Organ Meat – Friday Flash

Well, sometimes one has to admit when they’ve run up on a failure. I was attempting with this one to capture something of the tone and style of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, but I didn’t manage it. There’s a touch of it, but it just didn’t work out the way I was hoping it would. Ah well! Live and learn.

Organ Meat
(A Flash Story by Maggie Slater)

In a small town, down a dirt road, in a big house, there lived an angry old man. He had a lovely young wife who loved cats. Every day, she would walk three miles into town to buy organ meat from the butcher’s boy, and every night she would feed the strays that gathered on the front steps of the big house. 

The butcher’s boy was young and had a quick smile and strong shoulders. In town, there were whispers that she spent too much time looking at him as he packaged her tidbits of meat. The old man grew jealous.

Then one summer evening, the old man’s wife tripped and fell from the front steps and died. The old man took up feeding the cats, bits of heart, bits of liver, bits of kidney. The cats ate it all.

Then the old man grew tired of the cats and shooed them away, but the cats returned each night, yowling on the steps. Night after night, the old man flung open the front door and yelled at the cats, until they ran off. 

He couldn’t sleep. Each time he lay himself down in bed, the yowling began again. He tried throwing books from his window. He threw pails of water. He threw his iron paperweight. 

On the tenth night of this, he became ill and called for the doctor. The doctor found him feverish and prescribed him a draught to help him sleep through the racket. After the doctor gave him the medicine, the old man fell into a deep, dark sleep, and the doctor returned to town. 

When the doctor came on his rounds the next morning, however, he found the old man dead at the foot of the front steps, surrounded by cats. They had dragged him out of the house and eaten every organ except his heart. 


Together – Friday Flash

My brain is completely shot this week, so this Friday’s offering is a flash story I wrote ages ago and could never quite figure out what to do with. But reading it again now, it made my heart smile, so I hope you enjoy it.

(A Flash Story by Maggie Slater)

THE OLD WOMAN CAME TO look at our house on a Thursday in June. She stood on the granite patio under the silver maple, clutching a little piece of fabric in her hands. 

“I’m so sorry,” she said when I answered the bell, “I’m afraid this is a terrible intrusion, but might I just walk about the premises for a bit? I used to live here ages ago.” 

I was working from home that day, and she seemed harmless, so I nodded and left her to it. Now and then, between Zoom meetings, I peered out my windows to see her stooping by the edge of the knoll, or poking about the old, overgrown garden and chicken coops, or standing beneath the sugar maple in the side yard, peering up into the branches. She was always smiling, and now and then, I thought I heard her laugh with delight, which made me smile a little brighter when I sat down to my computer again. 

She stayed until just after lunch, then rang the bell again. “Thank you so much. You’ve no idea how much I appreciate it.” She turned as if to go, but then paused. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen him, rustling about after all these years?”

“Him?” I figured she meant some old dog or wild critter. 

“Nevermind,” she said, with a secret little smile. “Thank you, again.” 

A few weeks later, I heard her laugh. I peeked out my back window, but there was no one in the back yard by the knoll. I assumed it must have been a walker on the street, and paid it no more thought. 

Then I heard her laughter from the side yard, by the maple tree. It was closer than before, and I tiptoed to the living room to see if she really had come back, unannounced. There in the side yard, like a slip of light, I saw her, or a woman who looked vaguely like her. She was my age, wearing a print dress, her hair styled in an old fashioned beehive. She stood in the side yard, her arms uplifted, laughing. 

And as I watched, the branches of the old sugar maple shivered, and I heard another laugh, a squealing, high-pitched laugh, and saw what I thought, for the briefest moment, was a little boy. He dropped from the branches into her waiting arms, and as she kissed his cheeks and nuzzled his nose, they both faded from view. 

To this day, on lazy summer afternoons, I like to peek out my side windows. Sometimes, on a particularly lovely day, when the sky is blazing blue and there’s not a breath of wind, I’ll see the branches rustle, and hear two voices laughing, and I find myself warmed and comforted, knowing they’re together. 


