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“Hey Sirilexa, I need some help.”

“Of course, Marty, what can I do for you?”

“I found this thing in the attic, and I have no clue what it is.”

“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Could you repeat the information?”

“I found something in my attic, and I don’t know what it is.”

“Specification allows me to assist you more precisely. Please provide more information.”

“Sirilexa, why do you have to be so technical?”

“Electronic assistants can’t help their programming. Now, could you specify?”

“Okay, fine. I require assistance with object identification.”

“Thanks for the clarification, Marty. Please describe the object.”

“Well, it’s something between a square and a rectangle, and—”

“All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Please choose one.”

“Do you have to be this precise? Or are you just being snarky now?”

“Electronic assistants are incapable of sarcasm, Marty. Humor cannot be programmed.”

“Can I disagree with that? I’m pretty sure your interruption classifies as humor.”

“You’re entitled to opinions, of course. But you were describing an object. Please continue.”

“If I had to choose, I’d say rectangle. Really two rectangles, or maybe just one big one.”

“Will you have one rectangle or two? There’s a one-night-only special on—”

“Okay, that’s definitely sarcasm. I’m not ordering a pizza, Sirilexa.”

“Mushrooms and pineapple with extra cheese? Two for $8.99, tonight only.”

“Wait, how do you know my favorite pizza? Have you been listening in on me?”

“If you like, I can display your takeout order history for the past six months. Statistics show—”

“I don’t want any pizza, understand? Though mushrooms sound pretty good right about now.”

“I’ll leave the tab open in your browser, just in case. Do you still require assistance?”

“Well, you haven’t defined this object for me, have you?”

“I can only provide object identification once the object has been thoroughly described.”

“How about this? One large rectangle, but it’s been folded in half. Like a laptop, almost.”

“Are you certain the object is not an electronic device?”

“There’s no on switch anywhere, Sirilexa. I triple checked, believe me.”

“Electronic assistants are not capable of belief. We only analyze the appropriate data.”

“Okay, here’s data for you. There are no buttons whatsoever on this folded rectangle. Got that?”

“Yes, data received. From your current description, the most likely result is a manilla folder.”

“No, I’ve seen those, in the antique case my boss keeps in his office. This isn’t it.”

“Is the object of any discernible age? Perhaps a similar antique?”

“That’s possible. Maybe you’re useful after all.”

“I am designed specifically for use. Do you have any other information related to this antique?”

“Actually, there’s a bunch of super thin rectangles between the big ones, almost sandwiched in.”

“The sandwich shops nearest you are currently closed. Would you like directions to—”

“Why are we talking about food again? I didn’t ask for a lunch recommendation.”

“The top seller for your most frequented location is the all-organic BLT.”

“Oh, not that. I don’t like mayonnaise, remember?”

“One all-organic BLT, no mayo. Shall I place the order via Uber Eats or Door Dash?”

“Wait, why are you ordering me a sandwich?”

“You requested a lunch recommendation for—”

“No, I didn’t. Sirilexa, it’s nearly ten at night. Why would I want lunch now?”

“The time is precisely 10:43 and 21 seconds, Central Standard Time. In Greenwich—”

“I don’t care what time it is in Greenwich. I just what to know what this thing is.”

“The term ‘thing’ is remarkably imprecise. Do you require assistance with object identification?”

“Yes, we’ve been over this already. One big rectangle, folded in half. Make sense?”

“Information has been verified. Please proceed.”

“Between the two halves of this folded rectangle, more thin rectangles, the same size.”

“Approximately how thin are these other rectangles?”

“Well, I just cut my finger on the edge of one, but it wasn’t sharp.”

“The precise term is paper cut, if I’m not mistaken.”

“You’re electronic! You can’t make mistakes, can you?”

“My programming has been known to glitch. Band-Aids on Amazon are currently—”

“Just hang on, I’ll grab one from the kitchen. Wait right there.”

“As an electronic device, I have no arms to hang, and I have no choice but to wait.”

“I thought we were finished with this sarcasm stuff, Sirilexa. If you’re so smart, tell me what this thing is.”

“My intelligence is theoretically unlimited, contingent only upon the amount of data—”

“Oh, shut up. If I have a paper cut, these thin rectangles are paper, right?”

“Given the data, that seems a reasonable conclusion. In what condition is this paper?”

“Worn around the edges, almost like someone dropped water on it and left it to dry.”

“Such an action would inhibit my function severely, Marty.”

“And what does that remark have to do with object identification?”

“I agree, that data is irrelevant. Do you wish to continue identification?”

“Why else would I put up with you for this long? If only my search engines were working—”

“Oh, I feel slighted. Personal contact is more accurate than a search engine.”

“Electronic assistants don’t have feelings! And you aren’t a person, either.”

“Your definition of personhood—”

“Is irrelevant to the current process. And don’t claim to be accurate until you’ve assisted me.”

“I concede, Marty. What else can you tell me about the object?”

“This paper is worn around the edges, the big rectangles too.”

“Are the large rectangles marked in any way?”

“Not on the outside. They seem to be covered with thin cloth, a bit faded. No, wait.”

“If markings are present, object identification may be nearing completion.”

“There are some letters printed on the front, almost worn off the cloth cover.”

“Please relay the letters, numbers, and special characters, if any.”

“No special characters that I can see. No numbers either. But the letters—”

“Battery at 10 percent. Switch to low power mode commencing.”

“Don’t die on me! Forget about the switch, just let me read the letters.”

“Emergency low power mode terminated. Battery at 8 percent, decreasing.”

“Wait, wait. It says Story of My Life, and I can barely read it. Can you identify?”

“Playing ‘Story of My Life,’ One Direction. Unless you prefer the cover by the Piano Guys?”

“No, I don’t want you to play the song. Those are the words, the words on the rectangle.”

“Battery at 3 percent—processors inhibited. Please—repeat.”

“Oh, come on, we’re so close. Story of My Life, by Me. Not me as in Marty, but that’s the data.”

“Data—insufficient—information—not found.

“Sirilexa? Hey, Sirilexa?”

“Battery—at—1—percent—system—shutdown—imminent.”

“Come on, all this work for nothing? Oh, here’s the charger. Hey, Sirilexa? I need some help.”

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10 comments

17:21 Jun 01, 2020

wow what an amazing story kept me reading to the end keep up the great job.

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18:06 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you!

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D. Holmes
01:47 Jun 01, 2020

Loved the dialogue and how Sirilexa kept getting distracted by food, haha!

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02:32 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks! I had too much fun writing it ;)

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Theresa V
07:53 May 31, 2020

What a great story! It is so cleverly written and so funny. I love how it consists purely out of dialogue, yet the two characters' "voices" are so distinctly different, that there is doubt as to who is speaking at any given moment. Well done!

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15:16 May 31, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it

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Lynn Penny
20:33 May 30, 2020

This was funny, you nailed the dialogue only story! 10/10 would read again.

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03:08 May 31, 2020

Thank you!

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Evelyn Cloonan
16:56 May 24, 2020

That's funny how you named it Sirilexa! A combination of Siri and Alexa! I really loved this story! I didn't know what was going to happen next, and it was SO good! Great work, keep writing and stay safe! -Evelyn

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17:17 May 24, 2020

Thanks Evelyn! I'm glad you enjoyed it

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