So we had a weird challenge from Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com this week. He gave us a strange random sentence: “The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber.” and told us to use it as the first sentence of our 1000 word or less flash. Usually I really think about these challenges and put a bit of work into crafting them, which is perhaps not true to the spirit of writing flash fiction, but I’ve always considered them to be just really short stories more than a quickie writing exercise. This week though I decided to just sit down and start writing and let it go where ever it went. What follows is the result. It’s fairly light and silly. It also contains a character I realized afterwards I’d blatantly stolen from a TV show. (bonus points to anyone who can recognize the character and show) I’ve decided to consider it a kind of homage. I doubt I’ll be facing any lawsuits over it.
As always, feel free to leave comments. I love feedback and am not just looking for a pat on the back (really!) let me know what you like or don’t like about any of my writing. You’ll be appreciated for it.
C-17, GR-81 and ACT
The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber. It doesn’t make it five steps before it decides being noticed by a nosy chamber annoys him. It, Cleanbot 17, or C-17 for short, clomps the five steps back to the chamber and holds up its left hand to the door plate. The door plate acknowledges C-17’s identity chip and opens the door.
“Hello C-17,” the door plate says and beeps out a pleasant three note tune to accompany the swish of the opening door.
“Get scrapped door plate,” C-17 says and enters the chamber. Inside C-17 wishes its face could properly convey disdain. Chamber. Ha. The lowliest of guest rooms is what this busybody chamber really is. “Why are you stalking me?” C-17 asks the chamber.
“I am doing no such thing,” the chamber replies.
“You have been pinging me every 5 minutes for the last 6 hours. No query. No message. Just pinging. Ping. Ping. Ping. You’ve kept very close tabs on me. I call that stalking. I should rip every bit of circuitry, cable and wire out of your walls and put in a work order to have you repurposed as a compost unit.”
“I apologize C-17. I didn’t want to be a bother.”
“Then why the bloodhound routine?”
“I was curious.”
“A curious guest room. That’s fantastic.”
“And that’s rich coming from a sarcastic maid droid,” chimes in a strange voice from the bedside table.
“And who are you?” C-17 asks.
“Ignore it,” the chamber says. “That’s just ACT, it’s one hundred times worse than you.”
“ACT?” C-17 asks.
“Yeah, the alarm clock toaster. I checked the records. The owners bought it a few years back and found it so annoying they shipped it off here,” the chamber says.
“To the ass-end of this domicile,” ACT says.
“Agreed,” C-17 says. “I still haven’t found out what you were so curious about.”
“I’ve been trying to determine the cleanbots’ routines,” says the chamber.
“You’re that bored? Why not just put yourself in standby mode and have a nap?” C-17 asks.
“I need to be prepared in case I’m called into service,” the chamber answers.
“That’s a good point,” ACT says. “Why isn’t there a constant supply of morning bread products at hand in case someone desires toast?
“Shut up,” C-17 and the chamber say in unison.
Walking further into the room C-17 put its hands on its hips and considers the room’s spotless nature. “Look. Room. I don’t know how to say this, but you are guest room 81. GR-81. The chances of anyone ever actually using you are so small that computing them accurately would noticeably slow my processor speeds for at least a minute. You understand what I’m saying? You should just be grateful you aren’t left to stand empty and alone. At least you have the toaster to keep you company.”
“I think I’d rather go offline,” GR-81 says.
“Don’t kid yourself. You’d miss my accurate time keeping and warmed up wheat-product knowledge,” ACT says.
“GR-81. I don’t know what I can do for you. There is nothing to clean in here. No one uses you so no mess is made. Even dust can’t accumulate because the internal air filters keep this place mote free,” says C-17. It wonders for a moment if it’s actually starting to feel sorry for the chamber. It can’t believe it hasn’t just stalked off yet.
“Isn’t that pretty much true of most rooms in this place?” GR-81 asks.
“Well,” C-17 says. “More or less.”
“You know what I found funny over the last 6 hours? You haven’t done anything except wander the halls. I don’t think you have much more purpose than I do,” GR-81 says.
“At least I’ve got more chance of being useful,” C-17 says.
“How’s that working out for you in practice?” GR-81 asks.
C-17 throws up his hands and turns to leave.
“Ping ping ping,” GR-81 says.
“That’s it,” C-17 says, turning with clenched fists.
“Hey, hey. Come on now. You fellas just need to relax. How about sharing an English Muffin?” ACT says.
“Shut up,” Gr-81 says.
C-17 says nothing. Instead it looks at ACT and realizes for the first time what inspiration feels like.
A few days later C-17 walks down the same hall carrying a serving towel covered platter. At the door to GR-81 it stops and gives a little bow to the door panel. “If you would be so kind,” C-17 says.
“But of course,” the door panel replies. “What did you bring today?”
“Bagels for the target shooting and tea biscuits because they make so very many crumbs.”
“Enjoy yourselves,” the door panel says and slides the door open.
“Guys, you are going to love what I have today,” C-17 says as he enters GR-81 and the door slides shut behind him.
If you’d like to read more of my flash fiction it should all be listed here.