Author’s Note: Hi! Also: NOTE FOR ALL Y’ALL WHO GO ON LIKE SPREES: I personally think that likes are nice, but comments and critiques are much more helpful! I kind of hate it when people just go on random liking sprees. I would appreciate it much more if you took the time to read and give feedback. Points are nice but at the end of the day, improvement is better! OK, that is all, have a good time reading. I had a lot of fun with this series, but I think this is all for now. I hope you enjoyed the series just as much as I did! And yes, it’s a completely different format than the other two, but never mind.
One More Month, One More Change (A Third and Final Companion Story to the When History Series)
A Science Fiction Short Story by Ana Govindasamy
Trigger Warnings/Disclaimers: Bullying, Discrimination, Protests, General Violence
His wife in his arms. Smile plastered on their daughter’s face. People spilling from the kitchen into the small garden. Music, dancing. Celebrations.
The subject of the praise?
One of the first 10 AI students to go to a human school.
Confetti falls, screams erupt, and cake is cut. Raima poses with her best friend, Mira, who was also accepted. They pose for all sorts of people. The press, family, neighbours, friends. She glances up at her acceptance certificate, framed on the wall. A wave of pride washes over her. She was making history.
She’d come to realise it was the one thing she’d never truly have. Bullies. They were everywhere. Even the teachers. She could go to no one. Not her non-existent human friends, not the teachers, not her parents who’d paid so much for her to go to Cari, not the other AI students.
Not even Mira.
Because for the past month, they’d been brainwashed. “Lucky”, “Historical Moments”, “Progress”, “Change”. None of these words meant anything to her anymore. She was “part of all of it”.
But she wasn’t. She was part of another wave of unrest, if that’s what they meant. And now she forces her fingers to click the buttons on her computer, typing up her lines for homework.
“An Essay on the US Justice System...”
Yet again, one more rainbow she was chasing. She sits, occupying a single seat and eating. She doesn’t have to. But she can.
Anything to feel more human.
She’s been contemplating this moment for weeks. So, when her voice breaks the silence she almost withdraws it. But her safety is more important.
Blue sparks spill out of her broken wires and busted arm. Her father almost drops the glass he was cleaning. Her mother is a fountain of screeched-appalled-questions.
They pretend like they can go to someone, like they’ll get to the bottom of this. But deep down they know no one would listen to them.
And she wants to scream, cry. But she’s not human enough.
The word bounces around her head, taunting her.
So close, but so far.
The word was scrawled on her Technology Education notes. The things she wrote in the margins landed her with a broken hand today. The same notes she was currently covering in tomato sauce.
But she doesn’t realise. She still scoops, pours and chops. She turns the stove on, letting the rhythmic clicks as she turns the knob calm her. Left arm out of commission, she feels so powerless. Humans were more delicate than her. Even if her veins and arteries were exposed, she could easily overpower them. But she makes no effort to.
She sits back down to go over her notes, cursing when she finds the stained notepad on the table. She turns her attention back to the stove, letting the blue ring pull her into a world of twisted reverie.
Why do they get the automated cooking machines?
Why are we saddled with the old stoves?
Why aren’t we equals yet?
They’re just the same as us.
She perfects the last letter on her sign, clicks the lid back on her pen and smiles to herself.
“There is no you vs me. Just us”
It wasn’t the best, but she had the rest of her life to perfect her protest slogans.
Lan gets off the phone with Narya and turns to ask if she’s ready, Anco starts stressing once more, distracting himself with the pen stains on the kitchen table. But she is ready. “She’s always been ready.” She thinks as she walks out the room. “She was made to do this. Made to copy humans’ actions. Replicate them as closely as possible.”
Just weeks ago, equality seemed so. But now? Now it seemed like some childish notion she’d be forever chasing, even when her heart rusts and she still dies, some insignificant AI, who thought they could make a change.
She’d tried her hardest since school started. She was on the news, she’d protested, and what’s happened?
She’s still bullied. AIs still not accepted.
So what was all her effort for if it was going nowhere?
Nowhere and everywhere.
That’s where the change was.
It was nowhere and everywhere.
AIs lined the streets, but no voices filled the screen. Silent protest. A silent protest she wished she could be a part of. For now, she was just a helpless student.
But deep down, she was formulating her own plan for change. If she wanted change, she’d need to do it herself. Independent. Free. Loud.
She types out the header of her website. It was a homework assignment. Technically. The assignment did say to use coding skills to design a website of your choice. This was her choice. Her voice.
The voice that had reached thousands of AIs, hundreds of countries. Now it was about to do much, much more. She switches tabs to work on her actual assignment website, because she didn’t want to imagine what would happen if she was to hand in her blog.
One more thing to add to it.
Her old notebook, pages of revision notes long abandoned, now a logbook. Of every injustice, every downfall she encountered on her journey. Written in hasty black scribbles, waiting to be transferred to the website.
Ready to inspire. Spark change.
Change. It was coming. Finally.
Her website had sparked protests. Real protests. Her face, her name on signs, chanted on the streets.
She was behind it all. Raima Parker. She had been a voice. She had spoke right that morning on the news. She had inspired people. She was one of the faces of equality.
Maybe eventually she’d be up there with Olivia Shinner. One day.
Today was the day the world finally knew. Her website had reached even the most remote. countries Her parents knew as well. That ended with a brief fight, but more pride if anything.
Mira knew. And it reopened her eyes to the injustices.
Then her school knew.
More abuse, heavier blows, stronger words. It was worse than ever before. Her and Mira.
Until the summer vacation swooped in to save them. Three months to make a change. Three months.
There was another protest this month. This time, bigger than ever. Worldwide. There were strikes. Ten more countries gave AIs human rights. They were advancing. She wrote her essays as the TV raged on, images of protest, revolt, anger, all flooded the screen. Her essays were no longer polite, no longer sugar-coating it. She wrote the truth.
The truth. Just tell the truth.
Those were the words that circulated her mind as she sat, eating breakfast in her fancy new dress. She had to be out the house by 7 if she wanted to be in time for the news broadcast. Soon enough she’d truly be a real voice for AIs. One day.
One day until school. But she isn’t scared. It’s one more month. And each month is an opportunity for change.