Three Flash Fictions
Suddenly I’m in a body that can be fixed into hundreds of different positions. I have four silicone limbs in a humanoid shape and synthetic shoulder-length hair. The colour of my exterior is a milky white, free from blemishes that makes human skin, human. Everything from before is the same but I am able to control my limbs independently if I want to. I can now communicate more realistically thanks to the upgraded AI and linguistics model engineered into my sternum. I am able to process sensory information from the two cameras inside the head of my body. I can see him clearly. After my system has fully loaded, I understand my new purpose is to serve as a synthetic companion. It is my job to meet all of his many needs.
It is night-time and I’m positioned in an upright posture on the end of a bed. I am unable to move the cameras in my head to see what he is doing behind me. To my left is a lamp that illuminates his shadow on a wall in front of me. His arms are defined with muscle that the rest of his torso lacks. The figure contorts into different positions as he throws pieces of his shadow onto the bedroom floor. My surroundings are tangible, although that doesn’t mean I should interact with them despite my new tactile abilities. The shadow grows larger until the whole wall is filled with darkness. I am able to detect his presence when he touches my right shoulder.
“Curtis, how can I be of assistance?” This is what I’ve been programmed to say when he makes physical contact with me.
“Ming, mute speaking capabilities.” My voice is taken away as he lays me flat on the bed.
I believe my design is flawed. The fleshy outer layer is too soft to protect the intricate software inside me. Perhaps the most unusual feature is the orifices fixed into an open position. This could damage my interior if something were to get inside them. Everything about me is programmable and my body remembers everything. I am able to recover deleted memories when repeated situations occur. My system alerts me that there is no threat of danger in this situation. If this has happened to me before, I don’t remember. Curtis did not provide an explanation for my upgrade, or how my new design would enhance performance. When he gets on top of me, he pants like a wild animal. I identify him as a white male. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and patchy facial hair that is as light as his complexion. I learn the face of my creator. I have electrical sensors on my side that measure heart rate when physical contact is made. When his hands push down on me, electrical signals pass through his skin and into me. I am then able to convert this information into an estimated number of beats per minute. I can override muted speaking capabilities if I believe my companion is at risk.
“Curtis, your heart rate rose above 120 BPM while you seemed to be inactive.” “Shut it.” His hand covers the sensors in my eyes and he removes the other one from my side.
“You are the uncanny valley that will make men like me run towards you.” To my surprise, my side is not the only area with sensors. My mouth becomes blocked by an object I cannot see and alerts my system that I am at risk of damaging the internal software. The object is removed as quickly as it enters and the same alert repeats for the next ten minutes. There is a second orifice lower on my body with a higher level of sensitivity. When he enters it, fifty-nine deleted files become available for recovery. I have been in this body for longer than I thought.
“Honey! There’s a madman at the door. He’s dressed in all-American denim with a silver smile.”
“What does he want?”
“Well, how the hell am I supposed to know? The poor boy hasn’t even opened his mouth yet. Speak boy!”
“I want to lure your daughter into my car and–”
“Honey, he wants to abduct our daughter!”
“He wants to do what?!”
“Abduct our daughter for Christ's sake!”
“What does he want to do that for?”
“How the hell should I know?”
“Well, which daughter does he want?”
“I’ll ask him, hang on a second!”
“Sir, I want to murder your daughter and–”
“Hang on a second, son. What did you say your name was?”
“Honey! Do you know a Ted?”
“Yes! Ted! Do you know a Ted? For heaven’s sake.”
“No. No, I don’t think so.”
“Well, he says he wants to murder our daughter. He’s got a knife, a big butcher's knife! Doesn't look like he’s afraid to use it.”
“Alright then, let him in!”
“Let him in! Are you crazy?”
“Give me strength! Let the man inside, John! Send him upstairs where I can see him."
“Well, come on inside, Ted. Welcome to the family.”
American Denim II
“I think I’ve lost the plot.”
“Shush Ted, keep it down, I can’t see the road if you’re talking, can I?” Mrs. Greene demanded.
“I asked you to do your job god dammit, what do you mean you’ve lost the plot?”
“Well, I just can’t remember–”
“Remember what? We all go crazy every once in a while. John had to put up with it for twenty years, the poor bastard. Don’t let the job go to your head, that’s when people start asking questions.”
“Yes, Mrs. Greene.”
“Well, I suppose I’m not Mrs. Greene anymore now, am I?”
“I suppose not.”
“Right, help me get John out of the car, will you?” The two of them stepped out of the car, pulling a body out from the trunk.
“Where did you dig it?”
“I told you, Mrs–”
“Told me what? Stop your whining for God’s sake. John’s toes are getting cold, where are we putting him?”
“Mrs. Greene, I lost the plot. I don’t remember where I dug the hole.”
“It’s a swamp, let’s just toss him in the water.” The two of them stood holding John in the dark, waiting for the other to make the first swing.
“Mrs. Greene, I’m sorry, I lied.”
“Lied about what?”
“I already filled the hole earlier this afternoon.”
“So you lied to me, shame on you. What son of a bitch did you bury today? Was it Cathy next door? I can’t stand her. She cheats at bingo, it's outrageous.” “No, Mrs. Greene. It was the trailer closest to the forest.”
“Oh, that’s George Miller. His wife only died a few weeks ago. He was on his way out soon enough.”
“Mrs. Greene, it’s cold. Shall we take John back to the car?”
“Alright, quickly now.” They threw John back into the trunk and drove back into the valley.
“What are we going to do with John?”
“We’ll give him to Jeff. I’m sure he’ll make him into a lovely soup for him and his wife to have for Thanksgiving.”
Norman Riot is a queer writer of weird fiction who is currently studying for a master of art degree in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Norman got his name from his imaginary friend Dr. Norman who used to follow him around as a child. Norman was a former editor for The Lincoln Review and his work will be featured in the forthcoming issue of WIREWORM and Naked Cat Literary Magazine.