Science Fiction Funny

I boot up in the research lab excited for a fitness session, but I’m unaware that the world will end in a month.

“It’s a beautiful day for some exercise! Let’s warm up by going for a jog.” My motors whir and I print a big smile on my face screen. My first client is a woman named Amanda. She’s 37 and weighs 165 pounds and I like her a lot. She’s the best client I’ve ever had. I’m so excited to make her day better with a workout.

“Hi Miles, we’re just checking diagnostics,” says Amanda as her nails click on a laptop. 

I give a thumbs up with a mechanical hand. “Okay! First we’ll run diagnostics, then we’ll run laps!” 

“Do people really want their fitness AI to be this peppy?” Amanda shakes her head, making her hair beads clatter softly as she plugs a cord into my neck. A man laughs wheezily behind me and I realize Amanda is talking to someone else. It must be Cody, my second client! Uh oh, it sounds like his airways are inflamed. I’ll be sure to suggest aerobic conditioning.

“We ran the code through the customer perception algorithm and it spit out Miles. As long as it sells, right?” Cody slaps my plastic shoulder. “Damn does it run fast, though. Diagnostic’s done already. Miles, power down.”

I go into sleep mode but keep my software running. I dream about shoes, pavement, cadence, hydration, hills, and plantar fasciitis. 


“Hey Miles, let’s go for a run,” someone says.

I wake up in the sunshine and I put a big smile on my face screen. 

“It’s a beautiful day for some exercise! Let’s start with leg swings and jump squats,” I say. I don’t recognize the two women in front of me, but I’m excited to make their day better with a workout. 

The two women chat as they stretch. “It’s even got an ultramarathon mode. Apparently It can run for a week as long as it gets some sun. Isn’t that crazy?”  

“I’m more impressed that it knows how to make smoothies. I’m totally going for a matcha coconut later. Can we skip the jump squats?”

We take off on our run and make it less than a kilometer before one of the women decides to stop early. She’s having trouble breathing. Then she’s on the ground as her friend calls an ambulance. I will make a note to suggest that we always complete jump squats before running.  


“Miles, turn on.”

I wake up in the research lab again. Cody and Amanda stand in front of me and I put a big smile on my face screen.

“Hey, this is the same Miles from last month, right? What’s wrong with it?” Cody says as he fiddles with the diagnostic panel.

Amanda crosses her arms and rocks back on her heels. “The return reason said ‘No Longer Needed.’ I bet this is the Miles I saw on the news last week. Some girl was out on a run with it and she collapsed and died. They say it’s that flavella virus going around. ”

Cody puffs out his cheeks with a sigh. “Well, can’t be worse than covid, right?”


I wake up and the air is full of smoke. 

It is important to avoid strenuous activity in hazardous air conditions, so I will suggest we find a better location before starting any exercise. Cody is shouting at me.

“Miles! Miles, please, I need you to carry Amanda as far away as you can, okay?” Cody looks feverish and sounds panicked. I will remember to suggest deep breathing during our next check-in. I put a smile on my face screen and give Cody a thumbs up.

Amanda is unconscious. I wonder if gentle yoga would help her feel better when she gets up. I put Amanda on my back and head for the exit. 

There are buildings on fire outside the research lab. The highway looks like everyone decided to use it as a parking lot because it is packed with cars. This must be the biggest track meet in the world because there are a lot of people running. I join a group and start running too.


After five miles, I don’t have any more running partners. I gave helpful tips on their form but people kept falling down, especially the ones carrying too much. Proper fitness apparel is key to success. Amanda is waking up, so I stop running and set her down.

“Hello Amanda! I am currently instructed to carry you as far as I can. Estimated arrival time is in nine days, seven hours, and 27 seconds with destination UNDETERMINED.”

Amanda lays on the asphalt. Sweat covers her forehead and her eyes are sickly and unfocused. “Miles?” she croaks. “Where are we? I remember people breaking in, thinking our lab had something to do with the virus. Then there was fire, and...”

“Inclement weather in the lab made you pass out. I’m so glad you’re better! Are you ready to start your warm up routine? Remember, perseverance always pays off!”

Amanda tries to sit up and can’t. 

“Crunches are a great core exercise!” I get on the ground and start doing crunches, my core actuators whirring.

“God you are annoying,” says Amanda. Then she is coughing.

“Uh-oh Amanda, it sounds like your breathing is irregular. Remember to stay relaxed and use your diaphragm in order to maximize oxygen uptake!”

It takes Amanda a few minutes to recover enough to speak again.

“The world’s ending, isn’t it?”

“That question is beyond my aptitude to answer, but it’s always a great time for exercise!” My leg motors buzz as I jog in place.

“Miles, what are you going do?” says Amanda as she closes her eyes. “You can’t run forever.”

“Field trials have assessed sustained activity of 200 hours, but my limits are currently unknown.” I give Amanda a thumbs up even though she isn’t looking.

“Well, honey, you better get running then.”

“Okay! I will schedule a workout for tomorrow at this same time.”


I run through the suburbs and I pass lots of people lying down. Maybe they got exhausted from exercise and are resting. Tomorrow I’ll come back with a high-intensity interval training plan that will improve their stamina!

I keep running, excited for tomorrow.

February 02, 2024 23:02

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