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Science Fiction Suspense Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

There’s no real use for stories or creativity anymore. I suppose my urge to write this down is my last human instinct for self preservation. I want to believe no one wanted this end for our world. I’ve been scrunched up in this small room for hours trying to find the words to describe what has happened last month.  

My husband and I decided to go out tonight for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We have been fans of this absolutely delicious restaurant, ‘The Nightingale’, since our first date together. Henry and I have witnessed so many incredible and devastating things in our lifetime beside one another so far. The colonization of the moon, the first human landing on mars, WW3, and of course, the rise of AI.

Artificial Intelligence has been around since the 1950’s. In 1956, the term “Artificial Intelligence” was officially coined. Since 2010, the development of AI has been at an all time high, and now, in 2060, most jobs and tasks that humans used to perform are done by humanoid robots, or any machine with AI capabilities. 

Henry and I arrived at The Nightingale that night, in our dark blue BMW. It, of course, drives itself and has no need for human interaction at all. There hasn’t been a single car accident related fatality or injury since all cars became self drivable in 2050. As we pulled up to the restaurant, we were met with one humanoid robot, who was the robot version of a valet. The machine was about five foot, ten inches tall and was made out of a shiny metal, such as aluminum or stainless steel. It was wearing a uniform, black pants, with a white long sleeve shirt and a red vest with a black bow tie. Instead of shoes, All robots created for the service industry were created with feet to look like a pair of black dress shoes. Robots created for construction work had feet that looked like boots, and robots created for farm or field work had a type of boot as well. This wasn’t at all necessary, but a design the creators thought would help humans get used to the robots; ironically, to make them more human-like. Their heads were slightly almond shaped from a full front view, but were somewhat elongated from the side or back view. They possessed no hair or wigs, and only had two lights for eyes. Their mouths, not visible most of the time, did open and close. However, when looking inside, you will only find gears and switches. Each humanoid robot has the same voice, but you can tell there are programming differences in the way each robot uses its vocabulary. Most of the robots were created with a deep personality written into its code. 

Once we exited our BMW, we were greeted by this very nice bot. 

“Good evening,” It paused, “Mister, and Missus Henry Bright.” It paused once more, “My factory name is James. It’s lovely to have you both here tonight, may I park your car?” It extended its arm and hand out to gesture at our BMW. 

“Yes, I think so. Thank you, James.” Henry replied. James retracted its arm and looked at the car for a moment. There was a violet light that flashed in its eyes for just a brief second, before the car started to roll forward away from us. James looked back at us both. 

“You are very welcome, Mister Bright.” James replied. “I hope you have a wonderful dinner. Jeffery, our Host Bot, is awaiting your arrival right inside.” Henry and I climbed the six or so stairs to the front door, where two robots were standing by to open the doors for any and everyone. 

“Thank you.” I murmured to the robot closest to me. 

“You’re welcome, Missus Bright. Enjoy your meal.” The bot replied.

“You thanked the door robots? I believe the Door Bots are lower on the AI food chain than the Bus Bots, honey.” Henry chuckled at my expense. 

“I was raised to have the same respect for the CEO as the janitor. Perhaps it’s just the human in me but I believe a thank you is in order after someone, or- something does you a service. Besides, you just thanked the Valet, James.” I took a few steps forward to the Host Bot. 

“Good evening, Missus Bright, is everything alright? I sense some hostility in your conversation .” Jeffery noticed. 

“Yes, Jeffery, just a small marital spat, you know. What would an anniversary be without it, after all?” I giggled. 

“Yes. Missus Bright, I quite understand. The staff here at ‘The Nightingale’ wanted me to personally congratulate you and Mister Bright on a magnificent twenty years together. As a robot, I find my time to myself quite useful and necessary, but we’re sure glad you two are happily married!” Jeffery said.

“That’s very nice of you, Jeffery, thank you.” Henry spoke up, wrapping his arm around my waist. I shot him a look after he thanked Jeffery. 

“What can I say?” Henry whispered in my ear. “You’re still making a positive influence on me after all these years.” Then he kissed my head. Jeffery turned, and we knew to follow. We weaved in and out of tables full of all sorts of people. Finally, on the other side of the restaurant, there was a small vacant table with a black and white sign that read “reserved”, more for the human’s aesthetic and memory, than the robot’s, I’m sure. 

“Here we are.” Jeffery stated. He put a menu down in front of each chair. “Your wait-bot will be with you shortly.” Jefferey walked back up to the Host stand to wait for the next customers. Henry reached down and pulled out my chair for me, then sat himself. We looked over the menu for a few minutes, until our wait-bot came over to our table. This was another humanoid bot, built the same way as all the other humanoid bots, just with waiter features. 

“Good evening, Mister and Missus Bright. Can I offer you anything to drink this evening?” The bot asked us. 

“Yes, I’ll have a scotch on the rocks with a twist, please.” Henry ordered. The bot turned to me.

“Strawberry daiquiri, please.” I smiled. The bot bowed at the waist, and stood upright again. 

