Daily Archives: May 20, 2010

Flash Fiction Thursday: Axel

As a quick aside, I think this may be my last independent Flash Fiction Thursday piece.  I’m starting a second, internet-published WiP that’s going to be written in weekly installments.  Like episodes to a TV show or something.  It’ll be on-going until I get bored of it.  Not really Flash Fiction, strictly speaking, I know, but each installment will continue from, as well as be independent of, the last.  You’ll see installment one next week.

Also, for people who are interested in the self-publishing game (I’m not, but email likes to notify me of crazy things): Barnes & Noble is jumping into e-publishing…. er… e-self-publishing…. to promote sales of the Nook.  Check out Pubit! if it catches your fancy.

NOW!

Meet Axel: an accidental A.I. explosion from my brain that erupted last Friday. <3

The lights dimmed in the secluded moon-based compound as Michael threw the switch for the second generator, before the violent whirring had all the lights at full capacity again.

“Are you still with me, Axel?” asked the scientist, practically waddling over to his stool to plop down, mopping his forehead with a handkerchief.

“I am, Michael,” the automated voice returned, and the robot came rolling over, his lower half spinning, as it always did, to propel him forward.  A.I. they called him.  Artificial intelligence, programmed to interact with humanity on a profoundly different level than the robots of the past.  Axel could answer any question within the limits of his knowledge–but he couldn’t move beyond that.  He couldn’t understand the human condition.

“I’ve backed up all your systems, Ax.  This is going to be an adventure.”

Axel’s monitor flicked on and a clip of Errol Flynn as Captain Blood played for a moment, before Michael burst out laughing.  “Not quite an adventure of that magnitude, I’m afraid, but I think you get the idea.”

Michael’s brilliance as a scientist had been listed in far too many journals and publications to make note of, but the man never seemed to come out of his isolated living out here in the darkness of the moon.  It didn’t stop him from being recognized, however.  Tathis Morgan stood behind the tinted glass, arms folded over his chest and a look of mild impatience in his eyes.  There was something dark about him, both in body and presence, and Michael was very wise not to refuse his request for his little experiment.  Though… it had been Michael’s idea.  Funding was everything.  It took two years to prepare, and Tathis had been most impatient.

“Well.  Here we go, Ax.  No turning back now.”

“Of course not, Michael.  Time is linear.  I have prepared my host.  Is there anything I can do for you before I go offline?”

Michael gave a small grin.  He would miss Axel… but three-million credits was more than he’d seen in his life.  Maybe he was being under paid, but hell if that wouldn’t pay the bills for a long while.  “I’m fine, Ax.  Thanks, though.  Let’s get this done.”  He wheeled his stool over to an examination table, and pulled back a sheet on what looked to be a corpse; a man in his late teens, possibly early twenties, with perfectly combed red-brown hair.  He was pale, but not sickly so, and Axel flicked an image of The Thinker onto his screen.

“Don’t think too hard on it, Ax.  It’ll work out just fine.  And if it doesn’t, you’ll be back in your hard drive in no time,” Michael assured, and drew a cord from one of the little compartments on Axel’s unit, and plugged it into a USB port on the back of his monitor unit.  “Ready for the upload, pal?”

“I am ready, Michael.”  A smiley face appeared on his monitor then, and Michael lifted the head of the body on the table, plugging a pin into a port at the base of his skull.

“Upload beginning…. Now.”  Michael started the process, looking on with quite anticipation.

Tathis stood behind the glass, one hand pressed to the darkened barrier, waiting with his breath hitched, his mouth slightly slack.

Two hours passed, and it didn’t appear that anyone had moved a muscle, though expressions had grown tired and Michael hunched a bit on his stool– until Axel’s unit powered down.

Michael jumped a mile, and his eyes widened, flicking from the body on the table to Axel’s monitor, and back again.  “Ax?”

The body’s eyes flicked open as if a switch was turned on, and an arm instinctively flew up to shield his eyes from the fluorescent lighting.  Michael jumped up off of his stool and let out a whoop of triumph, hands in the air.

“Unbelievable!  Ax!  Axel, can you speak?”  He asked, and leaned over the newly-awakened man on the bed.

Dark blue eyes fell to pin pricks as the arm slid down awkwardly, and plopped back on the table.  “Michael?”  The name was hoarse and uncertain as Axel tested his new vocal cords.

Tathis came around the corner, clapping slowly.  “Well done, Michael.  You’ve transferred a PC into an organic, human body.”

Michael laughed and motioned at Axel excitedly.  “Ax!  Ax, this is Tathis.  Can you see us, Axel?”

Axel tried to croak out a yes, but only nodded.

“Listen, he needs time to get used to the body. We need to make sure he doesn’t malfunction.  He’s still… for all intents and purposes, a computer.”

“As far as you know,” Tathis countered, “but that’s the heart of this little adventure, isn’t it?  I’ll be here daily for a report.  I want to know when he begins to feel.”

“Ah.  Yes, sir.  But… if the computer in him doesn’t take well to the hormones and chemical processes of a human body, don’t count it as a loss.  We made a massive step today–“

“Just make it happen.  Otherwise, what am I paying you for?”  Tathis strode off with a single wave behind himself.

Michael looked to Axel, and heaved a sigh, tugging the sheet up to the computer’s new shoulders and patting him on the head, while Axel’s eyes rolled about, learning his familiar atmosphere with human eyes.

“Well, pal… Pinocchio would be jealous.”

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