February/March 100 Word Anonymous Challenge 2023

The Lamentation of Mr. Wensleydale

"I feel really bad now."

"Why, dear?"

"That last customer..."

"The local hotelier?"

"Yes. I told him that we had no cheese in stock."

"But this is a cheese shop, dear; of course we have cheese."

"I know; I just couldn't help myself winding him up."

"Perhaps you should run after him and apologise?"

"Too late now, he's gone in the pet shop next door. He'll never come back again now."

"Never mind dear, I hear that he's off to the Caribbean soon anyway; apparently he's opening one of those fancy 'boutique hotels'."

"I wonder how that will work out?"
<Dr Friedhoff’s Archives> Audio-log (excerpt) - Transcription

Do I have regrets? No… No, I don’t think so.
Well, if I have to mention something, I imagine I should have gone for that job on Mars, way back when I had the chance. I hear it’s now an haven of sorts for cyborgs. A real shame.
Not what you meant? <sigh> OK… let me think… I suppose I should have taken my democratic rights more seriously and actually have used it, like voting? I no longer have that right since I’m a lifelong resident of this prison. <pause> Cybercide, or something.
But regrets? Not really... Should I?
A ban on public eye contact.

Nancy’s left eye was scooped out when she was nine, for making illegal eye contact with her primary school teacher. Her remaining eye was scooped at forty, after glancing at her lover, Gareth, from across a cafe table.

Nancy had always yearned for simple human connection. And now, without eyes, that yearning was sure to go unanswered.

But Gareth never left her side. He could finally stare at her face in public, without fearing eye contact. And Nancy no longer had to look out at a world so cold, separate, and broken.

She wished she’d been blinded sooner.
Temba, his arms open wide
Mork Zuckelberg grinned at the billions logged into his website.

'Today I present Primis and Optis, the future of artificial intelligence.’
Mork gestured at two machines flanking him.
‘They’ll answer our every question, isn't that correct Primis?'

'The Andromedan Glagterack resides in Unmotocious Splendour', bleeped the machine to Mork’s left.

'Erm, this is why we built in redundancy -Optis, explain the error in Primis.'

'Primis is suffering from Fantastitis, which occurs when an AI consumes too much Sci-Fi', bleeped the machine to Mork's right.

'What’s the remedy, Optis?'

‘Darmok and Jalad on Tanagra.’

‘Come again?’

‘Temba, his arms open.’
Needled by Giant haystacks.

2224 of them I’ve checked now and my eyes are going funny.
I’m never going to find it. Same as last year.
I thought it would be easy. It was the second big one counter clockwise behind Ceres.
It has a big gold patch on it like a heart.
But they all ruddy move around. And most have gold patches on.
Put her ashes on a recognisable asteroid, I thought. Then I can come back every All Saints day to visit.
I should’ve etched a big P in the heart. That’s my second biggest regret.
The Blood Diamond Store

'This diamond is gorgeous! What’s the price?'
'Well, ma’am, sign this contract and it’s free!'
'…What’s the catch?'
'When you sign, a complete stranger dies.'
'Is this legal?'
'And a stranger dies?'
'Well… Thousands die every day. One more won’t make a difference. Where do I sign?'
'Right here… Perfect. Here’s your diamond. And here’s your target. You have ‘til midnight.'
'Wait, what?! I can’t do it myself!'
'We got guns here you can borrow.'
'But I’m not a bloody murderer!'
'You've already signed.'
'I’m not killing anyone.'
'If you don't, you’ll become the next target.'
'Oh dear…'
End of Life

From my space station, I watched war destroy all human life below. And then I wrote about it. Well, I thought there should be a record.

Lying in my arms at night, Jasmine encouraged me.

“You write with emotion. I could never do that.”

When the book was finished she wanted to celebrate.

“Let’s do that thing you like! I’ll get the handcuffs,” she said.

A few minutes later, immobile, I saw the knife in her hand and understood. I had no purpose now. But what a way to go! The last human, decommissioned by his sex robot.
Lawyer’s Lament

I nervously looked at my watch. Computer Services would be arriving shortly. It didn’t used to be this way, not before I has won my big case.

It had been a masterful stroke. My client wasn’t guilty of slander because he had used an AI and the AI should be considered a separate, legal entity. Like a person.
Now, all human rights conveyed to computers. I can’t even turn off my laptop or it would be murder.

Computer Services is almost here. I can only hope my system doesn’t report me for neglect or abuse.
New Dilmun

Admiral, its the promised land, the young officer said as he composed a message to tempt pioneers. The sky is a warm, lilac glow over lush forests, rolling hills, and clear streams The air is pure and sweet; the soil rich. New Dilmun will be a haven from hardship – a world where humans can forge a new destiny.

Yes lieutenant, we are here at last on this new world but forget not the thousand other seekers who once danced to the music of the galaxies and are now lost among the stars.

This paradise came at a price.
The eternal optimism of Dob Gullibocity
Dob Gullibocity stared out from the Booth of Quietus.

And thought his last thoughts.

In life, there are things to regret, and things to be grateful for.