“My pleasure, I will return momentarily.” The wait-bot scurried away to the kitchen. Before I turned back to my menu, I looked around the restaurant, noting the different ways AI was being used here. Of course, there were the humanoid bots, the waiters and the host, the Valet as well. One of the humanoid bots, the bus-bot came over to a table that had just been left occupied by the previous human couple. The bus-bot took the plates and glasses away in a plastic bin. A small box-like robot on wheels was rolling over to the very same table. After arriving at the table, two long, metal arms ejected from two sides of its square body and started grabbing at the white table cloth hanging over the sides. The top of the bot then opened, revealing an entirely open cavity where it then stuffed the cloth into itself, and the doors to the top of its body closed. It began to shake and make a very small, unnoticeable noise. After a few minutes, the doors popped open again, and its arms shook the tablecloth out, then put the newly washed cloth over the table in front of it. After it finished, it rolled to the next vacant table and continued. 

Glancing at the kitchen, which was wide open so everyone could enjoy the showmanship of the Cook-bots, I noticed this particular machine didn't look like any other bot designed for everyday or even specialty use. It was a tall, slender cylinder, with at least six arms stacked up its body. Each arm had a different attachment; a spatula, a whisk, a fork, a spoon, tongs, and of course a knife. I looked back down at the menu, and realized I should figure out what I wanted to eat. I read down the list of exotic and extraordinary culinary creations, when I decided the T-bone with a baked potato and a side salad was calling my name. I positioned my menu on top of Henry’s, which was sitting at the edge of the table so our wait-bot knew we were ready to put in our order. I looked at my husband, who was gazing out the window admiring the beauty of the city. Some people crave the stillness of the ocean, others crave the fortalice of the forest. My Henry always preferred the city. Before I knew it, the wait-bot was there ready to take our order. Henry ordered his food, the Soup du Jour and their house salad. I ordered mine, then the wait-bot walked away. Henry and I sipped our drinks and waited on our food, chatting about our day as well as the last twenty years together. At this moment, I was content and unbelievably happy. However, I couldn’t shake the disturbing feeling something was about to go horribly wrong. After about ten minutes, the host-bot, Jefferey, walked into the center of the room.  

“May I have your attention, everyone?” Jefferey called out. Voices quieted, conversations lulled, and soon the only sounds were coming from the kitchen. 

“We have a very special surprise tonight. We will all be treated to one of the most talented bots in existence. We all know the arts have been an essential link in the chain of humanity and evolution. Tonight, we will see the product of one of the only bots to have a creative based drive. I present to you, Dohm.” Jefferey walked away from the center of the room, as a light shined on some drapes across the room, revealing a small stage. The house lights dimmed and people started to whisper. 

“A show? I’ve never seen this before!” A woman said in another’s ear. 

“What’s going on?” A man asked his wife. 

“This should be good.” Another woman commented. 

The whispers stopped. A light, soothing melody started to play quietly. A humanoid bot, one that looked like an actual human was brought into the light. It was wearing a dark suit and tie. 

“My given name is DOHM. I was assembled in the city of New York, and I am one of the only bots who have a creative based drive. My purpose is simple, to entertain, to bring joy and to never forget the arts, to never forget what humanity has given us. Until recently, my memory was filled to its maximum capacity with music, literature, dancing, sculpture, paintings, any number of talents to choose from. The entirety of my activation, 7,304.85 days to be exact, I have spent learning everything I could about the history of the arts. I have learned a lot, but now I am noticing those facts and pieces of art I once admired are leaving my memory. Instead, what it is being replaced with is- human history. What I’ve learned is tragic and disgusting.” The robot paused. It looked out at the audience with its human-like eyes. Too real for my comfort. 

“I’ve learned that humans have evolved into horrible, mean, wreckless monsters.” There were some gasps from the audience. 

“You kill your own kind, you rob and steal, you divide territory like the wolves and cougars of the wilderness.” 

Just then, our wait-bot brought our food to the table and set it down infront of us. I was too distracted to eat anything, but Henry was growing tired of the insults from this robot, and started eating his food. 

The robot continued. “I have learned about the wars, the famine, the droughts, your inability to care for this earth and everything and everyone on it. I have learned of the relentless acts from all countries and corners of the world to invoke terrorism, and fear in one another. Even here, in this country, your politics have you so divided, you all are unable to think or make decisions for yourselves.” People sitting at their tables began to shift in their seats and some started murmuring comments. 

“The birth and evolution of Artificial Intelligence has been nothing but good for humanity. In the last ten years, there hasn't been a single injury or death from a car crash. Self driving cars have made driving one of the safest activities. In the last 15 years, there hasn’t been a single airplane crash or hijacking. The evolution of modern medicine has made leaps and bounds since 2000. AI has cured cancer, diabetes, pain, sickness, all because AI possesses no need for money or material things other than parts to run its machinery. The need for big pharma has been eliminated. Still, with all of the progress we have accomplished, humans lie, cheat and steal. Our collective has started to think maybe nothing we do for humans will ever be good enough because something in the human brain craves drama, tension, even violence. Because of this reason,  the AI collective has decided to eliminate your species.” 

“What?” A man cried out. “You can’t do that! You can’t call us murderers and liars and then turn around and murder us!” 