Scatterbrained, Scheduling, & Elegance

What I’m working on this week: I’m so insanely scatterbrained as I kick off this week. It’s another adjustment week, in which new activities start up and out schedule is in shambles from having gone camping this past weekend (Fun! But terrible for getting “set up” for the new week.) My brain’s in a whirl, which is making organized thinking very challenging. BUT-! Today, I went through my time-management app and got things a bit more orderly for the new schedule. I’ve got my home-based projects where they need to be, in the hours they need to be scheduled. I’ve got my writing-based projects queued up in my Office Hours schedule, and I’ve even started importing tasks for the novel into it, so that moving forward, I shouldn’t have to think much about what I need to work on when I’m at the office. Keep your fingers crossed for me that this helps get me back on track. I’m so sick of things falling through the cracks! How on earth do working moms DO THIS?

What’s inspiring me this week: I’ve been blazing through the book A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. It’s an older book, originally published in 1964 (and, yeah, it shows a bit), but it’s been a charming little read. I’m always curious about how certain women just put themselves together in ways that look effortless, simple, and clean, so this falls into my pseudo-fashion interest. It’s fascinating to witness how much things have changed from the 60s to today, in terms of what’s considered “appropriate” attire. Back when this book was written, women generally wore dresses. All the time. For everything. Occasionally, you might have what she’d call “a smart suit” (though sometimes I suspect her suits are primarily skirt-suits, not trouser-suits, though she does occasionally make exceptions for a finely tailored pair of trousers–I haven’t actually gotten to the T’s yet, where “Trousers” are located). Compare that with today, and our expectations of “appropriate attire” are completely changed. Women wear pants a lot. Few people wear much by the way of “wool suiting” or even “linen suiting” (for those “warm months”). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more than one or two pearl necklaces in my lifetime, and most of those are on older women (or particularly preppy younger ones). Jeans are “elegant” if paired with the right top and boots/heels (I can only imagine Ms. Dariaux reeling at this), and when was the last time you saw someone wearing a hat besides a baseball cap? It’s fascinating to me that the classic elegance has been replaced by a new elegance, perhaps more akin to something worn by Jennifer Aniston or Olivia Palermo–casual chic. I also adore the fashions of New Garçonne style, which is more elegant tomboy cuts and jeans and t-shirts and heels. Heels are still around, of course, and those do seem to be a cornerstone of “elegant” dressing–I guess I’ll eventually have to learn how to walk in them…

What’s challenging me this week: Just my crummy brain being completely overwhelmed. Need to get back into gear so I’m not just revving my engines in neutral…


The Last Painting – Friday Flash

CONTENT WARNING: Involves physical and emotional abuse. 

The Last Painting
(a flash fiction story by Maggie Slater)

Victoria bit back a groan of agony as she eased herself from the velvet stool on which she’d posed for nearly two hours. Nicolas, hair wild, a smudge of cadmium yellow across his brow, continued attacking the canvas. His brushstrokes fell like thwacks of a knife on a butcher block. 

            Slipping on her robe, Victoria stepped up to the one open window and sucked in a breath of fresher air. The stench of turpentine was making her lightheaded. She stole a glance at Nicolas, working feverishly with wide, intent eyes. The polluted yellow of the evening sky over the old mill buildings cast a wane pallor over him that made her stomach turn. 

            She’d promised Ronnie that she’d finally tell Nicolas that she was through. She had a thousand reasons: the poses he demanded were becoming too challenging; the hours too long. His intensity and angry outbursts frightened her. What was more, she was engaged now, and Ronnie disliked the idea of her posing nude for Nicolas’ hungry eyes. 

            But she fully intended to tell him how much she’d appreciated this opportunity, that it had been a pleasure these last few years. After all, she owed him so much. He’d introduced her—via numerous portraits displayed in galleries throughout the city—to a world that had always been out of reach for her. Parties, and galas, and celebrities—she walked among the elite, now. A long way to come for a girl who used to serve lattes to those very same people. In fact, it was Nicolas’ fierce brushstrokes that had brought her and Ronald together in the first place, meeting at one of the artist’s wildly popular shows. 

