Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Short Story - 'Confessor'


I belong to a writer's group, based in my local library. We meet once a week, and attempt to hone our craft or simply keep our enthusiasm going and our skills ticking over. Every Monday somebody takes charge of the group with a writing task, ranging from poetry to prose.

This week we produced some short stories, based around the situation of “What one thing would you tell a person, who was a complete stranger, if you knew you would never see them again?” Along with that statement, we had a series of photographs to use as inspiration for a story revolving around that idea. I chose an image of a woman sitting beside an Asimo robot.

One day I hope to be published, including my selection of short stories. Most of those I wouldn't be willing to post online. After all, there's no point throwing them around if I'm going to try and get them in print one day. However, I'm not so reticent about the quick and fun pieces written in the way described above. After all, they're essentially exercises. They're not particularly original or inspired, but they're fun and great practice. So here it is, written in about 25 mins. I've improved the odd bit of grammar (I hope!) and formatting, but the whole point of this, is the curious results of writing with speed and without time for embellishment or refinement. As such, I have kept everything else the same as it was written by hand. I hope you enjoy!

Short Story - "Confessor" (© Copyright W.D.Lee, 2010)

She looked into its darkly transparent face, a pair of cameras staring back at her without emotion. “I don't suppose it matters to you, that we're stuck here, does it?” She leaned against the cold showroom wall.
     The robotics expo had been well under way when the alarms went off. No doubt some pranksters had been responsible. Unfortunately it was the type of building that was prepared for housing millions of pounds worth of equipment.
     She'd been in the toilets, crying to herself in a cubicle, not caring when she heard the deafening alarms. Too late she had left to investigate, only to discover that the crowds had escaped long before the steel doors had locked down into place.
     Now she was trapped, alone with only a pre-programmed mindless automata for company. The one that stood before her was fully mobile, but off-the-shelf. One of those mass produced things that looked like the future, but couldn't really do much at all.

     The robot's remote link kicked in. Under normal circumstances it was a relatively self contained automotive toy, for science fairs and rich collectors. Just this once, though, a particular model had been bought for real use.
     A group of programmers, frustrated by their failure to create Artificial Intelligence, had wondered what would happen if they remotely hooked up their unwieldy mechanical brain to the inputs and mobility of a standard robot. Model number UIY2249.

     She talked endlessly to the machine that stood before her, which made occasional but limited responses to her words.
     Perhaps, she wondered, this was the perfect therapist. It wouldn't judge, it wouldn't tell her what to do. It wouldn't beat or punish her for not doing what it desired.
     She looked at her watch. Who knew when the doors would open, the people rush back in? “I'll tell you.” She half smiled. “My only friend, my confidante, my confessor.” Laughing, she saw it sit down, putting its hands together as though in readiness to listen.
     “I'll tell you my darkest secret, my empty headed little friend. I'll tell you why I was crying, why I'm stuck here with you. You will be the only one in the whole wide world, to know my secret.”

     Later that day, long after the doors had been re-opened, events resumed and finally finished, the building stood empty of human life. In an office full of glimmering artificial lights, a figure moved.
     It explored and wandered the corridors alone, slow yet methodical. It found a kitchen. In the kitchen it found a drawer. In the drawer it found a knife.

Last Thoughts

I might dig out some of my earlier stories of this nature, and use them here in the same way. So keep your eyes peeled!

Obviously the idea in the story is to wonder what the woman told the robot, that has turned it homicidal. There are hints in what she says, but they could easily be misleading. Who knows?

The serial number UIY2249 is completely superfluous and pointless, simply being an amusing reference to George Lucas' first film, THX1138 (Each letter and number has been knocked on by one, in case you weren't sure). I would've left it out, but I wrote it at the time, so left it in for the sake of completeness.

I suppose a possible influence is the robot Hector from the 80s film Saturn 3. Unlike most fictional robots, his homicidal tendencies had a genuine reason behind them. He was directly linked to the mind and emotions of his teacher, who was an obsessed murderer. Likewise, UIY2249 is a child, learning for the first time, and now the strongest emotions from which he has to learn, are from a potentially unbalanced and distraught woman. Who knows what he'll get up to? I'll leave you to wonder...

All work is the © copyright of W.D.Lee and/or the respective companies, individuals or organisations to which the work is related. No infringement is intentional. No reproduction or copying is permitted without express permission.

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