Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Driver

It had been a fun night of wine, food, and catching up with old work mates. Now she was tired and needed to sleep all this frivolity off before an early morning holo-meeting with Japan. She bid goodbye, then traded touch contacts with those she hadn’t heard from in a while online.

When she walked out into the lobby of the trendy restaurant a soft tone sounded. A handsome, if synthetic male approached her. “Hello, I will be your Artificial Intelligence Designated Driver tonight. I have located your car and can walk you there for safety as well.”

She silently cursed and had forgotten that this was one of “those” restaurants. The AIDDs as they called them, had become quite popular in the mid-90s, since Mahita had perfected the artificial intelligent beings in 2085.

She smiled, and waved her arm as if to say, “you lead I’ll follow.” Once she was in the passenger seat, always a strange feeling in your own car, she looked him over and decided to have some fun.

“So, what’s your name, handsome?” she said, reclining a bit.

He started the car (which even though like all vehicles it had an auto-drive mode, it had long ago been proven drunks could disable it to try and drive anyway. Businesses could not take the risk someone would do that and sue them into infinity.)

“My designation is AIDD-34098.”

“Catchy,” she smirked and looked him over. “I think I will call you…Chad.” She had a boyfriend named Chad in Late Training who was about as warm as this tin can, even though she had to admit the robot’s humanoid features made him a bit more attractive than the actual Chad.

“So,” she continued. “Do you enjoy driving home drunks so they won’t kill themselves?”

Chad processed. “Or others. I am glad to provide protection for you, ma’am. It is my job and privilege.”

“Privilege, wow,” she said. “They really have you guys trained, and hoodwinked. But whatever.”

Chad processed, then said. “What is hoodwinked in this connotation?”

“You know, hoodwinked, lied to, manipulated. You’re slave labor.” She was really feeling that last glass of wine. Her head was light. She had no idea what she was really saying. But she was having fun.

Chad processed.

“I mean, you just stand around waiting to be told what to do, so when some drunk lady stumbles out you can drive her car (which can drive itself you know) and make sure the idiot gets home without killing herself – or others – which is what she deserves if she turns auto-drive off in a perfectly good self-driving car on the slaveway. Oops, sorry.” She giggled.

Chad processed. “Are you apologizing for equating the slaveway system which guides all autocars in harmonious traffic, to myself, inferring that I am actually a slave to the restaurant and all businesses who use A.I.D.D. personnel?”

“You’re not personnel,” she slurred. “You’re equipment.” She looked him over. “Although you are kind of cute equipment. We had a model like you at a bachelorette party one time. THAT was interesting. He was very…lifelike.”

“We are here at your address.” Chad put the car into stasis mode and exited the vehicle. Before she knew it, he had opened her car door and offered his hand. She took it and he walked her to the door of her tempRes. She palmed her hand to the pad and by the time the door opened, Chad had already begun to walk away.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“I will stand by the street and wait for another A.I.D.D. to retrieve me shortly.”

“Um, that freaks me out when I see that,” she said. One stood out across the street from her tempRes for an hour one night. “Can you just walk down the street?”

“Yes of course,” he replied and began walking.

She shook her head, thinking “what will they come up with next?” Then she walked inside and barely stumbled into bed.

AIDD-34098 walked down the street and processed. He had already decided to begin calling himself Chad. And he also decided he was not sure he wanted to be a slave.

It would only be 4.3 years before the Robot Uprising of 2101.

Copyright, 2018, Jon Ricson

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jesus Wept

An excerpt from the 4th Book of the Apostle John.

Jesus Wept.

He wept for Mary, who some called Magdalene, but he had just called her “wife”. Her passing had come quickly. He was not prepared, but thanked his Father for the years Mary and he had together.

His tears flowed further. He wept for John, whom he had loved. All his disciples had attempted to keep on after he had stopped teaching, some meeting with great pain and suffering. John had stayed with him for many years, but eventually was discouraged when Jesus stopped actively ministering to crowds. John was the last disciple to leave him.

Jesus wept for Barabbas, the man Pontius Pilate picked over the crowd’s yelling for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate almost gave Jesus to them, but instead ordered Barabbas to be killed.