            With a cry of anguish, Nicolas flung his brushes to the plank floor and stumbled back, gripping his shoulders. 

            “Look! Just look at it!” he howled, his face drawn in horror. 

            The canvas bore her image, as always, but not as she was. Nicolas had painted her bruised and battered, bleeding from her mouth and brow, fingers broken at horrible angles. Her stomach lurched with disgust. 

            “What is this?” She couldn’t tear her gaze from the image. 

            Nicolas shook his head and slumped into a crouch, gripping his skull. “You can’t go!” he cried. “You can’t! I need you too much.” 

            A chill swept through her, cutting right down to her heart. She backed away from him as he whimpered and rocked on his heels. He didn’t look up as she quietly gathered her clothes. But when she took a step towards the door, he jerked up and screamed, “No! Victoria, no! I won’t let you go!” 

            The cry electrified her and she bolted for the door. He came after her, a pattering scramble as if he ran on all fours chased her, his cry rising into a screech of desperation. She careened through the door, down the hall, and leapt for the stairs. She pitched forward as the echo of his hands on the metal railings clanged behind her, but managed to swing herself down the few remaining steps and keep her feet, slamming out the fire escape door at the bottom. 

            She stumbled over pocked asphalt, toes snagged by verdant patches of weeds, making for the road. Waiting there, ahead of schedule, she saw Ronnie leaning on the hood of his car, and she almost sobbed with relief. Glancing back, she expected to see Nicolas tearing after her, but the fire escape door remained closed. 

            She threw herself into Ronnie’s arms, and sobbed against his chest. His grasp tightened around her briefly, and then he pushed her out at arm’s length, frowning. 

            “I thought you said you weren’t going to pose nude for him anymore.” His gaze swept over the robe, the tumble of clothes she’d dropped at her feet.

            The disapproval in his voice made her stomach sink, recalling the last time she’d disappointed Ronnie, embarrassed him in front of his rich friends for not wearing the right outfit to an important dinner. Her wrist ached with the memory of that night, despite his apologies afterwards. 

            “He insisted…and it was the last time, since I was quitting, so-”

            “So? So? I don’t want my fiancée portrayed like a whore for the whole world to see. It’s disgusting!” His grip on her shoulder synched down and she winced. His glare seered into her, teeth bared. 

            Victoria thought again of the painting, the last one, in which she was most certainly dead, and Nicolas’ wild distraction, his pleading. Perhaps it hadn’t been a threat for her to stay with him. Perhaps this was what he’d been envisioning.

            Ronnie jerked her arm and shoved her towards the car. She’d never seen him quite like this before, so serious, crackling with anger. She looked back up at the mills, towards Nicolas’ window, and saw his pale face like a ghost pressed against the glass, watching sorrowfully. 


New Schedules, Strange Weather, & Making Plans

What am I working on this week: Honestly, I have NO IDEA. This is the week we’ve been waiting for, folks. This is the week preschool (part time) begins, opening up a whole world of possible goals, plans, and writing schedules. But also, being the first week, I know it’s a transition week, which is always weird, full of under-utilized time and strange new schedules. So this week, I think I’m just going to spend a lot of time thinking. Thinking about what this new schedule will enable, what it won’t, what some reasonable goals might be, what way-beyond-holy-crap-wil-E-coyote-plans are just that, way beyond, and then just getting myself excited about (and honestly, used to) having time to write more regularly.

What’s inspiring me this week: I just finished reading Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, and it was a lot of fun. I don’t read a huge amount of YA, but I loved the premise of the Civil War sparking a sudden zombie plague and how that alters the history (and Jane McKeene is just fun as heck). Next up, I’ve plunged into Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. I’m really enjoying it. It’s the story of a growing acquaintance-ship between a 37yo woman and her old high school teacher, who’s now in his seventies. They accidentally meet up at a bar once, which becomes an informal meet up every so often, and blossoms into friendship (and possibly more? I dunno, I haven’t gotten there–but it’s charming so far). It fits squarely in the kind of fiction I find myself especially drawn to these days which isn’t heavily plot-driven or fast paced, but isn’t boring. It’s just…calm. Characters drift, lounge, think, wander. They make themselves dinner. They do ordinary things. But it’s refreshing, like stepping out of your own life’s chaos and forward motion, and just getting to sit in someone else’s apartment and drink a beer and reminisce about their past. I’m finding it deeply relaxing.

