confused a bit by the snowdust. Is the city with its living gardens inside some kind of dome?

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    1. I'll need to tighten that up. The city with its living gardens are all inside the skyscrapers. Effectively, creating a shell around the living areas.

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  2. That might be my favorite intro you've ever written. The melancholy implications of what snowdust might be and that the narrator has never seen real snow implies so much about the world without having to exposit on it.

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    1. Thanks. I think I've been reading too many geo-engineering proposals lately ;)

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  3. The affection here is what makes this one interesting. Such a unique relationship between the protagonist and the robot.

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    1. I'm intrigued by the way the protagonist uses a very unhuman name, S10, for the robot but has very human feelings.

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  4. The kiss at the end is very interesting. ;) And the labor laws are very interesting. Even robots get vacations.

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  5. An intriguing world here — hope you write more about these two!

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  6. Great concept. I guess the outside world is FUBAR?

    I thought the sensitivity between man and machine were a nice touch. I know it's not a true parallel but the story gave me vibes of that brilliant film "Silent Running".

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  7. Another interesting world, where the snow dust keeps everything from growing and yet with the help of a robot gardens are coming to life within the buildings protection. I too liked the kiss at the end, it sorta made the way he felt about the robot more human.

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  8. I liked how S10 got to have a vacation, a sign that robots have a lot of freewill, but people haven't got to the stage where people are allowed to love machines. If that makes sense? :).

    Great story. Again a lot of great world building in a small space.

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  9. Lots of good here. This is another piece where your introduction of the world is really elegant and told in a very human way.

    The relationship between protagonist and robot is lovely and complex too. I love the fact they can't express their feelings to S10.

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  10. Really dig this one! Immersive, deft, emotional. Right on.

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  11. Aww..loved the little kiss for the robot. Robots with characteristics and personality in the future - intriguing. Love this new world stemming from your reading of geo-engineering proposals.

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  12. Hi there Aidan -- Really good. Felt involvingly real and had all its working parts laid out in a very small space. And very intriguing -- what's with the snow dust? And the way the robot is presented. Enjoyed this more than many a story 10x the size. St.

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