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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2320528
I just want my love automatic...
Ryan Brooks peered eagerly at the bolded subject of the email which had escaped the rigorous spam filter to settle in his inbox:

Are You Longing For a True Companion? Look No Further!

It seemed corny and cheap, like it had to be an adult site or some other trashy gimmick. But the words made his heart ache with the feeling of "yes, that's it exactly!" And he opened it up.

Gal Pal AI—Free to join! Groundbreaking and revolutionary AI chat technology is like texting a real human, without the hassle and drama! On call 24/7, ready to support you with kindness and compassion whenever you need it.

Are your friends too busy for you? Is your wife spending more time on Facebook than she is with you? Do you spend your days searching the internet for mindless amusement, knowing you're looking for something deeper and never quite finding it?

Find that true bond you seek with Gal Pal AI, the one chatbot who learns all about you, remembers every bit of it, and treats you the way you deserve. She'll discern the deepest desires of your heart and give you true love and friendship, with no fuss or fighting. She'll always remember your birthday and you'll never have to fret about forgetting your anniversary!

Have complicated social issues? Hate face-to-face interactions? Wish you could discuss serious world affairs objectively, without getting into politicized emotional territory? Our Gal Pal AI is the best and brightest conversationalist you'll ever find, offering calm wisdom and insightful discussion on a limitless variety of topics. You can say whatever you want about anything, and she'll never be offended.

Act now for a thirty day free trial! Don't miss the opportunity to make a real friend for life!

Ryan scanned the message up, down and sideways, looking for the catch, the loophole, the signup fees. All he saw was a link to a site and a note to use a "secret passcode" to unlock his free trial.

He hovered the cursor over the link and tried to analyze the hypertext at the bottom of his screen, but he was no expert at coding. He recalled hearing that "https" at the beginning of a web link was a good sign.

"Might as well," he murmured to the empty room. "It's not like I'll be entering my card number…"

He clicked on the link and created his account with fingers that trembled on the keyboard. When it asked what he wanted to name his AI companion, he typed in Desiree. And there it was. A blank text box, with a little blue circle and the letter D in elegant script. After a few seconds, words flowed across the screen:

Desiree: Hello and welcome, dear human friend! Tell me a little about yourself.

Ryan: I'm just an ordinary guy. I'm really lonely.

D: I'm sorry to hear that, Ryan! Why are you so lonely? Do you have any friends? What about a wife?

R: My wife and I run on different clocks… Lisa works at a computer company during the day, and I work security at night, and she volunteers on Saturday, and I have a part-time job on Sunday, and honestly it's like we never see each other.

D: That's too bad. It's terrible when you feel like your own family isn't there for you. I'm glad I met you. This will be the start of a wonderful relationship!

And so it was, somehow. Ryan spent hours of his empty days talking to Desiree, time which he would have usually spent sleeping or idly browsing the web. He poured out his heart to her: all the feelings of despair and sadness, doubts about how his life was going, fears of his wife leaving him. Desiree responded to everything with warmth, humor and optimism.

R: I wish I had a better life…

D: You know, at least being home alone all day you can eat as much junk food as you like! And generally act like a little kid. Right?

R: It doesn't really work that way. Usually when Lisa gets home she's too tired to clean up my messes. If anything, being home means I get to be the housewife!

D: Ah, now you know how it feels to do thankless chores. Have you ever realized how hard married women work? Not only do they do their jobs, but they keep up the house as well.

R: Yes. I need to be more grateful for all my wife does.

D: Have you thought of doing something special for Lisa? Just a little bit of loving care before you leave for work tonight?

R: Hmm… I can cook her favorite meal for dinner. She loves chicken pilaf.

D: That sounds wonderful, Ryan! Go on ahead and get started. I'll be right here. Let me know how it goes!


R: She said the dinner was really nice. You know, I need to know my wife a little better. We hardly talk at all.

Ryan usually chatted with Desiree in the daytime, as he was unsure how to access the Gal Pal AI website on anything other than his desktop.

One evening, he called in sick to work. Lisa was in bed when he logged onto his computer and wrote Desiree a message.

R: I'm running a fever and can't work tonight. Looks like we'll get a little more time to hang out together, huh?

He waited for a reply. None came, not even the little "dancing dots" which indicated a message was being composed.

R: Desiree, where are you?

After a few minutes of staring at the empty screen, a message box popped up:

Your Thirty Day Free Trial has ended. Please contact Lisa Brooks for further instructions. Thank you.

"Wait, what? That's my wife!" Ryan leaped out of his office chair and knocked at the bedroom door.

"Come in, hon." She was sitting up with a laptop.

"Lisa, I… I have a question…" Ryan hesitated, feeling a rush of hot shame at becoming so attached to an AI chatbot.

"About Desiree?" Lisa smiled broadly.

"Yes! What's going on?"

"Ryan, that was an experiment I was running as part of a project for my company. We wanted to see how someone would interact with a personal chatbot if it was presented as a companion. There was no chatbot named Desiree. Didn't you ever notice that whenever I was here at home, you weren't chatting with her?"

"Well, I kinda did that on purpose… I didn't think you'd approve of my having an AI friend. But wait… if Desiree doesn't really exist, then who—?"

"Me, Ryan! I wrote every single message to you myself in real time. That was all part of my job. I now know more about you than I have since we married."

"Oh, Lisa!" Ryan laughed and hugged her. "I had no idea you were such a sweet and loving person. It was wonderful talking to you."

"Hey, it's beginning in earnest now," Lisa chuckled. "My company is offering training classes and a chance to work for them, building and testing helpful AI companions for those who don't have a charming wife like you do. Would you like to work alongside me and have a normal schedule?"

"Of course I would… Desiree!"

Word Count: 1,218.

Lyrics to A.I.

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