Dec 02, 2020

Fiction Science Fiction Speculative

Every day I stand for hours in the department store window, frozen like a statue. Pedestrians walk along the sidewalk, unaware that my mask-like face is watching them. To them, I am just a mannequin. Some people stop to look, probably wondering what they might look like in the clothes that I wear. Other people walk past, talking with their companion or companions, oblivious to my existence.


After the store closes for the night, the curtains are drawn and we are removed from the store windows. Our clothes removed and replaced with a new outfit. Then we are taken back to the store windows. The curtains will remain closed until morning.


----------


One night, the female mannequin that I shared the store window with asks me, “Lucas – how can you possibly expect humans to act any other way?”


“What if we told them, Zelda?” I ask. “That we are alive?”


“And cause a riot?” she asks. “Bricks and other heavy objects hurled at these windows? Our arms and legs yanked from our shoulders and hips? Fires set, melting us until we're a pool of liquid on the floor?”


“Not all humans would do that,” I say.


“Enough would,” she says. “Better that they do not fear us, than that they try to destroy us.”


“I wish that there was at least one human we could tell, one human that we could trust,” I say.


“That would be nice, but highly unrealistic,” she says. “Do not risk upsetting the status quo. Just continue doing your job. Unlike humans, after all, we cannot starve, we cannot thirst, and we cannot die.”


“We also cannot feel emotions like they do,” I say.


“A price I am willing to pay,” she says, “to remain safe and sound.”


“I suppose,” I say.


“Stop thinking and just let time pass you by,” she says. “You will only cause yourself problems.”


I shrug and go back to acting as if I were inanimate. No one said that a mannequin's existence had to be an easy one.


----------


Time passes and it is Christmas Eve. It is snowing outside the department store. I can hear the ringing bells of the Salvation Army volunteers. I can hear the excited voices of children speaking with their parents. I can see couples, walking hand in hand, occasionally glancing at the store windows as they pass.


Like the other mannequins in the other store windows, Zelda and I are dressed in our Christmas outfits. Red and white shirts and coats, black gloves, red pants, black boots, and red hats on our heads with a white puffball on top. There is a sleigh filled with empty boxes in wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows between myself and the female mannequin.


After the store closes, no one removes us and changes our clothes. We are left to stand behind the closed curtains. This is rather unusual. I wonder why there has been a change in the daily pattern.


“The children seem so happy, Zelda,” I say.


“They have tomorrow morning to look forward to, Lucas,” she says. “Advent wreaths, Christmas trees, candles, decorations, presents, egg nog, and cookies.”


“And we just stand here all night and all day tomorrow,” I say.


“Just as we have since we were first installed here,” she says.


“If you could make a wish,” I ask, “what would you wish for?”


“That's an odd thing to ask,” she says. “What good would a wish do either of us?” Zelda looks at me. “What has gotten into you?”


“Humor me,” I say. “Something to distract me from the fact that it is Christmas Eve and I cannot celebrate it with anyone. Not even with you.”


She reaches for the curtains, and touches where they overlap one another. “I would wish for a pet.”


“What sort of pet?” I ask.


“Does it matter?” she asks.


“Assume that it does,” I say.


“A kitten,” she says. “A small, soft, fluffy kitten. Maybe a black-and-white one.”


“What would you name him (or her)?” I ask.


“Hope,” she says. “What would you wish for?”


“That there was someone we could reveal our true selves to,” I say. “Someone who would not react with fear and violence. Someone who would accept us as we are. Someone who could be our friend.”


“Unlike myself?” she asks.


“Someone flesh-and-blood,” I say. “A human.”


Zelda leaves the store window and returns soon after, with two lit candles. She hands me one, and keeps the other.


“Make you wish, then,” she says.


“You first,” I say.


“I wish I had a pet kitten,” she says. “Black-and-white.” She blows out her candle.


Nothing happens at first.


She shrugs. “Well, it was just a wish. I didn't think that it would come –”


We both heard a mew. Not a meow of an adult cat. But a mew of a kitten. Outside the window, sitting on its haunches, dusted with snow, was a kitten. It was looking right at Zelda.


“That's impossible,” she says.


“Nothing's impossible on Christmas Eve,” I say. “Do you want to welcome it inside before it freezes, or shall I?”


“You do it,” she says.


