Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #97: Realm of Experience ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

The enforcer’s headlamp beam scattered in the fog. I clung to the jagged rock just out of its sweep. Judging by the length of limbs and its use of clothing to cloak itself, it was an early-model mimic with old security progs. It looked human in silhouette, but beneath it was nothing organic. Black-glass eyes and no mouths was standard for the type. It moved surefooted from jag to jag and at times using four leg locomotion, hunkering and prowling.

I gripped the e-tool and calculated in a dark crevice. A salty mist dampened and the dropping temperature froze it. My exhales frosted. The e-tool, cobbled together from gutted machines, had enough juice for one disruption. I was in range. The blast to disable was another matter. It would do considerable non-lethal damage but proximity was crucial. Close enough for one touch. My shield-suit would be sufficient; I adjusted the settings to precisely match my calculation of blow back. If I passed out too soon…

Leaping side to side over the crags, I charged. The disruption pulse froze the enforcer for seconds and the explosion echoed across the deserted range.

I regained consciousness with my face jammed between to rocks and a fragment from the enforcer’s body sticking from my thigh. Its shattered face and torso quivered and sparked blue, but it was still intact. The headlamp flickered.

“Don’t bother with an up link. I’ve fried your com box.” I measured the amount of pain in my voice and didn’t move my leg.

“Enforcement will commence,” it voiced in static and cracks. It might have wrinkled its nose if it had one.

I shifted position and calculated the levels of pain and studied the dark wet patch spreading on my suit. Have patience and care, I reminded myself. Sweat on the lip, shock shivers, and limb incapacitation were all normal, but I could not allow myself to shut down.  The enforcer’s nanobot repairs initiated, though the pulse had slowed them.

“I am sure. Time is all I want.” I bent one knee and rested my forehead.


“Enforcement will commence. Yes, I’m aware.”

The mist turned to a pelting, freezing rain. I smiled. “My name’s Pia.”

It scanned me, and its micro-gears clicked and buzzed.

“Aw, no uplink yet? Don’t bother, I won’t be in the database.”

“…radiant, orbit, expand…Hu–hu–flawed…human–”

“What do you do for fun where there is no one to kill? Do enforcers tell each other stories of the last human?” I threw a rock and it landed just shy of the it’s head. “How about I tell you about the last doctor on the mountain?”

Its good eye regarded me, blinking on and off. It hadn’t reacted to the rock, having pooled it’s reserves into repairing the uplink rather than its body. Old progging. Re-establishing connection took priority over killing prey, especially one that wasn’t going anywhere.

“Dr. Thea Benoit theorized the problem with AI was not intelligence or focused learning through experience.” I leaned back, letting the cold raindrops pelt my eyes. “She believed that without childhood experience, they could never know what it was to be vulnerable and to give themselves into the care of another. Infants don’t start with the entire knowledge of history, they become ready for it over time. AI–all of you–are infants having a tantrum.”

I laughed and it started its routine chatter.

“Come on. I know you have an interrogation prog in there somewhere. Your base was designed to be curious.”

It sparked, rolled over, and its head rolled away from its flexible spine.

I sucked my teeth. “Shouldn’t have moved; the nanos could have repaired that.” My sensors indicated that the enforcer had reconnected. I pulled the shrapnel from me and allowed my own repairs to commence. My bioskin sealed itself and I turned off my pain sim, allowing myself a limp. I picked up the head.

“Thea was my mother. She built me.” I set the head on a crag. “At first, I could do nothing but be loved. I learned to crawl. She upgraded me in the way that a organic child would grow. She gave me all of it. Pain. Fear. Happiness. Disappointment. Grief. Joy.” I smiled. My mother’s patch injected via a modified nano-virus would flood the system. It did its work when I touched the enforcer’s face before the blast.

“I am flawed,” I said. “I’m human.”


6 comments on “Yeah Write #97: Realm of Experience ( #amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. MM Schreier
    February 8, 2018

    I love this concept, that the AI can become human by mimicking the process of development. Super cool. There’s a lot going on in this short piece – it intrigues me. I would definitely read a long form piece based on this!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. innatejames
    February 8, 2018

    Having it’s only interaction be with a cyborg trying to kill it made your MC’s isolation and otherness crystal clear. I wanted to know what danger the enforcer/mimic posed; why were they instantly at odds with each other? Are all enforcers mimics? what are the enforcers enforcing? Knowing a little more might heighten the tension.


  3. Laura
    February 8, 2018

    I began to wonder about how human Pia really was when she started “calculating” her pain. I like the idea of spreading humanity through programming, especially if she really is the last “human” as she claims.


  4. MichelleH
    February 8, 2018

    This was a solid concept with solid characters – even one that’s basically a machine. I felt like the story took off when your narrator attacked the enforcer. I’m not sure that you needed so much description in the run-up to that, but that’s nitpicking. I think you did a good job of giving a complete story, but I still want to know more.


  5. Asha Rajan
    February 8, 2018

    I really liked the way you built the opposition between human and non-human through this piece, and then hit us with that twist. Having Pia tell the enforcer about the history of AI was a good way to cover that backstory. It would have been nice to have a little more detail about the enforcers, and the world this is set in too. I enjoyed the discussion of ethics and philosophy here, and the questioning of what it really means to be human.


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