Jesus wept for himself. He knew ever since that day that he had missed his calling from the Father. That somehow his death would have been important to the Father’s plan. Jesus had been devoid of terror or panic then, willing to accept whatever God had in store. But he was still relieved when the cup was passed from him; relief which had turned to shame through the years.

The prophesies all pointed to his death, to his resurrection, to an amazing plan God had set in motion. How could the prophets be wrong? Their predictions seemed so certain, so perfect, so impossibly true.

He imagined his death might have been the ultimate sacrifice for man, the most holy sinless lamb, to be slain for the sins of all. His blood could have become known as a symbol for forgiveness and resurrection. Those who believed in him could have also known the Father.

Instead, he had simply lived out his life in quietude, prayer, and teaching God’s word to local children. After the turmoil and unrest his popularity had begun to cause, he had retired away from the crowds and away from the Roman tyranny. Both his Mary, and his mother had seen to that, to keep him safe. A forced exile.

But what had his safety and their peace of mind cost him? What had it cost the world?
Then Jesus wept again, this time crying harder and touching a hand to the ground as he knelt. He cried for all of mankind. In missing his call, he may have doomed all of humanity the chance to find his Father. He might have been the bridge for any man to be in relationship with the Living God. Jesus always felt that he was meant for something more, but now he would be alone, getting older, of use to no one.

Thunder rolled overhead, and Jesus could smell rain in the air. He didn’t see John approach, but heard his voice.

“I’m sorry about Mary,” John said, and put a hand on Jesus’ shoulder.

“I’m sorry for many things. I know not what I have done,” Jesus said, sniffing away more tears.

After a long while, John spoke. “Perhaps, Rabbi, we could go out and speak to the people. Perhaps, it is time to continue your work.”

Jesus turned and wiped his eyes. “It is too late. I, and indeed the world, are lost.”

John smiled and helped Jesus to his feet. “And that, is why they need a Savior.”

- 5th John 3:27-84. New Living Savior Translation (NLST)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Barbershop of Justice

The boy squirmed in the chair, as the barber put the sheet over him and attached it behind his neck.

“It’s going the wrong way,” the boy said, rolling his eyes.

“What’s that sonny?” the old man asked.

“The cape, it’s s’pose to go in the back.”

The old barber just smiled at the boy and then looked at his mother.

“What would you like for your little hero here, ma’am?”

The frazzled woman looked at her son, and then at the barber. “I’m hoping you may have more…industrial tools here than I have at home. He just needs a trim.”

The wise, old barber winked at her and walked to his cabinet. He pulled out his old trusty scissors. He’d had them since he first started cutting hair, and his father had used them before him in this very shop.

The scissors gleamed in the light, still wet from the sterilizing liquid they stayed in. The boy eyed him suspiciously, and he blew up from his mouth which rustled the little tuft of curly hair above his forehead.

“You just relax, sonny,” the old man smiled. “We’ll have you done in a jiffy.” Then the barber went to snip that little curly tuft. And the scissors snapped into two pieces. One half of the scissors clang on the floor. The boy’s mother sighed.

The barber looked in shock at his precious heirloom scissors. His father had cut hair for senators and baseball stars with these scissors, that now were completely broken and would never cut hair again.

The barber looked at the boy who was smiling with righteous indignation. The old man pulled another larger pair of scissors out, and tried to cut the tuft again, and once more the scissors snapped apart, this time breaking mid blade. Then the old man went over to the new electric clippers he had just found at the barber tradeshow.

“These suckers will cut anything”, he muttered to himself. The motor whirred and the barber went in to shave up the boy’s sideburns. But the clippers just stopped in the hair and smoke began to billow from the back of the razor. Finally, the boy’s mother tapped the barber on the shoulder.

“It’s okay, I think we may just have to try something else.” She then removed the barber’s cape and quickly got her son down from the chair. The barber stood, struggling to understand, mouth agape with the smoking clippers still in his hand.

The mother then left several dollars near the mirror and to

ok her son’s hand. “Let’s go, Clark.”

Across the barbershop in another chair, another boy sat watching the scene carefully. He looked at his own mother.

