I find myself at the finish line of the ‘Ten Weeks, Ten Prompts, Ten Minutes’ writing challenge that I set myself back in September. These posts have been some of the most enjoyable posts I have created to date. It was nice to take ten minutes from the writing of my second novel, and to indulge other story ideas that rattle around in my head.
I have worked my way through every prompt I posted in my Narrative Prompts post, and now onto the tenth and final prompt.
The ticket woman looks at me like I’m a crazy person. “The year is 2030.”
I laugh in her face. How can I go to the cinema in 2015, fall asleep, and wake up fifteen years later?
“You wouldn’t happen to be Serene?” She asks.
I nod, fighting the bile taste back down my throat.
“Good, because that thing has been creeping me out,” she says, pointing to a white robot machine of sorts. It has the frame of a human being with angular edges, but no face. A black panel fills the space instead, lights glowing like fireworks behind. In its gripper hands it holds a piece of paper with Serene Miller written on it.
“What is it?”
She spits out some of her slushy. “You’re kidding, right? That’s a LiveBot, the most intelligent robot on the market. It is programmed only to it’s owner.”
“Who’s its owner?”
The robot animates, moving toward me in a fluid, human like fashion, and the ticket woman shrieks. “I am the assistant to Mr Miller. I have come to escort you to his residence, Miss Serene.” The voice sounds human, if not a little monotone. It’s male and well spoken.
Relief floods my body. My Dad will have answers and explain everything away. I need my Dad, I need his reassurance. “I think I might be ill,” I tell the LiveBot as it thanks the ticket woman and leads me gently by my arm to a parked car.
“I have read your vitals and you are perfectly healthy, Miss Serene. All will be explained in due course.” The robot opens the passenger door to a swanky sports car, and climbs into the driver’s seat. “Buckle up, please.”
“Are you allowed to drive?” I ask, mouth gaping.
The Live Bot turns it’s screen, face, head, thingy in my direction. “There have been zero vehicular accidents of LiveBot operated vehicles since 2020,” it states, pulling out into the flowing traffic. “Mr Miller has a strong emotional attachment to you, and would not entrust you to my care if he was not certain that I could escort you safely.”
I close my eyes and phase out the robots ramblings. Perhaps, if I try to sleep I’ll wake up back where I started and be out of this nightmare. I know the robot said I am perfectly healthy, but a cool sweat settles on my skin and a nausea flushes through me.
We head out of town and into what my Dad calls ‘rich folk territory’. The houses seem different, more angular, uglier in my opinion. The LiveBot pulls up outside a high, metal gate and presses a button on the dash. The gate slowly opens, and he crawls into the drive, stopping outside a glass fronted, expensive looking house that sticks out from the manincured lawns like a sore thumb.
“This is the Miller residence,” says the LiveBot, getting out of the car.
I shake my head in disbelief. This is the last place Dad would live. Being a blue coat in a warehouse left him with a little resentment toward the white collars. His boss lives up in ‘rich folk territory’ and Dad can’t stand the man.
“Are you sure? This doesn’t look like the–“
The glass door automatically slides open and a figure rushes out. Dad’s black hair, graying at the edges, and his tall, lean frame, but… I stagger away from the man approaching me. It’s not my Dad. He has on black rimmed glasses, the same black rimmed glasses that Joey wears.
“It’s me, Sis,” says a voice I recognise. I recognise it, but it’s huskier, deeper than I remember. I take another step backward, bumping into the LiveBot. “Serene, I know this is confusing, but it’s me. It’s Joey.”
“But your twenty years old not…”
“It’s been fifteen years. I’m thirty five now. You haven’t aged a day. I knew it, I knew he was telling the truth. The police said you were a runaway, but we knew you would never do that. I wish Dad could see this.”
“Why? Where is he?” I say, welling up. I want to cover my ears with my hands because I know by Joey’s face what he is going to say.
“Dad’s dead, Serene. He told me that you’d come back on this very date and at the exact time that you clearly did. He was murdered for knowing too much, that’s why I couldn’t risk collecting you myself and sent Frederick instead.” He turns to the LiveBot, Frederick. “Any problems?”
“Nothing to report, Sir.”
Joey rubs a hand over his head. “Good. Good. The van is packed. Wipe all the hard drives when we leave, even yours.”
Frederick shakes Joey’s hand. “Yes, Sir, it has been a pleasure working for you.”
Next week, there will be more prompt writing exercises, but with a twist. Fellow bloggers have put forward some brilliant original prompts for me to expand on. If you would like to offer a prompt, you can check out this link: Prompt Me, and comment below.
All excerpts are the works of K.J.Chapman