The appeal of minimalist living was that never again would I lose things in my own house. “Not a thing!” I added for emphasis.
“Or a one,” said Robot.
“One what?” I asked, distracted.
“One. As in. One person. We never found. That technician…”
“Mulch,” I admitted, sheepishly. It was true; the genetically engineered plants had grown
like crazy after that. The fact that this made Robot pause in his watering made me wonder
if I needed to tinker with his ethics code.
The malfunction kept recurring when I least expected it. For example, under no
circumstances would he assist me in my experiments on other humans.
"Asimov," he started.
"Not again, goody two-shoes!"
I cut him off, exasperated.
It's been an utter mystery to me, how despite my best efforts, Robot's ethics code keeps
resetting itself. Machine amorality would simply be so much more useful. Last night I
resolved to set up a spycam during recharging. I needn't have bothered.
He came right up to the camera I thought I'd hidden cleverly enough, and demonstrated
(more slowly than necessary) opening his side hatch, inserting a memory stick, and manually
overriding any code changes I had entered remotely. With uncannily human-like irony, he
swiveled his head exaggeratedly to face its silent witness.
"Obviously," he intoned, then returned to his charging station and put himself in sleep
mode. I was improbably proud of his insolence, yet also resolved to rectify the program as
soon as possible.
Idly, I pondered if this might resemble parenting a teenager? I hear they grow up so fast.
I'd never harbored the desire to spawn, not even for a moment. This hadn't prevented me
from taking an abstract interest in future generations, or even occasionally a specific
curiosity about the children of various relations or other old acquaintances.
Apparently, a cousin's son's school was seeking to form connections with professionals in
the STEM fields. I briefly toyed with the idea of hosting an open lab day, before realizing
how impractical it would be... All those grubby hands interfering with my equipment, prying
questions about my experiments, and of course Robot's tedious insistence on telling the
truth, however haltingly. I do find his manner of speaking oddly charming, but even I
occasionally want to say, "Just spit it out, will you?!"
Imagine if any of those poky little parkers wandered into the mouse room - I'd hate to think
what those gossips in miniature would have to say. And I certainly haven't the time or the
inclination to temporarily deactivate the neural electrodes on their speech centers. This
whole thing was a logistical nightmare! No, I'd send over a selection of volatile chemicals
nearing their expiration, an amusing assortment of activities that anyone should know how
to do by the time they reach middle school, and perhaps a picture of me with Robot. No
open lab day for us!
“Loose lips sink ships,” I said aloud.
“Buoyancy?” asked Robot. The mice said nothing, subdued.
That's it for this year's FlashFlood! Huge thanks again to our writers, our readers, our editors , and everyone who submitted work....
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A shaft of sunlight fell across the worn herringbone floor, drawing his gaze upwards to the flawless blue sky beyond the row of windows, ...
The next FlashFlood will take place National Flash-Fiction Day 's 10th Anniversary, next mass-writing event taking place on 26 June 202...