Power

Copyright - Ted Strutz

Copyright – Ted Strutz

Belinda knew why John needed her – he was past his prime, she was a companion.

John was kind. He talked with her, shared his dreams and disappointments. She hadn’t expected that, and something in her was responding. Was this love?

But Belinda also knew pain. John’s first love was with him still – Kate was not forgotten.

As Belinda descended the cellar steps, Kate looked blankly up at her. Belinda grasped and turned the control dial, increasing the voltage until a pungent odour reached her olfactory centre, and wisps of pale smoke leaked from Kate’s sockets.

Kate was a superseded model. Time to retire.

*****

This story is for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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22 thoughts on “Power

  1. A twisty sci-fi love story, how great! At first I thought that Kate and Belinda were… I don’t know how to delicately phrase it – “companion” dolls come to life, but I figured it out in the last paragraph. I pity poor John should he ever decide to upgrade to a new model from Belinda!

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    • What a neat idea for a story – inflatable companion dolls! My husband’s mind started racing when I read him your comment. He thought murder by air compressor would make a great plot. As for my robot story, I’m really glad you liked its twists and turns, and you’ve sparked my imagination again with your thoughts about Belinda’s future. Hmm.

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  2. I didn’t get the robot slant until I read the comments. I did wonder about your use of ‘olfactory centre’. Robot gone bad, I wonder if Belinda knows Hal – 2001 A Space Odyssey – the first robot gone bad? Sinister even without the robot twist. Imaginative use of the prompt. 🙂

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    • I’m glad you wondered about that. Getting the balance between foreshadowing and giving it all away too early is quite a challenge in 100 words. I think the programmers would have been very careful not to include data about earlier failed models, so she probably doesn’t know about Hal. I think of Belinda as a feeling robot rather than a failed one. The awakening of feelings of love is inevitably accompanied by feelings of pain, and this is what I was aiming for. Kate’s ‘blank’ look is meant to show that earlier models, such as Kate, didn’t have this capability. Thank you for your feedback – it’s all helpful.

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  3. I loved your robot story – reminded me immediately of a short story by John Wyndham I read recently (The Compassion Circuit in Seeds of Time anthology). Completely different theme/outcome, but still dealing with helper-bots, love & upgrading… 🙂
    Cheers
    KT

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    • I haven’t read this, and I do go through long phases of reading sci-fi, particularly robot stories. Don’t know how I missed this one. I’ll look for it. I’m very happy you liked my little offering – I did enjoy writing it, and I must say the idea originated with my husband, but with the reverse outcome (the old one kills the new one), and I’m sure he never envisaged I’d turn it into a 100 worder. I had his full support to do it, of course.Thanks so much for your encouragement.

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    • It is quite nasty, isn’t it. I probably could have dropped in a stronger clue earlier in the story to make it a bit clearer, but I’m glad you lilked it anyway. Thanks for commenting.

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    • I’m happy if you read it as a metaphor – maybe it is. I do like reading about robots – they scare me a little too, jealous or not. I just wonder how far we can go with artificial intelligence.

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    • Thank you Rochelle. It’s only mildly sci-fi. I’m not clued up on all the technology, so I hardly ever attempt to write it, but I’m a fan of the genre when it’s well done.
      Cheers
      Margaret

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