Poetry: Page One

You stand on Page One

Broken

But fighting

Bleeding

But standing

Always

Surviving

 

You are not the Warrior

The Queen

The Wizard or the Mage

Of the last pages of my favorite novels

 

But they flicker inside of you

Embers of future flames

 

You are healing

Cracks closing

Blood clotting

Wounds scarring

Into memories

 

There is a word for taking something broken

And putting it back together with gold between the cracks

 

Don’t sell yourself short with

The dollar store super glue that

That attendant tried to sell you

Don’t buy it

 

Your story is just beginning

But I believe I know how it ends

Short Story: The Hero Will Not Be Automatic

This story was inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Contest for this week, Ten More Titles. I chose “The Hero Will Not Be Automatic” as my title.


Trial #1

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot responded to the stimulus (gunshot) by scanning for open wounds. Locating the bullet wound in the patient’s chest, the robot’s processors directed it to perform emergency surgery. The patient did not survive.

Comments: Chest wounds should not be operated on in the field. Coding should be adjusted to take into account this situation.


Trial #2

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot’s response time (between the gunshot stimulus and wound recognition) is down to 2.5 seconds. The gunshot was in the leg this time. The robot followed the new coding advice and dragged the patient out of the field while initiating emergency distress calls. Being dragged through shrapnel increased the patient’s wounds; the robot then deemed amputation necessary. Patient is alive but unable to walk.

Comments: The leg is different from the chest—can we get a coder who has taken anatomy?!?!


Trial #5

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: Robot is now able to adjust response based on location of gunshot.

Comments: Perhaps amputation should not be such a knee-jerk reaction in the coding.


Trial #12

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: Battlefield risks have been added to the testing environment. Robot took three gunshots while dragging the patient to the medical tents and was unable to reach its destination.

Comments: Could this thing dodge bullets?


Trial #13

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot’s new reinforced shell was able to sustain five bullet wounds without loss of operating capacity exceeding 35%. Patient was brought to a sheltered environment and a tourniquet was administered.

Comments: Robot’s response times to administrator commands were slower after the battle ended and the robot was retrieved.


Trial #15

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot refused to respond to gunshot stimuli. Upon hearing the beginning of the “battle,” the robot’s processors entered forced hibernation mode. The patient received four bullet wounds and died while the robot stayed frozen.

Comments: Did you code this?


Trial #16

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot shut down after being exposed to the battlefield setting. No stimulus other than location was involved. Technicians could not reboot the robot until it had been brought out of the battlefield and let to sit for two hours.

Comments: Fix this. Now.


Trial #17

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The self-preservation process has successfully been destroyed. Unfortunately, the robot has lost its risk-processing abilities. Though scans and records indicated a 75% chance that the battlefield contained landmines in the immediate area, the robot dragged its patient across them anyway.

Comments: I hope you backed up your files.


Trial #21

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot is unable to perform basic functions. Having dragged its patient within two feet of a land mine, the robot suddenly shut down. The patient received two gunshots—one to the leg and one to the stomach—before the robot rebooted and finished dragging the patient to the medical tent. Before the doctors could take the patient, the robot amputated its leg.

Comments: I thought you had fixed the amputation tendencies.


Trial #30-36

Lab tech: Jess K.

Observations: The robot’s response to stimuli is erratic. The sound of gunshots will force a shut down, then a rapid reboot. Land mines are sometimes run over in a frenzy to escape the battlefield. Sometimes just the threat of a landmine will keep the robot from moving, even to reach the patient. Sustaining gunshots to its shell will sometimes cause the robot to hibernate, sometimes to operate suddenly on the patient, sometimes to override system controls and attack the other field agents. Even outside of the battlefield, the robot will sometimes short-circuit, initiate worst-case-scenario self-destruction, or shut down. No coding method seems to be able to fix these problems.

Comments: This project is a bust.


The Automatic Hero Project was discontinued on February 4. All records will be archived, pending review.

Poetry: In Which I Don’t Care What You Would Have Done

Why do we think

We can quantify pain

Or suffering?

 

Who do we think we are

To decide how anyone else—

Other than ourselves—

Should react to the horrors we experience?

Before, during, or after—

(All three, places your opinion is irrelevant.)

 

How dare we reduce trauma

To a checklist of symptoms?

As if what You Would Have Done

Means anything to someone else.

 

Why do victims have to fight

Just to wear the cursed name?

 

Why then does the label

“Victim”

So easily become

A badge of dishonor:

Stolen from the perpetrator

And forcibly attached

To their victim?

 

As if they haven’t suffered enough already.