Science Fiction Funny Adventure

“Car. Drive to the Webster Offices on Hillmore Street,” Graham Findel barked from the optional driving position in his shiny new Autodrive Hotseat.

“Yes, Mr Findel. Webster Offices on Hillmore Street,” came the electronic voice. “You will reach your destination at 8.45am, assuming no unexpected events.”

“8.45? 8.45? That’s fifteen minutes late! Car! Switch to manual.”

“Yes, Mr Findel. Switching to manual.”

The LED displays brightened, and the rectangular steering bar unlocked from its hub with a click, neatly unfolding from the bottom of the dashboard and rising into place at the perfect hand position for its primary driver. The satellite navigation system opened a 3D holographic image of the region in the bottom right-hand corner of the windscreen at the optimum height for Graham’s view. It rapidly zoomed in to show the exact position of the car on Graham's huge, circular driveway and a series of blue directional arrows.

Within seconds, the vehicle bolted forwards as Graham shifted through first gear to second, then third. Gravel crunched and sprayed up behind him as he spun his Hotseat round towards the road. He pulled off the driveway onto the tarmac without slowing down and was soon hurtling along the country lanes towards the city in fifth gear.

“Mr Findel, please be advised that you are currently travelling at twice the recommended speed for safety on these roads.”

“Car. Shut up.”

The roads near Findel’s fusion-powered mansion were smooth and well maintained so he could zip about with no fear of losing control. His army of private contractors made sure of it. Graham knew every bend, every tree, and every verge as they blurred past his light-filtering windows. He switched seamlessly between gears as he raced towards the edge of Senston. His brand new, flame red, top-of-the-range, supercar cornered with ease. The ride was so smooth that he could have drunk his coffee on the way to the interview - with no concerns about keeping his crisp white shirt crisp and white - if only he’d remembered to bring it.

The AI personality in the Hotseat occasionally made requests. Most annoyingly it wanted Graham to name it, as if it was a real person. He'd toyed with the idea of calling it something derogatory for his own amusement, but couldn't think of anything more insulting than leaving it on its factory setting of "Car". It was, after all, part of his staff, and he never called them by name.

At the edge of the city, as the buildings grew taller and the blocks grew denser, his portable device beeped on his wrist and another voice came over the speakers of the Autodrive Hotseat.

“Graham, it’s me. You left without saying goodbye. Remember to straighten your tie when you arrive, and take a deep breath before you answer any questions. I hope your presentation goes well! Good luck Honey!”

“Thanks!” He flicked his wrist to the side and cut his wife off before she could give him any more interview advice.

“Car. What’s my ETA?”

“Mr Findel, you will reach your destination at 8.40am, assuming no unexpected events.”

“Perfect – five minutes saved already by driving manual. I can cut through Dale Road and make more time up.”

Graham swung the car left before the AI could respond. He turned onto Dale Road just as it said, “Mr Findel, Dale Road has numerous electrobus stops, and we are only 14 seconds behind the number 82. The lack of bus lanes or pull ins on this road will mean a delay of approximately three minutes before the electrobus turns off onto Mount Street.”

“Damn it! That’s my time nearly gone!”

Graham slammed on his brakes, jerking the Hotseat to a stop just a few inches from the bumper of the stationary number 82. Thirteen people at the bus stop dawdled, single file, on to the offending vehicle. Each one pausing to swipe their portable and tap on to the electrobus. There was too much traffic coming the other way for him to pull out and overtake, but he indicated and rolled towards the centre line anyway, sounding his horn and cursing.

Graham jumped in his seat as a dull thud hit the side window right by his face, followed by a raucous laugh. He jerked his head towards the noise, cricking his neck. A tall man on a pushbike had pulled up alongside him and smeared a whole skinned banana down the glass, leaving a gungy streak. As Graham watched, the man drew the remains of the fruit back up the window, extending the mess as far as he could. When he had finished, he wiped his hand on the car door and pulled off around the electrobus. He showed the reverse V sign to Graham as he went and shouted something about cycle lanes.

“Damnit, damnit, damnit! What a mess to show up with. I hope they don’t have valet parking.”

Findel massaged his neck and tried to shift his head back into a comfortable driving position, but it would be a few minutes before he regained full movement. The electrobus pulled away and, now with a queue of traffic behind him, Graham reluctantly instructed the AI to take over the driving for a while.

The Hotseat stop-started behind the electrobus all the way down Dale Road until the latter finally turned off onto Mount Street and the AI picked up a bit of speed.

“Car! Faster!”

