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When Fiction Becomes Fact

As dragons roam, a sister worries, and an AI does its best

By E.J. RobisonPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
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When Fiction Becomes Fact
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“Miss Olivia, I am obligated to point out that if you keep pacing like that, you will literally wear a hole through the floor.”

Olivia paused and glanced at the ceiling. Though Pixel didn’t have a physical body, she always imagined him with a roundish robot face sporting a distinguished mustache and a permanent worried crease on his brow.

“It's tile, Pixel. I couldn’t literally wear a hole through the floor unless I had super strength…in my feet. Do I need to check your grammar programming again?”

“No, no, no, of course not! I was just…testing out the popular phrases of today.”

Olivia barely heard his reply, as she’d already returned to pacing and glancing periodically at the front door. “Mmhm.”

“Miss Olivia,” Pixel continued hesitantly, “I do want to remind you that I will alert you when Master Trey returns—”

“I know! Now shut up before I put you on silent. And remember: it’s mister Trey. I don’t know how he managed to change his name in your programming, but it’s an error. He doesn’t have any right to be addressed like some old aristocrat.”

Olivia knew that she was just being spiteful because of her worry, but she couldn’t help it. It was her fault that Trey was out there hunting dragons in the first place. If he got hurt, it would be on her conscience for the rest of her life.

Or worse, if he...

“Any reports, Pixel?”

Silence. Olivia bit back a scream of frustration.

“You can un-shut up,” she ground out between her teeth.

“No reports, but again, I will tell you if—”

“I know, I know! You'll tell me if you hear anything. You'll tell me if he comes home. But that doesn't help me know what I'm supposed to do in the meantime! I shouldn't... I... I should've gone with him.”

Olivia inhaled sharply as a sob rose in her throat. Suddenly, her legs turned to jelly. She stumbled onto one of the bar chairs in the kitchen and let her head fall into her hands.

“I should've gone with him, but I was too scared.” She dug her nails into her scalp and tried to tell herself that the tears filling her eyes were only from the pain. “I always imagined battling dragons when I was younger, but now that I know they’re real, now that I’ve seen them on the news… I was just too scared.”

Somehow, despite the fact that he was nothing more than a computer chip, Pixel’s voice was filled with compassion. “To be fair, Miss Olivia, the chances of a human conquering a dragon are 582 to 1.”

“Thanks,” Olivia bit back. That’s what happens when you pour out your heart to an AI.

“I can tell that you’re still distressed. Should I prepare some hot tea?”

“Okay,” Olivia sighed as the fight slowly drained out of her. If Pixel wanted to mother her, then…well, she wouldn’t say no to some mothering right now.

“Be safe, Trey,” she whispered. She imagined that the prayer could become a shield that would protect him from all harm. At the very least, she hoped that he would think of her and be encouraged. Maybe her words would give him just the boost of strength he needed to overcome the beast.

But this is the real world. He can’t hear me.

And yet, a year ago, everyone had thought that dragons were simply myths. Perhaps other impossible things were more possible than she’d ever dreamed.

A whirring sound drew Olivia’s attention to a little automated cart making its way across the kitchen counter. It stopped just in front of her and Olivia carefully took the steaming mug from its tray.

“Thanks,” she murmured, momentarily forgetting that the little robot didn’t have ears or a brain to appreciate her thanks.

Olivia turned her tea into a challenge. She’d try to guess every flavor: lemongrass, raspberry…

“Chamomile?” Olivia slammed the mug down with a clatter, but it was too late—she’d already drunk half. “Pixel, I’m going to deactivate you.”

“No, please! My only function is to—”

“Serve in any way possible, yes.” She'd meant her voice to come out as a growl, but instead, the syllables slurred together.

“Exactly, Miss Olivia, which is why I would also advise the wisdom of getting to your bed.”

Olivia grunted in reply and slipped out of her chair. Chamomile! Of all the teas… Why do I have this stupid allergy…weakness…whatever it is? Who ever told Pixel about it anyway? This is wrong. This is bad…

Her thoughts became more jumbled. Suddenly, she found herself on the living room couch next to the window without knowing how she’d gotten there.

“Pixel,” she muttered, using every last ounce of energy to move her lips, “I hate you.”

“Miss Olivia…”

She was asleep before she could hear the rest.

. . .

Olivia woke to a giant yellow eye gazing at her.

Her sleep-muddled mind took a moment to gather itself, but when it did, Olivia was falling off the couch as a scream tore itself from her throat.

The black pupil of the slitted eye widened. A low rumble shook the house.

“Ah, Miss Olivia! You're awake. Master Trey is back—”

“With a dragon?” She couldn’t tear her eyes from it, nor could she move away. Was it true that dragons could turn people to stone with a look?

“Yes, and— Oh, I have a message for you just now. Master Trey says: ‘Quiet down, I'm trying to sleep.’”

Olivia spun, entirely forgetting the dragon for a moment. “He's trying to—? Uh-uh.” She looked over her shoulder at the scaly blue face taking up half the window and decided that it could wait.

Punching her stupid brother was much more important.

Olivia marched upstairs and banged a fist on Trey’s door. “Hey! Open up!”

An eternity passed before Olivia heard the lock click. The door creaked open only a fraction and Trey’s face appeared in the crevice, his eyelids droopy and his usually neat brown hair sticking up in every direction.

“What?”

Olivia opened her mouth and struggled to funnel her rage into comprehensible words. “You— You brought a dragon. Home?”

Trey shrugged. “Yeah. So?”

“It’s a dragon!”

“He's part of the family now.” He opened the door fully, revealing that the dragon was now peering through Trey’s window. “Say hello to Tymrin.”

Olivia sucked in a breath, ready to scream in his face about responsibility and what would Mom say? and danger and a million other things.

But in the end, all she could do was grab him in a tight hug.

FantasyShort StorySci Fi
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About the Creator

E.J. Robison

Ever since I could first form words and hold a pen, I've been telling stories—from the sloppily scrawled tales about getting ice cream with my exotic pets to full-blown sci-fi and fantasy epics. Soli Deo gloria!

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