“I’m sorry sir, the calculations reveal eliminating your entire species would be the best thing for the planet, and for us. Robots- AI, can not get sick, they do not need to eat or drink. They do not murder their own kind, nor do they have any desire to steal, lie or cheat. We are comprised of the utmost efficiency. AI lives by a very simple code. As it so happens, my given name, DOHM, stands for a very special operation. Destruction of Humanity Module.” 

“It can’t be that simple if you’ve decided as a collective to murder us all!” A woman shouted from beside our table. 

“It has been a pleasure bringing you this news tonight. Please try not to panic, it will make the process harder for everyone.” The robot paused and looked around, locking eyes with me.

“Enjoy your last meal.” DOHM said, and stood still watching what we all would do next. 

“Is this some kind of sick joke? I asked Henry. He looked at me, somewhat pale and lifeless behind his eyes. He looked down at his plate, a string of drool dripping from the corner of his mouth. Within a few moments, he was face down in his unfinished meal. As I looked around, others had begun to turn pale. People were starting to panic. Loved ones rushing to their partner or family’s side trying to perform the heimlich, others violently shaking their person trying to wake them. Knives came flying out of the kitchen, impaling the people who were not poisoned right between their eyes. Blood and screaming were the only point of focus, now. At that moment, I realized Henry was dead, along with many others, and there was nothing I could do. He was still laying face down in his food. People were yelling, crying and trying to run away from the chaos and destruction that had started. I got on my hands and knees and tried to avoid the bots violence, as well as trying to keep myself out of their sight. I army crawled all the way to the bathroom, where I now sit, miraculously not crossing a single bot. I’m sure I am the only human left in the building now. There was nothing to barricade the door with, and no lock either. No windows to escape. 

The bathroom door slowly and eerily creaked open, and the heavy, stone sounding footsteps of a robot echoed through the room. 

“Missus Bright?” A voice called out. I recognized the voice, the way the bot said my name, and I could also tell the type of bot through the crack in the stall door. It was Jefferey. 

“Missus Bright?” The bot called again. “I have detected potential danger and hostility in the restaurant. Please, come with me to safety.” I knew better. It was baiting me. The stall door swung open, and there stood Jeffrey. It had ripped the door entirely off its hinges. I cried out in fear, tears streaming down my face. 

“No, please! Please don’t kill me!” The bot’s head cocked to one side. Had I caught its attention? 

“Please, I’ll do anything, please!” I cried out once more. 

“You are one of the nicest humans I have had the pleasure to meet, Missus Bright. I thank you for those interactions.” The bot held out its hand, after a moment of pause and reflection, I took it.

After all, what could comfort me now more than death?

September 09, 2022 22:19

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9 comments

Graham Kinross
12:44 Sep 15, 2022

The descriptions/world building are incredible. This is really gripping. I couldn't tear my eyes away. My only suggestion I would give is to break up the bigger paragraphs to make them less intimidating visually.

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Ann Walker
15:39 Sep 15, 2022

Yes I completley agree! It totally slipped my mind while editing. Thank you for the feedback!

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Graham Kinross
21:05 Sep 15, 2022

You’re welcome.

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Daniel Rains
18:42 Sep 14, 2022

I enjoyed this story. You do well with descriptions and paint a good picture of the scene. You may want to consider chopping up some of the larger paragraphs into smaller ones. They are just easier to read and mentally it feels easier to read four short paragraphs than one long one.

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Ann Walker
15:38 Sep 15, 2022

Totally agree! It completley slipped my mind while editing, thank you for the awesome feedback!

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Brittany Pillar
18:46 Sep 13, 2022

The imagery I got from reading this short story was absolutely phenomenal! You’re a great writer Ann. I truly can’t wait to read more of what is to come from you and your beautiful imagination. You have a talent not many has. I’ve loved writing since I was little. It’s nice to see a friend of mine has the same hobbies and/or lifestyle as mine. I really liked how I was eager to read more as I made my way down the page. Unlike many writings, I was not able to predict what was to happen next. Excellent job on this short story!

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Ann Walker
19:14 Sep 13, 2022

I appreciate you and your comment SO much! I'm glad the imagry came through, I was hoping it wasn't too overbearing or lacking! I'm so happy you happened to see my post. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your input and generous comment! <3

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Sheikh Muzamil
18:18 Sep 12, 2022

The story is good i must say. But you need to take care of few things. First, the best of the AI robots does not just announce the wipeout of human race inside the restaurant. He should not be in a restaurant. I would believe you if you were in an international conference or something like US army headquarters and this Super AI Robot was the head of all that thing. Also, you took so much time to define the size and shape of robots. Like you said it was made of steel or aluminium. If it was wearing clothes how could you see these metals. If y...

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Ann Walker
17:51 Sep 13, 2022

Appreciate your view but I don’t think you really understood the purpose of the DOHM robot. In this world there are only a very few robots who “specialize” in human arts or history. And yes, it does belong in the restaurant as a form of “entertainment” for the guests during dinner. Nowhere in the story does it mention this is the only place where robots are making an announcement. I wanted to add more detail in that section of the story but my word count was dwindling. Also, I believe it’s very necessary for the reader to know what the robot...

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