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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Vote for Who?
Vote for Who?
by Reid Laurence

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"Dinner's done, Ellie. C'mon in an' sit down. We're doing a real 'sit down with each other', family type thing tonight."

"Can't right now, Dad," I heard from the dimly lit recesses of my daughter's room. But even as she spoke, I couldn't help but notice the sudden sparks of light accompanied by a syncopated auditory rhythm from one of the flashy, new pieces of electronics she'd borrowed from the university laboratory.

"Why not?" I asked. "Ya know it's a rare occasion when we all get to sit down an' act like a family. You do wanna act like a family, don'tcha?"

"Sure," muttered my daughter, as a fierce burst of electrical energy came surging from behind the door, sending a shock wave of alternating current all throughout the household.

"What was that?" asked my wife Mary, even as she watched the ceiling lights and table lamps flicker and burn with swells of unexpectedly high levels of power.

"I'll give you two guesses," replied my first-born daughter, Natalie.

"Alright. You go tell your sister that's enough. We're ready to eat and I want her sitting here with the rest of us."

"But mom... you know I can't get past that crazy force field she's got at her door."

"Then just talk to her through the darn door. Better yet, I will..." responded Mary, with anxiety in her tone. "Ellie!" she yelled. "You get in here and eat with us, pronto!" But as Mary finished her sentence, it became obvious that Ellie's reply had come not verbally as most are prone to but physically, and all we could do was stand and watch... in awe.

"Wha... what is it?" I asked pointedly.

"What is What?" answered Ellie.

"That thing that came out of your bedroom, that's what," replied Mary. "It's staring right at me. Reid, do something."

"Mom," began Ellie, our budding scientist. "You call me away from my work and then you complain. I don't understand. What's going on in your head? Are we eating dinner or aren't we?"

But before any of us had time to argue any further, the worst of my mechanical nightmares had slowly materialized, and to our amazement, my daughter's titanium-palladium grade experiment had begun to explain itself.

"Why are we fighting?" it asked plainly, suddenly addressing all of the occupants in the room as if it had done so many times before. "I don't understand why people have to go on like this, but I do understand that any issue can be resolved if one has the proper mindset with which to make those resolutions come true. Summarily, there is no problem or difference between us based in race, nationality, gender or superficial appearance to others that we can't all rise above."

"He can't stop talking Ellie," I remarked. "What have you done? What sort of creation is this?"

"I'm hungry Dad, can't we just eat? I came out here to eat dinner, remember?" But even as Ellie finished her sentence, my wife had begun one of her most dramatic fainting spells and had very nearly fallen to the hard surface of the floor. Ellie's creation saw fit to take charge of the moment and caught her limp body in its midair plunge, picking her up to lay her gently on the living room sofa.

"I'm in shock Ellie," I responded, having just been witness to the most remarkable event of my life thus far.

"Why, Dad?" answered my daughter, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "It's a robot. Can't you just get used to the idea? He's gonna run for president on a Libertarian ticket."

"President of the United States? A robot? Are you kidding me?" But without hesitation, this metallic monster of my daughter's creation began once more to speak, again addressing us as if he were in the middle of a well-rehearsed speech taking place in some large convention hall...

"If we could only rise above preconceived notions of each other and base our opinions on sound qualifications, like the ability to make important decisions in milliseconds or less; unfailing, unwavering judgment; reason beyond the scope of any of my opponents; and hair that will never suffer from male pattern baldness. I submit to you that I am the most qualified candidate for office and, if elected, I promise a chicken or whatever it is you humans eat in every pot, as God is my witness."

"But, a robot?" I muttered, sinking down into a dining room chair with growing passivity. "America will be led by a robot?"

"It's better for all of us, Dad," explained Ellie, taking a seat at the dining room table. "Just think about it... he has no animosity toward anyone; he's completely unbiased; his I.Q. is off the charts; and he comes with a one year parts and labor warranty. What could be better?"

"I see your point Ellie," I said, growing gradually more akin to the idea she was about to present to the world, and the new Libertarian choice for the highest office in America. "But do you think your mom will vote for him?"

"I don't see why not," answered Ellie very casually. "She voted for Al Gore didn't she?"

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