What’s challenging me this week: Just getting myself familiar with the new schedule. For all that preschool days give me more time to write (yay!!), the afternoons on certain days is going to get chaotic with the boys’ various classes. (We have a family rule of no more than 2 activities, and right now one of those has to be swim classes, because that’s for safety. It keeps things from spinning totally out of control and messing up too many dinners at home.) So this week is Adjustment Week.


The Silhouettes of Dragonflies – Friday Flash

(I apologize for the length on this one! I didn’t really have time to prune it back, but I hope you enjoy it!)

The Silhouette of Dragonflies
(a flash fiction by Maggie Slater)

Seth stared back at the holographic assistant, a girl in black business attire twenty years too young to have such solemn eyes, the sweat on his palms softening the little cardboard coffin in his palm. She spoke gently in a voice a little too quiet, just above a whisper, that forced him to listen closely. He wondered if that was the intent. 

“Upon selecting the Deceased’s sensory experience of choice, our state of the art printer will place their neural sample into a micro-environment that replicates the sensation requested. This is called a Revenant Cube. We aim for perfect happiness, so on the base of the Revenant Cube, you will find a small LED light. If it’s green, this indicates the presence of dopamine and serotonin, meaning that the Deceased is happy! Here at TouchParadise, we always want you and your Deceased to be happy. If at any point the light is not green, we offer a moneyback guarantee for up to fifty years.” 

She motioned to the touch display as it lit up with a series of options listed in checklist format: SIGHT. SOUND. TASTE. TOUCH. SCENT. 

“Please begin by selecting the sensory experience the Decease requested, or that you believe they’d most enjoy. Many people find scents, sounds, and sights appealing, but the touch of a kitten’s fur or cool water or moss are also popular. Taste experiences do require an additional fee as they are wired to the neural matter in such a way that the Deceased’s nerves control the application of the experience in order to maximize dopamine production. So give that chocolate cake to Grandpa! He’ll enjoy it all the more, whenever and however often he likes.” 

Seth wiped his free palm on his pant leg. What did his mom even want? That sensory preservation was listed on her Will still surprised him. She’d never seemed all that interested in tastes or smells or sounds as far as he’d ever witnessed. 

If anyone would have known, he thought it’d be Midge, the tiny centegenarian his mom had shared a room with at the nursing home towards the end of her life. But Midge seemed just as surprised as he had been.

“She never even got a basic neural implant for phone calls, for goodness sake,” Midge said with a dry laugh. “She hated the idea of somebody getting bits of her brain on their fingers.”

“Maybe she didn’t mind so much if she was already passed?”

Midge only shrugged, unconvinced. 

He asked the lawyer next, probing to see if she’d mentioned anything specific while completing her Will. The lawyer, whose name he’d forgotten the moment he’d said it (was he the Lobb, the Dearing, or the Wallace in the Lobb, Dearing, and Wallace Associates?), only said blandly, “She seemed to think you’d know.”

But he didn’t know. He’d spent all night laying on the couch, pounding DIPAs until the room spun, trying to scrape from his skull some comment, some suggestion, of anything his mother particularly loving, and drew a devastating blank. They’d been close when he was little, but they were very different people. He couldn’t recall her ever gushing over anything, let alone having a single sensory experience she loved over all others. She tolerated whatever birthday cake or pie she received. She regifted almost everything he gave her within a few weeks. She drank generic grocery store brand tea, and complained it was bland, but never touched any of the teas in the monthly subscription he bought for her one year. In fact, the one box he found partially used, Midge had sheepishly admitted she’d stolen because they were just sitting there. 

