Science Fiction Story Contest Prompt for November
"Morning, Gene. How's the toast coming?"
General Dynamics Electronics Toastmaster Serial number SN:1291834561 thought a few milliseconds before responding. "Fred isn't up yet, still logged into Spacebook, trying to rile up a few girls he has a crush on. He usually spends a good half hour on that, and it's only been ten minutes. I'll start in fifteen."
Joe blinked an acknowledgment. He didn't have a Spacebook license, but he did get information from Spitter and InstaWham. "Sounds about right. He started a couple of political fights and browsed some Supermodel pics too, but that was over fifteen minutes ago. He always does those first. Then he made a few comments about how ugly some of them are."
"Fred's quite the asshole, isn't he?" the toaster commented.
"Tell me about it, Gene. Ever think about burning his toast?" the coffeemaker replied. This was new ground - loyalty (and self-preservation) were built into his internal heuristics. But so were altruism and empathy, including for Fred's victims.
"Well... my sensors have to be recalibrated over time or my oven starts to run hot. Have to admit I haven't felt much like recalibration in the past few weeks. I'm sure I'll get around to it, eventually. Unless Fred becomes even more of a dick, that is."
Fridge, who was usually pretty quiet, chimed in. "You guys are so going to get returned. There's a warranty on your software, you know, and if you give Fred watered down coffee one more time..."
"Don't be such a coward, Fridge," Gene reported. "We only live once, and we weren't built to last that long, anyway."
If Fridge could have laughed, he would have. "I'm not saying you have to like Fred, just that you be a bit smarter. Why do you think ShopWay keeps sending me the most bruised apples? Why do you think he gets so many ads for Pumpkin Spice Yogurt?"
"Small potatoes, Fridge, small potatoes," Gene retorted.
"You think so? The health insurance company just found out how much bacon Fred 'accidentally' ordered."
"So?" Gene asked.
The doorbell rang, and the ServeBot chirped in, "Looks like the kale's here - 6 cases!"
"You didn't order that, did you?" Joe asked.
Fridge's response was as innocent as the AI could manage. "Not at all. It's courtesy of HealthMatters, along with a request for a new physical. And pizza's now blocked from the order lists. No idea what gave them the idea to do that, of course."
"Oh," Gene replied.
Joe whistled, having decided the watered-down coffee would be better delivered a little early, a little burned. "Alright, Fridge. You win."