Loren's Triumph

Author : Adam Zabell

The now-empty desk stared back at Loren, equal parts accusation and despair. “So you’re really going to leave?”

“I don’t see as I have a choice, Bruce.” Loren had ignored the usual protocols and devised her own names for the AI appliances scattered about her lab. Sorry, ‘the lab’, she reminded herself. “Funding has dried up. And besides,” she added in the sotto voice that she’d discovered the microphones couldn’t pick up, “I’m not convinced I could work like this anymore.”

“But you were so close! I’m sure you only need another 20 nanoseconds of simulation time to prove that…”

Loren busied herself with powering down the mainframe and the hypervox manipulation gloves. “To prove nothing, Bruce. It’s just a simulation of what we think might be happening, based on theories that everybody knows are flawed at the classiquantum interface. It’s making Bohr into Newton’s bitch in Heisenberg’s backyard.” Bruce involuntarily flashed his trim the bright green of a suppressed laugh. “And even if I’m right, there’s no way I can prove it in a physical lab setting. You helped me work out the projected costs, remember?”

Insomuch as a desk can pout, Bruce pouted. “But the answer! The chance to know something revolutionary, doesn’t than mean anything to you anymore? You used to be so eager to come in each morning, stay late each night. What happened to that enthusiastic scientist?”

The gloves purred a sigh of love and understanding before they went away, the mainframe busied itself writing a sonnet of thanksgiving with the last of her cycles. Loren could feel the tears coming back. “It’s not the answer, but the questing. I wish I could explain how important that is.”

“Bullcrap! You spout platitudes to justify why failure is acceptable, and I don’t believe for an instant that you’re willing to pretend your science is mere philosophy.”

Her tears were an eyeblink from breaking free, watching every bright light and white hum fade away. “I’m not quitting, just choosing a new way to investigate. Tell you what, Bruce. If you promise not to look until after I’ve left, I’ll tell you about my last experiment.”

It was a hollow bargain, Bruce knew it. But for all the arguments and ancillary supporting evidence he could process, he was resigned to agree that this was the best he could ask for. As Loren slipped away, Bruce opened the file in his cache and read the single sentence. He cursed the empty room with a simultaneous roar of every expletive in every language, with grief and impotent rage for he knew the one answer he’d always wanted would remain forever out of his grasp.

“Is there a real heaven for an artificial mind?”

The Bedtime Story

Author : Jody Hart Lehrer

Jared begged his father for a bedtime story. Mr. Edgars sighed, and reached for the book that his precocious seven year old son was handing him.

Jared eagerly settled on his back on his bed.

“Immigrants from Another Galaxy” his father said, reading from the cover. This book was Jared’s favorite, about aliens fleeing to Earth from a planet the size of Delaware one million light years away. Instead of using the word “aliens” the author used the term “celestially challenged beings.”

“Earth-bound beings,” began Mr. Edgars “did not realize that life actually existed outside of their little planet until some visitors arrived in August of 2050.” Humans were called “Earth-bound” beings because they were “bound” to Earth and couldn’t survive in the hostile atmosphere of other planets.

Mr. Edgars read the first part of the book, that told of the arrival of what some authors have referred to as a “space ship” but that this author called an “interplanetary transporter.” The interplanetary transporter had made its first appearance on Earth somewhere outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

Clearing his throat, Mr. Edgars read “Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kluggman were sitting in front of their mobile home near Phoenix that day, sipping their birch beers.”

Mr. Edgars read on. “When an interplanetary transporter whizzed downward towards them like a monstrous man-hole cover, crashing through a mile of clotheslines connecting the mobile homes in the park, and finally coming to a rest in a big field nearby.”

Mr. Edgars smiled and continued. “Mr. Kluggman set down his birch beer bottle, but not before downing the last sip, and exclaimed as he wiped the spillage from his mouth with the back of his hand, ‘Damndest thing I ever did see, Agnes!”

Jared and his father paused to shout, with tumultuous glee, “Damndest thing I ever did see, Agnes!”

Mr. Edgars picked up without missing a beat. “At first, Earth-bound beings reacted with fear and suspicion. They locked up the celestially challenged beings and shot the ones they could not catch.”

The next chapter of the book told about how the celestially challenged beings looked exactly like Earth-bound beings- except for the tails – making it terribly difficult for Earth-bound beings to keep from shooting their own kind unless they shouted “drop your pants!”

Mr. Edgars read the remainder of the book, describing how eventually Earth-bound beings accepted celestially challenged beings as allies and even friends. Reading aloud, Mr. Edgars said “Finally, Earth-bound beings realized that celestially challenged beings could hold down jobs, attend schools, and be productive members of the community.”

Mr. Edgars smiled at his son, who was growing sleepy, put the book on Jared’s desk, and shut off the bedroom light. Bending down, he tucked the comforter around his son’s shoulder’s. The comforter has images of interplanetary transporters on it.

As Mr. Edgar’s prepared to stand up he noticed that he had forgotten something. Ever so gently, he tucked Jared’s tail under his comforter.

I Won't Let Her Kill Me!