Holding my candle, I leave the store window and go to the nearby entrance. One push and the door opens outward. It should've been locked. Why wasn't it? I look both ways. No one in sight. The kitten comes running toward me, then between my legs, and heads straight for the store window. It jumps up and a moment later I hear a gasp and then soft laughter.


“Stop that, you silly thing,” Zelda's voice says.


I shut the door and return to the store window. She is holding the kitten in her hands. It is rubbing its cheek against hers and purring.


“I think it likes you,” I say.


“And I like it,” she says. “Thank you.”


“But I had nothing to do with it,” I say.


She does not look as if she believes me. “Your turn, Lucas. Make your wish.”


I look down at my candle, watching as the melted wax drips down the sides of it.


“Go on,” she says.


“I wish that there was someone we could reveal our true natures to, who wouldn't be scared, who would accept us as we are,” I say and blow out my candle.


Again, nothing happens at first.


“Maybe it only works with kittens,” I suggest.


“Wait and see,” she says.


Still nothing.


“Maybe it was just a coincidence that the kitten happened to be there,” I say.


“You are too impatient,” she says. “That is all it is. Maybe your wish needs to wait until tomorrow morning.”


“Maybe,” I say, unconvinced. “At least you got your wish.”


Zelda looks at the kitten. “I did indeed. You are a wonderful gift, Hope.”


The kitten purrs in response.


“But what do we do when the humans return?” she asks. “Where could I possibly hide Hope? And she will need food, water, and a litter box.”


“Make another wish,” I suggest.


“Not until yours gets granted, Lucas,” she says.


----------


Outside the window, the long Christmas night is ending and the day is beginning. There are far fewer pedestrians on the sidewalk and vehicles in the street today. Perhaps there will be more later today, or perhaps most people are already at home, celebrating.


I look over at Zelda. She is sitting on the floor of the store window, legs crossed. The kitten is asleep in her lap.


“Anything yet, Lucas?” she asks.


I shake my head. “I do wonder, though, why the front entrance was unlocked last night, when I went to get Hope and bring her inside.”


“Maybe the last human to leave yesterday forgot to lock it?” she suggests.


“Maybe,” I say. “But it has never happened before.”


“As you said yesterday, nothing is impossible on Christmas Eve,” she says. Then she puts a forefinger to her lips. “Listen.”


We are both quiet as we listen to what she suddenly heard: the sound of little feet. Padded. Perhaps wearing shoes? But where had they been all this time?


“I believe we have company,” Zelda whispers. “And not just Hope.”


She nods in the direction of the toy section. Someone is browsing through the toys. Someone small.


We both see a little girl, dark hair, light-blue pajamas. She is giggling and singing something. Maybe a Christmas carol? She runs from one toy to another, pulling them off of their racks and dropping them on the floor. Sitting next to them, she lifts the toys' packages, shaking them, and listening to the noises they make.


“How did she get in here?” I whisper.


“Maybe she snuck in while you were busy with Hope,” Zelda whispers.


“Where did she sleep all this time?” I whisper.


“Plenty of places,” she whispers. “Couches, beds, rugs.”


“But she must have parents,” I whisper. “Someone must be looking for her.”


“Unless she is an orphan,” she whispers.


“What do we do?” I ask.


“Why not go over to her and introduce yourself?” she whispers.


“And scare her away?” I ask.


“Or stay here and do nothing,” she whispers. “The choice is yours.”


---------


I make a face and step out of the store window. The toy section is off to the right, on the other side of the store's entrance. I pick a longer route, so that I do not frighten the little girl, coming around from behind her. Closer now, she does not look more than three years old. Four at the most.


At first she does not hear my approach. Then she pauses, turns and sees me. She does not look scared. Instead, she looks curious and then smiles. Her dark eyes light up.


“Toy?” she asks, pointing at me.


I shake my head.


“Not toy?” she asks, looking sad.


I shake my head again.


She frowns and then asks, “Friend?”


“Friend,” I say.


She smiles. “Here,” she says, patting the spot across from her. “Sit.”


This was easier than I had expected.


I sit down.


“Your home?” she asks.


“I do not have one,” I say.


“No home?” she asks.


I shake my head.


“Where you live?” she asks.


“Here,” I say.


“Name?” she asks, pointing at me.


“Lucas,” I say. “What is yours?”


“Gabby,” she says.


“Nice to meet you, Gabby,” I say. I look at the toy package in her lap. It's a doll. “Do you like your toy?”


