Short Story: Mimic

by Richard Holliday

790 Words

The subtle whirr of electric motors beguiled whether you were talking to a human or one of them.

There was a day long ago when the assurance the person in front of you was a human was unnecessary. Absolute. Unquestionable. Who else could it be? Looking around the streets now at blank humanoid figures it’s anyone’s guess.

The machines were introduced as a novelty at first – an artificially animated facsimile of a human being’s physical form that waved, said hello, and entertained at dinner parties before being put away for more serious things. Then the technology was quickly augmented to make the machines the ultimate in walking, talking personal organisers. When they took on not only the appearance of their owners but their vocal cadences, personalities and thought processes to be come true artificial copies that the trouble really started.

The underlying concept that drove this innovation was altruistic and the ultimate in labour-saving. Couldn’t make a meeting, or your schedule clashed? Send your mimic; it’ll know what you would’ve wanted through a personality imprint of it’s owner used for decision making and say what other party wanted to hear.

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Short Story: Purity

by Richard Holliday

1,096 words

The concourse of the Panopticon heaved under the footfall of a hundred thousand anonymous travellers. Each moved silently through the grand transit station that evening, silently worming their way toward the trains and trams bound for final destinations across the distant country. Each mind was pre-occupied with the journey ahead and none realised how important that evening, in that very location, was for the history of humankind.

Across the rain-soaked city, four masked men clambered into a beat-up van and left, heading like so many others toward the Panopticon. They had no final destination though – theirs was the Panopticon. One checked the news on a tablet computer, humming with assent and a second later placing the tablet back into the rucksack which was lazily thrown into the back of the van.

The tablet was replaceable. They had one chance to enact their plan and this was it.

For several years, Sensus Life Sciences had been trialling passive gene therapy with the hope of eliminating congenital diseases that plagued humanity. This was the magnum opus of genetic science – to rid humanity of ailments and afflictions that existed purely because of a person’s genes. How cruel to suffer a disease purely for being oneself – and having chromosomes in a certain sequence. If any one group of people could possibly be described as doomed from birth, it would be those with these conditions. Alzheimers, the slow burner that waited until a person had lived a lifetime before burning it away. Down Syndrome too – one of a number of odious conditions that affected the brain and robbing the sufferer of their humanity due to it’s very composition. Even hereditary heart disease, liver failure, diabetes… these all waited in a person’s very genes for the opportune moment to strike the host person down, forming a cruel fate that waited like a time bomb in a man’s very essence. These were inheritances that no-one wanted but had eluded eradication for centuries and millennia.

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Short Story: The Game

The Game
by Richard Holliday

958 words

“The Game is a pervasive, always-online entertainment experience,” the Avatar chuckled confidently, but also noticeably insincerely to the darkened room of investors, “and it fe… we feel it’s got a lot to bring to your company!”

But what really was The Game? Taking thoughtful, slow paces around the conference table, the Avatar snapped the plastic buckles on each headset closed. In a flash the potential investors were absorbed. The experience the headsets were the gateway to was totally captivating – the lack of bodily movement while the headsets were active indicated as such.

For years virtual reality had been that – a reality that was all-too virtual. Too rough around the edges, and too limited in scope and power – limited merely to the whims and arbitrary boundaries imposed by a designer. With The Game, all that changed in favour of a reality much more vivid than the dull, humdrum existence that actual reality offered to most people. Children ran wild across never ending plains and rolling hills that stretched as far as the eye could see – and as far as a server could render. Whatever a user wanted to experience was there, powered by their own thoughts – fed into what was called the Imagination Engine.

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