“Mr Findel, we are travelling at the new maximum speed limit permitted within two miles of a college, school, or other educational establishment. The new rule came in six months ago.”


The new rule had come in because of a grudge against the Head of City College. She had campaigned against the reduced city centre parking policy that tried to force people to use public transport into the middle of town. Despite overcrowding, there weren’t enough electrobuses or maglev trams in Senston to get everyone to work. It was a backhanded deal. The private taxi firm with the local monopoly had successfully bribed the right man. As that man also owned the GFT Foundation, which controlled all the vehicle charging points in Senston, (a revenue stream that other cities pumped back into urban infrastructure) someone was making money out of TaxiCo at every turn.

Still rubbing his neck, Graham demanded to take back manual control of the car and topped the speed limit within seconds. The LED display flashed a pointless warning. Spying a short cut down Maple Drive on the satnav holomap, he spun the steering bar to the right, and the car tires squealed on the tarmac.

“Mr Findel, I suggest we avoid Maple Drive due to the numerous potholes. I am not well equipped to drive over them without sustaining significant damage.”

“Car! Shut up!”

Graham sped past a few houses before the first pothole presented itself. The front left wheel dipped violently with the damaged road surface and Graham struggled with the steering. He took his foot off the accelerator and slowed the car to a crawl as he negotiated his way down the rest of the street.

“Car! What’s our ETA?”

“Mr Findel, you will reach your destination at 8.49am, assuming no further unexpected events.”

“Argh! I can’t be nineteen minutes late! That’s worse than it was when we left.”

Graham turned the car onto Montague Avenue and was immediately faced with a man in hi-vis standing in the middle of the asphalt holding up a large red STOP sign on a stick.

“Mr Findel, I would recommend that you take another route. There are road works on Montague Avenue and they are lacking temporary traffic lights to control the single lane flow.”

“I can see that!”

Graham checked his mirrors. A blue miniauto had sneaked up behind him and there was no way to turn round or back up with the constant stream of traffic flowing towards him on the opposite side of the road.

The man holding the STOP sign had seen the Hotseat approach but appeared to be laughing into his portable rather than paying attention.

Graham scratched his cheek, rapped his fingers on the dashboard and fiddled with his tie. He didn’t have time for this.

“Car! Open my side window.”

The driver’s side window rolled down silently. Larger chunks of the crushed banana fell away onto the road. Smaller pieces smeared further across the glass.

“Oi mate! Any chance you can do your job? Let me through!”

“Hello mate! How about you do yours first?” He spoke into his portable again and then slowly started to turn his STOP sign round as if he was going to let Graham go. But then turned it back again and laughed. Graham twisted his painful neck to have a better look behind him but the little blue car now had a removals van behind it and a queue was building up behind that.

“Come on mate, be reasonable, I’m running late.”

“Not my fault you’re at my mercy – if there was a sensible budget for AI lights I wouldn’t even be here. If I wasn’t here there’d be no argument. If I wasn’t here, doing forced overtime, I might be at home on my daughter’s birthday.”

“But you are here. And you can help me.”

“Why should I?”

“Car! Shut the window.”

The driver's side window rolled back up, still covered in mashed banana. Graham banged his fist on it several times and leaned on his horn for a few seconds. Cars behind him also started beeping.

After a few more minutes another workman in hi-vis, carrying a data tablet, approached the first man and words were exchanged. He pointed at the tablet screen and shook his fist. The first man slowly turned his STOP sign round to GO and sneered at Graham as he pulled across the road and blew past.

“What the Hell next? Car! What’s my ETA?”

“Mr Findel, you will reach your destination at 8.55am, assuming no further unexpected events.”

“I can’t be that late! What can I do?

“Mr Findel, you can take the ring road and come off at junction four. The roads are faster that way than going through the city and –“

“Yes, yes, OK, I’ll take the damn ring road.”

Graham sped up the on-ramp onto the ring road joining the faster traffic at the top. He had to try to filter in at the scissor junction. It was the only ring road in the country that still had single junctions where traffic weaved on and off in both directions at the same point. Every other example of this system had been declared not fit for purpose and redesigned many years ago. But in Senston, the budget for such a huge project had never been approved, despite several deaths being blamed on the system. Rumours were spreading that the project money had been embezzled by senior members of the Senston City Management Company, including the head of the GFT Foundation, but nothing could be proved.

