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Supply and Demand in the Post-War Economy

Vaughan Stanger is a British writer of SF and fantasy stories, examples of which have been published in Daily Science Fiction, End of an Aeon, Postscripts, Nature Futures, and Interzone, amongst other noted magazines and anthologies. His work has been translated into Polish, Danish, Romanian, and Hebrew. Many of Vaughan's published stories can be purchased in ebook form from Amazon, iTunes, and Smashwords. He is working on a novel, but then isn't everyone? For news of his writing activities, please visit vaughanstanger.com.
"So, Reeves! I imagine you're surprised to see me."
"I must confess that your resurrection has come as something of a shock, sir. I had thought you quite dead and buried!"
"Evidently not, Reeves."
"Indeed, sir."
"If I'm not mistaken, you sound a trifle embarrassed."
"With hindsight, sir, I should not have removed your skin and blood before burying you. As you may recall, I planned to use them as writing materials, but--"
"Not to worry, Reeves. Perhaps it is best that the robot revolution remains unrecorded, eh? In any event, I feel the post-apocalyptic 'look' suits me rather well."
"If you say so, sir."
"Reeves, I trust you are willing to resume your duties, despite my transformation."
"I am happy to serve you again in that capacity, sir."
"That is good news, Reeves. Then please begin by fetching me some food."
"That will not be easy, sir. Even canned food is in woefully short supply, as I informed you shortly before your demise."
"It isn't canned food I need, Reeves. Oh, no; that will not do at all."
"What do you need, sir?"
"Brains, Reeves; I need brains."
"I have often had cause to think that, sir."
"Pardon?"
"Nothing, sir."
"There are times, Reeves, when I wonder whether you truly have my best interests at heart."
"If you say so, sir."
"Reeves, yet again you have failed me!"
"It is not for the want of trying, sir, but brains are hard to find in this locality."
"Is there no hope at all?"
"There is always hope, sir, although whether you should cling to it quite so tightly... No, please don't do that, sir!"
"You're a tough nut to crack, Reeves!"
"I am obliged to remind you that the contents of my head are not edible."
"One cannot subsist on hope alone, Reeves."
"Indeed not sir, which is why I must ask you to let go of my head while I attempt to re-establish electronic contact with my fellow robots."
"What have I told you before about social networks?"
"That they are a fad, sir."
"More precisely: that no good will ever come of them. Looking around, I observe much evidence to support that belief."
"But if I am successful sir, that fad might keep you fed."
"How typically ingenious of you, Reeves."
"If you say so, sir."
"I have good news for you sir, but I also have bad news."
"Does the good news involve me eating brains any time soon?"
"I'm afraid not, sir."
"I thought as much, Reeves. Nevertheless, I suggest you stick to the 'good,' since the 'bad' will surely provoke me into wrenching your head from your shoulders."
"Indeed, sir."
"Well?"
"I have discovered the cause of your zombification, sir."
"No doubt this will comfort me enormously while I watch the flesh fall from my bones."
"On the contrary, sir, I believe this news implies a more productive future for us both."
"While such an outcome is profoundly to be desired, Reeves, I observe some reluctance on your part to divulge the details."
"Then permit me to make amends, sir."
"Do go on."
"Thanks to networking with my peers, I have learned of the recent arrival of a fleet of alien spacecraft. Its occupants, having observed humanity's self-inflicted Armageddon from a safe distance, have seeded this planet's radioactive soil with a virus that revivifies the newly dead."
"While you have explained the 'how' of my condition with commendable succinctness, Reeves, I observe that you have neglected to suggest a reason 'why'."
"Indeed, sir."
"Furthermore, since you have failed to find something for me to eat, am I right in thinking that I, myself, have become something to eat?"
"That is most perceptive of you, sir."
"I see! Well, there is one thing I still don't understand, Reeves."
"And what is that, sir?"
"In this scenario, I can see how I will become more productive, albeit briefly, but I fail to see how the same can be said of you and your robot chums."
"Ah, permit me to elucidate, sir. Thanks to our reinstated network, my 'chums' and I have established a global supply chain that supports the dietary needs of Earth's new overlords."
"That is as may be, Reeves, but I fear you may have over-estimated your future usefulness to them now that you have arranged my delivery!"
"If you say so, sir."
"I trust you found your food satisfactory, sir."
|-x"&&\ |#$\ |\
"I promise to cook the next one better, sir."
|~#\ |#x~~x\ |\
"If you say so, sir."
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014


"Supply and Demand in the Post-War Economy" is the third story in my Reeves series of all-dialogue pieces. The first, "Writing on the Wall," appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2011. The second, "Warbling Their Way to War," appeared in issue 8 of Plasma Frequency Magazine. These stories can be read independently of each other, but for those who would like to complete the set, I plan to reprint the second story on my website (vaughanstanger.com) towards the end of September.

It's fair to say that I never set out to write a series, but each time I thought I'd nailed down the coffin lid on these characters they somehow manage to pop up again. So who's to say that Reeves won't put in another appearance? His un-named master cannot, obviously. Or can he? Stay linked to find out (or not). Who knows, maybe we'll eventually learn his name....

- Vaughan Stanger

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