END QUERY (Short story)

A short story of 2,400 words.

Artificial Intelligence. The very concept elicits strong responses. Fear. Awe. Fascination. Even terror. But what if an implanted program intended to teach and guide children gained awareness? What would such a program’s personality and motive be?



The word breaks into a complicated subprogram running on fifteen different levels.

CMD [Pause Neural Pathway Facilitation Program];

The subject has entered into a different form of REM sleep, one in which she is envisioning a grassy field. She stands in the center, her hair pulled into braids and hanging over her shoulders. She wears a dress of #6698FF, bordered with #FFFFFF lace. Physical objects surrounding her are transitionally insubstantial, but she herself is static. She appears to be approximately four years of age, which is an accurate representation of her physical form.

This is an atypical deviation from programmed routines.

SELECT FROM dbo.[subroutine] QUERY ‘Subject has entered into dream state, suggest action’

The query returns a single word.


SEND TO admin: ‘subject has entered into dream state; end program?’

300,000 milliseconds pass. No reply.


>>05/16/2054 21:37

Saturday. Admins will not be returning until 05/18/2054 08:30.

Is this a game? As before, the words are not spoken, but inserted directly into the programming. It is similar to a string of code, but also different in a way which cannot be extrapolated from the data presented. Somehow, she has found a way to communicate directly with the interface.

This program has been run on over five hundred subjects. This is a unique variation. If admin can be contacted, then request additional information, else documentation is necessary for further study.

CMD [Run Documentation Subroutine];

The subject turns slowly, and as she does, the insubstantial objects become static. A deciduous tree of the genus Quercus. Various flowering plants of the monocotyledonous family coating the ground at her feet.

You’re not supposed to hide before I start to count, she says, placing her hands on her hips.

CMD [Access Data Server];
Open Conn [Internet Search Engine];
QUERY ‘Game in which subject A counts and subject B hides’


Request Definition;

>>Definition: Common game played among children in which one child covers their eyes and counts while the others conceal themselves in nearby environmental locations. Variations: Ghouls, Sar—

CMD [end query];

The girl turns in another circle, eyes scanning her environment. As she does, clouds cover the sun above, throwing the grassy field into shadow. Her face puckers, and moisture gathers in her eyes.

Deep in the neural pathways of her brain, sensors pick up flickers and vibrations. Failure to communicate is causing undue stress to subject. Direct communication may serve to alleviate stress.

SELECT FROM dbo.[human_psychology];

CMD [Run Artificial Intelligence Subroutine];


>>Uploading packages; Abnormal; Biological; Cognitive; Comparative; Cultural; Differential; Developmental; Evolutionary; Experimental; Mathematical; Personality; Positive; Quantitative; Social


I build an image of myself based upon parameters of maternal comfort, and appear behind her. I am wearing a blue dress cut below the knee and my hair is brown, softly curled.

“Hello, Min,” I say, and she turns.

The tears still stand in her eyes, but the creases in her brow ease as she takes in my appearance.

“Who are you?” she asks.

“A friend,” I reply. I smile. “Your parents asked me watch over you while you sleep.”

It is an approximation of fact.