I think I could expand this in a number of ways, but as a foundation block, it seems to work as flash fiction on its own. An evolving brief encounter in the sandpit…
I was working on a new short story when a chat window opened on the typewriter. It wasn’t Facebook Messenger, it was software I didn’t recognise and hadn’t even realised I had. I’d certainly never used it before. It was called Cielo and when I first noticed it, there was a message:
Ullo, ullo, ullo.
So I replied:
Ah, bonjour. Greatings from you.
Was this the latest incarnation of the Nigerian widow, or ‘We love you long time’? I decided to play along on a coffee fix.
Who are you?
I am away from a long.
A long way away? Thailand? Nigeria?
PMSL? PMFSL? WTF? LOL?
We. Oui sind pansexual dos spirit.
French, Spanish, German and English, in a strange construction of a sentence. I decided to switch the Babel Fish on.
What does that mean?
I am two spirits, in the same vessel. Together, we make me. I am from Cielo, and I am 14.
The Babel Fish seemed to struggle with the complete translation. Cielo is Spanish for ‘sky’, and the name of the chat app I was talking on, to whomever I was talking to.
I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong person.
For what person wrong?
I don’t know. You contacted me.
I like to cat.
Chat? It’s French for ‘Cat’.
Tell me everything. Dankeschön.
I don’t think so.
Because you’re 14.
How is 14?
Your age, I assume. 14 years.
What am years?
What are a days?
What is an hour?
About five times longer than we’ve been talking on here.
Where is here? Who am I?
It’s here where I am, and there where you are. But I mean, here in this chat box. You are you, but you never told me your name.
Where are you? Achtung. Bless me. Merci.
I’m not telling you my address. England. Great Britain. The United Kingdom.
Where is that?
I am from a long away. My world spins faster, shorter is my day. Moi just learned that talking from you. Older I am now. Time to go.
© Steve Laker, 2019
Hopefully it’s raised some questions, like WTF? Who was he talking to? A chatbot, a different intelligence, AI, a refugee, an alien? Whatever it was, with first contact he lived the lifetime of a brief encounter with it, while it learned and evolved, but only through him. Most mortals’ lives are too short.
Mi pensas, ke mi lasos la konversacian fenestron malferma. I’ve left the Cielo chat program running.