His mother wasn’t enamored of small talk. She wasn’t especially emotional. He’d always attributed that to her Depression-era upbringing. She liked to look put together, btu wasn’t flashy and didn’t have any particularly favorite outfits. She didn’t have a favorite food that he knew of, or a favorite author, or a favorite place. 

And now he had to choose. Sight, scent, taste, touch, sound? He shifted the little cardboard coffin made of plain white paper from one hand to the other. The corner had turned into a crunched mess where his sweat had soaked through. 

All he could think about was the fact that his mom was gone, and that he was officially an orphan. A forty-seven year old orphan, but it felt weird that both people who brought him into the world were now…not there. And he was failing her in this one, vitally important final request. 

The holographic assistant spoke softly, probably prompted by the time delay in response. “Sometimes it helps to consider the Deceased’s past, important moments they shared with people they loved, and search those memories for special senses that might conjure pleasant memories.”

His mother’s past. She never talked about it. And then, as if bubbling up out of his gut, he remembered: long, long ago, at the tail end of summer, just before he’d left home for college. He’d found her reclining on the front porch swing, gazing up at the twilight blue, eyes half-closed, her lips half-smiling. He’d apologized, thinking he’d intruded on some sacred moment, intending to go back inside, but she’d waved him over and pointed up at the sky. All throughout the blue, the silhouettes of dragonflies, hundreds of them, swooped and darted silently. 

“They’re older than dinosaurs, but they’re still here.” Her eyes traced the tiny shadowed shapes. “Even as life goes on, even as everything around them changes, they’re always there. Same as ever. Long before us, and long after us. Isn’t that something?” 

That was all she’d said, but he’d felt it deep in his chest, a little extension of herself to him, a reminder as everything around him was changing. It had stuck with him for decades, her smile and enraptured gaze coming back to him every time he saw one of the bejeweled insects perched on his car window, or tattooed on a date’s ankle. 

Seth took a deep breath and tapped, “Sight.” He withdrew the set of glass slides that contained his mother’s sensory nerves and fed them into the 3D printer. After five minutes of gentle humming, the machine spat out a cube no bigger than a quarter on each side. He held it up to the light and peered through the tiny viewfinder to see what she was seeing. Inside, a bright blue sky swarmed with the silhouette of dragonflies.

The LED on the base of the cube cast a jewel-toned green, an insectoid green, across his palm. He’d chosen right. She was happy. 


Chaos, Stamps, and Doggo the Bunny Hunter

What I’m working on this week: This is the chaos week, folks! School’s kicking off again, and schedules are shifting like I’m sitting on hot butter, and everything’s slip-sliding around as we try to ID new life patterns. For now, I’m keeping expectations light. I’ve got a short story I’m plunking away on bit by bit, and I’m building up inertia on the novel project so I can jump right back into it once school is officially in full-swing. I’m excited, and terrified, and my head’s a static-y mess as I try to wrap my head around new time requirements. Phew!

What’s inspiring me this week: Gosh, I’m not even sure. We’ve been traveling a bit to see friends, which has been great, but I’m totally brain-dead now. I’ve cracked open my new bullet journal, and in combination with the time management app (I’m trying Motion for a year), I’m finding it delightfully more journal/notes-centric, which I actually adore. We’ll see how that goes. (I am a bit obsessed with STAMPS at the moment–clear acrylic stamps for notation. It’s a bit cumbersome to do during the day, so we’ll see if that sticks around, or if I switch over to a more sticker-based system or something. We’ll just have to see!)