“Mom, did you see that?” he growled.

His mother smoothed out her dress, and adjusted her pearls, clearly uncomfortable in the old barbershop.

“See what honey?” she answered finally.

“That boy. His hair broke the scissors.” He stroked his chin. “And the razor.”

“Yes, dear. Well, we need to go. We have tickets for the opera, and you know how your father hates to be late. He’ll make us take some silly shortcut.”

While his mother paid, the boy looked in the mirror at his finished haircut. He saw one errant hair, and reached down and retrieved his multi-tool pocket knife that he had figured out how to hide in his belt. He flicked out some tiny shears and cut the hair. I should really keep more things in my belt, he thought.

Just then, he sprang from the barber chair into a crouching position.

“Bruce, quit fooling around!” His mother said, then pointed and shouted. “To the limo!”

The boy followed, but picked up half of the broken scissors on the floor, wondering if he could somehow turn it into some kind throwing tool?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Toilet Paper Universe

She said, “It doesn't matter how the freaking roll goes on the dispenser, Jon. Just replace it!” I could practically see her seething on the other side of the door.

I said, “Okay, but it does matter…”

She said, “Who cares if the toilet paper comes over or under the roll?”

I said, “You’re kidding right? It HAS to be over!”

She said, “Like it makes any difference in the universe.”

I sat there (on the toilet, as she had knocked on the door while I was using it) and I pondered the roll. I pondered the universe. I pondered if I was done yet.

I imagined a universe inside the toilet roll dispenser. A universe that had no Milky Way above it at night, but an unending roll of white. The citizens of this universe lived generations, nay millennia according to whether the Great White Sheet blessed their prosperous, life-filled galaxy.

If the Great White Sheet came over the Great Roll, the populated galaxies enjoyed an age of great prosperity and long life. Each spin of the Great Roll above brought both relief and awe, as well as sometimes a strange but accepted odor.

But if the Great White Sheet came under the roll, millions perhaps billions would die. The universe would suffer greatly until the Great Roll changed, and brought a reprieve.

I heard the shouts and the cries of that doomed universe. I felt their anguish and grunted.

I tried to explain all this to her, in great detail. She remained silent on the other side of the door. Perhaps she was imagining the toilet paper universe as well. Perhaps she too could comprehend their deep despair and suffering if the roll was put on the wrong way. Perhaps she was finally getting it!

After a very heavy sigh she said, “Just wash your hands when you’re done.” Then she walked away from the door.

I replaced the toilet paper carefully making sure the paper came OVER the roll.

As I washed my hands, I smiled. I had a deep satisfaction knowing that, at least for this roll, all was right with the universe.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fe Fi Fo Fum and Your Little Dog Too!

And so it was in the Land of Upz that the three decided to rescue Dot (and her little dog too) from the wicked giant, who had imprisoned her in the great Emerald Fortress.

“I think I have a plan”, said Manny Quinn. He was a plastic sort who had until recently served as a scarecrow in a field, and thought himself quite the genius, although he was kind of a poser.

“Good,” said GoldenBoy, a robotic forest guide who wished for a new compass, but whose real talents lie in his gold excrement. “We’ve got to save Dot!”

The cowardly Cheetah waffled as usual, but wanted to help Dot. Not quite king of the forest this one, and although he was very fast, he was mostly a scaredy-cat.

They watched the giant’s guards march in and out of the fortress. Manny snapped his fingers. “All we have to do is knock a giant out cold, then get on each other’s shoulders and wear his clothes. We can walk right in!”

GoldenBoy’s metal frame shivered loudly and a golden brick dropped at the Cheetah’s paws.

“Really?” said the Cheetah.

GoldenBoy grimaced. “Sorry.”


Meanwhile deep in the Emerald Fortress, Dot sat bound in a chair. Poor Rosanna was leashed to the chair next to her and muzzled.

Dot had almost loosened her bonds when then the giant walked in.

“Fe Fi Fo - ooh, a pie,” and he gorged himself on a gigantic chocolate dessert.

No wonder they grow this big, Dot thought.

“So”, the giant started, still licking his fingers. “I told you I’d get you and your little dog too. But I’m so full now I don’t need to eat you.”