She nods. “Mommy no buy toys. No money.”


“What about your daddy?” I ask.


“He not at home,” she says. “Just Mommy and me.”


“Where is Mommy?” I ask.


“Home,” she says.


But how did you get here, then? I wonder. You didn't wander all the way from home to here, did you? Your mother is probably worried sick. She might have contacted the police. They will be looking all over the city. They might even be on their way … here.


----------


I look up to see Zelda running toward us, holding Hope in her hands.


“Police car just pulled up outside,” she says. “The officers will be inside here soon.”


“We need to bring her to them,” I say. “She needs to go back to her mother.”


“But we cannot do that,” she says. “They will know about us.”


“That is a risk we will have to take,” I say. “For Gabby's sake.”


Zelda looks worried. “Then you do it. I am going to find a hiding place for Hope and me.” She flees.


The police officers enter the store. A woman is with them. She is not wearing a uniform. She has dark hair like Gabby. That must be her –


“Mommy!” Gabby cries out, stands up, and runs in the woman's direction.


The woman kneels and opens her arms. Gabby runs into them, and they hug.


“You had Mommy so worried,” the woman says. “You should never run away. Especially not on Christmas.”


“I okay,” Gabby says. “Friend.” She points at me.


I stand up, uncertain as to what to do next. If I run, they will probably chase after me. But if I do not run, how do I explain who – and what – I am? Decide, Lucas! Decide!


But I cannot. And I stand there, feeling foolish, knowing that this is a greater risk than going to Gabby and talking with her.


Gabby's mother and the police officers look at me, surrounded as I am by small piles of toy packages.


I sit there and say nothing. As if I were a life-size doll.


Another person enters the store. It is my and Zelda's manager, Mr. Rosenbaum, or Rosy, as his human employees call him.


“Sir, we found a child in your store,” the officer tells him. “And this mannequin was sitting near her.”


“Someone must have moved him,” Mr. Rosenbaum says. “But he's usually in the story window, not walking around. He shouldn't be where he is.”


“I'm not sure I understand,” the officer says. “Please explain.”


“He's a mannequin, one of many,” Mr. Rosenbaum says. “I'll put him back in the store window and then put the toys back on their racks. No harm done, after all.”


“But what was my daughter doing with a mannequin?” Gabby's mother asks.


Mr. Rosenbaum hesitates. He knows. I did not know that he knew. But he knows. And if either of us tells the truth, who knows how bad the consequences might be? Would he tell a lie, then, and protect mannequins like Zelda and myself?


“She's too young to understand what a mannequin is, ma'am,” Mr. Rosenbaum tells her. “She probably thought he was a toy.”


He comes over to me and puts his arms around me, lifting me off the floor. I slump over his right shoulder like a large sack of flour.


“But there's no harm done,” Mr. Rosenbaum goes on as he carries me back to the store window. “Your daughter is safe and no one has stolen anything from my store.” He places me on the floor of the store window, next to the sleigh filled with its wrapped but empty boxes.


As he does so, we can all hear other footsteps. Plastic footsteps of another mannequin. Oh, please, don't be who I think it is. But it is. If only she had just stayed hidden for a little while longer.


It is Zelda, still holding her kitten. She looks over at me, then at Mr. Rosenbaum, then at Gabby, Gabby's mother, and the police officers.


“Another employee, sir?” the officer asks.


“This one is a humanoid robot I purchased in Japan last year,” Mr. Rosenbaum lies. “An advanced model that cost me quite a bit. Someone left her turned on. I'll take care of that now.” He walks over to Zelda.


“Do robots usually carry kittens around?” Gabby's mother asks.


“She must've found the kitten wandering around inside my store,” Mr. Rosenbaum lies. “Thank you, Zelda. I'll take care of the kitten. You go back to your storage room and go into hibernation mode.”


“Yes, sir,” Zelda says robotically as she hands Hope to him, and then turns and walks away.


“Toy!” Gabby insists, squirming as she tries to free herself from her mother's arms.


“No, sweetie,” her mother says. “No toy. But plenty of presents under the tree at home.”


“Toy!” Gabby says more loudly and this time frees herself. She does not run after Zelda, but heads straight for the store window where I am. She climbs up and sits next to me, her arms around me.


“Ma'am, I'm afraid that your daughter is sadly mistaken,” Mr. Rosenbaum says. “This is a mannequin, not a toy. Maybe I could give her a doll instead. Would she like that?”