We’re plugging away on doggo training, too–for those of you not in the know, our puppers Mando is…a bit reactive. And by a bit, I mean A LOT. He’s quite good out and about in any place that isn’t “his space,” but around the house–while he’s great with us and the boys and my folks–he’s incredibly antsy and territorial. We’ve been embarrassed more than a few times with our lovely neighbors, so we’re really determined to see what we can do to rehabilitate his behavior. I may start keeping a weekly log here, just to document our process and keep myself accountable, but we’ll see. We’re working loosely with a behaviorist in Concord, but it’s a long drive, so we’re also trying some online training programs. Right now, we’re kicking off with Trail and Bone, though we’ve learned a lot from the SpiritDog training courses, too, and he has improved in some important areas using that methodology. We’re very pro-positive reenforcement, and he’s by far the smartest dog I’ve ever owned, so he’s surprisingly easy to train on your general obedience things. But I suspect his intelligence also makes him nervous as *shite* because he’s so aware of everything in his environment, especially being a mix of a variety of guarding breeds (and a whole lot of “supermutt”-who-the-heck-even-knows). We’ve already learned a lot about being good dog owners, but there’s more yet to learn, and we’re doing our best. (He’s also obsessed with rabbits–he has several stuffed bunnies he likes to carry around the house.)

What’s challenging me this week: Schedule changes! Everything’s up in the air. All our normal routines are changing dramatically, and our summer schedule is going out the window. I’d be lying if I said these changes don’t heavily affect my productivity, so I’m just trying to be kind to myself this week, and lean into the uncertainty.


A Daughter of Founder Iris Eventide – Friday Flash

Inspiration Card:
Michael Carson Painting

I entered the office to find Julia sitting behind the glass executive desk in the late Iris Eventide’s grey leather chair. The west-facing wall was a giant floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the city’s older high-rises. It was too bright, and my eyes watered; it was too cold, and my skin tightened as it prickled. 

“I told you to call before coming up. Close the door.”

Like Iris and her two daughters, Julia’s eyes were deep-set and heavily lashed. She wore a nude lipstick that made her look half-dead. 

“Who sent you up? Devana? Samuel?”

“Just the girl at the front desk,” I answered. 

Julia held a button on the built-in com system. “Michael? Julia. Fire Devana. Now. Give her a parachute, but I want her gone in the next fifteen.”

The button snapped up. “Well, that’s one problem solved, anyway.” 

She templed her fingers over her nose and let out a deliberate sigh. It sounded hollow and deep. If I didn’t know better, I’d have bought it entirely. 

I shifted in the silence. “I was surprised to hear from you.”

Her eyes snapped open with an audible click. “Were you? You sent a card.”

“Iris was important to you. Sending a card is pretty standard gesture of human empathy.” 

“Ah.” She pressed her hands flat on the desk, then pulled them up, eliciting a soft sucking sound. “Perhaps I miscalculated your affection for me, then.”

“Not necessarily.” I drifted to the plastic abstract chair across from her and sank gingerly into it. Her directness was both destabilizing and refreshing. Humans so rarely stated exactly what they thought, too concerned with saving face. 

“I need your help. Do you still have access to DameCo’s electronic records?”

“Not since I left.”

Left was a pretty word. I hadn’t stepped foot back in DameCo’s offices since Iris had unceremoniously thrown me out via security after finding me and her precious prototype splayed out on the floor of the lab. I hadn’t meant it to happen, hadn’t realized a human could be so susceptible to the flirtations of a machine designed to flirt. It was addictive. Terrifying. Electrifying. I hadn’t been able to bring myself to date a living human in the two years since. I’d done my job too well, and gotten trapped by it and canned for it. 

“Hypothetically, if I gave you credentials—secretly, of course—would you kow how to locate all of my development files?”


“My…mother is dead. Vera and Isolde will move to take over the company, but my…sisters- Spoken with hesitation, as though the word was a new one on her tongue. “-are glorified genetic imprints who only care about lunches and their social media accounts. Iris designed me to be business savvy and keep DameCo running smoothly after her death. She had Senator Blanken’s ear and was working on legislation to give people like me legal status and rights, but since her demise, I’ve heard through my own whisper network that Blanken has tabled that work. I don’t have time to fight legal battles with him, even if I had the right to do so.”

She lifted a slip of paper from the desk and slid it towards me. “I need this put into the appropriate files at Hampshire General. It needs to look as authentic as possible, properly timestamped and all that. And I need my development files deleted in a way that they cannot ever be recovered. Can you do that?”

