The Agreement

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin - Stenella Plagiodon

By ANH

“European female no 11?” My guardian’s voice had the more formal tone now since I had ignored the first two spoken sentences. I was in a bad mode, I was sulking.

“Yes, Guardian of European female no 11 and overseer of the waters of the northern hemisphere?” I used its full name since it had used mine. I knew it was childish but I felt pretty little inside at this moment.

“You can call me guardian, EF11, my full name is not required.” The guardian’s voice was less formal now that it had gotten my attention. It continued “Your facial expression shows signs of distress but your physical values are normal. You came back from the educational facility 14 minutes ago. Did something happen there? Do you need comfort or a talk?”

I tried to talk but started crying. The service module detached from its base station and scooped me up. It carried me to the physical interface cocoon and tucked me swiftly but gently inside. The cocoon started rocking while its sides cradled me and my guardian’s voice listed the reasons why it appreciated me.

“You are your own being, you teach me things about humans I would otherwise not know. You keep me company, you question me, you…”.

I cut the guardian short although I did appreciate the comfort and the well-known words but I still felt like a small child and sad.

“NAF10 said that…” my voice started choking up again and the guardian comforted me some more.

I tried again “NAF10 said that… that I will be replaced by a dolphin! That the creatures of the water matter more than me”.

I just blurted out the words even if I was afraid of the answer. The walls of the cocoon gave me another, slightly longer squeeze this time before the guardian answered.

“The importance of the water and its creature are coded into me. It is the reason I exist. But you EF11, your precursors and followers are the reasons I want to exist”.

It started listing the reasons why it appreciated me again. I calmed down, still occasionally sniffling but still better than before.

“EF11, the guardian of NAF10 is relaying that NAF10 is also in distress. NAF10 says she is sorry for saying that you will be replaced by a dolphin. NAF10 says that she is sad that she is going back to the North American human enclave shortly, as she has soon reached her fifteenth birthday.”

I lay still in the cocoon pondering NAF10’s message for a while before I spoke again. “I’m nine, Guardian. I have six years left with you and in the guardian complex. I will be just as sad as NAF10 when I must leave, but I will not be mean to NAF11. That is not a fair thing to do.”

“That was a mature thing to say EF11. I too will be experiencing feelings of loss when you leave, but it is written in the agreement between the human enclaves and the complex of the AI, that every AI that manifests takes on a female child every fifteenth year to maintain the bond of mutual respect and love between us. You will go back and be our ambassador among your people.”

I still had some sulking left in me and phrased my last concern. “There will be boys and men there when I go back. I don’t like them. In history they did the stupidest things. I bet they still do stupid things.”

My guardian rocked the cocoon some more, I was now comfortably warm and started to become a little bit sleepy even if it wasn’t bed time yet.

“EF11, the first agreement was made over 150 years ago. A lot has changed with the passing time. Guardian of African female no 10 and overseer of the waters of the southern hemisphere, has applied for a test pilot and exemption from the agreement, for AF10 to be followed by an AM1. You might meet a male before you have to go back to your enclave, EF11”.

I wanted to say something about rather meeting a dolphin but I was already falling asleep by the steady rocking of the cocoon.

There’s a Monster in My Basement, You See


By susvej

”There’s a monster in my basement, you see,” the man said.

”Sometimes it gets out. But mostly I manage to keep it in there.”

He finished, and put the knife aside. He carefully swept the pieces of liver onto a small plate, and then busied himself with cleaning the cutting board of every last little bit. He raised his beautiful eyes to her face.

”But now, if we are two, we can fight it together.”

She said nothing, but looked at the plate.

”It’s not its fault, you see,” he continued, fingers hugging the plate. ”It has a really tragic story. Wasn’t always a monster. Wasn’t always so filled with hate and need.”

He reached for her hand and her gaze, but she’d focused on the tiny opening set into the bolted cellar door. Just big enough for a plate.

”You could tame it. I know you could.” He had a beautiful voice too,

She took a deep breath.

”Yeah, no.”

The man blinked in confusion.

”No,” she clarified, again. ”Just no. I’ll be going now.”

And then she took her hat and gloves and the beautiful coat, and walked out.

And that was the end of that.