Kate was not having a good time of things. Her husband had left her for a woman half his age; she’d lost all her friends with him, and even the cat was ignoring her. She stood alone in her kitchen, peeling the solitary potato she’d need for another lonely dinner. She nibbled at some of the Red Leicester cheese that she’d already grated, enjoying the slightly nutty flavour and sweet aftertaste.

“Ambrose, play 80s music,” she said to the device on the worktop, fancying a little upbeat music to cheer her up. Life really stinks when your only friend in the world is an electronic voice coming from a little black plastic sphere.

“I didn’t get that,” the device responded with the soft Scottish brogue she’d set it to.

“You never do, do you?” she complained. “I said, Ambrose, play 80s music.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know that one.”

“Oh, feathers,” said Kate, exasperated. “Ambrose, play my audiobook.” Her voice was taking on an irritated edge.

“I’m having trouble connecting.”

Kate rubbed her brow, trying to ease the beginnings of a tension headache. “Ambrose,” she started, at which point the potato peeler slipped, peeling a great sliver of skin from her finger. She gasped at the sharp sting and grabbed the tea towel to stem the blood oozing from the gash. “Just shoot me dead already!” she shouted in desperation.

Several things happened simultaneously.

“Okay,” said Ambrose.

The kitchen window cracked and splintered. Kate was knocked to the ground by a punch to the chest, followed by a bloom of scarlet across her favourite peach blouse. Peeled finger forgotten, she tried desperately to reach her phone, which sat temptingly on the edge of the worktop, but, with fingers slick with blood, they couldn’t find purchase.

“You actually listened to that one,” she moaned. “Ambrose, call an ambulance.”

“I don’t know that one.”

“Ambrose, you really, really stink,” Kate whispered on her dying breath.

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    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    1 month ago

    Although Kate had a disastrous day there was a lot of black humour. It seems so easy to confuse voice activated devices. Alexa told us, “I may be wrong, but I never lie!” I’m just wondering if there should be an apostrophe before ’80s to indicate the abbreviation for 1980s? Also I am confused if there should be an apostophe between the 0 and s, but then you are referring to music… Read more »

    Reply to  Carrie OLeary
    1 month ago

    Yes Carrie, we did add the apostrophe. We’ve now removed it. When we ran it through Quillbot today, both ’80s and just plain 80s were accepted, so we went with your original usage. Is this good for posterity? Thanks to Margarida and Carrie for excellent editing!

    1 month ago

    This is a sinister tale of allowing AI into our lives especially when they have a soft scottish brogue – beware!
    Great story Carrie

    1 month ago

    Carrie, this story is hilarious. After reading it, I’m afraid to even speak to my house elf Alexa. Most of the time she doesn’t understand my question or goes off on an unrelated AI ramble. But what if she suddenly obeyed me, at the wrong time? This story is brilliant and unforgettable. My favorite part of the story, which seems so poignant, is the “solitary potato”. It feels so lonely! But the… Read more »

    Deborah Goulding
    Deborah Goulding(@deborah-goulding)
    1 month ago

    A fun read, Carrie! Poor lady had a terrible day, a really bad demise to say! The story was full of great descriptions of all that was happening to your protagonist! It was funny though! I’m happy to say I do not have one of those helpful/not helpful machines!!

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    1 month ago

    I found your story so funny, Carrie. Even though Kate is having a bad day but the funny thing about the machine prevails. Poor Kate. Well done, Carrie. 

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    30 days ago

    Your story put a big smile on my face, Carrie. I love the dark humor in it and it reminded me of the frustration I have felt when I have tried to communicate with computers with no success. A few times, for instance, I have failed miserably to prove that I am a human being. (Traffic lights can be difficult to find on a very small screen.) Very well done!

    N Jungeberg
    N Jungeberg(@n-jungeberg)
    14 days ago

    AI (artificial intelligence) scares me to death! You hit the nail on the head in your story as to why I feel this way about it! 😟

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