Graham usually avoided the ring road for his own safety, but then he hardly had any need to come into the city at all now. Working from home in a twelve bed mansion with its own cinema, swimming pool, and sauna for when he got bored, was far better than commuting to the office every day like a common pleb. As his speed picked up, so did his fear of crashing. After twice having to abandon his attempts to join the flow of traffic and go back on at the next junction, he eventually put the AI back in control.

“Mr Findel, you will reach your destination at 9.02am, assuming no further unexpected events.”

Graham's head dropped into his hands.

On exiting the ring road, the Hotseat scooted along Pine Way, past a little row of shops. An officious looking woman wearing a bright yellow teacher's sash stepped out into the road in front of the vehicle, holding up her hands. A crocodile line of children linking arms was bobbing its way along the pavement behind her.

"Car! Swerve around them!" Graham yelled.

"Mr Findel, I am not permitted to take right of way over pedestrians in any city. This regulation is not negotiable, not even with you."

"Eugh! How long is the line?"

"The line is made up of approximately sixty pairs of children from Pine Way Junior School. It will take approximately five minutes for the children to cross the road."

Graham seethed as he stared directly into the eyes of the teacher who was now standing between him and his interview. She didn't notice. The trail of children bumbled along in front of him and were led into the opposite building - The Senston Transport Museum - proudly run by the GFT Foundation - as it said on the garish sign.

“Mr Findel, you will reach your destination at 9.09am, assuming no further unexpected events.”

Graham considered calling ahead and telling them he was running late, but it was all too embarrassing. He had no idea what excuse to give, he could hardly tell the truth. That would get him nowhere. As the last child duo entered the museum he took over the driving again and put his foot down.

“Mr Findel, we are travelling at twelve miles per hour over the speed limit.”

“Car! Shut the Hell up!”

A police siren wailed in Graham’s ears and flashing lights reflected harshly in his mirrors.

“Mr Findel, the officer is requesting that I resume control and pull over. I must comply.”

The Hotseat stopped opposite the Webster Offices on Hillmore Street.

“Mr Findel, you have reached your destination. It is 9.08am.”

“Shut the Hell up!” shouted Graham as the driver’s window rolled down and a police officer’s face poked through it.

“Good morning Sir. Your vehicle telemetry shows that you have been in manual control of the car whilst travelling over the speed limit. Not only that but it seems your driver's side window is obscured by some kind of . . . smeary mess. Might I remind you that in the event of reduced visibility in any direction from the driver's seat, you are required to hand over full control to your AI. I’d like to examine your licence data please. Would you be so good as to swipe your portable against mine?” He held out his wrist.

Findel followed the officer's instructions and his name and date of birth flashed up on the screen of the policeman’s portable. “Oh, I thought it was you, Sir. I’ve seen you on the billboards.” He nodded up at the third floor of the Webster Offices where a huge electronic display was just changing from an advert for Coca Cola to a giant picture of Graham’s smiling face and the slogan: Graham Findel Transport Foundation - Moving Senston Into The Future. “Head of shitty transport, I mean, City Transport.”

“Please Officer, I’m running late, and I really need to get to my appointment.”

“Appointment Sir? What kind of appointment might that be?” The policeman tapped his portable against Graham’s again and opened his diary screen. “A job interview! To head up the transport division of the new Barkersville city they're planning? Looks like you’re very late, Sir. Almost not worth going now, is it? I think you’d better come with me.”

May 04, 2024 22:45

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Madeline Honig
15:55 May 20, 2024

Such a fun story about AI!


16:52 May 20, 2024

Thank you 😊


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20:55 May 18, 2024

Loved this funny and disturbing story of an AI doing so much better than its human. What a funny twist at the end. After breaking so many rules he wants to head a transport division. LOL. Great story, Katherine.


22:15 May 18, 2024

I'm glad you like it. I don't often write comedy and I'm never sure how it lands.


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Asia W
11:15 May 15, 2024

This was fabulous, Katherine! Anything with AI gets me a little freaked out


13:30 May 15, 2024

I'm glad you liked it 😁


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David Ader
21:33 May 05, 2024

I love this. The stress of AI vs humans is going to be with us and I think the dialog hits the issue very well. I like, "Shut the hell up!" How many of us do that when we have automated answering when trying to speak to, you name it, insurance companies, credit cards. The theme of transport down to the job he won't get is a very clever thread.


21:37 May 05, 2024

Thank you David, I'm so glad you liked it. In real life I'm quite old school and mostly swear at printers (not even 3D ones) - autonomous cars are no doubt coming eventually, but I'm a way off being brave enough to get in one.


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Mary Bendickson
05:03 May 05, 2024

There is a lesson in here somewhere.🥴


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