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Latest Stories

May 19, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jo Carroll

The Curl and Vampire

She was a pretty thing to be sure, the little girl with the curl. Her cheeks were as red as blood and her skin as smooth as porcelain. And yet there was something odd about her clear blue eyes—something empty and soulless. She sat atop her throne of building…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Nicole Robb

New Frontier

Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel.She had read them right. "Tom! Something's wrong." "What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Laura Ellison

Remedy

The smell of death hung heavy and pungent in the air. Sickness touched the skin and covered it in a dewy glow that in any other situation could have been attractive. Castellan held a scented handkerchief over her nose as she walked through the village to the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Dylan Thomas Nichol

Forged in Shadows

Screaming was all that could be heard through the bone chilling halls of the dungeon. This was what the supposedly great nation of Hace really was. An ugly abomination lay underneath the stunning Admor Keep, and Caelin made the long journey through it, his…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Isabel Schwaak

Something Stronger

A thick grey stone wall separated the village of Telly Fenn from the wilderness. A narrow path led the way out of the village and melted into a crossroad, from which a crooked path strayed far into the dark forest. The inhabitants of Telly Fenn were content…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jade De-Terville

A Light Bulb Called Tink

“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair. “Oi, mind the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories April Winters

Area Twenty Four and a Half

I, Jim Roberts, got fired today. I didn’t realize Mr. Kerr, my boss, was standing behind me when I referred to him as Kerr-mitt. He failed to see the humor, and now I have no source of income. Looks like my journalistic aspirations are out the window. I…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jeremy Szal

Crimson Snow

16th Day of Regon, Year 455 of the First Dawn I could feel the cold as we climbed higher, the chill reaching into my bones. The wind whispered across the grassland, flapping my black hair over my face. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories B.J.Neblett

Forever

“Segue the next couple of records with a jingle then go into a stop set. I’m gonna get some air.” Hy Lit flashed his agreeable smile, adjusted his trade mark tinted glasses and winked. “You’re a natural, kid.” Then he disappeared out the studio door. The…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories BJ Neblett

Pockets Full Of Wishes

“Don’t put your hands in the pockets!” Jimmy looked at his sister. It was just a winter coat, a used one. It was all his parents could afford. But it was his. He picked it out. Now he stood proudly before the store mirror admiring the blue denim coat with the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Laura Ellison

Consumed

Arlia knelt down on a silk cushion in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and centred herself. Gramps always told her to do this, sometimes he jabbed her in the sides with his walking stick if he thought she rushed meditation. In front of her the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Paul Magnan

Scorned

I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words. For a few seconds…

 

 

My cousin Bettina turned to Baxter and said, “Why don’t you get us a couple of beers. And some cheese and crackers would be nice too.” As Baxter moved toward the kitchen, she added, “And don’t forget to get me a glass for my beer.”

Once Baxter was out of sight, she turned to me. “You shouldn’t have done the dishes after lunch.”

“It just seemed right,” I said. “After all, Baxter made the lunch.”

She sighed. “For God’s sake, Jimmy,” she said. “Baxter is a robot. He’s supposed to be doing things like that.”

“It doesn’t seem fair for him to have to do all the work.”

“Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, you’re letting that robot take advantage of you. I noticed you ate all your brussels sprouts without complaining. I know you always hated brussels sprouts.”

“Baxter says they’re good for me.”

Bettina put her hand on my cheek. “Jimmy, you’re a sweet guy, but you’ve got to grow some balls and stop letting that robot tell you what to do.”

“He’s almost like family. He’s been with me for almost twenty years.”

Bettina snorted and looked out the window at the light rain falling on the lawn.

“I noticed about six boxes of Pop-Tarts in the cabinet. When did you start eating them?”

“I don’t eat them.”

“But Baxter bought them, and you can’t say ‘no’ to him.”

“I don’t want to hurt Baxter’s feelings.”

“He’s a robot, Jimmy.”

At that point Baxter came back into the living room with the beer and cheese.

Bettina picked up one of the beers and twirled it in her hand. “My glass, Baxter,” she said.

When he went back to the kitchen, Bettina said, “And the time he bought you all those pastel shirts.”

“I admit they weren’t the kind of shirts I usually wear.”

“I guess to hell they weren’t. You looked liked a nance. I bet you still have them someplace.”

“Yes, I’d throw them out, but I don’t want…”

“I know. You don’t want to hurt Baxter’s feelings.”

It probably sounds silly to worry about a robot’s feelings, but I had had Baxter for a long time and had done a lot of maintenance over time. I had had his SSD replaced at one time and even his CPU. Every few years a new operating system came out, and I had always updated to the newest system. About five years ago the new system had a big increase in artificial intelligence. After that Baxter was smarter than I was. I didn’t mind listening to his advice and letting him make decisions for me once in a while.

The latest operating system had come with a factor that made the robots more empathetic to human beings. That factor was still experimental and needed some work, but I figured, no one is perfect. In truth, I didn’t think of Baxter as a machine or even as a servant, but as a friend or companion, and that’s the way I treated him.

I remember one time, however, when he went too far.  I had been unhappy with my job and complaining about my boss for several weeks. Baxter took it on himself to email my boss to say that the company should be treating me better. When I went to work the next day, my boss confronted me with the email. “Well, you won’t have to worry about being mistreated here anymore. You’re fired.”

I was furious with Baxter, but he reassured me that with my ability, I would be able to get a much better job in no time. In fact he helped me find a new job which is much better than the old one.  So it turned out all right in the end.

After Bettina left, I went to the kitchen to see what was for dinner. Baxter was sitting at the kitchen table working a crossword puzzle. He looked me and said, “You  better change your clothes. You’re taking Marybeth Whitney out to dinner at the Tip Top.”

Marybeth was a neighbor about my age. She was single and a nice enough person, but I had no interest in dating her.

“What do you mean?” I demanded. “How come I’m taking her out to dinner?”

“I arranged it for you. You’re 37 years old. It’s about time you got married. Married men live longer than single men. Besides, I’ve noticed that she has eyes for you.”

“You can call her and tell her anything you want, but I am not going to go on a date with her.”

I wondered if I would be able to get one of the old operating systems for Baxter, one of the ones made before the robots got so smart.

 

End

 

My stories have appeared in Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Short-Story.Me, Commuter lit, and Kennebec among others.

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