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Mindstream

Jermaine lives in London and works as an AV engineer. When he's not tinkering with gadgets and dodging electrical shocks he likes to write short stories to escape the rat race. He is currently trying his hand at writing a fantasy novel.
There they were again. The machines. Two this time, an adult and a child. The small one was jumping up and down with a specific frequency, at a specific position. A robot's expression of excitement, apparently.
"I want that one. I want that one."
The taller robot turned towards the kid, rigid as a stick. Why the hell was it turning like that? Every step carefully managed. Every portion of its movement assessed for the correct torque and angular displacement. Just turn, damn it.
It patted the plastic dome of a head with a metal hand. One two, pause. One two, pause.
"You have selected that particular capsule. Is this correct, Son?"
"That is correct, Father."
"The request has been accepted." The father reached up and plucked the capsule from the shelf, setting the brain inside to tremble in the gooey fluid.
"An excellent choice, sir," said the retailer from behind his counter, beaming that pompous exaggerated smile of his. A human serving a machine. What a world. "That one is from a commercial pilot veteran. Think of all the wonders of the world that man has seen, yes?"
"An aeroplane is a powered vehicle with fixed wings engineered for flight."
The retailer chuckled, forced of course. "Yes, indeed it is! You have a very clever young man, sir."
"I like aeroplanes." The young robot swiveled its eye cameras up to its father. "Please purchase the item, Father."
The older robot inspected the microchips that were plugged into the brain, the number of optical and HDMI ports wired to the spinal cord, the screen connected to the cortex.
"I will purchase the item."
"Very good, sir." The retailer pressed some virtual buttons on his holographic tablet. "This one won't disappoint you sir, I can guarantee that. A full bi-directional field for superb high definition, spintronic devices easily supported. Those dream movies will play smoothly on your entertainment systems sir, very smoothly. Let me just get this packaged up for you...."
He took the Biotainment Pod and speeded towards the doors of the storeroom.
"Omni-directional."
The retailer stopped and glared at the janitor who was sweeping the floor near the twin doors. "Pardon?"
"It's an omni-directional quantum field, not a bi-directional one." The janitor bent down on creaking knees to sweep up the dirt into his pan.
The retailer looked down his nose at him. "And what do you know about it?"
"I know a good deal about it, lad. I was part of the team that designed those bloody things."
The retailer raised a cynical eyebrow. I suppose you designed the wheel as well," he said. He then pushed through the doors and left the breeze to scatter the janitor's well-managed dirt piles. Damn youngsters have no respect anymore.
The janitor looked at the machines and squeezed his hands hard around his broom handle. They were waiting; no, not aimlessly wandering about the store waiting, or conversing while waiting. Just stood there like statues and waited. Not even breathing.
The janitor returned to his work, and for the umpteenth time swept the dirt back into their manageable piles.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018


I wrote this story based on a mixture of two ideas. Perhaps society's need for entertainment would go so far as to rip memories from the brains of the deceased and watch them like movies. Perhaps artificial intelligence does not immediately mean emotional intelligence. With technology moving so fast and promising so much, I sometimes wonder what we define as being human, and how much of it we're willing to surrender in the pursuit of technological advancements.

- Jermaine Henry

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