In Dreams of Trees : Promises and Lies

Wordcount: 552
Rating/Warnings: PG
Summary: Red keeps his end of the bargain.

NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!

There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the Outline to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.

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Promises and Lies

The AI used to bother him in the beginning. They were odd echoes of his coworkers, similar but not quite right and he hated working with them. Thankfully his projects were higher level theory and by the time anything was ready for practical application it has been handed over to other teams to work.

Not that he was all hands off, there were too much at stake towards then end and everyone had been forced into being a jack of all trades.

But at that point there were so many AIs that they weren’t always people he knew and it was easier to pretend they had always just been programs. He’d learned how to shut down the little voice that tried to match mannerisms to memories and assigned them random names instead.

Any AI could drive any squirrel, so he didn’t know if Skip and Chatter were always the same Skip and Chatter, but he didn’t care. He didn’t ask, they didn’t tell and things went on in the same timeless rut as they always had.

Except for today.

Today they were going to test just how omniscient the city really was and that meant he needed on specific AI.

“Skip?”

“Yes Captain, my Captain?” the squirrel bounded over to sit on the desk in front of Red.

“I need you to get me Peter Pan.”

The squirrel stopped, suddenly unnervingly inert. “No, this is mine, you said it was mine.”

“I never said that,” said Red, and he hadn’t he’d been very very careful never to promise Skip anything. Imply yes, but promise never. You never promised anything immortal. “Now get me Peter Pan.”

The squirrel hadn’t moved, but he could feel the change as the AI left. He was tempted to reach out and pick it up, just because it seemed like it would be lighter somehow, but he didn’t know how long it would take Peter to find them.

After a long moment the squirrel blinked and looked up at Red suspiciously.”Dark and sinister man, have at thee.”

Red snorted. “I could say the same to you.”

“Ah true,” said Peter, stretching happily, “but you’d use more curse words and less Barrie.” Peter looked over at Chatter who was very determinedly ignoring him. “You’ve made your friends mad I see.”

“Temporarily,” snapped Red. “And that’s not your concern. Our deal was for- -for a fair and equitable exchange of services.” He felt guilty for deceiving Skip and angry for being guilty about the feelings of a bit of code. “My side of the deal is complete.”

“That remains to be seen.” Said Peter.

“Take it for a run then,” said Red, “we’ll be waiting.”

Peter paused, then noded and hopped down off the table and bounded out the door.

Red watched him go, then with a sigh put his head down on crossed arms, leaning on the table that was slightly too perfect to be true wood.

“You could have told us,” said Chatter finally.

“Really?” Red gave a frustrated laugh without raising his head. “You don’t think both of you would have been just fine with that?”

“There might have been another way.” Said Chatter. “We had time.”

“I made a promise,” said Red. “A stupid reckless promise and the one thing we will never have is time.”

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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