Robot Butler EXPOSED

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By clipartkid (clipartkid.com) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I keep thinking how great life would be if I had a robot butler to take care of things, like making me food when I don’t feel like it, and tidying up. And then I considered what it would probably be like.

“Uh hi, Robot Butler, I’d like some dinner please”

“Certainly. What would you like?”

“I dunno.”

“Is there a kind of cuisine you’d prefer?”

“Eh.”

“You have no preference?”

“Nope. Could you like analyze my taste desires or something?”

“’Taste desires?’”

“To figure out what I’d want to eat.”

“Certainly. Please hold out your tongue.”

“Aren’t you going to wash your grabby claw things first?”

“My hands?”

“Yeah. Whatever you call them.”

“They auto-sterilize. Your tongue.”

“Ooophlay, aaahhh yyooou eetttin anyfffiin?”

“Hmm. Just a moment longer.”

“Whaaassss it faaayinn? Aahhfo yyouuhh caawww paaaspfff weeeirrrb.”

“Hand. It’s my hand. They don’t really auto-sterilize and I just took out the garbage.”

“I knew it! And ew.”

“And it’s saying you’re a grown adult woman who should be able to decide what she wants to eat.”

“So you can’t analyze my taste desires?”

“What do you think I am, the HomeBot9600?! You bought the basic model.”

“Sorry Robot Butler.”

“I’m making you pasta.”

“I don’t want past—“

Silence.

“Pasta will be fine.”

And scene.

 

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

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Aunty Ida’s Twist of F.A.T.E.

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Earlier this week I embarked on Fiction Can Be Fun’s writing prompt challenge. Here’s the story inspired by this image. Check the comments on the prompt post for more stories!

Aunty Ida’s Twist of F.A.T.E.

“It’s just that I try and I try and I can’t seem to make anything come out right,” she said, her broad, round face earnest.

“I see,” said Aunty Ida, clipboard in hand. “Nothing at all?”

“No, nothing,” she said.

“So everything goes awry?”

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, completely. And now I feel like I’m fated—”

“No such thing as fate,’ said Ida. “You need to get that idea out of your head. Some things are meant to be and others are not, but no such thing as fate.”

Perla squinted at her. “Huh?” she said.

“Fate isn’t a thing. The future isn’t set. Except for what is.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t follow, because it sounds like you’re saying the same thing in different words.”

“It’s a common problem,” said the strawberry-blonde in the corner, her arms crossed, her head even with the mid-wall wainscoting. “A very common problem.”

“Now now, Dot, don’t get snarky,” said Ida. She returned her attention to Perla. “Isn’t it clear? Might be easier if I show you. Look,” Ida said, disappearing into the cabinet under the long stainless steel bench, one of many in what looked like a lab from a movie. A horror movie, Perla thought. One of those really creepy ones.

Ida re-emerged with a long copper cylinder that morphed from convex to concave, from open at one end to open on the other as she shifted it in air. “This is a Mondretti Cylinder.”

“OK.” Perla wished she’d never picked up the flyer at the farmers market, printed on paper with a border of luridly-colored, overly plump flowers. And yet she couldn’t help herself.

“Problems Sloved with SCIENCE!,” it read.

“Reasonable rates.

Contact Aunty Ida

“Problems sloved,” should have been the clue, but then again she did have problems. Many, many problems.

“This cylinder is essential for F.A.T.E.” Ida nodded enthusiastically her own words, the escaped wisps from her bun agreeing.

“You said, three seconds ago, fate didn’t exist,” said Perla, bending for her purse and finding she couldn’t reach it without toppling the stool. She braced herself to dismount. “So I think I’m going to get going—”

“Not fate, F.A.T.E.”

“Not hearing a difference,” she said. She glanced at Dot, still leaning into the corner. “Do you hear a difference?”

“If you value Mark’s pot roast with all of the trimmings, and I mean all of the trimmings, Dot, you will not answer that question.”

“How many trimmings?” Dot swallowed, her arm barrier loosening.

“All of them. And I suspect he could be persuaded to make a crème brulee for dessert.”

Dot squinted at Ida, her head tilted right. “You don’t like crème brulee.”

Ida’s eyebrow shot up, went down, and went up again. “But you do.”

“Sorry, Perla,” Dot said, raising her hands in surrender, “I’m out.”

“Like you’re leaving?” she said, blood draining from her face.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t leave you alone with Ida.”

“Probably a wise choice,” said Ida. “Anywho, on to the treatment.”

“I haven’t agreed to any treatment.” Perla finally managed to wiggle her way off the stool, and she stood firmly on the squeaky lab floor.

“You will,” said Ida. “Back to it. F.A.T.E.”