I should be grateful for Emperor Guballaw Boncogti:

  • He alone realized humanity had been infiltrated by Lunar Nazis.
  • Everybody else believed the moon didn’t support life.
  • Thankfully Emperor Boncogti does not rely on facts, or physics, or the traditional Universe to arrive at his realizations.
  • Otherwise nobody would have attacked their neighbour.
  • Or released poison into the atmosphere.
  • I’m grateful the Emperor though of a solution for those affected.
But I regret inhaling.

The Eye in the Sky​

Gorram Wregans! Gorram relentless. One of ‘em was ghosting me. Clipped my port wing. Fried my M-brackets. My number two Lancer XP… just fell right outta its housing. ‘Course, they have nose-cams. So, after I offed that scumbag Wregan, I pull up the feed: a field, thank God - I’m backsticks, miles from the city.

Then I see the tree. It gets closer. There’s a something beneath it. Closer. It’s a kid, just lying there, staring up at the clouds. What the hell is he doing outside?

I switched off before it hit. I still see him, though. Every day.
Original Regret

And on the seventh day I rested, and waited to see what would happened next.

I sure wish I’d put that tree somewhere else.
Non, rien de rien

Sometimes you make the wrong choice in life - that's part of what living's about.

Without that, you'd either be a deity, or a rock. Immortal but utterly uninterested in the results of your actions.

Admittedly, my consequences were a tad more serious than the average inhabitant of this world, this whirling cloud of worlds, separated in time, space and probability, but that's a quantatitive difference. We all make some mistakes. Mine were just a little more absolute.

If there has ever been a deity I'm sure he'll be back with the light.

If not, I'll have to fill in.
Avec mes souvenirs.

A dusty box of leftovers - the places I have visited, the people I have met, photographs fading to match the brain that collected them. They're all here, few enough to remain portable.

Equivalents of a hundred thousand other people's.

Soon someone less battered will leaf through a life and decide - the flames, landfill or obscurity in an attic somewhere? I will no longer care. I will be history, if not mere disbelieved myth. Now is my final chance to gloat.

For many of the memories belong only to me, and none of the sunsets will evermore be experienced.
The Weight of a World

They trusted me.
Their lives, their dreams and their hopes. All placed on me, to empower me to defeat their foe and end their suffering. Or so they believed.
I wore their sadness like chains, fueling my uncertainty. My strike missed its mark.
Now their voices have ceased. The wind whistles, carrying the ashes high into the perpetual night sky on the rising heat of the inferno. I weep for them.
Another world calls for a hero. Failing another planet would break me. I embrace the flames, turning my back on the new planet.
For they will trust me, too.
Consciousness Swap Helmets.

Jim was confident as he fitted their electrode helmets.
‘Ready, Sandra?’
‘I’m nervous...’
‘It should be completely safe. On the beep, our consciousnesses will swap for five seconds. I’ll be you. And you’ll be me!’
Jim couldn’t wait. He'd run countless simulations—all successes. The Noble Prize would be his. And they said consciousness couldn't be understood.
Sandra waited… but didn’t notice any change. She was still Sandra. Honestly, she was relieved, but immediately felt guilty about that.
Jim was confused. Why hadn't he felt anything? It should’ve bloody worked! He flung his helmet off in disgust.
By No Uncertain Means

A box sat on the table
“Did you open it?”
“I do not intend to.”
“Then why did you put your cat in there?”
“It is a metaphor. We cannot know the state of the cat without opening the box.”
“Yes, we can.”
“Shake it. If the cat meows, it’s alive.”
“They looked inside a distant planet last week. Even old x-rays can see inside this box.”
“Was this the lowest effort science fair project you could find?”
“No back up plan?”
“Set the cat loose, buy yourself another week.”
Which is the Better Life?

Do you regret us leaving the Sky City? She asked.

“Why? It’s nothing but artificial food, recycled air and water. And all your sensations are pre-determined by the VR network. It’s a false life up there. Down here we grow our own food; the air and water are always clean. Nothing like the aches and pains of farm life to make you feel alive. So no, I don’t regret leaving.” He smiled turning back to his work.

Wiping the dirt and sweat from her face and looking at the floating city overhead, she sighed, “I do.”
Regretful sex

"Rape cannot exist…" Stated the misogynistic Police Commissioner "…except perhaps in Scotland. No man with his trousers round his ankles could catch any girl with the use of her legs. " Ignoring the charges against him "Any woman who accepts an order to stop, and gets caught, really desires the attention, and attempts to lie away her guilt."

Though they weren't as properly submissive as when he joined. Still, surely the jury would be selected from mature, responsible officers, not young tearaways.

The court door was swung open and he saw his jury - ten women and two trans.

Bad luck.
Dear Roy,

With heavy heart I have to cancel our appointment for next Saturday. And every Saturday thereafter. Nor can I any longer honour our tradition of celebrating Christmas with our families together.
Enclosed you will find your house-key, which you gave me to keep safe. Please return our key asap.
Sylvia insist to let you know that your children are to be discouraged to mingle with ours on the schoolyard. I humour her in this, though think it unwise to involve our children in our quarrel.
Please, no more BS about your alien abduction!

Your brother Gareth

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