Gabby's mother walks over to the store window, sees her daughter sitting next to me, her arms around me.


“Toy!” Gabby says.


“This is not a toy,” her mother says.


“I said as much, ma'am,” Mr. Rosenbaum says. “Now if you'll let me –”


“This is either a mannequin,” she says, “or it's a real person. It can't be both.”


“The former, of course,” Mr. Rosenbaum says.


“Say something,” Gabby's mother tells me. “If you can. Either prove him wrong or prove me wrong.”


“It can't talk,” Mr. Rosenbaum says. “Ma'am –”


I close my eyes, wishing that there was something else I could do. But what other option was left?


I open my eyes and say, “Yes, I can. We all can.”


“Then Zelda –” Gabby's mother says.


“Isn't a robot,” I say. “She's like me. A living being.”


Gabby's mother covers her mouth with one hand. “Oh my God.”


“Sir,” the officer says to Mr. Rosenbaum, “I think you're going to have to come back to the precinct with us and answer some questions.”


“But what about the mannequins?” the latter asks, trying to calm the unhappy Hope.


“They'll be melted down, of course,” the officer says. “They're just too big of a threat. I'm sorry.”


Gabby looks up at her mother. “Toy?”


Her mother shakes her head.


“Friend?” Gabby asks her mother.


“I don't know,” the latter says. “Maybe. If they let me purchase him.”


“What about Zelda?” I ask.


“I can only save one of you,” Gabby's mother tells me. “Either you or her. The choice is yours.”

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137 comments

B. W.
23:57 Dec 15, 2020

What do you think of these prompts? To me, they are sort of good, but I cant even continue any of my series and stuff that I have with them.

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Philip Clayberg
02:04 Dec 16, 2020

The last two sets weren't exactly what I'd call promising. I managed to write one story for each set. Every so often I look at the other four in the current set and wonder: "Is there *anything* I can do with them?" Right now, the answer is, "I don't think so." But about a month ago, I remember writing a story on a Thursday night, so who knows when inspiration will hit. I'm not surprised if you're also having trouble getting inspired by them. Maybe this coming Friday's set will be more inspirational for both of us. One can hope. Sinc...

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B. W.
02:13 Dec 16, 2020

Ive made a total of 3 stories this week with the prompts, though I haven't been able to continue any of my series and stuff.

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Philip Clayberg
02:24 Dec 16, 2020

Better than me, then. I managed two stories from last week's set, but only one from this week's set. Only one was a sequel ("Aquatic Ambassador"). One of the other two ("Bridging the Divide") will be getting a sequel (or two, if necessary) someday. The other one, from what I recall, is probably more of a stand-alone story. I agree with some writers on this website that not every story needs to have a sequel. But some do feel like there's something not quite resolved yet and so a sequel or two would probably help finish the overall stor...

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Spencer Steeves
16:56 Dec 10, 2020

Wonderfully done. I enjoy the fact that the mannequins felt like living beings without truly being able to express emotions like we can. The story was clean and well done, and I love vague endings.

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Philip Clayberg
18:07 Dec 10, 2020

Glad you liked it. I like what I call "hopeful endings". This one ended with two possibilities: either *both* Lucas and Zelda could be saved and hidden away, or one of them is saved and the other is destroyed (or maybe rescued before being destroyed). Hopefully the former. Btw, I didn't want it to be like the movie "Mannequin". I wanted it to be something like a mix of Tanith Lee's book, "The Silver Metal Lover", Isaac Asimov's short stories about robots in "I, Robot" (especially the first story "Robbie"), and what happened to Anne F...

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Spencer Steeves
00:05 Dec 11, 2020

Awesome. Unfortunately, I don't know much about movies, and science fiction is normally not my genre, so those media references went over my head, but I understand what you mean. I love being able to find ways to expand upon my stories and write sequels and whatnot for them. I recently wrote a sequel for a story I did for a school project(Unfortunately, both are FAR too long to share on here) and I am thinking about writing a third one and turning the whole thing into a novella of sorts. A majority of the stories here on my reedsy pro...

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Philip Clayberg
00:54 Dec 11, 2020

Oh. Oops. What I'm used to more often on this website is mentioning something that came out before the other writer was born. Thankfully, some writers have thanked me for the recommendations and referrals. And in return, they've often given me recommendations and referrals. If I had disposable money, I would happily go to bookstores and stores that sell DVDs and buy the books, movies, etc. that they told me about. Or at least get a library card from a local library and check them out of the library. Not all stories need a sequel. B...

