P.I.N.

“What is free will,” the childlike, robot program asked the programmer. 

The programmer peered over his thin glasses at the glow of the computer screen. It was dark in the cave of Silas and he was occupied by the long string of buggy code. The program stood by patiently with a peripheral in its metallic hand. 

“Hmmm,” the programmer Silas hummed through his naval cavity.

“What is free will,” the program repeated. 

“Oh…” Silas perked up from his keyboard and turned to see the little robot. He smiled briefly and took the peripheral from the program’s hand. “Free will… It’s…” Silas paused and ruminated over the thought. “It’s choice. Rather, it’s the freedom of choice.” He nodded slowly after he contemplated whether he liked his answer. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

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Mightier

“Hey Dad! I had this crazy day today,” Ethan said strolling in his house and throwing his book bag next to the couch. “There were these guest speakers that came in, but the principal had no idea who they were.

Ethan pulled the refrigerator door opened and grabbed a soft drink.

“Dad?”

The old wooden house that he and his father lived in had been painted light pastel colors. The windows often had rays of sun shine through the transparent panes, often reminding Ethan and his father a time when his mom was still alive.

“Hey Dad! Where are you?”

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Collectible

Harris pressed softly against the half opened door.

“Mitchell,” he called softly into the dark. Harris had streaked across the lawn of his friend and struggled to calm his breath. He received fourteen voicemails from Mitchell that night. He stopped listening after the third one. 

“Mitchell,” he called out again. “It’s me. You okay in there?”

Harris ducked when he heard a loud metallic bang fall to the floor. He crept to the back room, unsure if there was a home invader in Mitchell’s house. Between the crack of the door, he saw Mitchell. But he was bumping into the shelves and furniture in the room. He appeared distant. 

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The Case

A small boy spent about three hours going through the different airport terminals. He had a backpack equipped and tried a hefty amount of chocolate from the international shops. Then he read magazines. He watched the planes take off and land in the distance behind the wide clear glass panes. 

“Is that boy by himself,” Angela, a shop clerk from a from a newsstand, asked.

“It happens,” Carl, a janitor, said. “If they show a ticket, they’re good.”

“Carl, my son has the attention span of a gnat. That boy could’ve missed his flight hours ago.” 

“When do you expect him to learn,” Carl asked. “Serious question. Because his parents or guardian took him here. I guarantee you he’s fine.” 

“We have to protect the kids, Carl. What if a stranger tries to take advantage of him?”

“What if a stranger takes advantage of you? Or me?” Angela turned to him and gave him a look. “What,” Carl asked.

“I’m not talking to you right now, Carl,” Angela said, rolling his eyes. 

“Ten bucks says he’s fine when I ask him,” Carl said, watching the boy carefully. 

“I will not engage in betting activities,” Angela said, slapping Carl on the shoulder. “You better go ask him.”

“Fine,” he replied, shaking his head. 

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The Benefactor: Part 1

“Hey,” Shane said absentmindedly. He wasn’t paying attention to his wife Mara as she shuffled into their apartment. She saw her husband on the couch watching the television in the dark. She noticed Shane didn’t even bother to turn around to see her. She carelessly waved her hand in the direction where he sat. She was certain he had a long day and whatever he was watching on television must have been more important than she was. 

She threw her bag on the floor and sat alone in the dark kitchen. Her conscious had been weighing on her for the last several months. Her husband knew she needed to work overtime to support her parents’ ailing health. She didn’t even want to think of the last doctor’s appointment and his realistic prognosis. 

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Picked

“So, what happens after you get picked,” the shiny 27th android machine said in the white room to the other identical looking android.

“I do not know,” the 59th android responded. “That is a good question.”

“Number 52, step forward,” a disembodied, tired voice spoke into the empty well lit room where the androids stood and sat as if in a waiting room. 

“Well, I have been picked,” 52 said in a joyous, yes still flat tone. 

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Red Eyes

“Sir… may I assist you with something,” the flight attendant asked a nervous Peter.

“No,” Peter said, sweating in his seat. His eyes were open, but the flight attendant knew from his face and his jittery leg, he wasn’t fine. “Thank you.” 

“Are you sure,” she asked softly. “We have-“ 

“I’m fine,” Peter persisted. “Thank you. Really.” His leg continued to bounce nervously in place. Peter did not enjoy flying. It brought him no joy whatsoever, but when a connection flight to Amsterdam waited for him in the distance, his fears seemed more like an annoying passenger.

He decided to deal with the stress that had been building within him for decades and travel to the place that excited him the most. Not even a terrible, mid-air collision could stop him.

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