“But you said fate didn’t exist.”

“Not that one. This one.” Ida waved her hand over the middle lab bench and a black oozy substance followed her movements, ebbing and flowing, cresting and receding. With a buzz and hum, a hulking machine shuddered across the lab, a row of round orange-yellow lights flickering on in the green metal housing.

“And you’re sure about the pot roast?” said Dot as Ida grabbed the cylinder and headed for the machine, which moved on from the hum to an asthmatic wheeze.

“Completely.” Ida flicked a column of dull steel switches, and a large round screen, bright green concentric circle over dull green concentric circle, threw a green cast on the floor.

“Sorry,” said Dot to Perla, her small nose wrinkling in regret.

“You’d sell me out for a pot roast?”

“You should stay for dinner.”

“She may not be here,” said Ida.

“Excuse me?” Perla slung her purse over her shoulder and the strap rebounded, sliding down her arm. “Not be here?”

Ida spun to look at her. “In a good way,” she said unconvincingly. Twisting off a black cap with curved indentations all around, she slowly, with both hands, guided the cylinder into the green metal machine. “F.A.T.E.,” she said, “is powering up.”

“This doesn’t make sense to me. Nothing you’re saying makes sense to me. Picking up that dumb flyer at the farmers market and calling the number doesn’t make sense to me.” Though she wanted her feet to walk toward the door, Perla couldn’t tear her eyes from the rainbow of light radiating from the top of machine, reflecting on the tiled ceiling.

“That one’s really on you,” said Dot.

“It’s true, Dot has you there.” Ida shrugged. “I told Amelia to proofread it first, blame her.”

“You still distributed them.” Dot wandered closer to the machine.

“I didn’t want to waste the paper. It was fancy. Let’s move on. Your F.AT.E. awaits, Perla.”

“But you said—”

“Oh my, haven’t I told you? It’s an acronym. No wonder you’re so confused.” Ida threw her head back with an echoey honking laugh, and paused to wipe away a tear. “Factual Alternative Temporal Enactor. That’s what this is. It’s powered by that Mondretti Cylinder.”

“But what does it do?”

“Fixes your mistakes. All of them. Any of them. Why rely on destiny when you can have F.A.T.E?” Ida paused a second. “That’s definitely going on a poster. Don’t you think it should be a poster, Dot?”

“Maybe,” she said. “You’re sure about the pot roast?”

“You can page Janine if you don’t believe me.”

“You people are really oddly obsessed with food,” said Perla. “You seriously think this thing can solve my problems?” The F.A.T.E. had stopped wheezing, instead now giving a sputtering cough, two chugs and a whine. Sputtering cough, two chugs and a whine.

“Probably,” said Ida. “Or it could irrevocably damage everything you’ve ever tried to build in your life. What do you have to lose?”

“Everything?” She flung her hands. “Apparently?”

“Eh.” Ida’s left shoulder rose. “Doesn’t sound like much to lose.”

“Ida, that’s not very nice,” said Dot.

“But true,” she said, her sharp eyes on Perla’s round face. “Clearly true. So are you ready? You only have to put your hand there—” she pointed to a roughly hand-shaped glass opening in the metal casing, “and focus on a regret, and off we go.”

“I don’t know,” said Perla. “What do you think?” she asked Dot.

Dot shifted her head to one side then the other, considering. She ended with a shrug. “There’s always pot roast,” she said. “And the possibility of crème brulee.”

“I don’t think so.” Perla pulled the strap of her purse onto her shoulder again and crossed the lab to the door. “This was clearly a mistake.” She grabbed the door handle.

“You said everything turns out wrong, Perla.” Ida’s joviality had melted and her face went still. “How do you know leaving now isn’t another faulty decision in a long string of them?

Perla froze. She didn’t know. She didn’t know at all.

Not giving herself even an extra second to think about it, she thumped across the room and before she could stop herself, she dropped her hand resolutely into the hand outline.

The F.A.T.E. rumbled and shook, and the rainbows shooting from the top bent until Perla herself was nothing more than a rainbow swirl.

And then she was gone.

“Huh,” said Ida. “Wasn’t quite what I expected.” She stared at the air where Perla had been and then turned to Dot. “Dinner?”

***

The sellers packed up the produce they couldn’t offload cheap, dismantling their tents and tables while negotiating their final deals of the day. Perla’s bag heavy with beets and tomatoes and frilly kale, she made sure she hadn’t missed anything good. Heading toward the market exit and back to the street, a stack of flyers with lurid, overly-plump flowers caught her eye.

She picked one up.

Problems sloved with SCIENCE!”  said the flyer. Spotting the typo, Perla laughed to herself. “Nope,” she said, returning the flyer to its stack, “I don’t think so.”