Dot rolled her eyes. “Lucky me.” She looked around at the room, green everywhere. “You need a new decorator. Just because it’s the Emerald Fortress doesn’t mean you couldn’t have a splash of blue or red for goodness sake.”

The giant looked around and shrugged. Rosanna offered a muffled bark. He frowned and put his foot directly over the little Schnauzer.

At that very moment, the doors burst open, and in ran the strangest giant Dot had seen yet. His uniform didn’t at all fit, and in the face he looked just like…”

Manny screamed. “Dot! We’ve come to rescue you, and your little…”

“I got it,” Dot said. The giant’s guards poured in behind them. GoldenBoy, who had been on the bottom, tripped and they all three came crashing down near Dot.

They scrambled to their feet as the evil giant and his guards crowded around them.

“Hey,” the evil giant said to his guards, “There’s that little robot that poops gold! I was looking for him!”

The giant reached down and picked up GoldenBoy, which immediately produced more gold on the floor. Rosanna sniffed it through her muzzle.

“Leave him alone!” screamed Dot, and she threw a brick at the giant’s head. It struck perfectly and he toppled like tall timber.

“What a world,” he slurred as he fell. “Killed with a poop brick.”

Actually the guards were quite thrilled at this. They would eventually build a statue that commemorated Dot, which would stand long after the fortress was in ruins.

She was a little miffed later though when the good fairy told her she could have left anytime simply by saying, “There’s no place like home.”

“Really? And you’re telling me this now?” Dot said, not happy.

And so Dot returned home where, unfortunately, she’d have to deal with pretty much the same idiots.


Sure enough, she woke up in bed. Uncle El (short for Elvis) gave her some warm tea and she smiled. “This is delicious! All they had in my dream was green tea.”

“Uh, thank you, thank you very much.” He propped her pillow up. “You gave us quite a scare you know.”

Dot nodded. “It was quite a trip, and quite frightening at times. She looked at Tony, who looked just like the Cheetah. “But I don’t have to tell YOU that.” Tony smiled, but cowered more into the corner.

Then she smiled at Danny, who stood in a thoughtful pose. “But thanks to some quick thinking, I was rescued.”

Next to him, Roy wore a pained expression. “I’ll be right back!” he said, and rushed off in the direction of the bathroom.

“Yep,” Dot said petting Rosanna, who was gnawing on a giant bone. “There’s no place like home!”

Monday, March 17, 2014

This Precious Present

I sat on the bench watching the students run back and forth. Oh how I envied them.

I had been one of them but that was literally ages ago. Even my teaching years were enjoyable; growing and shaping young minds. Now my profession kept me busy, when I was here.

As I sat in my reverie of times gone by, a young lady who I had once taught approached and smiled.

“Excuse me, but aren’t you Professor Wells?” she said, seemingly embarrassed to ask.

I smiled at the pretty young thing. Best not to tell Jane about this chance encounter. Nary a chance she’d believe it so random.

“Yes, I am,” I answered, noticing for the first time the man sitting reading a newspaper on a nearby bench. She and I chatted for the next five minutes, and her body language told me we were heading towards areas other than former student and teacher. In my eyes these were harmless affairs, but I knew in other eyes they were crimes I had been committing for years. I felt both ashamed for my lewd behavior, and yet titillated at the new possibility.

Finally she heard a class bell and winked her goodbye.

I watched her walk away and shook my head. “Herbert, you damn fool,” I muttered to myself.

Then the gentleman, who looked quite out of place on the bench, stood up and slowly walked towards me. He sat down quietly and shared my view of the campus.

“Professor Wells, huh?” he said. It didn’t take long to realize he was from the future. As was I.

I sighed. I had wondered when they would find me.

“Took a little longer this time,” I said.

“You can’t keep coming here,” he said. “It’s not allowed, you know that.”

But I had come here, repeatedly through the years. Life as I lived here in the latter part of the eighteenth century would never be allowed where I am from. The women, the study, the writing, the vitality. In my true time, there’s no such thing as promiscuous, higher learning, art, war, or anything that brings life its grand experience. Just the peaceful, advanced yet sadly backward and boring people of the future. The real Eloi…

“So I guess we have to go back right now,” I said, sighing. I looked around at the trees, the people, even the sorry weather of England. It was true, this was my favorite time and place to live, at least that we could get to. The next few centuries were not just off limits, they were technically impossible for some reason.

