When a Bot Hires a Human, by Amy Friedman

(Originally posted to LinkedIn)

“Good morning! How are you? Would you like some coffee?”
I peered around the room. I couldn’t see anyone, but the voice appeared to be coming from the desk.
“Are you on a speakerphone?” I asked.
“In a manner of speaking,” the voice replied. “I am your interviewer. Have a seat.”
A bot. I looked around again. A lone chair sat before the empty desk.
“Would you be more comfortable if I created a projection?” the voice said.
The first test. I had to pass it.
“No,” I said.
“Excellent,” said the bot. “Let us talk, shall we?”

Planned Death, by Ann-Louise Truschel

(Originally posted to LinkedIn)

“You wanted to see me, Eileen?”

“Yes, I want to talk.”

“The divorce is almost final. We have nothing to discuss.”

“Please, Harold. I got bad news today. It’s stage 4 cancer, and it’s very painful. I’m going to take my life.”

“What do you want me to do? I won’t try to stop you.”

“I’ve typed a note and left it there on the desk. Please read it. It explains everything.”

Harold picks up the note. A gunshot rings out.

“Harold was despondent over the divorce, Officer. He had this suicide note in his hand when I found him.”


Once More, With Fumbling, by Jane Reid

It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I spent many years on a copy desk, many of them as copy desk chief. Discussions of finer (often trivial) points of grammar. These were mostly unproductive wastes of time, I.M.O. – but some people just can’t accept that English grammar does not yield to logical examinations. Often the only possible answer is that of all Mommies – “Because that‘s the way it is.” I got really fed up with petty quibbling.

So when I retired, I made one resolution. I will never be drawn into any discussion of the Oxford comma.

The Mating, by David Dean

The excited bull snorted, beneath a clock shattered at some long ago one seventeen. Its roar echoed through the ruined station and out along tracks rusting off into the distance. The animal tensed, nostrils steaming, stamping up dust from the derelict platform. A pungent musk announced the arriving heifer.

The cow approached, crunching glass, and rocking slightly as it thumped over a fallen door. Faded times and destinations provided a backdrop to their furious rutting, before the bull dismounted and strode away.

And that`s it, really … just an apocalyptic Cornforth Station and another beef encounter.

Devil’s Descendants, by Sankar Chatterjee

Renowned historian Prof. Nakamura, enjoying a pint in a pub, was watching a baseball game on live telecast. Suddenly flashed a “Breaking News” of a riot from a quaint university town. Right-wing white extremists, waving confederate and swastika-emblazoned Nazi flags, were pounding on the peaceful counter-protesters. “Nazi flags on our soil in 21st century! Do they know how many past citizens sacrificed their lives to get rid of that evilness?” pondered Prof. Nakamura.

But, it was inevitable. To win the presidency, the strongman preached hatred laced with racism and xenophobia to his base. The base was now returning the favor.

Gamophobe, by Scott Ross Jr.

Strong feelings of nostalgia and regret welled up within him, causing his chest to constrict.

Looking at the picture of them on their first date was a mistake. The happiness that gleamed in their eyes at that time have long since faded, and it was all his fault. He pushed her away. He wasn’t ready for the commitment of a serious relationship, but that’s what she wanted.

They grew too close, too quickly … and it scared the hell out of him. So, he broke it off before it could even truly begin … only to realize that that’s what he wanted all along.

When You’re Ten, by Don Tassone

Awakened by the sun, he lay there a moment, worried he was late for school. Then he remembered it was the first day of summer vacation.

For a ten-year-old boy, what could be better? Waking up late, eating Frosted Flakes, playing baseball, stopping home for lunch, fishing, heading home for supper and watching TV until bedtime.

When you’re ten, you can venture out on your own. You don’t care what you wear or pay much attention to girls. You don’t have a job.

All summer vacations are a blast. But none can match the one when you’re ten.