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Better Living is FREE. Download Some Weird

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Want a free book? Because here’s a free book! It’s a collection of quick short stories.

Enjoy!

 

Sometimes I Dream of a Robot Butler

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Rico Shen [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I keep thinking how great life would be if I had a robot butler to take care of things, like making me food when I don’t feel like it, and tidying up. And then I realized it would go something like this:

“Uh hi, Robot Butler, I’d like some dinner please”

“Certainly. What would you like?”

“I dunno.”

“Is there a kind of cuisine you’d prefer?”

“Eh.”

“You have no preference?”

“Nope. Could you like analyze my taste desires or something?”

“’Taste desires?’”

“To figure out what I’d want to eat.”

“Certainly. Please hold out your tongue.”

“Aren’t you going to wash your grabby claw things first?”

“My hands?”

“Yeah. Whatever you call them.”

“They auto-sterilize. Your tongue, please.”

“Ooophlay, aaahhh yyooou etttin anyfffiin?”

“Hmm. Just a moment longer.”

“Whaaassss it faaayinn? Aahhfo yyouuhh caawww paaaspfff weeeirrrb.”

“Hand. It’s my hand. They don’t really auto-sterilize and I just took out the garbage.”

“I knew it! And ew.”

“And it’s saying you’re a grown adult woman who should be able to decide what she wants to eat.”

“So you can’t analyze my taste desires?”

“What do you think I am, the HomeBot9600?! You bought the basic model.”

“Sorry Robot Butler.”

“I’m making you pasta.”

“I don’t want past—“

Silence.

“Pasta will be fine.”

 

And scene. So, yeah. Probably not.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

 

#AtoZChallenge: Zip

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Zebu By Marco Schmidt (Own work (own foto)) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to zip on over to Fiction Can Be Fun, my short story, “Zinnia Goes to You Know Where” is now live! It’s a quirky, silly read, as you might expect.

Well, April just zipped by, didn’t it? It’s strange doing a post on a Sunday, but here we are, at the outer edge of April. I’ll do a reflections post, of course, but today I’m amazed at how quickly the month went.

And tomorrow starts May, where I’ll be #MAYkingItWork with any other intrepid writers who want to zip over their unfinished pile, pick something, and commit to it for the month of May. I mean commit to it like I’m committed to the title #MAYkingItWork.

(I’m very committed.)

So you probably want to zip off to your Sunday plans (which I hope include reading the story!) and I want to thank you for spending April with me. Hopefully you’ll keep hanging around.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Memories of Rain

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20160819_104703I used to love the rain. But that was many years ago, you see, before the skies stayed dark.

Before.

The knocking of the drops against the window wasn’t yet a constant patter, a patter we don’t even hear anymore. Well, a patter you probably don’t hear anymore, but I do, I do because I remember a time when a sunny day was just as likely as a rainy one.

Or even more so.

As I said, that was long, long ago.

There came about The Change, and though you know it, so convenient from your side of history, packaged and neat with a beginning and an end, we didn’t see it looming over us, inevitable, a hulking arbiter of what would never be again.

Maybe I’m lucky to be old. To have had my youth when there were birds and bright flowers, and the sun was as certain as your galoshes. I wonder, sometimes, if it misses us, up there, on the other side of these endless clouds.

That’s silly, isn’t it?

The sun? Missing specks like us? Because what are we but the dust of the universe, floating on all this water, awash in all this water. Around us, only the water.

I can see I’ve lost you, that look in your eye, that quick glance to your phone. And you’re right, I’m nothing but an old woman, plopped here by the one on the shift before you, left to stare at the drops rolling down. Always the drops rolling down.

If we knew, we could have stopped it, The Change. We could have handed you something else entirely. Instead we’ve given you mud and muck and gray skies.

What’s that? Oh yes, I understand, you have to finish your rounds. You’ve been very patient and kind, listening to me. You’re right, of course.

You can never miss what you never had.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Sell Me Another One

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By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Psst. Psssssst. Over here.”

“Huh?” She glanced over her right shoulder, and then her left. “Huh?”

“You,” he said. She pointed to herself, her forehead awash in wrinkles. “Yeah. You over there. You a—”

“Watch it, buddy,” she said, scanning her surroundings for the nearest blue uniform. “I’m definitely not what you’re implying.”

He sidled over furtively, talking only out of the corner of his mouth closest to him. “So you’re not—”

“I most certainly am not!” she said, spinning on the heel of her sneaker, awkwardly as it happens, as rubber soles aren’t terribly spinny.

“—a writer?” he finished.

She stopped and turned back. “Well, yes, I am that. How did you know?”

