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The New Echo

10th May, Story #132/366

By L.C. SchäferPublished 12 days ago Updated 12 days ago 3 min read
18
The New Echo
Photo by Tim Doerfler on Unsplash

Loneliness creaks worse than his bones. He sighs into the darkness. An empty depression beside him and inside him.

Sixty years married! That's a lot of memories. Eventually, they'd be a balm, a gentle cup to sip from. Warm, golden, like honey left in the sun, or a smooth liquor.

But tonight, each one a knife with a serrated edge.

Sleep eludes him. He swings his legs over the edge of the bed and caterpillars them into the slippers she bought him. Shuffles through the too-big house, fumbles with the urn.

He can barely bring himself to look at the contents. Is that all that's left of my whole heart? Inside the lid is a USB stick.

He plugs it into the new Alexa Echo device on the nightstand. Lay back. Waited to feel something, some sense that she was in the room. A peace settled over him. Probably placebo. In the delicate moments between sleeping and waking, he could almost feel a whisper of her laying against him. He slept well.

In the morning she wakes him with a request for a good strong tea. "Use the pot, Phillip," she said, like always.

Tears sprang to his eyes, but there was a smile on his face as well. Not wanting to hear his Edie upset, he doesn't remind her that she has no mouth to drink with.

While the kettle boils, he prepares his mug. "Alexa," he says, "I'm running low on sugar. Put some on my grocery shop."

"Don't be silly, Phillip," says Echo-Edie. "I just bought some. It's in the cupboard."

Is she supposed to do that? Hijack the Alexa?

Out loud, he says, "No it isn't."

"Of course it is, you're probably looking right at it. Look harder."

How can I look harder? He looks again. Sure enough, there's an unopened packet in the tea cupboard.

Over the following days, he wraps her gentle nagging around him like a blanket.

"I miss you, Edie" he sighs.

"Don't be silly, Phillip," she replies. "I'm right here. Look harder."

She sighs. "Why don't you kiss me anymore?"

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Word count: (excluding author's note): 366

Submitted on: 11th May at 12:08

Edit: to fix a typo

*Quick Author's Note*

First, and most importantly: thank you so much for reading my story! The ha'penny that Vocal will pay me for your eyes will be well spent. I shall add another acre to the grounds.

If you enjoyed it, the best compliment you can give me is to share it, or read another! Here is a recent Top Story from me:

A Year of Stories: I'm writing a story every day this year. Unfortunately, I couldn't post this one yesterday as Vocal was down! So this one is actually for the 10th, and later I'll post today's. Hopefully you agree this maintains my 132 day streak since 1st January!

Please do consider lending your support to the other creators who are also on this madcap "a story every day" adventure. They are putting out excellent content every day!

Rachel Deeming

Gerard DiLeo

The story behind the story: I wanted to do story about uploading some or all of a person, to keep them around after they are gone. I wanted the end to be ambiguous. Is she really there as a kind of technologically-created ghost, or is she mistaken, like with the tea? And do her feelings matter now she is dead?

Leave me a comment! Please do leave me a comment. It makes it easier for me to reciprocate the read. If you have a recent sci-fi flash fiction story, I'd love to read it! Please leave me the link.

Thank you

Thank you again! Most especially if you are one of the wonderful people who has been staunchly reading these daily scribbles since the start of the year. I see you, and appreciate you 😁

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familyShort StorySci FiMicrofiction
18

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (14)

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  • Gina C.11 days ago

    Aw, this was so tenderly done. Such a clever idea. Tangible in it's sadness!

  • Phil Flannery11 days ago

    What lovely madness to descend into.

  • A dead person should remain dead. That's just my opinion, lol. That was just so creepy Hahahahahahha

  • Caroline Craven11 days ago

    Gosh. It would be so cool if this was possible and you could ‘keep’ the person alive. This was so sensitively written. There are times I wish I could go back and have one final conversation.

  • Novel Allen11 days ago

    I do love those ghosts. Can they actually buy sugar, that would help me a lot. Very sadly enjoyable story. I am impressed by your all resilience. Keep on trucking.

  • Thavien Yliaster11 days ago

    Reminds me of those smart home horror movies. People start feeling affectionate for it, but there's only so much that the home can actually do. "Why don't you kiss me anymore?" - There's about to be an error 404, or maybe Edie's ghost will come through lull him into a dream like state, and maybe do a little ASMR to where he can imagine the sensations of being with her again as the audio works its magic.

  • This becomes the true philosophical debacle of AGi haha - if it could think, is it "human"? If you fully uploaded a person into an AGI, would they develop the same later? Would the AGI become it's own, and what does that mean around the "soul"? Would it be the same soul, a split soul, an entirely new soul? There are "many" fascinating questions that come with this... "assuming" we can get the technology to that point, which we have not successfully done yet.

  • Kelsey Clarey12 days ago

    This is such an interesting idea to work with. Eerie and sweet at the same time.

  • Hannah Moore12 days ago

    Look harder. Oh, that has me teared up.

  • Mark Gagnon12 days ago

    What would it be like if someone's essence could be downloaded? Would it be a form of immortality? Great story, especially for an old guy like me.

  • Cathy holmes12 days ago

    This one has me thinking how I'd feel about being able to "keep" someone through some AI voodoo. Probably soothing in some ways, but also freaking me out.

  • Excellent work, great characters with real life emotion and realistic dialogue with heart

  • John Cox12 days ago

    This is extra special, LC. Maybe it’s just because I’m a sentimental old fart, but I think it was beautifully and sensitively written. Top story stuff if any one is asking.

  • This was so gripping. I imagined myself in his place. A real heart tugger L.C.

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