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Entries in Science Fiction (4)


The Park

From time to time I visit a small park south of my hometown. It’s a fairly average park with a baseball field, a small river, picnic benches and a few miles of paths that meander through the woods. It is those paths that brought me to the park. I like to bring a small lunch and a book and wander from bench to bench. It's a way for someone who spends too much time at a computer to get outside and exercise without being to bored. Not that the park doesn’t bore me. That’s what the book is for. It’s also why I noticed something odd. Not that I really thought much about it at first. It was simply a story I told myself to keep my mind busy, but over time the other explanations began to disappear.

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An Eternity


Fear threatened to overwhelm Sean the helmet was attached to his head. The psychiatrist tried not to admit that fear even to himself but how could he not be afraid. Two men had been driven insane by the device he was wearing but it was his job to heal them and the only way he could start doing that was to understand what had caused the insanity.


He had already sat in the chair for almost two hours as they monitored his brain waves and adjusted the machinery to it. He had done his best to put the others at ease as he waited. He told jokes to the scientists as they attached monitors to watch his heartbeat and told the nurse about his cat. He only dropped when they pull the straps tight over his arms so he couldn't injure them when he began thrashing.


"The machine will turn off automatically after thirty seconds."


"And if I take my thumb off the button it will turn off immediately," Sean said.


"Correct. Start whenever you want."


Sean took three deep breaths. He didn't understand the machine well. He thought not knowing might help protect him. What he did know was that it was designed to let him see the paranormal world. A spirit world which had driven two trained paranormal investigators insane.


After a few seconds he pushed the button and waited, uncertain what to expect. The room became fuzzy then cleared. The room was no more than twenty foot square and held hundreds of people. They moved slowly passing through each other and never showing any sign that they saw any of the others.


As the machinery continued to power up the walls faded away and the landscape came into view. It was a flat, white plain filled with millions of people none of them interacting with any of the others. How had this caused men to suddenly become violent? They had recognized something he hadn't? He tried not to think about it too much. Better to think about it when it was less real.


But as he watched the faces. No one looked up, no one spoke and no one smiled and Sean began to understand.


These people were here because there was no place else to go. This was all there was. To wander isolated and alone in a world without even landscapes to entertain and to do it for eternity. If there was a God he didn't care and the truth began to eat at Sean's mind and as he let go of the button he began to pull at his restraints.


"You have to let me out." Sean said as he struggled against the bands of cloth which held him down. The image of those people wouldn't leave his mind, an eternity with no hope, no joy, with nothing.


The thought continued to push inside his skull while he continued to pull against the straps unable to face knowledge that no matter how long he lived, no matter what he did he would end up in that endless nothingness.



Karma Bot by Elton Gahr

“I am sorry, Madam, but your husband is dead,” the lawyer said. He did not seem all that upset by the statement.  The smirk on his face even suggested he was enjoying it and the woman want to slap him.

The woman looked across the table at the seven foot tall robot and said, “That is my husband.”

“Not legally. Legally that is a robot which was owned by your husband and programmed through a procedure which allowed it to keep intact the memory and personality of your husband, but it is not your husband.  Your husband is dead.”

“And his will?” the woman asked, though she knew already.

“Leaves everything in a trust, to be managed by the robot,” the lawyer said.

“But if it’s not my husband isn’t it just a computer?” the woman said.

“The courts have already been contacted. It has proven an ability to take care of itself and so has been conditionally emancipated. I’m sorry madam, but you’re going to have to vacate the property. You are trespassing,” The Lawyer said.

The woman looked around the mansion which had once been her world and at the machine which had once been her husband and then turned and walked out with nothing but the shirt on her back.

The robot turned to the lawyer and said, “So, that’s it. I’m free. I can do anything I want.”

“More or less, as you know there are some limitations to the hardware. Touch, taste and smell are not installed yet, so don’t try eating anything. Of course you are also currently neuter due to those same limitations. Also the memory storage and CPU would need to be upgraded for your full capacity to be restored,” The Lawyer said.

“But that’s coming quickly,” the robot said.

“That’s the other small issue. The transfer cost a bit more than you planned. Which means, you have more debt than property. Also, the emancipation was conditional on money which allowed you to support yourself. Without that money you become nothing more than a machine. Which leaves the matter of my fee. According to the law, I am able to take position of property in return for my fee. I believe the house robot is of the correct value, so I will take position of that.”



Author's Note

 I find the idea of the singularity generally interesting, and while these stories can be huge and epic ideas this is not one of those. I simply had a quick idea of what might happen if someone transferred their mind into a robot at a more personal level.


Goal! by Elton Gahr

Zack flipped the ball sideways to his teammate, and slipped past the defender as it turned to follow the ball. His teammate could have shot and he knew the odds were higher of scoring that way, but Zack had insisted the ball be returned if this situation occurred, and the ball was passed back as unerringly as Zack had expected. It was precisely the same height as every time he had practiced this shot. Zack let his training take over rather than thinking it through turning and kicking the ball going to the ground as the ball hit the upper left corner of the net.

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