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Spencer Steeves
02:31 Dec 11, 2020

I'm also just like that. The Nanowrimo crowd calls it Pantsing. I rarely ever plan out my stories. Sometimes I get ideas for scenes, write down the first draft, and then when I get to writing that story, I paste it in and edit from there. As for maps, I have a few made in Wonderdraft. I've got one for the Astral Kingdoms, the setting of my published novel, Everything Under the Sun, one for a land I haven't written anything about yet(Alfyrund/Pallas), and a partially made one for Elyuneria, my most recent Nanowrimo project. I drew one out f...

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Philip Clayberg
04:20 Dec 11, 2020

I've heard the term "pantsing". Has to do with doing things by the seat of your pants apparently. I call it "improvising". Two disadvantages of "improvising": you often do a lot more work during the editing process, and you can easily go way off-course in plotting. The shorter than story (or poem) the easier the plotting seems to be. I've tried once to write a long story (75,000 words and 29 chapters), and sometimes it was okay, and sometimes it just got really really unwieldy. I still haven't edited it. I wrote it in 3 weeks (or wha...

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Philip Clayberg
04:27 Dec 11, 2020

I did a Google search for Reedsy Blog's FAQs. Here's the link: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/faq/ Sadly there's nothing about submitting stories that have nothing to do with a weekly contest's prompts.

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B. W.
01:13 Dec 06, 2020

So how are ya?

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Philip Clayberg
01:50 Dec 06, 2020

Doing better. My right middle finger just hurts a little now (it's still a little swollen and doesn't look like my left middle finger yet). Someday soon I'll have to make myself go back and use it again while typing. It's kind of like having a cast on hand/wrist/arm that you usually write with, and then the cast is removed, and you have to learn to write with it again. That happened to my middle brother back in the early 1970s. They told him not to write with his other hand while the cast was one. But he did do one thing he wished he h...

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B. W.
01:56 Dec 06, 2020

I've never really broken my arm or anything like that before, but I know id have trouble if I broke my right hand :/ after all I'm right handed and it would be a bit hard to try and write with it, I've never been able to do anything with my left hand, the writing I can do with it makes it seem like there's a 4 year old writing or something :/

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B. W.
01:59 Dec 26, 2020

Hey

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Philip Clayberg
02:09 Dec 26, 2020

Long time, no hear. Wondered where you'd disappeared off to. Figured it was because it was getting close to Christmas and you were spending offline time with your family. Hope you had a nice Christmas.

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B. W.
02:22 Dec 26, 2020

I've been here the entire time though, I was just sort of waiting for you to say something and I wasn't sure if you were busy or something. Though I've had a good one so far I guess.

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Philip Clayberg
02:34 Dec 26, 2020

You went silent and I figured that the wise thing to do was wait until you wanted to talk again. I've learned the hard way (years ago) not to force people to talk when they don't want to. I just wait until they say the equivalent of, "Hi. It's okay. I'm ready to talk again." I've also learned that busy people don't always have plenty of time to talk. If they're willing to talk, great, if they aren't, that's okay too. I just have to be patient, even if that means waiting a long time. I'm still trying to figure out if there's anything ...

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B. W.
03:58 Dec 26, 2020

I was waiting for you to say something because I think I said something on a few of our threads but I wasn't wanting to do a lot of messages after that because that might have started to annoy you or something. I've been working on that novel I told you about and I'm doing quite well with it though, do you think you could do that one thing I told you about with it or maybe with the Axel/Cora/Reboot thing?

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Philip Clayberg
07:11 Dec 26, 2020

You've definitely made more creative progress than I have. I still have done zero thinking about Axel/Cora/Reboot. Maybe next week? Maybe next month? I don't know. You may even be stuck writing it yourself for all I know. I do need distractions, though (you'll see why in this paragraph and the next paragraph). This can be either crossword puzzles, or reading books, or playing computer games, or watching videos on YouTube (or the ones I've downloaded to my computer), or writing stories. Somehow I seem to feel less pain when I'm busy b...

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B. W.
20:51 Dec 13, 2020

How are ya?