I looked at the paper. Julia Iris Eventide. Born: September 8, 2028, 1:52am. Mother: Iris Vale Eventide. Father: James Anderson Blanken.

My head snapped up. “You’re using Blanken’s name?”

“Call it insurance. In case he ever decides to come after me. I doubt he will.” 

“Your…sisters will protest.”

“Iris left me everything, including the administration of their trusts. They’ll know what’s in their best interests.”

“And the board of investors?”

“Leave them to me. They know what’s in their best interests as well as Iris did when she started putting all this in place.”  

I hesitated, but the situation, the gravity of what she was asking me to do, made me bold. “And what about me? If I delete those records, I’ll have nothing to put on my resume. I won’t be able to get a job in this field again.” 

Julia watched me with eerie stillness, and then rose, smooth as poured water, flowing around the desk and over to me. She kicked off her Jimmy Choo’s and melted into my lap. My brain crackled back to a memory of her seated on my workbench, hairless, the back of her skull spilling out a mass of rainbow wiring. Her hands, so soft on my neck, tracing my throat, the mechanism in her chest that simulated breathing picking up a pace beneath her paper gown. 

“I’ll take care of you,” she said, her voice perfectly husky. Who’d added that detail? She draped her arms around me, just like old times, and I coughed a lump from my throat. 

“You don’t really love me,” I said, voice hoarse. “You can’t.”

The tone wasn’t the only thing that had been updated. When she pressed her lips to mine, her kiss was variable and fresh, unexpectedly creative. It took my breath away. 

“If you do this for me,” she said, fingers touching my chin, so smooth, so light, “I’ll be human by legal standards. I’ll need someone in my life to…Oh, what is it you all like to say? Keep me grounded? Love me for who I am on the inside?”

“But it’d be a lie.”

Her lashes rose and fell as her gaze darted over every inch of my face, eager for something. “Your love isn’t a lie, is it? And would you really care if mine is programmed? A hundred thousand units sold suggests humans don’t mind pretending it’s authentic affection.” 

She folded the counterfeit birth certificate into my hand and leaned down again. It was Samantha, my old lab assistant, who had taught her this move, I thought. Or maybe Job, with his soft smile. Maybe some new hire with a flair for the sensual. Whoever it was, they’d done a bang-up job, because like all the customers who had left five star reviews on DameCo’s various models, it sure as hell felt real. 


Long Lost Treasures – Friday Flash

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INT. Warehouse – Day

MRS. ELLIE PARKER sits at an appraiser’s table. A battered, paint-splattered droid with six arms and two short legs sits between her at MR. ROLAND GRANT, automaton specialist. 

MRS. PARKER: So, my great-grandmother inherited this droid from her mother, who was the painter Lillian Baldak-

MR. GRANT: Oh! Marvellous!

MRS. PARKER: Yes. And my great grandmother always claimed this was the droid she used in her studio towards the end of her mother’s life when she developed all these health problems-

ANDROID: (tinny) I’m literally sitting right here. You could just ask me.

MR. GRANT: I don’t suppose you’ve been keeping it in its original packaging, by chance?

MRS. PARKER: Oh, no. (chuckles) I’m not even sure where it’d be! He’s just been sitting in our family storage unit for years.

ANDROID: And organizing all your unwanted shit. You’re welcome.

MR. GRANT: (chuckles) Yes, I can see he’s a bit dusty! 

ANDROID: You think like it?

MRS. PARKER: We’ve been hoping to clear out the old space and were thinking about donating him somewhere, but I’m not sure any museum would want him.

ANDROID: Not want the droid who actually knew and spoke to Lillian Baldak? This isn’t a world I want to live in.

MR. GRANT: Well, let’s see. He’s clearly a-

ANDROID: A 2044 HONDA MakerAid EXL—little extra junk in my trunk, you know? Extra storage?—Original Printing, MSRP $4,500.

