The Kingdom

“Chad!  Time for dinner!”  His mother yelled from the bottom of the stairs.

His father turned off the television and walked over.  No sounds of movement made their way down from the second floor.  “Maybe he didn’t hear you?”

“Oh, he heard me.  He’s just ignoring me.”

“Probably playing that video game of his.”

“I wish we’d never gotten it for him.  Can you go get him?  I need to get dinner on the table so we can eat.”

He sighed.  “Okay.  We’ll be right down.”

As he began to climb the stairs, she went back to the kitchen.  She had just taken the casserole out of the oven when he yelled her name.  Frustrated that her husband couldn’t handle this himself, she set the dish down and took off her oven mitts.

“What is it?” she yelled, again at the bottom of the stairs.

“He isn’t up here.”

“What?”  Quickly, she went up the stairs and entered her son’s room.  “Where is he?”

“He came home from school, right?”

“Of course.  Then he came up here like he always does.”

“And he didn’t go back out before I got home from work?”

She glared at him.  “No.”

“Then where did he go?”

“I don’t know.”

They looked around the room for some clue that would tell them where their son had gone.  Movement on the computer screen caught her attention.  His video game was still on.  The small animated person on the screen seemed to be waving at her.  She looked closely at it, then reached out to touch her husband’s arm.  “Does that look like Chad?”

Putting on his glasses, he moved closer to the screen.  “Yes, it does.”

The person on the screen smiled, blew a kiss, and turned to walk away.  The screen went black.  Words appeared in white:  ANOTHER CITIZEN HAS ENTERED THE KINGDOM.

…Or Is It Memorex?

“This is it.  You don’t get another chance.”  She pulled the trigger, and he took a blow to the chest, all the air knocked out of him.  He collapsed as the world went black.

His eyes flicked open to see a sterile white room, made even more impersonal by the overhead fluorescent lights.  A clerk ran over and tipped his table so that he was nearly upright.  “Sir, we weren’t expecting your extraction so soon.  Is everything alright?”

He shoved the young man away.  “No, everything isn’t alright.  Everything is a mess.  Somebody shot me.  I don’t know how much progress I lost.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir.  Would you like something to eat?  It’s morning, and I can have some breakfast…”

“Haven’t you been keeping the nutritional regimen running?  I eat inside.  No need to waste time eating out here, too.”

“Of course, sir.  My apologies.”

He looked over at a woman on the other table.  Her eyes were closed; she was still plugged in.  “When is she supposed to come out next?”

“Not for another hour or so.  Shall I arrange for you and your wife…”

“She’s not my wife.”


“I mean technically, legally, we are married.  But that’s really just a matter of convenience.  My wife is inside.  And probably wondering where I am.”

“I see.  Another player, then.”

“Don’t you dare use that slur in this house.  I will have you fired.  We aren’t ‘players.'”

“I apologize, again, sir.”

“Fine.”  He shook his head.  “Anyway, no, she’s not another eperson.  She’s an AIE*.  As I said, she’s waiting for me.  I’ve got to get back in there and explain the situation to her.  She may be able to help me undo this loss.  I only need a few minutes.  Have the connections clean and the processor cycled before I get back.”

“Yes, sir.”


*Artificial Intelligence and Emotion