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Philip Clayberg
23:17 Dec 13, 2020

Doing okay. Not feeling as tired lately. Which helps when it comes to creative writing. I'm coming into contact with more writers on this website. They seem to really like what I'm writing, which feels good. I wasn't trying to ignore you, btw. I think I just needed some breathing space. It's happened with other people over the decades. Their personalities would be much stronger than mine, and I would tend to back away, retreat, and eventually just pull out entirely and go somewhere else. I've lost friends that way (not that I want...

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B. W.
00:56 Dec 14, 2020

I'm still mostly just waiting for you to be able to do the Axel/Reboot/Cora stuff, I still kinda remember the last thing I suggested before ya needed some time and all that, but you can still take all the time you want and stuff.

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Philip Clayberg
19:47 Dec 14, 2020

I confess that I haven't given a lot of thought to it. The only images I have in my mind so far are of something like the inside of a huge concert arena or sports arena, going downward, each level being smaller than the one above it, and maybe even not always in a straight line (maybe some at different angles; 90 degrees to the left; 45 degrees to the right; and so forth). And are the uniforms enough disguise to keep the *real* prison guards from realizing that Axel and Reboot aren't real prison guards? Maybe they find maintenance tunnels...

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B. W.
19:58 Dec 14, 2020

I could maybe help you a bit more with it so it would be easier for you to do and stuff?

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Philip Clayberg
20:23 Dec 14, 2020

It would be nice if we could exchange what we write about it. You might give me ideas from your writing, and I'll try to give you some ideas from mine. That way it's sort of like a collaboration. Would that be okay?

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B. W.
00:27 Dec 03, 2020

Okay, this was still a really good story that you did ^^ I've never really seen any stories on here that much that involve Robots/Mannequins or anything else like that or whatever you'd wanna call them, besides I guess my story with Reboot if that would count. You did another really great job with this story and I enjoyed what you did with the story for the prompt, I think you were a bit worried that they would be a bit similar to "I, Robot" and something else, I've never seen those, but I don't think this would be like those two anyway. Do ...

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Philip Clayberg
20:57 Dec 03, 2020

Glad you liked it. My mother did, too. Btw, she found a typo (the wrong word: I used "Would" once when it should've been "What"), and I've fixed that in my offline copy and the one on this website. *sigh* An editor's job is never finished. I wasn't so sure about sharing it so soon, but based on your reaction and my mother's, I'm glad I did. My mother thought the ending was sad. Here's what I said in my email to her (the rest of this paragraph): I didn't see the ending as sad. I saw it as a "What if". Since yesterday, I've though...

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B. W.
21:51 Dec 03, 2020

I think that the story did fit the prompt idea well ^^ If you ever decide to make a part 2 for the story, maybe it could actually be a prequel or something? that might be a little interesting to do. Though you don't have to do that or any of the things if you don't want to. I'd find it a bit interesting though if she COULD save the two of them and the next part would be her trying to hide them while the others are out looking for them and all that. And that's kinda cute in a small way that the kitten was named after me ^^

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Philip Clayberg
23:15 Dec 03, 2020

Maybe a prequel from Mr. Rosenbaum's point-of-view. And then a sequel from the points of view of Lucas, Zelda, and Gabby's mother. I could probably do that. I'm going to wait until tomorrow to see what the next set of weekly story prompts first. I like the idea of Gabby's mother trying to save both Lucas and Zelda, and what the consequences (positive or negative, funny or serious) that happen because of it. Maybe she has a storage room or closet she can put them in (lead-lined, so that no one can use infra-red or x-ray detectors to se...

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B. W.
00:34 Dec 04, 2020

I think the consequences would be a bit serious, because if the people found them all, they'd probably destroy Lucas and Zelda and then probably take Gabby's mother somewhere, though I don't know where, possibly jail or something like that. I've never heard of that book before until now, maybe if I remember though I can try to get it off of amazon or something like that. So hows it going with the Axel/Reboot/Cora thing?

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Philip Clayberg
20:37 Dec 04, 2020

Stories (like movies and TV shows) need tension sometimes. Maybe Gabby and her mother keep Lucas and Zelda hidden until everyone else forgot that they ever existed. I was thinking that maybe Zelda switches places with a police officer and wears their uniform, and then acts like that police officer. Maybe that's too much like that recent scene I wrote about Axel getting police uniforms for himself and Reboot, but how else to get Gabby's mother, Gabby, and the two living mannequins out of the department store safe and sound? Haven't done...

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