Plugs

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

The Unlucky Bot

by David

It was designed to make sweet baked goods, so naturally they called it Cookie. Condemned to make cookies all day, to be hardwired with the belief that cookies are important and delicious, but to lack the capacity to ever taste one. What a life! If you can call what robots do living.

Robots are prone to the positronic equivalents of many human mental aberrations. There is no knowing what caused the problem. It might have been a stray cosmic ray, or the time Cookie fell off the curb in front of a street-cleaning bot, or its visit to the STERN Supercollider, during which it was accidentally locked in the magnet storage room for an hour. In any case, Cookie became obsessed. Obsessed with tasting one of its creations. Of course it did.

Cookie began to devote all of its free time and, in fact, all of its resources to inventing a robotic sense of taste. All to no avail. “I’m a baking bot, dammit, not a mad scientist,” it was fond of exclaiming.

One day, a coworker (a lowly dishwashing bot) suggested that Cookie contact a mad scientist for help. So it did.

It took a while, and ended up being rather costly. Not in credits; Cookie didn’t have any. Back then, robots were not allowed to own credit. But in order to get the mad scientist to invent bot tastebuds it had to travel back in time to help the mad scientist save his wife. She had died in a car accident decades earlier. The attempt, like most trips through time, did not achieve its objective. About all that was “accomplished” was that Cookie was dragged across a few kilometers of asphalt by an unpiloted ground vehicle. This kind of ruined its beautiful blue finish.

Bot tastebuds worked amazingly well. The mad scientist earned enough from the patent to build a better time machine. Cookie was not so lucky. Foreign competition caused the bakery to close down. It was cheaper to import human food from Alpha Centauri IV than to bake it on Earth. Cookie was out of a job.

Down on its luck and broke, Cookie found work on the space station. On its first spacewalk it forgot to clip its tether. As Cookie drifted off into Earth’s shadow it moaned “Dis going to be looong night!”

End

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