Wondra Animate

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Michael ripped the birthday themed paper from a shoebox-sized object. He gasped, “Oh, Aunt Jo. This is exactly what I wanted!” Still clutching the box, he ran around the dining room table and hugged her.

Then turning towards his mom, “Wondra Animate is the coolest. Whatever I make can be programmed to move using an app.” He turned the box over and pointed to the graphics. It showed a finished dinosaur walking across the floor.

“I see.” She looked up at her sister with an eyebrow raised. “You shouldn’t have.”

“Honestly, Lynn. Michael is twelve now. He should be learning coding. The app teaches that and what he makes from the clay gives immediate feedback.”

Lynn pursed her lips and glared at Jo. “I’m all for him learning. Clay is just so messy.” She wrinkled face in disgust. “And it moving is creepy,” she loudly whispered.

While the sisters bickered, Michael slipped away to his room with the box. The last thing concerning him was the cake, ice cream, and certainly not the off-tune rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. He started the download for the app before he began sculpting the clay.

Thanksgiving Turkey

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My son’s family won’t be visiting this Thanksgiving. So rather than spend it alone, I’m trying out the new virtual buffet. They promised an enjoyable family dinner even if you are the only one physically present. The only requirement – wearing their patented, virtual reality glasses.

The self-driving bus pulled into the parking lot of Mama’s Buffet, my city’s version of the virtual buffet. I and a handful of other single, older adults filed off of the bus and into the white building with pink trim. As I waited in line, the scent of roasted turkey and stuffing made my stomach growl. I watched each person in front of me accept their VR glasses and led off to separate dining pods.

Learning To Be Human

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Like any other ordinary work day, my husband and I were talking on the phone. We would do this during our respective rides home to catch up on the day’s events. “I’ll pick up milk on my home,” Jim said.

“Thanks hon…what the…?” I stammered.

“Are you okay?” his voice changed from normal to one of concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine, but the landscape just changed in a matter of moments. The sky changed to a deep purple and there’s two moons in the sky!”


Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

For the past few months, Julie had been feeling beaten down by life in general. The latest of those punches: her mother hospitalized for pneumonia, her brother slid off an icy road and totaled his car, and the boss recently made her his pet project to pick apart. As Julie stepped into the office building’s elevator, she experienced some of her worst nightmares.

Julie stepped into the empty elevator, selected the fifteenth floor, and the doors glided shut. The elevator dropped about a foot and jolted to a stop; Julie fell to the floor. “No, no, no,” she screamed at the elevator. “Why me? Why now?”

She knee walked to the doors and began pounded on them. “Hey, can anyone hear me? Anyone? I need help.” Julie slumped back on her heels, buried her face in her hands and sobbed. The intolerable silence inside the elevator forced her into action. She wiped her face with her hands and then wipe them on to her pants. Now on her feet, she straightened her clothes and looked for a way out.

Sam Is Here To Help You

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Mildred, my seventy-five-year-old neighbor, greeted me at her door. “Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you for picking up my groceries.” She alternately shuffled and scooted back from the door with her walker.”

“No trouble. I was stopping by there on my way home from work.” I slipped past her and around the corner to set the bag on the counter. A small cylindrical device on the counter lit up with a sequence of purple and blue lights before fading to a dull gray.

Shuffle, thump, shuffle, thump. Mildred hurried up beside me. “Don’t squish Sam.” She slid the bag to the side so a gap remained between the bag and the cylinder. “Sam, say hello to Marci.”

The device glowed white. “Hello, Marci.”

My Name Is Silver

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Mathew Pine flung his suitcase into the trunk and slammed the lid. “AGI, take me to the Thunderbird Hotel in Kansas City,” he said, climbing into the passenger compartment. He dropped down onto the bed along the back wall, kicked his shoes off and punched one of the pillows.

“Affirmative,” AGI, the Artificial Global Intelligence, said. Then AGI relayed the instructions to me, Mathew Pine’s self-driving car.

Through a private channel, I replied, “Why does this human not speak to me directly? And why has he not given me a name yet?”

Virtual Reality

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Lanie stretched and rubbed her arms and legs against the smooth sheets. She murmured to herself and then sat up. She didn’t remember going to bed last night. This felt like home even though it didn’t look right. The last thing she remembered was a friend visiting her. Laine had been old, sick, and in a bed. She felt fine now.

She slipped out of bed and padded off to the bathroom to wash her face and tie her hair back. As she secured her hair, she studied her reflection. That must have been some crazy dream. I don’t look a day over thirty, if that, and my hair is brown. She frowned and shrugged at her reflection, then went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.

As she walked to the kitchen, she caught a whiff of coffee and cinnamon. I don’t remember setting the timer on the coffee maker. The microwave beeped so she opened it. A warm cinnamon roll waited inside. Someone must be here with me, but who? Who would know I like cinnamon rolls?

Master of Disguises

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Marty pulled the curtain back enough to see with one eye. The paparazzi camped out beyond the gate at edge of his property. Crowds gathered behind them held taunting signs. A hot pink sign read, ‘Made a deal with the devil, now you have to pay’. An orange one read ‘Thief’. A bright green one read, ‘Marry me’ to which he rolled his eyes.

Universal facial recognition technology used by the police and reporters was foolproof. He couldn’t go anywhere without being spotted. That changed with his newest invention – prototype cloaking device. Before he started using it, he would disguise himself with different clothes or hats. It didn’t matter the time of day or night he left his home. They followed him anywhere he went, peppering him with questions.