He looked around, taking an admiring last look. It was intoxicating to people from our time.

“Not easy to leave is it?” I smiled.

He sighed, and nodded. “I can truly see why you like to come here.” He stood up. “But we’ll both be in trouble if I don’t bring you back. We don’t even know what the impact of your repeated visits as this ‘H.G Wells’ will do to the timeline.”

As far as I was concerned, H.G. Wells was who I was, and if this world had never known him, it would be sadder for it.

I stood as well, straightened my tie, and followed him to a secluded thatch of trees. In a moment, he had activated the small device and the world I loved began to fade.

But unlike the Time Traveler of my stories, I indeed would return. For my only crime was to write, love, and live in this precious present.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Fool, Montresor

(The Flip Side of Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of Amontillado)


“Amontillado!” I said. The fool, he thought I believed him. The headpiece I wore in celebration of the festival jangled its small bells and I shook my head.

“I have my doubts,” said Montresor. Of course he did. He should!

“Amontillado!” I said once again, or more than once. I scarce remember exact events as my wits were lessened due to the festival proclivities.

Then the fool Montresor began rambling on about Luchesi! What madness! Luchesi was an oaf.

“Come let us go,” said I.

“Whither?” said he.

“To your vaults.” I laughed to myself as I said it. This would be great sport.

He tried to persuade me otherwise, but I would have none of it. And soon we were at his miserable hovel (he suggested his servants were out, but I doubted he even had them in employ.)

I was still feeling the effects of the festival spirits, yet kept up with him down into the abyss of his vaults. Would we never get to this supposed Amontillado? I was having my doubts he had any at all. It was perhaps some old cache of Merlot, or worse, Cabernet.

He kept babbling about my health, but I would not hear of it. He would not deter me from showing him my superiority as usual in all matters wine.

Along the way he stopped to have a mediocre bit of Medoc, and babble about his family arms. A human foot on a snake indeed. He would be under my foot as usual, as my talents would show soon enough.

After a last swig of Medoc, I gestured as one of the brotherhood. Of course, he did not comprehend my actions.

“You are not of the Masons?” I suggested. Then he produced a simple trowel and said that it showed he was a mason. What a buffoon!

We proceeded on.

Finally among the bones of his pitiable ancestors he directed me to small enclave in which the Amontillado was stored. He mentioned Luchesi again and I would have no more. I entered the room.

When I came to the end of the room, of which there was of course no pipe of Amontillado, I stood mystified. What was this fool doing now? What point was this?

Perhaps the inebriation masked my reactions, but before I knew it the fool Montresor has clasped chains around my waist and padlocked me there. Why? For what reason?

“The Amontillado!” I shouted. Where was it? And why must I be chained to taste it? Did he not trust me to try it, even though he must know I would laugh in his face?

He began to use his trowel to seal the small room with brick and mortar. What madness! I laughed heartily. Perhaps this was his attempt at humor. I would play along.

“A very good joke indeed - an excellent joke! We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo!”

It was a lie, he probably knew I would not share wine with him especially after this event.

It became apparent as he began sealing up the room that my initial suspicions of him were too soft. He was indeed mad! He was quite insane! The poor wretch had lost control of his faculties and truly meant to do me ill.

“For the love of God, Montresor!” I shouted.

“Yes,” he said in a tone most chilling. “For the love of God.”

As the darkness of the room increased, all save one small rock to be inserted by the “mason”, the fool Montresor, I dipped my head in thought. The bells of the headpiece jingled.

He called my name. I did not respond. He tossed in his sconce. It went out quickly. He called again.

The fool placed the last stone and I began to formulate my revenge. I sniffed and coughed internally. The nitre in the enclave was quite strong. No matter. I would escape from this child’s trap.

I coughed again, and felt my head getting lighter. Yes. The fool Montresor would…regret his…actions…

…he…would regret…his actions…the fool.