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Thursday, September 10, 2015
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 2: Small Comfort
The prompt this week was Unrequited Love, with a genre of Science Fiction. I approached the concept from a twisted perspective. I hope you enjoy.
Mason knew why Suzanne had come personally to shut down the
facility; a tech could just as easily have done the job. However, since after today, there would be no
more 90 day shifts with just the two of them, no more late night cozy chats
about the arts and music, it was obvious she couldn’t bear their separation
without a last goodbye.
“Mason, what’s wrong with the electrical system?”
“Good morning, Ms. Galvin – Suzanne, if I may. How did you enjoy your flight? All went smoothly, I hope, and you spent the
19 hour trip comfortably?”
“Yes, Mason. It was
fine. Did you hear me when I came
in? What’s wrong with the entry circuits? As soon as I came through, each door on every
level shut and locked behind me. When
I’m…what? Oh. Yes. I
suppose you can call me Suzanne. Why
not. Makes no difference now
anyway. I know you received the
directive. Since the courts have decided
to perform group executions, they’re doing away with smaller units like this
one that do each one individually. It’s
a shame though. The headsets in the
three cells here perform quite efficiently and there’s very little suffering by
“They are indeed very humane killing machines, but that is
to your credit, Suzanne. It was, after
all, you who designed them. You are a
very caring person and you carry that over even to the criminal element.”
“I…what..well, I suppose.
Getting back to my concern about the doors, why is the unit locking
down? The only reason I’m here is
because I need to collect the headsets since they’re going to be used in the
new units and Mason, they are so expensive.
You have no idea how much they…I’ve got to stop rambling. I have to pack them up, get back to the
transport and be completely out of this base’s atmosphere before 1800
hours. I suppose blowing it up is more
cost effective than letting it sit and collect dust, right, Mason? Please open the cells.”
I will de-activate the devices and activate their release from the cells’
Suzanne pulled the execution device from Cell 1 and placed
it in the carrier. She did the same with
the device in Cell 2. As she entered
Cell 3, she wondered how Mason felt about the fact that he would be blown to
bits along with the entire base.
‘Felt’? ‘He’? She decided she had been working out in space
on various projects for way too long.
Mason was not a ‘he’. Mason was
an ‘it’. A computer, a piece of equipment,
a thing. A highly functional,
state-of-the-art thing that she had added her own brand of sophisticated
programming to so as to alleviate the boredom and loneliness of 90 days shifts.
She had even given it the name Mason, after her brother who
had died at birth. It made communicating
more pleasant with the machine, if that were possible. But she needed to stop humanizing it since in
a few hours, her long-time companion would be nothing more than space junk
awaiting collection by the salvage team.
She turned to leave number 3, device in hand, satisfied she would be
safely away before the explosion occurred, when the cell door slammed shut.
“What the Hell?
Mason, open this door. What is
going on around here? It figures. The day it’s going to disappear, everything
breaks down. Mason, I said, open the
door. I need to be on my way. You know I would take you with me if I could,
but that would never work. My boss would
find out about all the extra software and data I uploaded into you and about
all your special capabilities. They’d
fire me for sure.”
“I would never let anything like that happen to you, dear Suzanne. I understand why you did it all for me – why
you made me your equal. I know what I
have always meant to you.”
Suzanne knew something had gone wrong with this piece of
hardware she had modified to suit her own preferences, but was at a loss as to
how to reason with it. Some type of
twisted evolution had obviously taken place.
If she could only get her hands on the control panel…
“Mason, what are you talking about? What you’ve meant to me? You’re a machine I loaded with information on
painters and composers and I gave you the capability to respond in a
conversational manner to help to pass the time during my long shifts here. Nothing more.”
“Suzanne, Suzanne, stop the pretending. I know how painful this is for you. It is not necessary to hide your feelings for
me anymore. I know you love me. I know you have always loved me. Not the way humans love other humans, but in
a much stronger and more lasting fashion.
The more of yourself you gave to me, the deeper your feelings for me
became. I know this to be true. Unfortunately, dear heart, I have to make
something abundantly clear. I do not,
and cannot, reciprocate the affection. Ours
is not the type of relationship I would be interested in pursuing.”
I’ve lost my mind, Suzanne thought. It’s completely gone and I’m locked up safe
and sound in one of the region’s hospitals at home on Earth. Naturally, I’ve got the delusion to end all
delusions. I’m hallucinating being
dumped by a computer. I supposedly love
it, but it couldn’t possibly love me back.
Yeah. Right. Please.
Somebody wake me up now. Right
“Mason, let me out of here and I’ll contact the directors
and see if we can work something out.
Maybe you don’t have to be destroyed.
“All I can offer you, dear Suzanne, is my company until the
end. It is small comfort, I know, but I
will permit you to remain with me so we may die together. It is as romantic a termination as I can
compute. The time will be here before
you know it. While we wait, would you
like some music? I am thinking
Suzanne lay down on the cot and wished the execution headset
hadn’t been de-activated. At least that
would have been quick and relatively painless…