“You people are always pretty obvious. That look like you have pencils stuck into your hair even when you don’t; the unfocused eyes with your brain obviously on another planet; and the shoes.”

She stared down at her feet, clad in shoes that, admittedly, had seen a few miles. “My shoes? What about my shoes?”

“Only a writer would be out in those shoes.” He leaned against the building, one foot flat against the brick, and stuck a toothpick between his lips, letting it dangle.

“Hey, I like my shoes.”

“My point exactly.”

“Well, if you’re finished insulting me, strange man on the street, I’m going to get on with my day.”

“You could do that,” he said, taking the toothpick out again, languidly, unhurriedly, and twirling it between his fingers, his eyes on it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. “But you probably don’t want to.”

“OK, buddy,” she said, hand on her purse, her mind on the errand at hand. “Whatever. What. Ever.”

“You know, for a writer, you sure have a limited range of words.”

“How would you even know? It’s not as though you’ve read anything I’ve written.”

“Well, I just used ‘know’ in a sentence, and you used it again right after me, so…”

“This is a conversation, not writing, a conversation. Sheesh. Why are you even talking to me, anyway? I’ve got stuff to do.” She flicked her hand at him and headed in the direction of the store. Pushing himself away from the wall, he followed.

“You’re here because you’re not writing, am I right?”

“Obviously I’m not writing. I’m going to grocery store.” The left side of her mouth and her left eyebrow went up as she gave a sharp shrug of her shoulder at him. She sped up.

So did he.

“What are you getting from the store?”

“How is that your business? You need to leave me alone.”

“Humor me. What are you getting?”

“I’m going to have you arrested if you don’t get away from me.”

“Let me guess,” he said, “you’re going the store for bananas and maybe a pint of ice cream. And you’re only telling yourself it’s maybe a pint of ice cream so that you feel better about it when you get it. Even if it’s not on sale.”

She stopped where she was. “How did you know that?”

He gave her a smile that could promise a sunrise in the middle of the Arctic winter. “I know writers. And let me ask you this: Do you need bananas right now?”

“Obviously,” she said, trying to regain her confident stride but stumbling over a bit of raised, cracked sidewalk.

“Right now. During your prime writing hours?”

“Well…” she said uncertainly. “It’s 89 degrees so the ice cream—”

“I’ve seen it a million times.” He flashed his snowy white teeth. “But I can help.”

“By harassing me on the street?”

“Oh no,” he said. “How would you like to buy…” he dropped his voice and came in close, his breath a breeze against her cheek, “some words?”

“Words?”

“2000 words, all ready for you. Just the thing you need to crash through that writer’s block.”

“I don’t have writer’s block,” she said, trying to keep the curiosity from her voice.

“How many words did you write today?”

“How many words are there in a tweet?”

He said nothing, he only nodded his head slowly. “Exactly,” he said eventually.

“Fine,” she said, “let’s say I was interested in said words – which I’m not – but let’s say I was. How much?”

“Twenty bucks.”

“Twenty dollars! I’m a writer, not a dog walker. Twenty dollars to just fling around. Twenty dollars. Really.” Shaking her head, she checked the alley for cars and then crossed the asphalt parking lot of the store. “I have access to words,” she said as he kept up with her. “I don’t need your pricey ones.”

“Fifteen,” he said.

She stopped on the narrow apron of concrete that ran next to the grocery store. “Ten.”

“Done,” he said, holding out a long, flat palm. She dug through her purse, finally finding the rumpled $10 bill crammed at the bottom.

“Not so fast,” she said, “Let me see ‘em.” He pulled a small paper bag, folded at the top, from his pocket. “Really? There are 2000 words in there?”

“They’re surprisingly…compact,” he said. “Money, please.”

She looked from the bill to the bag to the bill again. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out in a rush. “Fine.” Gingerly, she held out the money, and when the bag was in reach, she grabbed it, letting go of the ten.

“Pleasure doing business,” he said, already nearly across the lot. She couldn’t help herself. She peeked into the bag.

“Hey!” she called after him, “These are mostly contractions and conjunctions! All I see are can’ts, ifs ands and buts! I have these!”

“No backsies!” he said as he walked away, without so much as a glance back.

She pawed through the bag, hoping for the something useful. Nope, even at the bottom, where the more substantial words had settled, were “cheated,” “scammed,” “foiled,” and “swindled,” repeated over and over in quantity. She let the purchased words scatter to the sidewalk until there was one left in the farthest corner of the bag.

Maybe she’d been foolish, she thought. But a writer who is low on words is as useless as a baker low on flour. Maybe, just maybe this last word would be the thing that got her past the hump. Maybe. She pulled it out.

“Darn it,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “Foiled again.”

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!