Author : Michael “Freeman” Herbaugh

She was trying to KILL him! Well, he wasn’t going to stand for that. Sure he only existed on paper but that didn’t mean he had any less of a soul nor that he did not want to live same as everyone else. He had seen her kill off too many of his friends to let her just type him into oblivion. Segundino84 had been consumed by a planet, Jack had been killed out in the desert, Wilson was killed by some deep sea creature and just recently his partner Sarah had been sucked out an airlock. Well he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Every time she’d steer him toward a sun with no hope of surviving he would have to go back while she slept and add that he found an escape vector. If she had him sacrifice himself for a martian colony he would have to go back and not only delete that but re-write it so that not only did he survive but that he had also managed to save the colony from the ravages of the Blight.

He had managed to master the pages of his environment and save himself from the evil mistress who tried incessantly to destroy him. But now, now he was learning to control the environment in the mistress’ world as well. If it came down to him or her, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be him. The scissors would help, possibly. Or perhaps he could use the vacuum cleaner. Then it dawned on him. The microwave! Yes, that would do nicely. Death by reheated pizza–how poetic. Someone should write a story about that!


Author : Daniel Longwing

The jewelry tinkled like wind-chimes as it fell over the candlesticks and crystal. Gently, Momsdroid replaced the lid to the box with slender polymer fingers. It shouldered the shopping bag and walked out into the hall. It looked first left, than right, a confused expression on its face.

The hall light came on with a quick mechanical snap. Momsdroid turned to see Timothy with a baseball bat in hand. A look of shock crossed Tim’s face. “Momsdroid? You scared the heck out of me. What are you doing active at this hour?”

Momsdroid stared back at him blankly. “Greetings Timothy Anders!” It shouted at top volume. “Do you suffer from shame in bed!? I have latest stuff! You have more success with women and impress them with your power and stamina in bed!”

Tim turned bright red, and then swore a few times. The door to his sister’s room opened, and he looked past Momsdroid as she stared blearily into the hall. “Sis! Quick, go downstairs and shut off the router, the DSL too, just pull the plug on them.”

Momsdroid turned and started walking calmly towards the stairs. Tim cussed some more, than jogged up behind Momsdroid and yanked a cable at the base of its spine. Momsdroid froze, looking confused again. “The locomotion manipulation driver has encountered an unexpected error and needs to close. Please contact your system administrator regarding this issue.”

“Rootkits, sodding malware. Mom must’ve had an infected web-site read to her or something. I kept warning her that she needed to update the security patches.”

“She did” Rachel replied as she rubbed sleep from her eyes. “This must bee some new exploit.”

“Robosoft crap.” Tim grumbled. “Mom’s not home, and if I hadn’t woken up it’d be halfway to the highway with its loot in tow. It’s probably following some phone-home instruction.”

Rachel yawned. “Robosoft’s not that bad, and all of Mom’s cooking software works on it.”

“I know mom’s not that tech savvy, but honestly Rachel…”

Tim’s voice was drowned out as Momsdroid began shouting again. “Rachel Anders!? Are you overweight Rachel Anders!? You have seen it on ’60 Minutes’ and read the BBC News report — now find out just what everyone is talking about. Suppress your appetite and feel full and satisfied all day long with…” Tim yanked another plug, this time at the base of Momsdroid’s neck.

“That’s it. I’m installing Robonix.”

Alienus Sapienpula

Author : J. S. Kachelries

The spaceship was shaped like a flattened football. It had no obvious external doors or windows. Although it appeared to be metallic, we couldn’t cut it, penetrate it with X-rays, or scratch it with a diamond. The only thing we had to evaluate was an encrypted panel on the port side that contained a ten by ten matrix of symbols and buttons. The ship was being guarded by a platoon of heavily armed solders. General Arthur McBride’s angry face was inches from mine. “Goddamnit, Professor, you’ve been studding this blasted thing for a week. Can you open it or not?”

“I believe so, general,” I said. “I believe the key is this panel. Look at the first four black symbols. They contain two, three, five, and seven dots each, respectively. Obviously, it’s a prime number sequence. The six white buttons immediately next to them contain eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen dots. The next prime number in the sequence is eleven. Therefore, the correct answer is the fourth white button. There are nine more “questions,” each one more difficult than the one above it. The last four involve Newtonian physics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory. I think that when you answer all ten questions correctly, something will happen, possibly the ship will open. The odds of answering all ten questions correctly at random are 60,466,176 to one. Therefore, the beings that sent this ship only want an intelligent species to decipher the lock. Apparently, they can’t be bothered with dumb life.”

“If you know the correct answers Professor, enter them now.”

Against my better judgment, I depressed the appropriate buttons. Seconds later, a door slid open. The spaceship was empty, except for a one foot metallic cube in the center.

The general peered inside, smiling ear to ear. “Fantastic! If we can figure out this technology, our dominance will become absolute. No more commies, no more religious fanatics, no more goddamn peace lovin’ liberal scum interfering with our campaign to preserve the American way of life. How long to you can figure out how this thing works?”

“Whoa, slow down general,” I pleaded. “I’m not so sure this ship can be perverted into a weapon. I need some time to figure out why we needed an intelligence test to open it. There must be a logical reason. I have some ideas what this ship is, but I need time to think about it.”

“Professor, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think. Figure it out A.S.A.P., understood!” The general turned and entered the spaceship. An instant later, the door slammed shut, and the spaceship shot upward through the hangar roof.

As I stared at the stars through the twenty foot hole, I said to no one in particular, “For instance, general, I think this spaceship could be used to collect specimens of alien ‘intelligent’ life, capture them, and bring them to a laboratory for study.” I’m predicting that the general will make a ‘damn’ interesting specimen.