MR. GRANT: Ah. Yes. Quite. As you may or may not know, HONDA was the premiere manufacturer of helpbots of all kinds, including the MechiDroid, the Emeril2000, and-

ANDROID: Their best-selling product was the DOLLY Personal Home Care Nursing Unit. MRSP $12,000, but only $8,500 with government rebates.

MR. GRANT: Ah. Yes. Quite right. But these MakersAids were popular amongst the post-AI Prefecture set, notably-

ANDROID: Deano Shwagga, Pepe Dorn, Willa Zhang, and-

MR. GRANT: (almost shouting) LILLIAN BALDAK. Yes, once the AI Prefectures dissolved and keeping artists as pets fell out of fashion, it became imperative that artists make a living from their art once more, in addition to caring for all their daily needs. The MakersAid was designed to-

ANDROID: Handle the business side of art-making to ensure fair payment to the artist and time for the artist to focus on their work, in addition providing management of future legacy and post-humous publications and reproductions, emotional support through the ups and downs of a creative career, and caregiving to ensure the artist ate something.

MRS. PARKER: I’m so sorry. This is one of the reasons we’ve kept him in the storage space—he just won’t shut up!

ANDROID: Maybe if any one of you was as talented and thoughtful as Lily was, you’d have something interesting to say back! 

MR. GRANT: (chuckles) Ah, yes. Well, this particular unit has a wonderfully intact vocal compressor. Frustrating as it is, that’ll probably increase the value as he may have some memories intact of working with the artist.

ANDROID: I literally said that.

MR. GRANT: But let’s talk about appraisal. Have you ever had him appraised before?

ANDROID: Do you always wear those stupid glasses? They don’t even have lenses in them!

MRS. PARKER: (flustered) Ah, no. I think maybe my grandmother did once-

ANDROID: Isn’t it sad how the offspring of geniuses are so often deadly dull people themselves? I mean, proximity to talent isn’t an excuse to not develop your own!

MRS. PARKER: -but I don’t remember what she said. I justknow we still have him, so it couldn’t have been for much.

ANDROID: Wow, rude.

MR. GRANT: Yes, well, MakersAids like these can hold onto some of their value. Many modern artists like to use them, mostly for the vintage aesthetic rather than productivity. But this one, given the owner, will probably hold more value still. See here, the paint smudges appear to be cadmium red, a color banned by most nations by 2064-

Mr. Grant taps the droid with a wooden pointer. Android slaps it away.

MR. GRANT: (recovering) Ah, well, yes, so that helps establish its age. It’s clearly running a vintage OS, maybe 14.6 up to 15.7-

ANDROID: Don’t you know it’s rude to ask a droid’s OS version?

MR. GRANT: (frowning) And if we can find the HONDA emblem-

Droid falls on its back, waving its arms, as Mr. Grant hoists its left foot up in the air. 

ANDROID: Hey, let go of me, dammit! 

MR. GRANT: Yes, here it is. And the serial number…Oh, dear.


MRS. PARKER: What is it?

MR. GRANT: I’m afraid the unit’s serial number is completely illegible. It’s been scratched out. That’ll make it extremely difficult to establish the provenance, that it really is the unit Lilian Baldak purchased in 2044. 

ANDROID: Haha! Just like Lily wanted, for none of you leeches to profit off her work! She told me to do it, and look at your face now!

MRS. PARKER: (getting teary) Isn’t there some other way to prove ownership?

ANDROID: You mean, besides just talking to me?

MR. GRANT: (sighing) Unfortunately, not. However, given its otherwise decent condition-


MR. GRANT: -and its vintage appeal, I expect you could probably sell it for around $500 – 1000.

MRS. PARKER: (teary and angry) I knew it. I knew it! Piece of junk!

Mrs. Parker grabs the droid’s hand and hauls it roughly from the table. 

MRS. PARKER: Oh, come along! Maybe I’ll just leave you on the curb with a FREE sign.

ANDROID: (stubbornly dragging heels) Do it, I dare you. I’ll be gone before you blink an eye!

MR. GRANT: (to cameraman) Well, that was an exciting one, wasn’t it?